General Skin Health
Everyone has had to deal with one general skin health issue or another at some point in their lives, whether it’s acne, dryness, sensitivity, oiliness, discoloration or wrinkles.
Thankfully, most of these issues are easily dealt with, if you’re willing to give your face a little love and attention.
Start with Step 1 below for some helpful instructions on how to properly care for your face and achieve fresh, dewy-skinned perfection!
1. Figure out your skin type
The first step to perfect skin is to figure out a skincare routine that works for you. Everybody’s skin is unique, so what works for another person may not work for you. One of our skin specialists will provide an in depth skin analysis on your skin and decide whether it’s normal, sensitive, dry, combination, blemish-prone or oily.
- If you have normal skin, you’re lucky! Your skin doesn’t get oily, your pores are small, your skin tone looks even and you rarely suffer from breakouts.
- Sensitive skin tends to be very reactive – it may become dry, itchy or irritated depending on the weather, your lifestyle and the products you use.
- Dry skin usually feels tight after cleansing and can suffer from roughness or flakiness, especially when exposed to cold weather or dry air.
- Combination skin means that your skin can be dry and oily. It might be flaky and rough around the edges, but oily along the t-zone.
- Blemish-prone skin is just that – prone to blackheads, pimples and excess oil. Even though you try to keep it clean, it still suffers from breakouts.
- Oily skin can become greasy and shiny-looking within an hour after washing. The oil may even seep through your make up and cause it to slide off.
- In addition, whether you have a light skin tone, medium skin tone or dark skin tone will also dictate what issues your skin is prone to, and should be taken into consideration when choosing skincare products.
2. Wash your face twice a day – no more, no less
- Washing your face is super important as it cleans away dirt, oil, bacteria and traces of make-up that would otherwise be left sitting on your skin.
However, many people believe that the more they wash their face, the better – but this is a mistake. Overwashing is just as bad as not washing at all, it dries out the skin and can make it red and irritable.
- Stick to washing your face twice a day – once in the morning to cleanse any oil that has built up overnight, and once in the evening to remove any dirt and make-up from the day.
- Use a cleanser that is suited to your skin type (it should be stated clearly on the bottle). When possible, try to avoid using cleansers that are scented, colored, or full of chemicals, as these can be irritating on your skin, or just ineffective.
- To cleanse your face, splash your face with warm water. Hot water can be too harsh and drying on your skin, but warm water is perfect as it opens the pores. Squirt some of the cleanser into your hands and use your fingers to work it into your face using gentle, circular motions.
- Then rinse your face with cold water (to close the pores) , making sure that you get all of the product off. Use a clean towel to gently pat your face dry.(rubbing is too rough on your skin). Or – even better – allow your face to dry naturally.
3. Use toner
Toner is the most overlooked product in skincare, and the step that many women skip. And while it’s not absolutely necessary in your skincare routine, toning has many benefits.
- Firstly, toner helps to remove any remaining dirt, make-up or dead skin cells that your cleanser leaves behind, leaving your skin squeaky clean.
Secondly, toner helps to restore the skin’s PH balance to its ideal, slightly acidic level.
Thirdly, toner leaves skin slightly damp, which enables it to better absorb any products (like moisturizers, serums and suncreams) that you apply afterwards.
- Toners are also a great way of adding certain active ingredients to your skincare routine. What these active ingredients are will depend entirely on your skin type. People with blemish-prone skin will benefit from toners containing beta and alpha hydroxy acids which exfoliate the skin, people with dry skin should opt for moisturizing toners containing vitamin E or aloe vera, and people looking for anti-aging benefits should look for toners containing anti-oxidents (to repair the skin) and retinoids (to combat wrinkles). However, it’s important to note that people with dry or sensitive skin should avoid using alcohol-based toners as these can be too harsh and drying.
- Most toners come in liquid form and are very easy to use. Simply squirt a little of the toner onto a clean cotton pad and gently swipe over the face and neck. Leave the toner on the skin, there’s no need to wipe off.
4. Apply moisturizer
No matter what your skin type, moisturizing is one of the most important steps in any skincare routine. Moisturizers hydrate the skin by holding water in the outermost layer of the skin. They also protect the skin and improve skin tone and texture. However, like with other skincare products, the moisturizer you choose will vary greatly depending on your skin type.
