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Introducing Kahina FEZ Perfume Oil

September 28, 2015

Kahina FEZ Perfume Oil

Introducing FEZ Perfume Oil, a concentrated fragrance blend of Kahina’s beloved FEZ scent.

Inspired by the sacred Imperial city of Fez, Morocco, FEZ Perfume Oil has it all: seductive florals rose, ylang ylang and neroli, with a dose of heady spice from cumin and clove, earthiness from vetiver and sandalwood and a little grapefruit to lighten it all up.

Fragrance blend made from 100% steam distilled essential oils. Featuring a stainless steel roller ball for easy application.

Available now. Shop it here.

Transition to Fall Skincare

September 23, 2015

Kahina Fall Skincare Picks

Happy Fall! Today marks the autumnal equinox and New York is welcoming the new season with lots of sun and brisk temperatures. Here’s how we’re easing into the transition to cooler weather with our skincare routine:

  • Kahina Argan Oil is a favorite pick for this time of year as it’s balancing properties will help deter dry patches that may crop up while making sure you’re not too oily in case of Indian summer.
  • We’re bumping up our moisture game. Whereas in the summer, we may have gone with just argan oil during the day, we will begin layering Argan Oil with Kahina Facial Lotion or Kahina Night Cream to get an extra moisture boost as humidity levels drop. Need a guide to Kahina moisturizers? Read more here.
  • As with every seasonal change, exfoliation is key. Kahina Antioxidant Mask is our go-to, as its non-drying clay formula is detoxifying and moisturizing, while also providing exfoliation thanks to the natural gentle grit of rhassoul clay. If you’re using our Antioxidant Mask already, consider upping it to twice a week for the next month or so to swiften the shedding of dry, summer cells and encourage turnover which boosts luminosity and evenness of tone.
  • Though we were using it all summer, Kahina Brightening Serum continues to be a favorite in the fall. As your tan fades, you may notice hyper-pigmentation crop up. Brightening Serum helps lighten these dark marks caused by too much UV exposure over time. Apply right after cleansing and toning and layer it under your favorite oil, oil-based serum. You can use it morning and evening, as desired, as it won’t cause photosensitivity.

Beauty Heroes Q&A with Katharine L’Heureux

September 2, 2015

This month, Kahina is proud to partner with Beauty Heroes to celebrate the naming of Kahina Eye Serum as an Expert Selection. Beauty Heroes is a subscription box that gives you full-sized items that have been vetted by their team of spa & beauty experts. Interested? Subscribe before September 15, 2015 to get a full-size Kahina Eye Serum plus a deluxe travel size (1 oz.) of our Facial Lotion for just $39.

See the original posting of the Q&A here.

Katharine at Agadir Beach

The recent update to our identity, now Beauty Heroes, could not have happened at a more appropriate time as we announce our September selection from Kahina Giving Beauty. Katharine L’Heureux, the founder of Kahina has taken her process of developing an ingredient driven, effective and beautifully packaged skincare line and turned it into a heroic venture that contributes substantially to the lives of women in Morocco. Deeply invested in their wellbeing, she travels to personally oversee how Kahina Giving Beauty can optimally direct resources, and ‘give beauty’ back to these women. I recently spent some time with Katharine in New York and got to see first hand how she balances the success of an iconic beauty brand with a mission to support communities of women making her a defining Beauty Hero. I hope you enjoy this glimpse behind Kahina Giving Beauty and take time to explore more of the line when you consider beauty products that benefit your skin while transforming the lives of women.

What inspired you to create Kahina Giving Beauty? Had you always wanted to formulate natural and organic skincare?
Following the birth of my third child 11 years ago, I was searching for safe and effective all-natural skincare products that, at the time, were hard to find. While on a trip to Morocco in 2007 I discovered argan oil – which is rich in Vitamin E, essential fatty acids and antioxidants. I began by importing the argan oil, then worked with an experienced chemist to formulate the line I was yearning for – simple, effective, organic skincare products, using high quality ingredients from around the world that are ethically produced and beautifully packaged with this amazing ingredient at their core.

