What are the secrets to a beautiful face without makeup?
It is crucial that you get to know your skin, care for it properly, and guard it as best you can. If you are proud of its current condition, be forewarned…. Beauty is fleeting and fragile. Even a day without sunscreen can do damage. Take care of it now and be proud of it later as well! Facial care products and regular dermatology appointments are great beauty investments. After all, you can shave your head bald and grow a new head of hair, you can trim your nails down to stubs and grow them back, but you can't start over again with your skin. Although the skin does continually renew and repair itself, some things like wrinkles and acne scars may never go away if not prevented or treated. Although we have great articles about treating acne, wrinkles and even dark circles, you would be investing your time wisely if you start with this article and it's sister article "Get Great Skin from the Inside".
Read this entire article if you have the time or click on where you what to go.
Everyone must cleanse (and everyone hopefully does). The cleansing process removes the outer layer of dead cells, excess oil, perspiration, makeup, and dirt from the environment. If this layer is not removed, the results may be dull, flaky facial texture, blackheads, whiteheads (even on dry complexions), pimples, or enlarged pores. The actual act of cleansing is not enough, however. You must cleanse with the right type of cleanser or soap (see “How do I get the absolute best cleanser for my skin type?”
below). You must cleanse your face in the morning and at night. You must rinse thoroughly (at least 5 to 10 splashes of lukewarm water). You should take a shower everyday (if you don’t already, your friends will really appreciate it!) You must remove makeup before bedtime or you are inviting acne to your face with open arms! Be sure to pat your face dry with a fresh, clean towel. To rub the face dry aggravates the skin which intensifies current problems.
Everyone must use sunscreen. Why ask for wrinkles! It is estimated that sun damage causes up to 80 to 90 percent of the visual signs of aging! Natural sun and tanning booths are equally dangerous. If you still continue to suntan, you will have more wrinkles than your peers later, no doubt about it. Even dashing in and out of buildings can cause damage. That is why you must wear sunscreen whenever you go out of the house, or you risk the development of sunburn, sunspots, wrinkles, and even more seriously, cancer. Contrary to popular belief, all complexions can suffer from the above. Even the darkest shade of black skin needs to wear sunscreen. It doesn’t matter how long you will be outside, even a few seconds out requires an application. Some think this is impractical, but it is now very practical and convenient to put on sunscreen everyday, all year round, thanks to new technology that includes it in moisturizers. You must use a full-spectrum sunscreen that blocks both kinds of ultra-violet radiation (UVA an UVB). Your moisturizer with sunscreen must have an SPF of at least 15. However, if you plan to be outside for long periods of time you cannot rely on moisturizers with an SPF of 15. Use a regular sunscreen with an SPF as high as possible and reapply often. Make prevention a habit! You should also protect the delicate eye area. If you invest in a pair of sunglasses which shield UV radiation, and wear them faithfully, you will slow down the development of crow’s feet. The wrap-around style of sunglasses does the best job of shielding.
You must select the best products for your face. You can do this by familiarizing yourself with common ingredients contained in facial care products, and reading labels when shopping for them. Just as certain ingredients can improve the appearance, certain ingredients can worsen it. If you know what ingredients to look for, you can also evaluate if a product is likely to live up to its claims and purchase the best product for your individual needs at the lowest possible cost. This article will give you an advantage over the average consumer by familiarizing you with terms to look for when reading labels. As you read the rest of this article make a list of what ingredients you should avoid and carry the list around in your purse.
To select the products with ingredients to suit your needs, you should know your skin type and what problems it has. Your face is either normal, oily, or dry. Combination-skin is basically an out-of date label, although many products still market using this term. It is now thought that the application of “oily-skin products” and “dry-skin products” to the same face can inadvertently spread the products to the wrong areas, and thus, worsen the condition. If you treat your whole face the same, there will be more of a balance. To determine your type, wash your face, pat it dry, and then wait thirty minutes. After this time elapses, if your face feels tight, you are "dry". To further distinguish between normal and oily, press the edge of a tissue onto your face for about 1 minute. If oil is clearly visible, you are "oily". If not, your face is "normal". A "normal" face is not free from problems, however. All three types can suffer from problems such as acne, wrinkles, inflammation, infections, chafing, and scaling.
