Clearing My Skin Part 1: Cleansing, Exfoliating and Toning.

Dettol Even Tone Soap

Have you been struggling with your skin tone lately? I have, and so I decided to do some research and make some changes with regards to my skin care regime and finally get my skin looking tip top.

Before we get started I have to say this: What goes into your body plays a huge role in how your skin behaves, but sometimes you do need to come at your skin from an external perspective. Some factors weigh in more than others for different people and while some can get away with eating all the junk in the world all day, everyday, and still have fantastic skin (and lean, toned bodies – how annoying, right?), others need only binge once on the greasy stuff and have to deal with a nasty break out. I’ll get into things you can add to your diet that will definitely improve your skin a whole lot in the future but for this series of posts, I’ll focus on some of the things that have worked FOR ME, on the outside. I’m no expert on skin care, but I have done my fair share of research on what works for my Combination Skin. It’s also been a lot of fun discovering and practicing some of these methods.

 DRINK WATER whenever you possibly can. Hydration is good for your skin. And a bunch of other stuff. Like pooping smoothly. And regularly.

Drink up. #EvenBetterMe
Now, over the past few years, I’ve suffered through a few horrible breakouts that, at their worst, had me reach out to a dermatologist. As much as that consultation did help, (I needed antibiotics to clear my body and subsequently my skin of acne causing bacteria, and then was prescribed some funky smelling, sulphur based medication), I didn’t enjoy having to rely on topical medication to clear my skin. I decided that if I could, I’d find out how to use all natural items to sort me out. I’m pretty adventurous when it comes to trying out things - when it comes to anything really - so I read up on a ton of information to add on to what I had already picked up over the years and set about clearing my skin. What I’ve found is that while an all-natural regimen can be great, it’s possible to find a balance between natural and not so natural products. Also, I learnt to give products some time to actually work. Trying something out for a week and giving up because you haven’t seen a change is not practical. Some things take time to work but that’s because they are getting to the root of the problem first.

Before - 2 months ago.
In progress - Today. No make up, no skin smoothing or blemish fixing.

CLEANSING.
Clean skin is key for clear skin. Whether it’s dust, exhaust fumes, sweat or make up, our skin encounters all sorts of things which can end up clogging our pores, piling on irritants and bacteria, and exacerbating acne. And trust me, we get grime on our faces in ways we don’t even think about. Filth is all around us. On money, our computers, phones, remotes, door handles, steering wheels, the list goes on and we don’t even think about how many times we touch our faces during the day. I wear make up most days that I leave the house, which adds up to maybe 4 out of 7 days in a week, so cleansing thoroughly is something I take very seriously. But, on the very same note, I have found that some cleansers can be too harsh on the skin, and by virtue of their ingredients, they end up stripping the skin of it’s natural oils, causing your glands to overcompensate and produce even more sebum, which then results in acne. It’s a vicious cycle.

I have tried a few products over the years, some by big renowned brands, others by not so big companies and these are the cleansing methods I have found work for me. In fact, I use them interchangeably depending on what’s going on with my skin.

1. Good Ol’ Soap.
I know. Using soap on your face has gotten a bad rap over the years with regards to how harsh it can be to your skin. But, if you think about it, most people are using the same soap they use on their body, which is probably not the best idea. Lately, you will find some soaps in the market geared specifically towards the face. A lot of companies have been steadily improving their products and tailoring them to our most prevalent skin care needs. I’ve settled on two soaps that work great.

Dettol Even Tone Soap


For the last couple of months, I’ve been doing some work with this brand testing out the product and incorporating it into my skin care regime. The brand name Dettol is synonymous with antibacterial protection and antiseptic products, and it’s a pretty authoritative name in the game across the board. The one thing Dettol does well is kill germs. They are constantly releasing new products for every age range and activity, so I was pretty excited to try out the Dettol Even Tone, which was launched in Kenya earlier this year promising to help even out your skin tone. The key thing I loved about it? Aside from killing germs and bacteria, it’s enhanced with Apricot seeds (and by extension Apricot seed oil), which have the following advantages. 
They:
  • Contain gamma linoleic acid that firms and tones your skin.
  • Contain Vitamin A and E to soothe your skin and slow down the aging process.
  • Have an anti-inflammatory effect to soothe eczema.
  • Provide gentle exfoliating action so your skin is left glowing every time.
  • The oil is light, fast absorbing and highly moisturizing so your skin will not be left feeling stripped or greasy.
The best part about this soap is that you can use it all over your body and for only 100/- for 90 grams, it’s great value for money. I use it in the shower as an all over body soap, and as a facial cleanser on the days I either don’t have make up on, or put on some light, every day make up to go about my day. You can find it at most supermarkets.

