Now, let's handle some business for "the fellas", obviously a subject that is near and dear to me, that being natural men's skin, body, and hair care.
This post, and the recipes within are not necessarily only for men of color, although I will have to touch upon some specific concerns I have such as shaving for black men. I think all men might get some use out of these formulas.
So, while I get ready for today's NCAA Final Four Basketball action, shall we begin?
Skin and hair care, from the inside out
I might not hurt to go back to the Ayurvedic Skin Care article I mentioned above, because although I wrote that article for women, the principles apply to men, women, and children.
We have to take care of what's going on inside our bodies, via proper nutrition, and our outer appearance will reflect our inner health . One of my best friends, my homeboy in Chicago, Harry, had all kinds of skin problems like psoriasis, and has successfully addressed them through natural healers like honey, and other dietary changes.
The "K.I.S.S." Philosophy
K.I.S.S. stands for "Keep it Simple Stupid" !!!! No dis' to men, I tell myself this all the time when I try to develop not only healthy recipes, but my skin care and body care products.
Men don't need a "grand production" in finding skin care products, we don't take Saturdays to go out shopping for them. Which is why you'll never see a huge men's skin care section at Macy's. One exception being that men take their haircuts seriously.
Less is more
Quality skin care products, like shaving cream, deodorants, after shave, even if home made like mine, don't have to have a huge set of complicated ingredients. The higher quality the ingredients, the less "stuff" you will need.
Aloe Vera, Man's best friend, and Man's worst enemy?
I personally don't have any issues with Aloe Vera, but my homeboy, Harry, that I mentioned above with the sensitive skin says that Aloe Vera causes his skin a lot of problems.
Upon further research, it seems that although Aloe Vera has been a healing plant used for millenia for burns, cuts, as similar issues, the same chemical composition of the plant that gives it antiseptic properties, Aloe Vera can still cause skin irritation in some people.
My friend says the problem is that ALOE VERA IS IN EVERYTHING (read your labels), so if you are finding you have skin issues and irritations you can't figure our the source, it might be Aloe Vera. Since it's in everything, this is where making your own skin care products might come in……….henceforth here we are on this subject matter.
Men, the "Oppressed Species"
I mean, oppressed in the playful sense, that just like I found out with the women's articles you have to look hard to find natural men's skin and body care products. For African American men, there is very little out there that addresses our concerns.
There are a few out there, but not enough to satisfy me. The time has come anyway for me to start making my own skin care products. I like to take control of my ingredients anyway………
Individual Skin Formula Formulas Will Vary
Even as much as my boy Harry, with the sensitive skin, and I talk about nutrition and skin care, we find our individual formulas and recipes to vary.
Just like with cooking recipes, ingredients will vary to taste, but I like to have simple "baseline" skin care formulas to start with, and see where it goes. Like I said, I like to "Keep it Simple", which allows me to monitor the impact of each ingredient on my skin.
Stop putting all that "stuff" on your face and skin
My homeboy Harry gave me a good education on male skin care, starting with a Podcast he saw about a very special soap made from goat's milk and honey. The lady basically said that what we need to do is stop putting anything on the skin, except for a few quality basics.
Eliminating that junk from the face will let the face and skin detox and heal itself. The lady recommends an incredible soap from goat's milk and honey, I ordered it and simply love it. You could technically use it as a shaving cream, as the only thing you ever put on your face.
This soap is HIGHLY recommended for men and women. The soap is called Prima Natural Soap and the link is here.
P.S. The photo below is obviously not from GQ, but I had to include it because I love that shot !!!!!!!
Shaving, the ultimate "Pain in the Ass"
Forgive me "Mr. President", (In Chicago we call him "Prez"), but I'm sure even you have made that comment to yourself about shaving.
Perhaps for all [or most] men, but African American men know for sure what I'm talking about. The curly hairs don't grow straight out, but they burrow back into the skin, causing razor bumps, dark skin patches, keloids, and overall shaving misery. I had to do a beard for a while a decade or so ago, because I became sick of it.
My hair is mostly black, but my beard is half gray, and I guess I ain't feeling the "distinguished older dude" look yet. So, necessity is the mother if invention, and I had to invent my own shaving formulas.
The Pre-Shave "Machismo Mask"
I created this simple concoction to soften the skin for a smoother shave, only 4 ingredients but they all work well together, I don't see myself needing to add anything to this formula
This is a four ingredient formula, the main ingredient being Manuka Honey (I used to use Soliga, but now only the best), a little olive oil, a little of the amazing argan oil, and some Ceylon Cinnamon.
…..I don't really measure anymore just giving estimated amounts. I like to store in a sealed class container. Mix with finger or butterknife. In the morning apply a coating to face an hour before shower. I rinse off the mask in the shower and proceed to shave.
Rosemary Mint Shaving Cream (with Shea Butter and Jojoba)
This is my current shaving cream formula since I finally broke down and starting making my own, might tweak the formula, but it will always be relatively simple)
1/3 cup Shea butter
1/3 cup virgin coconut oil
1/4 cup jojoba (or sweet almond) oil
10 drops rosemary essential oil
3-5 drops peppermint essential oil
In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the Shea butter and coconut oil, stirring until just melted. Remove from the heat and transfer to a heat-safe bowl. Add in the jojoba oil and the essential oils. Stir to mix.
