Top 3 ingredients I avoid in skin care products

When picking out skin care products, I’m pretty particular not just about the expiry date, but also the ingredients on the label. I already shared with us my must have ingredients in a previous post, so today, I’ll be sharing ingredients I avoid and why.

  1. Alcohol: Have you enjoyed a bottle or two of your favorite alcoholic beverage recently? Did you feel thirsty after a while? This is because alcohol has a tendency to dry up or dehydrate cells. Those with oily skin seems to favor cleansers and toners with alcohol in them because it gives them this crisp feel right after applying them. But truth is, it strips the top layer of the skin of all protective oils, thereby, causing the skin to produce even more to replace that which has been wiped out. This is not to say that all skin care products containing alcohol are bad, just do well to avoid those that have Alcohol Denat as their number one ingredient, that sting when applied or evaporate very quickly when exposed to the skin.
  2. Mercury: This ingredient is mostly found in antiseptic soaps and ‘skin lightening’ creams, serums and ointments. It works by inhibiting the formation of melanin (the natural color of the skin), resulting in lighter skin tones. Mercury is so potent that it also affects the people around whoever applies or uses it and in a negative way. Side effects include hair loss, drowsiness, weakness, depression, burning skin sensation when in humid or air-conditioned environment, itching, stinging and redness of skin over time. As if all the above is not enough, it also exposes the skin to sever sun damage. Look out for calomel, mercurous chloride, mercuric, mercurio as these are synonymous to mercury. If any of these names is listed as an ingredient on a skin care product, I avoid it!!
  3. Hydroquinone: In the US, Hydroquinone is a recommended ingredient in skin lightening BUT for particular skin conditions, in regulated quantities and for a specified period of time. Even at that, many people still suffer from the side effects which may include: skin dryness and cracking, excessive redness and irritation, blistering and blue-black darkening. These side effects also leave the skin more sensitive to sunburn and over time, more prone to skin cancer.

These 3 ingredients are an absolute no-no for me when picking up skin care products. What ingredients do YOU avoid? Let me know in the comment section below.

 

Your skin and the sun

Someone once joked that the sun needs to stop showing off as it remains the hottest thing on earth. I totally agree!!

It’s no secret that your skin gets a good dose of vitamin D from the early morning sun, but how much is too much? Where do you draw the line between nourishing your skin and keeping it from premature ageing and burn?

There are six skin types in relation to the sun and burn risk. These skin types are categorized based on the concentration of melanocytes (cells that give the skin its color) on the surface of the skin. Knowing where you fall will go a long way in helping you reduce any skin damage caused by the sun.

  • Type 1; People in this category have VERY fair skin, very light blond or red hair, are prone to freckles and have green or blue eyes. Europeans easily fall into this category. This skin type hardly tans (always gets burnt and very prone to skin cancer) and TOTAL sunblock should be used.
  • Type 2; Skin in this category burns easily and tans with difficulty. Hair can be blond or light brown and eyes are blue or brown. Should use SPF 20 and above. Total sunblock can be used on delicate areas.
  • Type 3; Skin sometimes gets burnt but tans very well. Hair is light brown and eyes are brown or green. Sunscreen with SPF 20 is ideal for this group.
  • Type 4; People with this skin type are usually found in the Mediterranean region. They have dark brown eyes and hair. Their skin rarely burns and tans easily and they are less likely to develop skin cancer than skin types 1 & 2. But with continuous exposure, their skin will age prematurely and become saggy. Sunscreen with SPF 15 is recommended.
  • Type 5; Skin in this category are not as vulnerable to UV-related ageing or skin cancer but this doesn’t mean care shouldn’t be taken. They have brown to light black skin and should use sunscreen with SPF 10 if they have to stay out in the sun for an extended period.
  • Type 6; This skin type is typical to Africans and Afro-Caribbeans. They have darker black-brown skin, black-brown eyes and hair. The skin hardly ever burns. For prolonged exposure, use SPF 8.

When using sunscreen, lavishly apply on areas not covered by clothing a few minutes before heading out under the sun, but do well to avoid staying out between 12 noon and 3 o’clock: this is when the sun is at its hottest!

After unexpected or prolonged sun exposure, use an after-sun soother. Aloe Vera works very well. If you have the real plant, just snap off a leaf and apply the sap directly to the affected areas. Or choose an after-sun product based on Aloe, just make sure Aloe barbadensis is the first ingredient on the label.

