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Basic Regimen for African American Skin

Updated on August 8, 2015
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Cleansing

  • Be sure to choose body washes that are not drying to the skin: It is preferable to use body washes that contain some type of butter or oil. To be on the safe side, opt for brands that are more on the natural side and do not contain a large number of chemicals. The main chemicals you must steer clear from are: triclosan, dioxane, parabens, and sulfates. Tricosan is one of most toxic chemicals found in soaps today normally found in antibacterial soaps. This chemical is a component found in agent orange, a chemical used in nuclear warfare. It is notorious for causing serious birth defects and even cancer, so make sure you avoid it at all cost. It is important to be an informed shopper when it comes to your health. Failure to due so can come with serious complications. If you can, choose products that are all natural and organic such as black soap, peppermint soap, and other pure castile soaps.
  • Choose a shower puff that will gently exfoliate your skin: You don't want to use a shower puff that is too rough on your skin because that will cause a lot of dryness. Since it is not healthy to exfoliate everyday, using and softer shower puff or loofah is more beneficial. It will cleanse your skin as necessary without scraping it too much.

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  • Don't overdo it in the shower: Some people like to take a shower in scalding hot water, but the truth is, you might be killing bacteria but it will rob your skin of its natural oils. When it comes to bathing, one should not be excessive, for this could ultimately lead to skin issues as well as issues with your overall health. Therefore, it is best to keep your water at a warm temperature and limited your showers to twice a day (three times a day if it's really hot outside). You should also limit your use of artificial antibacterial soaps, as previously mentioned these soaps can cause major health problems. Instead opt for soaps that have natural antibacterial ingredients such as lemon, eucalyptus, peppermint, tea tree, ginger, thyme and bergamot. All these precautions are recommended so that you won't remove too much of the good bacteria from your skin. The bacteria is there to help remove dead skin cells and to boost your immune system. Without them we would fall gravely sick when we come in contact with bad bacteria. That being said, do your best to keep your skin balanced by cleansing it daily without being excessive.
  • After rinsing off with warm water apply oil to your skin and lightly pat your skin with a clean towel: What this does is, it helps you lock in all the moisture that the water has given your skin. After this step, use your favorite lotion or butter (Cocoa butter, Shea butter, Mango butter) for dry skin. In the summer time, use a light lotion with SPF 15. This way you can avoid feeling oily and sticky in the hot summer months. With this method, you will definitely notice a difference in your skin after the first day. Your skin will be left feeling incredibly soft and luscious.



Butters

When buying products to moisturize your skin, it is imperative to choose products with natural ingredients, instead of chemicals. These will do nothing to feed your skin the nutrients that it needs to stay healthy, and will only damage it. For optimal skin health, it is best to use butters and oils to moisturize your skin. Butters can be used as is without any lotion, these include: Shea Butter, Mango Butter, and Cocoa Butter (unrefined). Shea butter in particular is known for it's healing, anti inflammatory, anti aging properties. It works by helping the skin to create more collagen, in turn reducing the look of scars, fine lines, and wrinkles.


Raw Shea Butter
Raw Shea Butter | Source

Oils

Oils can be added to your daily lotion for added benefits, these include: sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, coconut oil, olive oil and even Shea oil. Each of these oils are beneficial for different skin types. Explore them to find out which one works best for your skin type. Oils are important for our hair, skin, and nails. Not only do they moisturize our skin, it locks in moisture and helps protect it against drying elements (air conditioner, winter air, and dry air).

Olive Oil
Olive Oil | Source

Some oils like olive oil are rich in antioxidants that can help fight free radicals (like pollution and sun rays) in the air. This will help keep your skin youthful by fighting wrinkles, and glowing by blocking the damaging effects of free radicals.

Sunscreen

There is a myth about African American skin that we do not need to wear sunscreen. Do not be fooled, many African American find themselves with skin cancer. So be careful, and always be sure protect your skin at all times. To avoid sun damage, follow these guidelines to applying sunscreen.

  • Always apply sunscreen even in the winter time: It is common knowledge that sunscreen is necessary in the summertime because of the heat, however people don't think they need sunscreen in the winter time. This is a huge misconception because sun rays can be even worse in the winter time, being that they bounce off the snow and radiate back to your skin. Therefore, sunscreen is necessary at all times of the year.
  • Don't forget your lips: Most people forget about their lips when they are applying SPF, but this can be dangerous. Considering the fact that our skin has the thinnest skin our bodies, they are most likely to get damaged by sun rays. Opt for chap sticks and lip balms that are formulated with SPF. This way you lips will stay wrinkle free, and plump!
  • Put a little extra sunscreen on elbows, knees, and stretch marks: Being that African American is more susceptible to hyperpigmentation, we must take extra care when applying sunscreen. If your elbows, knees, or stretch marks will be exposed to sunlight, be sure to apply a little extra sunscreen to those areas to make sure they don't darken. This way, if you are left with a tan, your skin tone will be evened out.

What doctors say about sunscreen!

  • Include sunscreen in your makeup routine: Sunscreen is must for the face, if your trying to prevent wrinkles, do yourself a favor and always incorporate sunscreen in your make up routine. There are a considerable amount of make brands that have make up formulated with SPF. Some examples are BB creams, tinted moisturizers, foundations, and even powders! If you don't have any of these, wear your favorite sunscreen under your make up, or a moisturizer with SPF.