Place the bowl in the refrigerator and chill until solid. Remove from the refrigerator and whip using a hand beater or a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Spoon into a jar. Lid and keep in a cool, dry place.
I like to shave in the shower, the steam works wonders on opening up my pores and getting a smoother shave. I use a Aquasana Shower Water Filter, since tap water affects the skin more than one thinks. More toxins from water enters the body from showering that from drinking water.
This formula "should" work as a head shaver as well, for the bald brothers amongst us
Shaving Tip: When not using razor, keep it sitting in a glass of Olive Oil, Baby Oil, or Other Oil, it keeps the razor sharp indefinitely (something about the oxidation of the metal I think), those dull razors contribute to a "rougher" shave..
After Shave Lotion, Keep it Simple Dude
The reason most of those after shave ointments, lotions, potions, and such exist are because shave itself is so harsh. Conventional after shave formulas used to burn my skin. I am definitely beyond that, but the skin still needs a some post-shave replenishment.
After Shave, either Argan Oil or Coconut Oil (that's it!!!!!)
My Homeboy Harry, with more sensitive skin simply uses straight coconut oil after shave, which is understandable since it is no less that a miracle food. Coconut oil can get a little greasy in large quantities, so use a small amount on face and beard, rub in thoroughly, and you might need to wipe away excess with a towel.
My favorite is the awesome straight Argan Oil after shave, in which I only need one or two drops, it really heals and soothes the face. The only problem is it has a slight smell, although it "seems" to go away after a half hour or so, I'm not sure if others can smell anything. Might have to mix with peppermint. I'll have to ask my mother if she smells anything, she has no problem telling me the truth
Deodorant, Trial and Error
To be honest with you, this one has been a little frustrating for me, I have tried to make my own, but none of them really work for me. Even some of the store bough so called "Natural" Deodorants, such as Jason's and Toms don't work for me. I don't necessarily have strong body odor, I think it is just a "body chemistry" thing.
That being said, until I find something that really works for me, I will stick with one that works really well from a company that makes very good natural products called Aubrey Organics Roll On Deodorant.
It's ingredients are: Rose water, Coconut fatty acid cream base, organic aloe vera, natural grain alcohol, calendula oil, vitamin E, calamine powder, oils of arnica flowers, chamomile, sandalwood, patchouli, jasmine, fir, vanilla, cedarwood and rose.
Going natural with deodorant is no less than "trial and error". Until I can come up with a formula that works for me, I will be purchasing Aubrey.
Ginger and Coconut Oil Body Scrub and Facial Exfoliant
One thing I learned about the hated shaving is that just giving the face a rest, even if one day out of the week, gives the face a little time to "rest and breathe". As that beard grows out a little, it's good time to scrub down the face, get those dead skin cells out, entice those ingrown hairs to come out, and basically treat the face with care. Here is my exfoliating formula
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 tablespoon ginger, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup cold-pressed oil (tea seed, jojoba, or almond oil)
3/4 cup turbinado sugar
1/4 cup Pink Himalayan Salt
1-4 drops lemongrass essential oil
In a small saucepan over low heat heat the coconut oil and ginger pieces. Continue heating for 5-10 minutes until ginger scent and juice has transferred into the oil. Remove from heat and press through a fine mesh sieve or through a coffee filter.
While the oil is still warm, mix together with cold-pressed oil. Stir to combine and allow to come to room temperature. Stir in sugar and salt. Scent with essential oils as desired. Pack into a container.
To Use: Massage into damp skin and allow to sit 2-4 minutes. Using a washcloth covered in warm water, steam over face or stand in a steamy shower for a minute. Using the wet washcloth, wipe excess from skin. Rinse and repeat until oil is washed away.
When I apply to face and beard, I like to scrub with a Loofah sponge to scrub and exfoliate the beard.
This may take an entire article all by itself, since in the last decade or so, any hair style goes, from dreadlocks to a full "fro", to totally bald.
For men of color, most of us however have a "clean and simple" short haircut, which makes hair care a lot easier than the days of Blowout Kits, Jerry Curls, and "Afro Sheen, Afro Clean, Afro Fluid, and Afro Do It To It". Thank God!!!!!
Short hair is easy to moisturize and condition with a little quality oil, I'm going to have to write more detail on this subject [for men of color] in a separate article.
Shampoo (on very short hair), who needs it?
My hair is so short and most commercial shampoo is doing nothing but put toxins in my body, I am simply using the Prima Natural Soap with goat's milk and honey soap I mentioned above to wash my hair while in the shower.
Once again, pertaining to Prima Natural soap, it's not really soap as we know it, because most soap has a tendency to cause PH imbalance, making the skin more alkaline. This Pharma Natural soap is in a class by it's own and I love it.
So, there it is…………………
I think the most difficult part of going "GQ Smooth Al Natural", like anything, is simply getting started. If like me, you have had horrible shaving experiences in decades past, when you can feel a smooth jaw at the end of a day, you realize you are now treating your skin the right way, it will be doubtful if you will ever go back.
As I keep saying, keep it simple, which is how us "GQ Smooth" guys like it anyway.