I received my International certification as a Master Esthetician in the early 1980’s. I worked with both men and women with different colors of skin. Most people think of skin as just being skin so education is very important. There is a tendency to think that skin of color is tough, but the truth is that it is very sensitive.
I saw a lot of eczema, ashiness and open comedones amidst an impaired barrier. Common products used on the skin can further sensitize the skin or cause hyperpigmentation. For example, African-American women tend to use products that are too harsh for their skin. In general they use Vaseline® and bottles of peroxide and isopropyl alcohol. These ingredients torture the skin and sensitize it after several uses due to constant stripping of the skin.
Indian women tend to use acidic products like lemon juice and yogurt that create pH imbalances to their skin. Asian women use harsh AHAs and lightening products.
Since there may be a tendency for skin of color to be on the oily side, comedones may be an issue. African-Americans and Asians tend to have larger follicles, especially in the T-zone. Indian and Middle Eastern women tend to have oily skin or combination skin with smaller, tighter follicle size. Proper preparation is very important for comedone extractions. Technique and product use should be carefully selected. Avoid squeezing and pinching the skin for removal. Stiff drying masks can break delicate capillaries. You can carefully steam the face during a shower but don’t place your face in the hot water. The steam from the shower will gently open pores for cleansing.
Using a clean face wash cloth and KelaKare Cleansing Gel, gently use up and outward motions to wash the face. Do not go up and down or tug on the skin. Simply exfoliation and deep pore cleansing can be done without the need for abrasive, scratching ingredients. The slight nap of the face wash cloth is usually enough to give the level of deep pore cleaning without stripping or destroying the natural pH of the skin. KelaKare will not dry out or age the skin. There is no need to follow-up with a toner or clarifier because the product rinses completely clean without leaving a deposit or film of ingredients on the skin.
If you prefer, you can take your clean face wash cloth and wet it with hot water at your bathroom sink. Hold the wet cloth close enough to your face to feel the steam but don’t touch the skin. While your pores are open you can cleanse your face with KelaKare Cleansing Gel and then rinse it off.
I have talked in previous articles about specific ingredients that should not be in any skin care product. There are four risk potentials when looking at skin care ingredients.
- The level of your exposure. Safe levels are usually stated in ‘parts per million’ (ppm) or ‘parts per billion’ (3ppb) of a specific measurement of the product.
- Location of your exposure. Chemicals introduced to your body via your mouth (ingestion) or nose (inhalation) will have greater impact than those introduced to your skin (dermal) due to the stratum corneum which is a natural environmental barrier by the skin.
- Method of your exposure. Is the ingredient a leave-on-lotion or crème or wash-off facial cleanser? Does it contain skin penetrants? Is it applied to intact skin or are AHAs that reduce the barrier’s thickness part of the routine? I is used after surgery or laser treatments when the skin is extremely compromised? Does the product allow for evaporation or does it trap the ingredient on the skin which increased risk to the skin?
- Length of your exposure. This includes the length of time for each exposure as well as the days, months, or years you are exposed to the chemical.
There is one more issue that is just now coming into focus with toxicologists: Genetic predisposition or vulnerability to a chemical. Most of our genomes are unique to us in specific ways. Some genes are more resistant and some more vulnerable. Pay attention to what is happening to your skin and how you feel. Any discomfort should signal non use of a product.