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Skincare School Lesson Three: Moisturizing, Pt II

July 29, 2015

Kahina Oils and Moisturizers

Last post we went over some moisturizer basics and in this one, we’re going to go over how to use that information to build a moisturizing regimen that works for you.

It would be very easy to give you a step-by-step that looks like this:
1. Wash 2. Tone 3. Oil/serum 4. Cream/lotion

…and for some skin types, that series works quite well. For others, removing either step 3 or step 4 is possible. You can combine steps 3 and 4, and you can even add in another step at the end, which would be a balm. At Kahina we rely on intuitive skincare – that is, once you know what a product does and the state your skin is in that day, you can intuitively create your routine, making adjustments day by day or season by season if necessary.

A word on the order in which you use products: there is some debate on whether you should use a facial oil before or after a facial lotion. Our standard recommendation is to layer as follows: less viscous products first (toning mists/hydrosols, water- or aloe-based serums) then oils/oil-based serums, then moisturizers (creams/lotions/balms), which have emollients that are to serve as a protector from evaporation. In order to work as intended, these emollients should lay on top. Your zinc oxide sunscreen (if wearing) should be last. If switching the order – using moisturizers/creams/lotions etc. first, then applying oils over – works for you, then do it.

Kahina Face Oils
We love Argan Oil for all skin types, especially oily, acne-prone or sensitive. Serum is the perfect choice for dry skin or for those wanting more active anti-aging ingredients. Prickly Pear Seed Oil is best for normal to dry and sensitive.

For those that prefer a prescribed regimen to begin, here are a few scenarios and how we would recommend layering our moisturizing products to achieve the best results.

You have dry to very dry skin. You are 40+. You live in a dry climate or are consistently subjected to low-humidity environments. You want a very active anti-aging routine.
1. AM & PM: Cleanse
2. AM & PM: Toning Mist (+ optional Brightening Serum if looking to treat hyperpigmentation or uneven skin tone)
3. AM: Prickly Pear Seed Oil // PM: Serum
4. AM: Facial Lotion // PM: Night Cream
5. AM & PM as needed: Lip & Face Balm

Variations: use either Serum or Prickly Pear Seed Oil for both morning and evening; use either Facial Lotion or Night Cream for both morning and evening; use Lip & Face Balm in lieu of Facial Lotion or Night Cream

You have normal skin – not oily or dry. You are in your 20s or 30s. You’re seeking streamlined skincare with some anti-aging actives.
1. AM & PM: Cleanse
2. AM & PM: Toning Mist
3. AM: Argan Oil or Prickly Pear Seed Oil // PM: Serum
4. AM: Facial Lotion

Variations: use Night Cream at night, or even morning and night (instead of Facial Lotion) if you’d like a more advanced anti-aging regimen.

You have oily, acne-prone skin. Your primary goal is to balance oil production and reduce breakouts.
1. AM & PM: Cleanse
2. AM & PM: Toning Mist
3. AM & PM: Argan Oil

Variations: dry because of prescription topicals? Consider adding in Facial Lotion or Night Cream AM & PM, as needed.

You have sensitive skin. Your primary goal is to reduce redness and sensitivity, while supporting skin health and vitality.
1. AM & PM: Cleanse
2. AM & PM: Toning Mist
3. AM: Argan Oil // PM: Prickly Pear Seed Oil
4. AM & PM: Facial Lotion

Variations: use Lip & Face Balm after or in lieu of Facial Lotion for dryer skin, use either Argan Oil or Prickly Pear Seed Oil for both morning and evening, skip the Facial Lotion at night if your skin is more oily

Kahina Moisturizers
We recommend Facial Lotion for all skin types, especially sensitive since it has no essential oils or fragrance. Kahina Night Cream is lightweight yet packed with soothing-yet-active anti-aging ingredients, so we love it for dry or mature skin, or even oily/acne prone (the aloe vera gel base is non-comedogenic). For those with very dry or irritated skin, or those in dry environments, we recommend using Lip & Face Balm as a top layer to protect from moisture loss, soothe irritation, and to soften skin.

I’m using your Brightening Serum. When do I apply that?
Apply Brightening Serum after Toning and before oils/oil-based serums/creams/lotions etc.

Can you skip an oil or oil-based serum and just use Facial Lotion/Night Cream?
Absolutely! If that level of moisture feels right, do it.

How do I know if I’m using the right amount of oil/serum?
Generally 2-5 drops works for slightly damp skin. You can use more drops if your skin tends toward dry. About 5 minutes after applying, you should not feel any oiliness. If you do, use fewer drops next time. It really helps to have your face be slightly damp (use the Toning Mist!) – the oil spreads more readily, covering more area with less product. In addition, the Toning Mist helps the oil absorb. Win-win!

Facial Lotion/Night Cream isn’t rich enough for me. What should I do?
One option is to add a few drops of Argan Oil, Serum, or Prickly Pear Seed Oil to your scoop of moisturizer and mix it together on your palm before applying. You can even spray some Toning Mist into the mixture before blending. Then apply it. Another idea is to layer our Lip & Face Balm over top of other moisturizers, focusing on dry areas. Make sure that your dryness is not skin dehydration, which needs to be remedied with sodium hyaluronate, topical water/aloe vera, and by drinking enough water. If you’re in a dry environment, be sure to seal in moisture with a lotion, cream or balm.

Erica Tanov Interviews Katharine L’Heureux

July 28, 2015

Bay Area designer (and Kahina collaborator!) Erica Tanov interviewed Katharine L’Heureux recently & thought we’d share. Erica Tanov designed these bags, currently on sale here and here.

