I have asked clients to ask me questions regarding their skin and skin care, providing subject material that you, my readers will find interesting. All that provide questions, comments and concerns will be entered into a drawing every month for prizes. Thank you to Donna Shook for this question:
“I would like to know a daily, monthly and yearly routine/schedule for skin care...Meaning what should I be doing daily, monthly and yearly to take care of my skin. I would imagine certain treatments such as facials are recommended monthly. It would be good to know all the options for skin care and what are the expected results.”
Old school leaning is Cleanse, Tone, Exfoliate, Treat, Moisturize and Protect. You know what? I don’t think much has changed except we have more products to choose from. Ah ha! That’s the problem. There are SO MANY products to choose from. So . . . let’s go back to the basics.
First we need to know what our skin is all about. The skin is the body’s largest organ and provides a protective barrier against the environment. It’s an organ? Yep! Too bad that we so often take our skin for granted and if we want to keep it in tip top shape it needs consistent daily care. If our skin gets even a teeny tiny crack in it it opens up our bodies to infection, viruses and bacteria. Having said that just makes us realize that dry, cracked, unhealthy skin is a really big deal besides being unpleasant and just plain unattractive.
Humans have oily skin, dry skin, combination skin and some would say just normal skin. We all have a natural oil production. This oil is actually called sebum and is produced by glands in our skin. Oil is actually good for our skin because it lubricates the surface of the skin and our hair, No one wants dry, cracked, flaky skin just like no one wants slick, oily skin. So having said that, you must first know exactly what type of skin YOU have in order to know how to properly take care of your skin.
The first step in a good skin care regimen always begins with cleansing. I do not think you have to spend a ton of money in order to use good products. You’ll need to find a good cleanser formulated for your specific skin type and stick with it. I personally think the absolute most important key to good skin is consistency!
You can purchase a good cleanser at Target or Wal-Mart, however, I do have excellent, pure products in my treatment room made by SANITAS (http://www.sanitas-skincare.com). Unless you have very oily skin, I suggest that you stay away from bar soaps, as they have a tendency to dry out most skin. A good rule of thumb tends to be a clear cleanser for oily skin and a creamy cleanser for dry skin.
Now then, you do not need to OVER cleanse your skin. A morning splash of cool to lukewarm water should do to remove excess overnight oils. Every night – and I do mean EVERY NIGHT – wash your face with warm water and the appropriate cleanser. NEVER, EVER, EVER go to bed with your makeup on. (I have previously written on just this and HIGHLY suggest another read!) Pat dry, don’t rub, your face as pulling and tugging with the wash cloth and towel is not good.
Follow with a good facial toner. Toner is an essential cosmetic product that everyone who is interested in having perfect skin should consistently be using. A toner basically removes cleanser residue, helps restore the pH balance, removes any excess oil and even helps minimize and prevent acne breakouts.
Some of you are missing the boat by not adding exfoliation to their skin care routine. When you begin a regular exfoliation regimen you’ll begin to see a brighter more radiant complexion.
So, what is exfoliation? Exfoliation removes the layer of dead skin and can create glowing, smooth skin. Too much exfoliation can actually damage your skin. How often exfoliation is recommended depends on a number of factors, including what you exfoliate with, your skin type, and your general skin health.
As a general rule, the softer an exfoliant is, the more often you can use it. Some exfoliating scrubs are so gentle that you can use them on a daily basis; many exfoliants designed for the face, for example, are soft enough for daily use. Coarse scrubs which are extremely grainy should be used no more than once a week, while scrubs which fall somewhere in between can be used two to three days a week.
If you have oily skin you can exfoliate two to three days a week without any ill effects. People with more dry, delicate skin should exfoliate one to two times a week, ideally with a gentle exfoliating scrub which will not irritate their skin.
If you're not sure about whether or not you can exfoliate with a particular product, test it on your inner elbow, where the skin is especially tender. If the scrub causes irritation, it indicates that it may not be a good choice. If no irritation is experienced, you can safely use that product to exfoliate on a regular basis.
