There's a lot more that goes into skincare than just a pretty face. If you're a Black woman, the overall care and maintenance of your skin embodies a journey to heal scars and feel fully empowered to reclaim agency over the complexities of your complexion.
For most Black women, our skincare journeys trace back to toothpaste spot treatments for active breakouts and Vaseline rub downs first thing in the morning before heading off to school. Traditionally, access to proper skincare products has been a space exclusive to the white, wealthy, and those with the disposable income to spend on high-end, department store creams and serums. As times evolve, folks with melanated skin have reclaimed their overall wellness and are advocating for skincare that caters to our needs and represents us in every hue.
That's how Simedar Jackson, a New York-based licensed esthetician, discovered her work in the space. Back when she was a beauty writer, it became clear that many of the products she would review were still missing the mark when it came to Black consumers explaining, "There were no options for me. I was side-eyeing the skincare industry like, 'How am I supposed to know what's good for me or not?'" When she realized that the ashy sunscreens and anti-afro dry shampoos were "very much so geared towards white women," she knew it was time for a change.
These discrepancies pushed her to create her own space to correct this problem called, Skinfolks, a community skincare platform that seeks to create a space for Black and POC in the skincare industry. As she shares, "Skincare is very personal; there's a link to wellness that makeup doesn't necessarily have. Skincare is more related to your overall wellness because your skin is an organ; it's the largest organ in your body."
As the mantra for her platform, Skinfolks, describes: "Skincare is more than beauty. It's healthcare that we all deserve access to and something that everyone can do for themself. Black people and POC should feel like they have a stake in the industry." Our skincare needs and overall wellness is deeply personal and sacred. And having the proper tools and education to reshape this space to our needs is a revolutionary act in itself.
That's why in this article, Simedar Jackson will guide us how to curate a skincare routine tailored to our needs and how Black folks can reimagine the cultural significance of our beauty experience.
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When it comes to building your curated skincare routine, here are some important tips to keep in mind:
For starters, decide on what your skincare concerns are and what your needs actually are. Simedar says, "If you're dealing with hyperpigmentation as your main concern, you want to have your bases covered. Everyone needs a cleanser, a moisturizer, and an SPF that they can use everyday; day and night - and have your SPF separate. The price goes up when you start to introduce products with more active ingredients like treatment products. In this case, you want to look for products with a blend of ingredients because it allows you to have a more comprehensive approach."
Next on your list, you want to find an exfoliant that's suited to your unique skin type. For melanated skin, exfoliants with mandelic acid, salicylic acid, and lactic acid are gold. Avoid over-exfoliating the skin because it could lead to further irritation. Simedar's rule of thumb is: "irritation + inflammation = hyperpigmentation." So only exfoliate a couple of times a week.
Then you're going to need a brightening serum. Simedar suggests that you look for these key ingredients: "Vitamin C, Arbutin, Kojic acid, Mulberry, Licorice. These ingredients won't bleach or damage the melanin-producing cells, but they're going to help control the overproduction of melanin where there's been damage."
For serums, this is where it's OK to splurge a bit! On the low end, most quality serums tend to fall in the $40-$65 price range, but that's because your serums are supposed to do most of the heavy lifting. "Go for brands that have authority in the science space. If you're working on hyperpigmentation or acne, a clay mask isn't going to change your life. You need a well-formulated serum with AHA, Vitamin C, or Koji acid." Don't be alarmed by the price tags because the more formulation that goes into the serum, the more expensive it'll be. That's good for your skin because products with high concentrations of these active ingredients get the job done.
As we heal and take ownership of our skin health, we’re reshaping our collective experience in the beauty and skincare space, here’s why:
Overall, it's important that Black folks feel empowered to seek out the guidance of an esthetician who they can trust. Although they don't have to be a person of color, they do have to have the best interest of your overall skin health in mind so that you address your needs and put you in the right direction. Historically, Black folks have had to overcome internalized trauma from the medical industry, so an inherent distrust when seeking out professional help and even overcoming a lack of access is a plight that should be acknowledged and tended to.
Thankfully, we are in a time where this space is looking more like us and as Simedar explains, "We have more Black people [on the production side] who are creating skincare brands and services so you can go to a Black esthetician and buy your products from a Black skincare brand. We have variety among these Black-owned brands to choose."
For online skincare consultations and to connect with Simedar Jackson's work, follow her at personal page and Skinfolks platform.
All recommendations listed in this article vary based on skin type, needs, and budget.
Featured image courtesy of Simedar Jackson