healthier, glowing skin vs fairer, lighter complexion

About 2 years ago, I was having a chat with one of my neighbors. She had come to me because she had a ‘dire’ need. This neighbor of mine is light-skinned naturally and her husband is dark enough for two people. Like me she has 2 amazing girls; her first child seemed to take after her complexion and her second seemed more comfortable in between her and her spouse. On one of his trips back to Lagos, her husband felt that she wasn’t caring enough for the children and he demanded she go find out what ‘other’ mothers do to ‘maintain’ their childrens’ complexion. As far as he was concerned, for female standards, they had gotten too dark and too ugly and something needed to be done about it. Knowing that I’m a skincare consultant, she sought me out to help with her ‘problem’

I was shocked!!

In the masterclass with Kahlana Barfield Brown a few weeks back at GT Fashion Weekend, colorism was one of the topics that was discussed and I felt and still feel a strong pull towards it. Kahlana mentioned that prior to her writing about it in an article with InStyle, her beauty had been questioned because of her dark complexion. On the Nigerian scene, colorism seems to be the in-thing; as long as you are dark, you are not as beautiful and/or you don’t properly ‘maintain’ your complexion. This has driven a lot of people especially women to acquire a fairer complexion by any means possible.

It’s even made worse when people desperate to profit financially from such a need then devise all kinds of mixtures to ensure that a fair complexion is achieved despite the health implications. People without as much as a diploma become ‘dermatologists’, ‘chemists’ and ‘skincare consultants’ after a 3-week WhatsApp class and no other certification. They ply their trade on social media especially Instagram where they sponsor 2-3 videos of them mixing all-what-not in a bucket (that still has paint stains on the inside) and they attach a ridiculous price tag to it. Ask them their key ingredients and all they can pronounce properly is STRICTLY ORGANIC!

I’m sure by now you can tell I’m VERY passionate about this.

It hurt me so much that this lady has been pushed by her husbands’ ignorance (I don’t know what else to call it) to find ‘help’ that her 4 and 2 years old daughters did not need. I did my best to counsel her to let them be and focus more on their health rather than their fair complexion or lack of it. Something inside me kept telling me I was wasting my time; she would eventually find what she was looking for; so sad.

Healthier, Glowing Skin VS Fairer, Lighter Complexion? Which is your pick?

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Who exactly should you trust with your skin concerns

It’s been over 3 years since I started taking clients as a skincare consultant and I find myself still getting baffled by the kind of stories I hear during consultations. Most times people tell me they visited a ‘dermatologist’ in a ‘market place’ and that he/she ‘mixed’ some topical applications for them which may or may not have worked. And this often makes me ask; who exactly should you trust with your skin concerns?

I’m a firm believer that when people are better informed they can make better decisions. So knowing who is who would go a long way in helping one to turn to the right place for help.

  • Dermatology is a branch of medicine that deals with skin, nails, hair and its diseases. This means that a dermatologist would have gone to medical school (7-10 years in Nigeria) and afterwards specialized in dermatology (another 2-3 years after housemanship and NYSC). He/She is licensed to perform surgical procedures and biopsies in order to treat dermatological diseases. In other words, dermatology is a specialty just like pediatrics and OB/GYN.
  • Skincare Consultations are usually anchored by a skincare consultant. Ideally, he/she must have obtained a certification after at least a 100-hour theory + practical training session from a credible institution. A diploma or degree is usually not required prior being certified to offer skincare consultation services. A credible skincare consultant would gladly refer a client to a dermatologist when unusual skin conditions are observed, either for biopsies or proper diagnosis. They do not use their clients as guinea pigs to test ‘mixtures’ and are transparent and not afraid to tell their clients their level of certification and/or experience. They are also open about the products they recommend to their clients, the ingredients contained in the product and why they recommend it. They may or may not offer facials services.
  • An esthetician usually offers spa, facials, waxing, massage, manicure and pedicure services. Because this requires a lot of touching others sometimes in personal places, proper training from a credible institution is required when pursuing this career path. In other climes, an additional license by a State Esthetician Board is required before one starts practicing. Such a license expires within a few years and has to be renewed after writing an exam or two. Unfortunately, that’s not the case in Nigeria.

