Read an Excerpt
Getting Up Close and Personal with Your Skin
Everyone's skin is different with its own unique challengesyou just need to figure out what yours are and use that as a jumping-off point on your journey. Along the way, I'll be your guide to help you assess your individual skin type and dissect the nagging problems that come with it. Just remember to be honest with yourself and really decide what changes you want to make on the outside, and together we'll make that happen from the inside out.
The average person usually has a handful of different issues with their skin. The first step is to make a list of all of your issues and then decide which change would yield the biggest benefit and begin there. For example, if you have both acne and aging skin, you need to decide what your number one concern is and move in that direction first. If it's aging, then begin with that and move to acne later. For each problem, you can start over at the beginning of this book and go through it chapter by chapter for the next skin issue you have. It's a process, but trust meit works!
What's My Skin Type?
Most problem skin falls into five major categories: acne-prone skin, sensitive skin, aging skin, cellulite, and skin in transition. They each come with their own set of issues, challenges, and obstacles, but none are so big they can't be conquered. I'll start by breaking down each category with a simple explanation so you'll have a better idea of which ones you're facing.
Everyone's definition of acne is a little bit different. For most people acne means unsightly pimples, blackheads, or whiteheads on their face, chest, and/or back, which are caused when pores become clogged with bacteria, oil (sebum), and dead skin cells. Blackheads are follicles that are filled with keratin and modified sebum, an oily secretion that darkens when it oxidizes, causing the dark black color. In contrast, a whitehead is a follicle that is filled with the same materialsebumbut lacks a microscopic opening to the skin surface. Since the air cannot reach the follicle, the material is not oxidized and thus remains white. Typically you can get rid of whiteheads much quicker than blackheads.
Acne can also be open papules, inflamed red bumps without a head (like a whitehead), or pustules, which contain pus, oil, and dead skin cells. Pustules can also appear as red circles with a white or yellow center.
A more serious type of acne is cystic acne, which consists of bumps filled with pus that are often five millimeters or more in diameter across. This condition can often be very painful and cannot be cured overnight. Acne can also manifest as rosacea, which is characterized by skin that is easily subjected to blushing (resulting from small, dilated blood vessels beneath the surface), redness, or swelling, or it can be a pattern of broken blood vessels with a weblike appearance. Things like environment, climate changes, and stress hormones can also be triggers for acne.
Sensitive skin can range from someone who blushes easily to someone who breaks out when their skin touches another person. Maybe you're allergic to many ingredients in skin-care products, or maybe your skin gets overly dry or oily because of the products you use. Psoriasis is another condition which is characterized by raised red patches or bumps appearing on any part of your body. These all fall under the sensitive-skin umbrella. Bacteria, environment, skin-care products, changes in temperature, and interpersonal contact are all triggers for people with sensitive skin.
Aging skin is characterized by texture in the form of little lines, deep wrinkles, or furrow marks; it is also often crepey or sagging. It can also be characterized by a loss of radiance and a general dullness in your epidermis. The passage of time and not taking proper care of your skin as you age are the major causes of aging skin.
Cellulite is defined as that less-than-desirable dimpled appearance of the skin that can show up on your thighs, hips, or buttockssimilar to cottage cheese or an orange peel. It's caused by the distortion of fat deposits in the connective tissue beneath the skin, which can change its outer texture.
Cellulite is genetic, but it's also caused by poor circulation throughout the body and skin. Due to certain hormonal factors, women are far more likely to get cellulite than men. In fact, men rarely develop cellulite. The influences of genetic factors have not been investigated fully, but any bit of genetic predisposition may make you more likely to develop cellulite. So if the genes you inherited from your mother or grandmother make you a likely candidate, it would be in your best interest to live a lifestyle that will prevent cellulite as much as possible.
It's also important to know that this condition can improve or worsen depending on what you eat to help fortify collagen production in your epidermis. Exercise can also help by smoothing out the memory of the skin. (And, yes, your skin does have memory.) Research shows that long after you do anything to alter the state of your skin, it can become hypersensitive in the location you worked on and will 'remember' the new and improved condition you created days, weeks, or even months later.
Skin in Transition
As you go from one stage of life to another, your skin also goes through transition and change. For example, pregnancy alters not just your body shape but your skin as well. Losing or gaining weight can cause your skin to transform. Going from your teens into your twenties is a transition. Moving from your twenties into your thirties and from your thirties into your forties and so on is a transition. Entering perimenopause and menopause are big ones, and when you hit sixty, there is some serious work you need to do with your skin. The bottom line is that as you move into any new stage of your life, there's a good chance your skin will experience a change as well, and knowing how to treat it is the key to keeping it healthy.
Let's Map It Out
Mapping or analyzing your skin isn't just for your face. It can also be done over your entire body. Skin challenges can crop up anywhere, but right now, let's focus on your fabulous, fixable face and see what needs a change.