I’m ashamed to say I am a 42-year-old Black woman who was audaciously raising three kids and, as of six months ago, had the mistaken belief that ‘black don’t crack’ and ‘we don’t need sunscreen’… #outthelies
If I’m completely honest with myself, I don’t know where I picked up these misconceptions. I grew up with a grandmother who lathered on Oil of Olay and other face creams religiously, twice a day, rain or shine, in sickness and in health. She also drank gallons of water to aid in her quest for the holy grail of glowing skin.
My cousin-sister (yes, it’s a thing, Google it) trained as an aesthetician in her late teens and I was the designated guinea pig — not only for her and her classmates but also for her students when she later became a teacher. From the time I was in my late teens to my mid-30s, I had a basic daily routine of cleanse, hydrate, and moisturize.
Back then, I thought I had oily skin, so my intent was to minimize breakouts. As I reached my mid-30s, I started to have kids and life got in the way. The daily skincare routine took a back burner. As a full-time working mum, who at 39 found out she was having twins, life became more about survival, and precious ‘me-time’ became more about naps, errands, and stolen moments alone than skincare.
The onset and firm grounding of COVID-19 are more likely what has resurrected my love of skin-based self-care. In this pandemic, vacations have turned into staycations, so I invariably look for self-indulgent activities I can do on my own.
In late January, I took a weeklong staycation and decided to have a facial at Fig Face on Vancouver’s Main Street. Instagram ads had persistently made me aware of nano-needling facials. A colleague shared with me that she had a six-week facial ritual at the same spa, and she absolutely loved it. After much deliberation, I decided to book a collagen and texture super facial designed to “reduce pore size and fine lines, diminish pigmentation, sun damage, scarring, and even out textural irregularities for refined-looking skin.” It seemed like a tall order, but why not?
Well, why not indeed. After 30 minutes of this miraculous treatment, I walked out feeling like a glowing, 20-year-old version of myself, thinking “why don’t I look like this every day?” I immediately reached out to my oldest friend (since we were 18 months) for advice. She’s the only person I know who consistently has smooth, glowing skin. She’s also a nurse who does her research, so she would know how to maintain my newfound glow. A few days later, we had a two-hour WhatsApp video chat on all things skin.
We talked about:
My skin type (concluded that it’s dry and sensitive)
How much time I have to spend on a daily routine
What’s most important to me in a skincare product – and why
My biggest skincare concerns
What options are available to me, as she’s mostly familiar with brands available in the UK
My misconceptions about sunscreen!
Though people with dark skin do produce more melanin and have a natural skin protection factor up to 13, everybody who’s alive and breathing (even babies six months and older) need to protect their skin from UVA and UVB rays. Dermatologists say we should use at least SPF30. It was a truly eye-opening conversation—and the result was a very expensive (and unbudgeted) trip to Sephora and a local Eminence Spa. If you know me, you know I don’t do things in half measures and I don’t tend to choose the most economical option.
Two weeks after our conversation, I received the second-most important contribution to my skin success. My birthday was coming up and my girlfriend sent me a copy of Caroline Hirons’ new book Skin Rocks. I had never heard of her and was immediately sold on her no-nonsense approach to knowledge-sharing, advice, and her love of skin. As I’ve already mentioned, I don’t have a lot of extra time, but I love to read, which has taken a big back-burner in recent years.
Hirons’ book is one of the easiest reads I’ve come across. It’s concise, factual, and features practical advice for people of all skin types, budgets, and varying degrees of knowledge on the subject. She writes in such a compelling way that’s easily digestible. It took me a couple of weeks to get through the book and thus it began… I took back my me-time and embarked on a new skin journey that has been a rewarding and delightful experience.
A few gems from the book:
“Shower First: The water is too hot for your face… stand with your back to the shower and your chin raised — like the shower has greatly offended you.”
“Flannels get your skin CLEAN. Think of your parents: how did they wash you when you were a kid? They used a flannel.”
“#Cleanser. Stay away from foaming cleansers... it’s particularly important when your epidermis already resembles a prune. Using a foaming cleanser on dry, parched, dehydrated skin is akin to skin torture and is a skincare crime of the highest order.”
“SPF: On average people apply one fifth of the amount of product required to actually reach the SPF level listed on the bottle. For your face it’s two fingers. For your body it’s a teaspoon per limb.”