3 Natural African Beauty Secrets to Lasting Youth (Part 1)

Some people are particularly blessed with their genes and manage to look 25 years old for 25 years (or 50 until they’re 80) .

Others though have found ways of dealing with their looks to compete in a world where appearance speaks as loud as words in the way one is perceived in society.

Despite what critics have to say, looking fresh can only boost your self esteem and first impressions are almost everything when it comes to social acceptance and probably even ensuring the perennity of your genetic makeup.

When you look around, beauty is often incarnated by a young looking person with soft and even skin tone and symmetrical features. While surgical procedures, Photoshop and Instagram filters may allow you to get some of these attributes, there are simple and natural ways to really achieve them, look younger and glow for as long as possible.

I’ve explored what is done throughout the African continent to come with the top beauty secrets to long lasting youth and beauty. From north to south and from east to west, there are plenty of beauty secrets adapted to each region, environmental conditions and raw ingredients locally available.

I could probably share with you dozens of interesting beauty secrets but in this first installment, I would like to reveal my personal top 3; the ones I would choose to be stuck with if I was stranded on a desert island.

1. Black soap

 

Throughout the African continent, Black soap has been used as a healing exfoliating skin treatment that reduces fine lines, fights eczema, gets rid of razor bumps and eliminates dark spots and blemishes.

This soap, said to originate from the Ghana area, is 100% natural vegetable based soap.If you were wondering what it’s made of, there are different formulations. However the basic ingredients are usually a mix of palm leaves and palm oil, plantain skin, the ash of cocoa pods, coconut oil and shea butter.

What can you expect with black soap?

Black soap is suited for all skin complexities and can be used on all skin types. If you have oily skin, you may choose to use it daily, if your skin is more on the dry side, you may want to use it less often, perhaps more as an exfoliant, as it can be quite drying when used daily. This anti-inflammatory soap contains compounds that help renew skin cells and fight against breakouts.
Black soap will help your skin look and feel fresh and clean in a matter of minutes. If you were looking for a good natural soap to wash away the daily pollution on your skin, make your skin tone more even and cleanse your makeup off, try black soap!
The main ingredients in black soap make it a soap as good as a healthy meal for your skin. In fact, it contains Vitamin A and E as well as iron. These compounds are said to have anti-inflammatory properties that help exfoliate as well as heal the skin, eliminating dead skin cells in the process.
Who says exfoliation also says skin cell regeneration and wrinkle reduction. If you are looking for a soap that will tighten up your skin naturally, try black soap. Make sure you have a good moisturizer to use after it. The shea butter in black soap is said to provide some sun protection, which helps minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles but try to have a moisturizer that also has some UV protection
in it so you can preserve your skin.

What you need to know:

  • If you don’t have oily skin, this soap can be quite drying so try not to use it everyday. I personally use it about twice a week.

  • If you have a high intolerance to caffeine or latex, you may wish to stay away from black soap as the cocoa pods may contain caffeine and the shea butter may contain small amounts of naturally occurring latex.

  • Try to select an all natural formula of black soap as some manufacturers tend to add other ingredients to it, probably to have it looking perfect all the time. In fact, when black soap is left in contact with air for a long period of time it may develop a white coating. Don’t worry,it’s not mold, that’s just nature creating a skin. You can just rinse it off and the soap should still be okay to use.

2- Shea butter

This one is a personal favorite of mine and although it seems to be everywhere nowadays, I could not make such a list without it. You can cook with it, you can rub your skin or make your hair glow with it.

I think shea butter is to West Africans what olive oil is to the Greek or Italians.

If the relatively strong scent of natural shea butter doesn’t float your boat, you can melt it using gentle heat, add your favorite essential oil or flavor and make it your own.

So what are the main benefits to expect from shea butter for skincare?

Shea butter is said to help tissue cell regeneration and boosts collagen production. Both of these qualities contribute to skin elasticity and reduce aging. I think this is probably how my grandmother managed to have barely any wrinkles quite late into her aging process. Thanks to her and my mother, I was introduced to shea butter as a baby. I mainly go with the 100% natural cooking grade one and work it into different variations by mixing it to my liking to either get my favorite leave in hair conditioner or my number #1 body butter.

In fact, my regular use of shea butter probably saved me from getting stretch marks during my pregnancy (check that skin out 8 months into the pregnancy!).

I say this but don’t wait until you’re 5 months pregnant to start using it; best results will happen when you use it regularly to keep your skin healthy and before you’re well into your pregnancy.

