Tag Archives | organic

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

The truth about argan cooperatives


While most companies selling argan oil and argan-based products claim to purchase their products from women’s cooperatives in Morocco, it is important to note that all cooperatives are not alike.

On each of my visits to Morocco, I spend lots of time in the rural south visiting argan suppliers in an effort to better understand the situation there.  Along with numerous success stories, I have unfortunately also encountered corruption, groups of women unable to sufficiently organize themselves in order to sustain a business, cooperatives and companies producing poor quality oil and selling it at a lower price, cooperatives run by men who do not pay the women who work there a fair wage, as well as larger conglomerates capitalizing the marketplace and squeezing out less organized/well financed groups of women.

On this visit, I had the pleasure of meeting Professor Charouff, who was responsible for establishing the first women-run cooperative for the production of argan oil in 1999.  During our meeting we discussed the current state of the argan oil industry and the accompanying challenges and opportunities.  Most alarming is the fact that machines have been introduced to do the work of cracking the nuts.  While preserving companies’ bottom line by producing oil at a lower cost, these machines will eliminate jobs for the women of the region.

It will be difficult to determine whether the oil you are purchasing is actually cracked by hand or machine, as it is hard to know whether the oil is organic, or produced using best practices.  At Kahina Giving Beauty we personally source certified Fair Trade organic argan oil and carefully monitor harvesting and extraction techniques.  This ensures the highest quality oil and a fair wage for the women who work to extract the oil at the heart of our line.

The Argan Process at Tazghilite

After the nuts are gathered, the nuts are weighed before being depulped and cracked.

After the nuts are gathered, the nuts are weighed before being de-pulped and cracked.

Each woman keeps a log noting the amount of nuts she has brought in.  She is paid on site for the nuts she gathers.

Each woman keeps a log noting the amount of nuts she has brought in.  She is paid on site for the nuts she gathers.

Each woman is then given a quantity of nuts to bring home to crack.  This allows them to care for their children while working.

Each woman is then given a quantity of nuts to bring home to crack.

Katharine with a woman cracking nuts in her home.

Katharine with a woman cracking nuts in her home.

Once the "almonds" have been extracted, the nuts are sorted before being pressed by machine.

Once the “almonds” have been extracted, the nuts are sorted before being pressed by machine.

The Samurai Shopper Asks: To Be, or Not to Be, Organic?

As a company founded and headquartered in the Big Apple, we love everything quintessentially New York– from Central Park to the High Line, The New Yorker to New York Mag, Bergdorf Goodman to Brooklyn Flea.  It goes (almost!) without saying that The New York Times and its T Magazine are daily reading material.  T’s blogger Samurai Shopper scouts & touts the best merch that New York & beyond has to offer.  A recently published piece on skin care products asks, to be, or not to be, organic?  The answer disappointed me.

S.S. states the dilemma: “Should I support organic skin care because it’s organic — a healthier choice for us and the planet and maybe other planets too? Or should I throw my weight behind skin care that works but may be organically incorrect?”  My question is, why is this the question?  How about throwing your weight behind skin care that works, is organically correct, and is a healthier choice for the planet? A Venn Diagram to better illustrate this possibility:


I can’t tell you how many Kahina users have let me know that they’re seeing visible results, that people ask if they’ve had work done.  And Kahina is not the only brand that is organic and effective.

Samurai Shopper goes on to list some of her favorite products that “blast” vitamins but contain some synthetic chemicals that are of concern, according to the Environmental Working Group.  S.S. stands behind the chemical-laden lines, using “baby-with-the-bathwater” reasoning.

The comments section is another trove of troubling feedback.  Some posters are saying that just because something is organic doesn’t mean it won’t irritate. That is correct!  But this isn’t a reason to shy away from organic products.  Why not try a single, 100% organic ingredient that is safe enough to eat? Avoiding irritants, hormone disruptors, and other nasties is one reason people “go organic”, but its impact on the planet (read: sustainability) is crucial as well. Check out this discussion on No More Dirty Looks’ blog about why more and more people are choosing organic & natural: Your Beauty a-ha Moment.

All said and done, we’re still loyal readers of the Samurai Shopper (we were featured back in April!).  We believe it’s only a matter of time before S.S. realizes organic & effective are not mutually exclusive.

– Mairin

Phillips Family Is Napa Valley Grower of the Year


Katharine (3rd from left) and the Phillips family at Vine Hill Ranch

Katharine and the entire Phillips family have just been recognized as 2011’s Napa Grower of the Year by the Napa Valley Grapegrowers!  Katharine’s family has owned and run Vine Hill Ranch, a supplier of grapes to top Cabernet Sauvignon vintners in the Napa Valley, for generations.  Nominees are selected for a “strong commitment to sustainable practices; recognized leadership in agricultural preservation; dedicated community focus, and contributions to Napa Valley.” For more information on this prestigious award, visit this article.  For more information on Vine Hill Ranch, visit their site.

