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Why your cosmetic products may not work. 

You are doing  everything possible as regards to your cosmetic regime and you still wonder what’s up. As a formulator, one would expect me to have perfect skin but the truth is, I don’t always. I wish I did but…. I took some time out to think about why my skin acts up from time to time and after some research, studying and all, I found out a few things that need to be changed. I know this may not apply to just me so I decided to share. 

  1. Eat right: I love junk food as much as the next person, even though I try from time to time to eat healthy. How can I say no to ice cream, bread (it bloats me up), cakes, chips with ketchup and suya? The best way to reduce the intake of these things is to replace with healthy options. Ingesting more vegetables and herbs will definitely work wonders for health and beauty. 
  2. Drink enough water: I try to keep up with my eight glasses but in Lagos, I sweat so much that eight really should be eighteen! I started taking cool lemon water because it’s delicious and will replace soft drinks. 
  3. Reduce stress and sleep better: I am a major culprit especially because I work so hard to bring you the best. Sometimes I remember things in my sleep and once I wake up to do them, that’s the end oo. I’ll be up till morning. I’m working on this though because how can I share so much when I’m in poor health? 
  4. Wash your pillows every couple of days: I change my sheets every week (or two). Gross I know, especially in Nigeria that sweating during sleep is not new to many people. Our sheets can breed microbes that feed on our dead skin, moisture and other things. If you can’t wash everything, just wash the pillowcase till the next laundry day! 
  5. Check your bath water: Is it clean, are there irritants included? Run a test, use boiled water, or bottled water to wash your face. The skin on the body is a bit more resilient compared to the face so you can used purified water for just your face. 
  6. Get regular treatments: At home treatments are very good but once in a while, go to a professional. You’ll see the difference and it’s fun and relaxing to be pampered. Just talk to your therapist about their ingredients to be sure that they are all natural. 
  7. Stick to a routine but listen to your body: Although I’m not a pro at this, I found out that I don’t need to exfoliate my face everyday and after washing my face with a mild cleanser, I may not need to put on a facial moisturiser if I’ve used my facial oil the night before. 
  8. Get regular medical check ups: Getting spots on specific parts of the face can be an indication of issues within the internal organs, so please get regular medical checks done. 
  9. Stop doing the most: This relates to point 7 above. Sometimes it’s best to let the skin breathe. Avoid heavy makeup and abrasive treatments. 
  10. Detox and exercise: This point ties with all the others listed. Exercise helps to cleanse the body through sweating so endeavour to drink a lot of water when working out. It can also lead to vasodilation and hence, vascular persuasion of the skin and hair. In plain English, more nutrient-rich blood can reach and nourish your skin and hair. There are other detox options available to you as well e. g. Detox teas and herbs but you don’t need to over do it. My best forms of exercise are yoga and dance while I love spearmint and moringa teas when I can. 
  11. Wear sweat bands when working out: Especially if you use a lot of hair styling products and comedogenic oils. Using sweat bands will stop sweat from your scalp from transporting these products to your face. 

    I hope I follow through all these and hope you do too. I’ll be challenging myself (and you!). Let me know how you get on! 

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    Barefoot running! 

    Image from google

    I was fortunate to have been assigned barefoot running as my final year project in my physiology and pharmacology. When I received that topic I was a little pissed because some of my friends got to do the so called hard core biomedical research in the fields of neuroscience, developmental biology, cancer research and and all that. 

    I came to appreciate my topic when I started my library research i. e. Reading research articles on barefoot running. Apart from the detrimental effects of running shoes on the planta fascia (tissues of the foot), tibia and fibular (shin) stress and fracture, loss of the foot arc, amongst other things, I started to understand the principles of acupressure and reflexology. I had heard these terms before, and on many occasions but reading those articles really made me understand why I felt much better walking around without shoes or slippers, and why I loved the feel of the moist loam of a farm or sandy soil at the beach beneath my feet. I learned about grounding, earthing and became a whole new barefoot walking and running enthusiast. I didn’t get a distinction in my research project (mostly because I added the part about earthing and grounding, which is borderline science at best because I didn’t have any scientific evidence to back it up), but a whole new me was born. 

    Image from google

    I already had the interest in taking herbs, making natural cosmetics, doing yoga and living the spa life but this added an almost spiritual aspect to this because I couldn’t explain it (scientifically). I don’t do it as often as I would like but I would like to encourage you to try it from time to time. Many people have reported mood improvements, lowered blood pressure, increase in energy and lowered stress levels from just walking barefoot. Absorption of negative ions from the earth, offering anti inflammatory and antioxidant effects to the body. 

