So you’ve made a resolution to take better care of your health this year. To take time out to destress, exercise and eat healthier foods. On your list to create a healthier you, don’t forget to take care of your skin.
Where should you start? You have limited time, what should your priorities be? Presenting a glowing healthy complexion makes you look wonderful and feel great, plus a healthier skin enforces your first line of defense that protects the rest of your body and keep you healthier overall.
Lets look at the 5 key factors that can change your skin and make it healthy, strong and glowing. Although all are important I’ve listed them in order so you can consider how much time and energy you want to invest in creating your best skin possible.
#1 SUN PROTECTION
Take care of that beautiful skin you’ve been given. In skincare, the first rule is to hold onto what you’ve got because trying to repair damage you’ve done is so much harder and at some point impossible.
You know what I’m going to say. UV damage, from the sun, causes photoaging and skin cancer. UVB light, which varies in strength depending on the time of day and time of year, causes sun tanning and burning which are both indications that the skin has been damaged. UVA light, which is consistently strong all of the time, cause over overactive melanin cells and the breakdown of collagen and elastin which leads to sun spots, a loss of skin tone, wrinkles and a leathery skin texture.
This is why wearing sunscreen year round is vital. If you’re walking from here to your car and your skin is unprotected, you’re getting sun damage. In the summer, a broad spectrum SPF 30 is recommended. The same is true in winter, but if you live in a colder climate you might do well with an SPF 15 formulated in a rich, moisturizing base.
For extra protection, follow with a foundation that includes an SPF. Unfortunately, relying solely on your foundation for complete sun protection just doesn’t work. Usually you’re not going to apply enough foundation to give you that SPF number listed on the bottle.
When improving your diet, as a part of your newly health conscious self, consider that there are some healthy foods that help protect your skin from sun damage and boost your skin’s natural SPF. One such food is watermelon, another is pomegranate. Science has shown that eating these foods is a good addition to your arsenal of sun protection (along with sun avoidance and protective clothing).
So if you can’t do anything else for your skin, sun protection would be on the top of my list for taking care of your skin.
So, you have limited time, but you’ve successfully committed to daily use of sunscreen. What’s next on your list? I would say, even more important than those very expensive anti-aging serums is how you cleanse your skin on a daily basis. Besides, if you’re not cleansing properly those high performance ingredients won’t get into your skin anyway.
The proper way to cleanse your skin is to choose a lightweight, non-clogging cleansing milk or a detergent free, non-foaming cleansing gel depending on your skin type. The idea is to keep your skin soft, smooth, clean and well hydrated. If your skin feels tight after cleansing, you’re probably using something that’s too drying and is dehydrating your skin.
Always follow cleansing with a toner. This is a step that people often skip, but toners are essential for healthy, clean skin. The best reason for using a toner is the condition of the tap water that we use to wash our faces. Tap water typically contains fluoride, chlorine, bacteria, sodium and other drying and clogging chemicals. So along with removing your left over cleanser, an alcohol fee, non-drying toner will quickly improve your skin, creating a more translucent hydrated look that easily accepts treatment products and supports moisturization.
** For more complete detoxification consider regular monthly facials, which rid the skin of impurities, dirt debris and bacteria that can be trapped in pores and can lead to infection and breakouts. You can even do a detoxifying mini facial at home, which includes exfoliation with AHAs and a scrub followed by a masque created specifically to deep cleanse the skin.
Water is extremely important for your skin. It’s essential for all metabolic functions that keep skin cells alive and healthy. You know you should be using a moisturizer daily, but are you really getting water into your skin?
Drinking water is the place to begin. Getting those eight glasses in a day will create a reservoir of moisture in your system that has great potential for hydrating the skin. If you’re doing your cleansing routine correctly you will bypass the dehydrating effects that occur from over or under cleansing. Then you need to choose the correct moisturizer that fits your skin type.
Hydration means getting water into skin cells. Moisturizing means locking it in with the appropriate cream or lotion over well-hydrated skin. Then you need to hold it there to force moisture into thirsty cells. If you use water alone it will quickly evaporate and leave your skin even drier than before.
You need a few types of ingredients to keep skin cells well hydrated.
- Humectants are ingredients that attract water to your skin. One of the most effective being hyaluronic acid which can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water. Another is Sodium PCA, which has been shown to pull moisture out of the air, even in the Sahara.