If you fall into Type 5 or 6 skin type and you seem prone to sunburn, you might need to re-examine the ingredients used in your skin care products as it may be eroding the protective melanocytes on the surface of your skin. Better still, visit a certified dermatologist.

Did you get value from todays’ post? Let me know in the comment section below.

Skin conditions 1

Few days after my daughter was born, I noticed some rash-like appearances on her face. Before I could do anything about it, it had spread to her scalp and was ‘chewing’ off her hair. We sought medical assistance and used some prescribed topical medication to no avail, for months my daughters’ skin looked like a rag dolls’.

Much later, another pediatrician advised that we retrace our steps, she inquired our daily patterns of caring for our daughter and recommended some changes.

Until then, I didn’t know eczema was hereditary. I always viewed it as a ‘dirty disease’. It never occurred to me that certain conditions could be responsible for flares-up and above all, I didn’t know it doesn’t have a cure.

Eczema is a form of dermatitis (inflammation of the upper part of the skin aka dermis). Most times it occurs as a form of allergy, it’s your skins way of telling you that it doesn’t like whatever you’ve been exposing it to. In my daughters’ case, it was the heat. Being born mid-February, I would still cover her up in thick overalls, mittens and a cap and of course, her bath water had to be a certain temperature because that’s what ‘everybody’ advised. I didn’t realize her skin wasn’t getting enough ventilation.

Like I mentioned previously, eczema is hereditary but it requires ‘unfavorable’ conditions to trigger it. Such triggers may include heat, pregnancy, hormonal imbalance, topical applications as in certain soaps and creams and/or stress. Remember that old wives tale about sharing clothes? You can dismiss that myth because eczema is not contagious but be sure no liquid is seeping from the inflamed area.

Not up to a week after applying the ‘no heat’ treatment and adequate moisturisation (eczema-prone skin is usually dry and requires extra moisturizing) on my daughter, I couldn’t believe the positive changes. Her skin cleared without any scars but her hair which had fallen off in patches took longer to grow out. She’s 3+ now and yet to have a relapse.

 

Are you prone to eczema? Does someone in the family have it? Have you ever taken note of what flares it up in your case? Hit me up in the comment section below.

 

My weekly skin care routine

Some days ago, I let you in on how I pamper my skin daily. From washing to cleansing down to moisturizing. Today, we’ll be seeing a weekly pamper routine.

Maybe because I’m blessed with good genes, I never took skin care seriously until I became a mother and approached my 30’s. Suffice to say, things were not the way they used to be, but with proper and regular care, I’ve been able to keep things in check.

Because I have a flexible work routine, I can afford to spoil myself on weekdays: usually on Wednesdays but any day you choose is fine.

Here it goes;

  • Cleansing: We’ve talked about cleansing previously, so we’ll be skipping it on this post.
  • Scrubbing: After prepping the skin by cleansing, next is scrubbing! I love to use a scrub with tiny rounded beads preferably Jojoba beads: this ensures proper exfoliation and doesn’t leave tiny cuts on the skin like several microdermabrasion versions. Scrubbing removes the dead skin cells that accumulate on the skins’ top layer, this immediately visibly brightens the complexion.
  • While scrubbing, I like to apply pressure on areas where I’m white and blackhead-prone but I avoid the delicate eyes and lips region. I also scrub my neck then I wash off with warm water.
  • Steaming: Pour boiling water in a bowl, add 2-3 drops of your favorite essential oil or leaves of your preferred herbs (lemon grass works wonders), place your face above the steaming bowl with a towel over your head to keep the steam from escaping. Turn your face from side to side making sure all parts of your face are properly steamed and that you can breathe properly.
  • This process opens up your pores and allows it to get unclogged and this is the only time you are allowed to pop any pimples or pull out any stubborn blackhead. The steam from the essential oils or herbs also penetrate the upper layer of the skin to work the wonders you intended.
  • Toning: Using a cotton pad, swipe the face with your favorite toner to soothe and calm your skin down. For more on toning click here.
  • Masking: Using your favorite mask, cover the entire face (except your lips and eyes) and following the instruction on the label, leave to dry or set for the amount of time. You can place slices of refrigerated cucumber over your eyes while your mask is on to hydrate the eye region and DON’T FORGET TO RELAX. Peel or wash off as instructed. This process helps to actively slow down and in some cases, reverse the visible signs of ageing on the face.
  • Moisturizing: We are back to one of the most important processes in skin care. Depending on the time of day and your preferred products, do well to keep your skin properly hydrated. More on moisturizing here.

 

Do you live in Lagos? Would you like to enjoy a free facials experience? Let me know in the comment section below.