In Conversation With Katharine L’Heureux, Founder of Kahina Giving Beauty

Kahina Giving Beauty is an organic, holistic skin care line focused on providing high-quality, ethically sourced products, while giving back to the women and communities behind them. CEO and founder, Katharine L’Heureux, was inspired to create the line after visiting Morocco in 2007 where she was introduced to the major benefits of argan oil. So inspired by the healing properties and multi-uses, she decided to bring it back to New York and share it with others. But Katharine’s admiration for the product goes beyond it’s beauty benefits. After connecting with the Berber women behind the extraction technique, she quickly fell in love with the rich history and tradition surrounding the product as well. Keeping the cultural significance tied to the products is a core philosophy behind the brand. Kahina donates a percentage of their profits to helping improve the lives of these women, and Katharine continues to keep in close contact with the Berber women to ensure ethical treatment and the highest workplace standards.

We’ve been a long time fan of their products (read up on Erica’s favorite products here) and are thrilled to have recently launched our second collaborative makeup bag to accompany their Lip and Face Balm and Toning Mist. This season we’ve used neon pink French fabric combined with a gold, handmade leather tassel. To celebrate the collaboration we chatted with Katharine to dig a little deeper into her personal beauty regime, her connection with the Berber women of Morocco, and how she manages to find balance and maintain healthy habits in a busy world.

Thanks, Katharine!

Erica Tanov for Kahina Giving Beauty Pink Spring Summer 2015

ET: Can you tell us more about your own personal beauty routines and beauty philosophies? What do you think are the most important factors in maintaining healthy skin? What are your tips on maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle?

KLH: I recently read a book called The Tuner of Silences by Mia Couto. In it was a quote that really resonated with me: “Busy making myself beautiful, I allowed my true beauty, that which dwells in a candid look, to escape.”

I try to keep sight of the fact that true beauty lies in being oneself, not in the latest shade of lipstick or hairstyle. I believe that if you take care of yourself, maintain a sense of humor, compassion, and style, you can be beautiful and powerful at any age. While diet and exercise are important, too much stress – over eating the right things and/or not exercising enough, or worrying too much about skincare ingredients – can age you more than anything else you do. Do your best to eat well, drink plenty of water, exercise, and take care of your skin with a good, natural skincare regimen for glowing, healthy skin. This means cleansing, moisturizing, light exfoliation and repairing. Be gentle with your skin. Whether your concern is aging or acne, a mild, protective skincare regimen is going to benefit your skin in the long run. My personal daily routine consists of: cleansing with Kahina Facial Cleanser, then a few spritzes of our Toning Mist to prep the skin for oil application. I follow that with either the Argan Oil, Serum, or Prickly Pear Seed Oil, depending on the time of year and my mood. I try to spend a minute or two massaging the oils into my skin to improve circulation. After the oils, I’ll use the Kahina Facial Lotion to aid in moisture retention and protect my skin during the day, and the Kahina Night Cream to aid in skin regeneration at night. For the eye area, I’m using the Eye Serum right now, which is great for summer because of its lightweight texture, and works wonders for puffiness and dark circles, so I look refreshed during the day. Once or twice a week, I use the Kahina Antioxidant Mask to detox and provide gentle exfoliation.

ET: Sustainability and using organic, healing ingredients is at the core of your business beliefs and practices. Can you talk a little more about how you first fell in love with argan oil in Morocco and a few of its many benefits?

KLH: Starting about 11 years ago, after the birth of my third child, I was searching for safe and effective all-natural skincare. At that time, quality natural brands were hard to find. I really never imagined that I would create my own line, but when I discovered argan oil on a trip to Morocco in 2007, I realized I had found the skincare solution I had been searching for – effective, organic, and making a positive difference in the lives of the people who produce it. I began by importing the argan oil, and soon after decided to create the line I was yearning for: simple, effective, organic skincare products, [that are] ethically produced and beautifully packaged, with this amazing ingredient at its core. Rich in Vitamin E, essential fatty acids and antioxidants, argan oil is a superstar ingredient that works on a multitude of skin problems, from acne to eczema.

Kahina Argan Nuts

ET: These days it seems difficult to separate life from work, but we know that proper work-life balance is crucial for a healthy lifestyle. What do you do when you’re not working? What are some of your hobbies and what do you like to do for fun?

KLH: I’m fortunate to be doing what I love. Being the owner of a small business means never being able to truly be off-duty, but working from home allows me to have the flexibility I need to be there for my kids and enjoy time with the family. I can also grab some time during the day to get to the Whitney Museum, which just moved to my neighborhood in New York, or take a walk on the High Line. On the weekends, I’m at our Hudson Valley home spending time outdoors, kayaking, hiking or working in our ever-expanding garden. I love the physical work of landscaping – the digging, the tilling, pushing heavy wheelbarrows and moving plants – as well as the creative and meditative aspects. I really lose myself when I’m working in the garden, and the aesthetic payoff is very satisfying.

ET: One thing that we love about Kahina is that you aim to empower women in other countries, and not only give back to them but also prioritizes their needs. Do you have a favorite story or especially inspiring moment working with the Berber women that you’d like to share?

KLH: It is always so inspiring for me to visit the Berber women who work to produce our oil. Although we don’t share a language, we communicate easily through gestures and smiles. While we are worlds apart in so many ways, we share many of the same concerns as women and mothers. Every time I visit, there will be a big celebration with singing and dancing in which they insist I join in, trying to dance in their traditional style, which they always find very humorous. The last time I visited the women gave me the gift of a rug they had woven using the wool from sheep that Kahina had donated to each of them. The rug is perfect in its simplicity, like so many things they design and make – a white knotted rug woven with the Kahina circle and star. I consigned them to make more to sell on my website, so we could provide this economic opportunity in addition to cracking the argan nuts.

Katharine L'Heureux with Kahina rug

ET: Our recent spring/summer makeup bag collaboration with you features the Lip & Face Balm and Toning Mist- can you tell us a little more about the benefits of each product?

