Frequently asked questions

Are TDA products suitable for all skin types?

A: Yes. TDA products are unisex and suitable for all skin types.

Are TDA products safe to use during pregnancy?

A: We understand that many women seek alternatives to botanically rich products during pregnancy; however, to our knowledge there is no risk associated with using any TDA formulation in the manner we prescribe during pregnancy.

TDA is committed to providing accurate information, however, this information is not intended to replace advice from your qualified medical practitioner. We recommend that you speak with your obstetrician or dermatologist should you have any concerns regarding your particular circumstances.

Do TDA products contain parabens?

A: No animal ingredients, colour additives, synthetic fragrances or any other potentially harmful chemicals are used in Terres d’Afrique products. In instances where the use of a synthetic preservative is completely unavoidable – for instance, to ensure product safety and efficacy - we limit the use strictly to a minimum (less than 0,5%), complementing synthetics with botanical alternatives.

Any synthetic preservatives used in Terres d’Afrique products are guaranteed safe and approved by Ecocert.

Why organic is better for my skin?

A: Our bodies are incredibly efficient at dealing with the wide range of chemicals that we would naturally encounter on the surface of earth. There are new chemicals though – manmade chemicals that we have no mechanisms to deal with.

These chemicals often cause sensitisation in skin and can result in long term health risks.

Organic products are synthetic and chemical free and are better for you and the planet.

Using organic products means that you will not be exposed to synthetic chemicals that could have unwanted side effects. Conventional vegetable oils are often adulterated with cheaper petrochemical oils or low-grade mass produced oils. They often contain residues of pesticides and other agrochemicals. These chemicals are oil soluble and so concentrate in the oil that is pressed from the plant.

Organic farming uses natural techniques to combat pests and the oil that is pressed from plants grown in this way is free of contamination with agrochemicals.

Using an organic vegetable oil, as opposed to petrochemical oil (like mineral oil), has tremendous benefits for your skin. Vegetable oil mostly contains fatty acids that can be freely absorbed into the skin and incorporated into cell membranes or used by cells for other purposes.

By improving the structure of the skin these oils slow down Trans Epidermal Water Loss (TEWL) and ensure that the skin stays hydrated and moisturised.

Petrochemical oils, however, can’t be used by cells and can’t penetrate the skin unless aided by other chemical agents. These oils slow down Trans Epidermal Water Loss by forming an occlusive layer on the surface of the skin.

TDA uses cold pressed vegetable oils with lipids that closely resemble that of the sebum in the stratum corneum. We are mostly concerned with giving skin the ingredients that it needs to keep it healthy. Only once this is achieved can we focus on slowing the aging process.

Another benefit is that organic farming is more sustainable and tries not to support the petrochemical industry that has been responsible for a large portion of the global environmental damage over the last century.

What if I have an adverse reaction to a TDA product?

A: All cosmetic ingredients have the potential to irritate sensitive skin regardless of the amount present in an individual product or the method in which it is used.

Irritations can sometimes occur in the regular course of our daily lives, even where we have used and enjoyed a product successfully for many years. The trigger for a reaction can be an unexpected one and may not necessarily repeat itself in the same way. We ask that you consider any changes to your regular routine that may have triggered the reaction (dietary, contact with possible allergens such as household cleaning liquids etc.).

Where one experiences an adverse reaction to any cosmetic preparation, the best course of action is to discontinue use and if necessary, consult your medical practitioner to establish whether you have experienced an irritation or an allergy.

In the unlikely event that you experience an adverse reaction to an Aesop product, please discontinue use and return it to the place of purchase. Do not hesitate to contact us with the details of your reaction.

Can I use TDA hydrating products under makeup?

A: Yes, TDA creams, serums and oils can be worn under makeup.

Some wonder whether the high content of botanical ingredients will interfere with makeup, but it will not. However, you may like to experiment with the time it takes for your preferred TDA hydrating product to fully absorb into your skin prior to applying your makeup.

Expiry date and shelf life and preservative system

A: The expiry date is indicated with the batch number on every product.

Terres D’Afrique has developed a unique preservative system that uses cutting edge technology to ensure that our products are safe to use and won’t disrupt the delicate balance of microbes on your skin.

The preservative system is a combination of several ingredients that relies on an anti-microbial peptide that is isolated from bacterial cultures. Your body secretes anti-microbial peptides to keep the microflora on your skin in balance. We have used a similar approach to keep microbes from spoiling our products.

As with any organic product the shelf life is not as long as conventional products but our products generally carry a shelf life of a year and a half. Conventional brands use mineral oil and other petrochemicals as the base of their products. These oils are inactive and are stable indefinitely so they have a longer shelf life. The oils that we use are cold pressed plant oils high in omega 3, 6 and 9 and these oils start to oxidise after 18 months on the shelf.

We believe that this is a small compromise given the vastly superior efficacy and skin compatibility that these oils offer.

How should I store my TDA products?

A: We recommend you keep your products in a cool place away from direct light, or better yet, in the refrigerator. This advice applies for all TDA products, regardless of whether they are contained in glass or aluminium.