Tips to avoiding bumps while removing hair.

Every other week, I pull out my tweezers and get to work on my facial hairs. Once upon a time, I used to dread touching them because I had heard such a lot about hairs.

“Don’t shave them, they’ll come back with a vengeance” (I wonder why this doesn’t apply to the hair on the head or under the arm)

“Don’t use razors, it’ll give you bumps”

“Use shaving sticks only”. And so on.

And I believed what I heard because most times I would have unsightly bumps under my arms and around my neck. Fortunately, those days are long gone.

 

What do I do differently? I avoid the following:

  • Shaving cold; I try to warm up the part to be shaved. For my face and under arm, I either use a warm towel directly or stand under a warm shower for a few minutes. This opens up the pores, softens the area and makes the process an effortless one.
  • Don’t ask me how I warm up ‘down below’. Use your discretion!!!😝
  • Not using a cream; Honestly, I don’t do this often, because some of the hair removing creams I know smell so awful and I end up looking like an Egyptian mummy especially when I want to shave my legs and arms. But when I do, I prefer to use my cleanser, yes, it’s creamy and alcohol-free and smells great too.
  • Shaving in any direction; This is the major culprit when removing hair from the body. When tweezing, hold the skin taut, grab the errant hair with the tweezers and pull in the direction of hair growth. Same applies with razors and shaving sticks. If you don’t do it this way, you run the risk of having in-grown hair (growing back into the skin instead of outwards) which causes bumps and/ or infection and eventually scars or keloids.
  • So, when next you are removing body hair, observe the pattern of growth and follow suit. For under the arm, go radial from the centre (upwards, downwards and outwards from the centre)
  • Not moisturizing; Moisturizing after removing hair is very important. Your skin has gone through some form of trauma and it needs to be soothed. Alcohol-based products should be avoided after shaving because they sting (if you have cuts, which you most probably will) and they dry up and dehydrate the area.
  • Your goal is to first seal your pores by applying water as cold as you can bear, then the next is to make sure any cuts you have heal very quick to avoid infections. Aloe Vera-based products work well here, and it helps to keep your skin hydrated and supple.

 

Do you have facial hair? How do you avoid bumps while keeping your skin hair-free? Let me know in the comment section below.

Basic makeup hygiene 2

 

If you are a makeup lover like me, then you must have a wide range of products in your kit. From foundation to powder to all shades of shadows and blush and creamy and matte lipsticks. You know na !!😜 Of course, you’ll also have some favorites that you use on special occasions, you literally hoard these items so they don’t finish so quickly, maybe because they are a bit more expensive than the rest.

Be it as it may, ALL these items in your kit have a shelf-life: they do expire!!!😁 I’ve had people brag about how they’ve had an eye-shadow palette or lipstick for 5 years! What??? They say to me ‘Nwaka, this is my special occasion foundation. I don’t joke with it o! I’ve had it since 2013!’

Please read further and be properly informed. Below is a basic list of makeup products and their stipulated shelf-life unless otherwise stated.

  • Foundation (liquid or cream) – 2 years
  • Lipsticks – 1 year
  • Eye-shadow (powder) – 2years
  • Concealer – 2 years
  • Mascara – 4-6 months
  • Blush (powder) – 2 years
  • Face powder – 2 years

Have you ever wondered why certain makeup products come in really small containers? Concealers, pressed powders, eye shadows and even some foundations? The above is the reason why. What’s the point having a huge bottle of foundation sitting on a shelf in a makeup store for 6 months and making it to your kit only to expire in another 18 months because you use it only on special occasions?

So, kindly go through your makeup kit this weekend. Be honest and give your ‘dead’ and smelly makeup products a befitting burial, don’t give them out: just bury them in the Lawma container outside your gate. They’ve added so much value to your life and deserve a rest.

You’ll also be doing yourself a favor by not using expired products on your face. Just imagine how grateful your stomach will be if you constantly feed it with expired juice or milk?

Do well to rid your kit of all stains or pencil marks as you wish other products goodbye, find covers for those beloved pencils too and keep them sharpened always.

Lastly, don’t share eye pencils and lipstick and mascara wands with friends: cold sores and conjunctivitis is real. Find out how to safely share in the previous post.

Basic makeup hygiene 1

Brushes/sponges/applicators are the second tools of trade almost every makeup lover acquires. First comes the makeup itself then you need to get the best of every application by using the best tools for each product.