* If you want to go that extra step we have a beautifully hydrating, oil free serum (Hydraessence) based on hyaluronic acid that can be worn under your moisturizer or mixed with another serum.
- Occlusives are ingredients that increase moisture levels by providing a barrier that prevents water from evaporating from the skin. If you just use a humectant and the air is particularly dry (as in winter) humectants will draw water out of your skin and into the air, leaving you dehydrated. One of my favorite barriers is silicone. This breathable barrier keeps water from evaporating but does not hold onto heat in your skin. Less heat means less redness and fewer reactions for sensitive skin types.
- Emollients provide some occlusivivity but not quite as long lasting as occlusives. An emollient is an ingredient that smoothes the skin’s surface by filling in cracks between skin cells. They make the skin more soft and flexible and contribute to the creamy texture of a moisturizer adding lubrication to the epidermis. My favorite emollients are oils, lipids and ceramides.
The perfect blend of humectants, emollients and occlusives depends on your unique skin type. Get help from a professional, licensed esthetician who will guide you towards that unique formula to give you beautifully hydrated skin.
Okay, you’ve mastered protecting, cleansing and moisturizing your skin. Now you want to really make some big changes. What should you do? Peeling away those dead, dry cells provides instant improvement by way of smoother, softer skin. It removes dullness and helps clear the pores. Actually, exfoliation goes way beyond these quick fix benefits.
Proper exfoliation helps jumpstart your skins internal repair mechanism to produce newer, younger skin cells. The epidermis (outer layers) becomes smoother and when new cells are generated it becomes stronger with a reduction of fine lines and evening of pigmentation. That’s not all. The under layer (the dermis) starts to produce more collagen and elastin for firmer, stronger skin.
Perfect exfoliation must be done regularly. It combines physical exfoliation with chemical exfoliation that can be alternately applied throughout the week. Perfect exfoliation does not mean irritation. Chronic inflammation actually ages your skin. Your skin likes little shocks. So once in a while you can have a professional peel or boost exfoliation at home. If your skin remains sensitive or red for an extended period of time after exfoliating, you’re doing too much. Also, remember that exfoliation removes the surface barrier that keeps skin well hydrated, so moisturize appropriately.
My favorite exfoliators are smooth surfaced scrubs using jojoba beads or eco-friendly, plant based micro beadlets. Use them 1-3 times a week depending on your skin thickness. Clients love to leave this product in the shower for convenience. Combine this with an AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) blend. These two products work really well when alternated because one breaks apart dead cells and the other easily lifts them off the skin. Retinol is also a good alternative for less sensitive skin types and has had a great amount of research to prove its efficacy.
If you want to go all the way and pull out the big guns incorporate a corrective serum into your routine. Last but certainly not least, corrective serums are highly specialized products developed for whatever problems your skin may face. From blemishes to wrinkles to hyperpigmentation or sensitivities a corrective serum offers results.
What makes these products distinctive is that they include specialized performance ingredients, which are super concentrated for greater results than you can achieve from using a moisturizer alone. Furthermore, an effective corrective serum includes a sophisticated delivery system, directing performance ingredients to the precise location in the skin where they are needed, making them super active and most efficacious.
Some of my favorite performance ingredients found in serums include:
- Stabilized Vitamin C: most studied ingredient as an antioxidant, collagen booster and skin brightener.
- Peptides: to send a message to fibroblasts to produce more collagen, thus firming skin and softening lines.
- Retinols: to stimulate repair and rebuilding of both the dermis and epidermis to help undo damage from the sun.
- Daisy Flower Extract – a safe alternative to hydroquinone, reduces the formation of melanin, provides significant brightening.
- Specialized Hydrolyzed Algin: awakens dormant stem cells to repair and activate a youthful firmness and smoothness.
- Piptadenia Colubrina: increase the presence of aquaporins, pores in skin cells which allow super hydration of the skin.
- Sepicalm – a patented water lily/peptide complex, which cools heat-activated skin, and reduces redness and blotchiness.
- Ubequinone (CoQ10) – powerful antioxidant that helps boost cellular energy to enliven sluggish skin.
Happy New Year and good luck with all your resolutions, including achieving super healthy beautiful skin!