    Image from google

    Note: please don’t go barefoot if you have any open sore/wound and especially not on grounds compromised by glass and other pollutants that can cut through the skin. Care should be taken when walking or running on concrete as they can be very hard compared to untarred grounds.

    So go forth into your gardens,  parks and enjoy the feeling of grass, soil and stones under your feet. Trust me it’s like getting a mini foot massage!

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    Just another body scrub recipe! 

    So people, I got a complaint (two actually) about the previous body scrub challenge. One of the challenges of the challenge (LOL) is that people need to buy a scale for their formulations and not everyone has the time or feels the need to get so serious. Another is that they want a non fat/oil based scrub recipe that can be rinsed off easy. I threw in a third issue because I started out with this and forgot that many of you just want to use simple and widely available ingredients from the kitchen or fridge or pantry (in Nigeria na store we dey call am). 

    To be honest, I feel a little uncomfortable with this method of measurement but I understand that it has its place in DIY formulations so to make your own honey lemon scrub, you’ll need:

    • A tablespoon of lemon juice – I prefer freshly squeezed but you can use whatever you have
    • Two tablespoons of real honey 🍯 
    • Half a cup of sugar

    Mix thoroughly until you get an even consistency and enjoy! 

    Lemon is great for exfoliation as it contains citric acid. It also contains a potent antioxidant, vitamin C. Honey is soothing, moisturising and antibacterial while sugar is a great moisturising exfoliant. This formula (more like a recipe) is best used within a week since there is no preservative system. 

    Note : although honey and sugar are self preserving, it is easy for water to get into them since they usually sit in the bathroom.

    Until next time, enjoy your exfoliating bath and let your skin thank you! 

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    How best to use your oils and body butters. 

    The other day I overheard someone expressing how they find body butters too oily/greasy for them. I tried to hold my tongue before I expose my eavesdropping self but I just couldn’t. I had to let her know how best to use her butters and thought I could share this with you readers. 

    Before I go on, I would like to describe the types of products on the market. We have:

    Oils

    These have varying thickness and properties based on the length of their carbon chains, the level of saturation, and chemical composition. They can be used neat or mixed with other oils and or butters. They are mainly sold as serums (incorporates exotic oils, cosmeceuticals and carrier oils rich in oil soluble vitamins and minerals), massage oils or perfumed body oils that contain aromatic and or essential oils for fragrance and therapy. They can also be available as macerates or infused oils using herbs that contain great lipophilic compounds.


    Butters

    These are like oils made out of fatty acids and triglycerides but mostly saturated. They are very emollient but they don’t penetrate too deep into the skin. They also help with occlusion (preventing water loss by evaporation). They can be found in products as one ingredient or in a mixture with other oils and butters. They are generally sold as balms, whipped butters or in their original state. All versions are great and you get to choose what works for you. 

    Body oils and butters can contain waxes like beeswax and jojoba oils. They offer great emollience and occlusion, while altering the texture of your product. 

    Image from Google!

    How best to use your anhydrous products 

    • Timing: Trust me on this, body butters are best used on damp skin. If you just had a steaming session, even better! Thank me later. 
    • Quantity : Body butters are best used small amounts at one time. The key is in how you spread it over the skin. You can layer it on, but you may not need to. 
    • Texture: I prefer softer butters /thinner oils to their thicker counterparts when trying to reduce greasiness. Thicker oils and butters can be used in small amounts or whipped to ensure ‘lightness’ and improve spreadability. Whipped butters are fluffy and easy to spread. 
    • Timing again: Yes, you read right. For those who may end up walking  in the sun and feel like they may get fried, or if you just don’t like grease (I got you!), you can consider using your oils and butters at night, after a bath as mentioned earlier. You can take a quick shower in the morning using mild body cleansers that won’t strip the skin (the oils will have had enough time to absorb as far as they will go) . You can just top up with a light skin cream or sunscreen. 

    If you have other means, secrets or tips to make the best of your anhydrous products, let me know! 

    Cheers! 

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    Much ado about pH testing –  the basics. 

    Most people come across pH balance when discussing feminine hygiene, detox diets, etc. pH, (Pondus de Hydronium) is a measure of acidity or alkalinity of a compound, or mixture in a solution. When a substance can release hydrogen ions when dissolved in water, it is termed acidic; and when it releases hydroxide ions, it is an alkali. A standard pH scale runs from 0 to 14, with 0 being most acidic and 14 being the most alkaline. A pH of 7 is considered to be neutral. 

