I thought it would be most appropriate to conclude this week’s posts, dedicated to skin care, (found here and here) with the 5 basic principles of skin care. These will provide a guideline for developing a skin care regimen to achieve your healthy skin goals. Regardless of your skin type, following these 5 basic principles will allow you to develop a regimen that brings you closer to achieving your skin care goals.
1) Cleanse – Cleansing is the most basic thing you can do in order to maintain clear and healthy skin. Cleansing your skin is as important as drinking ample amounts of water each day. Regardless of your age, skin type or gender, cleansing is an absolute must for EVERY skin type. Avoid cleansing with hot water and opt for lukewarm (tepid) water when cleansing as hot water can can strip the skin of essential oils which can then cause an excess in oil production.
A tip for oily skin types: A lot of individuals with oily skin make the mistake of using harsh cleansers and using them too often with the misconception that these cleansers will rid your skin of the abundance of oil, leaving the skin balanced. This may cause more harm than good as harsh treatments, as with any skin type, can strip the skin of its natural oils causing the skin to over compensate by producing more oil. Remember, our skin needs a healthy balance of oils in order to function at it’s best.
If basic cleansers just aren’t cutting it, try incorporating something with acids such as salicylic acid, glycolic acid or benzoyl peroxide into your routine once or twice a week.
2) Treat – This refers to applying skin care products that target your specific needs. For example, with my normal/dry combination skin, I find it essential to utilize anti-aging products like serums that utilize moisturizers and antioxidants to prevent fine lines and wrinkles from forming. If you’re someone with oily skin you may use a treatment that targets blemishes or controls excess oil production.
3) Moisturize – Moisturizing your skin on a daily basis is a vital aspect of achieving and maintaining healthy skin. Moisturizers are typically chock full of lipids, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that will aid in protecting your skin from environmental stressors. It’s best to moisturize soon after apply your treatment while the skin is still moist. This allows your skin to better absorb the product. Those with oily or combination normal/oily skin would benefit from using light moisturizers which typically come in the form of a lotion. Those with dry or combination normal/dry skin would benefit from using thicker, heavier moisturizers.
A note about oils: It is important to note that oils are NOT moisturizers. With the resent surge in oil based products (this includes butters such as shea and cocoa) in the skin care market, many have developed the misconception that oil moisturizes the skin. Au contraire mes amis, while I love adding oils to my skin care regimen, I do not employ the as a moisturizer. Rather, I use oils to retain the moisture applied with my daily moisturizer.
4) Protect – I’m sure you all know the importance of protecting your skin from the potentially harmful effects of the sun. The purpose of sunscreen is to prevent the sun’s ultraviolet rays from damaging your skin. Utilizing a product, or products, with UVA and UVB protection can prevent the development of fine lines and wrinkles but more importantly, using these products reduces your risk of skin cancer.
A note for sensitive skin types: I would suggest those with skin sensitivities to use a product that combines the third and fourth principles by providing both moisture and sun protection. This will reduce the number of products used thereby reducing your exposure to possible irritants commonly found in these products.
5) Exfoliate – When skin experiences a buildup of dead cells on the surface, it can cause a dull and lifeless appearance. Any product placed on top of an excess of dead skin cells will not work as well as it will not be able to penetrate the layers of the skin. There are two types of exfoliants you can choose from which are chemical and mechanical. Chemical exfoliants utilize acids such as AHA (alpha hydroxy acid), BHA (beta hydroxy acid) or fruit enzymes such as papaya and pineapple. Mechanical exfoliation involves physically sloughing off the dead skin cells using something abrasive such as a wash cloth or cleansing beads.
A note for dry skin types: It is very important for individuals with dry skin to use a gentle exfoliant at least twice a week. Be it a chemical or mechanical exfoliant, regular use of such products will gently slough off the surface layer of the skin leaving a healthy and radiant complexion.
* Toners: I’m sure many of you are wondering why I did not include toning as a necessary step. This is simply because the jury is still out on toning according to dermatologists. Toners were introduced to the market at a time when most cleansers were laden with heavy ingredients and often a thick film on the surface of the skin. A toner would then be used to remove the film left behind by cleansers. Today, toners are formulated to do many things such as balancing your skin’s pH levels, removing lingering traces of your make-up and even targeting specific skin issues.
I believe that using a toner should be left to the digression of each individual. I personally choose not to utilize toners because I opt for cleansers that fulfill my skin care needs leaving toners an unnecessary and expensive step. If you’d prefer to incorporate a toner in your regimen, avoid using toners with alcohol as this can dry your skin.