In this article we will explore some of the key elements that go into skin care to help you simplify and pinpoint a routine that is right for you.
Things to know before you get started
Before deciding on the perfect skin care regimen that is personal and unique to you, you should first know your own skin type. Dry skin, for instance, is a skin type caused by hot or cold weather and characterized by cracked, flaky skin. Oily skin, the opposite of dry skin, will give skin a shiny or greasy appearance. Oily skin is caused by excessive sebum production from pores on the skin’s surface. Combination skin is a bit trickier because it is comprised of oily and dry patches of skin. Sensitive skin is a characteristic skin type where people experience itching or burning sensations in reaction to various soaps, makeups, and other topical products. If you are one of the lucky ones, you will have normal skin, which is clear and unoppressed by dryness, oiliness, or sensitivity.
Once, you determine what skin type you have, there is some terminology you may want to be aware of before diving into the massive realm of skin care products. The following list is by no means exhaustive, but it can be used as a starting point to help you decide on what to include in your daily regimen.
Hypoallergenic: Any class of skincare or cosmetic products that is unlikely to cause an allergic reaction to the skin. Generally, the fewer ingredients a product contains, the less likely it is to cause a reaction. Products that contain only natural ingredients are generally safe to use for people with sensitive skin.
Non-comedogenic: Products that tend not to clog pores or trigger acne outbreaks. Many products, especially makeups, purport to be non-comedogenic. This classification, however, isn’t regulated by the FDA so it’s advised to do research before trusting the labels on a particular product.
Cleanser: A product meant to clean the skin without stripping it of natural, healthy oils. Exfoliating scrubs and low foaming soaps are examples of cleansers. Cleansers should be used before applying a toner or moisturizer.
Toner: Toners are supplemental products meant to give balance to the skin by adding an extra dose of nutrients to the surface. Some examples of toners include rose water, green tea, and vitamin (E and C) supplements.
Moisturizer: As the name suggests, moisturizers are meant to improve the moisture levels in the skin in order to hydrate and soften it. As we age, our skin naturally loses much needed moisture. This is also true of skin that has been damaged from injury or surgery. A moisturizer should be applied after using a cleanser or toner.
Physical vs chemical sunscreens: Sunscreen is a great tool to have in your skincare toolbox. Extended exposure to sunlight (UV rays) can have many negative effects on the skin. Therefore, it’s beneficial to use sunscreen and helpful to know what certain sunscreens contain. A chemical sunscreen may contain ingredients like oxybenzone and octinoxate. These ingredients are absorbed into the skin to counteract the negative effects of UV rays. While chemical sunscreens are convenient and easy to use, they can cause irritation to people with sensitive skin. Physical sunscreens on the other hand contain ingredients such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide that sit atop the skin to deflect sunlight. Physical sunscreens rarely irritate the skin but they can leave a white or grayish residue on the skin’s surface.
The next step
Now that you’ve been equipped with some preliminary information regarding skin and product types, it’s up to you to navigate through the vast world of skin care and cosmetic products. Always check the ingredients list before purchasing a product. If you are buying online, it’s helpful to read the reviews other customers have written about the product. Finally, it’s important to know that patience is key when it comes to skincare. Healthy, vibrant skin isn’t achieved overnight. It may require some trial and error when experimenting with different regimens. Once you do find a regimen that compliments your skin type and lifestyle, you have to stick with it on a daily basis to see lasting, youthful results.