Skincare Consultants can get further certification to become estheticians and vice versa. But neither of them is qualified to diagnose skin diseases (different from skin conditions). Something all of the above have in common is that they offer MORE of paid services than products.

I’ll ask you again, who exactly should you trust with your skin concerns?

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Pink lips or not?

Whenever I’m headed towards Ikeja axis I seem to find an excuse to pass under the bridge around the mobile phone market, maybe because my favorite book vendor stalls there. On almost every occasion I do notice people, especially young men, with little white containers in their hands. These young men are not your regular ‘memory card’ and ‘ear-piece’ hawkers which should be conveniently associated with a place called Computer Village. No! They let out a shrill whistle to get your attention and when they do, next is “pink lips”. Yes! Pink lips are for sale.
From my observation, those with naturally-occurring (as if there’s any other way it should occur) ‘pink lips’ (which is not necessarily pink, but several shades lighter than ones skin tone and quite noticeable in people of color) always have their tongue swiping over the erring lip or even have it trapped in their mouth really often. Sometimes as often as twice a minute especially if they are not talking or are trying to concentrate on a task. This has been their default lip position for years, yes, years.
A good number of people seem to find this ‘pop of color’ quite attractive and believe that their level or scale of appeal would be increased should they have it themselves. What they don’t realize is that with ‘pink lips’ comes really dry lips, and with dry lips comes the need to moisten them again: a vicious circle that becomes a habit and tends to last a lifetime. Imagine having to wet your body twice a minute for approximately 12 hours a day……. Exactly!! But how would they know? Theirs is a 7-10 days’ cosmetic acquisition.
Whichever way you feel about this, naturally-occurring ‘pink lips’ is reversible. Once the lip(s) and the tongue don’t find their way to each other as often as before, the pale color fades and the default shade is restored without any side effects. I’m afraid the same cannot be said for the content of that little white container, considering most of them don’t declare their list of ingredients.
Do tell me; pink lips or no?

Most underestimated skin care products …contd

We started talking about my 6 most underestimated skin care products on the previous post.

Here are the remaining 3

Night moisturizers: this is one of my absolute favorite product. I cannot begin to tell you how important a moisturizer is; it is such that you should apply it at least once daily.
A good night moisturizer is tailored to continue from where the day moisturizer stops. Most day moisturizers are made to protect the skin from the hustle and bustle of the day; from the sun to air pollutants and oxidative stress. But the night moisturizer helps to rejuvenate the skin, restoring whatever damage that may have been caused earlier, while one is asleep. This gives the skin a fresh start every morning.
Allowing your skin a fresh start every morning is indeed a good way to stall any visible signs of aging.

Hand and foot creams: our limbs have some of the toughest layers of skin; our palms, soles and nails. We handle objects, hot and cold, wet and dry, slimy and solid, with our palms. We subject our feet to tight enclosures, called shoes, sometimes on a daily basis. Some of us work on our feet all day long. Our nails are scissors, knives, peelers and any other tool in between. It’s just befitting that adequate care be given these unsung heroes.
Adequate care for the hands and feet is a post all on its own and would be addressed later.
Wash hands and feet before applying this product generously, preferably right before going to bed.

Masks: this product has a wide range of consistency; from clay to mud to cream to marine and even peel-off. These consistencies also give varying results. Some of the results can be
– Getting rid of white and black heads (exfoliation)
– Firming the skin
– Hydrating the skin
– Drawing out impurities
It’s best to find out exactly what your skin needs and tailor your mask to suit it.

 

Do you think I’ve missed any underestimated skin care products in this line up?? Let me know in the comment section.

My 6 most underestimated skin care products

Many a time, when breaking down skin care routines to clients, some products seem to be misunderstood and termed irrelevant.

Here are my 6 most underestimated skin care products.

