The skincare creed: Cleanse, nourish and protect.
“You’ve only got one face. So why mess with it?” – Caroline Hirons, skincare expert
You can improve the quality of your skin right now by implementing a basic cleansing routine. It can be as simple or luxurious as you want, but the minimum should include cleansing and moisturizing in the morning and at night. A consistent skincare routine will result in better quality skin and better looking makeup.
Whether you wear makeup or not is beside the point. Pollution, sweat, dust and grime make their way into your pores and must be removed at the end of the day—and in the morning for that matter. Slow down! Wash your face.
Foaming cleanser (gel/cream/etc.): it might cover your face with a million tiny bubbles and make you feel squeaky-clean and proud, but it also strips your face of all natural oils and leaves it parched. If the word “foaming” is in the title, beware—even if you have oily skin. While it may seem counterintuitive, stripping your face of natural oils twice a day will aggravate, not soothe, oil production.
Cleansing milks and lotions: in the old days of skincare, these were called “cold creams.” Apply all over dry skin and massage into your face, then wipe off with a cotton pad or facecloth. Rinse with fresh running water when you’re done. If you don’t wear makeup, they are OK, but you may need to do more than one cleanse to get all the gunk off.
Cleansing balms: contrary to what you might think, balms are great for most skin types. Their thick consistency requires you work to spread the product on your face, before removing it with hot water and a facecloth. The inadvertent face massage brings blood to the skin, helping it replenish and remove toxins, while the oils from the balm leave your skin lightly moisturized. Watch out for balms that are heavy in shea butter and beeswax if you are prone to acne.
Unfortunately, there’s no one cream or skincare line that will work for everyone. You must experiment a little to find out what works best for you. A good place to start is by choosing products based on your skin type (oily, dry, sensitive, etc.) and your budget. Expensive isn’t always better, but cheap, chemical-laden products can do more harm than good, so err on the natural side and avoid ingredients like mineral oils, sodium laureth sulphate and alcohol. Always test new products on the inside of your wrist or behind your ear; if you have a reaction, most retailers have a return policy.
The significance of moisturizers in skincare is a contentious topic in the beauty sphere these days. Concentrated serums are making a huge comeback, as are exfoliating acid toners, but if you’re just trying to get into a routine and want to keep it simple and inexpensive, a moisturizer is an excellent place to start. Your moisturizer nourishes and protects the skin, so don’t leave it out.
Always use an SPF, especially if you will be spending time outside. While in small doses the sun does help the body produce vitamin D, there’s no getting around the fact that too much can be carcinogenic and damage your skin.
There are two kinds of sunscreen: physical (think zinc and titanium oxide), which reflects light; and chemical, which absorbs it. Despite the names, both have chemical components, so you’re making a bit of a trade-off to protect yourself from the sun. Use SPF 15 to 30. Any higher and you’re probably doing more harm than good for you skin, any lower and you’re just kidding yourself. Hats and long clothing are the only truly natural ways to beat the rays.
Caring for your skin happens deep inside. The liver and the skin are intimately connected and troubles with this inner organ often present as symptoms in the skin. Support your liver by leaving out smoking, white sugar, alcohol, drugs and refined foods. The less work it has to do processing extraneous chemicals, the more the liver can focus on optimizing your health.
Pamper your liver by keeping fit and eating well. Consider incorporating more anti-oxidizing foods like green vegetables, beets, carrots, garlic, lemon and turmeric into your meals. For more information, visit your local health food or supplement store to see what other kinds of products might be right for you.