KLH: What I love about each of these products is how multi-tasking they are.

The Lip & Face balm contains immortelle and calendula, which are powerful healing ingredients, combined with antioxidant rich argan oil, seabuckthorn seed oil, carrot seed oil, and soothing blue tansy. I use it on dry chapped lips, as well as any flaky spots on my face. Immortelle has been shown to relieve headaches, so I’ll massage a bit into my temples when I feel a headache coming on. It’s also great for smoothing unruly eyebrows, and to use as a highlighter on cheeks.

Toning using non-alcohol based products is an important part of a healthy skincare regimen, especially when it revolves around oils. Our Toning Mist, with soothing aloe vera, moisturizing sodium hyaluronate, and antioxidant rich argan leaf extract, works to prep skin for oil application by drawing moisture into the skin. But I also love it on its own. With its intoxicating rose scent and cooling sensation, I love to spritz it on my face for a little pick-me-up throughout the day. It’s also fabulous for plane travel, and poolside.

Kahina Lip & Face Balm

Originally posted here.

Skincare School Lesson Three: Moisturizing, pt I

July 21, 2015

Moisturizing Dots

How do you choose a moisturizer? We get confused customers writing to us all the time asking which moisturizer is right for them. Oftentimes, the right moisturizer for you could be multiple products that you layer and it could depend on the season, weather, skin concerns, skin type etc. There’s not always a simple answer. We encourage you to learn about your different moisturizing options and what their strengths are, especially as they relate to your skin type. The more you know, the better you’ll be able to put together a successful regimen with positive, long-lasting results.

In part one of this lesson, we’ll be looking at some different forms of moisturizers. We’re categorizing them based on key ingredients they include (or don’t include). In part II of the lesson, we’ll review how you can pick and choose from each category to craft your personalized regimen.

Before we begin, one last thing – what is a moisturizer? Very generally and for our purposes, a moisturizer serves to make your skin softer and to protect it from moisture loss through evaporation. It achieves this through emollient (softening) ingredients like oils or plant butters and/or hydrating or humectant ingredients and sometimes both of these things. To further break it down, think of moisturizing as some balance of oil and water.

Here are the common types of moisturizers on the market:

Oils can be single-plant oils (like rosehip or argan) or oil blends (like Serum). We’re including 100% oil formulations in this category, so water/aqua/eau is not a component in these formulas. Ground rules: always use a water-based humectant toning mist along with your oil moisturizer to make sure you’re getting a complete moisturizer: something with both oil and water. Your skin will thank you for it. Kahina Toning Mist goes beyond just plain eau and offers both aloe vera leaf juice and rose water to deliver even more soothing skin benefits.

If you’re on Kahina’s site, our guess is that you’re already sold on oils, but there are some that are still hesitant to use oil as a primary moisturizer. You shouldn’t be. If you have acne-prone or sensitive skin, finding the right oil or blend of oils can be trickier than for other skin types. For sensitive skin, definitely start with a single-plant oil. If you do well with it, you can branch out to formulations that use that oil as a primary ingredient, or you can just stick to it. It’s not advisable starting with an oil blend because if there are any issues, you can’t figure out which ingredient(s) is/are causing the problem.

Acne-prone skin should also use this approach. Kahina Argan Oil is readily absorbed, has naturally antibacterial and anti-inflammatory plant sterols, and has been shown to balance sebum production. Use only as many drops as you need to cover your face, use with a humectant water-based toning mist, and exfoliate regularly. Check out this article if you’ve been using oils as your primary moisturizer but are still breaking out. Sometimes it’s not the oil causing the problem. Word of caution: some acne-prone skin types do well with coconut oil, but many do not. Please be aware of this if experimenting with using coconut oil as your primary moisturizer, or any makeup or other skincare products that contain coconut oil. Once you’ve achieved consistently clearer skin, you could consider switching to an oil blend, but it’s not necessary.

Non-sensitive or acne-prone skin that is mature, dry, or normal does really well with oil blends that incorporate some heavier oils into the mix. Kahina Serum and Prickly Pear Seed Oil are two examples of nutritive oils you could use. The benefit of using an oil blend is that you are getting a broader range of antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and vitamins for optimal skin health, repair, and resilience.

Lotions and creams are the classic moisturizer and the one you are probably most familiar with. Although there are many exceptions, in general a lotion/cream combines oil and water (via the emulsion process) and you are left with a complete moisturizer. At Kahina, we offer two options: Kahina Facial Lotion and Kahina Night Cream. Kahina Facial Lotion is a great all-around moisturizer with no scent or essential oils. Key ingredients include argan oil (obviously!), shea butter, sodium hyaluronate, and beeswax. Kahina Night Cream is a targeted anti-aging moisturizer with actives like resveratrol and grape juice extract. This moisturizer takes advantage of aloe vera leaf juice in lieu of plain water for additional soothing and moisturizing benefits. Lotions and creams lend themselves to a simplified regimen, since they’re water (actually, in Kahina Night Cream’s case, better than water – aloe vera leaf juice!) & oil in one. Still, we find that often customers like combining them or layering them with an oil to achieve a custom level of moisture.

Attention, dry skin sufferers: balms are your friend. Are you using one yet? A balm is a mixture of plant butters, waxes, and oils. They tend to be protective barriers, sealing in moisture and preventing moisture loss. Balms are essential for skin that is exposed to extreme environmental conditions, like dry heat or cold and wind. Kahina Lip & Face Balm has a velvety, super-moisturizing blend of mango butter, olive oil, argan oil, beeswax, coconut oil, and shea butter. Healing and soothing ingredients include carrot seed, blue tansy, calendula, immortelle, and sea buckthorn. Layer a balm over oils or even lotions/creams for extra dry spots. If you’re curious about other ways to use our balm, check out this article.

