In This Skin: The Basics of Skin Care

They always say that you should take care of your body and keep it in good health throughout the years of your life. When we get older, we often think about good heart health, optimal digestive health, and a fulfilling sex life. However, we sometimes fail to consider taking care of the largest organ of our bodies: our skin.

Skin and its care are perhaps the most important physical aspects of my life. However, my skin has always been my biggest insecurity. I will give you a quick background of my skin care journey, and how far I have come in regards to not only self-care, education, and awareness, but confidence as well:

I was one of those girls with an abundance teenage acne…like pizza face kind of acne. That being said, it wasn’t such a big deal back then. For those of whom don’t know, pubescent teenagers often get acne in response to fluctuating hormone levels; this is common. However, I wasn’t dealing with it very well as far as proper care was concerned. I wasn’t using the right cleansers or doing research on how to control and prevent it. Therefore, my habit of popping pimples and lack of self-care caused my skin to be very blemished with acne scarring.

Along with those acne scars, I would continue to get active pimple and blackhead formation. I tried several different products, hoping that they would work, but nothing ever did.

Years and years later, even into my early 20s, I suffered from acne, not just on my face, but on my chest and back as well (though not as concerning). You can imagine I felt very uncomfortable and self-conscious.

It wasn’t until relatively recently, perhaps in the last year, that I decided to take action and learn more about how I could clear up my skin. I consulted with a local dermatologist, of whom I still see, in order to know more about how to treat my sensitive, acne prone skin.

Later in the blog post, I will share with you my generalized nighttime skincare regimen, but for the moment, I would like to discuss with you the toll that my physical and mental states took on my skin care journey, and how I have learned to overcome them.

Physical

As I stated before, my skin became very blemished. I had dark spots all over, especially on my forehead. When putting on foundation, I would have to heavily conceal or apply more foundation in order to get the coverage that I was aiming for. I became obsessed with covering every imperfection. Now, it’s gotten much much better, but I still have remnants of dark spots on my face. I became very self-conscious when I’d go somewhere without makeup. It didn’t make me feel good at all. Presently, I am still learning to deal with this issue. The products that I use now for my skin cause it to be less irritated and therefore a bit more low maintenance. They aid in fading my dark spots and preventing active pimples from forming. I have much more confidence than I did years before, but am continuing to love my skin despite its many imperfections.

Mental

If you’ve ever tried to go on a diet, you know how hard it is. Your’e 2 days in and you believe yourself to be doing pretty well, then all of a sudden, you go to a restaurant with your friends and eat an entire plate of bacon cheese fries before your entree is served. Sound familiar? Well this is kind of what skin care can be like. It takes dedication, determination, and patience. Most skin care issues cannot be resolved overnight, and that’s okay. That’s why it’s a process. When I finally got into the mindset that I was going to change myself for the better, I kept looking forward to the happier outcome: a more confident me. But it all starts with having the will power to make the change.

I began doing research on products for my skin type. I talked to a dermatologist about treatment options. These actions proved to be successful in the long run; I simply had to take the initiative.

That being said, I mentally prepared myself for the steps that I had to take for clearer skin. It would undoubtedly take months before I saw any results, but every day was a better day than the day before, and that’s all that mattered.

Along the way, I gathered a few tips to achieve your healthiest skin:

1. Know your skin type. You may think this is dumb to say, but there are tons of people who don’t know their skin types. If you don’t know your skin type, I’ve got descriptions of the 5 skin types for you as follows:

Normal: People with a normal complexion have the ideal skin type. The skin is not too oily or dry, and it appears smooth, clear and healthy. Normal skin has a nice balance of moisture and oil, with good elasticity. The pores are minimally visible, and the skin has an even tone.

Dry: Dry skin does not retain enough moisture, which causes wrinkles and fine lines to develop more easily. A lack of oil makes the skin flaky and fragile and reduces its ability to act as a protective barrier. As a result, the skin is much more susceptible to the effects of external elements such as pollution, UV radiation and extreme weather. Small pores are another characteristic of this skin type.
Oily: Some people have oily skin, particularly during adolescence. The skin has large pores and produces too much oil, which gives it a greasy, shiny appearance. People with an oily complexion tend to develop lots of blemishes, pimples and blackheads, and the skin looks plump because dead cells do not shed as quickly.
Combination: People with a combination skin type have both dry and oily areas. The skin is usually most oily in the T-zone — the forehead, nose and chin — with dry patches on the cheeks and around the eyes. Combination skin can be difficult to manage because the various areas of the skin require different treatment.
Sensitive: This skin type is the most fragile. People with sensitive skin tend to burn easily, and the skin is prone to irritation and redness.