Choosing certified organic skincare

At this point most people would probably agree that using cosmetics made with naturally and organically farmed ingredients is healthier for our bodies and for the planet, keeping pesticides out of our systems and the environment.  The good news is that more and more people are discovering what other cultures have long known:  that natural/organic ingredients are as, if not more, effective than their synthetic counterparts.  But making sense of the bodies that certify these products is not so simple.

Reading cosmetic labels can be confusing – and sometimes impossible with the amount of information on tiny packages.  Third party certification provides a stamp of approval for customers so they can be confident that there is nothing harmful in their cosmetics and that they are sustainably produced.  But the competing standards in the US and overseas is confusing.  In the US alone, there are three leading certifiers: NPA, NFS and USDA.  In Europe, the main five European standards include Ecocert in France, Soil in England, BDH in Germany, and ICEA in Italy.  These five will soon be harmonized under the Cosmos certification.

Whether certified natural or organic, our goal is to provide the most effective skincare possible while protecting the health of consumers and the environment.  Being certified can provide a degree of confidence to consumers that they are doing nothing harmful for their bodies or the planet.  We chose France-based Ecocert, the largest and oldest international certifying body.

I discovered through our efforts that the process of becoming certified is not easy, and I applaud all cosmetics companies, certified or not, who produce healthy products with a vision of protecting consumers and the planet.  For those looking for effective skincare, the choice isn’t about “what is more organic”, but which companies have the right intentions and which products work best for ones skin.

Kahina now certified by Ecocert


You will soon start seeing the Ecocert seal on our products, starting with our certified organic argan oil, our new certified natural Toning Mist and Eye Cream.  In the coming months, as we phase in new packaging, all of our products will be certified natural and/or organic by Ecocert.

Based in France, Ecocert was the first certification body to develop standards for natural and organic cosmetics.  Introduced in 2003, Ecocert evaluates every step in the chain of production, from the suppliers of raw materials, to the formula and packaging, to ensure a truly sustainable end result that consumers can rely on.  Ecocert guarantees the absence of GMO, parabens, phenoxyethanol, nanoparticles, silicon, PEG, synthetic perfumes and dyes, animal byproducts (unless naturally produced by them: milk, honey, etc.), as well as the biodegradable or recyclable nature of the packaging.

The standards are as follows:

For all products, 95% of ingredients must be of natural origin.

For products to be labeled “organic”, a minimum of 95% of plant-based materials must be of organic origin.

For products to be labeled “natural”, a minimum 50% of all plant-based materials must be of organic origin.

For more information on Ecocert standards, click here http://www.ecocert.com/en/natural-and-organic-cosmetics.

We have always believed in full transparency and have disclosed all ingredients and percentages of natural and organic.  We realize that even this isn’t often enough.  We hope that this validation will help our customers feel confident that they are purchasing the highest quality products, safely and sustainably produced.

What Are You Really Putting on Your Skin?


Did you know that the FDA has banned only 9 ingredients used in personal care items?Compare that to over 1,100 ingredients the European Union has banned and it is clear that we are behind on regulating what we put on, and in, our bodies.The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is taking action to push for more conscious consumption of personal care items and for legislative reform to help limit the toxic chemicals being are pumped into our cosmetics today.The site has recently launched an informative new video titled: The Story of Cosmetics –The Ugly Truth of “Toxics In, Toxics Out” (click here for the link to the movie), which not only breaks down marketing schemes and gimmicks of large personal care companies, but also shows how even small amounts of toxic chemicals in our cosmetics can be harmful to our health.The video also explains how faults in the system have led to poor regulation of what goes into our beauty products.

After watching the video, participate in a Twitter party at 9pm EST today (July 21, 2010), and learn more about what is being done and what you can do to push for better regulation of what is put in our beauty products.

To check the toxicity of ingredients in your personal care products, go to Skin Deep, a cosmetic safety database hosted by the Environmental Working Group by clicking here.

At Kahina Giving Beauty we are committed to keeping our ingredients list as short as possible. We have recently registered with Skin Deep, and are pleased to see that argania spinosa oil, the base for all of our products, has a hazard rating of 0 (out of 10).

Organic Home Spa: Cleansing Scrub for Oily/Combination Skin

Organic beauty expert, Jessa Blades, shows you how to exfoliate and balance your oily or combination skin with a homemade scrub, using Kahina Facial Cleanser, baking soda, and oatmeal.  Use this scrub twice weekly to remove any excess oil and dead skin after sun exposure. 

The avenanthramides in oatmeal help soothe and calm skin irritation, and saponins have a foaming effect, which help to lift oil and dirt from the skin. Baking soda boosts the effects of oatmeal, and neutralizes skin acidity, reduces redness and its antiseptic properties help heal and prevent skin from infection.  Its fine, but hard texture allows it to gently, but effectively, remove dead skin cells.

Let us know what you think!

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