Stay tuned for part II, where we’ll synthesize this information and turn it into something useful for you: recommendations for an individualized combination of products for your skin needs and skin type.

Skincare School Lesson Two: Exfoliating

July 14, 2015

Kahina Antioxidant Mask with rhassoul and argan nuts

Class is in session! We hope our first lesson on cleansing was helpful. Next up: exfoliation. For skincare addicts, the below information won’t likely be anything new, but for skincare freshman, consider this Exfoliation 101.

What is exfoliation?
The removal of surface skin cells.

How do you exfoliate?
Broadly speaking, you have physical exfoliation and you have chemical exfoliation. The former relies on physically buffing away cells, often with an implement, and the latter relies on acids or enzymes to dissolve skin cells.

Who benefits from exfoliation?
Most skin types benefit from some form of exfoliation. Aging, mature or dull skin types can experience an increase in clarity and brightness with regular exfoliation. Acne-prone skin types can benefit from exfoliation when it helps to unclog pores and decrease post-inflammatory hyper-pigmentation. Dry skin types might be hesitant to exfoliate, but it can be a key method of removing dry surface cells and allowing moisturizing products to better penetrate and treat dryness.

Should I manually exfoliate or chemically exfoliate or both or neither?
It depends on your skin type, skin concerns/goals, and how well you tolerate either. We recommend some form of exfoliation for nearly everyone; many people do well with a balance of gentle physical exfoliation with gentle chemical exfoliation. The exception is if your doctor has advised against it or if you have extremely irritation-prone skin that reacts poorly to any kind of exfoliation, even the most gentle methods. In some cases, irritation-prone skin can be healed to the point where gentle exfoliation is possible.

How often should I exfoliate?
Again, this depends on skin type, skin concerns/goals, and how well you tolerate exfoliation. For some, daily physical and chemical – as long as they’re gentle – is ideal. For others, it’s just once a week. You’ll have to experiment a bit to find what works best for you.

How can I tell if I’m overdoing it?
The most common signs of over-exfoliation include redness and increased sensitivity. We recommend you reduce frequency or consider another method if you experience these symptoms. (The exception to this is prescription retinoids; consult your doctor regarding flakiness, redness, or irritation – he or she may adjust your dosage.) It may simply be a question of leaving the exfoliant on for less time, or removing it in a gentler fashion. If you’re noticing redness, don’t press the face cloth or your fingers too hard into skin but rather lightly swipe product away. If you’ve over-exfoliated for too long, your skin is compromised and it will take weeks or even months of a very gentle routine to re-establish a functioning moisture barrier that isn’t so sensitive.

What are some types of exfoliators?
Aren’t infographics fun?
Physical Exfoliation Infographic

Chemical Exfoliation Infographic

These obviously aren’t exhaustive lists – there are just too many! But the below charts list some common ones. In the chemical category, we tried to choose naturally derived options, with the exception of retinoids, which are so popular we couldn’t not include them.

AHAs: alpha hydroxy acids include glycolic, malic, lactic, and mandelic acids. Can be helpful in lightening hyper-pigmentation, evening skin tone, improving the look of fine lines and wrinkles, and addressing some acne.
BHAs: beta hydroxy acids like salicylic acid. Better penetrate the pore to dissolve keratinized skin within. Helpful in addressing some acne.
Retinoids: products derived from vitamin A. Help regulate cell turnover and reduce the clogging of pores due to uneven shedding of skin cells. Some are over-the-counter and gentler, as the skin has more work to do to synthesize the exfoliator. Prescription forms include tretinoin (Retin-A), isotretinoin (Accutane), and adalpene (Differin).

How do Kahina Giving Beauty products help me exfoliate?
You’ll find the physical exfoliant rhassoul clay in Kahina Antioxidant Mask. Rhassoul clay is finely ground, then combined with argan oil and other emollient and antioxidant ingredients to create a creamy mask. You will not need to add any ingredients like some dry clay masks. Rhassoul is a rather gentle clay and can be used on all skin types, especially in this preparation which is moisturizing. More sensitive skin types can leave mask on for 5 minutes and then remove gently in long strokes, whereas most skin types can leave on for 10-15 minutes then gently buff the fine grains into skin to complete the exfoliation process.

The enzymatic exfoliant papain is found in Kahina Facial Cleanser. Papain sloughs off cells and softens skin. It’s the perfect way to incorporate super gentle exfoliation into your daily routine. For those seeking more exfoliation, pair our Facial Cleanser with a konjac sponge or muslin, or even a facial brush/Clarisonic.

Most skin types will do well with the following exfoliation routine:
AM & PM, daily: Kahina Facial Cleanser (with or without muslin, face cloth, konjac sponge, or facial brush, as desired)
Weekly: Kahina Antioxidant Mask

Any other recommendations?
For those seeking all-natural chemical exfoliation in addition to what Kahina has to offer, we recommend daily or every-other-day topical applications of Apple Cider Vinegar (diluted with distilled water) or weekly greek yogurt masks. These food items are readily available at your grocery store and well-tolerated by most. We find it’s a simple way to begin experimenting with exfoliation and how it can help your skin. For the greek yogurt mask, spread a medium layer on and allow to sit for up to 30 minutes. If you feel any burning before then, remove with water.

As for physical exfoliation, the simplest place to start is with the washcloth you (most likely) already own.

What about body exfoliation?
Exfoliation is key for your body, too. Body exfoliators tend to be physical – a mitt or glove or scrubs with ground particles. We’ll be introducing a traditional Moroccan method of exfoliation for body in the very near future – stay tuned!

Skincare School Lesson One: Cleansing

July 7, 2015

Kahina Facial Cleanser

Welcome to your first day of skincare school! In this series, we’ll be going over the key steps in a basic, healthy skincare routine. What steps there are, what order to do them in, and how to choose products for each step.

