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Everyone wants to be beautiful. When we look and feel good, we can face the world with exuberant confidence, whether at school, at work, or at home. In other words, when you feel better about yourself, others feel better about you too! Since our face is our main point of communication, looking our very best often determines how well we are seen and heard by others. The billions of dollars we spend on makeup proves that we all want our skin to have a healthy glow and our face to look soft, pretty, striking, and stunning. Unfortunately, the cosmetics industry sells gimmicks, hype, and even lies along with the creams and lotions we buy. So before you spend any more money, let's talk about some basics.
Starting with a fresh, clean surface (your skin) is the key to creating a beautiful work of art (your makeup). Whether you apply makeup or not, starting and ending your day with good skin care is essential to a beautiful face.
A simple skin care program, based on the needs of your skin type (dry, normal, combination, or oily), can refresh your skin and help to give it a healthy glow that will enhance your own natural beauty.
Determining Your Skin's Needs
Let's see what kind of skin you have. Making some simple observations, put a checkin the column that best describes your skin:
Check It Out
Almost Never Sometimes Monthly Weekly Daily
1. Is your skin prone to pimples?
2. Is your skin prone to blackheads?
3. Do you break out on your back?
4. Do you break out on your upper arms?
5. Do you break out on your chest?
The Answer Is
Check your answers. Use the info below to determine the needs of your skin.
Almost Never-Sometimes-You are blessed to have minor complexion problems. However, even minor blemishes can turn into huge problems when we have to face the world from behind a single zit! You should still follow a regular skin care routine. Monthly-Your skin tends to be oilier as your body goes through hormonal changes. You will notice a change just before, during, or after your period. Altering your skin care routine during your menstrual cycle can help meet the changing needs of your skin.
Weekly-Daily-Your skin tends to be very oily and needs the utmost care to look its best. While many over-the-counter products work well, you may need to consult a dermatologist. It's money well spent and is sometimes covered by your health insurance. Ask your parents.
Testing Your Skin Type
If you know the special needs of your skin type, you'll be able to avoid products that irritate your skin and waste your time and money as well. Use this simple test to find our your skin type:
Check It Out What You'll Need: Perm end papers or curl papers and scissors
Step One: First thing in the morning before you wash your face, take a perm end paper (or curl paper) and cut it into four pieces about the size of a penny. Gently place one of the four pieces on your forehead, one on your cheek, one on your nose, and one on your chin. (The papers will stick on their own from the natural moisture and oils on your skin. If they don't stick, then you know that particular area of your skin is extremely dry).
Step Two: Wait ten minutes and then remove the papers one by one. As you remove them, hold them to the light and examine each one to see how much oil is absorbed from your skin. The dots on the circles below represent the amount of oil found on each paper. Circle the example that best resembles the paper you removed from your face:
The Answer Is
What is your skin type? Circle the answer that best describes your skin:
Dry Normal Combination Oily
Dry- If your skin is dry, then you may have had difficulty getting the papers to adhere to your skin. Your paper will have little to no oil on it; however, you may see flakes of dry skin on the paper. Dry skin does not produce enough oil on its own to retain a healthy amount of moisture. Your skin will be tight and flaky. Dry dead skin cells will clog your pores beneath the surface, irritating your skin and causing pimples to form.
Normal-If your skin is normal, it has just enough moisture to make the paper adhere without appearing shiny. Normal skin is a blessing; you should be so thankful to have this skin type. Normal skin produces just the right amount of oils to keep your skin moist without it appearing dry or oily.
Combination-If your skin is combination, it is oily in the T-zone area (forehead, nose, and chin) and normal to dry elsewhere. Combination skin is the most common skin type. Combination skin is oily in the T-zone (forehead, nose, and chin) and tends to break out the most in this area.
Oily-If your face is oily, your paper will be heavily saturated with oil from your skin and your face most likely appears shiny. Oily skin is linked to hormonal changes taking place within your body that produce overactive oil glands. If you have oily skin, your face usually appears shiny no matter how many times a day you wash it. Oily skin is most prone to severe acne problems.
In addition to your skin type, you may or may not have "sensitive skin." Does your skin get irritated easily? Do you tend to break out or develop ruddy, rash-like patches when you apply any type of skin care product to it? If so, you will need to purchase products made for "sensitive skin," available for all four skin types.
Hypoallergenic products usually, but not always, work best on sensitive skin. Always test a small area of your skin first before spending too much money on a product. If you have trouble finding a product that does not irritate your skin, consult a dermatologist.
The 4 Steps to Skin Care
The four steps to a good skin care routine are cleansing, exfoliating, toning, and moisturizing.
Cleansing is the first and most important step in skin care. Should you use cleansing bars, foam cleansers, gels, lotions, milks, or just plain old Noxzema to wash your face? Well I'm afraid that's for you to decide based on your skin type. Only you can grade the success of any one product or combination of products over time. You should notice a positive difference in your skin within 5 to 10 days if you are using the right product. If not, try another until you find one that works for you. Don't give up and don't get discouraged during the search.
Cleanse your face once in the morning and again before you go to bed. Always use a water-soluble cleanser unless otherwise recommended by a dermatologist. Make sure the product is gentle to your eyes and has no adverse side effects. If it does, immediately discontinue use and try another product, or consult a dermatologist. With your fingertips, gently massage the cleanser into your face and along your jawline. Rinse thoroughly by splashing water over your face several times or until all the cleanser is removed.
Dry-Choose water-soluble cleansing milk formulated for dry skin. Dry skin cleansers contain light emollients (medicated ingredients that soften and smooth) that leave your skin feeling soft and smooth without feeling greasy.