With the exception of acne and wrinkles, if you have any other complexion problems, you should see a dermatologist. Mild acne can be treated using over-the-counter preparations containing benzol peroxide or salicylic acid. However, moderate and severe acne should be treated by a dermatologist. There is a plethora of treatments, both orally administered and applied topically. There are also more serious procedures. If your wrinkles bother you, you should consider going to a dermatologist, (if they bother you so much, that you are willing to pay for the expensive treatments). While the treatment by dermatologists of most conditions, including acne, is paid for by insurance companies, wrinkle treatment is considered cosmetic and is not. You must be aware that your "type", (normal, oily, or dry), can change with the seasons and when taking certain medications. If it does, you may have to switch products for the season.
This is the part that has to do with things beyond your control…genes and age. Your genes determine how much oil your oil glands will produce. They will also determine how many natural moisturizing factors, (NMFs) your skin contains which help prevent dryness. These developments occur way below the surface layer, or epidermis. They are located in the lower layers, or dermis, and there is little you can do to control what goes on down there. When you are younger, the serge of hormones throughout the body causes oil glands to pump overtime, causing oilier faces, which is why most teens will get at least a few breakouts. When we are older, the amount of NMFs in the dermis decreases, and dry faces develop. Some, with overworking oil glands, will develop moderate or severe acne, which can last well into adulthood and require special treatment.
Most cleansers or soaps are OK for your body but your face requires a special type because it is more sensitive. All face types should basically stay away from any cleanser with the word ‘cream’ in it. All face types should also avoid deodorant soaps or any soap with perfumes in them, which are both too harsh for the face.
In general, stay away from plain soap. Plain soap is too drying for all types of faces.
If you prefer bar soaps look for soaps with moisturizers in it (Dove), or transparent soaps, which contain glycerin (Neutrogena makes a great transparent facial bar). These soaps are good for all face types because they are non-drying and gentle, yet non acne-provoking.
If you have extremely aggravated or inflamed areas try oatmeal soap (Aveeno). Oatmeal absorbs oils and dirt and helps to soothe your face. Although it does not cleanse as well as soaps containing detergents, it is good for those whose faces can't tolerate stronger cleansing (not good for those who wear makeup).
Do not use soaps designed for acne-troubled skin, especially if you have acne. These soaps usually contain medications such as sulfur, resorcinol, benzol peroxide, and salicylic acid. However, the concentrations in them can dry out your face since you wash with them twice a day, and most acne-prone individuals use a regular acne medication already, making the face twice as dry. It is not good for acne-prone faces to become dry. When your face is dry, already overactive oil glands go into high gear producing more oil to compensate, resulting in even more breakouts. The exception to this rule is if you are using products that are designed to go together, (i.e. the Proactiv Solution kit comes with an acne-medicated cleanser and medicated lotion, but they will not over dry when used together as part of the overall system).
Do not use soaps with jojoba oil, aloe, or cocoa butter. The benefits of these ingredients are questionable, they may be too oily for some faces, plus aloe and cocoa butter can cause irritation. These soaps can cost more, too.
Do not use soaps with vitamin E. There is little evidence that vitamin E can heel skin. There is evidence, however, that vitamin E can cause allergic reactions. The most obvious disadvantage: How can vitamin E have any time to heal the face if it is washed away with the rest of the soap? Plus these soaps often cost more.
The only benefit of having fruit, vegetables, or herbs in your soap is scent. Without question, these additives do not make a better soap. They only make for attractive advertising. People want fresh natural ingredients. Advertisers know this, and therefore charge more, when there is no true benefit of these ingredients, other than any scent it may possess. Any value the ingredients may possess in terms of vitamins and enzymes is lost in the manufacturing process. If you take a fresh cucumber, even one grown through organic farming, it will rot and decompose in a vat of soap. Then, alcohol and preservatives are added, as well as cucumber scented perfumes and green dye. These products are anything but natural. This leaves this soap with the same basic properties as other soaps, but with a higher price tag because of the appealing ingredients, and the chance for more irritation due to excess of additives. Here is yet, another reason consumers should be informed and skeptical.
Quick Shopping Tip: For easy shopping, our favorite bar soaps are Dove and Neutrogena Original (transparent bar). These are good for all face types. If your face is temporarily inflamed, chafed or sunburned use Aveeno (not ideal for those who wear heavy makeup.)
How do I get the absolute best cleanser for my type?