First up, lesson one: Cleansing

Cleansing your face properly is, we’d argue, the single most important step you can take to achieve healthier-looking skin. Cleansing provides a clean, prepped base for the next steps of your routine. Cleansing thoroughly is also the first step in combatting acne. In the cleanser category, we’re including bar soaps, gels, foams, milks, lotions, creams, powders, balms, oils and scrubs meant for daily use.

A good cleanser should:
Dissolve oils and sweat
Dissolve makeup and sunscreen
Dissolve pollutants
And in some cases, help remove dead skin cells at the surface
Be gentle

A cleanser should not:
Leave face feeling tight or dry
Leave a noticeable residue or film
Tug or pull at skin; it should glide over skin
Have plastic microbeads

How do you cleanse?
Watch this video. The key point here is that you are being gentle with the pressure and thorough with the number of strokes and time spent cleansing. We’ve tried her thermal water pre-saturation technique and actually like it quite a bit.

How often do you cleanse?
Everyone can make their own decisions as to what works best for their skin. That said, if you ask us, you should be cleansing before you apply any products to your face. For us that means cleansing in the morning and cleansing in the evening. Sometimes (maybe once a week?) we go without a morning cleanse if it’s a product-free day, but we never, ever skip cleansing before going to bed. If your face has been subjected to a lot of sweat (post-workout or maybe in hot weather) or chlorine (pool) or tears (oh no! feel better soon!), it’s also a good time to cleanse. You don’t want salt or chlorine staying on your face; they’re drying.

Cleansing accessories
You have so many options when it comes to gadgets, cloths, sponges, mitts, etc. to use as you wash your face. This is getting into exfoliating territory, which we will cover in another lesson, so here we’ll stick to the very basics. Unless you have very sensitive skin or are cleansing in the morning (with no makeup or sunscreen to wash off), you could probably benefit from using a muslin or washcloth to – very gently! – remove your cleanser, as a last step, *especially* if you are acne or clog prone. This could be all you need as a daily exfoliation step.

Which kind of cleanser should I use?
A universal recommendation is Kahina Facial Cleanser. It is non-drying, dissolves oil and other substances, and has willow bark and blue tansy (both great for calming skin!). The milky texture allows you to do the “swimming” strokes mentioned in the above video and thoroughly work the cleanser around your face for enough time to actually dissolve impurities and cleanse. Kahina’s Facial Cleanser works for all skin types.

Any advice for those of us who prefer a different kind of cleanser?
The number one rule of skincare is: use what works for you. Seems pretty easy, right? For normal skin types, totally. For problematic skin types, it’s a guessing game as to which skin care products will truly get you the results you want. If you’re having problems getting clear skin, try some of the cleansing techniques above, and also heed the advice below:

If you are using cleansers in the form of balms or oils, please be very attentive to whether they are fully rinsing off. A lot of times oils and balms have a hard time emulsifying and therefore don’t rinse off completely. This could cause an uptick in breakouts.

Another popular form of cleanser in the green beauty world is clay or powder, to which you might need to add water or honey. It depends on the formula, but without surfactants to dissolve oils/sunscreen/makeup, these cleansers don’t really “cleanse”, they just exfoliate, and are possibly irritating. Again, keep an eye on your skin’s condition if you go this route with a cleanser. A dry cleanser might be fine to use a couple times of week in the morning, but may not be appropriate for some skin types for daily (morning and evening) cleanses.

Hope this primer on cleansing was helpful. We’ll be covering other topics soon, from exfoliating to choosing the right moisturizer & treatment products, so stay tuned!

Kahina Facial Cleanser

What to do when green isn’t working: part three

June 29, 2015

Kahina Giving Beauty

In case you’re just joining us now, we’ve been going over some common issues that people have when converting to a green beauty routine. Part one addressed clogged pores and acne, while part two addressed persistent dryness. Here, we’ll take on sensitivity, or a perceived increase in sensitivity, that some people report as they begin experimenting with green beauty products.  Read on if you’ve had problems with sensitivity and if you’ve already been evaluated by a physician (dermatologist, primary care and/or allergist) who has not discovered allergies or underlying medical reasons for your sensitivity.

The problem: As I’m converting to green beauty, I’m noticing more redness, irritation, or general sensitivity. I’m tempted to go back to my trusty Cetaphil products, which, though full of synthetic ingredients, never irritated my skin.

To consider: A big fat myth surrounding green beauty is that it is inherently more gentle than it’s less-natural counterparts. The thinking goes something like, “Well, I’ve ditched the harsh chemicals my body doesn’t recognize, so automatically my skin will be calmer.” Not necessarily so. An irritant is an irritant is an irritant, whether created in a test tube or sprung from the earth. Opponents of green beauty love to bring up poison ivy as an example of something found in nature, 100% natural, that is highly irritating.  They also relish reminding us that everything, even water, is a chemical (“beware of dihydrogen monoxide!” is a common sarcastic refrain). If those two battle cries help get the point across, fine. But why is it so easy to conflate irritation with synthetic chemicals? Maybe because as an everyday skincare consumer it’s pretty easy to overdo it with the acids and peels and retinoids and benzoyl peroxide, most of which are found in conventional, non-organic/natural formulations. Regardless, there are sensitivities that extend into the organic/natural realm. Unfortunately, uncovering and positively identifying these sensitivities can take time, patience, and very, very careful observation.

The plan:

As mentioned in part one, be very careful about how you sample and test out new products.  Pick a gentle, simple lineup of products and stick to them for three months minimum before adding more products in. We like Kahina Facial CleanserKahina Toning MistKahina Argan Oil as your morning and evening routine, adding in Kahina Facial Lotion if you have dryer skin.