The label on your TDA product displays an icon, that tells you how many months your product will be at its best.

It is best to use clean hands when dipping into jars, or to use a teaspoon or small spatula to scoop out product for use.

Will the plant extracts in TDA products make my skin oily?

A: Scientifically speaking, botanical oils closely resemble human skin in terms of their physical and chemical composition. This means formulations containing these extracts are easily absorbed by the skin.

Will TDA products aggravate skin sensitivity?

A: Skin sensitivities can be unpredictable. If you have experienced a reaction, we recommend you stop using all products for a full week. This will give your skin the chance to recover from whatever was aggravating it.

You may wish to test the TDA products you have on separate patches of skin away from your face. Allow twenty-four hours to assess your skin's response. If you find there is no reaction, repeat the process. Again, allow twenty-four hours for assessment.

If neither of these tests results in an adverse reaction, apply a small amount of your product to your face. Use less product than you normally would in the first instance, then slowly increase the amount. If your skin reacts or symptoms persist despite not using any products, we suggest you consult with a dermatologist.

If you are a first-time user of TDA or you are experimenting with new TDA products, we recommend you visit our TDA store or an TDA retailer for a face-to-face consultation. If this is not possible, we advise you to call one of our stores for an over-the-phone consultation. Consultations will assist you to ascertaining which products are best suited to your skin.

What tips could you provide regarding skin care for sensitive skin

A: Strengthen the skin’s barrier defence
Maintain the acid mantle
Use pH balanced cosmetics
Use cosmetics with no synthetic fragrance or colour
Use products containing essential fatty acids (omega oils)
Use non drying masks

What aesthetic procedures aggravate sensitive skin?

A: Heat treatments such as excessive steaming or thermal masks Aggressive exfoliation treatments Chemical peels

Are TDA products Ph balanced?

A: Our skin naturally has a pH of between 4.5 and 5.5, hence the name “acid mantle”. It takes a lot of energy to maintain this low pH. The energy investment is worthwhile because the lower pH provides a hostile environment for invading microbes and favours the growth of beneficial microflora.

If a product claims to be “pH balanced” it simply means that buffers have been added to keep the pH of the product constant. Some products are balanced at pH 7 others at higher or lower pH’s.

Washing the skin is the single most common cause of dermatological disease, yet it is necessary in terms of personal hygiene. Normal soaps have a pH of about 10 – a long way from 5.5. Applying alkali soap raises the pH of the skin making it feel dry and uncomfortable. It takes about 18 hours for the skin to nomalise its pH (even longer for unhealthy skin). All the products that you use should be pH balanced but most important is your moisturiser. This is the product that remains on the skin in greatest volume and will determine the residual pH.

Advantages of skin that is ph balanced

  • Primary defense against bacteria
  • Helps prevent toxins from penetrating the skin
  • Controls water movement through the epidermis (TEWL) allowing skin to remain moisturised and hydrated
  • Improves skin lubrication
  • All TDA products are balanced at a pH of between 4.5 and 5.5.

What are essential fatty acids?

A: Essential fatty acids are lipids that we need to eat to stay healthy. Without these lipids our bodies cannot maintain healthy cell membranes and deficiency leads to a scaly rash on the skin.

Omega-3 fatty acids are unstable and they are often removed from the oils that we eat to prevent rancidity during their shelf life. This has resulted in omega-3 deficiency in a large percentage of the population.

In 2004 researchers reviewing the benefits of omega-3’s concluded, “Topical application of products rich in omega 3 fatty acids is a critical step in order to maintain healthy skin, prevent aging, and improve moisture content without adding oiliness to both acne-prone and chronically dry skin.”

Stabilizing omega-3’s in a cream is very difficult and there are not many products that are able to use these at meaningful levels. TDA has developed a manufacturing procedure and oil matrix that allows incorporation of high levels of omega-3, 6 and 9 oils.

Functions of omega-3 in the skin

  • Responsible for the permeability of the stratum corneum
  • Control lipid phases of the upper epidermis
  • Control TEWL
  • Help maintain acid mantle
  • Maintain healthy keratinocyte, Langerhans and melanocyte cells

How to recognize omega-3 deficiency

  • Fine vertical lines especially around the eye area
  • “unresponsive” skin
  • Breakouts which heal slowly
  • Control inflammation
  • Eczema-type dry patches
  • Tired looking skin

Topically applied omega-3 is metabolized by the skin which means that it is one of the few ingredients that will have a direct and immediate effect.

Taking omega-3 oils orally is also recommended. Look for a supplement that delivers at least 600mg of long chain omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) daily or take 15g of flax seed oil a day.

What do antioxidants really do?

A: The basal cells of your skin continuously divide to produce new cells that replace the cells that are shed from the surface. These basal cells can only divide a certain number of times before they get old and die. This is called the Hayflick limit. When enough basal cells die the skin starts to get thinner because there aren’t enough cells left to keep the balance. This is the reason for the skin slowly thinning as we age.

There are two main factors that can shorten the life of these basal cells. One is an excess of free radicals and the other is an inflammatory state in the skin.

