As part of a project that I have been working on for some months now, where I have experts in their respective fields speak to you about skin care, we are continuing our discussion on exfoliation and today I am so honored to have weighing on the subject one of our own family members, Aisha Massac, owner of Mankind Grooming For Men. She is also a Licensed Estheticians & Professional Makeup Artist based in Washington, DC. So sit back and enjoy the read on exfoliation 🙂 and Thank you Aisha Massac!
Exfoliation made simple
What is exfoliation? Exfoliation is the removal of surface dead skin cells, with the ultimate goal being to clear debris and free the retired cells to allow for better absorption, circulation, and brighten dull skin by promoting skin renewal.
These dead skin cells, left on the surface, slow down healthy cell renewal, increase the depth of wrinkles and create a dull, sluggish appearance. The more you effectively exfoliate, the younger the skin looks and the better your skin care products can penetrate the skin.
However, too much exfoliation can cause redness and skin sensitivity. You should exfoliate no more than three days per week, as to not cause irritation or sensitive skin. If you already have sensitive skin as well as skin that easily hyperpigments, I would not recommend exfoliating since it can make your skin more sensitive and hurt your skin barrier. If you just HAVE to exfoliate (even outside of my recommendation), use an emollient based exfoliant and ONLY once a week; a light AHA would be a great option being that it’s moisturizing. A great option would be Dr. Perricone’s Advanced Face Firming Activator.
There are two types of exfoliation methods:
The most common form of exfoliation is physical exfoliation, which is mechanically removing superficial layers of the skin. This can be done with a face loofah, brush, washcloth, or with exfoliating cleansers. Mechanical exfoliators that utilize abrasive agents with sharp edges actually scrape and cut the skin. Abrasive agents such as apricot seeds (St. Ives being the most popular), granulated peach kernels, corn cob, silica, walnut shells and sugar instituted a major following in the ‘80s, followed by brushes, sponges, and loofahs. These all resulted in pulled, torn, stretched, abraded and traumatized skin that was covered with microlesions. Microlesions can lead to bacterial invasion, further leading to acne and/or wrinkles. Better options for physical or mechanical exfoliation are the Clarisonic skin brush and/or home microdermabrasion device (using aluminum oxide crystals). The Clarisonic has different skin brushes for different types of skin (Acne, Sensitive, Normal), and it allows you to adjust intensity for light or deep cleansing, and to avoid irritation. Other than the clarisonic, a mild exfoliating scrub is a great way to go to get a refreshed and clean look to the skin. An option for a more mild mechanical exfoliant would be almond meal, corn meal, or even baking soda, which can be added to your cleanser.
A professional mechanical exfoliant favorite of mine is the Dermalogica’s Daily Microfoliant, which uses a rice-based enzyme powder, that when mixed with water, activates the papain and salicylic acid.
Chemical exfoliation, in essence, dissolves the “glue” that binds the dead skin cells together. Chemical exfoliation involves applying products containing a form of alpha hydroxy acid and/or beta hydroxy acid that dissolve this “glue” around the skin cells, hastening the shedding of several layers of the epidermis. Estheticians throughout the world have long preferred enzymes for exfoliation such as pineapple, papaya and pumpkin, typically found in a mask form, to exfoliate the skin. These enzymes are natural forms of AHAs. My favorite type of chemical exfoliation is enzyme exfoliating products over the AHA’s and BHA’s. I absolutely love June Jacobs Perfect Pumpkin Peeling Enzyme Masque. I also love Jan Marini’s SkinZyme Papaya Mask. Other popular chemical exfoliation methods, found in the skincare world are retinoids. Retinoids are in the same family of Vitamin A and is used to treat some forms of acne, aging, and even psoriasis. Although retinoids can cause flaking, they don’t typically cause dryness – this flaking is the sloughing off of dead cells. Retinoids are also known to cause irritation or sensitivity and must at all times be used with caution in sunlight. *Note: look for retinoids that are encapsulated.Regular use of alpha- or beta- hydroxy products or clay-based masks is of utmost importance to help reduce breakouts and remove dead skin buildup that could clog pores. These are among the most effective exfoliating ingredients. Because AHAs are water-soluble, they can penetrate deeper into the skin’s surface to lift the dead cells. However, caution must be given as they may irritate sensitive skin if used in too high a concentration. On the other hand, BHA (or salicylic acid) is fat-soluble, and doesn’t penetrate below the epidermis.
