Today’s topic has been requested, as summer is coming, so everyone wants to look their best, which I fully understand. The question you wanted me to ask was, how do we exfoliate our bodies? In this video, I really want to tackle what the options are, the mistakes that are being made, and my favorite product recommendations.
As you know, none of my videos have ever been sponsored, and they will never be sponsored. This is not my income stream, this is my love letter to my skin of color family, globally, for us and for our children, just to make sure that we aren’t spending our money on things that could potentially damage our skin barrier. With us, any inflammation, any micro tears, one scratch, one bite, one burn and we hyper-pigment. The majority of products were not designed for skin of color, and actually, we really need to be educated and empowered when it comes to our skin care and the ingredients lists to make sure we are buying what we think we are buying.
There are no laws right now on what is being put on packaging. A product, I’ve seen products from multi-billion dollar companies that say anti-aging, and then you look at the INCI list, the ingredients list, INCI list, and there’s not a single anti-aging active in the whole product. It’s just a moisturizer. This just should not be happening, and I do feel like our whole community is becoming far more educated in this. I was looking at the stats of this channel the other day, and we’ve had 20 million views. That’s 20 million views of skin of color who’ve now become INCI hackers.
You guys basically are able to look at ingredients, and you know what that product does, and whether it does what it says it does on the tin, which has just phenomenal, because I really feel 12 months from now, just imagine what that number is going to be, and there’s just no way that companies are going to continue to be able to do what they’re doing, because you guys are all INCI hackers. You’re not going to be duped, so it’s very exciting. I’m so happy to be part of this whole movement. Right, so let’s dive right in.
First of all, why do we need to exfoliate the skin on our body, or is it even necessary? Here’s the thing. As we age, our skin becomes compacted, and for me, I’m 37 years old, which means I have about a 40 day cell cycle, which means that skin cells take about 40 days to come to the surface, but then compact at the top, and so you feel scrawny and scraggly at the top. When light hits my skin, light goes in all different directions, so it’s diffused. Whereas, actually what I want is I want light to hit and it all go in the same direction. This only happens with fat, juicy, plump skin cells, where light is much more flawless. That’s why when you wax, for example, your skin suddenly looks like it’s glowing, as opposed to that dull, dead skin that’s on top, basically.
Number one is it does allow better reflection of light, and so, number one, your skin looks like it’s glowing. Number two, you get much better penetration of actives. The reason being that those dead skin cells are a barrier to actives. As it is, our skin is a waxy layer, and so it’s very difficult to penetrate. Our skin is essentially waterproof. Can you imagine trying to get actives into something that’s waterproof? It is very difficult, and then you’ve got layers of dead skin on top. I mean, forget it. You’re not going to get any actives in there. Actually, exfoliation is very good for you.
The actives that I love to exfoliate with are the AHAs, your alpha-hydroxy acids such as mandelic or lactic. I would say avoid glycolic for skin of color. I’m sure you guys all know my take on glycolic acid. It’s my least favorite AHA for skin of color. I don’t mind using it as a carrier molecule to get actives deeper into the skin in thickened areas like the elbows and knees, but I wouldn’t use it as a chemical exfoliator. I much prefer lactic or mandelic because you’re highly unlikely to get any irritation or damage the skin barrier, whereas glycolic acid can do that.
The other actives that I love are your PHAs like gluconolactone as an exfoliant as well. I feel like that’s a bit of a hidden gem, and I’m thinking I actually want to maybe make myself a body exfoliator with gluconolactone in it, because it’s a fantastic active. It behaves like an AHA, but without any irritation whatsoever. I will make a cream with gluconolactone and I will give you my feedback on that, actually, on my Instagram. Okay. The other exfoliant they can use are BHAs. They are fat soluble, that means they sink into the pore which is full of fat and cebum to unclog it, so they’re great for acne-prone skin. If you’re getting back acne, butt acne, shoulder acne, then actually you want a body exfoliator with BHA in it, your salicylic acid.
Now, the mistake I see being made are people using physical exfoliation of the skin and using scrubs that are too harsh. Scrubs are often loaded with fragrants and essential oils. Imagine you’ve now ripped the top layer of skin away, and now you’ve also added the number one cause of contact dermatitis onto the skin. You’re asking for trouble, so please avoid physical scrubs, especially if they’ve got any fragrance or essential oils in them.
The other thing I’ve seen are people dry brushing or using tools to brush the skin. Like, loofs and things. Again, this is too harsh for our skin. Imagine dry brushing. First of all, you never want to dry brush, because you want to soften your skin cells before you remove them. Dry brushing, your skin is all stuck together, and then you need to use excess force in order to remove it. That’s the exact opposite of what we want to do with skin of color, because you’re causing micro tears and leading to more pigmentation, and actually damaged skin barrier, which leads to skin sensitivity. Why would you ever, ever do that? Makes no sense. Often, a lot of these tools get made because companies need to keep innovating, they need to keep coming up with new things for you to buy. But actually, a lot of the times it’s counter-intuitive and it’s just the new fad, but not good for us. Just avoid any tools on the body for exfoliation.
Why I’m so concerned about micro tears are for a few reasons. Number one, when you are scrubbing the skin too harshly, these little micro tears can lead to pigmentation, but they can also allow bacteria into the skin because you’ve compromised the barrier. Plus, the skin can become sensitive. You can actually damage surface capillaries, which is obviously not ideal, and may potentially even lead to scarring. It’s just something that we really need to be aware of, because the problem is, a lot of us do have sensitive skin. Imagine you have sensitive skin and you do this. No one’s been told that you shouldn’t be using loofs if you have sensitive skin. But, even if you have normal skin with an intact skin barrier, you can put yourself into the category of having sensitive skin now, and now you’re in this vicious cycle.
This is what I want to prevent. The whole aim of my channel is to empower you, but also our children. Our children should not be making the same mistakes that we made. Right now, I’m looking at this culture of us basically following either marketing or influencers who are very well intentioned, but may not understand the science behind what they’re promoting, and then we just follow it because, how would we know any different? If someone that you trust is saying to use something then why would you even question it? This is what I’m trying to basically reverse with this channel.
I did have a look for product recommendations for you, and I was actually really shocked at how few I could come up with. The first one, which is my favorite by far, is Wishtrend Mandelic 5%. It also has licorice root extract in it, which is great for pigmentation. I actually have never investigated Wishtrend. I’ve heard a lot of influencers talking about it. Would you like me to do an in-depth analysis of the INCI lists of Wishtrend? Just write down Wishtrend yes below so I know that’s something you definitely want. The second product I like is the Inkey List Lactic Acid. The third product is Facetheory Mandelibright, which is small and expensive, and that’s probably the reason I would say save that for your face rather than your body. Then, the other one I actually liked was Dr. Sam’s Flawless Body Therapy, 4% lactic plus 5% niacinamide. I actually haven’t looked into Dr. Sam’s. I think a few of you have asked me to do a investigation into Dr. Sam’s. If that’s something you want me to do, can you write down below Dr. Sam’s investigation, please, and I will absolutely do that for you.
Having researched for this video, I realized there really aren’t many products for body exfoliation for skin of color. If this is something that you want me to make for you at drug store prices, please, can you write down below, make us a body exfoliator. If it’s not something that bothers you, then just actually don’t bother with that. I’m only going to do whatever you ask me to do, so you tell me what you guys want, and I will make it for you. But, I just really was underwhelmed with the offering on body exfoliators. I do feel like we can do much better than what’s there right now.