Healthy skin is beautiful skin, and we can always find new ways to take better care of our skin. There are lots of products available to help you get your glow, but before you turn to products, you can adopt a few simple habits that help you get healthy skin. In high school, you could eat what you wanted, wear (close to) what you wanted, and – other than caring for teen acne – use whatever products you wanted on your face. But there comes a time when you need to get more serious about your skincare. The good news is stepping up your skin care game does not have to be complicated--or expensive. With this in mind, we’ve come up with the following five tips you can try for healthy, even-toned skin, and easy ways to get started.
Establish Your Skin Care Routine for Healthy Skin
The first (and most important) step to getting healthy skin is to establish a consistent – and effective – skin care regimen. Your routine doesn’t have to be complicated; keep it simple and manageable. What’s most important is to be consistent. While updating your skin habits can seem intimidating, listening to what your skin needs and creating a simple routine is easy and will leave you looking and feeling great.
Your regimen should include three steps:
When you cleanse your skin, focus on getting rid of dirt and excess oil gently and without stripping. If you’re in a polluted environment or wear a lot of makeup, your cleansing routine has to adjust and may sometimes change day to day, depending on your needs. Finding a gentle cleanser that balances your skin is a great way to start. If you use the double cleanse method, make sure you use natural, non-comedogenic oils that don’t clog your skin. A good toner removes any remaining dirt, and will balance the pH of your skin to make your other products more effective.
Your choices to treat your skin should be personalized to your skin’s needs. If you need to unclog your pores, reduce dark marks, or want to fight signs of aging, gentle exfoliating ingredients and vitamin C products are great choices for your skin.
The last step should be to moisturize your skin so it stays well hydrated. There is an important lesson that can be taken from the natural hair movement: people have learned that the best way to get the most beautiful hair is to focus on hydration. Hydration is about good water content in your skin, which can be attained by using hydrating products, as well as sealing the water into your skin with a good moisturizer or oil after you wash. Hydrated skin is soft, smooth and feels less irritated - it should be one of your main priorities, no matter your skin type – dry, combination or oily. Remember, oily skin does not mean hydrated skin; it is the amount of water retained that matters.
You should wear a sunscreen every day, rain or shine, no matter your skin tone. One common myth is that people with darker skin tones do not need sunscreen. However, good sun protection helps fight the signs of aging; this includes dark marks, uneven coloring and hyperpigmentation for people with darker tones, and wrinkles for people with lighter skin. In either case, sunscreen helps fight damage that can age your skin. People with darker skin tones should look for sunscreens that are either tinted to match their tones, or are clear when applied so they do not leave a white cast on the skin. Whatever your skin tone, sunscreen should be a part of your daily routine – it’s vital for all skin types and tones!
Maintain the Natural pH Balance of Your Skin
Maintaining the pH balance of your skin begins with paying attention to the pH of the products you use. As a reminder from high school chemistry, pH is a measure of whether something is acidic (think lemons) or alkaline (like lye).
The skin’s natural pH is between 4 and 5, which is slightly acidic and creates a protective barrier called the acid mantle. This serves as the skin’s first line of defense against bacteria and other environmental stress factors. A balanced pH level helps your skin maintain its moisture and avoid breakouts. Ideally, the products you use should help it maintain its natural balance and have a pH in the same range as your skin. In addition, commonly used ingredients like lactic acid, glycolic acid, and salicylic acid are much more effective when the skin is in its normal, slightly acidic state. Most soaps are made with lye and are very alkaline (with a pH of 8 or 9); even water has a pH of 7 (which is neutral but still higher than the skin’s natural pH). Instead, work with your skin, not against it. The best products to use are gentle, pH balanced cleansers and toners. These help keep your skin back in its natural state.
Be Gentle With Your Skin
It is really important to use a light touch—especially when working with beautifully melanated skin -- as people with darker skin tones are more likely to experience hyperpigmentation, after even the slightest injury or irritation. When exfoliating, use gentle products and treat your skin carefully. In general, if it stings, proceed with caution. With harsher skin procedures such as acid peels and laser treatments, always go to a professional who is experienced working with darker skin tones. If you have oily skin, you may be dealing with adult acne: don’t use products that over strip your skin, as your skin may respond with more oil production that can lead to more blemishes. Be careful to not pop pimples or pick at your skin - picking creates scarring and hyperpigmentation, which takes months to fade.
Keep Skincare Simple
If your skin is often dry, itchy or irritated, that may mean you have sensitive skin and are reacting to the ingredients in the products you’re using. You want to ensure that the products you use are simple, clean, and effective. Too many ingredients can lead to reactions from your skin, which cause inflammation that may lead to hyperpigmentation. Everyone should be aware of the ingredients in the products they use on their face and body. Thus, you want to read the labels of your products to minimize fillers like perfumes and dyes, and look for products that use more natural ingredients. Try to avoid products that use chemicals known to cause health problems. For example, parabens, sulfates, and phthalates are common ingredients used in many skincare and cosmetic products. However, they have been reported to disrupt the endocrine system and are known carcinogens when used in high doses. Even with natural products, anyone can have an allergy to any basic ingredient, so you should always read the labels and listen to your body if it is telling you to stay away from a product because it irritates your skin. Be a savvy consumer, and make sure you know and understand every ingredient that you’re using.
There are many quick and easy steps you can take to start with these tips immediately. As with all things, the more you learn, the easier it gets with time. Habits can be established within 30 days, and here are some simple skin care steps you can commit to immediately:
Cleanse your face every night: Make this a habit, like brushing your teeth. Get rid of the makeup and dirt from that day – it gives your skin a chance to be treated and to rejuvenate itself while you sleep.
Wear sunscreen: Every day. Rain or shine. No matter your skin tone.
Stop using soap on your face: Instead, use a balanced skin cleanser closer to the natural pH of your skin.
No more picking: stop picking at blemishes to avoid marks and hyperpigmentation from acne.
Pay attention to ingredients: Read the labels to learn what works for you and look for simple ingredients. If your face is itchy or feels irritated after using a product, it may be because your skin is sensitive to one of the ingredients. Treat your skin like it’s sensitive, even if you think it isn’t.
A bonus: skin glows best when it glows from within! Eat more fruits and vegetables, drink water, exercise, and reduce your stress as much as you can this year. Finally, you should aim to get better sleep: a good night’s sleep leads to fewer wrinkles, a glowing complexion, and an all-around healthier appearance. You should get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night – if you’re getting fewer than six hours, it is more than likely affecting
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