What inspired the name Kahina Giving Beauty?
My aim was to honor the Berber women who extract the argan oil in Morocco. Kahina is the name of a Berber queen and prophetess who reigned in North Africa in 700 CE. Giving Beauty, our company name, refers to our policy of giving back to these women – by paying them a fair wage and donating to programs that support them and their families. It also acknowledges the generations of traditional remedies and healing techniques that they’ve been kind enough to share with us.

Katharine L'Heureux in Morocco

What’s your workspace like?
My space is very important to me. I’m very fortunate to work out of my loft in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan with my superstar employee, Mairin Cipolla, where we enjoy great views of the Empire State and Chrysler Buildings. Working at home allows me to be flexible with my time, which is necessary with my kids coming and going.

When it’s time to create a new product, how do you begin?
I’ve created each of my products based on what I personally need and would want to use. Usually, we’ll have internal discussions beginning with objectives for the product, outlining the benefits we’d like to achieve and how and when we’d use it.

What IS your process? Do you begin with an ingredient or an objective?
Once we’ve decided on the product we’d like to make, we’ll research ingredients that would work well. This is the fun part! We’re certified by Ecocert, so we search for certified organic and natural ingredients that comply with their standards. The list of proven effective natural ingredients continues to grow and evolve in exciting ways and this most definitely informs the products we produce. We discuss efficacy, scent profile, consistency, texture, and packaging options, and then my chemist gets to work. We’ll go through a number of rounds before we get to a point where we feel satisfied with the precise formula. Once approved, products have to withstand rigorous challenge and stability testing, so our chemist’s knowledge and experience is invaluable in creating products that will stand up over time and in a range of environments.

How often do you make a new product? How long does that process take?
We try to keep the line simple and meaningful, so we introduce a new product just once or twice a year. The entire process, from idea to finished product takes at least 18 months. With testing, certification, production and packaging, there’s no room to be impetuous.

What’s been the biggest discovery for you lately in terms of the creative process – or in creating a specific new product?
I have come to realize that much of the creative process is a result of having an open mind, letting go and trusting in forces beyond my control. If I envision a thing one way, but things happen to make it work out differently, often it will turn out better than originally planned. The most engaging works of art are often dialogues between the creator and the environment. It’s why I enjoy gardening, wine and creating natural cosmetics.

Is it safe to assume that Argan Oil is your favorite superpower ingredient? What specifically do you love about it?
Argan oil is certainly my first love. It’s a multi-purpose ingredient, with high concentrations of vitamin E and essential fatty acids, and works well on most skin types and for a myriad of skin concerns – from addressing signs of aging to acne. It also has uses for hair, nails and body. What’s not to love?

Since starting Kahina, I’ve discovered so many amazing new ingredients that we combine with the argan oil in our formulations, including sea buckthorn seed oil, carrot seed oil, and my latest love, Prickly Pear Seed Oil, which is sourced from the same women who supply our argan oil in Morocco.

Women cracking argan nuts photo credit Kahina Giving Beauty

How about a favorite product in the collection?
It’s so hard to choose only one, as they’re meant to be used together for the best results. Each product assists the next in achieving optimal, glowing, healthy skin. I do have a soft spot for the eye serum, though. It’s resolved issues of under-eye puffiness many mornings when I didn’t look as bright and awake as I would’ve wished!

How often do you visit Morocco? How long do you stay when you go? Any favorite places you’d like to tell us about?
I visit Morocco at least once or twice a year for at least 10 days each time. There is a lot of ground to cover on my trips, usually from Casablanca to Marrakesh, then Essaouira, Agadir and Taroudant in the South. This usually means a couple of hours a day are spent driving, but it’s a great way to experience Morocco and witness the rural way of life there. One of my favorite drives is from Essaouira to Agadir, through the argan forest and along the beautiful unspoiled Atlantic coastline, passing through some typical small villages along the way. My two favorite places to stay in all of Morocco are Riad Laaroussa in Fez and the Atlas Kasbah Ecolodge in Agadir – both of which are meticulously restored historic structures run by friendly and charming couples with an eye toward authenticity and cultural preservation.

