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Kahina at Follain

Kahina at Follain

We are so thrilled to announce that Kahina has landed at Follain! Follain is the discerning green beauty destination in Boston and we couldn’t be happier to have a home there.

You can find select Kahina products at the following Follain Boston locations:
Boston – South End: 53 Dartmouth St
Boston – Beacon Hill: 65 Charles Street

And – bonus – while they’re just carrying our Eye Serum at the moment, we also have a home at Follain’s Washington DC outpost: 1309 5th Street NE

Introducing Kahina FEZ Perfume Oil

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

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

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.

Skincare School Lesson Five: Treatments

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!

Skincare school lesson four: Masks

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

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.

Skincare School Lesson Three: Moisturizing, pt I

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 One: Cleansing

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

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.


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