CurlyNikki’s Black Girl Guide to Gorgeous Skin

By “Curly”Nikki Walton 
Let’s talk face.  Particularly, serving it.  Black Girl Magic is real.  So real that it’s actually backed by science! According to experts, skin color affects how skin ages and, generally speaking, the darker the skin, the longer it takes to show signs of aging (1). That, plus, Black skin tends to have a thicker dermis layer, which means more collagen production, which means more awesome compliments like, ‘Whaaaa?! No way you’re 40! I would’ve guessed 27 max.’ 
But while our glorious melanin protects us from harmful sun rays and premature aging, it can leave us susceptible to hyperpigmentation: the dreaded dark spots. This is one of the reasons why we need sunscreen too and an extra-thorough skin care regimen to keep putting our best face forward. Below, with the help of the gawgeous Reflect Beauty Award judges Megz and Jessica Petway, I’ll share a basic routine to get you started.
In addition to dark spots, Black skin can be prone to dryness, which can lead to dull, gray, ashy-looking skin. This happens when we’ve stripped our skin of its natural oils — something harsh cleansers and detergents (suds) do, especially when used often.  We need our cleanser to be effective yet gentle, leaving our skin barrier (our natural protection) undisturbed and intact.  
In this day and technological age, your options are endless.  I recommend you find a paraben- and sulfate-free, hydrating cleanser or an oil (I love oil cleansing) or even reach for a Neutrogena Makeup Remover wipe like Megz.  This is my go-to in the evening if I was serving face all day, and I usually follow-up with a splash of cold water to rinse away any residue and to close my pores. I never ever ever sleep in makeup, and cleansing wipes make it super convenient to keep that promise to myself.
When you start exfoliating regularly, the next, more fabulous and glowy stage of your life begins. I’m a personal fan of formulas that contain the very effective glycolic acid, a popular alpha hydroxy acid that encourages new skin growth, clears out your pores, prevents acne flare-ups and fine lines, and fades dark spots.  Megz uses glycolic acid in sheet form (the Pixi by Petra Glow Glycolic Boost – Brightening Face Mask Sheets), but you can find it in toners, wipes, serums, and moisturizers.  Jessica opts for a gentle mechanical exfoliant or scrub: Olehenrisken Transforming Walnut Scrub.  It is a cleansing facial scrub to purify pores, diminish dullness, and smooth texture for more youthful-looking skin. Whether you choose a chemical or a mechanical/physical scrub, use it on the regular to keep your skin clear! 
An alcohol-free toner or mist spray will not only help to hydrate your skin and set your makeup, but it’ll also keep your pores clear and tight, which means fewer chances of acne flares, which means fewer dark spots! I use a toner every morning (mine contains witch hazel and glycolic acid) after cleansing and before moisturizing and applying sunscreen.  Megz uses Thayers Witch Hazel Alcohol Free Toner, while Jessica opts for Dermalogica – Multi Active Toner.  
You need to moisturize that gorgeous, highly-melanated skin daily — twice a day even.  Look for a non-comedogenic moisturizer that contains humectants like glycerin and hyaluronic acid, which draw moisture into the skin and help the skin retain it.  Clinique iD has a great line of moisturizing cocktails that you can mix and match to meet your needs.
Above I mentioned that our skin tends to be prone to dark spots, aka hyperpigmentation.  This can be caused from an acne flare-up, a rash, or other trauma to the skin.  General unevenness in skin tone can be caused by prolonged sun exposure.  This is why Black girls need sunscreen, too! Make sure to use at least SPF 30 — and don’t worry; many formulations are now made with us in mind, no longer leaving behind a white cast or greasy finish.  The one I use by Supergoop is called Unseen — for good reason. 
Live Right
You can do all the right things — cleanse and moisturize daily, tone, moisturize and protect your melanated awesomeness — but unless you’re living right, it’s all for not.  Obviously, you must also moisturize and nourish your insides; get your water intake up (drinking your body weight in ounces), eat your leafy greens and vibrant-colored fruits, and don’t skip out on cardio; it’s proven to keep your skin tight and healthy.  Finally, outer beauty is only a reflection of your true, timeless inner beauty. If you cultivate the awareness of this inner radiance, you’ll maintain a clear, youthful, vibrant glow, all the days of your life!  
Check out Megz and Jessica Pettway’s videos below for their skincare regimens using the Reflect Beauty Award-winners!
[wpvideo rFWypmIH]
What are your glowy skin secrets? Tell us in the comments below!