Written by Sharon Lee.
I admit it, I oftentimes go to sleep with my make up on. A cardinal sin of skincare, I know. I'm guilty and I have no excuse and hang my head in shame. As a young adult I was an enthusiastic user of the St. Ives Apricot Scrub, a drugstore favorite that would sit on my shower shelf for a year. I dabbled in some creams and lotions, but nothing that stuck. Now, in my early to mid 30s, I'm starting to see the changes in my skin and after hoarding mini sample jars from Sephora to find which product really delivered on their promises, I'm closer to a skincare ritual that works for me. Below are a few things I found important to consider when choosing skincare products.
1. Know your skin type and shop accordingly. Knowing your skin type is an essential first step to finding effective skincare products that work for you. Essentially, there are 3 general skin types: Oily, Normal and Combination. Here is a simple guide to determining your skin type at home. You may find that different parts of your face have different needs - that's normal!
2. Know what you want your skincare to do for you. For me this was easy since I was already starting to see the early signs of problematic areas. The forehead, corner of the eyes and smile lines are usually the first to wrinkle so I knew that I wanted to target those areas, both for correction and prevention.
3. Choose products with the least amount of toxins (or no toxins if possible).
It’s easy to forget that your skin is your largest organ and absorbs an average of 64% of what you put on it (including your nails!). I've asked a few dermatologists about this and some say it's less, some say that's about right. That’s more than what we absorb from some vitamin supplements. Keep your products, at the minimum, paraben free, phthalate free and sulfate free. There may still be some harmful chemicals in the product, but these are the frequent offenders. To learn more and to check to see if your product is harmful, the Environmental Working Group is a great resource. This article in the Huffington Post is also a great guide to knowing what type of toxins to avoid in your products. I also read a recent post about some great non-toxic beauty product recommendations (not all skincare related).
4. Clean nightly and exfoliate weekly. Your skin is exposed to a plethora of damaging particles in the air, not to mention, likely in your makeup. Giving your face a gentle but good wash not only minimizes the continued absorption of these yucky toxins (think pollution and L.A. smog), but also limits the clogging of your pores. Did you know that free radicals in the environment break down the natural collagen in your skin? That’s the good stuff you want to keep. Also, exfoliating your skin a few times a week is crucial for the absorption of your facial products (another reason why it’s important to use quality items), since putting product on top of dead skin doesn’t really do much. Right now I'm using a Korean cleanser that lathers very well and takes almost all of my makeup off. However, I think my next cleanser purchase will be something gentler and with some exfoliating ability, like a dry rice powder.
5. Eat your way to healthy skin. This is another underestimated and health related skin care essential. What you eat or drink is absolutely essential to healthy skin. Yes, genetics are involved and someone who eats french fries daily may have flawless and porcelain skin, while the vegetarian has adult acne. It is not just about what you eat, but it’s also about what you need to avoid, and how your body absorbs the nutrients. A great place to start is focusing on foods or herbs that help support the liver. Your liver acts like a filter for all the bad stuff you consume. If your liver is not supported things that can throw your hormones off balance can flow through your system resulting in mild to major acne. I drink Yogi tea Skin Detox to keep things in check.
The changing texture of your skin is not something to be ashamed of or something to obsessively try to correct. As someone once said, aging is a privilege denied to many. However, it can still be a tough process and being proactive about your skincare is one good way to keep in good health and beauty. It took me some time but I have really started to embrace my skincare nightly ritual. If you are interested in reading more about this topic, look for my posts on which beauty products I use for my morning and night time rituals, and great health tips for healthy skin!