A good skincare routine doesn’t just help keep skin problems at bay, it also gives you healthy, fresh, glowing, skin.
From cleansing basics to your diet, here are some useful skincare tips to keep your skin in good condition. This isn't about vanity, a bright, fresh face, gives one confidence, making one more approachable in all kinds of situations - school, college, work, clubs, and societies.
Your skin is the largest organ of the body, designed to be a temperature regulator, to expel toxins, and a barrier against infections amongst other things. It, in turn, needs to be cared for and protected.
1. Eat a balanced diet. A healthy diet packed with fresh, in season, fruit and vegetables, with essential vitamins and minerals, will enhance your complexion from the inside out. Drinks lots and lots of water, 2-3 litres minimum daily.
2. Don’t use too much rich moisturiser. All skin types need moisturiser, but rich, heavy, creams can sit on the skin’s surface and block pores. It is also a waste of cream! Use easily absorbed creams and lotions, or water-based products for oily or combination skin.
Don't stop moisturising at the jaw line, for young men and women, go down your throat and to your décolette / upper chest. The skin there is very fragile as it produces less oil than the face, and needs attention from a young age. Do moisturise your body after showering or bathing - it helps keep the skin elastic, and adds a layer of protection when playing matches, games, or trekking, and can help reduce the severity of scrapes and nicks received.
3. Don’t ignore your skin type. If you have oily, sensitive, combination, or dry skin, tailor your routine to your skin’s needs and choose specially designed products. Pure, distilled, Rose Water is a very inexpensive, gentle toner and light moisturiser ~ and dribbled on your hair, it makes a great conditioner. On a hot day, just sprinkling it all over is a joy!
If you are inclined to break out in spots, old-fashioned, very inexpensive, Witch Hazel is good for drying out spots, without you ending up with sore and very dry, tight-feeling, skin.
Squeaky clean skin is over-cleaned skin, you have washed away necessary oils!
Don’t overlook mildness in search of effectiveness ~ good cleansers combine both. Harsh cleansers or over-cleansing might lead to dehydration ~ simply because over-cleansed skin is forced to produce more sebum trying to restore its moisture and protective layer.
This is often an issue for people with oily or combination skin, who tend to choose aggressive products to control the oiliness. The more they try to dry out their skin, the oilier it gets.
You should try to avoid the products that promise fast and forever cures. The idea that oily or combination skins are able to take more abuse from products is nonsense. Oily and combination skins are just as sensitive as any type.
4. Regular and scrupulous cleansing is necessary, morning and night. We are surrounded by pollutants and general dirt in the atmosphere everywhere we go. Please do not use skin cleansing or refreshing wipes on your face. They are very harsh on the skin, block lavatory pipes, and are non-biodegradable. There's really no good reason to use them!
Avoid soaps and foaming facial washes (they over-strip the skin), and stick to soap-free, scent-free, washes or cream cleansers to wash away dirt, oil, and make-up.
My niece, who has very dry skin, finds Avocado Oil an effective and gentle cleanser.
Rinse off your cleanser using tepid water while massaging your skin gently in a circular movements with a soft face cloth or muslin square, to improve circulation and remove dead skin. Use a new clean cloth every day. Have around ten of them, and they should always go in a boil wash to kill off any bacteria.
Don’t scrub. Always massage the cleanser into your skin in slow, circular, motions ~ this will help to dissolve impurities, oil, and any makeup leftovers in the gentlest way. Direct your motions upwards ~ against gravity.
This can be done Mindfully at the end of the day, as you relax and prepare for sleep.
It's important to wash your face and throat well. Set the alarm on your mobile / cell phone for 60 seconds, wet your skin and gently apply in circular movements the cleanser of your choice. You may think one minute is no length but you may be surprised to find you think you have finished the job well before the alarm rings. Keep going! Rinsing well is very important, using tepid water. Never use hot or very cold water on your face - the skin is too delicate.
Try hard not to wear your make-up to bed. Leaving make-up on your skin overnight can clog your pores leading to breakouts, therefore, use a make-up remover before cleansing every night, and be sure to rinse thoroughly, as any leftover molecules from rinse-off cleansers might potentially contribute to skin irritation and dryness.
Your skin is repairing itself actively while you’re asleep, and this process includes oil and toxin secretion. Therefore, it’s best to start your day with a refreshing splash of water! If your skin is normal or dry, a gentle cream cleanser well rinsed is enough. If its combination or oily, it will feel and look better throughout the day after a more intensive clean, rinsing well, and using Rose Water as a toner and light moisturiser or Witch Hazel to dry spots, if necessary.
Use a gentle homemade cleanser such as olive or coconut oil with some sugar or sea salt mixed in as an exfoliation once or twice a week. Oil attracts oil. When you rinse your face and throat, you skin should feel very soft and smooth.
Too hot water can be too harsh for your skin – especially when used regularly. It can leave your skin dryer, pores more visible and can potentially damage skin capillaries.
Too cold water, may not be warm enough to allow your cleanser to work to its fullest, and can also damage capillaries.
Always opt for tepid or lukewarm water.