(For source, click here.)

You may also be a combination of any of these skin types. Knowing your skin type(s) will help determine the right cleansers, moisturizers, exfoliators, toners, etc. for your skin.

2. Do (lots 0f) research. Now that you have figured out your skin type, you can do research on what you need to achieve healthy skin. First, start with a cleanser, then a moisturizer. I find that these 2 items are the most important in any skin care routine, regardless of your skin type. And when you do your research, do a lot of it. Though the Internet is a great source for product reviews and testimonies, you can also consult with a dermatologist or a skin care expert who know can guide you in the right direction.

3. Don’t overcomplicate your routine. Now that you’ve done your research and have some products that you are confidence will work for you, stick with those consistently and determine if there are positive results from their use. Many people have the misconception that using a lot of products will be better for your skin, but this is false. Using a lot of different products with a lot of different ingredients can cause irritation of the skin. The ingredients in all of those different products could also cancel out each others’ beneficial effects. Keep it simple. Only use a handful of products and stick to them.

4. Be patient. Give the products time to work. As I stated before, it may take months to see results. Use the entire tube of a product before you say that it doesn’t work for you. However, if you’re using a product that causes swelling, redness, or any type of irritation has is not an expected side effect, then stop using that product immediately. The only case of which I would think you could swap products is one where the weather is of concern. For example, in the summer time, your oil-free moisturizer would be ideal. However, in the winter months, you may want to use a moisturizer better suited for the drying effects of cold weather.

5. Stay healthy. What do you hear time and time again? Drink water. Yes, stay hydrated. Water can cause the excretion of toxins that are harmful to your skin. Flushing out those toxins can cause pores to be less clogged and for skin to appear more clear. You should also get sufficient sleep. I know that this can be hard for teens and young adults, but growth hormones are secreted during sleep. These specific hormones promote new cell growth and collagen production, both of which are responsible for replacing dead skin cells and the giving your skin elasticity and youthfulness. If you can, also find time to exercise and mediate throughout the week. Exercise increases circulation and the transportation of nutrients to centers of your body responsible for cell growth. Meditation helps lessen stress which can aggravate acne, eczema, and other unwanted skin conditions.

Now, for my routine:

Remember these 3 basic steps: cleanse, tone, moisturize.

(This is only my nighttime routine and varies every now and again. However, I do stay relatively consistent with the products that I use because I know that they work for me.)

1. First, I start by removing my makeup for the day. I use these makeup remover wipes. These specific ones are the cheaper version for the Neutrogena Makeup Remover wipes. Both work fabulously though. You can find either at your local drugstore.

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2. To get any excess makeup off before washing my face, I use this T.N. Dickson’s Witch Hazel. It’s a natural astringent. An astringent is a substance that causes the constriction or tightening of body tissues, typically the skin. For this purpose though, it simply removes left over makeup. However, it can be used as a toner to tighten pores and remove any traces of excess oil after washing the face.

I douse the witch hazel on a cotton ball and just collect any excess makeup.

Unfortunately, I don’t believe that this is sold in any local drugstore that I’ve seen, so I always order it online. It’s very cheap, and worth the buy.

(Click here to purchase T.N. Dickson’s Witch Hazel.)

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3. Next, I proceed to wash my face. Typically, I just use my hands to work the cleanser into my skin, but for the purposes of this being a skin care post, I’ll share one of the tools that I use every now and again to clean my face.

When working at Sephora, I was able to purchase this Foreo Luna Mini at a steeply discounted price (it retails for $139 USD). This device is a face brush that features vibrating silicone bristles that eliminate dirt and debris from the skin in about 1 minute. It also claims to exfoliate without irritating the skin. (While writing this, I feel as if I should use this more…hmm…) It’s actually a pretty cool gadget. (If you’re interested in learning more about Foreo and its products, click here.)

This Phisoderm face wash is my holy grail face wash. If I run out and start to use something else, my skin worsens, but as soon as I go back to this, all is right with the world. As it states on the bottle, it is a fragrance-free, cream cleanser. I told you guys that I have sensitive, acne prone skin. I’ve tried a multitude of products that tailor to oily skin, but cause so much irritation that I’ve had to stop using them. However, this particular face wash is gentle enough to not aggravate my skin, but not so much that it doesn’t clean my skin well enough. It’s the perfect balance.  And did I mention that it’s under $5 USD??