You recently visited Morocco and the cooperatives where you source your ingredients? Can you share a glimpse into your trip?
Visiting the women who extract the oil for Kahina is always a touchstone for me, renewing my passion and excitement for the work I do. These women live in a remote village high in the Anti-Atlas Mountains in Southern Morocco. They are extremely poor, with no electricity or running water. They work hard just to survive, but they are truly aligned with nature in their daily rhythms, which connects them to the earth and to each other in a joyful way. It’s very rewarding for me to see how their work for Kahina benefits them, and to discover other ways in which we can help. In the last six months, we were able to build a bathroom with clean running water for a Middle School to help increase girls’ attendance. We also donated clothing and supplies to a village devastated by flooding last Fall.

Children outside schoolhouse

Do you have a personal mantra that inspires you?
One very simple, but helpful one I picked up in Morocco, “give time to time,” meaning be patient and let events unfold as they will. Also, thank you, God.

Where might I run into you on a Sunday morning?
That depends on where I am and the time of year. Right now, weekends are spent at our home in the Hudson Valley working in the garden followed by lunch with my husband and whichever kids are home. Fall and Winter weekends find my family and I in Manhattan where my husband and I like to take walks along the Hudson River and then we shop for lunch at Chelsea Market.

How do you relax?
Nothing makes me lose track of time like working in the garden. I love that it stretches me physically while also offering a time of contemplation and a creative outlet. There are also so many philosophical aspects to working in the garden: You can learn so much from observing plants, their power to heal and delight, to attract and repel in order to survive.

Marry at Fifteen or Attend School: EFA provides solutions for girls in rural Morocco

August 30, 2015
Photo by Heather Binns

Photo by Heather Binns

As summer draws to an end and we prepare for “back-to-school”, it is easy to overlook what we often take for granted.  Education is a privilege not readily available to many of  the world’s girls, often due to an arduous commute.

In Morocco, adolescent girls living in remote villages are most likely to drop out of school around the age of twelve because of lack of access to middle and higher education in their immediate vicinities. Parents of teenaged girls are often unwilling to let them travel long distances away from home due to concerns for their safety and social restrictions.  With few options, girls in Morocco are often forced into early marriage. According to UNFPA, “In developing countries, one in every three girls is married before reaching age 18. One in nine is married under age 15.”

Kahina Giving Beauty is proud to support Education For All, Morocco, now opening its fifth boarding school for girls in the High Atlas Mountains. This means that an additional 40 girls can attend school beyond the fifth grade. The success rate that can be attributed to the free room and board provided by Education For All is impressive, with a 97% pass rate across all levels (12-18 years). There are now 18 graduates enrolled at university – the first in their villages to ever reach this level of education. Education for All is also able to support them with living grants so they can focus on their studies and pursue their future dreams.

To get a clearer picture of just what free room and board for these girls means, watch this especially moving UNESCO video and powerful documentary about a day in the life of Fatima, one of the EFA girls.  Without the help of Education For All, 15-year-old Fatima’s daily commute to school could take up to eight hours.  Her only other option would be marriage at a young age arranged by her parents.

Skincare School Lesson Five: Treatments

August 13, 2015

Kahina Brightening Serum

Your freshman year at skincare school is almost complete. Are you feeling that second semester listlessness? Stay with us! This session we’re detailing treatment products, including those for the eye area. What are they, what kinds are on the market, and who should use them.

What do we mean by treatment?
A treatment product has many forms: it could be a mask, a serum, a cream. Let’s define treatment as a product who has a fairly specific function, key ingredient(s) to realize that function, and is “targeted” toward improving one or more specific areas. It goes beyond the basics and is an add-on product; not one that your most basic skincare regimen has to have.

What kinds of treatment products are on the market?
So, so many. Products to combat redness, products to promote collagen, products for reducing breakouts, products to minimize dark circles… and neck creams. Retinoids are a huge category of tried-and-true treatment products. Retinoids can be prescription (less “green”) or OTC (lots of green options, though have different forms than their prescription counterparts and are generally regarded as gentler and taking more time to have an effect).

