Many of us have once stood before a seemingly all-knowing beauty consultant and been told a mish-mash of misleading facts designed to wow the naïve consumer into purchasing a plethora of products that we may, or may not use to the last drop before we again find ourselves before yet another beauty consultant of a different brand, brandishing a whole new set of semi-true selling points.
It’s time to cut the crap and get down to the unadulterated truth of skin care.
Skin care is about solutions. Forget about several step regiments. The key to a great skin care regiment is finding solutions for your specific skin concerns, which probably won’t include all the products recommended to you by a department store beauty clerk.
Cleanser – The Essential Step
The purpose of a cleanser is to remove dirt and makeup and hinder bacterial growth. Some cleansers work better for dryer skin and have a more lotion like consistency, while other cleansers, like foaming or gel types are better for oilier skin.
Oily skin types need to keep in mind that over-stripping the oil from your skin can lead to an over production of sebum. Gentle, effective cleansing is the key.
The Skinny: Each person has a different type of cleanser they prefer. Whether dispensed from a bottle, or rubbed from a bar, the difference is personal choice and one is not better than another. All that matters here is that your skin feels fresh, clean and not tight or dry right after washing.
TIP: Bar soaps use little water in production and require very little to zero preservatives making them an eco-friendly choice.
Eye Makeup Remover – Makeup Divas Only
Eye makeup remover is a must if you wear waterproof mascara or thick eyeliner. It is not, however, something that you must buy from a beauty counter. The magic ingredient that removes your heavy eye makeup is none other than…oil. And surprisingly, any oil will do the job.
Try almond oil, jojoba oil, or EVOO. Remove your eye makeup before you wash your face and you can wash away that greasy oil feeling with out stripping your precious eye area.
The Skinny: Do remove heavy eye makeup with a natural oil before washing your face. Use 100% cotton balls or pads to do the job.
Toner – To Tone or Not To Tone…
This is a good question. It would seem that no skin care regiment is complete with out a matching bottle of toner. But what does it do for us?
The truth here is, for most people toner is not important. What toner does is remove residue from products used before it, and depending on the formula, it may balance your skin’s ph or have additional acne fighting ingredients. Also, it keeps your skin moist which makes your moisturizer go on in a nice thin layer.
The Skinny: Using toner is only necessary if you are looking for an extra benefit such as skin calming for irritable skin or acne fighting. The ingredients in toner are inexpensive so don’t pay for packaging. Shop for brands that don’t dress up their products.
TIP: For a soothing toner, fill a spray bottle with filtered water and sliced cucumber and keep it in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Moisturizer – Don’t Leave Home Without It!
This vital step should never ever be skipped. Whether you have oily skin, dry skin or a combination of both, finding the perfect moisturizer should be number one on your priority list. The day you begin washing your face morning and night is the day you should begin applying moisturizer.
These creamy concoctions provide a wide variety of benefits and are the most researched items in any skin care line and are the foundation for the best facials in San Diego. They are the proverbial “bacon” of the skin care industry.
Finding the right moisturizer for your skin can be an expensive venture. Many products range anywhere from 30 to 80 dollars and some are even more. My advice is to never ever buy before you try.
Additionally, shop the brands and read up before you bust your budget. While you do get what you pay for in moisturizers, make sure you aren’t paying for a chic glass jar. The contents are the focus, not the sparkly wrapper.
|WARNING: I can’t stress the cost of packaging enough. I have purchased bulk jars from packaging companies before and the fancy jars that department store brands use can cost anywhere from 10 to 20 dollars a piece and sometimes more. The more special they look, the more they cost. That’s a lot of money for a container that will likely end up in the recycling bin in three months.
The Skinny: There’s no getting around it! Use moisturizer every time you wash your face. Make sure either your moisturizer or foundation has sunscreen.
Eye Cream – What, When, Why and How
The skin around your eye is thin and more prone to collagen break down than the skin of your face. It is important to apply a product that will infuse your eye area with moisture and nutrients to promote the maintenance of your collagen.
Products like eye gels tend to reduce puffiness while creams and lotions are moisture specific. It’s not necessary to use both a gel to de-puff and a cream for moisture. Find one product that will do all you need. Apply eye products by gently patting them around the whole eye area with your ring finger.
What age a person should start using eye cream depends on their skin type. Oily skin types should start using an eye cream in their late twenties or early thirties. Dry skin types should begin using eye creams in their early twenties.
The reason for this is that the secretion of sebum or oil on the skin actually protects your skin from free radicals and pollutants and can stave off aging.
Dry skin has less sebum production so it’s important to moisturize the face, neck and eye area at an earlier age to keep wrinkles at bay.
The Skinny: Do use an eye cream whenever you moisturize; especially if you have mature or dry skin. Find a product that does double or triple duty and is appropriate for your age and budget.
Exfoliators – Scrub-a Dub Dub
Exfoliation removes the dead skin cells from the surface that would otherwise remain and begin to decompose and cause icky skin problems. Exfoliating is good for you but there are some rules you should follow.
Don’t exfoliate too often. If you exfoliate too long or too often you can irritate your skin. Acne prone skin should be especially wary here because scrubbing can actually spread bacteria and perpetuate breakouts.
Exfoliate twice a week, every three or four days and rub your skin just enough to get around your whole face. If you have acne prone skin, use your exfoliator with short and gentle sweeping strokes.
Stay away from super abrasive scrubs. Exfoliators with harsh abrasives such as ground apricot pits can actually create tiny scratches all over your face. The skin of your face should be handled very gently. Use scrubs that have tiny abrasives or soft ones like ground almonds or micro-beads.
If you have a lot of dry, flaking skin, set your face over a bowl of steaming hot water (6 inches from the surface) and cover your head with a towel. Let the steam penetrate and loosen the flaky skin for about 5 minutes before proceeding with your exfoliation.
This way you can remove those pesky flakes with out scrubbing your skin raw. You can even add calming essential oils or tea bags to the water for a therapeutic experience.
The Skinny: For a fresh face, exfoliate your skin twice a week using a gentle formula that won’t scratch your skin up.
TIP: Use baking soda mixed with water for an instant exfoliator if all you need to do is freshen your skin.
Specialty Products – A Way to “Super Size” Your Bill
Also known as the “up sell”, specialty products are sometimes needed but most times not. Additionally, they are typically more expensive than anything else you’ll buy. Most of the time, you can find a regular skin care item with these same special ingredients that will eliminate the need for you to buy an extra jar. An example of this is a toner with alpha hydroxy acids or a moisturizer with wrinkle fighting properties.
The Skinny: Unless you have a special skin condition, specialty products are overkill.
Once upon a time, as an untrained consumer myself, I was sold a gel face wash, a cleansing bar, a toner, a moisturizer that could only be used on part of my face, an eye cream, an exfoliator, a night time moisturizer and a day time moisturizer all in the same purchase. I was 19 years old, and yes, I was naïve.
Now, many years of tested products and accumulated wisdom later, I bring you the bare truth of skin care. Using matching products from the same line will not ensure success. Fancy bottles do not always contain more expensive or magical ingredients. And anti-aging face wash will not reduce signs of aging; it will merely wash your face.
So go forth, empowered consumer and get samples, ask questions, and research products. Read online about different brands of skin care and decide what sounds good for you. Find the retailers for those products and make appointments for free skin care trials.
Do not make the mistake of buying anything right after your appointment. Do not be wowed by baseless analogies or technical terms. Ask how it works and why it works until it makes sense to you.
And most importantly, ask to take home samples and wait at least over night to see how your skin responds to the routine before buying. You’ll thank yourself for making a smart and informed purchase!