It’s somewhat sad that many don’t pay attention to proper care and even use of the applicators. Depending on the nature of your makeup product (liquid, crème, powder), your respective applicators have a tendency to harbor harmful germs that in one way or the other affects the health of your skin and eventually your makeup application.

If you have a personal arsenal of these applicators, brushes and tools, it’s in your best interest to wash them weekly or every other week. They are your personal belongings and it is assumed that you use them about once or twice a day so the product build up won’t be so much on them.

But if you are a makeup artist, it is expected that your tools should be cleaned in between clients. Which means that once you are done working with client A, you MUST clean ALL brushes that have made contact with client As’ skin or use new brushes and applicators for client B.
This is a lot of work no doubt, but it ensures you don’t transfer any ‘unlikables ‘ from one client to the other.

So how do you achieve this? Washing your brushes can be a daunting task especially if you have a lot of them. I love to use my hair shampoo/conditioner and a brush cleaning mat for my tools laundry.
I simply run my brush under a tap without letting water into the metal part (ferrules), apply some shampoo to it, then scrub on my mat depending on the section (eye, face, rinse, condition). I also repeat with conditioner, rinse thoroughly and place on a flat towel to dry. Same goes for sponges.

I have also invested in a brush cleaner which allows me use one set of brushes severally without washing. I simply spray the cleaner on a paper towel and wipe the brush over it again and again until no product comes off it any more. This effectively kills any germs on the brush while wiping product buildup away.
I also love to use disposables (eye liners, lip applicators, mascara wands) as this makes things quite easier. Once used on a client it doesn’t get back into the product for any reason whatsoever so it doesn’t contaminate the makeup product. And I don’t have to bother cleaning it (have you tried wiping your mascara wand on a paper towel?) Straight into the bin!!!!

So when next you notice breakouts on your face, make sure that your makeup tools are not the culprits and also insist on clean brushes/applicators and no double-dipping when next you are sitting in an artists’ chair.

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Top 4 ingredients I look out for in skincare products.

There are 4 ingredients I’m so quick to look out for when picking up new skin care products👌. They are truly wonder ingredients as any good skin care product worth its salt should boast of at least 2 of them as part of its ingredients.

  1. Hyaluronic acid: This is also known as sodium hyaluronate. This is one silent yet powerful ingredient which is not only good for the skin but also for the joints. Hyaluronic acid is found in the body as it serves as a great support to Elastin and Collagen which are the skins major support system.Because this ingredient is found in little amounts in the body, there is need for regular top-up either by topical application as in skin care products or ingestion in form of supplements. It attracts and binds water, basically providing hydration to the skin. This is just another way of saying that it is a great moisturizing agent.
  2. Vitamin E: Most skin care products boast of having this ingredient because of its importance in maintaining healthy skin but what they are not so quick to disclose is whether or not the vitamin E in use is natural or synthesized.Now, there doesn’t seem to be much difference between natural and synthesized vitamin E as they are almost identical. But the body responds 2 times faster and better to the natural ingredient and most times treats the synthesized counterpart as toxin. This is to say that if your skin care product has synthesized vitamin E as one of its ingredients, the probability that your skin won’t recognize it as vitamin E is high.So, how do you tell the difference? Natural vitamin E is also called d-alpha tocopherol (and apart from being more pricy, brands that use this ingredient are so quick and proud to point out their ‘natural’ ingredient on the label) while the synthesized version starts with dl– instead of d- and ends with –ate or –yl instead of –ol. You may then wonder why it’s in use at all. This is because, synthesized vitamin E is extracted from crude oil and is cheaper to process whereas the natural one is extracted from vegetable oils and more expensive to stabilize (this also affects the pricing of the end product). Vitamin E helps the skin to retain its natural moisture which is indeed very good for those with dry skin types.

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  3. Vitamin A: This vitamin is so potent that it is contra-indicated (not advised) in high doses during pregnancy because of its ability to reprogram cells.It reduces the formation and appearance of age spots and wrinkles.It increases blood flow to the skin surface and accelerates wound healing.If you prefer the natural ingredient, look out for beta-carotene. The synthesized version is called retinyl palmitate or retinyl acetate. Using a night crème rich in vitamin A is a great skin care investment. Trust me!! It prevents acne by reducing sebum production (Oily skin types, where art thou?) It slows down the natural break down of Collagen and Elastin in the skin, making it an anti-ageing component.
  4. Vitamin C: This vitamin is best used during the day to serve as a shield from UV rays.It is a required component in the production of Elastin and Collagen which firms and tones the skin keeping it from premature ageing and wrinkling. It is also a natural brighteners as it is good for fading age spots and freckles.