    The Naija Formulator, Nigerian formulator
    pH meter and strips



    Why you should care about pH :

    1. The optimum pH of the skin is around 5.5 – mildly acidic. 
    2. In order to maintain optimal skin hydration and prevent microbial invasion, a thin layer of film, made up of amino and lactic acids spreads over the skin. 
    3. Maintaining optimal skin pH can address issues like: inflammation, skin infections, irritations, dry and thickened skin.
    4. Most extracts, preservatives, and cosmeceuticals act best at their optimum pH range. 

    To maintain healthy, blemish-free, glowing skin, it is important to formulate your skin (and hair) care products with these in mind. 

    pH testing can be carried out using litmus strips or electronic meters. Litmus testing relies on color changes on litmus papers (qualitative analysis) while the meters give a value between 0 and 14 (quantitative analysis). Both methods work well for formulators but a certain level of proficiency is needed to understand and alter pH of products if an unfavorable result is obtained, so you will need to do your research and learn a few skills. 

    I hope I have done a good job of simplifying the basics. I might do a follow up post to provide more information about how pH balance of skin products affects the efficacy of your formulations. Until then, you can have a little fun experimenting with your pH meters and strips! 

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    Learn to formulate your own line of products! 

    Hi people,

    To teach you my dear readers to create your own lovely natural cosmetics, I’ll be holding a workshop in LagosThis workshop will be held on the 29th day of this month. Call, text, whatsapp, DM, email or comment on this post to reserve your spots. I’m on Instagram as @thenaijaformulatorIf you prefer to learn something else, also let me know as I plan to hold a few more workshops. I know some people want to learn how to make emulsions too and I have another workshop coming up for that (details of that will come up later). 

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    The impact of cosmetics on the environment

    As a formulator, who is also citizen of the world and the Internet, I cannot ignore the fact that the environment and its current and future states has become more than just table discussion. Sometimes I wonder if I add to the pollution of the our earth just by being human, and then, a formulator. 

    Image from herb and hedge grow

    Let me explain myself. We proclaim how great using natural cosmetics is great for our skin and environment while polluting said environment by these means. 

    Manufacturing process:

    What are our energy sources? Are our ingredients produced by green chemical reactions and reagents? Are the sources of our raw materials clean? What about our by products, waste management processes? Do we even think of these things? Do we care to find out about  our ingredient manufacturers and their ethos? 

    Packaging:

    What happens to our packaging after our customers use them? I understand that we do not have a lot of options, glass is expensive, and very fragile so for the sake of making profits, health and safety, it may not be a viable choice for all products. But what about recycling. I understand that reusing plastics for oil-containing products is not advisable even after thorough cleaning. But what other recycling options do we have? Do we even care about the impact of plastic waste on our environment? Is Nigeria even ready for it? What other packaging options do we have? 

    Transport:

    How do we move our raw materials and finished products? Are we concerned about air pollution and the impacts of our chosen transport system on the environment? 

    Like you I am immensely guilty of having a large carbon footprint but it’s good to start considering other options. What do you think? Am I being paranoid? Have you had these thoughts are you already handling waste effectively? Let me know your ideas. 

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    What you need to know about exfoliation. 

    Hey people, 

    Did you enjoy making your very own body scrub? I know I did, almost as much as I enjoyed using it :p. As promised, here goes my post on exfoliation. 

    Skin renewal cycle. 

    So we all know the skin renews itself every month or so, on average. It is made up of several layers of specialized cells with varying functions, that work together to maintain the internal environment. The innermost layer of the epidermis is the basal layer that attaches the epidermis to the dermis and is made up of connective tissue (look at the image to understand this). The basal layer also contains stem cells which allow for continuous proliferation of keratinocytes. These keratinocytes migrate up the various layers as time goes on and as new keratinocytes are produced in lower layers, until they reach top layers. By this time, the cells have become flattened, and fully differentiated corneocytes, with no organ else’s (practically dead). These are then subject to desquamation (sloughing off). 

    Image from WebMD.
    The basal layer is the bottom part of the epidermis. The blue line.



    So what exactly is exfoliation? Now that we have a general idea of the cycle,  we can see that the newer skin cells are just below the surface and this is where exfoliation comes in. Exfoliation helps to expose this newer, hydrated, brighter layer, as we rid ourselves of old skin. I have come to find this to be one of the crucial steps in skin care, because without it many of our awesome ingredients found in our creams and potions may not work as they should. The dead skin can fall off on their own but sometimes, for many reasons (like poor skin hydration, genetics, inflammation, etc), it doesn’t always work out evenly. It is important to note though, that there is such a thing as too much exfoliation, so it has to be done carefully and correctly. 

    So how do we go about it? 