If you are concerned about sensitive skin, the fewer the ingredients, the better. There’s a reason we consistently recommend Kahina Argan Oil to those with finicky skin: it’s a single, organic ingredient. The more ingredients in a formulation, the greater the likelihood that it contains a potential irritant and the harder time you will have identifying which ingredient that is.

Do not over-exfoliate or over-stimulate. In parts one and two, we went over how important exfoliation is to healthy skin. That said, you have to choose the most gentle option that your skin will tolerate. If a facial brush like a Clarisonic leaves you red or raw feeling, it is not a good fit. Similarly, face masks with “warming” ingredients or very drawing (and drying) clay can wreak havoc.

Watch your treatment products. Vitamin C, retinoids, acids, apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil, etc. – these can be great, effective skincare ingredients but they are particularly active and when you overuse or misuse them, you are setting yourself up for sensitivity. Different people have different tolerance levels for these products, so when in doubt, go cautiously, and use one at a time for a month before adding in a new one.

Keep an eye on your makeup, oral care and haircare products, too. If you’ve made changes in these product categories at the same time as your skincare switch up, they’re also potential candidates for new irritation. We’d argue that these are very uncommon reasons for sensitivity but worth a mention nonetheless. Problematic hair care products will typically produce irritation on your neck, your back, or around your hairline. Toothpaste sensitivities show up as irritation around the mouth. Problematic makeup will produce irritation wherever you applied it. If you suspect irritation is stemming from one of these sources, stop using it for at least a week, ideally a month, and see if conditions improve.

Choose skincare products with ingredients shown to soothe skin; favorites found in many Kahina products include aloe vera, bisabolol, green/white tea, rosewater, calendula, resveratrol, willow bark, chamomile, blue tansy, and of course argan oil.

Go back to the beginning. By that we mean, pare it down! It is so, so easy to accumulate lotions and potions in your quest for the perfect routine. It is also easy to want to try to incorporate all of them into your regimen, since, you know, you have them in your cabinet and don’t want to waste them. If you’re using 10 different skincare products and it’s working for you, amazing! But if it’s not, go on an elimination diet and scale way back. Like three products max. Twice a day. For a month. Your skin could just need a reset.

A word on essential oils: essential oils are typically very healing and skin-positive; in addition, they are typically in very low concentrations which minimizes irritation potential. However, essential oils are also actives and therefore a few of them can be a problem for some people. If you are having an issue with extreme sensitivity, avoid formulations with essential oils for a while (often labeled as “unscented”) and see how your skin does. Does it rebound and become more resilient? Or is there no change? For sensitive skin types seeking to avoid scent or essential oils, our top recommendations include Kahina Argan Oil, Kahina Facial Lotion, and Kahina Eye Serum.

We hope this three-part series was informative and helpful to you as you continue exploring organic & natural options in skincare. Oftentimes, being aware of potential pitfalls in your routine, correcting them, and then giving time for your skin to re-balance itself (this takes minimum 1 month!) will help get you through any bumps on the green beauty journey.


What to do when green isn’t working: part two

June 22, 2015

Kahina Giving Beauty Skincare

Last post we discussed a common issue people have when they convert their beauty routine to all natural and organic: increased breakouts and/or clogged pores. Here, we address another frequent stumbling block: getting proper moisture for very dry skin types. Just like last time, there are some presuppositions: you drink plenty of water (and are not drinking too much alcohol or caffeine); you’ve been evaluated by a dermatologist to rule out skin conditions; and your recent blood work suggests you are otherwise healthy.

The problem: While some skin types are acne-prone, others are (blessedly) not. A huge category of customers that write to us list very dry skin as their primary concern. They tend to be women in their 40s and older. They are used to using thick moisturizers and creams, procured at drugstores, department stores, or via prescription, for their face and body. When making the switch to all-natural/organic skincare, they occasionally find that their skin is still dry, possibly with flakiness, and they’re tempted to return to their heavy, super-emollient moisturizers.

First things first, let’s define our terms: what is a moisturizer? On a very basic level and for our purposes, a moisturizer is something that combines oil + water. Sure, the skincare industry has formulas that go against this principle, but in general, that’s the concept. Oil and water don’t mix so you need an emulsifier to help the formula change from oil+water to lotion/cream. Many all-natural/organic skincare brands consciously avoid this emulsifier, which is why you see so many oil blends and balms (plant waxes/butters/oils) – there’s no water in the formula and no need for an emulsifier. Obviously, at Kahina we love our balms and oils, but they’re not a complete moisturizer because they are missing the water component. This isn’t an issue for some people, but for others – especially those in dry climates (including indoor climates made dry by AC or heater) – using strictly oils or plant butters without a water component can lead to flakiness or oily-yet-dehydrated skin.

With that in mind, here are some best practices for those who find that they have persistent dryness, especially after switching to organic/natural beauty:

  1. Has an oil or oil-blend/serum become your primary moisturizer? Be sure to use a toning mist when you apply your oil. You can spritz it on generously before applying oil, or you can spray it into your hand, where you combine it with a few drops of oil, and apply both together. Look for a formula that contains sodium hyaluronate, a humectant particle that holds water molecules. This holds true for body moisturizer too: apply body serum on damp skin after showering or bathing.
  2. Are you combining products to get the most moisture possible? We always recommend either our Facial Lotion or Night Cream (both traditional moisturizers with oil and water components) to customers with dry skin, as they can help prevent moisture loss. However, sometimes customers say that they’re not heavy or rich enough. The simple solution is to combine these traditional moisturizers with Argan Oil, Prickly Pear Seed Oil, or Serum. You can add a few drops of any of the oils directly to the moisturizer before applying, or you can apply the oil (argan/PPSO/Serum) first, followed by either Facial Lotion or Night Cream. Finally, spot treat extra or persistently dry areas with Kahina Lip & Face Balm or Kahina FEZ Hand & Body Balm.
  3. Are you exfoliating? Even dry skin types need to exfoliate, especially the older you get, as skin cells start to shed at a more sluggish pace. How can moisturizers optimally penetrate skin if there is an extra thick layer of dead cells? There are a myriad of options for exfoliation and the best one for you is based on your sensitivity. Always start with the most gentle form and work your way up if necessary. If you’re new to exfoliation, get a feel for it with your washcloth – something you already have at home. Other options include konjac sponges, facial brushes, muslins, enzymatic/chemical exfoliants, and clays. Kahina Antioxidant Mask is perfect for even dry skin types; more on that below.