 

Something these 4 ingredients have in common is that they are anti-oxidants. This means that they are strategic in fighting and reversing the effects of minute chemical particles that damage all living cells.👍

So when next you are picking up skincare products, consider these four wonder ingredients as part of your arsenal.

Also don’t forget to check for expiry dates before making payments.

 

Any questions? Drop them in the comment section below. Do sign up for our newsletter for more tips and freebies!

My daily skin care routine

Now that you know your skin type, how should you properly take care of it?

We’ve established that there are Dry, Normal, Oily and Combination skin types. What we didn’t include is that any of the above skin types can be Sensitive, but this cannot be determined by our paper towel test.

A daily skin care routine cuts across all skin types but the products involved may be different based on skin needs ie someone with sensitive skin MAY not use all the products that every other skin type uses but other skin types may comfortably use products made for sensitive skin. (hope I didn’t confuse you there)

A daily skin care routine may include

  • Washing: This could be with a facial bar or regular bathing soap. I personally prefer a facial bar as this is usually tailored to remove makeup gently without stripping the top layer of the skin bare.
  • Cleansing: An alcohol-free cleanser works well for all skin types as it doesn’t dry the face out. YES, you with very oily skin, an alcohol-free cleanser should be your very first investment in proper skin care (when alcohol dries out the skin, it exposes it to even more oil production which is NOT what you want).One product I’ve found very helpful in ridding my face of makeup is an eye makeup remover. Its so mild on the skin and effortlessly wipes water-proof products away. Trust me, your kajal, eye ink and mascara don’t stand a chance against this product. Simply wipe with a Q-tip dipped in this product and away they go. Try it with your matte lipsticks too, you’ll be amazed.
  • Use whenever you’ve applied eye makeup.
  • Cleansing is just to remove all the makeup that your facial bar couldn’t get to especially around the hair line. Apply directly onto the face and wipe of with a muslin cloth or towel. When used at night, you can skip applying in the morning.
  • Toning: Many people get confused with this process and to clarify the misunderstanding, a toner is first water-based. Then it is meant to soothe the skin while smoothing it out and tightening pores. It also prepares the skin for whatever follow up process you choose.*Tip: Refrigerate your toner 30 minutes before applying – HEAVEN!!!
  • To cut across all skin types, your toner should be alcohol-free. Apply with a cotton pad day and night.
  • Moisturizing: This is one of my favorite processes. Having a Day and Night moisturizer is truly a skin care investment. For dry skin types, this process is literally a ‘skinsaver’ (if such a word exists). It is best to use Day and Night moisturizers from the same brand as these usually complement each other.Then the Night moisturizer allows the skin to rest and recuperate while you sleep. Don’t leave out your lips as these get neglected most times.PS: Just because I didn’t mention the rest of the body doesn’t mean it should be neglected.
  • I also use an eye cream to moisturize the eye area and prevent darkness and bags around the eyes.
  • I love to use a Day moisturizer also as a sunscreen and makeup primer. This serves to reduce the amount of products I use on my face especially in hot and humid weather.

 

Now you know what a daily skin care routine looks like, tell me in the comment below what you are missing out or what you hope to add. Don’t know your skin type? Find out here.

 

 

What skin type do you have?

Knowing your skin type is a first step to better caring for your skin. This is so you can use products specially made for your type of skin.

Finding your skin type is actually quite easy and can be done at home within an hour. Simply follow these steps,😁

  • Wash your face with your favorite facial bar. Dab clean with a towel. Do not cleanse or apply any other product on your face.
  • After an hour, using a single ply from your kitchen roll or serviette (this is preferable to the usual toilet paper because it covers the whole face at once), cover the entire face pushing the single ply of paper towel into the nooks and crannies of your face.
  • Remove the paper and observe!

Dry skin: your paper towel will remain the same. There would be no visible transfer of oils from the face to the paper.😒

Normal skin: there’ll be traces of oil transfer from the face evenly distributed on your paper towel. Evenly distributed ‘patches’ if you may.

Oily skin: you just can’t miss the oily display😝. You may literally have to peel the paper off your face. Every part of the paper that has touched your face becomes translucent (light can pass through it).

Combination skin: the forehead, nose and chin sections (T-zone) of the paper are translucent while the other parts have evenly distributed patches as in normal skin. Most women have this type of skin, not oily and not normal.

 

Now that you know what your skin type is, do well to source for products that would bring out only the best in your skin.😘

 

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