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Ethnic skincare..from an ethnic perspective

As a regular spa-goer, I had always thought that massages were the most relaxing treatment available. Ten years ago however, after I started going for regular facials, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I found them much more relaxing than massages, even when extractions are involved!

Hundreds of facials later, I have learnt a lot from many therapists about how to best maintain my skin.

One thing that many women of colour (like me), notice early on is that most generally available products and tips relating to skincare are geared towards white clients, with less focus on those of us with more melanin in our skin. It is therefore advisable that when a woman of colour is making an appointment for a facial, they confirm that the spa is familiar with their skin type and can offer the required level of service and expertise.

Linda Harding, a senior esthetician at Rescue Rittenhouse Spa Lounge in Philadelphia, USA, advises that for a spa to remain competitive, their therapists must be savvy in treating a wide range of ethnicities.

Linda recommends the following products for ethnic skin:
• P50 Lotion by Biologique Recherche (France). This exfoliator is comprised of 6 different alpha hydroxys which when used daily, promote rapid turnover of the skin, dissolving dead cells and resulting in a complexion that’s bright and luminous
• The entire Environ (South Africa) range. This range works very well with ethnic skin and is Linda’s “go to” line for oily, breakout prone skin. Their retinols stop breakouts and fine lines in their tracks, while the Clarifying Lotion and C Boost eliminate dark marks. The Gel Moisturizer is weightless and very lightly scented and works very well in summer months
• Cellcosmet Activator Gel and Toner (Switzerland). The Gel, a botanical based exfoliant, is great for pregnant women and for everyday use. It gently dissolves dead cells without irritating the skin. The Toner infuses the skin with electrolytes which assist the skin in remaining plump & moist

Winnie Taylor of Body Evolution in Sandton, Johannesburg and Nairobi, Kenya, is one of my favourite skin care therapists (and a good friend). She says that many of her clients mix and match products. “It is better to use one range that addresses your skin concerns,” advises Winnie, “but from time to time, your therapist may recommend a different product to treat a specific issue that your normal range does not address.”

Many of Winnie’s darker skinned clients do not feel that it is necessary to use sun block, which can leave them susceptible to sun damage. As clients become more educated about the implications of sun damage they understand the importance of using sun block daily, regardless of skin colour. Many good moisturisers do have an SPF factor of 15, however, if one is spending lots of time outdoors or in direct sunlight, an SPF factor of at least 30 is recommended.

Linda and Winnie both agree that the main ethnic skincare concerns they come across are hyperpigmentation and breakouts. This often occurs when clients do not hydrate sufficiently and also do not observe a healthy diet. Breakouts can also be caused by varying factors such as hormonal changes brought about through use of contraceptives, excessive sebum production in the skin, incorrect products being used on the skin or by stress. Once clients are treated by a qualified therapist who educates them on the correct regimen for their skin type, their problems usually diminish or go away.

Women (of all skin types) have tried to look as young as possible for as long as possible. In order to achieve this, clients should start by identifying their skin type and the best way to take care of it, and taking advantage of the growing range of products differentiated to treat various skin types. A basic homecare regime can result in great looking skin. If you think you could take better care of your skin, try the following regimen with a good skincare range, and I guarantee you will notice a difference in a very short period of time:
• Cleanse – Morning and evening
• Exfoliate – 1-3 times a week depending on skin type
• Moisturise – Morning and evening
• Mask – 1 to 2 times a week depending on skin type
• Eye Cream/Gel – Morning and evening

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