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Exfoliation and Your Beautiful Black Skin: Does It Really Do a Body Good?

Exfoliation and Your Beautiful Black Skin: Does It Really Do a Body Good?

Exfoliation and Your Beautiful Black Skin: Does It Really Do a Body Good?

Exfoliation: Does It Really Do a Body Good?



Exfoliation is a practice that beauty buffs and dermatologists the world over deem essential to a good skin care regime. The process involves removing dead skin cells that sit on the skinís top layer (the epidermis) to reveal softer, smoother skin below. Results of exfoliation can be impressive: the reduced appearance of fine lines, clearer, brighter skin. Studies also show that exfoliation can significantly improve the efficacy of skin care maintenance products.

There are two main types of exfoliation:

Mechanical Ė using salt or sugar scrubs, skin brushing, microdermabrasion

Chemical Ė using Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), which are derived from fruit and milk sugars, e.g. glycolic acid; Beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), i.e. salicylic acid; chemical peels

However, one size certainly does not fit all, and, in caring for black skin, there are important factors to consider:

Firstly, do you actually need to exfoliate? If it ainít broke, honey, donít fix it! Some of you are blessed with clear, radiant, even-toned skin that looks supple with or without moisturizer. You have few or no breakouts. If this is the case - congratulations! Chances are you don't need to exfoliate.

Does your skin look dull or ashy? Do you have hard-to-move dark marks and uneven skin tone? Are you bothered by photo-aging and fine lines/wrinkles?

If you have answered Ďyesí to the last three questions, read on.

My advice to anyone who wants to exfoliate Ė especially their facial skin Ė is to first consult a good dermatologist (if their budget allows) - and I mean visit a medical practice, not a spa, unless the spa has a resident dermatologist. Attempting to treat your own skin problems can be a wasteful, costly and demoralizing exercise. As women of color, we are more prone to large pores, oily skin, and hyperpigmentation. Many home remedies/over-the-counter exfoliation products can irritate, rather than ameliorate, these conditions.

The Dermatologist Option When choosing a dermatologist, consider:

The Doctorís Experience in Treating Patients of Color Get recommendations wherever possible. Treatments that may give fantastic results on Caucasian or Asian skin may be detrimental to Black skin. Ask to see ĎBefore and Afterí photographs of patients of color who have had the exfoliating treatments you are considering.

Your Health Any good dermatologist will advise you here, but if you have extremely sensitive skin, diabetes or bacterial infections, do not have a microdermabrasion treatment.

The Treatments Available Dermatologists typically offer microdermabrasion (informally referred to as a Ďmicro-dí). The most modern technique is the diamond tip micro-d, which is less abrasive and allows greater user-accuracy. The best microdermabrasion treatments also include the use of water and oxygen to restore the skin during the process. Ask which techniques your dermatologist uses.

Be aware that chemical peels (where a chemical is applied to the skin, causing it to blister and eventually peel off revealing softer, smoother skin below) can be extremely strong; and generally, should not be encouraged as a first option.

Your Skincare Budget Your dermatologist may not only suggest a micro-d every six weeks, he/she may also recommend a host of maintenance products to optimize results. If you cannot, or do not wish to, buy all that is on the list, I recommend you purchase one product, if no other: a UVA/UVB sunscreen. After a micro-d, you have removed a protective layer, as well as unwanted dead cells. For black skin, to prevent repeat hyperpigmentation, it is essential that post-microdermabrasion, you avoid the sun and routinely apply that sunblock.

The Do-It-Yourself Option If you opt for self-treatment and over-the-counter exfoliation products, you can still get great results, but please:
  • Donít buy exfoliators that contain ground nuts (they are too coarse and damaging to black skin).
  • Donít buy exfoliating facial cleansers that contain micro-beads, salts and ground nuts. Look for one that contains glycolic acid Ė it does the job gently.
  • Donít over-exfoliate Ė you can disrupt the skinís natural equilibrium causing excessive sebum production. We donít need any help with oil production!
  • You need exfoliate no more than once every seven to ten days.
  • Never use body exfoliators on your face.
  • Donít do double duty: some folks swear by facial brushing, some folks swear by a rinse-off exfoliator, some folk swear by an AHA cream; but donít do all three, all the time Ė itís too invasive and may lead to irritation and further hyperpigmentation.
  • If you are prone to acne or other common skin conditions, read the fine print. Fragrance, or the presence of cucumber, for example, may exacerbate the problem. A Beta hydroxy acid (BHA) exfoliant is preferable for treating blackheads and whiteheads because BHAs can better penetrate pores (which contain sebum) and exfoliate the dead skin cells in them. Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) are better used on thickened, sun-damaged skin where breakouts are not a problem.
  • Buy a good dermatologist-approved UVA/UVB sunscreen
Do-It-Yourself Exfoliating From the Neck Down

Firstly: bypass your neck. Its delicate skin doesn't usually need exfoliation (especially the massage-in, rinse-off kind). Fine lines can be improved with a low-grade AHA product.

Try daily dry body-brushing with a soft natural-bristle brush. Brush in upward, gentle, sweeping motions from your feet up to, and including, your breasts. Include your back and arms. Follow with a rich moisturizer. And donít forget your hands!

Use a washcloth, sponge or exfoliating glove to apply your regular body wash/shower gel in circular motions.

Look for sugar or fine salt-based body exfoliators (but again, avoid nut-based ones); feel free to add a tip of your favorite moisturizer or essential oil.

Again Ė donít over do, and remember: from head to toe, protect and moisturize after exfoliating!

That's it for this week! As always ...

Dedicated To Your Beauty,

Juliette Samuel

Esthetician/Author/Publisher

Nyraju Skin Care


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As women and a growing number of men of color, what's your greatest skin care challenge? Whether it's dark spots, uneven skin tone, dark circles,puffiness under your eyes or hair that won't grow, you'll find a product that can possibly become the solution to your challenge.

Moisturizers and ingredients that hydrate your skin will always be your best friend, for your face, body and hair. So look for products with nourishing and nurturing ingredients. Shea butter, cocoa butter, mango butter and jojoba oils are a few of the ingredients to keep on your list.

We've got new additions to our store for you. Essential oils have been known to help calm and soothe skin and scalp irritations. Although you'll find a sample kit on the hair category page, you can use them for any of your skin and hair care needs.

The hair care sample kit has been given an upgrade. We've increased the size of the container on the shampoo and conditioners and added a hair butter sample to the mix.

Although there's beauty in your blackness, your skin is sensitive and needs protection from the sun just like everyone else. So if you know you're challenged by sunburn, add a few drops of Lavender essential oil to Jojoba and Grapeseed Oil and create a nice body oil for yourself. It will bring comfort and beauty back to your skin.

We're listening to you and your suggestions, so keep an eye on the category pages and your emails for updates.

Until next time ...

Dedicated To Your Beauty

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