African Black Soap
Originating mostly from West Africa, black soap is a staple in my cleansing arsenal. This is what I use on my face to remove my make up as I find that it takes it all off without much effort (Good for days when I come home exhausted, or have been out on the town and the temptation to sleep in my make up is strong. Never do this guys. Sleeping in make up is a sin). Just pray about it and see.

What is black soap, you ask?
“ This soap is made from the ash of harvested plants and barks such a plantain, cocoa pods, palm tree leaves, and shea tree bark. It is traditionally made in West Africa, from secret recipes. Varieties of black soap actually made in Africa tend to be pure, while soaps made in Europe or the U.S. tend to have added artificial ingredients. Not sure if you have the “real deal”? One rule of thumb to look for: authentic black soap should look brown and not black." 
- Blackdoctor.

While it’s touted as being gentle, I find that it’s strong enough to clear ALL the make up off my skin, and I mean heavy-super-face-beat-full-on-contouring-blushing-slayage make up. For this reason, I only use it when I’m taking off make up, instead of everyday. I also love that while it does leave my skin clean, my face doesn’t feel stripped or dry. You can also use it on your hair as a shampoo and all over your body.

Read more on Black Soap here. I got my black soap from these folks on Facebook for about 300/-.

2. Oil Cleansing.
Oil cleansing is one of those things that at first glance doesn’t seem to make any sense. Using oil to clean? Yeah, whatever. Well, here’s the thing. The premise is that oil dissolves oil, so whatever is sitting on the face at the end of the day will be broken down and dissolved by the oil, which I then wipe off with a face towel soaked in hot water, or wash off with the Dettol soap. The key however, is to use the right kind of oils for the process.

“Oil, alone, will not bring you blemishes. Pimples, cysts, zits, blackheads, whiteheads are a result of several different factors including hormones, bacteria, dead skin cells and the buildup of these factors. Your skin naturally produces oil because it needs it. It is naturally occurring. Not only does your natural oil help lubricate, it also heals, protects, and moisturizes your skin so that it may function properly.”
- Oil Cleansing Method.
Oil cleansing requires at least two oils, Castor Oil being the main one as this is the oil which does all the cleansing. Castor Oil, although thick and heavy, exhibits highly absorbent, astringent and anti-inflammatory properties. It sinks deep into the pores and draws out dirt and gunk, kind of like a vacuum cleaner. If you use it on it’s own, it’ll actually leave your skin feeling tight and dry. The second oil is what balances this effect out, leaving your skin moisturized and balanced. Olive oil has been highly recommended as well as castigated so I tend to avoid it altogether as what I found is that many of the olive oil brands being stocked are either counterfeit or not extra virgin as they claim to be. Coconut Oil, on the other hand, is perfect for this.

Mamado Castor Oil - Super Cosmetics
Coconut Oil and Bicarbonate of Soda - Supermarkets
What you do is mix Castor Oil with Coconut Oil, massage it all over the face for about a minute, take a cotton wash cloth soaked in hot water (hot enough for some steam but not too hot that it burns), wring out the water, lay the cloth on your face for about 30 seconds while your pores open up even more and then wipe off the oil with the cloth. Repeat the wiping till all the oil is off. I do this about once or twice a week and it feels like bliss.

Sometimes when I have more time and a little bit of energy, and just need some TLC, I will use this method to remove make up, and instead of using the washcloth to wipe it off, I’ll wash it off with soap.

For more oil cleansing recipes and different types of oils you can use and their different properties that may be better suited to you, read this.

EXFOLIATING.
Something that our skin does on a daily is shed dead skin cells and sometimes, they end up clogging our pores, rather than gracefully leaving the premises. Exfoliating is pretty much an eviction notice plus an escort off the property. It dislodges the dead skin cells and sends them on their way, leaving our skin to flourish and our pores to breathe. Ideally, you should exfoliate once, or at most twice a week, but because we are all different (and special), factors such as the weather, that time of the month, our activity and our diet may all come into play so it’s important to monitor and recognize our skin’s different behaviors and act accordingly. These are my chosen methods of exfoliating which I use interchangeably.

1. Facial Cleansing Brush
Dettol Even Tone Soap - Supermarkets
Coconut Oil - Kentaste
Bicarbonate Of Soda - Clovers
Facial Cleansing Brush - Amazon
This has got to be one of the most fun methods of exfoliating. It feels so good. This is pretty much a battery-operated gadget (not that kind) attached to a brush that spins. There are so many benefits to using this. Sonic brushes provide optimal cleansing as the brush really does get in there to loosen and remove the gunk. It is noted that a sonic brush is 6 times better at cleansing than hands alone. The pulsating brush also improved my skin’s circulation so I find that my face looks brighter and more vibrant. Because the pores are thoroughly cleaned, the pores shrink and my skin now looks much smoother due to the tightened pores.