Bonus considerations:
Look at what kind of cleanser you’re using and make sure it’s not drying you out. Kahina Facial Cleanser is the perfect pick for those prone to dryness; its milky texture and high level of argan oil help maintain a proper oil balance. Cleansers – even all natural/organic – can be gels or foams, made from high concentrations of clay, or be soap-based, all of which have the potential to overly dry your skin.

Are you using clay in your routine? Certain clays (bentonite for example) are extremely “drawing”; you’ll know because when they dry, they harden and crack off the face. If you have very dry skin, we do not recommend using these kinds of clay masks or clay powder cleansers. Kahina Antioxidant Mask was formulated for even dry skin types. Rhassoul clay is much more gentle than a lot of clays, and because we’ve included argan oil and other ingredients in the formula, the mask will not harden or crack. In fact, many people report clearer, more hydrated and less red skin after use.

Are you using any kind of treatments that include acids or retinoids? Retinoids, AHAs, BHAs – they’re proven effective and can be wonderful when used properly. The key is to gauge dosage and frequency (i.e. maybe you need it only a few times a week rather than every day) to make sure you are not overdoing them. Symptoms of overuse? Dryness, tightness, flakiness, small rashes, redness, and increased sensitivity. Overuse can include using too many different kinds of these products in a one month period. Finally, be sure to use adequate sun protection or SPF when on a program that includes sun-sensitizing ingredients.

In the third and final post in this series, we’ll be talking about the third most common complaint when transitioning to a green beauty routine: increased sensitivity. Stay tuned!

What to do when green isn’t working

June 19, 2015

Kahina Line Spring 2014 Low Res lightened and cropped
A recent article got us thinking about what happens when your green beauty products don’t seem to be working. You make the transition from dermatologist-recommended medications or from department store marquis brands to organic/natural products. You’re excited; you love the green beauty community and the new formulations you get to try. You read morning routines, you order samples, or buy from a store with a generous return policy, and you start testing. Eventually you find a bundle of products that work for you. But then. Then you experience a change for the worse. Of course, this does not happen for everyone. But we read about it enough that we want to address it here and provide some common complaints and how to address them. We absolutely think that it’s worth it to stick to a more organic/natural beauty routine, for a myriad of reasons, so we hope this helps you troubleshoot, get over your hump, and persevere.

I am breaking out (more) now that I’m using organic/natural products.
This has to be the most frequent issue we read about. Breakouts have so many causes. Let’s assume that you’re not suddenly experiencing heightened stress levels, or fluctuating hormonal levels, or a substantial change in diet. Let’s assume you’ve been evaluated by your primary care physician, with blood work, to confirm you’re perfectly healthy. Perhaps you were using benzoyl peroxide or a retinoid but you’ve stopped. And now you have more acne than you’ve ever had. Why and what to do?

1. It is fun to try new products, but your skin may not love the process as much as you do. The single most important thing when delving into green beauty is to pick a simple routine to start with and to stick with it for at least a month, but ideally more like three to four months. Our standard recommendation to anyone with acne-prone skin who is just trying Kahina is Facial CleanserToning MistArgan Oil, AM & PM, with a bi-weekly Antioxidant Mask. Save serums, targeted moisturizers, etc. for later. Incorporating them one at a time down the road will help you determine if the new product is the offender in new breakouts.

2. If you used benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or retinoids to treat acne, try incorporating their natural counterparts into your routine.

  • Tea tree oil is the typical swap for benzoyl peroxide, but it, just like benzoyl peroxide, can be irritating so go about testing carefully and be sure it is well-diluted in a carrier oil. Another promising option for killing acne-causing bacteria is a thyme hydrosol.
  • As for salicylic acid, you have some options. Salicylic acid is a member of the salicin family, so in the green beauty world, willow bark (white or black) is often the comparison, as it’s also in this family. Willow bark does provide anti-inflammatory benefits, which can help with redness and inflammation, hallmarks of acne. Willow bark is in both the Kahina Cleanser and our Toning Mist. To help clear pores, which salicylic acid also does, your best bet might be apple cider vinegar. Again, dilute this guy with water because he’s strong and the goal here is to avoid irritation at all costs. You can splash or swipe some apple cider vinegar + water over your face post-cleansing and pre-toning. The malic acid it contains can help clarify and decongest.
  • Regarding retinoids there are a lot of brands making comparable organic/natural products that are gentle. As mentioned in #1, however, as these are not single ingredients but rather formulations with lots of ingredients, we’d say it’s best to wait a few months before adding a new product in.
  • A word on vitamin C: vitamin C is a proven skincare champion, BUT it can be irritating and therefore exacerbate acne. Getting a stable form of it and in the right dosage for your particular skin can be difficult. We would not recommend experimenting with vitamin C products until you’ve achieved many months of clear skin, and we would not recommend looking to vitamin C products as breakout-fighting solutions. Everyone’s skin is different and good on you if vitamin C somehow cleared your acne, but in our opinion, it’s not worth using at first if you’re prone to breakouts or sensitivity.

