Tag Archives | skincare

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.

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.


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

Kahina Giving Beauty Skincare

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What to do when green isn’t working

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hello Spring!

Spring Skincare Tips by Kahina Giving Beauty

Slowly but surely, it’s starting to feel more spring-like in New York City. Before you know it, we’ll be donning trench coats in place of parkas (soon! so soon! almost?!) and toting umbrellas as April showers fall. Just as we update our wardrobes, we should update our wellness regimen. Here are 11 tips for adapting your beauty routine to warmer temperatures and more hours of sunshine:

1. Lighten up! You may find that your skin needs less – fewer products and lighter ones. Dry indoor heat and cold winter winds are no longer sapping moisture from your skin, so it’s perfectly OK to pare down your routine. This may mean swapping in Argan Oil for Serum, or not putting an extra layer of Argan Oil under your Facial Lotion. Try a lighter regimen for a few days and see how your skin responds.

2. Brightening Serum is a wonderful product to add to your regimen as the days get longer and there is more sun exposure. Brightening Serum is not just a hyper-pigmentation solution; it also acts as a protective serum to prevent environmental damage in the first place, with best results if used daily. It’s lightweight texture means that on warmer days, you might not need another moisturizer. You’ll be happy come September when those pesky brown marks fail to show.

3. Get a haircut to re-shape, thin layers (if necessary), chop off split ends, and even take a few inches off for a new, breezier look. Do a scalp treatment (apple cider vinegar is wonderful for removing buildup, whereas argan oil can be massaged in and rinsed to a treat dry, itchy scalp) and a hair mask (avocado and argan oil is a favorite here at Kahina HQ) to increase shine and health.

4. More complex than a hydrosol, less astringent than a traditional toner, Kahina Toning Mist is the ultimate weightless hydrator that can be used throughout the day and over makeup. It helps balance skin during the season change and is so refreshing on those warmer spring days.

5. Spring inaugurates sandal season. Consider a pedicure to slough off dead skin cells and give a pop of color to your toes. To keep soles soft, use Kahina FEZ Hand & Body Balm nightly on feet.

6. Exfoliation is a key step especially during seasonal transition. Kahina Antioxidant Mask is a non-drying clay mask that purifies while gently exfoliating away dull surface cells. Prefer a face scrub instead of a mask? Combine Kahina Facial Cleanser with a pinch of finely ground oatmeal and another pinch of either cornmeal (dry skin), baking soda (oily skin), or sugar (normal skin). Apply gently in circular motions and rinse off.

7. As always, it’s a wonderful time to eat seasonally. More and more colorful fruits and vegetables will be appearing at the farmer’s market. Consider them beauty foods and get plenty of servings in salads, smoothies, and snacks. Our Pinterest board has plenty of ideas for you.

8. Spring getaways lead to summer vacations, so it’s always a good idea to have your skincare basics at hand. Kahina Travel Basics comes with 1 fl. oz. sizes of Facial Cleanser, Argan Oil, and Facial Lotion for an easy, on-the-go routine for all skin types that you can tailor to your needs.

9. Do some spring cleaning in your beauty cabinet and toss items that have expired, recycling them if possible. If you find that you no longer use a product but it’s still good, offer it to a friend, relative, or co-worker. Don’t share items like eyeliner or lipstick, but things like body lotion, fragrance and hair products are perfect for swaps or giveaways. Often you can re-purpose beauty products by thinking of alternative uses – say, an oil blend you’re not wild about for your face may be a wonderful cuticle treatment or body moisturizer, or a shampoo you don’t like could be used to clean makeup brushes.

10. Don’t forget sun protection. You may want to ramp up the SPF as you spend more time outside in the warmer weather. Be sure to use enough product, reapply every few hours, and use SPF on all exposed skin, including neck, chest, hands, arms, legs, and feet. Alternatively, find a place in the shade or wear a scarf or hat to cover up from the sun’s rays. Keep in mind that 10-15 minutes of exposure without SPF should do the trick for a healthy dose of vitamin D. Antioxidants are our preferred method for repairing (and preventing) UV damage that can lead to signs of aging. Sun-worshippers take note: applying Kahina Argan Oil before sun and Kahina Serum and/or Kahina Night Cream after will make sure skin stays supple, moisturized, and protected.

11. Stay the course with eye products. Spring and summer is not the time to skimp on eye-specific treatments. Wear sunglasses whenever you are out in the sun and continue with Kahina Eye Serum, Eye Cream or both.

At Kahina, we always say to do what feels best for you and don’t be afraid of a little trial and error. If you’d like a more detailed skincare regimen tailored to your particular needs (& seasonal changes!) please email us at info@givingbeauty.com and we’d be happy to recommend an updated Kahina routine. Happy Spring!

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