By cleanser, we mean any product used to clean the face that is not soap and is not a cream, although there are cleansing creams. As said earlier, stay away from any cleanser with the word ‘cream’ in it. This includes cleansing creams and cold creams. These products leave behind an oily, filmy coating, which holds some of the dirt and makeup that was thought to be washed away, even after a good rinsing. In addition, this filmy coating attracts new dirt. Thick creams cannot create enough friction to loosen all dirt, makeup and dead cells. After using these products, the face often feels sticky and unclean. The worst part about using these products is that some of the cleansing agents which are part of the formulation often stick in the filmy coating, and actually dry out the skin and destroy its keratin. The bottom line is to stay away from cream-based cleansing products.
Look for cleansers and soaps that are formulated for your particular face type. While doing this, it helps to look for some key words. If you suffer from acne or occasional breakouts, your safest bet is a cleanser with the word non-comedogenic on it. This means that the product does not contain any ingredients that have been known to cause or aggravate acne breakouts. If your face is sensiitive, look for products with the word hypo-allergenic on it. This means that the product does not contain any ingredients that have been known to irritate the face. Sometimes companies choose not to put these fancy scientific terms on their products, because they feel that the terminology can confuse people (not everyone is lucky enough to run into such a helpful website like this one, just kidding.) The companies may choose, instead, to use laymen’s terms like ‘non-pore cleaning’ for ‘for sensitive skin’. The problem is that these simple terms do not have regulated, universal definitions that are enforced among the industry as the terms mentioned above do. A company can tag its own definition onto the chosen word. To be safe, if you are interested in a product with one of these simpler terms on it, check it’s ingredients with your ingredient list to be sure that it does not contain any ingredients that are known to negatively affect your type.
Quick Shopping Tip: For easy shopping, our favorite cleansers are Fresh Foaming Cleanser, by Neutrogena and Proactiv Solutions Renewing Cleanser.
This is simple. Do not use soap or cleanser to remove eye makeup. The detergents are too harsh for the delicate skin in this area. Do not use baby oil to remove eye makeup. It leaves behind an oily film which can cause blurred vision and can result in whiteheads around the eye area. This leaves you with two options: an eye makeup remover that is either non-oily or moisturizing. Non-oily is actually the better choice for most everyone, with the exception of those with dry skin. Maybeline makes a good non-oily eye makeup remover and Clinique makes a good moisturizing eye makeup remover. You can also go the super-convenient route and use Pond’s Clean Sweep: Cleansing and Makeup Remover Towlettes.
What about exfoliating, masks, moisturizers, and toners?
The only necessary steps to outer skin care for all types are cleansing and sunscreen. However, there are other options for your routine depending on what your individual needs are. This section will help you decide which of these steps are appropriate for you.
A simple cleansing with a wash cloth will help remove the dead skin cells on the outer layer of skin if you run out of your exfoliating product. This method is also far less irritating than exfoliating products if your skin is super-sensitive. For the most effective removal of dead skin cells and stimulation of new cell growth, see your dermatologist for a prescription of Retin A or Differin (which is milder), or a stronger alph-hydroxy acid than what is sold in drug stores. You can also use an exfoliating cleanser with microbeads like Proactiv Solution Renewing Cleanser. (Don’t use rough, jagged granules, as are found in apricot scrubs. These can tear the skin).
The number one rule is to not use masks if you are using a topical prescription medication from your dermatologist. If you are not in that category, a mask can benefit you.
There are two types of masks, paste and gel. If you have oily skin, use a paste mask, if you have dry skin, use a gel mask. If you have normal skin, determine if your skin is feeling more oily or dry that week. Clay masks fall into the paste mask category.
Paste masks absorb oil, dirt and cellular debris. As the mask dries, the tightening action stimulates circulation and makes the skin glow. As a general rule, the darker the mask, the greater its absorbency. Mudd Mask makes a good paste mask. Or you can save money by whipping one up at home. Combine 1/4 cup of oatmeal with enough witch hazel to form a paste. The oatmeal is highly absorbent and soothing, while the witch hazel will make the face feel fresher and firmer. Proactive Solution makes an excellent paste mask which can help prevent mild forms of acne.
Gel Masks are good for rehydrating dry skin. When dry, this mask can be pulled off in large strips, which, when pulled off, will take with them loose, flaky skin. This action can also help in boosting circulation. Murad Hydrating Gel Mask is a good one, or you can save money by creating one at home. Combine ½ tablespoon of honey with the yolk of one egg (be sure hair is pulled back because the mixture is very sticky.) The honey will form a film on the skin, while the egg yolk aids rehydration with its lethicin-rich properties. Lethicin is a source of natural moisturizing factors (NMFs) which were discussed in the “Why is my skin normal, oily, or dry”, section.