3. If you’re experiencing clogged pores, check four things: your moisturizer, your makeup, your sunscreen, and how you exfoliate.

  • A big word of caution we’re constantly telling our customers is this: do not use more moisturizer (oil, lotion or cream) than you need. You probably need fewer drops of argan oil than you think you do. Feel free to layer our products if your skin is dry, but also feel free to use just argan oil, or just a lotion/cream if that’s all your skin needs to feel comfortable (not taut). Always apply an oil with a toning mist containing sodium hyaluronate – a humectant particle – to ensure you get a complete moisturizer (oil + water). This helps prevent flakiness which causes some people to overdose on oil, ignoring the water component of properly hydrated skin.
  • As for makeup and sunscreen, coconut oil can be a big offender in formulations (admittedly not everyone has a problem with coconut oil, but many do), as can excessive plant butters and waxes. Where possible, we suggest using mineral makeup (like Alima Pure) rather than creams or sticks. Look for sunscreens with simple ingredient lists. Zinc oxide is our favorite method of sun protection, as topical zinc can be soothing for acne.
  • Finally, are you exfoliating? How often? Aim for gentle exfoliation as often as your skin can take it. For some skin types, this could be every day via a washcloth or konjac sponge. For others, it might be once a week with our Antioxidant Mask. Can you use the Clarisonic? Absolutely, if you keep the brush clean – try soaking in hydrogen peroxide every few uses – and if your skin is not irritated at all afterwards; we wouldn’t recommend it for use during active breakouts. Your skin does a great job of shedding dead skin cells on its own, but some skin types shed more sluggishly than others, leaving dead skin cells on the surface where they can mix with sebum/excess oil and clog pores. If you do your part to exfoliate – gently without irritating – you can help your cause. The malic acid in ACV mentioned in #2 will help, but we also recommend recommend gentle physical exfoliation (washcloth, muslin, konjac, clarisonic, clay). Kahina Facial Cleanser contains papaya enzymes which are a super-gentle daily enzymatic exfoliant.

Examining these three areas and making improvements where possible should help resolve any bumps (pun intended!) along the road as you transition to organic/natural beauty products.

In part II, we’ll discuss two other common transition complaints.

#PostcardFrom: Win Kahina Essaouira Body Serum!

June 11, 2015

#PostcardFrom Essaouira #KahinaContest

The Moroccan seaside village of Essaouira served as the inspiration behind our latest body serum scent. The breeze off the ocean, its open-air markets and overall sense of lightness led to ESSAOUIRA Body Serum‘s final blend of geranium, sandalwood, petitgrain, and lavender.

ESSAOUIRA Body Serum is a natural expression of travel and discovery, two elements at the heart of Kahina Giving Beauty. In celebration of travel and the inspiration it provides, we are inviting you to share with us your #PostcardFrom.

How to enter: Post a photo from a travel destination or special place that inspires you; be sure to tag each photo with #postcardfrom and #kahinacontest so we can find your entry. (It would be helpful where possible to tag Kahina!) Not necessary but encouraged: tell us a bit about that place that inspires you. You can post as many photos as you like! Each is an individual entry, as long as it has #PostcardFrom and #kahinacontest along with it.

Where to post photos: Entries are accepted via Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter; you can enter on as many of these platforms as you wish. Please follow us on whatever platform you choose to use. Follow Kahina on Instagram. Follow Kahina on Twitter. Follow Kahina on Pinterest.

Prize: A full-sized ESSAOUIRA Body Serum will be awarded to each winner; one winner will be chosen per social media platform – one Twitter winner, one Pinterest winner, and one Instagram winner

When: Entries accepted June 11 – June 24, 2015

Winners: Winners announced & contacted June 25 and have until June 30th to respond to us with address, otherwise an alternative will be selected.

Who: This contest is available for United States residents, over 18 years old, only. You are welcome to join in with posting if you’re from another country, but unfortunately we cannot ship prizes outside the U.S.

How will winners be decided?: Winners will be chosen on merit by the Kahina Giving Beauty team. Our favorite photos win!

We will be joining in on the fun with some of our favorite photos of Essaouira.

#Postcardfrom Essaouira Morocco #KahinaContest

Why we love geranium oil

May 29, 2015

KAHINA ESSAOUIRA BODY SERUMIf you’ve tried our new ESSAOUIRA Body Serum, you’ll notice a bright note of rose geranium on first sniff. Not only is it a favorite scent of ours, rose geranium has wonderful skin and aromatherapy benefits.

Here are three ways rose geranium in ESSAOUIRA Body Serum can come to your aid:

1. Rose geranium helps support your body’s lymph system and can temporarily improve the appearance of cellulite. For best results, as you massage the body serum in, focus on long, vigorous strokes toward your heart.

2. Rose geranium is a female hormone balancer, meaning it can help relieve uncomfortable pre-menstrual or menopause symptoms. For cramps or other discomfort, add a few pumps of ESSAOUIRA Body Serum to a bath to take advantage of the aromatherapy benefits while also moisturizing and soothing. For hot flashes, we recommend a cool shower or spritzing the body with water and then applying a light layer of ESSAOUIRA Body Serum all over.

3. Rose geranium calms frayed nerves. Paired with lavender, the Essaouira scent blend is the perfect aromatherapy ritual for relaxing at the end of the day, or beginning your day in a centered frame of mind.

Don’t just take our word for it – the ladies at No More Dirty Looks are also big fans of this wonderful oil!

Shop ESSAOUIRA Body Serum.

Katharine L'Heureux in Morocco

About Katharine

Katharine's lifelong pursuit of natural skincare that works finally culminated in a trip to Morocco where she discovered the effectiveness of pure argan oil. Working with a chemist specializing in organic cosmetics, she developed the Kahina line to fulfill her own desire for a simple yet effective organic skin care regimen.

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