Whether you want to get rid of acne, fight wrinkles, avoid rashes, or something else, perfect skin is within reach. It’s a matter of ignoring the barrage of infinite products and promises and focusing on the simplicity of what is really important to your complexion. It can be summarized in four simple steps…
Step 1. Stop cleaning your skin the wrong way!
Your skin cleansers—face or body—don’t need to be expensive. But, they do need to fit your skin type and get your skin clean.
Cleansers rinse off so all the hype about “magic” ingredients goes down the drain when you rinse the cleanser off your skin. Cleansers that claim to “nourish”, “deliver timed-release science-sounding stuff” or contain any “actives,” other than a little exfoliating and acne fighting ingredients, are just a waste of money.
Keep it simple!
Be sure your cleanser is not full of allergens like some of the notorious preservatives, fragrances or even high concentrations of natural essential oils. In my 30+ years practicing dermatology, I can’t count how many patients I’ve treated who have rashes from allergens in their skin cleansers. These allergens are useless. Use hypoallergenic cleansers and keep skin-cleansing simple.
What is important about your cleanser is that it must fit your skin type.
You don’t want to use a cleansing product that removes your skin’s natural oils. You know this happens if your cleanser leaves your skin feeling desperate for moisturizer after you towel dry—that’s the prelude to dry-skin irritant dermatitis. Your skin cleansers need to remove dirt, oil, product residue, and germs—that’s all.
What are your best choices for the right skin cleanser?
- If you have sensitive dry or normal skin chose a mild modern cleanser such as a SYNDET which stands for a synthetic detergent. These are pH balanced. (Brands include: Tolariane, VaniSoap, Cetaphil, Aquanil, and Dr. Bailey Skin Care’s Extremely Gentle Foaming Cleanser).If you want to use a soap or cleanser made of entirely natural ingredients, choose one especially crafted to be gentle such as the many glycerin bars available in natural food stores. Often, natural products with added glycerin, butters and oils are good choices.
Olive-oil-based soaps are also gentle, but they may not clean well. Master soap makers can balance cleansing and gentleness. Examples include our Foaming Hand Soap and Naturally Best Bar Soap.
- If you have oily skin, choose a foaming cleanser designed to lift a little more oil such as the many Neutrogena products or our Daily Foaming Cleanser or Hypoallergenic Shower Gel.
Remember, go easy on the fragrances. Natural or not, they are potential allergens. And be sure to always entirely rinse all cleanser or soap residue off your skin using warm water. Retained cleanser will continue to pull oil out of your skin.
Step 2. Create a COMPLETE skin care routine.
You want a routine that keeps your skin healthy and fights any skin problems that you have. The important word here is “Complete.”
Did you know that your skin care products can counteract each other?
It’s true. Also, if you skip an important step (like applying moisturizer), your skin won’t ever be “perfect.”
But, complete skincare is easy!
Demystified it’s: Cleanse, Correct, Hydrate, and Protect—four steps in that exact order. And this applies whether you have acne, rosacea, keratosis pilaris, etc.
For example, if you have acne, then each step needs to be comprised of products that fight acne and avoid aggravating acne.
And a complete rosacea facial skin care routine might look like this:
- Cleanse using a gentle product that does not inflame sensitive rosacea-prone complexions.Examples include Extremely Gentle Foaming Cleanser, Toleriane or VaniSoap Bar. There is no need for expensive products here. Focus on a cleanser that cleans without irritating or over drying skin.
- Correct using products that calm inflammation.
Here, a “secret ingredient” that helps fight rosacea is green tea which quiets inflammation and loads the antioxidant reserve of the skin to help balance immune physiology.The “correct” step is one where you should invest in the best product for your skin’s needs because this is where “the magic” happens. This may also be where you apply your prescription medicines to fight skin issues.
- Hydrate with the right level of moisturizing where it is needed.
The first important tip is that your moisturizer needs to be applied right after washing, toweling dry and on top of your correcting products.
The second important tip is “why” you apply correcting products under your moisturizer.
It’s because they are often made of a thinner consistency and because they need to be maximally absorbed to work. You seal them in by applying moisturizer on top.