If you want that smooth, plump baby skin that pretty much bounces back at the touch even as you’re turning 40, use shea butter. I really noticed the difference when I ran out of it and started using the cream version of shea butter available on the market (it was probably called shea butter cream but I would bet it contained 5% or less of actual shea butter). That didn’t work so well and I started having very ashy skin, so make sure you’re going with the real deal (i.e. 100% shea butter) if you’re going to use it. My ashy skin snapped back to beautiful healthy skin a couple of weeks after I got back on my shea butter regimen so it’s never too late to start using it to help you get the most out of your skin!
Now this is not to say that it should stop you from using sunscreen if you’re using it, but it definitely contributes to some sun protection (around SPF 6). Sun rays are known to accelerate the aging process of the skin, making wrinkles appear sooner rather than later so any protection you can get is great
The all vegetable oil that is shea butter also nourishes your skin all day long. This natural conditioner will have your skin moisturized for a whole day while keeping it healthy with the loads of vitamin A and E that it is packed with. In fact, the compounds in shea butter are said to have anti-inflammatory characteristics, so if you ever get burned or your baby has diaper rash, pull out your shea butter!

What you need to know:

  • It does not melt well if you live in a cold country so you may want to mix it with your favorite cream or coconut oil so it’s easier for you to rub it on your skin . Otherwise you may find it to be a good way to get a your daily winter session of skin moisturizing workout!

  • It’s not a light butter so you may find it clogs pores and causes breakouts if you use it on your face. I have sensitive skin on my face and I personally only use it as a body butter which has been working wonders!

  • Shea butter in it’s natural pure form should have a beige/off-white color (like the picture)so watch for yellow shea butter as it is usually mixed with palm oil or something else.

Related Article:

DIY: Whipped Shea Body Butter (video)

3-Kaolin Clay

 

Also know as white clay, Kaolin is said to have been one of Cleopatra’s beauty secrets.

Used to this days in different forms and unbeknownst to most,  kaolin is widely present in the skincare world. In fact, kaolin is one of the most widely used mineral in cosmetic products as it is considered the most gentle clay of all.

Kaolin clay is said to get its white color from a naturally elevated concentration in aluminum.

This white clay known to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties is also said to help heal the skin, reduce scarring and replenish some of the skin’s minerals.

What skincare benefits can expect from kaolin clay?

This gentle skin healing beauty secret can be applied to calm eczema, heal a cold sore or simply as a gentle skin treatment. The natural white powder is even used in some places to replace baby talc powder (now believed to be potentially toxic with regular use) to help with diaper rashes.
Its powerful absorbent power allows kaolin clay to have a great capacity to exchange mineral ions against toxic compounds on the skin. This, coupled with its moisturizing powers and high content in Zinc and aluminum (which facilitate the regeneration of dead skin cells), improve scarring, help rejuvenate the skin and give it a natural glow.
Because of it’s gentle cleansing effects on skin, kaolin clay, also said to be naturally hypoallergenic, removes dead skin cells and impurities from pore while stimulating circulation and disinfecting the skin. This allows the healing of blemishes and prevents new breakouts. Kaolin clay is generally tolerated by all skin types including very sensitive skin. If you think you’ve tried everything, maybe you haven’t tried a kaolin clay mask yet!

What you need to know:

  • Although it’s not as dark as bentonite clay and washes off with plain water, kaolin clay can be relatively messy to work with (pretty much like any clay or mud product out there).

  • If you don’t like the tight feel of a dry clay mask on your skin, you might have to endure that if you decide to use kaolin clay and let it dry on your skin.

  • In many parts of the African continent, kaolin is eaten (mostly by women) as they instinctively try to replenish low mineral levels. Although it may be used on occasions to ease digestion problems, regular consumption of kaolin is discouraged as it is believed to be related to other relatively serious health issues (including anemia and appendicitis).

These are my top 3 African beauty products to keep you looking young and healthy.

Now that my secret is out, how about trading secrets? What have you been using? Share with us in the comments section and subscribe to be notified for part 2!

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By | 2016-10-25T00:30:20+00:00 July 12th, 2016|Beauty, Series|Comments Off on 3 Natural African Beauty Secrets to Lasting Youth (Part 1)

About the Author:

Kiswend is a Sista Tweet blogger, co-creator, designer and Creative Manager. She loves cooking, crafting and thinking outside the box and when she’s not on Sista Tweet or building up a city at her day job, this aspiring entrepreneur is busy inventing her next homemade African fusion project.

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