I get asked a lot in social situations, "what should I be doing for my skin?" If you've spent thirty seconds around me, you know that I could talk forever, and while I would love for everyone's skincare routine to look a lot like mine (which notably includes clinical exfoliation once every 3 weeks to correspond with skin's 21-day cellular turnover rate), there are some true basics that I think everyone can start with:
- Deep cleansing, twice daily. My version of deep cleansing includes a primary milky or oil based cleanser, massaged into warm, wet skin for at least one minute, removed thoroughly with a wash cloth, followed by a corrective cleanser (normally a hydroxy acid or brightening cleanser - something with exfoliating benefits) worked into the skin for about a minute and a half before removing with the wash cloth. If you only try one of these tips, make it deep cleansing, and you'll see results you'll enjoy!
- Lip protection. Most of us know by now how important it is for us to wear daily SPF all over our faces, necks, chests, ears, and hands (anywhere clothes don't cover, including sandal-ed feet in summer), but are you leaving your lips out of the picture? Skin cancer on the lips, when detected and treated early, is close to 100% curable, but it's easier and more pleasant all around to avoid that. Reapplication throughout the day is key.
- Get savvy about natural products. While many products that claim to be "natural" or "organic" contain some very standard petroleum-based skincare ingredients (this is known as greenwashing), it's also true that some very complicated-sounding ingredients are surprisingly close to the form found in nature, such as tetrahydromethoxycurcumin, a wonderful anti-inflammatory antioxidant ingredient sourced from tumeric. Further, certain natural extracts are among the worst (often most irritating) ingredients for your skin, like the juices and oils of citrus fruits and many floral extracts (despite their popularity in "natural" skincare formulations), as well as ingredients known as counter-irritants that induce local skin inflammation. These work by damaging the barrier function of the skin (read: making your skin more likely to get sunburned, and more susceptible to microbial invasion from bacteria, molds, yeasts, fungi, and viruses) in order to pull away inflammatory lymphocytes and phagocytes that are responding to deeper inflammation, like muscle pain. These ingredients include camphor, menthol, peppermint, eucalyptus, and mint, and are also very popular in natural skincare products. Finally, there are ingredients that are completely lab-synthesized, the antithesis of the "natural skincare" movement if you will, that have been shown to have incredible benefits for the skin! Peptides - need I go further? Ok, how about glycosaminoglycans which mimic skin phospholipids to reinforce the integrity of skin as a barrier? Polysaccharides and lab-created humectant salts that bind moisture to the skin? Lastly, certain "synthetic" ingredients that have gotten a bad rap are actually sourced from healthy foods, for example, did you know that parabens are among the least irritating broad-spectrum preservatives, and are found naturally in raspberries?
- Use anti-aging treatments NOW, before you need them. Retinoids (synthesized forms of Vitamin A) regulate the production of new cells at the basal layer, leading to healthier, rounder, more even skin cells that manifest as more vital, youthful skin. Large pores, lines and wrinkles, and dark spots are among the long list of cosmetic complaints that are ameliorated by adding retinoids to your skincare diet, not to mention that all those healthy, round, plump skin cells make it hard for cell mutations to gain a foothold and develop into precancerous lesions.
- Figure out whether your skin is sensitive or sensitized. A good esthetician whose training and protocols include management of inflammatory factors within the skin and whole body can help you with this. I've seen countless individuals who have been brainwashed by mainstream skincare companies into believing their skin is sensitive, when in reality, irritating ingredients, improper cleansing regiments, underexfoliation, and environmental factors have led to their having sensitized skin. Even those with truly sensitive skin are often plagued by these aggravators, resulting in sensitive skin that is sensitized. Proper exfoliation (we love scratch-free sonic exfoliation with the FOREO for sensitized clients), gradual introduction of anti-aging ingredients, barrier protection, and an eye to reducing systemic irritation (I see you, sugar tooth!) make a world of difference, and allow people who thought they were doomed to the ravages of time to reap the benefits of anti-aging technology.
Taking these steps in addition to seeing an esthetician for clinical skincare treatments means your skincare dollars are truly working for you.