Summertime Makeup

Exfoliating

  • Exfoliating your face: If you are using a light exfoliating scrub that is not too course it is ok to exfoliate once and week. If you choose a coarse exfoliating scrub, then exfoliating every two weeks is preferable.
  • Exfoliating your body: Once a week, under a warm shower use a sugar scrub to exfoliate your entire body then rinse. Once you have completed this step wash your body as usual with your favorite body wash and shower puff. Rinse, then coat your body with the oil of your choice. Pat dry then apply lotion if it's winter time. In summer time the oils are just enough to keep your skin hydrated.
  • Exfoliating your feet:While you are exfoliating your body, use your favorite foot tool (beach rock, foot paddle, foot scraper, foot blade, ped egg) to scrub your feet then wash them with soap. Once you have gotten out of the shower, coat your feet with shea butter on put socks on. This is best done overnight, when you wake up your feet will be the smoothest you've ever seen it.


Shaving

African American have curly hair which can cause more razor bumps than straight hair. Because the hair texture is more coarse, it can be quite irritating to the skin. This is because once you shave the hair it leaves behind a sharp edge on that hair follicle which is more likely to cause ingrown hairs and razor bumps.

Source

Use these guidelines below to achieve beautiful soft skin every time you shave!

  • Throw out dull blades! Always use sharp, fresh blades every time you shave.
  • Try to shave in a hot shower, that way your pores will be open to make a smooth shave possible.
  • Try using oils when shaving, this prevents the friction that causes razor bumps.
  • When shopping for shaving cream, try to opt for a glycerin based formula. This will soften the hairs before shaving.
  • Avoid applying pressure so that you don't nick yourself.
  • Don't shave against the grain, you should always shave in the direction the hair is growing in. This is so that you don't cause any irritation to your skin that could turn into razor bumps.
  • Rinse skin with cold water to close your pores to avoid ingrown hairs.


Black Soap

Black soap is a soap made in Africa from the ash of plantain, cocoa pods, palm tree leaves, and Shea tree bark. It can be extremely beneficial to your skin if used correctly. If not used properly, it can be very drying to your skin, and even burn your skin. Use these guidelines to ensure that the black soap is benefiting your skin instead of harming it.

  • Use small amounts, a little goes a long way. Black soap always gives a nice rich lather.
  • Don't let the soap sit on your face or it will burn you. Be sure to rinse off immediately.
  • Always moisturize afterwards.
  • If you notice that your skin is dry, reduce the number times per week you use the black soap. Twice a week is appropriate for sensitive skin.

If you use the black soap properly you will notice that it will leave your skin feeling squeaky clean. It will also brighten your complexion if you desire a glowing look to your skin (moisturizing afterwards is crucial). Black soap has also been known to help diminish the look of acne scars. When shopping for black soap be certain that you purchase raw, unrefined African black soap. Some companies try to trick customers by trying to pass off a black bar of soap as African black soap. Real black soap is not black at all, it is actually brown in color and very malleable to the touch, not hard. So be aware of these things when you are shopping for black soap.


Black Soap by ulovemegz

Avoiding Bleaching Creams

There are thousands of products out there, dedicated to African American women. However you must do you homework before going out and buying a product. They might contain unwanted ingredients that can be harmful to your skin. A lot of women don't know that there are plenty of products that secretly contain bleaching agents. Any product that says that it fades, brightens, or whitens your skin should be avoided because they probably contain bleaching agents. Bleaching products will usually contain toxic chemicals like hydroquinone and mercury. Both of these chemical have been linked to serious health problems such as difficulty conceiving, cancer, birth defects, neurological damage, and kidney damage. In addition to these health risks, bleaching creams work by reducing the melanin cells in your skin. These cells are there for a reason, to protect your skin from sun damage, so when this system is disturbed, grave consequences can be expected. Not only will your skin wrinkle more easily, but it will contribute to dark joints (knuckles, toes, knees, elbows), acne, and even skin cancer! It's best to just avoid these products all together. After all your health is more important than bleaching your skin!

Hyperpigmentation

When African American skin scars, it has a tendency to darken. This is known as hyperpigmentation. So for women with acne scars, hyperpigmentation is a big issue. Acne is one thing, however the scars that are left behind is a whole other story! But don't fret, the solution is very effective and quite inexpensive! Follow these steps below to get rid of your hyperpigmentation.

  1. Wash your face twice a day with black soap.
  2. Apply lemon juice, sea salt, and honey to your scars everyday or ever other day. Let the mixture sit on your face for at least 30 minutes (overnight is even better). Then rinse with warm water. Not only are all these ingredients antibacterial and anti-fungal (which is perfect for acne sufferers), they help to even out your skin tone and reduce the dullness of your complexion.
  3. Apply a small amount of Shea Butter. Apply just enough to moisturize so that you don't end up looking too oily. Shea Butter has all the healing properties necessary to reduce the appearance of scars and make your skin soft and supple.
  4. Always take extra care with your scars when applying sunscreen. Neglecting these areas can lead the hyperpigmentation to worsen. So extra sunscreen in these areas are crucial to achieving and even tone.

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