How do I choose a treatment product that is right for me?
For eye products, this is fairly straightforward: pick your top concern (wrinkles? dryness? puffiness? dark circles?) and research which products/ingredients will address that concern. Read product reviews and consider what form the eye treatment comes in. Do you prefer a cream over a balm? Or maybe you like a light serum? Or an oil? What about a rollerball or your finger? Lucky for you, the green beauty realm excels in offering eye treatments in all forms and modes of application.

As for all-over facial treatment products, the first rule is to cut through marketing hype. Mass market brands tend to be very specific in naming their products to appeal to one specific skin concern. If you follow their lead, you could have 20+ products in your medicine cabinet, one for each perceived flaw. These numerous treatment products do not a smart skincare regimen make. Start with a simple routine to support skin health; you might notice that those very specific “flaws” get better with consistency, simplicity, and quality ingredients. If, after a month or two, you’re still noticing the same issue, begin researching your options. Best practices alert: we always recommend incorporating one new product at a time, giving it a full month or more to do it’s thing, and then change it up or add more if you’re doing well. If you are considering treatment products for improving medical skin conditions (acne, rosacea), it’d be prudent to consult a dermatologist.

What does Kahina have on offer in terms of treatments products?
Well, we’d consider our Antioxidant Mask a great exfoliator, anti-ager, and anti-acne treatment product, but we’ve gone over it here. We’d also consider our Night Cream and Serum top anti-aging treatment products, but again – we’ve covered them here and here. What haven’t we covered in skincare school yet? Brightening Serum! This is really the definition of a treatment product as it was very specifically formulated to target dark marks caused by UV exposure – also known as sun spots – and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation – also known as post-acne marks. We’ve also got our eye treatment products: Eye Cream and Eye Serum. More on those two later.

Who should use Kahina Brightening Serum?
As we said above, those who want to improve the appearance of dark marks caused by sun damage or acne. Sea daffodil (pancratium maritimum) and wakame (undaria pinnatifida), are the two main ingredients that work to down-regulate a hormonal/enzyme process that produces excess melanin. This process takes time – 4-6 weeks. In the meantime, we’d recommend a zinc-oxide based sunscreen for whenever you’ll be exposed to the sun, as the sun will make fading those dark marks even harder.

Kahina Brightening Serum, though, has some additional benefits that may entice someone with little-to-no hyperpigmentation. First of all, it has a light aloe vera & argan oil base. This means it moisturizes and soothes on contact, helping calm redness which can contribute to uneven skin tone. Sodium hyaluronate, rice seed extract, spirulina, and shea butter further moisturize, helping smooth skin’s surface – this will also help with the appearance of more even skin. Wakame, other than decreasing melanin, is also a general skin protectant, along with pinus pinaster, both helping to support skin’s natural defense system against pollution like car exhaust, cigarette smoke, and heavy metals. Bisabolol and blue tansy are two essential oils with calming, anti-irritant properties. We recommend Brightening Serum for those who spend a lot of time in the sun or in big cities with high pollution levels, or for anyone with redness-prone skin.

When do you use Brightening Serum?
You can use it morning and evening (or morning or evening) after cleansing and toning and before your oil/serum/moisturizer. Since it contains no bleaching or photosensitizing ingredients (and in fact can help protect from the sun and pollutants!), feel free to use it before sun exposure. Use daily for best results.

Eye Cream and Eye Serum

Now… for the all-time most asked question in the Kahina FAQ hall of fame:
Should I get the Eye Serum or the Eye Cream?
We’re going to repeat this question in case you didn’t hear/read it the first time.
Should I get the Eye Serum or the Eye Cream?
Are you paying attention? Great. We will answer everyone’s question now.

Let’s start with the good news. Both products have the following key ingredients to combat your most common eye concerns: Peptides for collagen support and gradual reduction of fine lines. Argan Oil and sodium hyaluronate for moisturizing and plumping, good for temporarily minimizing fine lines on contact (plus the argan oil has skin-supporting antioxidants!). Rhodiola rosea and yeast extract to boost microcirculation for improving puffiness and dark circles.

