Improving Your Skin Requires Commitment. Where Should You Jump In?
Your skin is your body’s largest organ. Treating it well requires a commitment and that often means a commitment of, well, money. With all the products out there, what are the more important places to invest your resources? While the answer to that may vary depending on your age, skin type and condition and goals, there are some “rules of thumb” that can provide some direction.
Before we start, you should bear in mind:
Sunscreen must always be a part of every skin care program and budget. SPF should be no less than 30 and may go higher. Find one made for facial application and make sure it is non-comedogenic (doesn’t clog pores). Liberal application and re-application is critical. Mineral-based powdered sunscreens can be applied throughout the day over cosmetics. These are great after the initial lotion application in the morning. There are many sunscreens on the market. Prices range widely. Find one you like, but you do not need to break the bank. Expect $30-$35 for a good product made for faces.
The skin’s natural cellular cycle is about six weeks. Therefore, it will take at least that long for any product to begin to make changes to your skin.
It is important to get the right products. You need to know not only your goals but your skin’s type (dry, oily, combination, etc.) and condition (acne, aged, sun-damaged, etc.). Professional guidance is really essential. Sometimes to many of us our skin’s condition may make its type appear other than what it is. For instance, we frequently see clients who, believing their skin is oily, use products for oily skin. With continued use, the products dry and irritate the skin. Their skin begins to produces more oil in an attempt to rejuvenate and heal. Proper products calm the irritation and produces healthy skin. A good skin analysis is worth the investment, as is periodic re-analysis.
So, where should you spend your clear skin dollars?
- Cleansing. Everybody washes their skin. Cleansers are required to remove cosmetics, dirt and grime and they are then rinsed off the skin. They should be non-irritating – they should not leave your skin “squeaky clean” – that is dry. They do not stay on the skin so any ingredients intended to do anything other than clean will be removed most likely long before they will have a chance to work. Cleansers can get pricey but this isn’t the place to place your cash.
- Treatments. Not everyone uses these, but if you have goals for improving your skin, these are the products that will repair, replenish, plump, tone, brighten and otherwise help you reach your goals (recall your skin’s 6-week cycle…). Treatments include serums, gels, creams with ingredients such as Vitamin A, retinol, Vitamin C, resveratrol, peptides, and many others. They are often applied at night while the skin rests and repairs. Some can be used during the day. Most, if not all, are layered under the moisturizer, in direct contact with the skin, in order to be most effective. Note, however, that these are chemicals – even if the product you use is organic and botanically derived – they are still chemicals. And most work at the skin’s cellular level. But that is why they work and why you need to use them with the direction of a skincare professional. These can also get pricey and these products are worth the extra dollars to purchase and the extra effort to use them regularly.
- Moisturizers. Moisturizers are important and should be used morning and evening. A good, clean product, appropriate for your skin, should be a staple in your routine. Moisturizers may now come with added antioxidants, retinols, or similar ingredients. A sunscreen may be included. While they are advertised to save time and money by rolling many steps into one, exercise caution. For instance, moisturizers with retinol or vitamin A should never be used in daylight. Similarly, sunscreens should not be applied at bedtimes. In the very least, while these combination moisturizing creams subsume multiple steps, you may find yourself having to purchase two.
There are other products that could support a home-care skin routine, such as toners, masks and peels. Good to add, but the ones reviewed really a good place to focus. Proper skin care does require a commitment of resources – time, effort and money. With professional support and direction and a little information, you can easily maximize your resources to get the best outcome!