What do we mean by "Skincare"?

Part One.

Skincare is not about make-up. Neither is this about saying that one product line is better than the other. I am not going to produce some earth shattering information about "a certain product (which I just happen to sell) being the holy grail of skin care" and I am not going to disclose some hidden secret of skincare that I have found under the kitchen sink or at the end of the garden.

Sometimes, I feel that the person who has to resort to the plastic surgeon to "lift this and tuck that" has failed. True, many people do need plastic surgery and for all the right reasons - birth defects, accidents, truly unfortunate shapes to certain parts of the anatomy - and the work of these highly skilled surgeons is to be marvelled at. At the end of the day, however, we were all created the way we were and if we all looked the same, life would be very dull. I never quite understand some of these society types who have themselves chopped around for vain purpose. That one is prepared to go to such lengths for the sake of fashion is rather sad, really. To look good, you have to work at it a bit - No pain, no gain!

There are a wide range of skin care products available. It may be said, you need to start young with a skin care regime, but in reality you can start at any time. You do need to recognise, however, that the regime you choose must be carried through - it is not a quick fix. You are a beautiful person. Period. You may need a little help, but you are a beautiful person!

There are three basic steps involved in skin care, namely: clean, tone and moisturise and we need to consider each step.

Before we start, what is lurking in your make up cabinet? Probably about 6 different types of skin care products, many of which are changed from time to time. On top of this you will have hair care products, nail - and that before we start on our make-up.

I do not want to get into trouble by saying that synthetic chemicals in cosmetic products are harmful for you. This is a decision you must make for yourself. That said, think about this: One group of synthetic skincare additives which was widely discussed was the Phthalate groups, specifically Diethyl Phthalate and Dibutyl Phthalate. What I want you to think about is this: Even if there is nothing wrong with the use of an individual synthetic chemical, what happens, long term, if you use phthalates with triclosan and paraban? It is your choice - but it is quite possible that you are covering yourself in an untested chemical pudding and having been doing so for some time.

After this pudding has been put to one side, you can than find a skin care range that you like. When you go though (my, I hope) shop you will find that most of the product ranges carry through this "cleanse, tone, moisturise" (and may I add another category) "repair" theme. You will need to establish your skin type and unless you are sure about this, you should visit a professional beauty therapist. Indeed, such a visit, if you are starting out, will also be useful as it will provide the opportunity to find out how to carry out procedures properly - actually, even if you have been at it for a while, a visit may help to guide you on some of the finer points (i.e. tell you what procedures you have been doing incorrectly!) 

For example, here is what Josephine Fairley, author of the 21st Century Beauty Bible and a regular contributor to many top magazines has to say:

"Take moisturising, for instance. Most of us dab and apply. But if you haven't cleansed properly first? Frankly, it's the skincare equivalent of putting polish on a dirty floor. The key, then, is to remove make-up thoroughly. Cleansing wipes are terrific for when there's too-much-to-do-in-too-little-time (and a far better option than falling into bed with your make-up on) - but better still, emulsify make-up (and the pollution that builds up on the skin's surface over the day) with a rich cream cleanser. Best way to remove it? In place of the traditional cotton wool, try a muslin cloth, or a face flannel, dunked in almost - hot water and massaged over the skin. That gentle buffing action has a dual purpose: it also exfoliates dead skin cells, which sit on the complexion's surface and can prevent moisturiser and anti-ageing ingredients from penetrating. Ideally, spend 30 seconds during your cleansing regime - which should last at least a minute and a half, overall - on areas where dead cells tend to build up: around the nose, and in the fold between mouth and chin. Rinse, swish, repeat; then pat skin dry with a fluffy towel and apply a gentle, alcohol-free toner, if you like to 'freshen' skin. Allow skin to dry just but not to feel tight."

Which range you finally decide to settle for is a matter of trial and choice. Here again, a visit to a professional therapist will prove beneficial. What you think is good for you skin and what is actually  good for your skin, can be two different stories. You do not have to follow the advice you are given, of course. Products are different in texture, lightness and of course, content. Once you have laid down the bedrock product range you may wish to use complementray products for specific issues but I suggest that you stay with your bedrock range.

A basic regime should include cleansing of the skin every morning and every night with a soap free cleanser. Soap is an option but it can make the skin very dry and is harsh on the eye area. If you do use soap, then use a gentle one. Whatever you do, no heavy duty scrubbing. If in the evening, start by removing lipstick, which is usually the heaviest item, wiping from the lip line to the centre of the mouth.

Next, remove your mascara and eye shadow from the lid of the eye. This should be done with an eye cleanser on a cotton pad. Close the eye and rub (gently) down towards the lashes. Open the eye and rub upwards to remove mascara from under the eye. Be careful and gentle - this skin is very delicate. Once all the mascara has been removed, using a clean pad with a little cleanser, rub along the eyelid towards the hairline.

For the rest of the face, take your chosen cleanser (or facial wash) and a cotton pad. Be very careful to include the area around the nose, the hair line and the eyebrows. These are areas where make-up can become ingrained and cause spots.

Now put your chosen toner on a cotton pad and run his across the skin. The cleanser has the action of opening the pores and the toner removes the cleanser. Be careful with alcohol based toners as they can be quite harsh. You will find, in my shop section, that I do mention alcohol free toners.

If you have made all the positive diet and lifestyle changes you feel you can but still feel your outside doesn't reflect your inside, there are other steps you can take:

1. Consider dermabrasion to resolve deep scarring and imperfections.

 

2. Talk to a professional aesthetician about pulsed laser technology (IPL) or other laser therapies for unwanted hair, sun damage, spider veins, rosacea and other discoloration.

 

3. If your acne is not improving, consider antibiotics after a consultation with your Doctor.

 

4. Make sure that you support your body through proper supplements and diet and discontinue the antibiotics as soon as possible.

 

5. Look into a "natural facelift" through aromapeeling or possibly acupuncture.

6. Limit your sunbathing. Try to avoid sun between 10am and 3pm (even in winter its rays can be damaging). If in the sun at this time always wear protective clothing like hats, long-sleeved shirts, and sunglasses. Most importantly put on sunscreen lotion BEFORE going out in the sun to help protect your skin from UV light and reapply frequently. Always use products that are SPF (sun protection factor) 15 or higher. Look for added UVA protection filters, as this is the most harmful form of UV light, being able to penetrate windows. Skin poses no barrier to its transmission.

 

As many of us can travel widely, be very careful if you go away to far flung places. You may go on holiday to Spain in the Summer - but that is nothing compared to, say, the sun at the Equator. If you want to go to, say , the Caribbean in the winter months or Dubai , your skin will not cope without SP30 at the very least. In some cases, just avoid going out. If you really want to go on Safari in Summer in Kenya, everything will need to be covered. Tanning parlours? No.

Finally, do check skin often for the signs of skin cancer. There are two types; non-melanoma which usually shows as a painless, slowly enlarging spot and melanoma skin cancer, which arises in moles. When inspecting moles remember that we all have around 30 moles. These can vary in colour, size and shape. Some are raised, some flat. Get used to scanning your skin as you bathe or dress.

 

If you get that "I have not seen that before" feeling, stop, look and make a note of the change. Put the note on the fridge telling you to look again in 6 weeks. If it is still there and still looks odd, have it examined by your GP or Dermatologist. If you see anything persistently red and flaking, or a sore that scabs repeatedly and doesn't heal over a 12-week period, get it looked at. This is the most common example of a non-melanoma skin cancer. Older, fair-skinned people and those with a family history of skin cancer should also plan a yearly skin check by a Dermatologist, as part of a regular programme.

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