The Skin-ny on Facial Care

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FACE FACTS

For Amazing Skin: Focus on Skin First, Makeup Second

(A Smile is Optional, but Highly Effective)

Story by Ann Butenas

As I stood in front of rows upon rows of skin care products at the local big box retailer, I felt overwhelmed. I wanted a reliable skincare product for my face, but with so many options, I feared I may just revert to my mom’s remedy from the 1970s: Crisco oil and cucumbers. (Don’t ask! Putting salad on one’s face at this point is probably not the answer.) But, seriously, no matter our age, it is important to take good care of our skin. Nothing says “good morning” like that first look in the mirror each day when you are greeted by yet another fine line or wrinkle. No, thanks! So, in an effort to battle drying and aging skin, I took it upon myself to discover some of the products out there and what purpose each one serves. Cleanse, exfoliate, moisturize, smooth, brighten … who has enough time in the day for all that activity? However, I will attempt to make this a bit more manageable so at least the reflection you see in the mirror every day is something that makes you smile.

If you have done any research on skin care products or routines, or if you have a few drawers in your bathroom filled with myriad partially-used bottles and tubes of skin care products as I do, then you are most likely familiar with all the buzz words in the skin care arena: cleansers, anti-aging serums, face oils, line-smoothing serums, eye creams, brightening creams, hydrating creams, and, well, the list goes on. The skin care business is a multi-billion dollar industry, and it seems as if some new product, treatment or device pops up daily. Where do you focus your attention and money? Some folks may swear by a religious multi-step regimen nightly, while others merely wipe their face with a soapy, warm washcloth and call it a night.

The good news is that skin care is simple. No matter your skin type, a daily skin care routine is key in maintaining skin health and improving concerns such as acne, dark spots, and scarring. A basic skin care routine is something you can do in the morning and then again in the evening, with not as much effort as you might think. Just remember these important words: cleanser, serum, moisturizer and sunscreen. (I also asked my dermatologist about those high-end products that cost an arm and a leg. Her reply? More expensive isn’t necessarily better. Sometimes that $4 face scrub works just as well, if not better than, that $60 version from some company whose name sounds straight out of a French movie.) If you want younger-looking skin (and who doesn’t?), it is not as complicated – or as expensive – as it sounds. Investing in your skin is never a bad idea, as it will be the face of who you are for quite some time.

So, let’s just start from the beginning. It’s morning. You get up and head towards the bathroom. Do you really need to do much to your face? I mean, it’s not like you slept with your makeup on. (Please tell me you did not, as that will warrant another article for another day!) When your skin doesn’t necessarily feel dirty and you have not worked out, reach for a gentle cleanser and avoid pairing that with excessively hot water. After cleansing your face, apply a moisturizer. You can also add an antioxidant serum before moisturizing. If you are uncertain as to the benefit of antioxidants, think of them as protection from sun and pollution, which are famous for breaking down collagen and elastin, which can eventually lead to sagging, dull and splotchy skin. Not the look we are going for here, right?

Choose a cleanser that won’t leave your skin feeling tight after washing. Wash your face no more than twice a day or even just once if you have dry skin and don’t wear make-up. Choose a serum with vitamin C for morning. At night, retinol or prescription retinoids work best. Even oily skin needs moisturizer, but opt for one that is lightweight, gel-based and non-comedogenic (so it won’t block your pores!). For dry skin, cream-based moisturizers work best. When using sunscreen, use one with at least 30 SPF and apply 15 minutes before going outside. Believe it or not, darker skin tones actually need more sun protection because hyperpigmentation is much more difficult to correct.

As daytime turns to evening, you will essentially perform the same routine, but with a few changes. First rule of thumb: remove your makeup. Then, cleanse your skin. Fair warning: those makeup remover wipes should not replace a thorough skin cleansing. Yes, they can be used in a pinch, but to rely on them nightly is doing more harm than good. After washing your skin, apply a moisturizer.

Other tips for all skin types: change your pillowcases weekly. Stay hydrated. Wash or wrap your hair before bed. And remember to put on that sunscreen every day. Once you are comfortable with your new skin care routine, then you can consider adding additional products, such as masks, exfoliants and spot treatments.

As with any skin care regimen, consult with your dermatologist and/or health care professional first to ensure you are doing what is best for your skin type.

Sources: healthline.com, cnet.com

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