Photo: Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images
No matter how hot you look, dry skin can make you feel hopelessly uncomfortable. Celebrity physician Dr. Michael Roizen states that African-American women can experience higher rates of transepidermal (literally, "through the skin") water loss than Caucasian women, which can make skin drier. While you’re on the hunt for the products to include in your skin care arsenal, keep your eyes peeled for those that contain natural ingredients, which your dry skin craves.
What to Look For
The best face moisturizer for über-dry African-American skin is one that contains naturally moisturizing ingredients. Read the label and look for jojoba oil, sunflower seed oil, beeswax, shea butter or coconut oil. Moisturizers containing plant extracts help nourish and tone your skin. Vitamins and supplements are other ingredients to seek. For example, vitamin E and omega-3 can enhance the overall health of your skin and promote healing. When shopping for a daytime moisturizer, sunscreen is a must, especially if you want to reverse hyperpigmentation (the higher the SPF the better). If you happen to have an uneven skin tone, look for a tinted moisturizer that contains vitamin C, which will help reduce the appearance of dark spots. Dr. Charles E. Crutchfield, associate professor of dermatology at the University of Minnesota Medical School, says that the moisturizing lotion that you choose should continually protect your face all day and keep it moisturized. If your face is really hurting because it’s so dry, look for a medicated skin moisturizer (a drugstore pharmacist can direct you to a good over-the-counter option) and make an appointment with a dermatologist.
The Skin Toner Debate
Some estheticians say that face toner is essential to rebalancing the pH of your skin after you cleanse it. Other professionals say toner is unnecessary because your skin’s pH will go back to normal after an hour or so. The choice to use skin toner is personal. If you feel like you need a skin toner to reduce the size of your pores after you wash your face, look for a toner that doesn’t contain alcohol or witch hazel because your skin will dry out even more and become ashy. Instead, spritz rosewater, lavender water, orange flower water or a mix of cooled chamomile and green teas onto your face. These natural ingredients are soothing and act like a natural astringent.
What to Avoid
While it may sound soothing, never let a moisturizer with mineral oil near your face if you want to keep it kissable. The higher levels of melanin in African-American skin can make it more sensitive to certain ingredients. Mineral oil, parabens, dioxanes, phthalates and oxybenzone can clog your pores and have the potential to irritate your skin and cause dark patches to form. If a bottle of moisturizer or toner just states that it contains “fragrances” in the list of ingredients, put it back on the shelf. An undisclosed fragrance has the potential to harm your already sensitive skin.
Your Skin Care Routine
Moisturizing your skin is only one small, yet important, step in a beauty regimen. Whenever you wash and rinse your face, do so with warm water because hot water actually causes your skin to become dry, according to Crutchfield. Even taking a hot shower can take a toll on your dry skin. Cleanse your face with a product that contains glycerin, petrolatum or hyaluronic acid but doesn’t create suds. Then gently pat your face dry with a soft towel. If you feel that you need it, spritz on some toner. Crutchfield says to finish up your skin care routine by immediately applying moisturizer to your face. To help your skin stay hydrated, drink eight cups of water a day and watch your salt intake.