Now, a few questions for you…

Are you open to owning and using more than one eye product?
Do you strongly prefer one texture (cream/lightweight serum) over another?
And finally, what is your primary eye concern? Circle one: Puffiness. Dark Circles. Dryness. Irritation. Fine Lines.

Why’d we ask #1? Because for some people who want some of what we call “eye therapy“, you can layer Eye Serum under Eye Cream, morning and evening as desired. OR you can use one in the morning and one in the evening; generally people prefer Eye Serum as a pick-me-up in the morning and Eye Cream as a soothing pre-bedtime ritual. If you’re into this idea, check out our deal on Eye Therapy (because we all know therapy is expensive). Not into buying two eye products? That’s fine; we’ll narrow down your choices.

Why’d we ask #2? If you strongly prefer a cream over a serum, get the cream. Like we said above, both products contain the key actives for all eye concerns. Go with what you like; don’t make this complicated!

Why’d we ask #3? So let’s say you don’t want to commit to Eye Therapy, and you don’t really care if it’s a cream or a serum, so you need to pick just one. If your primary eye concerns are puffiness or dark circles, go with the Eye Serum. If your primary eye concerns are dryness, irritation or fine lines, go with the Eye Cream.

Here’s why:
Eye Serum contains the puffiness/dark circle fighting rhodiola rosea-yeast combo in a higher concentration and in a more easily penetrable form (liquid). Polygonum fagopyrum in the Eye Serum reduces the amount of fat in adipocytes or fat cells that develop below the skin’s surface (what?! wow!). Eye Cream is more emollient and soothing, providing a cushion of moisture that will hydrate, soothe irritation, and minimize fine lines (because they’ve been plumped by that moisture!).

Here’s another FAQ: Do you really need a separate eye product?
We’re of the opinion that yes, you do. Eye products are specially formulated for the thin, delicate skin around the eyes and their ingredients are chosen to target specific eye concerns, ones you might not have all over your face.

In summary, while we always recommend an eye-specific treatment product no matter who you are, a targeted treatment product might only be necessary if you have specific goals/concerns outside a basic skincare regimen (even a “basic” regimen can contain many effective actives, too!) and the product will meet/address them. Choose a treatment product only after you’ve committed to a steady daily regimen for a month, and then go one product at a time, giving it enough time to work. For our Brightening Serum, that’s 4-6 weeks for dark mark lightening and for many retinoids, it’s as much as four months.

And with that, class is dismissed!

Katharine Interviewed by ECO DIVA

August 11, 2015

Katharine in Essaouira Morocco

Nicolle Mackinnon penned this interview of Katharine for ECO DIVA, one of Kahina’s web retailers for the U.S. and Canada. See the original post here.


Meet Katharine L’Heureux, founder of Kahina Giving Beauty, one of the big players in the luxury green beauty industry. The line has been setting standards and raising the bar for quality and sustainable ingredient sourcing since its inception. With argan oil at the base of all its formulations, Kahina Giving Beauty is great for all skin types and tones, with hydrating, healing ingredients that support the indigenous Berber women of Morocco—plus, it’s ECOCERT certified, meaning you can trust where all its beautiful products are coming from. Read on to learn more about the line and how Katharine founded it (plus score a deal on the line’s newest product!).

Tell us how you started Kahina Giving Beauty.

I stumbled upon argan oil on a trip to Morocco in 2007. I was without my go-to brands after they were confiscated from my carry-on bag at JFK and so I bought some argan oil to try while shopping at the souk in Marrakesh. I never imagined that I would create my own skincare line, but when I discovered argan oil on that trip, 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 I decided to create the line I was yearning for: simple, effective, organic skincare products, 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.

What’s your favorite product from the line? Why?

It’s so hard to single out one product as they are all like my children. And they are all meant to work together for optimal results. But if I have to pick, I’ll say argan oil as it was my first love. It is perfect in its simplicity and purity, and I love how multipurpose it is. Not to mention the financial and social opportunities that the work of producing it provides impoverished women of rural Morocco.

What makes you feel beautiful?

When I can truly relax and be myself is when I feel most beautiful. Usually, I’m without makeup, in my most comfortable clothes, surrounded by people I love—and not thinking about how I look!