    Chocolate body scrub by The Naija Formulator.

    There are two ways to exfoliate –  physical and chemical methods. The physical method involves scrubbing the skin using a loofah or brush, body scrubs, microdermabrasion and the likes, while chemical exfoliation requires the use of chemical exfoliants like AHAs and BHAs (alpha and beta hydroxy acids). 

    How to exfoliate appropriately

    I used to scrub so hard and I’m sure a lot of you can relate, but one day, I had the ‘aha moment’. If you are trying to take off only the dead cells on the surface, we need not rub too hard (the layer is really thin). In my opinion, it is more effective to scrub lightly but using circular motions in both directions. Just think of it, picture it in your mind. Scrubbing hard can cause tears especially when using abrasive exfoliants. Uneven exposure of skin in the lower layers can also occur, creating a patchy look.

    When using chemical exfoliation methods, starting at low concentration is key. It is better have a low concentration left on for a longer time, than high concentration left on for only a few seconds. It is also worth building up tolerance, if you are new to it. It is important too, to completely remove the acid from the skin to avoid burns. 

    Both methods can be used effectively but only when used with caution. It is not advised to use abrasive scrubs on sensitive facial skin, so I prefer to use an exfoliating facial wash or toner. The body is a bit more tolerant but it is still important to proceed with the utmost caution. 

    That’s it! I hope you learned a thing or two, people. Go forth and enjoy your creations (or purchases)! 

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    Spa review : Paradise spa, Lekki Phase 1

    Welcome to a new month my dear readers, we are almost halfway through the year. How has the year been so far? Are you still on track with your dreams and plans? I hope so and if not,  you can always start again today! 

    To usher in the new month, and shed away the old skin from April, some ‘Me Time’ was in order (like I really need a reason to spend some time in a spa – I just love getting pampered!). Anyhoos, while combing through the Dealdey app, I came across a spa deal offered by Paradise MedSpa. I bought the third option which comprised of a 15 min steam bath, 45 min body scrub, 30 and 10 min of pedicure and manicure respectively. The deal cost six thousand nine hundred and ninety (6990) naira only. The other two options had some type of body massage in place of the scrub session and cost 4950 naira.  

    I arrived on time for the appointment and was greeted pleasantly while getting the formalities (retrieving the coupon and filling out a health disclosure form) done in the waiting area. There was some calming spa music and I felt myself loosening up with all stress beginning to melt off me. I was lead to one of the treatment rooms and given a towel and some privacy to get undressed before entering the steam room. I really enjoyed being in here because I took the opportunity to do some deep breathing exercises and meditation. The masseuse started the scrub (using a honey based sugar scrub), which also kind of doubled as a mini massage. Although she was quite attentive and always checking if I was OK with the service, she ignored my inner thighs, buttocks, chest,  lower belly, etc (private and areas in close proximity in short). Afterwards, I was lead to the shower room to wash up. 

    Spa bathroom, Paradise Medspa, Lekki.
    Steam room for one!

    Spa bathroom, Paradise Medspa, Lekki.
    I liked the seashells in the vase!

    I was looking to slather my new skin with some rich body butter or natural moisturizer after the shower but the lotion offered was St.Ives. Not that this is a bad thing but ever since I started making my own natural cosmetics, I’ve become somewhat of a cosmetics snob so I went without (don’t blame me for being partial to nature). I also expected the scrub to last longer (it said 45 mins on Dealdey but it was done in 20).

    Spa bathroom, Paradise Medspa, Lekki.

    Finally, I was lead to the nail studio for the mani/pedi. The therapist did quite a good job with exfoliating the soles of my feet and trimming my cuticle. She also used some gel scrub (not sure what the brand was) and regular thick creme afterwards. The service was great, the therapist efficient and my feet and hands felt ok afterwards. The only downside to the session was that there was no polish included. 

    In all, I quite enjoyed the session and might go there again just to see how the service received on the offer will differ from the full session but it will take a while before I do that (it’s a bit far from where I live but I planned my day to make it work this time). 

    Paradise Spa has a relaxing ambience, friendly staff and good service. They offer a range of spa services from wraps and massages to luxury facials; hair and nail services. It is situated at House 19,  Chief Albert Iyorah Street, off Admiralty Way, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos. There is a branch in VI.

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    DIY Natural body scrub challenge

    Hello my budding formulators,

    How did you enjoy using your body/hair butter from this post? So in a coming post, I’ll be talking about why we need to exfoliate regularly. In order for you to enjoy the post and understand what I’ll be raving about, I need you to experience it. I know… thank me later so we can dive in!

    Continue reading DIY Natural body scrub challenge