Many African Americans are breaking barriers and becoming comfortable with expressing ourselves and personalities. We display this notion through our hair journeys, makeup techniques, nail and body art and our creative and stylish ensembles. As the lovely Tyra Banks would say, we are “breaking beauty barriers” and making advances toward building self-worth. But as a skincare therapist I ask, what about our skin?
I am alarmed that we as African Americans do not take an active interest in our skin as much as we do our hair, nails, fashion and makeup. Whether it is because we have a mindset that “black don’t crack” or because we feel it is less important, other cultures have surpassed us in proper skincare techniques. Here we are still in elementary school, using harmful bar soaps and I’ll even add soaps with harmful sulfates on our faces and wondering why our skin is problematic. We must take a personal stand regarding healthy skin, educate ourselves on products and procedures and then dedicate ourselves to establishing and sticking to a daily regimen. First things first; STOP USING HARSH BAR SOAP ON YOUR FACE..
Soaps tend to be more alkaline (9-10 pH range) and since healthy skin’s pH sits between 4.6 and 5.5, it is important to not use soaps with high alkalinity. Our skin has a natural acid mantle that protects our skin from environmental influences and bacteria (sort of like cellophane or car wax). Harsh surfactants like many soaps on the market destroys the protective mantle and as a result, bacterial moves in like that broke cousin of yours who’s always looking for a place to stay. Other drawbacks include:
- Soaps rob your skin of its natural oils, which hydrates the skin and locks in moisture
- Soaps contain thickeners (which are ingredients that hold soap together) and can clog your pores, potentially causing acne and dehydration
- Added chemicals in soaps are likely to increase skin irritations/allergic reactions from fragrances and/or preservatives
- Soaps have a tendency to leave a thin film behind, leaving you feeling unclean and clogged
If you are using bar soap, stop immediately and switch to a mild cleanser or calming cleaners depending on your skin type. This will begin to balance the skin’s pH balance. If necessary, invest in a hydrating toner (that does not contain harsh alcohols) as well as a facial moisturizer and SPF that is conducive to your skin type. Remember there is a difference between oil and moisture and your skin needs to be moisturized for optimal skin health. Begin exfoliating a couple times a week to loosen dead skin cells and reveal your new smooth skin.