Katharine in Morocco

What’s the most challenging thing about being a small business owner?

I’m fortunate to be doing what I love, but being the owner of a small business means never being able to truly be off-duty. With distribution partners around the globe, the emails never stop coming in (I need to start sleeping with my phone in another room). And with just one other person on my staff, It means we both need to wear many hats, often having to figure out things on the fly.

What passions do you have outside Kahina?

Travel. I love getting outside of my comfort zone, seeing unfamiliar landscapes, and finding common footing with diverse people in foreign cultures. It’s like a drug for me. And I obviously have a special place in my heart for Morocco.

Nature. On the weekends, I’m at our Hudson Valley home spending time outdoors, kayaking, hiking or working in our ever-expanding garden.

New York City. I am invigorated and inspired by the bustle of the city I call home.

My husband and three kids, of course!

What has changed most in the green beauty industry since you started Kahina?

So many great brands have taken the stage since Kahina launched. The demand for authentic natural beauty products has grown among consumers and retailers are rising to meet it. This has meant an explosion in small brands working to produce honest, clean products. This in turn puts pressure on the ingredients suppliers to offer more natural and organic versions of preservatives as well as active ingredients. As they say, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” It’s a win for everyone.

If you could share one piece of advice for holistic living, what would it be?

There is no one size fits all approach to holistic living, but I would advise planting an organic garden. Connecting to the earth and your food source, moving, creating, nurturing, meditating, improving the soil and growing your own healthy food are all components of gardening, and are, to me, keys to well-being. If you live in a city, you can join a community garden, which also serves to strengthen your bonds with the neighbors—an added bonus.

Any secret uses of your products that we should know about?

Many of Kahina products do double duty in my hair: Toning Mist and our balms provide moisture and hold, and I always rub what is left on my hands of the Facial Lotion onto my hair for added moisture, control and protection. Of course, everyone knows to use pure argan oil as a conditioner and de-frizzer at this point.

How can we be more conscious consumers to affect change in the beauty industry?

Learn how to read labels or buy from brands that are certified by a reputable organization like Ecocert so you aren’t supporting brands that make false claims. Seek out and support independent brands that are ethically sourcing ingredients and using environmentally sound packaging. Go to your local department store/apothecary and ask for those brands by name.

What do you do when you feel overwhelmed or burned out?

I try to focus on and feel gratitude for what brings me joy—my family, my health, having my own business and being able to help others. But sometimes I need a little help getting to that emotional plane. Exercise and time with my family are my stabilizers. Nature and museums are my chapels.

Skincare school lesson four: Masks

August 4, 2015

Kahina Antioxidant Mask

To recap skincare school thus far, we’ve been over:

Our next topic? Masks!

Why use a face mask?
Because isn’t it fun to scare your loved ones with a different colored face?! No, that’s just a fringe benefit. We consider masks like a ginger shot or a massage: an occasional, concentrated boost to round out your routine. There are many different kinds of masks on the market that can help with your particular skin concerns: exfoliating, moisturizing, clarifying, etc. Your daily skincare routine should be relatively simple and consistent; masks are a way of introducing variety without disturbing the equilibrium, and getting some extra results to boot.

How often should I use a face mask?
Depends on the mask. If it’s a gentle, moisturizing mask and you are doing some intensive treatment, up to three times a week. If it’s an exfoliating mask, or one with acids, once a week should be fine. For clarifying masks, if you have resilient skin, twice a week. Basically, use the mask as much as you like, with the caveat that you should never irritate your skin; if you’re experiencing redness, sensitivity, burning, etc. scale back on frequency. We like to use Kahina Antioxidant Mask once or twice a week.

We’re mask-happy over here; while some might consider a mask a secondary, non-essential product for their skincare regimen, we beg to differ. In fact, we encourage 99.99% of our customers to include Kahina Antioxidant Mask in their weekly routine. (That 0.01% is the ultra-sensitive.)

