Basics for Caring for African & Black Skin

Know Your Skin Type

The first step to getting beautiful African and black skin, is to know your skin type. This forms the basis for what type of care your skin requires to get it to optimal levels.

The section below helps you figure out or confirm what type of skin you might have, explains the best ways to take care of it; and shows you what to look for or avoid in skin care products and cosmetics.

 

Drink plenty Water

Drinking plenty of water is essential in keeping your body hydrated, flushing out blemish causing toxins; and replacing the fluids lost by the body. When you drink plenty of water, you will find that your skin will glow more, and your hair will be shiner and healthier looking.

It is recommended that you aim for at least 8 glasses, or 2 litres per day.  Water is the best, but any liquid that does affect overall good health is fine too.

Healthy Living

Eat a Healthy and Balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables. This will leave your skin moist, refreshed and supple; therefore keeping your skin looking youthful.  Fruits and vegetables have skin nourishing nutrients that help the skin fight off wrinkles and blemishes.

Try to incorporate a vast array of fruits and vegetable. Aiming for 5-a-day (5 different types of fruit and vegetables) is a good place to start. Try a fruit juice fast one day a week to help flush out toxins that ruin your complexion.

Take Vitamins supplements if necessary, to make up vitamins and minerals missing in your diet. Those important for healthy glowing skin are…

Exercising regularly helps nutrient rich blood circulate in the body, giving skin a healthy glow. Sweating is also a great way of getting rid of toxins that can be bad for the health of your skin. Try to exercise at least 3 times a week.

Nurture/Care: Develop a good skin routine for your skin type, and stick with it;

Avoid irritants; skin changing medicine;

invest in appropriate facials, skin products and massages.

Sun Protection

Even though black skin has a natural SPF of about 13, regular use of sun protection is essential to get your best skin and maintain your complexion. Sun rays can be good, but staying in the sun too long, even with black skin, can lead to hyperpigmentation (excessive darkening) and sunburn.

Sunscreen is sun protection that works by absorbing rather than reflecting the harmful Ultraviolet A and B (UVA and UVB) rays before they get to the skin. Sunblock is sun protection that as the name suggests; creates a protective barrier that reflects Ultraviolet (UV) rays, bouncing them off the skin. They are usually opaque in colour, and contain ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Look for products labeled as “broad-spectrum”, as they often contain several different sun protection ingredients that cover a broad range of UV radiation.

It is typically advised to use Sun Protection Factor of at least 15 (SPF 15). Given the degree of heat in most parts of Africa, target at least SPF 30 or above; the more, the better. If possible, aim to get sun protection in a vast array of products you use, e.g., moisturiser, foundation, and so on.

Use sun protection daily, especially on exposed parts, and try to stay out of direct sunlight at peak hours (typically between 10am and 3pm).

Read more on sun protection here.

Stop Harmful Practices!

Avoid harmful practices that destroy the skin. Amongst people of colour, especially in Africa, Bleaching is a widely done practice that involves using chemical substances to lighten/whiten the skin, by reducing the concentration of or blocking the production of melanin in the skin. This is achieved by inhibiting the enzyme tryosinase. Skin Toning involves evening out the skin’s tone, usually with naturally occurring ingredients, and should not be confused with bleaching. Some of the more active ingredients used in bleaching products contain dangerous chemicals (or combination of chemicals) such as Mercury, Hydroquinone and Steroids. The reason this practice is sooo frowned upon, besides the highly debated socio-economical and political reasons; is that these chemicals when absorbed through the skin over a period of time, release toxins that cause skin irritation, hyperpigmentation, psychiatric, neurological, and kidney problems, and can be cancernogenic. Pregnant women who use a skin lightener with mercury can pass the mercury and mercury poisoning to their unborn child. …

Hydroquinone considered relatively save when applied topically in small doses, max 2%... related major risk have been found when using high concentrations over long periods of time, or in combination with more dangerous chemicals such as mercury et al.

As melanocyte cells have a tendency to overproduce melanin in black people, especially after excessive exposure to sunlight, use of some products and medicine, and some form of bruising or inflammation on the skin, e.g. acne/pimples; it is a legitimate concern to want to even out dark spots and patches on your skin. Instead of using harsh chemicals that can irreversibly harm your skin and health, use products with safer and more natural ingredients such as a kojic acid, azelaic acid, arbutin, alpha hydroxyl acid (AHA), amongst others. Also, treatments such as microdermabrasion, chemical peels and lasers can prove very effective. Make sure to seek professional assistance when doing these treatments. Speak to your dermatologist for the best options for your situation.

Click here for more on Skin Whitening(Toning) and Bleaching

Drugs and Smoking release toxins that are bad for your skin, and over time, have negative consequences. Smoking inhibits the breakdown of vitamin C in the body, which is a strong antioxidant that is essential for beautiful skin. These practices can lead to dull dry flaky skin, early wrinkling, amongst others.

Excessive drinking of alcohol and caffeine (found in coffee), can also have negative consequences on the skin. Limit, or if possible, stop
the intake of these. Make sure to drink plenty water to flush out the toxins released by alcohol or caffeine, if you are a drinker.

Avoid Stress

Your skin rebuilds itself when you sleep, so try to get at least 7 to 8 hours sleep per night, to get your best possible skin.

Stress is one of the worst things you could subject your skin to. It causes chemical reactions that are bad for your skin; and can lead to more acne breakouts from your skin getting oilier as your hormones respond. Try to avoid it as much as possible.