Friday, November 26, 2010

Skin Care 101

We get skin care advice everyday. From magazines, TV, friends, youtube, our parents, siblings... Anyone and everyone can be an expert on skin care. The reality is, everyone isn't. The skin is an organ of our body and very complicated and complex. Most of the time ailments such as eczema, acne and dermatitis come from within. Our skin is able to tell us that something is wrong from within. You can have a hormonal imbalance, being eating too much refined sugar, salt or fat, or even a reaction to a medicine and your skin will show it. We don't always associate these problems with internal issues, and try to fix the problem topically, instead of from within.

Getting advice from someone who doesn't have a deep understanding of the skin is bad news. There are a lot of misconceptions out there that can actually be terrible for our skin.

I'm not an expert by any means. Do I have a deeper understanding of the skin than most people? Of course I do! This is my career field. I look at and touch skin all day long. I can give you advice until I'm blue in the face, does that mean you will follow it? Not necessarily. Whenever anyone asks me about their skin, they are looking for a simple solution to a very complex problem. There is no such thing as hope in a jar. There is no 3 step program that will cure every single person's acne.

Most of the questions I get on here are about acne. What products should I use? How do I get rid of it? I eat right, I change my pillowcase, why isn't this working? I don't know. I can suggest things you can do, but it's really a guessing game. An educated guessing game. Unfortunately I can't see your endocrine system and tell you what's wrong. We don't have an on-board diagnostic system that reads out exactly what's wrong with us. We should and maybe someday science will bring that to us, but we don't.

What causes Acne?

Acne is such a complex problem and there are quite a few factors that play into it.

1. Our Endocrine System: This system controls our hormone levels and determines the amount of sebaceous activity our sebaceous glands will have. Our sebaceous glands/hair follicles are what we call pores. Sebum is a fatty solution that is secreted by our "pores". It is used to lubricate the hair follicle and keep the skin from drying out. Sebum is NOT bad. Too my sebum secretion can lead to oily skin and breakouts. Our skin classification, oily, dry, normal or combo is referring to our sebum production.

2. Resident Bacteria: We hear all the time about products that kill bacteria and spa treatments that kill bacteria. We're always out to kill the bacteria! Kill the bacteria. Well, to be honest our skin is part of our immune system. It is our first line of defense against bacteria that are airborne, on surfaces and such. We have bacteria that already live on us. Sometime we pick them up elsewhere, but our resident bacteria live on our skin. Our skin is slightly acidic so they aren't able to overrun us take over our bodies. Anyways, a certain breed of bacteria, Propionibacterium acnes to be exact, lives on our skin and loves to eat our sebum. Yum. This little guys can get into our "pores" and cause an infection. This triggers an immune response and a lovely pimple is formed. Picking and popping pimples is horrible for your skin. You're basically picking at an infection. This can lead to scaring and hyper pigmentation. It actually takes the skin longer to heal if you pick at the pimple. You can also make the infection worse by picking. You can track more bacteria onto your skin... this could lead to staph infections and even MRSA. Be careful.

3. Retained Skin Cells: We are constantly making new skin and about every 28 days or so we have new skin at the surface. The top layer is supposed to shed and slough off naturally and most of the time it does. Sometimes it doesn't always do what it's supposed and that is why exfoliation is so important. If your skin is producing too much sebum and the resident bacteria are living off it and you add dead skin cells that trap the bacteria to the skin, you're just asking for a pimple! Retained skin cells can also lead to white heads. Now, this doesn't mean you should go an exfoliate everyday. Exfoliating everyday is bad because those dead skin cells are still important. I know this is confusing. Those cells bind water to our skin. They play an important part in the moisture of our skin. Over exfoliating can cause excess sebum production and dehydration of the skin. Only exfoliate 2-3 times a week.

My skin care routine is relatively simple. I wash my face once a day. Most people can get away with this, but washing your face twice a day with normal/oily skin is okay. If you have dry skin you might want to dry washing your face once a day, preferably at night, so that you aren't stripping you skin.

Step 1. Hand Washing: This might seem kind of silly, but the first product I use is a jarred product. I always wrap a tissue or a cotton round around my finger so that I don't actually put my fingers in the jar. Hand washing is mostly a precaution.

Step 2. Makeup Remover: I use plan old Pond's Cold Cream to remove my makeup. It's gentle and doesn't irritate. I can use it on my whole face and my eyes. Versatile and cheap. What's not to love?

Step 3. Cleanse: Cleansing is important to remove daily build of grim, dirt, pollutants and excess oil. It's important not to strip your skin so I recommend that ANYONE could us a product like Cethaphil. It's gentle and cheap. I think cleansers are a HUGE waste of money. They stay on your skin for what, 20 seconds? Think about it. I just use the generic brand of Cethaphil from Target. Remember if you are looking at a generic product, make sure to check and make sure the ingredients match word for word.

Step 4. Exfoliate: I use the Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant to exfoliate on a twice weekly basis. I really hate that they say a product that is used to exfoliate the skin can be used everyday. Shame on your Dermalogica. Shame on you. I really do like this product because it has Salicylic acid in it as well as gentle enzymes so it is not too harsh.

Step 5. Toner: Toner is not a product that we need. It was originally created to balance the pH of the skin after we used harsh cleanser. Now most cleanser we use aren't stripping our skin, or at least you shouldn't be using one! Like I said in the video you just need to have damp skin when you put on your cleanser.

Step 6. Moisturize: This is by far the most important step and should never be skipped. You should choose a moisturizer that is appropriate for your skin and your climate. The weather needs to be factored into your skin care routine. I typically use a lighter moisturizer in the summer and a heavier one in the winter. Make sure you wear sunscreen all year long regardless of season or the amount of sunlight!

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