Benefits of Kahina Antioxidant Mask:

  • physical exfoliation
  • decongesting and detoxing
  • moisturizing
  • clarifying and brightening

Unlike some clay masks that are packaged as a dry powder that you need to rehydrate, we’ve done that work for you, carefully formulating the liquid component of the mask to get maximum benefits. Moroccan Rhassoul Clay attracts impurities just like any other clay, but it is not drying the way bentonite (looking at you, Aztec Secret) or even kaolin clays can be. Your face will not feel like it’s pulsing and about to burst. Instead, because we’ve mixed it with moisturizing argan oil (full of essential fatty acids), plus antioxidant-rich and calming pomegranate and acai, you’re doing a detox-moisturizing-exfoliating mask all in one. When you’ve left it on the requisite 5-10 minutes, you gently buff away and you should see clearer, more even skin.

Enough tooting our own horn, though. There are other masks on the market and we want to give you a primer on navigating the mask aisle (don’t you wish there were a mask aisle?!).

Who benefits from a clay mask?
Most clay masks are fairly drying, so for that reason, we typically recommend them for normal to oily skin types. If dry skin types are using a powder-based clay mask (one that needs to be rehydrated before using), they should mix it with some oil – argan would work well – in addition to soothing liquids (Kahina Toning Mist would work, or aloe vera juice or rosewater – never vinegar!) to counteract the drying properties of clay. Rhassoul clay is recommended for dry or sensitive skin types. Clay has been shown to attract and remove impurities that can contribute to inflammation and even acne. Clay is naturally exfoliating.

Look out for…
one more time: clay can be very drying and irritating. If it’s leaving your skin red, dry, tight, or sensitive, use the mask for less time and avoid letting it dry completely on your skin to where you have to crack it off or scrub vigorously to remove it.

Who benefits from an enzyme mask?
Enzymes are actives meant to dissolve surface dead skin cells, revealing brighter, more even-toned, softer skin. Enzyme masks are wonderful for devitalized (dull-looking) skin, combination, oily or acneic skin types, and slightly dry skin. We don’t love them for sensitive skin, unless the enzymes have been specifically formulated for sensitive skin. Enzyme masks can be an effective form of exfoliation.

Look out for…
Enzymes can be hard to preserve, meaning that by the time you receive the product, the actives might no longer be effective. Depending on what else the mask is mixed with, you might notice fringe benefits like more moisture or some exfoliation thanks to clay or powders, but you aren’t getting enzymatic exfoliation. Buy from brands you trust and feel free to ask them nicely how their enzymes are preserved.

Who benefits from a moisturizing mask?
Dull, dehydrated, dry, flaky, or sensitive skin types. If you’ve been using retinoids or chemical exfoliators, a moisturizing mask might be in order to soothe irritated skin and reduce flakiness. Moisturizing masks can feel particularly nice after too much sun or wind exposure, or time spent in dry, dehydrating environments.

Look out for…
If you’re prone to acne or clogged pores, use the same discretion in choosing a moisturizing mask as you would a moisturizer. Avoid your particular trigger ingredients (could be coconut oil, plant butters, waxes, emulsifiers).

Who benefits from a clarifying mask?
A clarifying mask (detox mask is another common name) is a broad category and can overlap with clay or enzyme masks. A clarifying mask is perfect for oily, acne-prone skin types and for dehydrated or uneven skin tones, especially anyone that lives in a large city and is exposed to pollutants daily. A hallmark feature of clarifying masks is that they are exfoliating, oftentimes combining some sort of enzyme or chemical exfoliant with a physical exfoliant.

Look out for…
Clarifying masks that also contain soothing, anti-inflammatory ingredients so your skin is clearer and less red even after the first use.

Pro tip:
Sometimes we like doing a double mask. Choose the more physically exfoliating mask first – perhaps a clay or clarifying mask. Then follow it up with an enzyme or moisturizing mask.

What should I do before and after I mask?
Start with a clean face. Some people like to steam their faces before masking. Use the mask, then follow up with a hydrating toner (like Kahina Toning Mist) and then your oil and moisturizer of choice. If we’re doing Kahina Antioxidant Mask before an event, we like to start with Kahina Facial Cleanser, then mask, then use Kahina Toning Mist and Serum (maybe mix some Prickly Pear Seed Oil in there too, for good measure!).

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.

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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