**Note: If you have sensitive skin or a skin condition, such as rosacea, eczema, seborrhea, or dermatitis, you may want to consult your doctor or dermatologist to find the most effective exfoliating method for your skin type.
**Note: Do NOT use products that contain more than one of the above in one product
1. Wash your face
2. Take medium to large amount of exfoliant (about the size of a dime to a nickel) and gently apply to damp skin.
3. Massage the exfoliant over your skin. Never press into your skin – you are not sanding wood! Avoid your eye area, as this is a delicate area.
4. Use a washcloth or damp cloth to wipe clean with warm water
5. Apply your moisturizers and serums.
Written By: Aisha Massac, Licensed Esthetician & Professional Makeup Artist based in Washington, DC
I have been on a natural hair care journey for the better part of 15 years. And funny, I always wondered why my hair always seemed to be suffering so much. I tortured it for years with harsh chemicals trying to tame it and make it easier to control and then decided, one day after some real neglect, that I would wear my natural hair. Well, after doing that, I think I have finally gotten my hair to at least feel something close to healthy. And I am enjoying it now! 🙂 Late last year I discovered hair masks. That is not to say I have not heard of them before, but I frequently wore my hair in locs and just never thought I could use one. Last year, while my hair was still in the locs I tried my first hair mask and LOVED IT! Now, one thing I will have to say before i go on is that I LOVE to change things up and will frequently cut my hair to suit a mood. I have worn my hair in cornrows, an afro and locs over the past 15 years. And for 2012 I decided to go back to an afro. We will see how long this lasts, but so long as my hair continues to feel this silky soft, I guess the natural afro will be the style for a while 🙂 Anyway, back to the mask. I tried the mask with locs (something I recommend if you want to start to revitalize your locs) and I LOVED how my hair looked afterwards. Of course, it being locs there was more detail to washing to make sure that I got out all of the product I had just made, but still, my hair actually LOOKED ALIVE!
So now 2012 has rolled around, the locs are gone and I am nurturing an afro 😉 My hair was feeling neglected again so I continued with the monthly ritual of deep cleansing my hair and daily moisturizing and sealing. But for the purposes of this blog, I will focus on my deep cleansing routine. I had read up on ACV (Apple Cider Vinegar) and Rhassoul or Moroccan Red Clay and their great benefits for the hair. Since I know was daily moisturizing my hair, build up would begin to occur and I needed to make sure that I did not begin to stress my hair so a monthly detox and cleanse for my hair and scalp is needed. So, to help my scalp along, I am doing a little detox! But first to remove the monthly residual and assist with the natural pH of the hair. One part ACV to three parts water. This is great and you can see immediately all the residual on the hair as it will turn milky white. Prepare this in a plastic bottle with a spout tip, easier to work into the hair this way. I applied directly to my hair and scalp, making sure that I massaged the scalp with the ACV/Water mix. I left this mix on for about 5-10 minutes to let it really help with clarifying my hair. That will help to start the clarifying process and remove any and all build up on the hair. I should have rinsed out from my hair, but decided to leave on and added the hair mask. (If you are doing this I do recommend rinsing out before following with the hair mask).
This particular blend consists of Activated Charcoal, Henna, and Moroccan Red Clay. Mixed in the mask are Lavender Essential Oil, Rosemary Essetial Oil, Peppermint Essential Oil, Clary Sage Essential Oil, and Clove Essential Oil. I combined all and mixed with warm water and Baobab Oil. Olive oil is a good hair oil, VCO (Virgin Coconut Oil) is also another one I recommend. Use enough of the oil and water combination until it is a thick paste. Cover and let sit for about 10 minutes. After all this I put the mixture in my hair and cover with a plastic cap and left on for about 20 minutes. Rinsing this particular blend out is very important. And it is very important that you use a good clarifying shampoo. Or, any shampoo with SLS or that is sulfate based to make sure that you get out ALL of the particles that will be there as a result of the henna. Usually I don’t use henna, but since I wanted to cover some greys and henna is a GREAT conditioning agent for the hair, I added it to the mask. I shampooed until all the mud and particles are out of my hair. Until the water runs clean. My hair feels EXTREMELY clean at this point. Literally squeaky clean…and dry. This will happen once you have done the ACV/Water mix AND the clay mixture. That is why this next step is so important in taking care of the hair…CONDITION AND MOISTURIZE!
