One of the many joys of being natural is the bevy of fun, fruity and fragrant products available for our kinks and coils. Whether you’re more laid-back about your tresses or a card-carrying product junkie, nothing’s better than quenching your hair’s thirst with its favourite lotions and potions—but what about your skin?
If you have sensitive, acne-prone skin like I do, the oils that make your hair so happy probably have the opposite effect on your skin. When I was younger, one of the things that led to me mistreating my hair was the fact that anytime I did keep my hair moisturised, my skin would break out horribly. Even if I did by some miracle avoid a total skin crisis, my naturally oily face would still be even shinier than usual. Greasy skin is not a good look… but then, neither is dry hair.
So can you have the best of both worlds? Ummm… of course you can, you’re awesome. You just have to follow these tips:
Wrap It Up
If you have problem skin, you’ve probably already heard about The Pillow Issue. If you haven’t, here it is in a nutshell: you lie on your pillow all night, rubbing your horrible face on it, depositing DANGEROUS ACNE GERMS AND THINGS which will totally cause your skin to fall off your face and die, so make sure you change/rotate pillowcases regularly, etcetera, etcetera.
As you may have sensed, I have very little patience for pillow changing and such. However, one thing is true: you are depositing acne-causing oils onto your pillow and then merrily rubbing your face into them, and these oils come from your hair. If you don’t already, you need to wrap your hair in a satin/silk scarf at night! Yes, sleeping on a satin pillowcase or on top of a satin scarf is just as good for your hair, but it is not as good for your skin. As well as keeping your hair moisturised and protected, wrapping your hair at night will keep your skin safe from the corrupting influence of your hair products.
One After the Other
So you’ve been a good girl/boy/chicklet and wrapped your hair, and now it’s morning time. You wake up, shower, wash your face, maybe put some makeup on, do your hair—WAIT WAIT WAIT WAIT NO YOU DON’T.
Never wash your face before doing your hair. Why? Because what’s the point?! Seriously, you wash your lovely face and get it all squeaky clean, ready to face the day—and then you refresh, maybe re-moisturise, and style your hair, transferring oils to your skin in the process without even realising it. The oils get nice and comfy throughout the day and by the time you get ready for bed that night, you have a breakout on the way. That is not the way we want to play things, folks.
Instead, do your hair first–then wash your face. That way, any oils that have made their way to your skin will be immediately washed away, thus minimising breakouts. You’re welcome.
Pull It Back, or Let It Dry
One easy way to minimise oil-to-skin contact throughout the day is to minimise hair-to-skin contact throughout the day. Pin the front of your hair back, wear a cute half-up/half-down style or go for an updo every so often—all of these options will be good for your skin and will also give you the opportunity to display some truly artistic baby hairs, should you be so inclined (if you have baby hairs, that is, which sadly my receding-since-birth hairline and I do not).
Of course, that might not be your style; you might prefer to let your fro fly free, you might be self-conscious about your forehead, or you might just be too busy for such nonsense. If, for whatever reason, you need you hair to be on your face, never fear! You can avoid skin problems simply by making sure that your hair is dry before it touches your skin. If your hair is wet or damp, just loosely clip it away from your face with a duckbill clip. Once it’s dry, unclip and fluff it until it’s sitting just right—and the beauty of afro hair is, once its dry, it can lay over your face without actually touching your face. Your hair will probably just hover a few millimetres from your skin, because afros are magical.
By making sure your hair is dry you’re reducing the potential damage to your complexion, but I would also recommend blotting the area beneath your hair throughout the day—say, every time you go to the toilet—to keep things under control. Et voila!
You may have already noticed that certain products or ingredients disagree with your skin more than others—we can only pray to the natural hair gods that those products do not also happen to be the ones your hair loves.
In general, though, a good rule for deciding what’s probably skin-safe and what might turn your face into a terrifying landscape of whiteheads and cystic acne is this: stay natural.
The more natural a product’s ingredients, the less likely it is to totally destroy your skin. I’ve noticed that Shea Moisture products are an especially good example of this; I’ve used a fair few of their ranges, and not a single thing from them has negatively affected my skin. The same goes for Kinky Curly’s Knot Today and Aunt Jackie’s Knot on My Watch, both great products. Do some experimenting and see what works for you.
And that’s it! My tips and tricks for enjoying your natural hair without sacrificing your skin. Oh, and if you’re wondering how else to minimise breakouts, check out my skin post here.
*NOTE: This post was originally published on the 10th of October.*