Toners: this product is a must have in any skin care kit. I’ve had many clients go from cleanser straight to moisturizer because they don’t understand what exactly a toner does. A good toner actually has about 3 functions unless otherwise indicated by the manufacturer. Such functions include
– Further cleansing; beyond what your cleanser already provides.
– Calming the skin; which is why it is usually used after scrubbing.
– Prepping the skin; just before applying a mask or your favorite moisturizer.
While choosing a cleanser, do put in consideration your skin type. Also make sure it’s alcohol-free.

Eye makeup removers: this is an essential product for every makeup lover because, in the bid to have longer lasting makeup, most of us use water-proof products and then have a really hard time removing them. Some of us scrub so hard around the eye area, we end up with scanty lashes.
What I love about the Eye makeup remover is that it’s quite gentle and it also works on ALL water-proof makeup products; this includes the mouth region. Simply dampen a Q-tip with this product and reach into sensitive areas like the water-line for a quick wipe.

Eye creams: some people say they are born with bags and/or dark circles around their eyes. Agreed! But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make any effort to make it look better. Personally, I think it’s better to brighten up the area and reduce the appearance of bags and puffiness than to layer it with Concealer.
This product almost always comes in a little container but it packs a punch. It is best appreciated when one is stress-prone; the ‘eyes’ always have it!

Before I let you in on my remaining 3 underestimated skin care products, do tell me: which skin care product do you deem irrelevant and why?

Which are you? Natural or Negligent?

I met a lady a few days ago at my daughters’ open day. Our kids are actually in the same class and typical me, I struck up a conversation. Before long, we were talking skin care (which I’m quite passionate about) and she was quick to tell me she’s a natural person and doesn’t apply anything on her face.

Let’s clear something up here: being natural shouldn’t mean being negligent!!

Don’t get me wrong! I understand that a good number of people don’t have the discipline to maintain a healthy skin-care regimen and many of them believe they don’t even need it. But lack of discipline or ignorance shouldn’t be mistaken for being natural.

Your skin is the largest organ your body has; it’s the first thing people see when they look at you. Little wonder people are most particular about their faces which leads one to believe that ‘skin care’ is all about the face.

Did you have your bath today? Skin care
Did you shave any part of your body today? Skin care
Do you shampoo your scalp/hair? Skin care
Do you mani and pedi? Skin care
Do you indulge in massages and spa treatments? Skin care

All of the above procedures and a whole lot I didn’t include are measures we take to appear properly groomed and as such is not limited to females alone. Neither is it for people that are ‘not natural’.

I’m just in my early 30’s but believe me when I say that my skin, especially my face and scalp/hair, is not what it used to be. Maybe its childbirth, maybe its hormonal changes, blame it on what you want, but my skin care regimen helps me cope with the visible signs of aging.

It allows me to remain confident even without makeup; which is what ‘being natural’ is all about.

Share the steps you take to better take care of your skin/nails/scalp/hair.

Skin Conditions 3

Psoriasis is a skin condition that so many people (1 in every 50 persons) are not aware they suffer from, especially dark-skinned persons.

Skin cells on the surface of the body usually get replaced about every 28 days by underlying cells. In people suffering from psoriasis, what would have taken 28 days happens in 4-6 days thereby, piling skin cells on the surface of the body. These skin cell piles cause thick red and purple patches in light and dark-skinned persons respectively. These patches which can be found on the scalp, face, elbows, knees, palms of the hand, soles of the feet and other parts of the leg, can get itchy and sore, sometimes they become scaly, swollen and painful.

Just like eczema, psoriasis has a genetic link to it, in other words, it can be hereditary. It can also be aggravated by stress, smoking, infection (misdirected immune intervention) and changes in the weather which may dry up the skin.

Psoriasis has no known cure but it can be managed quite well. It is not contagious!! It is not sexually transmitted and it is not as a result of poor personal hygiene!!