Your skin health also plays a factor in how often you should exfoliate. If you suffer from eczema or other skin conditions, you may want to ease back on your exfoliation schedule, especially if your doctor recommends the use of gentle skin care products only. If you've recently been sunburned, you should also avoid exfoliating until the sunburn starts to peel, because you don't want to pull new skin off while it is trying to heal.
The next step is the treatment step. Interestingly enough, some treatments are also exfoliants. This could be something like a Retin-A or Retinol Product. A skin lightening treatment or specific anti-ageing product could be used in this step. Also, this is when you would be using any eye creams. The skin around the eye contains no fatty tissue, is extremely thin and unfortunately, quick to wrinkle. There are special products containing Vitamin-K and/or caffeine that are formulated to help eliminate darkness under the eye area and this is the time to apply any of those.
Now comes the important moisturizing step. This is SKIN CARE LAW!!! Everyone needs moisture, every if your skin tends to be oily. I also recommend a moisture mist that contains a humectant. This is a big word and one I think is important to know what it is and what it does. I pulled the following from About.com:
From Heather Brannon, MD, former About.com Guide
Updated April 13, 2007
About.com Health's Disease and Condition content is reviewed by the Medical Review Board
Humectants are a key ingredient in moisturizers and cleansers. They benefit the skin by:
- Attracting water from the dermis into the epidermis, increasing the water content in the epidermis
- When humidity is higher than 70 percent, humectants can also attract water from the atmosphere into the epidermis
- Increasing the pliability and flexibility of the skin, preventing it from cracking
- Promoting consistent desquamation (shedding of the outer layer of skin) by degrading the corneodesmosomes that hold skin cells together
- Reducing skin irritation caused by dry skin
- Preventing outside chemicals from contacting the dermis.
Ok. Got that? Basically a humectant attracts and traps moisture into your skin. It’s good stuff.
Finally - - - da, da, da daaaa - - - apply SUNSCREEN! Even on a cloudy, overcast, dreary, rainy, snowy, whatever day UVA (ageing) and UVB (burning) rays reach down from above and do their damage if your skin isn’t protected! Poll any skin care expert and you will hear them all say the same thing. It is the single one thing they would pass on to their daughters!
The number 1 cause of wrinkles is sun damage! Having said that, I recommend the purchase of TWO moisturizers. One for day that has UV protection of 30 (I suggest looking for the ingredient Helioplex, or Mexoryl) and one for night that does not contain sunscreen. Sunscreen is not meant to be used 24/7 and can cause problems with overuse.
Now here’s a little extra tip on scalp care. Your hair tends to trap dead skin cells. If this builds up and begins to flake it is dandruff. Dandruff can be eliminated or avoided by washing your scalp at least two to three times weekly. Daily shampooing is not necessary and can be even detrimental unless you have oily skin/scalp. When you shampoo, thorough scrubbing of your scalp with your fingertips is necessary to loosen the oils and debris. Don’t shampoo in hot water because the heat actually can cause your hair to appear limp, rather use cool water both before adding shampoo and to the rinse. Some say it is a good idea to alternate between two or three different shampoos so remove residue or build up left by others. I don’t know how I feel about that – you decide.
So this is all good daily care. It’s really not at much as it appears. Cleanse, Tone, Exfoliate, Treat, Moisturize and Protect. Once you know what products work for you, it is just a matter of getting into the routine. You may need to change products as seasons change by adding heavier moisturizers, cutting down on minutes in the shower and lowering the water temperature in the winter.
Now what about facials? There is no absolute law regarding how often one needs to have professional treatments. As women, we have hormonal ups and downs that effect our skin. During times of extreme stress, menopause or any other event that causes our skin to go on mutiny, THAT is when you need me most. It is ok to have a professional facial as often as weekly if necessary and at minimum once per quarter (4 times each year). I recommend every 4 to 6 weeks for good, healthy skin care.
Special skin care treatments like microdermabrasion, chemical peels, ultrasonic/micro-currents are designed with specific results in mind. These are not considered necessary for good skin health but rather a skin “resurfacing” or “re-training” series. Discuss these options with your skin care professional and see how they would benefit you specifically.
Donna, I hope I answered your question. I probably provided much more than you asked for. Please keep the questions coming, folks.
This is it for now . . . just another day in skin care heaven!