Flawless Skin: Skincare 101

I want to get flawless skin so I’m making my rounds at an incredibly packed flawless skin cosmetics store, browsing through shelf upon shelf of ridiculously expensive creams and gels, all packaged in colorful tiny containers — each prettier than the next, all vying for my attention.

Good thing I’m familiar with skincare! If I weren’t, I would’ve had to leave my skin’s fate in the hands of that inexplicably attitudinal saleslady, the one who’s wearing entirely too much makeup and hairspray while pretending to look interested in that poor girls’ skin woes.

“…I’m allergic to moisturizer, but my skin’s very, very dry! Plus, I don’t stop breaking out! I’ve tried all of the anti-acne products I could think of, but now I have wrinkles…and any time I use something anti-aging, I end up getting terrible zits…”

I don’t know if you have been in her frustrating situation …but I do know that most people have skin care concerns. I probably get asked for skin care advice at least as often as I do for diet and fitness tips! I know, you’re probably wondering why someone would ask me those things.

 

Let me explain…

Appearance has always mattered to me. Ever since I was a little girl, I promised myself that I would always try my hardest to look my very best regardless of any other circumstances. This is partly why fitness has always been important to me, and definitely the reason I went to school to study skincare and makeup artistry, ultimately graduating as a licensed esthetician and makeup artist.

There’s little doubt in my mind that most of you have some concerns or questions when it comes to basic skincare — I know I did! Since I’m well qualified to help, I’ve decided to do just that with this article.

I’ll go over some fundamentals; you all can feel free to ask any questions at the end of the article, in the comments section — I’ll be sure to address them as they come in! Makeup, competition makeup and tanning, along with more specific skincare concerns, will be discussed in future beauty articles.

Just think about it; we expend a great deal of energy on training and following proper nutrition to ensure that our bodies look their absolute best! There’s all that cardio we do for our heart and cardiovascular system, the weight training for our musculature, the minerals we take to maintain our bones…but what about the largest organ of the body, our skin.

Shouldn’t we be at least as concerned with its appearance and health as the rest of our body?

Let’s dig in!

Your Skin Type

Before you even begin to think of approaching that La Prairie counter to grab their latest miracle cream, you’ll need to establish your skin type. The best product in the universe will result in nothing short of a complexion disaster if it isn’t formulated for your specific skin type. A slightly different approach is necessary to ensure optimal health and flawless skin, whether it’s oily, dry and sensitive, combination, or normal.

Just in case you aren’t sure exactly which type of skin you have, we’ll begin by taking a look at the characteristics of each.

Oily

If you have oily skin, chances are, you’re well aware of that by now! It’s usually shiny with enlarged pores and a predisposition to blackheads. While it can be quite frustrating dealing with this skin type, the good news is that it is much slower to show wrinkles, fine lines, and discoloration.

 

To minimize the negative effects of oily skin, establishing a good routine is absolutely crucial! While this specifics will be highly individual, here are a few fundamentals to get you started:

Try to stay away from soap and alcohol-based cleansers. These are drying and can strip the skin of its moisture, which paradoxically will cause it to produce more oil — thus resulting in overactive sebaceous glands, and a never-ending vicious cycle!

Using a proper moisturizing lotion is essential for the same reason — it’ll prevent moisture loss, thereby reducing oil production. Be sure all of your products are labeled “noncomedogenic,” which means they won’t clog pores or cause breakouts.

If lotions seem too heavy or greasy, there’s an array of gel moisturizers especially formulated for oily skin — some even containing ingredients such as witch hazel and tea tree oil, meant to shrink enlarged pores and minimize oil production while maintaining the skin’s natural balance.

A clarifying astringent toner can be a good addition to your daily skincare regime, as well. Used after cleansing and prior to moisturizer application, it’ll help to clear out your pores while calming the skin. Look for ingredients like salicylic or alpha hydroxy acid in a toner if you decide to add one to your routine.

Dry

While those of us with excess oil are trying to get rid of it, people with dry skin are wishing they had our problems! As fantastic as it must be to have no worries about breakouts, dry and sensitive skin types are both quite prone to sun damage and early signs of aging.

To minimize damage to your dry or sensitive skin, be sure to avoid any soap-based and even foaming cleansers, choosing moisturizing and fragrance-free ones instead. Look for milky cleansers containing soothing ingredients such as chamomile, cucumber, lavender, olive leaf, and aloe vera extracts.

Don’t be afraid of essential oils in your products, which should include a moisturizing, alcohol-free toner, an eye cream, and of course, a good moisturizer to be applied to damp skin twice daily. Ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, petrolatum, lanolin or silicone derivatives will all improve skin’s elasticity by increasing its moisture levels.

