Seeing what the name of my business is, I figure that a good place to start this blog is with the essentials! The skin is our body's largest organ at around 20 square feet, as well as the fastest growing one. As a barrier, it protects us from germs, regulates our body temperature, and provides us with the sense of touch. Its many layers are home to valuable resources that assist in all of these functions and more.
What you see on the surface are dead skin cells (lovely, I know). New skin cells are constantly forming and moving up towards the surface, which is a process that takes from a couple weeks (when we're young) to a month or more as we age (which is why we estheticians recommend monthly facial appointments). This leads us right into the first "essential" of:
1. EXFOLIATE. If you don't exfoliate your skin, it will not be happy. If you have oily or breakout-prone skin, the buildup of dead skin cells and oil can trap bacteria in your follicles (pores), causing acne. If you have dry skin, your skin will stay dry and dull since any moisturizer you use cannot penetrate past the dead skin cell buildup very well. However, be GENTLE with your exfoliation! Exfoliation is important, but being aggressive with a scrub or anything else is not good either. Depending on your skin, you could exfoliate every day with a microfiber cloth or serum with buffered acid, a few times a week with a sonic skin brush, or once a week with an enzyme. Figuring out what works best for your skin -- manual exfoliation versus chemical exfoliation -- is the key as well as moderation.
2. CLEANSE. Wash your face twice* EVERY night! It's fine to splash water on it in the morning if that's when you shower, but it is SO important to wash the day off your skin before allowing it to rest and recover at night. Be gentle with your cleansing as well. For some, using a microfiber cloth with water is better than a cleanser. If you ever find that your skin feels tight or dry after cleansing, you are using the wrong cleanser, and it is stripping your natural oils. Try something else!
*If you don't wash it twice, then use a toner after you wash it once as a second cleanse.
3. MOISTURIZE. Whether it's with oils, gels, lotions or creams, everyone needs to hydrate their skin morning and night. And the best way to use a moisturizer is to apply it while your skin is still slightly damp. Even if you are oily, you still need some hydration, and the right one may even help balance some of the oiliness. Pick the right moisturizer for your skin -- your esthetician can help you with that!
4. SUN PROTECTION: Sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses. Sunscreen is truly the #1 anti-aging product out there! An SPF of 30 every day, rain or shine, whether you work indoors or out is one of the best habits you can get into. Better yet, use a sun protection powder or mineral makeup with SPF as a two for one! When I take the dogs for a walk, I know I look incredibly goofy with my big brimmed hat, but one of the great things about getting older is you don't care as much what people think! I slather sunscreen on my face, arms and hands, pop on my sunglasses and know that my skin will stay looking younger -- and hopefully I will avoid skin cancer as well.
5. SERUM (optional for specific skin problems). I still get pimples even though I'm into my forties now (makes me still feel so young, yeah!), so I use a serum to help prevent breakouts and gently exfoliate my skin. If you want to correct sun spots, acne, dryness, or wrinkles, use a serum that's targeted to help whatever issue(s) you are looking to fix (in addition to getting regular facial treatments too, of course!). Serums should always be applied after you cleanse but before you moisturize.
Last but not least, keep it simple. I know that if my routine was overly complicated, I would not stick to it very well. I have contacts to remove, teeth to floss and brush, and I want to get to bed without having to do five more things at night! Love the skin you're in and show it some TLC. It deserves it for all it does, and you will be glad you did!