So, after removing my makeup, whether it be with my hands or with a facial brush, I work the cleanser into my skin and move from the center of my face to the outside of my face in circular motions for about 1 minute. Then, I use warm water to completely remove the cleanser and pat dry.

Again, this particular face wash is not a product that I have been able to find in the store, so I order it online 2 bottles at a time. (Click here to purchase Phisoderm Fragrance Free Cream Cleanser, Sensitive Skin.)

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4. The next part of my routine has probably been the most beneficial for me as far as fading my dark spots. It is the Tretinoin Gel, 0.025%. I was prescribed this by my dermatologist, and it has worked wonders. It takes about 2-3 months to see results, but they are noticeable. I have used this gel since September 2015 and continue to use it. The formula is potent, and it has its side effects, but it’s worth it. The major side effects that I experience with this gel are irritation, burning, and dryness but it typically lessens or goes away with consistent use.

At night, I take a pea-sized amount and work it all over my face. After it has disappeared into my skin, my skin feels very dry and dehydrated (which is typical of this medication), so I moisturize afterwards so that I sleep with hydrated skin.

Obviously, not everyone has topical prescription medications to take, so I suggest moisturizing after you cleanse.

(If you’re interesting in this gel, or any other retinoid products, please consult a dermatologist.)

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5. For my moisturizer, I use this Desert Essence Daily Essential Moisturizer. It is infused with jojoba oil and aloe vera.

I was first introduced to Desert Essence products in 2014 when I was looking for an oil-free moisturizer. I stumbled upon the Desert Essence Thoroughly Clean Oil Control Moisturizer and used that as a moisturizer for some time, and it worked pretty well. I very well may purchase it again. However, my current moisturizer works just as well. It helps fight the “tight dryness” that I feel on my face after using the Tretinoin Gel. It leaves my skin feeling hydrated and soft.

I take about a nickel-sized amount of product, dot it all over my face, and rub it in using circular motions until it has absorbed.

(Click here to purchase the Desert Essence Daily Essential Moisturizer.)

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**Optional**

Every 2 weeks, I like to follow up my cleanse with a clay mask. (The order would then be cleanser, mask, gel, then moisturizer). I love clay masks because they act as deep cleansers and draw out tons of your skin’s impurities. They are especially helpful for those with acne prone skin.

The kind that I have here is the Freeman’s Mint & Lemon Clay Mask. It helps to control oil and breakouts. After I’m done washing my face, I apply a thin layer of product all over my face. I then wait for about 5-7 minutes until it is nearly completely dry, then I rinse it off entirely with warm water. My skin is left feeling very soft and rejuvenated.

There are hundreds upon hundreds of different clay masks out there, from drugstore to high end. This mask is a drugstore product. If you’re looking for a great high end clay mask, I recommend the Caudalíe Instant Detox Mask. It retails for $39 USD and is wonderful!

 

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Even though I’ve cleaned my face, I can’t forget about the rest of my skin. After I’ve showered, I like to take a generous amount of 100% African Shea Butter and rub it over my body, especially the dry areas on my back that tend to get very irritated. The consistency is very thick. It is solid at room temperature and is chunky when trying to obtain it from the tub.

When I tell you that this stuff works, it WORKS! I once had a very bad reaction to some African Black Soap. It left my chest inflamed and slightly scarred. After using this shea butter, by scarring had gone away completely in a matter of a couple of weeks. Since then, I have never stopped using it.

Though it’s used to hydrate thirsty skin, it can also be used in the hair, on the face, and for several other purposes outside of skincare.

I buy this product at my local beauty supply store for about $5 USD for the small tub. It’s a MUST-HAVE!

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As you may have noticed, almost all, if not all, or my skincare products are natural. I find that natural products work best for those with sensitive skin. The chemicals found in other products that aren’t natural can be irritating and drying to the skin, often leading to skin damage. For my natural skincare products, I like to order from Drugstore.com. Stores such as Vitamin Shoppe, GNC, and Whole Foods also carry natural/organic skincare products.


 

That’s all for my nighttime skin care routine! I hope you found something informative in this post. For additional information on skin care, please read below:

If you’re still having trouble identifying your skin type or want to know what formula is best to use for your skin type, I’ve found a great resource for you to visit to obtain more info. Click here.

Wanna know your skin type along with some product recommendations? Click here to take the quiz!

For some skin care vocabulary, click here.

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