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