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Ten things every black woman should know in her quest for great skin

Aesthetician and Founder of Black Skin Directory, Dija Ayodele, gives us her top skincare tips for black girls.

07 Oct 2019

Your skin is a storyteller, easily and quickly revealing to the world the state of your health. This makes the mighty quest for a canvas that is smooth, radiant and bouncy akin to the holy grail.

The skincare world is a noisy one, with more products you can shake a masking brush at. Not to mention that advice can often be conflicting, making it a minefield to know what products you need or even how to use them well. Even though change is on the horizon, this landscape can be even tougher for brown skin girls to navigate. But fear not, Aesthetician and Founder of Black Skin Directory, Dija Ayodele, has given us her top skincare tips for black girls.

Don’t go it alone

Skin is very personal and it pays to tailor your approach and develop a bespoke regime by seeing a skincare professional to advise on what works for you and show you how to use your products. Do this at least twice a year, it’s fundamental for not only great looking skin, but healthy skin too and it beats the haphazard trial and error of relying on blogs and social media to help you develop a skincare routine.

There’s nothing to fear with Vitamin A (or retinol as it’s commonly known)

It is a gold standard ingredient designed to stimulate all the markers of skin health - smooth skin, plump and bouncy, radiant and clear. Skin cells have special receptors that work hand in hand with Vitamin A to activate and plump your collagen and elastin reserves as well as fade discolouration and smooth the texture of your skin. My go-to starter Vitamin A for darker skin tones is Osmosis Calm, formulated with retinaldehyde it is gentle but delivers impressive results.

Beware of heritage skincare

I know we’ve been encouraged to think black soap and some nut butters like shea and cocoa are the best cleansers and moisturisers for black skin; and whilst they may be fine for some people, for a vast number they are drying and comedogenic leaving you with congestion and block pores, especially if you are already blemish prone. Opt for hydrating lotions with ceramides and peptides to nourish your skin.

Layer your exfoliation

I’m not a fan of sandblasting your skin to achieve smoothness and cell turnover. That’s just too aggressive and on black skin can result in inflammation and pigmentation damage. It’s best to incorporate exfoliation at specific stages - cleansing with an AHA or enzyme cleanser, masking (if you partake!) moisturisers and overnight at home peel treatments. Also, St. Ives Apricot Scrub is great kept for dry knees and tough heels.

Apply your skincare in the right order

Products are designed to work in a certain way and some do their best work at particular times of the day. As a rule, start with the thinnest consistency - so anything that’s water based and runny, goes on first after cleansing, followed by heavier products like moisturiser. Sunscreen always goes on last before makeup. Also, know what product to use at specific times of day - antioxidants like Vitamin C are applied in the morning, Retinol is applied at night.

Focus on the basics

Product choices are endless but it’s mega important to lock down the absolute must haves for great skin. Your cleansers, serums and sunscreen are non-negotiable. Your serums are your foot soldiers doing the hard work to fight pigmentation, firm the skin, defend against pollution. (Tip - this is where to invest your money!) A lot of other products like masks, essences and spritzes are simply just nice to have.

Know your ingredients

I know that hyperpigmentation and skin discolouration are the biggest bugbears for black girls, so get yourself familiar with Tyrosinase Inhibiting ingredients such as Niacinamide, Liquorice Extract, Vitamin C, Alpha Arbutin - these help to regulate the distribution of melanin in the skin, break down melanin clumps and create a more even skin tone. Slide Neostrata’s Illuminating Serum into your routine for supermodel like skin!

Don’t scrimp on professional treatments

Skincare products will do a great job, but they can also be limited, which is why you need monthly treatments to give your skin a work out. Procedures like superficial chemical peels using glycolic, lactic or mandelic acid are great (and safe!) for black skin, target scarring with microneedling and lasers such as ND:Yag and Piqo4 will stimulate skin cells in the deeper layers for complete rejuvenation. Non invasive LED therapy using blue, red and infrared lights will intensify any treatment results, amp skin clarity and boost your glow. Even, cleverly placed injectables and fillers will also rejuvenate, brighten and boost your skin health.

Check your lifestyle

It’s easy to underestimate how much the way you live impacts your skin, but poor eating habits show up as dull and lacklustre skin so strive to eat a balanced and hydrating diet; exercise is not only a work out for your body, but it drives more oxygen to your cells for brighter skin; watch your stress levels - prolonged stress can increase cortisol and testosterone which in turn not only fuels excess oil and breakouts, but can even contribute to male pattern facial hair growth!

Ruthlessly get rid

Look through your skincare cabinet and get rid of what is no longer serving you. Products past their use by date can do more damage than good to your skin causing breakouts at best, infections at worst. Whilst you’re throwing out the old, also book yourself in for a colonic to get rid of waste and toxins. Yes, it’s an icky thought, but it majorly helps to boost your glow and skin clarity.