The world of beauty and skincare is an exciting one, especially with the slew of new technologies, treatments, and
products aimed at giving our skin that youthful glow. It seems that there is a constant flow of new information about effervescent this or rejuvenating that, with everything having a unique way of giving us clearer skin. We all have our cabinets full of the products that we feel are just right for us, but sometimes we can overlook some very basic – and necessary – practices in keeping our skin as healthy as possible.
Take a Step Back with Skincare
The overall health of our skin can sometimes take a backseat to our desire to just have clearer, or more youthful-looking skin. We will jump straight to the chemical peels and microdermabrasion before considering a few things that our skin needs to last us as long as possible. We need to take a step back and think about a few of the common things that we may not be included in our skin care regimens. Here are five things that should be at the very front of our minds when it comes to total skincare:
- Sun protection: While a solid dose of natural vitamin D and a nice bronze complexion are great things, the sun can really damage your skin after years of unprotected exposure. Sun can lead to more severe wrinkling, spotting, and even the potential for skin cancer if you aren’t careful about your outdoor activities. The best thing to do is have a constant supply of sunscreen (minimum SPF 15), and make sure to reapply at least every 120 minutes. Also, punctuate your long tanning sessions with some relaxation in the shade to make sure that your skin can tolerate the amount of exposure that you’re subjecting it to. Finally, cover up as much as you can when you aren’t actively trying to get some color. Obviously, a long-sleeve shirt isn’t the sexiest beachside attire, but it’ll ensure that you can look good into a swimsuit for years and years to come.
- No smoking: Smoking is one of the absolute worst practices for not only your overall health but your skin as well. Compare the skin of a smoker to a non-smoker and you’ll see that one retains elasticity and overall vitality for much longer than the other (you can probably guess which one is which). Another lesser-known result of smoking is the narrowing of the blood vessels that reside in your outer layers of skin. As these channels for blood flow begin to restrict, your skin is deprived of much-needed oxygen and nutrition that is essential for the welfare of your skin. Smoking can absolutely wreak havoc on your entire body, especially on your skin.
- Gentle washing: Sometimes a nice abrasive scrub can leave your skin feeling as clean as possible, but constant exposure to hot water and rough drying surfaces can deplete your skin’s moisture levels. Turning down the heat in the shower is a good way to make sure that you aren’t losing hydration while cleaning, but if piping hot water is something that you just can’t give up, at least shorten your showering time. Also, a mild cleanser rather than a strong soap or detergent will give your skin less of a chemical beating when you bathe or put on newly-washed clothes. And always be sure to follow up with a good SPF moisturizer for a comprehensive skin care plan.
- Diet: While old myths like chocolate causing acne are rather implausible, the notion of your diet having an effect on the condition of your skin is a scientific certainty. Just like every other organ in your body (don’t forget, your skin is actually an organ) your skin needs certain nutrition to remain as healthy as possible. Fast food and candy can force your skin to generate more oil which leads to an unattractive complexion. Fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains might be the usual suspects when it comes to healthier eating, but they are suggested because they work. Not to mention, you’ll have the potential added benefit of a slimmer waistline.
- Don’t stress out: Unmanaged stress is one of the biggest causes of acne breakouts, and that obviously isn’t a good look for anyone. What’s worse, is stress is one of the most overlooked causes of unhealthy skin, so it can affect people for long, long periods of time. Even if your eating habits are in order, pulling your hair out over work can leave a big impression on your face. The best thing to do is to periodically let off some steam with exercise, rest, a long bath or a short vacation – whichever works for you. Just make sure that if you relax best in a bubble bath, the temperature isn’t too high!
Keep It Simple
Skincare can get overly complex when we add all the different spa treatments and facial scrubs into the mix of our cleansing routines. But as with anything, the key is comprehensive wellness, so stick to the basics and see if you don’t see a change in your complexion.
In order to create a skin care regimen that combats blackheads, zits, and other blemishes without also destroying the smoothness and suppleness of your skin, it’s important to identify your skin type. This is a two-fold process that involves determining where you fall on the moisture scale – dry, normal, oily, or combination – and whether or not your skin is balanced when it comes to acidity and alkalinity (what those “ph balancing” lotions and cleansers are meant to address).
Most people have a good idea of their skin type in the first category, but most people don’t know where their skin rates on the acidity scale. Fortunately, there are simple tests to determine both of your skin types.
Testing for ph balance
In order to find out whether you have balanced skin, you’ll perform a litmus test, using the same sort of litmus paper you probably encountered in grade school science classes.
Begin by washing your face and rinsing all the cleanser (never use normal soap on your face) away. Use a soft towel to pat your skin dry, then wait an hour for your skin to rest and restore its normal condition.
Apply a strip of litmus paper to the skin of your face – your forehead is a good place – and wait for a full minute before removing it.
Look at the color of the paper.
- Blue paper means that your skin is more basic, or alkaline than it should be.
- Pinkish-Purple or Lavender paper is a normal result – your skin is neither too acidic nor too basic.
- Pinkish-Red paper means that your skin is producing too much acid.
Testing for excessive oil
As the litmus test for acidity, the test to see if your skin is too dry or oily is simple. Once again, you’ll need to begin with a clean, dry face.
Take a piece of tissue paper (a few squares of toilet paper or a facial tissue will do), and press it to your face, paying close attention to your forehead, nose, cheeks, and chin. Make sure you only press, and don’t rub. Wait about a minute, then remove the tissue and examine it.
- If there is no evidence of oil on the tissue, you have dry skin.
- If there are small areas that are oily, but nothing concentrated, you have normal skin.
- If there are heavy amounts of oil in the parts of the tissue that correspond with your forehead and nose, you have combination skin. This is actually the most common skin type.
- Excessive oil everywhere means you have oily skin, but it does not mean that your face is dirty.
Congratulations! You’ve identified your skin type. Armed with this information, you can create a skin care plan to balance acidity and moisture and keep your skin smooth, supple and zit-free for years to come.