Skincare, like fashion and food, can be a rather subjective concept. Every person has different a skin type and requires a skincare regime that targets their areas of need. In the modern day that we live in, there is still not enough exposure and coverage around skincare for darker complexions and a true representation of the diversity of skin tones out there.
Hence, many people use incorrect products and end up damaging their skin. Knowledge is power and to ensure that all our readers get the inside scoop that they require, our melanin queen and advocate for embracing natural beauty, Murendeni Mashige, Corporate & Commercial Associate at CDH, spills the tea on some essential hacks you need to know to care for melanin-rich skin.
What are some of the things you love about having a melanin-rich skin tone?
My journey with my skin has been an extremely long-winded and bumpy one (pun intended!) indeed. I developed acute acne from the age of 10, which later developed into severe acne at the age of 13, so one can certainly understand why I have been skin-conscience for the most part of my life. My teenage years consisted of frequenting the dermatologist’s office and it is from there that I learned how to care for and love my skin. I had always been conscience of being a dark-skinned girl and this was exacerbated by being on acne treatments (which often caused hyper-pigmentation) and over exposure to the sun due to playing various outdoor sports.
I have come very far on my journey in accepting my skin tone and I would classify myself as one of the biggest advocates of #lovethymelanin. My favorite thing about having melanin-rich skin is how well it responds to the sun! As a born and bred Durbanite, I love basking in the sun and I love the chestnut glow that my skin illuminates after I have spent a few hours basking in the warmth. I also know that I don’t have to be too concerned about developing wrinkles from being in the sun which means I’m likely to age gracefully.
Did you know? Melanin is found in almost every animal on the planet. It’s a pigment created by cells in the body called melanocytes. It is the reason for the color of your hair, your skin and your irises!
Are there any skincare challenges that you face because of this?
With the wide range of products available for a vast number of skin types and skin tones, I have not had any trouble with sourcing or using any products to cater for my skin. However, what I have struggled with throughout the years, is finding the right foundation colour to perfectly suit my skin tone. I know many people of different skin tones struggle with this too but it is only recently that I have seen a surge in cosmetic companies making a concerted effort into catering for brown skin (both light and dark brown). I have conjured up my own mixture of two different foundations (Clinique Fresh Amber and Revlon Colorstay 021 Espresso) which has been the perfect combination for me!
What are your top 3 must-have products for darker skin tones?
Sunscreen – Sunscreen is probably the one beauty secret that the world doesn’t give enough credit to! I cannot stress enough how important it is to use sunscreen daily (even if it is combined in a face cream like mine). Besides the fact that it reduces the chances of the development of wrinkles, the long term effects of sun damage on the skin are dire and can be easily mitigated by a simple application of sunscreen every day. Always use a good quality sunscreen with the right amount of SPF!
A good moisturizer – always keep that skin hydrated for the perfect glow and healthy look and feel.
Tea tree oil – hyper-pigmentation is common among people of darker skin and I have found that tea tree oil works well for me in removing acne scars or darker spots. Hyper-pigmentation (like any other skin condition) ranges from acute to severe so it would be advisable to seek professional advice if it appears to be severe. Tea tree oil is also great to use on stretch marks on the body.
We like what we are reading thus far, tell us a bit more about your beauty regime.
My skin care routine largely depends on the season of the year, but my basic skin care routine throughout the year consists of:
Washing my face twice a day with a mild cleaner. I am currently using the Epiwash foaming face wash for oily skin but I also use Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser. It’s important to understand what your skin best responds to and that’s why I opted for mild skin cleansers, as opposed to more harsh cleansers.
Toner! I only tone my skin 3 times a week with Rose Water from Dischem, this is super cost effective and smells great!. When I run out of rose water, I sometimes use Garnier Micellar Water as a substitute. I generally use micellar water to remove make up but it’s also a great toner as it completely cleanses and is very gentle on the skin.
Moisturize! Moisturize! Moisturize! I moisturize with Neutregena Visibly Even daily moisturizer. I use this both during the day and at night. What’s great about it is that it also contains sunscreen (SPF 30) which is perfect for everyday use. I bump up my sunscreen dose during the summer months and add 2 pea sized dots of the Eucerin sun gel cream (SPF 50) to my daily moisturizer. Keeping darker skin moisturized is extremely important to keep it healthy and happy . I also feel discomfort when my skin has not been properly moisturized and dries so I always ensure that it is well hydrated.
Sundays are my self-care days and depending on what season of the year it is, I will either use a face scrub or face mask. I prefer using a face scrub during the summer months (I use the Freeman polishing charcoal and black sugar gel mask and scrub for this) and I use a hydrogel sheet mask during the winter months as they add a little more moisture to my skin. Face masks are a great way of dealing with impurities in the skin and they have now become super cost effective, both Clicks and Dischem have a wide range of clay and gel based masks that are priced from as little as R 30.00! The key to face masks is understanding what your skin needs as a supplement so take some time to explore and figure out what works best for you.
Murendeni, you have come a long way in self-love and acceptance, what advice do you have for readers with similar concerns?
Learn to love your skin. I know this sounds cliché but the history of dark skin is so complex. For centuries, people of darker skin have faced extreme prejudice over the fact that they were born with more melanin and have been made to believe that they are second class citizens, such as through social constructs such as the caste system in India and Apartheid in South Africa, over something that is completely out of their control. We still bear the social ramifications of these perceptions in modern times through colourism within our own ethnic communities where people of lighter skin are considered more beautiful.
I see it as my duty as a darker skinned person to be unapologetic about the beauty and richness of my skin because it is through acceptance of ourselves that we will change the social narrative. As you can see, having melanin-rich skin is advantageous and something you should be proud of. If people living in 2020, with all the advancements in technology and social acceptance treat you poorly because of your skin colour, YOU ARE CLEARLY NOT THE PROBLEM!
There you have it folks, go out there and bask in your natural beauty. To get in touch with Murendeni, follow her fabulous insta account @nomimashige
By Murendeni Mashige & The Nifty Attache