5. Take care in the sun. Wear a hat to protect your hair, your face and the back of your neck, and / or one of those leave-in conditioners that screen hair from UV (ultra-violet rays), protecting colour, and shine, especially if you have coloured hair. Protect your skin, from an early age, and it will thank you by looking fresher and less weather-beaten as you age. The sun’s (UV) rays are the main cause of skin ageing and cause of skin cancer. See below on the range of SPF sun screens.
Most sun skin damage, resulting in cancer, happens in the first few years of life.
Infants and young children need to be protected from head to toe.
If you’re outdoors use a SPF50+ protection Winter and Summer. All dermatologists and other medicos advise Irish people to wear a SPF50+ strength sun-block, daily, all year round under moisturiser, and to ensure we take a Vitamin D supplement, as we get most of our Vitamin D from sunlight.
At any time of year, protect your skin with a minimum of SPF30+; children need SPF50+ protection.
Fair, pale, freckled, Irish / Celtic skin-types also need year round high level protection.
I have been told by my Dermatologist that money spent on SPF50+ sun-block used daily is the premier skin care and protection purchase. Other skin care moisture serums and creams, applied over the SPF50+ screen, are secondary in importance.
Always remember to spread the protection to the throat, neck, ears, back of your neck, and décolette / upper chest.
The Australians take a very serious and sensible attitude to skin cancer prevention. It is the commonest form of cancer in Ireland. Don't think because you have dark skin it doesn't need protection, it does.
6. Please don’t pick pimples or blackheads. Bursting or squeezing spots can cause infection or scarring. Instead, use acne or blemish creams, gels or lotions, to combat spots. Sudacream is great at curing spots quickly - it can be found in the baby care section of supermarkets or pharmacies. Ask your pharmacist for advice. All skin needs moisturising. Use a water-based moisturising cream, which will help keep excess oil at bay.
7. Do Not Smoke. Smoking may lower the elasticity of the skin by causing the breakdown of collagen. It’s also thought to reduce blood flow to the skin so it gets fewer nutrients and less oxygen. It certainly causes earlier wrinkles around the eyes and mouth. A smoker's skin looks grey and tired, with no glow. It's easy to tell a smoker of some duration by the lack of glow. When one gets closer, the smell of nicotine from the hair and clothing tells the tale.
8. Limit alcohol intake. Alcohol has a dehydrating effect which can lead to tired looking skin, and causes small blood vessels to burst in the cheeks and around the nose; they start leaving permanent tiny red webs over time.
9. Exfoliate at least once a week. Use it around your mouth and on your lips too while avoiding the eye region completely, massaging gently, to give soft, smooth, lips. It unclogs pores, helps prevent blackheads, and removes dead skin cells for fresh, clear, skin.
Always close the pores afterwards with tepid water. Too cold and too hot water both damage the skin. If you feel your skin is too sensitive for the above, mix your exfoliator with cream cleanser, and apply that mix to your face and throat, massaging in upward circles. Rinsing well in lukewarm water so that your skin is free of all cleanser and exfoliator finishes the job well. Rose Water makes a gentle, freshly scented moisturising toner to the skin.
Please don't use exfoliators containing 'beads'. These are usually tiny man-made beads produced from a plastic product and they do not break down in water like apricot or other nut kernels do. These 'beads' get into the food cycle of fish and as they digest them they feel themselves full while actually starving. Ireland has recently introduced legislation to ban these 'beads', the first country to do so.
If you live in a city, two light face packs a week may be required. Look at the colour of your facecloth / muslin after the first round of cleansing to discover how dirty the ambient air is.
If you are using one of those good quality Argile clay face packs, please don't let the face pack dry completely because removing it can involve using facial scrubs, and you might end up with a sore, sensitive, face.
10. Whenever you wash and peel an orange, keep the orange peel and immediately after you've eaten the fruit, use the pith side of the skin as soon as possible, while it is still moist (the white side) to cleanse / exfoliate. Gently massage the inside of the peel in circular movements - especially around your chin, jaw line, around your nose, and possibly your forehead, or where you might be inclined to have breakouts.
Don't rub on spots as you do not wish to irritate the skin or spread a possible infection. Use one piece of orange peel for your chin, another for your jaw line, your nose, etc. You then rinse off with tepid water to remove loosened facial skin, the pith that has come away from the orange skin, plus the juice from it as well. Avoid getting the rinsing water near your eyes. You may wish to use a face wash or cream cleaner to wash away the acidity of the orange, but they shouldn't be necessary. A good rinse with water should be sufficient.
This is an excellent, extremely good value mild facial scrub, which is especially helpful for oily skin. You can then apply some moisturiser, having made sure your hands are well washed, especially before putting on eye cream.
Your skin will feel much smoother and softer having used your orange peel gentle facial scrub.
[I always have a Laundry Bucket on the go, into which goes the daily face cloth / muslin square, shower scrubbies, pillow slips ~ which should be changed two to three times a week ~ (you do want to sleep on clean linen), and face towels ~ they are all added to a mix of non-bio detergent, a good slosh of Dettol or Savlon, and a few kettles of boiling water. I give it a stir every day, adding more boiling water as required to cover the contents ~ it keeps going for a week (less in Summer), and when a hot white wash is going on ~ sheets, towels, table napkins, linen, etc, the contents of the Laundry Bucket go in the washing machine also. The antiseptic helps to sterilize the contents, and also to maintain a good, clean, smell from the Bucket.]