To properly manage this skin condition, the following should be considered;

  • Stop smoking!!! That is if you do smoke, of course. 😊
  • Supplement diet with vitamins A and D as these may be deficient in psoriatics. One can also consider sunshine or UV exposure. In moderation of course.
  • Essential fatty acids especially omega3 is vital.
  • It is important to regulate cells, repair the skins barrier and retain water, so using topical treatments with plant derivatives should prove effective. Aloe Vera, Curcumin (derived from turmeric) and Marigold extracts work well. Using moisturizers with these extracts as often as possible is a step in the right direction.
  • Work towards being stress-free.

It is wise to basically avoid any situation or environment that could trigger a psoriatic flare. If such measures have been taken yet reactions still persist, do well to consult a dermatologist for detailed examination.

Do you or anyone you know suffer from this skin condition? How do you (they) manage it?

 

Skin Conditions 2

A good percentage of us struggled with acne/pimples while growing up. I know I did. During my secondary school days, I could hardly remember a day I looked into the mirror without having to pinch one area of my face or another. My face looked so much like a bumpy Nigerian road.

Every 28 days or so, the top layer of skin cells are shed and replaced with new ones. But if for one reason or the other they don’t shed properly, there’s a tendency for the dead skin cells to clog the opening or pores on the skins’ surface, resulting to whiteheads and black heads depending on the depth of the clog. Acne is then formed when this clogged area is infected by bacteria.

Acne breakouts could be as a result of;

  • Stress: Sleep and rest should not be taken for granted, there’s a reason why it’s called ‘beauty sleep’. Getting 7-8 hours of sleep daily enables the body and skin to work at their best. Try not to worry and stress about situations you can’t avoid.
  • Hormones: For females, there are certain times in a month when you can’t help but notice zits all over the face. Sometimes it creeps to the chest, back, shoulders and upper arms and can be painful too. For teenagers, acne is also a reality for a good number of years because of the level of hormones raging on the inside. Once there’s a surge or plunge in hormones within the body, most times it results to changes on the skin which may include acne.
  • Pollution (Oxidative stress): UV rays and automechanical fumes are two major sources of free radicals which put the health of ones’ skin at stake. Taking care to ensure minimum exposure will go a long way in maintaining optimum balance.
  • Improper skincare regimen or hygiene: When one is ignorant of their skin-type and products that work well for them, they stand a chance of not giving their skin the best care that it needs. Try not to under-do it or over-do it.
  • Poor diet: Eating a balanced meal, alongside green leafy vegetables and fruit most often reflect on the health of our skin. Carbonated and processed drinks should be avoided and replaced with pure water.

 

To treat or avoid acne breakouts, one can

  • Exfoliate; for me, this is the most important step. Exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin cells from the top layer of the skin. With little or no dead skin cells to clog pores, it’s safe to say that there’ll be less and less breakouts. Care should be taken not to exfoliate too frequently as this may affect the skin adversely.
  • Adopt a skin care regimen suitable for your skin type.
  • Use anti-inflammatory products: this can be in form of supplements or topical creams. Anti-inflammatory products are almost always antioxidants, so this will help a lot combating oxidative stress. Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, Hyaluronic acid, salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide are a few of the supplements and/or topical creams that can be used to control acne.
  • Eat balanced meals, fruits and vegetables, drink lots of pure water.

 

Any questions? Type in the comment section below. Also like our Facebook page @roseebynwaka for more ‘behind the scenes’ info.