Just remember to be gentle with the brush, though. Using it too hard and for too long may result in broken skin and broken capillaries. I also wouldn’t recommend using the brush to take off make up or on aggravated skin. Some people actually use their brushes every day and while it’s generally accepted to do so, I would recommend monitoring your skin and only using it when you feel you could use a good cleanse and exfoliation.

I found mine on Amazon.

2. Baking Soda/Bicarbonate Of Soda


Coconut Oil and Bicarbonate of Soda
This cheap little trick is amazing for so many things with regards to beauty and skin care, from being a great foot soak, sunburn reliever, detox bath, deodorant, nail and teeth whitener and even clarifying rinse for your hair. Around the home, there are bout 50 million uses for this nifty little product so I always pick some up whenever I’m at the supermarket.

Now baking soda is a very fine and slightly abrasive powder, which can be used to manually remove dead skin cells from the skin, leaving the skin looking polished. The key is to be gentle, DO NOT SCRUB this onto your face as it can end up instead breaking your skin.

Before we go on however, I need to say that this does not work for everyone, and in fact, it can end up causing more harm than good. This is because of the chemistry of it all, so it’s important to do your research before using something, however “natural” it may seem.

Here’s how it works. The pH, (the power of Hydrogen) which is the Acidity or Alkalinity of anything, is measured on a scale from 1-14, with 1 being most acidic and 14 being most alkalinic, and 7 being neutral. Ideally, our skin’s acidity, which is called the acid mantle, should lie between a pH of 4.5-6.5, which is slightly acidic and optimum for healthy skin as this encourages moisture retention and improves the skin barrier. Now a disruption in the acid mantle is detrimental. One of the causes of this for instance is high acidity caused by eating foods that cause a lowering of the pH. Remember the lower the pH, the higher the acidity. Stress can heighten your body’s acidity and result in an unbalanced acid mantle. Baking powder mixed with water is highly alkalinic with a pH of about 8. The reason it works for some is because their skin may have been lower on the pH scale, and so the alkalinity of it brings about a restorative balance.

Because of this, I use this maybe once a week, and instead of mixing it with water, which increases it’s alkalinity, I mix it with coconut oil. Read more here.

Baking soda is available at most supermarkets for under 50ksh.

TONING.
Toning is the application of a lotion or wash, which is designed to cleanse the skin and shrink the appearance of pores. It is typically done after cleansing and/or exfoliating to remove any excess oil or dirt, and to give the skin that tight, porcelain like finish by tightening the pores and smoothing the skin. This can be done either by using cotton wool soaked in toner, by spraying onto your face or applying a tonic gauze face mask for a few minutes.

There are two types of toners. Alcohol based, astringent toners, which are great for oily skin, and herbal based toners, which are great for combination to normal skin. I would not recommend using a toner if you have dry skin.

Now, I only recently started using a toner on my skin after my friend, Mandi, recommended Rose water as a make- up setting spray. It’s serendipitous, actually what happened. I went looking for rose water but all I could find was this rose water and glycerin mix by Alison’s. Since I had no options that day, I bought it. Unfortunately the premixed formula didn’t work quite as well as a setting spray, probably because of the glycerin, which is a humectant (absorbs moisture) so I would end up looking very shiny after about an hour. Not good. I then decided to just use it on my bare skin after cleansing, as I’d read somewhere that rose water is also a great toner.


Folks, let me just tell you, my skin has never, ever responded so quickly and so favorably towards a product. I’m talking a considerable difference overnight and now I use it all the time. And I mean, ALL THE TIME. Whenever I see the little spray bottle with the mix, I just spray it on my face. It’s great as a morning facial spray, as a refreshing spray when it’s hot, as a spray before bed; I even spray it on my face if I wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. It’s wonderful. All I did was use a small recycled spray bottle, and mix it 1:1 with water. It’s great because the glycerin in it keeps my skin moisturized, whilst the rose water has been improving the texture of my skin by shrinking my pores and smoothing it out.

I’ve since bought the rose water on it’s own which I now use separately as a setting spray for my make up and it also works wonderfully.

My skin is still not where I want it to be but it has improved considerably over the last couple of months, and I’m excited about this great progress. What have you found that works for you within these three steps of cleansing, exfoliating and toning?

In the next post, I’ll tell you all about my Hydrafacial experience and what impact that has had on my skin so far.

Thanks for reading.
Patricia.

2 comments

  1. Hey Patricia...what do you use to moisturize your face?

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    Replies
    1. Hey Martha, I use a few products...Bio Oil and coconut oil mostly. :-)

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