How many times have you asked someone for skin-care advice and cringed the moment they said to drink more water, slather on the coconut oil, or take off your makeup before bed? When you’re nursing issues that go beyond the occasional breakout or blemish, there’s nothing more frustrating than receiving such basic advice.
Yes, we know that doing any of those three things can contribute to healthier skin, but let’s be real: that simply isn’t enough for most. Black women in particular face a unique set of obstacles, such as discoloration, which means that when we’re done talking about our favorite hair products, we’re trading skin care secrets, too. And while we admittedly eat up anything a celeb tells us about their regimen, we prefer hearing from women who don’t have 24/7 access to a glam squad.
So, if you’re hoping for a skin transformation of your own this spring, see how three twentysomethings finally beat their biggest skin struggles ahead.
Primary Issue: Dryness
Routine: For the majority of my life, I’ve had clear skin, but after puberty, I felt the need to develop a skin-care regimen to combat dryness. After trying tons of products from Aveeno and St. Ives to Ambi (I had the worst reaction to their products), I stumbled upon Trader Joe’s skin-care section! Now, my daily regimen is very simple, starting with Trader Joe’s Nourish All-in-One Facial Cleanser, followed by a few spritzes of Trader Joe’s Rose Water Facial Toner, and sealing it in with a little bit of Trader Joe’s Vitamin E Oil.
I never would have guessed in a million years that their products would do the trick, but I love that my face is not too dry or not too oily as a result of them. Side note: Their Refresh Citrus Body Wash with vitamin C and Coconut Body Butter are bomb.com! My skin is so soft all over and feels so good daily!
Primary Issue: Adult Acne
Routine: I started developing acne when I was 26—26! It was awful. I was embarrassed and confused as to why this would happen to me going into my late 20s. I tried hundreds of dollars’ worth of products before I found ones that actually worked for me (I also went vegan). I’m still dealing with a lot of hyperpigmentation and acne here and there, but it’s getting better. At night, I’m using Urban Skin Rx Clear Skin Cleansing Bar ($24 at Urban Skin Rx).
This stuff is amazing and formulated for women of color. It’s powerful, yet it doesn’t dry out my skin. I also love the eucalyptus smell—very calming after a long day. After that, I tone with Glossier. Solution ($24 at Glossier.). This toner has completely changed the texture of my skin. At first, I was scared at the idea of using an acid on my face nightly, but my skin really took to it. I’m running out of it, and I’m kinda freakin’ out.
Next, I moisturize. I use Radha Beauty Rosehip Oil ($15.95 on Radha Beauty). I found this on Amazon, and I’m so glad I did because it blends beautifully into my skin, leaving it hydrated and luminous. I have oily skin, so I was hesitant about using oil on my face, but this has helped balance out my skin’s oil production. I then spot-treat if I’m dealing with any breakouts. I use tea tree oil, usually from Trader Joe’s and De La Cruz Sulfur Ointment ($6.99 at Walgreens).
They both work great at drying out those nasty pimples. About three times a week I use a mask. It’s typically the same mask because I love it and it’s natural, which I’m all about, and it works at keeping my skin plump, clear, and smooth—Girl Undiscovered’s Stumbled Across Paradise Mask ($45 at Girl Undiscovered, but totally worth it). I found this when my sister left it at my mom’s house over Christmas.
If I’m not wearing makeup that day, I don’t cleanse in the morning. I just don’t find it as necessary as I did when my face was extremely oily. If I am wearing makeup that day, I cleanse in the morning with my Urban Skin Rx Bar and then tone with Thayers’ Rose Petal Witch Hazel ($10.95 at Thayers)—yes, the one everyone uses and loves. I then moisturize with my rosehip oil (it sits nicely under makeup) and the final and most important step—sunscreen! I’m currently using Jack Black’s Oil-Free Sun Guard with SPF 45 ($21 at Jack Black). Sunscreen is so important for those of us dealing with hyperpigmentation; don’t want those dark spots to get darker!
Name: Dee Dee
Primary Issue: Oily Skin
Routine: I exfoliate twice a week with a mixture of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda ($0.79 at Target) and Alaffia Everyday Shea Lavender Body Lotion ($14.99 at Alaffia). Then I wash my face with Alaffia Body Wash: Shea Butter & Neem Lavender ($14.99 at Alaffia) and use a dark-colored face cloth to lightly scrub off the soap. I have several rags, so I wash and replace my face rag two to three times a week. I replace all of my rags with new ones once or twice a year.
I put the coconut oil around my eyes. I put Alaffia Everyday Shea Lavender Body Lotion to moisturize and Coppertone Sunscreen Lotion ($6.06 at Amazon) on top of that if I know I’m going to be in the sun for an extended period of time. At night, I put Garden of Life Raw Extra Virgin Coconut Oil ($14.39 at Garden of Life) all over my face and wipe it off with a damp face rag. After that, I put Dickinson’s Original Witch Hazel Pore Perfecting Toner ($4.69 at Target) on either cotton balls or cotton pads and rub it all over my face and neck as an astringent. Lastly, I put on Alaffia Everyday Shea Lavender Body Lotion to moisturize.
A version of this article was originally published in March 2018.