Everything You Need To Know About Your Skin {Part One}

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What The F Should I Even Be Doing for My Skin?

{From College to to c-suite, let’s figure out everything you need to know to nourish and nurture your skin}

“Why is skincare important? How can I take care of my skin? How do you get great skin? What should a skincare routine consist of?“

These are the questions that most clients ask me when they come for their first facial appointment at my private beauty studio, True Beauty Brooklyn.

The short answer is that every skincare routine should have:

  1. A Cleanser

    At its most basic form, the purpose of this step is to gently cleanse your skin of impurities, dirt, oil, and makeup.

    At it’s more advanced form, and this is usually the first place to start when you’re doing a skincare overhaul, is an ACTIVE cleanser. An active cleanser is a cleanser that has Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) or Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs) and not only does everything a basic cleanser does, but it begins exfoliating your skin: the first step to GREAT skin

  2. An Exfoliator

    Underline, highlight, and put a star next to this bad boy because this step is the key to success. 

    Brownie points if your exfoliator has all three types of exfoliation: cellular (AHAs/BHAs), enzymatic (papaya/papain, pumpkin, pineapple, etc) and mechanical (your gentle scrubbers like pumice, rice bran, clays etc

    (2b.) A Toner

    in my opinion, a daily toner is only necessary if your cleanser is not pH balanced, if you have an oil control problem, or if the toner doubles as another product, such as an exfoliator.

  3. Correctives

    Often mistakenly lumped together under the term “serum”, these are the products that you use to actually change your skin's condition, or help improve your skin type (keep reading to learn more about the difference between skin type and skin condition).

    Also, friends, all serums do not do the same thing! There are hydrating serums, brightening serums, anti-aging serums, acneic serums, etc. I bring this up because when going through individual skincare routines, oftentimes clients will say, ‘then I do a serum’ without actually knowing what that serum is meant to accomplish. This is also where we will find our retinoids, vitamin C’s, under eye creams, etc. 

  4. A Weekly Mask

    A more intense at-home treatment to treat your skin type or condition. Examples of these can be an exfoliating mask, hydrating mask, detoxifying clay mask. 

  5. A Daily Moisturizer

    I don’t care what you say. Just stop. You need this. A moisturizer is the combination of water AND oil, and since your skin needs both (after all, it is an organ, which is made up of cells, of which need water and nutrients to thrive) ALL SKIN TYPES need a moisturizer

  6. An SPF

    Yes, even though your parents are Caribbean, or even though you “just feel like your pale skin looks healthier with a nice tan”. The sun is changing, and the ozone layer is changing, my friends. I am a woman of color, who for the first time in 33 years, is beginning to feel my skin burn as I walk up my Brooklyn block to the bodega. 

    Please allow this moment for an SPF rant: If you never cared about sun damage, or protecting your skin from the sun before, do yourself a favor and start now before it’s too late! Because the sun and UV rays are the largest cause of extrinsic aging. Intrinsic aging and the physiological breakdown that occurs naturally due to genetics and the passage of time is going to happen regardless.

    Why are you trying to age yourself prematurely on the beach? Do you know what’s sexier than a sun kissed 20 something in 2019? A gorgeous, smooth-skinned, even-toned, and fresh-faced 50 something. Do you think I’m joking? Look at J. Lo! The woman is arguably aging backward and can hold her own against any young pop starlet today.

    Get yourself a sexy hat, use it as an excuse to build a bomb wardrobe, and wear SPF 45 or higher.

    And it doesn’t count if it’s in your foundation!

    Apologies for the SPF rant, but I promised myself that I’m staying young and hot for life, and I want the same for you! 

These categories are the foundation of any basic skincare routine, but this list just scratches the surface as to what you should be doing for your skin, because that’s not really what you want to know. The real question that you are desperately searching for answers to is, “what does my skin need?”. THIS is the question that has had you spinning in circles, reading every product review, and purchasing every beauty writer’s “must-have IT” product, in search of your perfect skin. 