Normal-Choose a water-soluble cleansing lotion formulated for normal skin. It should leave all areas of your skin feeling clean and refreshed, never tight or greasy.
Combination-Choose a water-soluble, oil-free cleanser formulated for combination skin. When you wash your face concentrate on the T-zone area.
Oily-Choose a water-soluble cleanser that contains 2 percent salicylic acid that will loosen the oil and bacteria from your pores so it rinses easily from your skin. For blemishes or acne, use a cleanser containing 3 to 5 percent benzoyl peroxide. More benzoyl peroxide for more drying and less for less drying. Follow up with blemish cream that contains benzoyl peroxide. Apply it directly on the blemish.
Exfoliants or facial scrubs are cleansers that contain a fine gritty substance formulated to remove dead skin cells from the skin's surface and expose fresh, new, healthy skin. Old layers of surface skin can clog your pores, trapping dirt and sweat and making your skin much more susceptible to blemishes. Exfoliating your face twice a week gives you the same results as expensive facials. Using your fingertips in a circular motion, gently massage the product into your already dampened skin. This will buff your skin without irritating it. Rinse well by splashing water over your face several times until you no longer feel any of the cleanser. Gently blot dry. Apply moisturizer immediately to protect the healthy new skin cells that are now exposed. Never use exfoliants on the delicate skin around your eyes.
Dry-Use a buffing cream to loosen dry skin cells and slough off flaky dry skin. Be gentle so you don't pull, stretch, or irritate your skin.
Normal-Exfoliating masks are great for normal skin. Gently massage it in with your fingertips, leave on (follow directions on the product label), and rinse off.
Combination-Use exfoliating masks or scrubs for normal to oily skin types. Oily-Use an exfoliant that contains AHA (alpha hydroxy acid). AHA helps dry oily skin. Avoid harsh scrubbing that will open blemishes, spread bacteria, and make the problem worse.
Toner is like the rinse cycle in your washing machine. It continues the cleaning process by lifting and removing any residual dirt or dead skin cells missed by the cleanser. It also restores the skin to its natural pH level (acid level that helps repel bacteria from the skin's surface). Don't use toner around the sensitive eye area, and always apply toner with a cotton ball or pad.
You might want to keep a bottle of toner and cotton balls, or an over-the-counter jar of astringent pads, in your PE locker to freshen up your face after sweating. Good old-fashioned sweat is one of your skin's ways of natural cleansing. Perspiration releases dirt from your pores, and it's a good time to apply a refreshing toner. Your skin will love you for it!
Dry to Normal Skin-Avoid toners that contain alcohol that will further dry your skin. Look for toners containing witch hazel. Witch hazel soothes the skin. Use once in the morning before you apply moisturizer.
Combination or Oily Skin-Use a toner that contains alcohol. Alcohol will dry up oily skin. For best results use toner once in the morning and once at night before you apply moisturizer.
After you cleanse, exfoliate, or tone your skin, it's time to moisturize. Moisturizers don't actually sink beneath your skin's surface, but they do act as an invisible barrier to keep your body's natural moisture from escaping. Moisturizers come in many varieties, from oil-free gels to oily lotions. Based on your skin type and the changing needs throughout the month, you might need more than one moisturizer. In the cold, dry months many of us need heavy lotion to help keep our skin from getting dry and flaky. During the summer months, and often during your menstrual cycle when skin is oilier, you will only need a lightweight, oil-free product. Remember that everyone's skin is different, so what works for your friend may not work for you.
Use specially formulated eye creams or gels for the delicate area around your eyes. These lotions will remove puffiness and smooth out the eye area without irritating your skin. Application of eye creams requires a gentle touch. Using your pinky finger, gently pat the moisturizer on your skin. Make sure you select moisturizers that contain sunscreen!
Dry-Dry skin needs a moisturizer that contains heavy emollients. If you have specific areas of your face that are much drier than other areas, then you may want to use two moisturizers: a heavy moisturizer for those targeted areas and a lighter moisturizer over the rest of your face and neck.
Normal-For normal skin apply a lightweight oil-free moisturizer that doesn't feel heavy or make your skin feel greasy. Combination-Choose two different types of moisturizers to balance the two different needs of your skin. Use a lightweight oil-absorbing formula on your T-zone area and an oil-free moisturizer on the rest of your face and neck.
Oily-Don't skip this step. Many people think that because their face is oily they don't need to use moisturizer because it will just get oilier. However, this is not true. Your skin needs adequate moisture to be its healthiest and to combat acne. Oily skin responds best to lightweight oil-free, oil-absorbing lotions or gels that moisturize your skin without adding additional oils. Another product that works well on oily skin is hydrating mists. In cases of acute acne it is best to consult a dermatologist.
There are several other factors that can adversely affect your skin. Are any of these things you need to address?
Sun-Even a good skin care regimen won't completely counteract the negative effects of too much sun. Sun can cause irregular pigmentation, permanent spotting, and premature wrinkling ... not to mention various forms of skin cancer. Dermatologists recommend an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15 for the optimum benefit. Make sure the product you purchase protects from both UVA and UBA rays. You should use sunblock not only on your face, but also on every other part of your body that is exposed. Not only will this protect from sun damage, it will help to keep your skin moisturized all over.
Diet-A balanced diet is critical to your overall physical development. Both lack of good nutrients and fluctuating weight are detrimental to beautiful skin. Vitamins and minerals are necessary for the natural repair and replacement of healthy skin cells. Every time you gain weight your skin has to stretch to keep up. When you're young, your skin is more elastic; as you age, elasticity is lost and you're likely to be left with sagging skin and stretch marks.
Excerpted from Looking Good from the Inside Out Fashion by Tammy Bennett Copyright © 2003 by Tammy Bennett. Excerpted by permission.
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