- People with normal skin should opt for a water-based moisturizer which will not upset the skin’s balance. The moisturizer should feel lightweight and non-greasy on your skin. Moisturizers for normal skin usually contain lightweight oils such as cetyl alcohol and cyclomethicone.
- People with dry skin need a heavier moisturizer for deep hydration. As a result, moisturizers for dry skin are usually oil-based, which is better for locking moisture into the skin. Look for particularly hydrating ingredients such as grape seed oil and dimethicone (a type of silicone oil).
- Oily and blemish-prone skin still needs to be moisturized, especially if you tend to use drying cleansers and toners. Look for very lightweight, water-based formulas, and choose products that are labeled “non-comedogenic” which means that they won’t clog pores.
- Sensitive skin requires a very simple moisturizer that won’t irritate the skin. Avoid coloured or scented moisturizers and steer clear from any products which contain acids. Instead, look for soothing ingredients like aloe vera, chamomile and cucumber.
- Aging skin tends to dry out easily, so look for a richer, oil or petroleum based moisturizer. You should also look for added benefits of ingredients like antioxidents, retinoids and alpha hydroxy acids to plump out the skin and minimize wrinkles.
- If you have a more advanced skin concern a program will be tailored for you.
6. Always remove your make-up.
It may sound like the simplest thing in the world, but you should never underestimate the importance of completely removing your make-up every single night. It’s a pain, and there will definitely be nights when it’s the last thing you’ll feel like doing, but your skin will thank you for it!
- If make up is left on the skin overnight it can clog the pores, while also denying skin the opportunity to repair itself from the stresses of the day. This opens the door to blackheads, breakouts, excess oil and all manner of undesirable issues!
- In addition, make up can trap free radicals that your skin is exposed to during the day. If your skin is not cleansed properly at night, these free radicals remain on the skin. This is not good, as free radicals break down collagen in the skin, leading to fine lines and wrinkles.
- Although the full cleanse, tone, moisturize routine is preferable, in case of emergencies you should keep a pack of cleansing wipes beside your bed, along with some eye make up remover pads. Then you just need to give your face a quick wipe to remove the bulk of the make-up before your head hits the pillow.
- On the subject of make up… if possible, you should try to give your skin a break and go bare-faced every once in a while, especially if you tend to wear heavy foundation. This may seem scary, but your skin will feel much better for it. If going completely naked sounds too extreme, consider switching to a tinted moisturizer – it’s much lighter than foundation but will still provide some coverage.
- And finally, you should make sure to go through your make-up bag at least every six months and throw away any products that have been hanging around for a while. Make up is a haven for bacteria, so using lumpy foundation and gunky mascara can lead to clogged pores and breakouts.
7. Don’t forget the sunscreen!
Last but certainly not least, if there’s one change you should make to your skincare routine after reading this article it’s to wear an SPF everyday. The importance of wearing sunscreen cannot be understated.
- Sunscreen protects your skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays which contribute to a whole plethora of skin issues. For one, sunscreen has been proven to significantly reduce the risk of developing skin cancer – which is reason enough to wear protection in itself.
- Secondly, sunscreen protects against the effects of aging. In fact, sunlight is one of the major culprits behind skin issues such as fine lines, wrinkles, brown spots, red veins and discoloration. By consistently wearing suncream, you can slow down these signs of aging and preserve your skin’s youthful appearance.
- You should look for sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, especially if you’re fair-skinned and have red or blonde hair. Many daily moisturizers and foundations come with an SPF already included, which helps to simplify your morning routine.
- Remember to wear sunscreen everyday, not just over the summer or when it’s sunny. UV rays are just as strong when the weather is cold and can even penetrate cloud and rain. You can provide further sun protection by wearing sunglasses and a fashionable hat, when necessary.
- Never use old or expired sunscreen. It’s protective benefits have essentially worn away, so it will not prevent burns or skin damage. In addition, the formulation of sunscreen often changes once it expires and can cause skin irritation and itching.