If you are nodding your head or laughing because this sounds like you, you are not alone,girl! I have encountered so many women just like you! You’re smart, and resourceful! You drink your green juices, you go to yoga (or at least know you SHOULD go to yoga), you find time to balance your career, your homegirls, and your family, but you can’t figure out your skin. 

Well, that’s because knowing what your skin needs, implies that you know what it is missing, and if you knew the answer to that question, you wouldn’t be here, right?

If you're anything like me (and I think you are, because here you are searching for answers), you are both an infinite learner, and annoyingly curious. For us, it's not enough for someone to just go down the list and tell us what our skin needs, right? You need to know more! Why is “that” what my skin needs? How will I know in the future what else my skin might need? Most importantly, prove it! Show me that what you’re saying is the truth, because everyone else before you swore they knew just what my skin needed also. 

I’ve. Been. There. The good news? Girl! I’ve got you!

I spent the better part of my mid, and late twenties absorbing everything that I could get my hands on, so I could teach myself about basic skincare alchemy, and ingredients. When I got to the point that I felt I had reached as far as I could go on my own, and with google, and with no real progress made on my own sensitive, acneic (brand new for my 20s, lucky me!) skin, I enrolled myself in esthetics school to help direct my new found passion for manipulating and combining plants, oils, and molecules into a career in skincare. Before I knew it, I was able to take the knowledge that I self-taught myself, and combine it with the true science that is the anatomy and physiology of the skin, taught to me in my 600 hour New York State Esthetics License course.

For the first time, once I learned the how and the why of human skin, figuring out the right recipe for my skin, slowly, but surely, clicked.

And it clicked in a, “well that makes perfect sense, and is so easy!” kind of way. Next, I pivoted my quaint retail space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn to a private beauty studio, and little by little I started to build a loyal client base.

As I educated my girls and explained to them about the basic functions of the skin, our skin’s regeneration process, and how skin actually works as a part of our bodies, it began to click for them too! Suddenly we could talk about important ingredients needed for healthy skin and the difference between natural, organic, and cleanly synthesized ingredients versus “greenwashing” and just plain old junk from the drug store.

The real turning point came when client after client began to tell me that their lives were changed. Seriously!

These girls who came to me just months before in desperation after trying every other product and gimmick throughout the years began to tell me stories like “Elizabeth, strangers have been complimenting my skin on the street. I NEVER thought that I would be that girl who has enviable skin! For the first time in my life, I’m going out without make-up. I’m taking pictures of myself again for the first time in years, and I LOVE my skin!” 

I don’t know if anyone has ever told you that you changed their life, but hearing these sentiments over, and over again stirred something in me. It made me want to share this information with every woman looking for answers, and to be able to serve as many of them as possible!

I’ve spent the past 4 years doing the hard work for you, touching hundreds of different types of skin, compiling data, and helping women just like you, work to obtain the skin of their dreams. And yes, I said WORK to obtain the skin of their dreams,  because here’s the other secret that they’re not going to tell you: there are very few women that I have encountered who are naturally blessed with gorgeous, poreless, perfect skin. For the rest of us, it takes work. 

I work hard on my skin, and it shows! My girls work hard on their skin, and it shows!

But do you know what? Once you can decipher through the bullshit that is the United States of America Beauty and Skincare market, you are going to love working on your skin.

You will know the exact combination of ingredients that you need for YOUR skin as you move through the different seasons of life. And if you get stuck, I’ll be here to help guide you as much as possible! 

In this multi-part series, I’m going to share with you everything that I've learned in correcting, and maintaining my own super-problematic, sensitive, melanin-rich skin, as well as the secrets that I have shared with the many women across age, color, and skin condition spectrum, whom I have been honored to guide with their skin goals over the years. 

Ok, babe. Stick with me to part two, and we’ll get down to the nitty-gritty…

The nitty-gritty SCIENCE OF SKIN THAT IS!!!