Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Skin care 101

Your skin is the largest organ in your body. Even though we are in 2009, where beauty products, especially skin care, is a billion dollar industry, I still get a lot of clients coming in to see me who still use bar soap on their face and body moisturizer as facial lotion. Many men, including heterosexual men, are starting to realize the importance of taking care of their skin, but there are still many men and surprisingly, women who still don’t know how to properly take care of their skin. For those of you who need a reminder or have no clue about basic skincare, I will lay out the “bare basics” to make your job easier. Please keep in mind that professional skincare products will have better formulations than drugstore or supermarket brands, which will make them more effective and products without any chemical ingredients or parabens (chemical preservatives) will be better for your skin.

To be used on a daily basis:

1) Facial cleanser (AM & PM)

The importance of cleanser is that it is supposed to leave your face clear of dirt and oil, but it is not supposed to strip the moisture away from your face. It is very important that your skin obtains it’s natural moisture barrier (aka NMB) to protect your skin from irritation, inflammation and infection. There are many types of cleansers out there, most of them are designed for your specific skin type (e.g. dry, oily, combination) or your skin condition (e.g. acne, aging, sensitive). Another thing to consider is the strength of the cleanser can vary from gentle to exfoliating.

2) Facial moisturizer (AM & PM)

Keeping your skin moisturized is vital for healthy skin. When your skin is hydrated it will physically look more plump and smooth, which results in radiant and younger looking skin. Even those with oily and/or acne prone skin, it is very important to keep moisture in the skin, if the skin does not have enough hydration it may go into “freak out” mode and over produce oil, which may result in worsening your skin condition. Moisturizers are also based on either skin type or skin condition. They will also vary from lightweight gels to heavy creams.

3) Sunscreen (AM only)

I do not know one person who is not concerned with anti-aging. Everyone wants to keep a youthful appearance and the number one thing you can do to protect your skin from aging is to wear sunscreen on your face daily. Over 90% of aging is due to sun damage and the rest may be due to intrinsic factors (age, heredity, etc.). The sun’s rays are at the strongest that they have ever been and the rate of skin cancer is on the rise. The best type of sunscreen to look for is one that will protect you from both UVA and UVB rays. All sunscreens have UVB protection, but before you purchase, make sure there is also UVA “broad spectrum” protection. For those of you who say that you don’t like to wear sunscreen because it makes your skin greasy or you don’t like the texture, there are many formulations out there that are not heavy and greasy. You just need to take the time to try out different ones until you find one that works for you. Also, even if you are indoors all day or if the weather is overcast, you still should wear sunscreen because the UVA rays can still penetrate through windows and the clouds.

4) Drink lots of water!

It may be cliché, but it is absolutely true that water will make your skin healthier. We all hate it when supermodels say their secret to beauty is drinking lots of water, but the matter of fact is it really works. Why? Because water flushes out all of the toxins in the body and usually whatever ailment you have within your body, will show up on your skin too. Water allows for flow in the body so that nutrients are easily absorbed into your skin cells and the hydration will plump up your skin and it will prevent dryness in the skin.

Do 1-3 times per week:

1) Exfoliate

Exfoliation is key to healthy and youthful looking skin. The best way to exfoliate your skin is by using either a chemical or mechanical exfoliant. The difference between a chemical and a mechical exfoliant is that mechanical exfoliants slough away dead skin cells by having to physically manipulate the product, which is usually in a cream form with beads in it or microdermabrasion. A chemical exfoliant will usually “eat away” at the dead skin cells without having to do any type of manual labor and is usually in a peel or mask form. By exfoliating the skin on a regular basis, you are allowing the skin to renew and regenerate itself faster, which results in younger looking skin. Also, if you are acne prone, exfoliating on a regular basis allows more oxygen into your skin and oxygen is what kills the p.acne bacteria that causes acne. If you are going to purchase a mechanical exfoliant stay away from anything that uses walnut, apricot, or any type of shell pieces, for example do NOT use St. Ives Apricot scrub!!! To make it simple, the apricot shells are microscopically extremely sharp and will tear at your skin tissue causing damage and inflammation. If you are using St. Ives, stop using it on your face and use it for your elbows and soles of your feet. Try to exfoliate your skin at least once a week, but no more than three times per week (there is such a thing as overexfoliating).

Do every 4 weeks:

1) Get a facial from a licensed Esthetician.

Facials are vital for healthy looking skin for many reasons. Everyone by the age of sixteen will have sun damage on their face, whether it is by means of pigmentation, fine lines, and/or wrinkles. Estheticians are not doctors and if you have a serious problem, you should see a Dermatologist, but we can help with superficial issues in the skin. Another main reason for coming in for a facial is that everyone’s skin gets congested with impacted sebum and it is important to clean out these impurities before they form into acne or cause damage in your follicles (aka pores). Estheticians can help with a variety of issues and every person’s skin has to be dealt with individually, because everyone’s skin is different. Facials will help optimize your skin’s potential to be at it’s healthiest.

Do annually:

1) Make sure that you get a “mole check” when you go in to see your Dermatologist, Physician or OB/GYN to make sure that you don’t have any cancerous lesions.

E voila! These are just the most basic steps that you can take to healthier skin. There are definitely more things that you could add to your skin care regimen to make it more effective, but these are the “bare basics” that one should not live without. I always tell my clients that in order for them to have beautiful and healthy skin, 50% is what happens in the facial treatment room and the other 50% is what they use on their skin at home on a daily basis. Your skin is the largest organ, so do yourself a favor and take good care of it!

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