Yes, genetics is a large part of it but nurture cooperates with nature so I do actively maintain what I’ve been given. I do not breakout but foundation (even my good sis, Fenty) does make my skin react terribly so I would advise doing what your skin needs and not go looking for greener grass, wasting time, effort, money, and possibly ruining what you are blessed with in the process.
Let’s start with a general overview:
My favorite esthetician-LA Beautyologist-has a gender-free (because somehow men believe that skincare doesn’t apply to them as much) skincare regimen that I’ve memorized:
& always use sunscreen…even if you’re Black. She, too, is Black. I don’t do all of this and you’re not supposed to do all these steps-like exfoliate-every day but I do cleanse daily/nightly.
Growing up, my mom told me to wash my face before bed every night. Apparently, this is called cleansing. I had to orient myself as to what all of the above terms mean and it took me a very long time to understand what exactly is a “toner.”
On to the specifics:
Cleansing is washing your face. You’re supposed to wash your face (and neck!) for 60 seconds with your fingertips (instead of a harsh brush) to allow enough time for the cleanser to remove buildup and other gunky stunk from your pretty pores. Supposedly, you’re supposed to use an oil cleanser (the oil in the cleanser and the oil in your face are attracted to each other so when you wash it sweeps all of the above out) then another cleanser but I’m still researching the right oil cleanser for me and using just Neutrogena in the mean time.
Toner prepares your skin to absorb the next step. Hence, why it is before every step. Toners usually have ingredients that absorb/retain moisture at higher rates (called humectants).
Pharrell SWEARS by this and this alone: exfoliate. Exfoliation increases cell turnover and sloughs off older, duller skin. This process. doesn’t have to be through a physical exfoliant-like a scrub-which can be harsh. Think of a lot of physical exfoliants as a power hose being used for a job that requires a spray bottle or normal tap. Chemical exfoliants use….you guessed it: chemicals to exfoliate your skin. I personally use Paula’s Choice as recommended by LA Beautyologist but I also haven’t been in the exfoliation game that long so you may have to ask Pharrell for his, probably pricey, favorites. There is such thing as over-exfoliating and the results are very tragic (extra dryness, redness, sensitivity, scarring) so use as directed and do not assume using more will do more good. There is a point at which the graph of goodness starts to take a turn from frequency of use.
Besides being a treat yourself activity, masks actually do a lot of great things for your skin beyond just making you feel really good and spoiled. There’s a wide variety with different ingredients and effects but the general tip is to NOT use peel-off masks. Yes, they “feel” like they’re doing more work but they’re also doing too much work which causes damage. Think of it as sandpaper on your walls when all you wanted to do was wipe off a stain. Yes, the stain is gone, but so is the beautiful top layer of paint. I’ve heard WILD (in a great way) things about Indian Healing Clay but I cannot personally provide any anecdotes yet. See what everyone in your circles and online is saying about this miracle product and give a whirl yourself to experience the magic. Professional facials are also highly suggested but currently out of my price range so I’ll have to circle back on that. However, personalized, professional skin treatment, if you can afford it, will definitely have transformative results.
Serums are light IV fluids to your face. Depending on your needs, you can pick out (or even order custom) serums to attack all your skin problems. As with any product for any part of your body, you have to be careful about not being lured into spending money on something that you don’t need. A lot of things being marketed as specialized serums (eye, hand, neck, forehead) contain the same ingredients and you’re paying twice for something you may already have that works the same/similar. The eyelid/undereye does not produce its own oils so being able to care for and supplement it with nutrients and moisture is important. Vitamin C is a brightening agent as well as antioxidant so be on the lookout for that in your products (you SHOULD be reading the ingredients of everything you try or buy rather than relying on the packaging to tell you what it does. Keep in mind ingredients are listed by ratio so the first few ingredients are the most present and the content that you’re really paying for).
Moisturizer & oil.
Well, … it moisturizes. I’ve seen some commentary on not “over-moisturizing” so your skin doesn’t become dependent on moisturizers. It is a good idea to prioritize hydrating from within aka drinking lots and lots and lots of water. By the time you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated to a point so be proactive about getting your daily intake. Water is the best foundation and is probably why my skin has been so good to me despite my not doing that much extra to help it. ❤
Use broadband SPF 30 and above because the sun is a big culprit of skin damage and aging. This and drinking water and probably the MVPs of skincare. As with exfoliants, there are physical and chemical sunscreens, the latter absorbing UV rays on your skin's behalf and the former reflecting UV rays off of their metallic structure. Keep in mind sunscreen should happen always, not just when you’re out on a sunny day because UV rays are always around and can even get more intense in non-sunny situations such as by bouncing off snow. SPF in products like foundation IS NOT enough. You do need to apply a separate fully sunscreen product to your skin. Super high SPFs-like 100-are a scam because they don’t do that much more to protect you since SPFs do not operate linearly, but in a logarithmic manner. Refer to your high school math teacher for a reminder on what that means.
I should note that I am not an esthetician so feel free to correct any misinformation and confirm what you see online with your own research because there are a lot of bad suggestions out there (DIY peel-off masks, abstaining from sunscreen, using St Ives on your delicate face, and skincare products with lots of (drying!) alcohol that people “swear” by). None of the promotion here was incentivized and none of the brands mentioned endorse this post.
Drink water, read labels, apply sunscreen, and smile :)