Sunday, June 10, 2007

Basic Skin Care Routine

Most experts recommend consistently following a daily skin care routine. Such a routine does not have to be complicated or time-consuming. It can be performed by itself or as groundwork for more advanced skin care treatments.

Typical steps

A typical skin care routine would include the following steps: washing/cleansing, toning (optional depending on skin type), moisturizing and sun protection. (Watch out detail articles on each of these steps in coming days).

For most people, performing the routine twice daily is optimal. Some people with dry and/or sensitive skin may do better with once a day washing/cleansing while moisturizing two or more times a day. Some experts feel that exfoliation should also be part of a basic routine. However, daily exfoliation may be excessive and may lead to chronic irritation in some people.

Protection from ultraviolet light (both UVA and UVB) is critical for any skin care routine. A good UVA+UVB sunscreen should be applied on top of your moisturizer or other treatments as a final step of your routine whenever sun exposure is expected (Watch out for article on sun protection). Some people use skin care products or cosmetics with added UV blockers. It is definitely better than no sun protection at all and a time saver too. However, using a separate, specially formulated sunscreen appears to be more effective.

Optimize for your skin type

The steps of the basic routine should be adjusted to fit your skin type. You should keep in mind that your skin type may change with the season, diet and age. In particular, the skin tends to be oilier in the summer and drier in the winter. Menopause often brings about a change from oily or normal to dry skin. Conversely, a shift from a low-fat diet to that rich in certain fats (particularly essential fatty acids) may turn dry skin to normal. Skin pigmentation affects the degree to which you need sun protection. While sun damages any skin, the damage is far less in dark-skinned people. Conversely, fair skinned people need to be particularly meticulous about sun protection, i.e. minimizing sun exposure, choosing an effective sunscreen and applying it frequently and consistently.

You should determine your skin type before you settle on a routine. As time goes by, adjust your routine if your skin type changes. (Watch out for articles on skin-type specific care in coming days).

Applying advanced/active treatments

For maximum skin care benefits, the basic routine is usually insufficient, especially for people over thirty. Adding a well-selected product or two with wisely chosen, scientifically proven active ingredients can further improve your results. However, the benefits of advanced skin care products partly depend on whether you properly integrate them with your basic routine. In particular, if you apply products to the skin that has not been cleansed, the penetration of active ingredients is reduced. If you cleanse, moisturize and then apply advanced products, the penetration of active ingredients may still be reduced because the moisturizer has occluded some the entryways.

The best time to apply active products is right after you washed/cleansed, rinsed and slightly patted your skin with a towel, i.e. when your skin is clean, warm and still slightly moist. Since many of the active products have moisturizing ingredients, you can usually forego a separate moisturizer whenever you apply such a product. If you feel that you need additional moisturizing, wait a few minutes for the active product to absorb, and then apply your favorite moisturizer over it.

Next Article: Dry skin type Recommendations………….

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