Essential oils and your skin

I started to appreciate essential oils only recently when I began adding them to my skin care routine. Basically, essential oils are highly fragrant and volatile liquids that have been extracted from a plants’ essence. This is to say that essential oils are oily extracts from flowers, leaves, seeds, roots and/or peels.
Essential oils usually come in 10-15ml bottles. Because of their little containers, I once considered them quite pricey, but I’ve found that a little goes a very long way as they are highly concentrated. Believe me, they are worth every dime.
There are a variety of essential oils, each recommended for a different skin or body need. As regards skin care, these are my absolute favorites:
Lavender: From the Latin word ‘lavare’ meaning ‘to wash’, this essential oil is commonly used for baths probably because of its calming and sedative capabilities. I like to add a few drops while steaming my face or soaking in a tub. You can also dilute a few drops in water and spray over the skin after being under the sun for a while. Either way, the feel is heavenly!
Lemon: This essential oil works well as an astringent. It also has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It has a rich citrus fragrance and leaves the skin feeling clean and fresh. Oily skin types benefit hugely when this essential oil is included in the skin care routine.
Peppermint: Very rich in menthol-type compounds, thereby leaving a cooling effect on the skin. Works well to relieve scaly skin. Also good for acne and dermatitis-prone skin. Simply add a few drops to your moisturizer or mix with a Carrier Oil and massage into affected areas.
Rose: Is one of the most precious of essential oils, as it takes approximately a metric ton (1,000kg) of rose petals to extract 7fl.oz (21 cl) of oil. Aside from its calming and mood-uplifting qualities, this essential oil serves as a natural carrier oil as it increases the ability of the skin to absorb ingredients it comes in contact with. Adding a few drops to your toner helps to smoothe out and soothe acne-prone skin. A few drops of Rose essential oil and coconut oil during your facial steam also works wonders.
Chamomile, Ylang ylang and Frankincense: I usually find these essential oils as a mix and match with other oils. Chamomile is anti-inflammatory and is well recommended for irritable skin while Frankincense is rich in anti-oxidants, combating ageing process. Both are wonderful for dry and mature skin. Ylang ylang on the other hand works best for oily skin as it leaves it calm and balanced. Add a few drops to your toner or moisturizer or use for your weekly facials.

Essential oils can also be used alongside carrier oils. Carrier Oils work to increase the skins’ absorbing capabilities. When mixed with essential oils, the effects are faster and deep-reaching.
Note: Some essential oils are contraindicated (not to be used) during pregnancy, so do well to read the label before purchase or use.
Which oils have you used? Which would you consider your favorite? Let me know in the comment section below. Also sign up for our newsletter for more tips and freebies.

Your skin and pregnancy

During the course of pregnancy, several things happen. Such happenings include psychological, hormonal, emotional and most especially physical changes. It’s quite easy to overlook what is going on on the inside but one way or the other, it translates to what is seen on the outside.

As relates to the skin, being pregnant can take its toll, most times due to the increased nutritional demands. A mother-to-be can experience one or all of the following.

  • Varicose veins: This occurs as a result of increased blood circulation, which relaxes the walls of the valves in the vein. In some cases, they may become swollen, itchy and painful especially towards the last weeks of pregnancy. Try not to stand for so long and while sitting, always elevate your feet, avoid crossing them.
  • Chloasma: This is also known as melasma or mask of pregnancy. Increase in estrogen triggers excessive melanin production which in turn creates pigmented patches on the face and body. One day you have soft, glowing and radiant skin, then the next day, you look toasted! Staying out of the sun and using sunscreen will keep one from getting more patches. Chloasma fades within 3 months of childbirth.
  • Stretch marks: These usually start appearing during the second trimester. As the name implies, the marks appear around the tummy, breasts and thighs as a result of the skin (collagen and Elastin) being stretched excessively. This condition can be controlled by massaging oils rich in vitaminE over the marks.
  • Oedema: Swollen legs and ankles are as a result of fluid gathering in the lower extremities. Elevating the feet while sitting and gently massaging in an upward motion towards the heart helps a lot.
  • Other allergies: Because of increase in several hormones, certain allergies may (re) surface. Allergies may include eczema, acne, psoriasis. Apart from the recommended skin care during pregnancy, nothing more can be done in most cases. The skin usually clears a few weeks after childbirth or breast-feeding.

For the face, do well not to skip applying a night crème as this helps to balance the skin. Avocado, argan and aloe-Vera based products work really well. Also try to get a facials treatment often to release facial tension.

For the body, avoid using soaps that may dry out the skin and always massage rich oils over stretched parts. Having a pedicure/foot massage from time to time also helps prevent oedema and varicose veins.

What other skin condition did you experience while pregnant? Let me know in the comments section below.