I got a recent Ask Afrobella question that cracked me up and reminded me of an old college friend. You’d like to hear it? Here it goes.
When I was growing up on the island, my knees and legs would sometimes get ashy. But now that I live in cold-ass Canada, ashy has a whole new meaning! Any advice for a dark skin bella with extra dry skin in the cold winter months?
Luv ya, BajanBeauty
So BajanBeauty, your question took me back to a memory from my sophomore year. In college, I had a friend from Germany. His name was Ben. Imaginatively, everyone called him German Ben. He’s as blonde and blue eyed as you could possibly imagine, and being from the area of Germany he was from, I imagine he had somewhat limited exposure to people of color. I imagine this because he every so often he would ask me the craziest questions ever, but in the sweetest, most genuinely curious way.
So one time he came to my dorm room to play me some new Kruder and Dorfmeister song or something (he was super into them), and out of the blue German Ben asks me, “what does ashy mean?” I gotta tell you, I cracked up. I think the context for the question was that he had just discovered Biggie and wanted to know what “from ashy to classy” meant. So he turned to me as his own personal urban dictionary, bless him. We were close enough friends that could talk about almost anything, so I gladly answered his question. At least he didn’t have to ask on Yahoo Answers.
To break it down quite simply — when black skin gets really dry, it can take on a grey or “ashy” appearance. The darker your overall skin tone, the more apparent the dryness can become. Certain areas of your body are more likely to look ashy than others — knees, legs, arms, and elbows are always common ashy areas. For example, I always get really ashy right at the back of my ankle, regardless of the time of year. It just stays arid back there.
Ben’s question was funny to me at the time, but as the weather gets colder for bellas up north can tell you — ashy skin is no joke. Lots of people of color deal with dry skin issues in colder climates. So come along, BajanBeauty, I’ll show you the way to avoid looking like Ashy Larry.
The only way to combat ashiness is through lots of moisture, both internally and externally. I am not a water lover by any means – it’s a struggle to get my daily requirement sometimes. But I know and understand that Diet Coke, iced tea, or Crystal Light don’t measure up to the pure healthy, internally moisturizing, thirst quenching power of 100% H2O. So definitely drink your eight glasses a day, or however you choose to measure your current daily recommended amount of agua. That’ll take care of your insides.
Now for external moisture, which is crucial. You can stop ash before it starts by using a moisturizing body wash with one of those loofah things for added exfoliation. Then you should slather on a long-lasting lotion as soon as your shower’s over, when your skin is still moist. Let the lotion sink in. Then take a to-go lotion with you so you can soothe your skin anytime you need it. Allow me to share some of the great moisturizing products I’ve tried recently.
In terms of body washes, I absolutely adore the Caress Exotic Oil Infusions. A total steal for less than $7, and I agree with eccentric diva JCD — the Moroccan scent is lovely and amazing. And the bottle is tres cute for the bathtub, no? This is a super creamy wash with a delightful floral scent.
I’ve been trying lots of these of late, and I am also fond of Dove’s Body Wash Cream Oil in Jasmine Vanilla. I am admittedly partial to this scent combination, but unlike Bath and Body Works jasmine vanilla combo, Dove’s scent is milder and somehow more soapy and unisex. Dove’s scent is just like a sweet body wash/lotion, whereas the Bath and Body Works jasmine vanilla is sexy and decidedly feminine. In case you can’t tell, I LOVE Bath and Body Works jasmine vanilla, but they’ve apparently stopped making the body wash. The lotion is still available, though. I’ll stop rambling about my favorite scents… now.
As a Dove-related side note, their Nourishing Hand Wash is the most moisturizing soap I’ve ever used. It’s practically lotion, I swear — but leaves my hands soft and most importantly, clean. It’s perfect for the kitchen sink area to leave your hands happy after dishes.
Mama Bella is especially partial to Olay Body Wash Plus with Body Butter Ribbons and yes, it’s good stuff. The Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Wash is also supposed to be great. Shiksai moisturizing shower gel is especially formulated for dry skin, and is a great choice for vegan bellas who really care about natural ingredients. It’s a combination of oatmeal and aloe and it’s on sale right now, score!
I recently was fortunate enough to try some of the super skin saturating products by Skin Milk, and I like them a lot. The shower gel foams up wonderfully into cleansing vanilla-scented goodness, and leaves my skin feeling so soft. The body cream is off the chain — this stuff completely absorbs into my skin and just leaves a feeling of soft satisfaction, without grease or an oily residue. It’s thick stuff, so a little goes a long way. And this is a little off-topic, but if you’re seeking an incredible shave, the shaving milk will change your life. It’s so much more than a foamy shave gel. I haven’t nicked myself at all since I’ve been using it, and the husband loves it as well.
Let’s talk body lotion. In my opinion, the lotions that are best to combat ashiness are thick but not greasy, and absorb easily into your skin. There’s no point in replacing your ashy patches with cream that won’t rub all the way in.
Most of my favorite moisturizers include cocoa butter – the scent is so soothing and nurturing. I know many a bella who won’t use anything but Palmer’s, and now Vaseline is getting knee deep in the cocoa butter action with their Natural Glow collection. This goes with their whole “keeping skin amazing” campaign. I tried the vitalizing gel body oil, and WOW, it’s so not what I expected. It’s a thick gel that slicks on super shiny, and lasts for hours. I think the body oil would be perfect for ladies who like their legs to look shiny and sleek, but for every day use it’s a bit much IMO. I slathered it on after my shower recently, and when I looked at myself after, it was like I had been dipped in butter. Shiny, shiny! It took a long time to absorb, but definitely kept me moisturized.
My co-worker Raina has gorgeous dark skin with a tendency towards ashy areas, so I gave her the smoothing body butter with cocoa and shea butter, which comes in a tub and smells like buttery heaven. “I liked it. It kept me moisturized but didn’t melt off in the Miami humidity, and it lasted pretty long throughout the day too. Emphasis on pretty long, if you scratched me at the end of the day it would look like you had swiped me with a piece of chalk,” says she. So if you’re looking for a long-lasting, thick cocoa buttery product to keep on your desk at work, for example – check it out. It’s great for those problem areas – the back of my ankle, for example… as well as your knees, elbows, and feet.
For you bellas who prefer your products without any petrolatum thankyouverymuch, I’d like to introduce you to an exciting new line that I love, love, love. Behold – the magnificence of Soaptopia!
In their own terms, their body care products are environmentally friendly, and “100% JUNK-FREE.” Their products are all natural, handmade, many of them are vegan (some do contain wildcrafted honey and beeswax), petroleum free and cruelty free. And besides being great for the environment, they’re just GREAT period. Their soaps are very emollient and smell HEAVENLY. I also adore the 50/50 body balms — deep therapy creme swirled with moisturizing essential oils for extra glide. These are great for couple massages or just for you to treat yourself. I tried the rose and it’s a thing of beauty. A big tub costs $20, but you’re definitely paying for a high quality product made with love. Soaptopia’s coming out with some fabulous Christmas products I’ll tell you about soon, and keep your eyes peeled for a giveaway from this cool California-based company. Hope that helps ya, BajanBeauty!
What do you turn to when ashiness attacks, cold weather bellas? I know you’ve got an amazing go-to product you always use. Share!