 

These types of skin will also benefit from nourishing weekly treatments and masks more than any other. Something as simple as an egg yolk, a teaspoon of honey, and half a teaspoon of olive oil, combined and left on the skin for ten to fifteen minutes will noticeably improve its condition!

Combination

People with combination and normal skin types are often best off treating their skin with neutral products, simply ensuring proper cleansing (again, with a soap-free product), and moisturizing. A weekly routine of exfoliating and a mask is a great idea as well, as this will prevent clogged pores, thereby maintaining a clear complexion.

Exfoliation

Speaking of exfoliation, it’s the one step most people skip in their weekly skincare routine, which is too bad since this is a fantastic way to help any skin type along with its renewal process, helping it remain youthful for years longer! In fact, it’s been shown in a number of studies that one of the reasons men’s skin looks more youthful than women’s is because men tend to exfoliate daily when they shave.

There are several ways to exfoliate the skin, scrubs and retinoids being most popular for home use. Scrubs work by gently removing the dead skin cells that will otherwise dull your complexion. It’s crucial to ensure that the scrub of your choice is composed of uniform, round grains, as some cheaper scrubs will tear the skin and cause more damage than benefit!

 

Retinoids work in a similar manner, by removing the top layer of skin cells, except they go a step further by helping to generate collagen in the skin. The most popular retinoid on the market today is Retin-A, initially known as an acne fighting product and later as an anti-wrinkle miracle.

If your skin tends to be on the sensitive side at all, I would highly recommend staying away from these products as they’re notorious for increasing dryness and sensitivity to sun in all skin types, which means sunscreen is a must for anyone considering adding a retinoid to their regime.

This brings us to the next basic necessity for youthful, healthy skin: sunscreen. It’s the one product every dermatologist and esthetician will insist you use.

Sunscreen

After hundreds upon hundreds of studies, it’s been proven time and time again that the primary cause of age related skin problems (including age spots and wrinkles!) is sun damage. In addition to aesthetic damage to our skin, we run the risk of getting melanoma, a type of skin cancer, by exposing our skin to UV light without any protection.

Worth the risk for a tan? Not in my opinion.

I choose to prevent the damage by utilizing a good sunscreen, or at least a daily moisturizer containing titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, or avobenzene as one of its “active ingredients.” If you happen to have acne-prone skin, make certain that your sunscreen is oil-free and noncomedogenic, as a lot of them are on the “heavy” side and will cause breakouts unless formulated for problematic skin.

Nutrition and Skin

As fitness nuts, we’re all aware of the major impact nutrition has on all areas of our existence. Not surprisingly, this includes the appearance of our skin. Just as important as those carbs in your post-workout meal, are the antioxidants and essential fatty acids to your skin’s optimal health.

A sound nutrition plan (which we’re all already following, right?) has been proven to keep the skin looking not only healthy, but also years younger!

 

Include plenty of vitamins C and E in your diet, as these will help reduce the damage caused by free radicals, a harmful byproduct of sunlight, smoke, and pollution. Free radicals gobble up collagen and elastin, the fibers that support skin structure, causing wrinkles and other signs of aging. Vitamin A is also a great addition to your daily supplement intake, as it’s been proven to be necessary for the maintenance and repair of skin tissue.

Another nutrient of significant importance is biotin, a member of the B vitamin family. It forms the basis of skin, nail, and hair cells, and even a mild deficiency causes symptoms such as dermatitis (an itchy, scaly skin reaction) or even hair loss.

Speaking of the B’s, niacin is yet another gem with plenty of anti-inflammatory properties to soothe sensitive, irritated skin. I’ve also seen it used topically as a lightening agent in higher concentrations, most often used to even out blotchy skin tone.

Enough with the ABC’s…let’s move on to the D’s — well, the DMAE’s, to be exact. This amazing nutrient has one of the strongest appetites for free radicals. It works by neutralizing their power to damage skin cells while also strengthening cell walls so that assaults from sun damage and cigarette smoke are reduced.

We’ve got the ABC’s and D’s covered, moving right along to E’s — that would be the EFA’s. If your skin is prone to inflammation, too dry, OR too oily and frequently breaking out, you may be lacking essential fatty acids. These are absolutely vital to the production of skin’s natural oil barrier. Without an adequate supply of EFAs, the skin produces a more irritating form of sebum and oil, which can result in substantial complexion woes.

One last addition to this guide to fundamental skin care is hydration. We all know that it aids in our ability to flush fat, toxins, and any other unwanted substance from our bodies. Well, it helps in the reduction of wrinkling and improves the overall texture of our skin, too! Be sure to get those gallons of water through your system and you’ll be rewarded with glowing skin.

Alright ladies, that’s it for your flawless skin tips. Keep in mind; this is a highly inconclusive, very basic and oversimplified guide. If any of you have questions pertaining to your specific case, please feel free to ask and I will do my best to help you resolve your individual issues.

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