This next step is very important, you MUST deep condition your hair. So after a thorough shampoo and rinse, I condition my hair. Rinse this out and use a deep conditioner. I cover my hair with a clean plastic shower cap and left on for about 20-30 minutes. If you want to speed up this process you can sit under a hair dryer for about 10 minutes. Again, rinse until water runs clean. I make sure I dry out my hair and then I add a light moisturizer to my hair. This is important because the hair will be dry and the only way for the hair to feel and look lustrous is to make sure the hair is always moisturized. I moisturize my scalp and hair and then use a nice light oil to help seal in the hydration I just did. I made my own hair oil, a simple one of coconut and avocado oil with a touch of lavender essential oil. You can use whatever oil you want, preferably one containing coconut oil (VCO if possible) olive, essential oil Rosemary, essential oil of Lavender, or essential oil of Clove.
I can honestly say that I have noticed a HUGE difference in the feel and even appearance of my hair since I started to treat it differently now. My hair is softer and more manageable. Definitely less stressed! Of course, drinking water helps with keeping the softness of my hair there, but also moisturizing and sealing my hair helps also. I chose the following essential oils because of their wonderful properties for hair, and I love the fragrance they leave. Lavender and Rosemary essential oils make great hair tonics. Also, both Lavender and Rosemary essential oils combined make great headaches relievers. Lavender essential oil aids in the stimulation of the hair follicles which aids in growth. Rosemary essential oil helps also with stimulation and circulation of the scalp and overall hair growth. A mix of Rosemary essential oil along with Tea Tree oil and Basil helps with most scalp problems and dandruff.
Decided to take some ME time today. Always a good thing to just let the world function without you for a minute. All the problems and chaos will still be there tomorrow. Anyway, I saw on FB with this group I am on, Texture Me Natural, a post about Rhassoul Clay and Hair Mask. I read with interest and thought, this is something I should try! Let me warn you though, doing a hair mask is messy…but so much FUN!
Ok. So I decided from the night before that I would make the time to do the hair mask today. I wear my hair in locs and I have been contemplating creating a hair care line for years now. I did with my previous company and I have been tinkering around with it with itiba. (I currently do a private label for a local natural hair salon hair) so I figured, why not try this out. No worries, I can fashion something else quite quickly. What did I have on hand…let’s see…I have Moroccan Red Clay (which by the way is the same as Rhassoul Clay fancy that), Kaolin Clay, Activated Charcoal, my supply of lovely essential oils and carrier oils. OK, I can begin to formulate! I mixed my special brew of esesntial oils and carrier oils: Baobob oil, Turmeric Essential oil (YES, there is an essential oil distilled from the root), Lavandin essential oil, Peppermint essential oil (I think EVERY hair care product should have this in some quantity, it sure wakens the scalp!), Lemongrass Essential Oil and Clove Essential Oil. Then I mixed my Moroccan Red Clay, the Kaolin Clay and Activated Charcoal in a separate bowl. Then I mixed in some ACV (Apple Cider Vinegar) the Baobob oil mixture, olive squalene and enough water to hydrate and make it thick like batter. Of course it took a while cause I wanted to make sure that all the clays and charcoal were thoroughly mixed. Covered with Saran Wrap and left it in the oven for 20 minutes (only to warm the mixture – my oven has a pilot light so that was heat enough). Then I applied to my hair and left on for about 20 minutes to a half hour. It was messy but fun!
Next came the interesting part…rinsing this mask out of my hair, especially with locs. It took a while and about 4 shampoos, but I finally got it all out! Conditioned, rinsed and that was it! When I looked at my head of hair in the mirror I wondered if the greys that were making a guest appearance would still be there. They were, but they were not as shiny as they were before. And my hair was BRILLIANT! It looked so shiny and healthy! I was amazed and now TOTALLY SOLD on the idea of hair masks. Of course my shower wasn’t, but that is another story, LOL! One thing I want to make sure I emphasize (especially since my daughter is a cosmetologist and would KILL me if I did not make mention) make sure you have warm water to rinse the mask out of the hair. Try doing an alternate between warm and cold water, especially when rinsing the hair. The warm water helps to open the pores while the cold closes them and the hair cuticle as well. It also helps with stimulating the scalp (of course the Peppermint Essential Oil will also aid in that just fine as well, LOL!).
I am sorry there are no pics this time, but the next time I do the mixture, I will be sure to do a video so that you can see the process from beginning to end. So, are you going to try a hair mask also?