Moisturizing is important too. For example, many people suffering from rosacea need deep and hypoallergenic moisturizers to heal their inflamed skin. Dry skin won’t heal. Moisturizers without irritating, anti-aging ingredients like AHA’s are best for rosacea-prone complexions so keep it simple. Moisturizers don’t need to be expensive, but they do need to be hydrating and hypoallergenic.
- Protect with a non-irritating zinc oxide sunscreen to keep skin healthy.
Did you know that UV exposure alters the immune function of your skin?
Yep. It’s not just wrinkles and skin cancer you need to consider with sun; it’s immune integrity too.
For example, UV will activate rosacea and so sun protection is part of Complete Skin Care for rosacea. Sun protection products are another place where you should invest. Your sunscreen needs to perfectly fit your complexion, or you won’t wear it. If you don’t wear it, your skin suffers irreparable damage.
Your sunscreen also needs to be 100 percent trustworthy and that means well made—production lot after production lot, it needs to be perfect.
Another example to demonstrate a Complete Skin Care Routine would be acne:
- Cleanse with a product that exfoliates and unclogs pores but does not overly dry your skin.
- Correct with acne treatment products (ones that contain salicylic acid, AHA’s, benzoyl peroxide, Retinol, etc.)And here’s a secret tip: You may also want to fight redness and inflammation and load antioxidants with green tea.
- Hydrate with a moisturizer that balances skin hydration without aggravating your acne.
- Protect with zinc oxide sunscreen in a product that feels good on your skin and does not aggravate acne.
The same concept of Complete Skin Care applies to the skin of your body. You get the idea!
With body skin, you have the added option to use clothing instead of sunscreen to “protect.” However, know that uncovered skin needs a good body sunscreen.
Step 3. Look for allergens that might be harming your skin and avoid them!
You may not know it, but allergens are lurking under your kitchen sink in the form of your cleaning supplies, in your bathroom vanity in the form of fragrance and preservative-laden personal care items, and more.
People don’t realize that when you spray a product (cleanser, hairspray, deodorant, etc.) airborne droplets rain down on your skin. When those droplets contain allergens, you get a rash.
Use only hypoallergenic spray cleansers or cleaner concentrates in your home to avoid rashes because those cleaners get on your skin, not just the stuff you’re cleaning.
And if you have chronically chapped lips, it may be allergens in the balm you are actually applying to your lips!
Use only hypoallergenic lip care products without fragrances and flavors. Allergens are everywhere in your home. Keep it simple. Use hypoallergenic products like house cleaners and other products. If it’s not essential, avoid fragrances and nasty preservatives for extra long shelf-life.
Step 4. Keep the body underneath your skin healthy and vital, too.
Now that you know what to do with your skin care, it’s time to think about your overall vitality and how that impacts your complexion.
Are you eating well, resting enough, getting exercise and remembering to play?
Your skin will look radiant and healthy when the body underneath it is optimally healthy, too.
Eating the rainbow of fresh produce will warm up your complexion and fight sallowness with beta carotene. Scientific studies have shown that produce rich in beta carotene creates a skin tone found more attractive than a tan. Acne too is very diet-dependent.
You can fix or flare acne with what you eat.
A well-rested you is also a more attractive you! Again, it’s scientifically-proven that you look better after a good night’s sleep. Don’t stay up too late getting something done or watching TV. Go to bed and get your needed hours of shut-eye.
The benefit of exercise on how you look and feel is straight forward. For the 35+ years I’ve been married, my husband always takes notice of my appearance after I’ve gotten a good cardio workout at the gym.
He doesn’t know I worked-out, but he notices the vitality in my complexion. When I am filming or going out on one of our “hot dates”, I go to the gym, hit the trail for a fast walk or swim laps first so that I look my best. It works every time, and my body is healthier in the long run, too!
Don’t forget to play, socialize and rejuvenate your spirit. Studies have shown that when we do, we are healthier – and thus more attractive.
To have your best complexion in 2018, follow these simple steps… Clean your skin the right way, follow a complete skincare routine for you, watch out for hidden allergens, and enjoy the right amount of sleep, play, socialization, and more.
Life lived in balance, and with the right skin care, is your prescription for perfect skin in 2018!
Photo by Alexandru Zdrobău