Making Lifestyle Changes
1. Eat healthy
Eat healthy. Make sure you follow a healthy diet, enriched with the vitamins and minerals your skin needs.Vitamins B, C, E, A and K all help keep your skin fresh and glowing.
- Vitamin B forms the basis of skin, nails and hair. You can find this vitamin in foods like oatmeal, eggs, rice, and bananas.
- Vitamin C protects your skin against sun exposure, keeping you away from skin cancer. Vitamin C pops up in citrus foods such as lemons, limes, oranges, bell peppers, cranberry/grape juice, cauliflower, and leafy greens.
- Vitamin E also helps protect your skin against sun exposure, and can be found in foods such as olives, spinach, nuts, seeds and vegetable oils.
- Vitamin A is essential for repair of the skin tissue-without it your skin will look dry and flaky. Vitamin A is found in fruits and veggies-so load up.
- Vitamin K helps reduce dark circles under eyes, as well as bruises. Vitamin K is hidden away in leafy green vegetables, dairy products, and meats such as pork and liver.
2. Stay hydrated
As you probably know, drinking water is important for clear, healthy skin. This is due to the fact that your skin – like most other cells in the body – is composed primarily of water.
- Without enough water, your skin can become dehydrated and look dry, tight and flaky. Over time, this can lead to the appearance of wrinkles..
- Drinking water also helps to eliminate harmful toxins from the body, which would otherwise build-up and wreak havoc on your skin and overall well-being.
- Although there’s no exact scientific measurement of how much water you should be drinking a day (it varies from person to person and according to climate and physical activity) a good base would be 6 to 8 glasses.
- If drinking water isn’t your thing, you can substitute by drinking plenty of green or herbal tea, or coconut water (which is said to be extra good for your skin).
- You should also try to eat lots of fruits and vegetables with a high water content, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelon, grapes, iceberg lettuce, celery and radishes.
3. Get enough sleep
Sleep is essential for healthy, fresh-looking skin – they don’t call it beauty sleep for nothing! As you sleep, your skin repairs and renews itself, replacing old cells with new ones. This is also when you need to put those fantastic serums on as your cell turnover increases and the efficacy of your products is dramatically increased.
- When you don’t get enough good-quality sleep, your skin can look dull, pale and sagging the next day. This is partly due to the fact that your blood doesn’t circulate as well when your tired. Lack of sleep also causes blood vessels under your skin to dilate, which leads to dark circles beneath the eyes.
- So for fresh, healthy looking skin you should aim to get 7 to 8 hours sleep a night. You should also try to wake up and go to bed at the same time every day, as your body likes routine. Avoid smoking or drinking alcohol before bed, as this affects the quality of your sleep.
- Aside from the sleep itself, you can make some adjustments to your sleeping conditions which will benefit your skin. For example, it’s better to sleep on your back than on your front, as your face is not pressed up against the pillow (which can contribute to wrinkles).
- You should also change your pillow case at least once a week to avoid the build-up of oils, dirt and bacteria, and opt for white sheets instead of colored ones, as the dyes can irritate sensitive skin.
4. Exercise often
Exercise not only keeps you in shape, but it helps your skin maintain a fresh and healthy glow by regulating the flow of oxygen to the skin.
- Be sure to avoid wearing make-up when you exercise. Sweat and dirt will get trapped in your pores and cause you to break-out.
- Avoid leaving sweat on your face after you work-out. Take a shower or at least thoroughly cleanse your face as soon after exercise as possible.
5. Avoid stress
Stress is bad for your skin on every level – it can contribute to excess oil, breakouts, redness, sensitivity and wrinkles. It can also aggravate skin conditions such as rosacea and eczema.
- In terms of your body’s chemistry, stress causes an increase in the hormone cortisol, which triggers oil production and leads to acne fare-ups. It also causes blood vessels to dilate which causes redness.
- On a physical level, constantly furrowing your brow and frowning causes a loss of collagen and can lead to premature wrinkles.
- Therefore, by reducing your stress levels you can improve the quality of your skin. You can do this by making time for yourself and doing things you enjoy – like going for a walk, taking a yoga class or just spending time with your loved ones.
Enquire about General Skin Health at Pulse Dermatology & Laser