Beauty has always been seen as recession-proof. People in the business take pride in the fact that, while people may not buy expensive goods during an economic downturn, they may still buy less costly things like a blush or a lipstick to feel good.
Popularly known as the lipstick effect, this time-tested theory has faced a setback this year, with more people staying at home and wearing masks during the pandemic.
Make-up has taken a back seat and skincare is taking on a life of its own.
As a result of people focusing more on their skincare routines, black skin specialists on Twitter who give their followers free advice on fixing their skin problems are becoming more well known.
The black aestheticians – from the United States, Britain, Nigeria and elsewhere – are handing out practical skincare tips, sharing tricks, and debunking the beauty industry’s lies. Here are some of the things we have learned from them.
Use two fingers’ worth of sunscreen
Tiara Willis, 19, who has more than 263,000 followers on Twitter, is renowned for “bullying” others to wear sunscreen every day.
We know that sunscreen is one of the most important aspects of skincare, but Willis insists that you should put on two fingers’ worth of sunscreen and reapply it every two hours – all year long. Those who wear make-up should apply SPF powders or sprays over their finished look, too.
Eye creams are a scam
Many licensed aestheticians and dermatologists believe that most eye creams are the same as regular moisturisers, only packed in a little jar that are sold for double the price. Willis says a lot of eyes creams contain mica (silicate minerals) to reflect light, so that dark circles “appear brighter”.
She says that, instead, we can just apply a niacinamide serum under our eyes or mix some into a moisturiser to make our own “eye cream”.
Follow the 60-second cleansing rule
LaBeautyologist, otherwise known as Nayamka Roberts-Smith, is well known for her love of the 60-second cleansing rule.
This Los Angeles-based aesthetician went viral with a social media post saying that cleaning your face with your fingers for a full minute allows the ingredients in a cleanser to work. She believes we don’t need expensive gadgets and tools for cleansing – just time.
Many on Twitter have joked that she has single-handedly put Clarisonic out of business by simplifying cleansing.
Clarisonic sold an oscillating brush device for the face that became popular a few years ago but has been criticised in recent times for being damaging for the skin. Clarisonic shut down in September.
Petroleum jelly is cheap and effective
Those on a budget will be happy to learn that petroleum jelly, which is very cheap, is one of the best occlusive ingredients (ones that seal in moisture) for helping keep the skin barrier strong.
Willis, who posts as @MakeupForWOC on Twitter, says: “When the barrier is weakened (maybe from over-exfoliating), one may experience symptoms such as product burning, redness, flaking, tightness, and skin [that] looks like polythene wrap (dehydration). This can lead to eczema and acne flare-ups.”
In such scenarios, she recommends applying Vaseline petroleum jelly or Cerave Healing Ointment as your final step before sleeping. “They are superior occlusive ingredients for preventing trans-epidermal water loss.”
Increase your cell turnover
Chemical exfoliants like retinol do wonders for the skin by increasing cell turnover so that new skin cells can be generated. Certain ingredients, like niacinamide or licorice, can be used to brighten skin.
Change your pillow cases every week
It’s commonly known that we should not sleep with make-up still on our faces. But did you know that we should wash and change the sheets and pillow cases we use once a week to prevent a build-up of hair products, sweat, oil and make-up?
Avoid eczema flare-ups
Eczema is hard to treat, and many find that their flare-ups get worse in the winter. An aesthetician who goes by @CruzanChoklate on Twitter says that lactic acid, hyaluronic acid and even Vaseline-based products are great for keeping the skin calm, healthy and hydrated.
Expensive doesn’t always mean better
The skincare heroes of 2020 insist that, if you do your research, you can get excellent products that don’t break the bank. Like Rihanna, who has her own skincare brand, Fenty Skin, this community of beauty experts believes: “No matter who you are, you deserve to have great skin.”
Drinking water is not the solution
Our body’s largest organ is the skin, and it requires plenty of water to stay healthy and looking youthful. However, although drinking water does wonders for our overall health, Twitter-based aestheticians argue that drinking water alone will not give us unblemished skin.
Explaining the difference between hydrating and moisturising, they say dehydrated skin has no water and needs hydration, whereas dry skin lacks oil and therefore requires moisturiser.
Willis says that simply drinking more water does not always clear the skin of acne, and the myth contributes to the stigma that acne-prone people do not take care of themselves – which is not true.
Natural is not always better
The black Twitter skincare community is against using any kind of food as skincare. Turmeric is an excellent addition to your food, but not to your skin, they preach.
They agree that some natural ingredients can be bad for your skin, as they cause issues from irritation to allergies, just as synthetic ingredients can. Simply knowing whether a product is natural or synthetic is not enough to know whether it is suitable for use on your skin.
This article was first published in South China Morning Post.