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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Back to Basics for Winter Skin

The temperature is plunging, I'm spending more time inside and paying more attention to my skin. Really, the only way to fight dry, parched, dull winter skin is to MOISTURIZE like crazy. I'm not a big fan of lotions either. I think lotion is a wonderful way for companies to save money at the expense of your skin. The main ingredients are alcohol and water. Alcohol is an emulsifier but it dries your skin out and water provides temporary hydration, but no moisture. Historically women of color have maintained soft, ageless skin (think about your grandmother's skin) because they have understood the power of a sturdy moisturizer, even when they didn't have access to retail beauty products. So this winter, overlook all the empty promises in your nearest beauty isle and go straight to the natural source.

1. Raw Virgin Coconut oil: A beauty staple of Philipine women for years, the secret to its incredible moisturizing properties is in its molecular structure. Where as most skin oils consist of a large chain fatty acid, coconut oil consists of a medium chain fatty acid, making it lower in molecular weight and capable of greater absorption into the skin. I use it every morning fresh out of the shower and after two minutes I am left with nothing but shine. No film, no grease. Your skin drinks it and it hydrates from within. You should be able to find some at your local grocer in the food isle. Its a solid at room temperature so its relatively easy to handle. Coconut oil is attributed to deep moisturization, preventing wrinkles, age spots, promoting a healthy glow, and shielding skin from infection. I even use it on my face. Don't by if mixed with mineral oil. It ruins it's molecular properties.

2. Coco Butter: A staple in the Black community that has recently experienced growing popularty in the main stream beauty market. Cocobutter prevents wrinkles, blemishes, and provides wonderful moisture. It can be found in its pure form at many beauty, holistic, and health stores or online.

3. Shea Butter: I use this every night before bed. Shea butter has infinite uses (food, skin, hair, you name it) but it is spectacular for your skin. Shea butter is rich in Vitamins A, E, and F which promote healthy, clear, blemish free skin. It is higher in unsaponifiables ( a type of fat) than most other oils, which is what gives it its extraordinary moisturizing, wrinkle fighting properties. It contains cinnamonic acid which is a natural sun screen. It is also low in molecular weight, thus it is readily absorbed by the skin and it wont clog pores. You can use this on your face especially if you are 25+ and looking to begin an anti-aging regimen. Some say it helps prevent acne. It is also great for treating skin conditons like exzema, which I have so I know! I can't stress enough the importance of having fresh, pure, shea butter that has not been out too long or mixed with chemical additives. Shea butter has comprehensive chemical properties but they are also very delicate properties that will be void if the shea butter is tainted with. Like cocobutter, purchase on-line or at a beauty, health, or holistic store.

4. Vaseline: Good old vaseline! I mean need I say more. Moisture-phobic people knock it now a days but that's okay, let them have dry parched skin. This is still an amazing (and cheap) way of moisturizing the skin, especially problem areas like the feet, hands, and elbows. It's thick consistency protects skin against moisture-loss during the winter months. Yes, vaseline is greasy, as hell. But I like to use it every night before bed all over my body (excluding my face) and then I cover my feet in sweat socks. My skin is incredibly soft each morning. You just can't beat it. Contrary to popular belief, vaseline is not great for your lips. It can even make them more chapped. Coconut oil however is amazing for kissable lips.

With that said, here are some products out there that stick to the basic ingredients. I think it's best to purchase the pure versions of these ingredients, but if you use a product that contains them make sure that the moisturizing agents are main ingredients and not water, alcohol, and other emulsifying agents. Also look out for other excellent oils for your skin in the ingredients list like jojoba oil, avocado oil, olive oil, sweet almond oil, and safflower oil.

Fly Products

1. Chic Afrique Herbals makes amazing soaps with nothing but moisturizing agents such as shea and coco butters, palm and olive oils. The moisturizers are also top quality. The smell... good enough to eat. The company is owned by two black women, one a former doctor.

2. Nubian Heritage's Honey and Black Seed Lotion. Despite the fact that its a "lotion" it's really rich in all the good stuff (shea butter , jojoba, etc.) This company's shea butter cremes are fabulous as well. They are usually mixed with other oils such as lemon grass to soften the consistency. They smell great too.

3. Carols Daughter Sexy Belly is fabolah! It's loaded with shea butter, cocoa butter and jojoba oil and improves the skin's elasticity (i.e. STRETCH MARKS) and also the Almond Cookie Shea Souffle. It's light but oil rich and the Almond cookie line smells incredible!! (Men will notice)


Laura levros said...

I just may try that Vaseline at night deal... On another note, I'm in the process of starting an online magazine for young black women, and I really love your site, so I was wondering if you would like to contribute to our debut issue (fall' 08)

Ike said...

I'd love to! Email me at with some details. Thanks.