Our cells use oxygen to produce energy. In the process they generate free radicals – unstable oxygen molecules. Our bodies are well adapted to deal with this and produce anti-oxidants to mop them up. When we expose ourselves to harsh UV, pollutants or other toxins there is an excess of free radicals and these are free to damage cell membranes, collagen and elastin fibres and anything else that gets in their way. Until the free radical is stopped, it is a chain reaction that continues destroying the compounds that make up the body.

Your body stops free radicals with anti-oxidants. These anti-oxidants are absorbed from the food we eat or manufactured in the body. Some powerful anti-oxidants are Vitamin E, C, A, Selenium and beta-carotene. This is by no means all of them – there are a lot. An anti-oxidant stops free radicals by binding to them and remaining bound. This neutralizes the free radical and renders it incapable of wreaking any further havoc.

Basal cells will live for a longer period of time if there are enough anti-oxidants to deal with free radicals. This means that you won’t approach the Hayflick limit as fast and your skin won’t age as quickly.

Anti-oxidants

  • Act as free radical scavengers for the skin
  • Diminish the severity of UV damage
  • Slow the formation of new wrinkles
  • Soften existing wrinkles and lines
  • are anti-inflammatory
  • Preserve the integrity of the product

Our aim is to protect the cell membrane and the fluid between cells as well as the fluid inside the cell. To protect the membrane you need to have oil soluble anti-oxidants. To protect the interstitial fluid you need water-soluble anti-oxidants. To protect the fluid inside the cell, it is most effective to use derivatives of vitamins that allow penetration through the cell membrane.

What is your approach to skin microflora?

A: The relationship between skin and the natural flora that is found on the skin’s surface is not well understood. It is, however, clear that this symbiotic relationship is crucial for the normal functioning of the skin. There are approximately one trillion bacteria from more than 1000 species living on your skin. Many are beneficial but some are just neutral.

Your skin maintains some control over the microflora on the surface by regulating the pH. pH plays a key role in the activity of the skin’s flora as a natural defense against harmful microbes.

The TDA approach to skin microflora is in some ways similar to the modern approach to gut microflora. We understand that the skin needs the beneficial microflora to function optimally. Our goal is to boost the numbers of the beneficial organisms to make sure that the harmful, infectious microbes can’t colonise on your skin. This is in contrast to the “kill them all” approach of many products on the market.

Many brands pay attention to the pH of their cleansers but, because most emulsions become less stable at low pH, moisturizers are often not in the optimal range. We have taken great care to keep the pH consistent at 4.5 across the range.

We also use prebiotics to selectively feed beneficial skin flora. These include fructo-oligosaccharides and inulin. These are long chain sugars that opportunistic bacteria cannot use as food. This favours the symbiotic (good) skin flora and means that your skin does not have to activate an immune response to protect itself from invading bacteria and fungi.

What are your views on skin exfoliation?

A: The basal cells of your skin divide continuously to replace the cells that are shed from the surface. These basal cells can only divide a certain number of times before they get old and die. This is called the Hayflick limit. When enough basal cells die the skin starts to get thinner because there aren’t enough cells left to keep the balance. This is the reason for the skin slowly thinning as we age.

If cells are removed from the surface too quickly the basal cells will respond by dividing faster and a thickened, leathery skin will form.

Our view is that exfoliation should be mild and infrequent. We use relatively smooth physical abrasives that remove the skin cells that are in the process of flaking off. This gives the skin a smooth, refined look but does not remove cells in the lower layers of the stratum corneum.

Many brands have popularised the use of Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA’s). These are often incorporated in moisturisers and other products for daily use.

AHA’s dissolve the cellular cement that holds cells together. The outer layers of skin then peel off and for a short while, the skin looks more radiant and wrinkles are not as deep. In order for skin to perform its primary function as a barrier to UV and microbes, it needs to maintain a minimum thickness. Its response to thinning will be to increase the rate of cell division in the basal cells and start callous formation. This will result in a thickening of the skin. Wrinkles will look deeper and the skin will be dull and leathery. The only way to quickly get back to looking radiant is to keep using AHA’s.

We are opposed to the continuous use of AHA’s for a simple reason – it accelerates the rate of basal cell division and the basal cells will approach the Hayflick limit faster. This will clearly accelerate aging.

What is skin dehydration?

A: Skin dehydration generally refers to the inability of the epidermis to retain healthy levels of water. There are a number of reasons for skin dehydration

How is skin dehydration different from dry skin?

A: A dry skin is lipid deficient while a dehydrated skin is water deficient.

Is there any way to prevent skin dehydration?

A: Avoid excessive use of harsh, drying cleansers and toners.

If there is poor internal body hydration the supply of fluids to the epidermis is reduced so ensure sufficient water intake. Be aware of the diuretic side effect of caffeine and medication such as sinus medication. Extra water needs to be taken to compensate for these.

Wherever possible, avoid artificial environments with low humidity as dry air will cause higher trans- epidermal water loss.

Follow a healthy diet that includes adequate quantities of essential fatty acids. Have regular facials and massage treatments