Beauty For All

  • We live in a universe of infinite variety. Our world is a world of contrasts.

    We humans are as unique as our friends in the animal kingdom. But we are much more complex than they. And if everyone looked or behaved the same way – it would be a pretty dull world. Just as there are a myriad flowers and hues, there are a myriad skin tones and skin types.

    Skin really is as individual as we are.

    Our skin is a product of our unique genetic make up and DNA. Our inheritance. Take Black skin. There are many shades of Black skin as there are varying degrees of olive skin tone for those of Asian, Latina and Middle Eastern origin.

    Although ethnic skins have specific needs – such as skin tone and colour – only a fraction of cosmetic lines are geared at them. Among these lines are Iman, Flori Roberts, Black Opal and Fashion Fair.

    Asian companies such as Kanebo, Shiseido, Shu Uemura and SK II have always been adopted into the western mainstream. Hollywood legend Marilyn Monroe was a devotee of Shu Uemura's classic cleansing oil while Scarlett Johansson has used Shiseido creams and Australian actress Cate Blanchett has been the face of SK II.

    International skin care companies in the past have been slow to address the issue of ethnic skin but some valiant attempts have been made. In 1980, Revlon mounted a campaign geared at African American women with Diana Ross as its cover girl. While international companies such as Mac and Clinique have an impressive range of make-up shades that should take care of most skin colours. Most significantly, Flori Roberts was a revolutionary who pioneered the Flori Roberts Inc. cosmetic line geared at women of colour in the 1960s. With her late husband Dr. Craig Roberts, she invented Dermablend, a make-up line designed to conceal skin flaws and facial scarring. She later co-created Smart Cover Cosmetics, becoming one of the first concealer lines to use infomercials on the Home Shopping Network. Launched in 1994, the Iman brand geared its skincare and fragrances at “African American, Asian, Latina and multi-cultural women with skin tones in a myriad of shades” Former model and business entrepreneur Iman says: “I’m the customer who was looking for cosmetic products that were suitable for my skin but weren’t available in the marketplace”.

    Trends in ethnic skincare have filtered through to international brands and companies such as Decleor and Elizabeth Arden. Arden offer the White Glove line which brightens and evens skin tone. Oriental tradition dictates the bathing ritual and the use of cleansing oils and the concept of “double cleansing” - using your cleanser twice. Another popular trend which originated in Korea, is the multi-tasking BB cream or Beauty Blemish balm. Asian BB formulations focus primarily on skin lightening. In her article for Huff Post, Suki Kramer writes: “Lightening creams in Japan are marketed completely differently as Asian women are looking for milky, snow white skin tone -- it's what's considered elegant and fashionable. Bleaching the skin is not only trendy, but a normal part of their skin care regimens and skincare products containing hardcore toxin hydroquinone is how it's achieved”. The toxic chemical hydroquinone aside, clinical trials found that licorice root, arbutin (actually bearberry), songyi mushroom, lemon peel and resveratrol (a powerful grapeseed extract) gave real, visible results and an overall radiant glow to skin without side effects.

    Skin colour and skin tone are an issue for people of colour and lines geared at ethnic skins tend to address this issue. But skincare guru Paula Begoun believes skincare aimed specifically at ethnic skins is unnecessary. “It might surprise you to learn that darker skin tones do not require special skin-care products. Why not? Because skin color is not a skin type!” Begoun says. “Everyone’s skin also needs the same basics to care for it: gentle cleansing, sun protection, and state-of-the-art products for their skin type. It is also important to avoid problematic ingredients such as alcohol, menthol, peppermint, eucalyptus, lemon, lime, and natural or synthetic fragrances. Exposure to irritants always will worsen any condition on any colour of skin”.

    A good rule if you have Black, Asian, Middle Eastern or Latina skin is to get your skincare right before you look at make-up. It can be tricky enough to find the perfect pigment match, but it will be harder still if the “canvas” is not prepared. Putting make-up on any skin which has not been cared for is like putting a band aid on an open wound. The key should be enhancement.

    Chizu Saeki, Japan's most famous skin guru and the author of the book The Japanese Skin Care Revolution (2009) stated, "it's not the money that you spent on beautiful skin, it's the time and care". She was always saying that if your morning makeup takes about 20 minutes, you should also spend 20 minutes on removing it”. Paula Begoun advices: “Use products that suit your skin type and condition, not your skin colour”

    The rules for good skincare are the same no matter what the skin colour. Gentle cleansing, serums and a good cream or lotion are essentials. Regular exfoliation is a must and good sun protection is a given.

    Black skin has good in-built protection against the sun and ageing due to melanin but don't be fooled! Black and Asian people may be predisposed to age slower than their Caucasian compatriots but we are all subject to sun damage which accounts for 80% of skin ageing. Good sun protection all year round is a must as well as good sun sense. Avoid going out into the sun between 12pm and 4pm when the sun is at its hottest. Shade, hats and sunglasses are a must. And don't be fooled by winter clouds and grey skies – the sun still shines and penetrates. Be wise.

    There is no doubt that our skin is as unique as we are. The care of our skin should always supersede any afterthoughts.

    Beauty is for everyone – regardless of ethnicity or genetics. And whether you choose a brand that is aimed at your skin coloour and needs or not, the same rules for beauty apply.

    Beauty is about celebration and self esteem. It is about taking pride in your appearance and enhancing your authentic self.

    Love your skin.  

    Shu Uemura Classic High Performance Balancing Cleansing Oil 450ml £60.00 (www.shuuemura.co.uk

    Developed from the original cleansing oil with updated ingredients Combines 4 different types of oils for better cleansing efficacy Helps dissolve stubborn & waterproof makeup as well as residues on skin Infused with camellia oil, ginger root extract & depsea water

    Kanebo Sensai Cellular Performance Essence 40 ml £75.00 (www.harrods.com)

    A total anti-ageing skincare essence with a soft formulation that quickly and holistically restores firmness and resilience for soft silky skin

    Shiseido Benefiance Intensive Nourishing Cream 50ml £77.00  (www.harrods.com)

    This ultra-rich, age-defence cream instantly provides dry skin with extraordinary moisturising benefits, whilst measurably improving suppleness.

    Fashion Fair Vantex True Tone Exfoliating Cleasner 120ml £21.50 (www.debenhams.com

    Gently exfoliates and removes makeup and impurities, with antioxidant Vitamins A,C & E.

    Body Shop Japanese Cherry Blossom Body Butter 200 ml £13.00 (www.thebodyshop.com)

    With romantic, captivating Japanese Cherry Blossom. A blend of floral and hinoki wood accords, as well as rich, creamy Community Fair Trade shea butter from Ghana

    Rituals Mandi Lulur Shower Foam 200 ml £8.50 

    Frangipani and Rice Milk provide a rich exotic fragrance

    Black Opal Rejuvenating Night Creme 38 g £7.12 (www.pakswholesale.com)

    Highly nourishing crème that encourages the turnover of dry, dull cells, uncovering a young and radiant glow

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