Shopper Beware: Most of the value of a mask lies in the gel or paste base that it is made up of. Some masks have exotic ingredients in them like vitamins or fruits and vegetables. These products do not do a thing for your face, and their only purpose is to make the masks more desirable to the uninformed consumer. Ingredients such as these can inflate a mask’s price, so when shopping for a mask, judge it by its base (paste or gel), and bring along your ingredient list.
Contrary to popular belief, not everyone has to moisturize. If you have oily skin and have found a sunscreen which you like better than moisturizers which contain sunscreen, than you don’t need to moisturize. However, most people do need to moisturize, and should pick one with a sunscreen in it, for the sake of convenience. Why need to apply more than one lotion on the face, and have twice as much slip potential for makeup? To avoid makeup slip, apply only a thin coat.
What should I know about moisturizers if I have normal or oily skin?
Stay away from moisturizers with oils in them, especially mineral oil, which has been proven to cause acne breakouts. To be absolutely sure that your moisturizer will not cause acne breakouts, look for the term non-comedogenic.
Quick Shopping Tip: To make life easier, we have found a moisturizer which contains an SPF of 15, is non-comedogenic (will not cause acne breakouts), and provides enough moisture for oily or normal skinned individuals. It is called Neutrogena Moisture.
What should I know about moisturizers if I have dry skin?
If your type is dry, you may need a stronger moisturizer, one with natural moisturizing factors (NMFs) in the ingredients. On the label, look for the words: urea, lactic acid, hyaluronic acid, or lethicin (you only need one), to ensure the greatest moisturizing potential. It is also helpful to choose a moisturizer with a silicone in it, such as dimethicone, or cyclomethicone, which help in the prevention of evaporation and are not sticky. It is OK for you to select a moisturizer with oils in it, since these should not cause your skin type to break out. If you purchase a new product and you breakout, however, check your product ingredients for mineral oil. If mineral oil is the culprit, simply buy a moisturizer which does not contain it. Some moisturizers contain alphayhdroxy acids (AHAs), but again, these do not work a well as those available by prescription. For those who want a quality budget-friendly moisturizer, L’Oreal makes several good moisturizers for dry skin. If your face is sensitive, you should be aware that many moisturizers designed for dry skin contain ingredients that cause allergic reactions in some individuals. If you are a person with a sensitive face, your safest bet is to select a moisturizer with the word hypo-allergenic on the bottle.
Toners are also called fresheners, pore lotions, astringents, or clarifying lotions. Despite the name, they all have the same basic functions: to remove excess oil, to temporarily skink pores, and to refresh the skin. Those with glycolic acid may help give the skin a uniform tone.
Toners are not necessary, however, not even for those with oily skin. They can be too drying for all skin types, therefore experimentations is necessary to determine if they are right for you. While toners can remove excess oil, they cannot remove the full layer, which can only be removed through proper cleansing, and therefore cannot be substituted. They are not an excuse to do a poor face washing, job, thinking that the toner will pick up the left over dirt. It will not pick up all of it.
Toners can only temporarily shrink pores. Any company that claims that its toner can shrink pores permanently is lying. The best thing toners can do is to make your face tingle with refreshment. A toner which works as well as any other is old fashioned witch hazel. Remember that the drying effects of toners may be too harsh for your skin type no matter what type of skin you have. The types which should definitely steer clear of toners are: dry skin, skin being treated by a dermatologist, and skin being treat with acne medication (no matter if it’s from a dermatologist or a drugstore.) Too much drying can trigger further breakouts. But for those with skin types that can tolerate toners, they feel great in the summertime!
Here is a great use for toners that all types can try: In the summer, the heat is often enough to cause makeup meltdown before you even arrive at your destination. During the summer, keep a bottle of toner in your refrigerator. After apply your makeup, dip a summer scarf or thin piece of cloth into a small bowl of toner, and then ring it out, so it is damp. Tie the scarf or cloth around your wrist or neck for your trip to work and take it off at your arrival. The refreshing, chilled toner will keep you cool until you arrive at your destination, and your makeup will still be in place. Also keep your chilled toner on hand to refresh your face when it gets too hot!