Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Skincare, part 1

A reader recently emailed me, asking me to discuss skincare in a future post. (Thanks Billie Jean!) Well, there is a lot to the subject, so there could be several posts about it. Let's start with the face- cleansing and moisturizing during the day.

Skin type

Most people fall into one of several categories. There is oily, dry, and combination. You know you have oily skin when you develop shine on your face during the day, and you have to blot or use face powder. You may break out in acne often and/or easily. Summers are worse than any other season because of humidity. You may have greasy facial skin, but the rest of your body may be fine, or even dry. You may have the same issues on certain body parts as well, like the back- you may even have back-ne (acne on the back.) You probably have trouble finding a good moisturizer, since so many are greasy.

Dry skin tends to be a problem more so in winter than in summer, but people can and do have it all year long. There could be flaking, irritation, fine lines, dullness, etc. You may have trouble finding a moisturizer that is thick/creamy/emollient enough. If your face is dry, the rest of your body probably is too- especially the feet, elbows, knees, and hands.

Then there is combination skin, which is just that- a combination. You may get an oily T-zone (forehead and nose) but you could also have dry patches on your cheeks. You could have back-ne but really dry arms at the same time.

So, once you know what category you fall in, it is much easier to choose a good facewash and moisturizers, day cream, night cream, treatment serums, etc.

First off, never EVER wash your face with the bar soap you might typically use on your body. The skin on the face is much more delicate and sees a lot more of the elements than the skin on your body. Bar soap is drying and harsh for facial skin, whether you are oily or dry. Secondly, just because you may have oily skin does not mean you should get a harsh or drying facewash. Your face, being constantly dried out by the facewash, may react by overproducing oil in an attempt to balance the skin. It is much better to look for a product that will clean your pores, not necessarily strip the skin of oil. Who said that oil was bad? It is the stuff in the pores that will cause them to look big, and will clog them and lead to breakouts. So regardless of type of skin, I suggest a facewash that will do a good job of cleaning and removing makeup but that is also gentle. Here are a few I have tried that I think do a phenomenal job of that.

I use both the Cetaphil and Noxzema (the blue tub you use your fingers to scoop out of) myself everyday, and I used to use the Neutrogena Deep Clean Cream Cleanser. I use Noxzema at night mostly, because it feels like a deeper clean, and I usually need to remove makeup and the daily grime. It is also very refreshing and cooling. I have heard it is great if you have a sunburn, too. (Although, it is much better to avoid the sun damage in the first place, of course!) I use the Cetaphil in the morning, since my face should be clean from the night before. But I still wash it (so should you!) because I could have picked up dirt and oil and hair product in my sleep. None of these options suds up- they are all gentle cream cleansers. Suds are a sign that the product contains harsher ingredients, like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, which you don't want on your face, if possible. The Cetaphil does contain SLS, but at least it is not the main ingredient, and it can't be much considering the lack of suds.


It is my opinion that all skin types should use moisturizer, day and night. But this is where the type of skin you have determines the product you use. Obviously, oily skin and combination skin mean you want a non-greasy, non-comedogenic moisturizer. With dry skin, you don't necessarily want oil in the product, you just want something thick and creamy. However, oil in the product may prove helpful in cold, dry weather and gusty wind, as the oil will provide a barrier against the elements. In this case, the type of oil matters, and experimentation might be necessary to see what works for you.

During the day, SPF is also a must, no matter the season. Five minutes a day, like running to and from your car/house, is all you need to get sun damage. But sun exposure is also good because it provides Vitamin D in a way you can't get in fortified foods. So, since we can't and shouldn't avoid the sun altogether, wearing an SPF 15 minimum is best. A shotglass full is the amount necessary to cover the body sufficiently, and a dollop the size of an almond is the amount you need for the face.

Applying separate products in the morning for moisturizing and sun protection is annoying and tedious, so I recommend products that combine the two. Here are some great ones for the face.

Neutrogena® Oil-Free Moisture SPF 15 and Neutrogena Ageless Intensives Deep Wrinkle Anti-Wrinkle Moisture with Helioplex® SPF 20

Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer SPF 30, Aveeno PR Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30, and Aveeno Ultra Calming Daily Moisturizer SPF 15

The first and second Aveeno choices are good for dry, normal or combination skin, but the second has color. It could be used in place of foundation for lighter makeup. It does not give a cakey, or "greige" look (combo of beige and grey). The third is good for oily skin.

I personally use the first Neutrogena choice, except right now I am using a tinted moisturizer with SPF for summer. Read about that here.

So that is my take on the beginning of a good skincare regimen. I believe the most important parts of skincare are cleansing, moisturizing, and sun protection, especially when it comes to the face. In the next skincare segment, I will touch on a good nighttime skin routine, so stay tuned!

What do you use to care for your skin? What do you think of these recommendations- do you agree? Think I missed key options that are better?

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