Black is Beautiful: Why We Love The African Skin
Today being Africa Day, we celebrate the African skin comes which comes in different hues, tones and complexions. From the beige in the Khoisan of South Africa, the silky black Sudanese skin and the reddish tones of the Hausa, it’s hard to pin it down to a single complexion or skin tone. It’s as dynamic as it’s people and through the ages, dynamic methods have been used to keep it healthy, moisturized, supple while protecting it from the African sun.
Some of these methods are;
Making oils from different natural elements such as rosemary, chamomile, lavender, baobab, cocoa, sesame, neem, shea butter and other elements across the continent. Other methods have been facial scrubs and face masks from coffee, sugar, lemon, red ochre and charcoal to achieve that flawless look and protect the skin from mother nature.
East Africa: Coconut Oil, Red Ochre, Nilotica Shea Butter
In East Africa, shea butter has been used in Northern Uganda, South Sudan, and Eastern Congo. Shea Butter moisturizes the skin while treating acne, blemishes, stretch marks and is a natural anti-aging product. In countries like Kenya and Tanzania, red ochre was used by the Maasai, Kikuyu, Samburu, Borana, and other communities. Red ochre-based pastes were used as sunscreen, mosquito protectors and colouring clothes (hides) with ochre-based paints. To this day, red ochre is still a common product, especially among the pastoral communities.
In the East African coast, coconut oils are still used as skin and hair moisturizers.
South Africa: Rooibos Tea
Also known as African red tea, rooibos tea has been used by the Khoisan of South Africa to treat rashes, acne, eczema, and dermatitis. The Rooibos plant grows exclusively in South Africa and is known for its anti-allergy properties. The tea has high levels of Vitamin D2, Zinc and is probably one of the reasons why the Khoisan have smooth and flawless yellow-brown skin.
West Africa: The African Black Soap and Shea Butter
The soap is made up of plant ash and oils which combine to combat acne, reduce redness, fight bacteria and other skin conditions. Black soap has been widely accepted around the world as a key consideration in reducing acne and blemishes. When it comes to the West African Shea butter, which used to be a traditional commodity and skin care product has now been incorporated into other modern skin and hair care products.
North Africa: Mint Tea and Argan Oil
Argan oil has been a core beauty products and beauty exports in North Africa, especially in Morocco. Tourists visit rural Morocco and Moroccan women to see the traditional making of argan oil and buy it pure. Apart from argan oil, Moroccan mint tea has green tea antioxidants, it’s used as an anti-aging product, scar treatment product and a skin replenishing skin.
Basically, skin care has always been important in African communities and traditions.
Why We Love The African Skin
Natural Sunscreen: Less Prone to Sunburns
With African skin, we are highly protected from the ultraviolet rays and do not have to worry about staying some extra minutes at the beach. However, sunscreen is necessary and a visit to the dermatologist once in a while if you notice any change in color, (a)symmetry or changes in the diameter of any mole on your skin.
Less Prone To Skin Cancers
Melanin protects the skin from harmful UV rays that cause radiation to skin cells leading to skin cancers and other skin defects. However, as your skin is effectively shielding you from sunlight, it’s important to look out for Vitamin D deficiency especially during cold seasons or winter.
Dark Skin is Protected against Photoaging and Folate Depletion
African skin does not experience photoaging (wrinkles and broken blood vessels on the nose and cheeks). Due to this natural umbrella, African skin remains unaffected and with fewer wrinkles, giving the phrase #Blackdontcrack.
However, inasmuch as black don’t crack, the African skin faces harsh weather and neglect because after all, natural melanin. Extra care is needed to replenish the skin, moisturize it by dehydrating the body, applying essential oils and sunscreen while under extremely harsh weather.
You may not have the time or the ingredients to make natural skin care regimens as our African ancestors did, but you can invest in good food, water, and oils. Take, for instance, bio-oil. Bio oil incorporates; sunflower seed oil, lavender oil, rosemary leaf oil, soybean oil, and other oils which tackle scars, uneven skin tone, blemishes and pigmentation marks which are common to black skin.
Remember: We are Africans not because we were born in Africa but because Africa was born in us!