To keep skin looking healthy, there are basic things that all of us must do. To keep it in optimal condition, we must follow a suitable balanced diet, we must keep our bodies rested and healthful, and we must exercise regularly. And then, of course, we must care for our skin. As we age, the body naturally deteriorates, so keeping it young and vibrant requires a little more effort. Because we all have different skin types, everybody’s skin regimen differs, too.
WE HAVE DIFFERENT SKIN TYPES – AND THINGS THAT WORK FOR US
One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to skin care. There are different types of skin, and there are various types of products for each skin type. What works for one person often doesn’t work for another, and using the wrong products can sometimes even lead to adverse skin reactions. Generally, the skin on the face is consistent with the skin on the body, so it’s a good idea to use the same line of products on both.
Human skin has a pH value (a degree of acidity or alkalinity) that correlates with skin type. At birth, we have neutral pH level of 7, but this soon drops and becomes acidic. The acidity serves to protect against bacteria and infections in the body and is contained in a fine layer on the skin. A normal adult pH ranges between 4 and 6.5, depending on the site of the body. Children normally have higher acid levels.
The skin becomes less acidic as we grow older. As it neutralizes, the body becomes less able to fight off bacteria. For most of us, the skin starts to show problems once our pH reaches level 6. A disturbed pH balance brings on skin ailments of all sorts. A loss of acidity usually equates with a tendency toward infection and disease. This is why it is important to products that are suited to our skin PH levels.
It’s also worth noting that factors like fluctuating hormone levels can disturb the pH level of the skin. This can lead to problems such as acne breakouts.
SKIN PH IMBALANCE – INSTIGATOR OF SKIN PROBLEMS
Propionibacterium acnes (aka P. acnes) is a type of bacteria that is present on most healthy adults’ skin, regardless of if they have acne or not. People susceptible to breakouts and acne tend to have more of it. Experts have shown that skin pH levels are linked to the growth of P.acnes. With a pH level of 5.5, it grows normally, but as soon as the skin becomes more alkaline skin, this bacteria breeds and thrives.
Most ordinary soaps have a pH of between 9 and 11, which is significantly alkaline. This makes the use of standard soaps a bad practice, particularly on the face. If one does use soaps that are very alkaline, balance should be restored by using a toner after washes or with a product that can neutralize skin acidity. Not doing so allows the skin to become very alkaline, making it prone to acne and other problems.
Repeated washing is another thing that causes pH imbalance. Bathing disrupts levels for up to 14 hours before returning to normal. That’s a gap for bacterial growth.
ALWAYS CLEANSE WITH A GOOD PH BALANCED CLEANSER
Use a decent cleanser that is pH balanced. When applying it to the skin, it is best to do so using the tips of your fingers (not your fingernails), spreading it over the skin in small circular motions. If you are cleansing your face, apply a toner after that – one that is designed for your particular skin type. This prepares your skin to be moisturized. Avoid toners that contain alcohol, to prevent drying and irritation.
If you have dry skin, it is recommended that you cleanse your face once or twice a day using a mild oil cleanser. Ordinary soap has a drying effect, so opt for a moisturizing soap or gentle cleansing bar that is suited to sensitive skin. You could also cleanse using a mild soap and then apply non-alcoholic cleanser and toner. Use a moisturizer that isn’t oil based. Drinking enough water through the day will keep you hydrated.
WASH OILY SKIN USING A MEDICINAL CLEANSER
If you have oily skin, use an astringent sort of toner. It’s ok if it contains alcohol or witch hazel, but bear in mind that those ingredients dry out the skin excessively if you are washing every day. If your oily skin accompanies acne, a benzoyl peroxide product is recommended. It can contain between 2.5 and 10%, depending on the severity of the acne. Prescription strength benzoyl peroxide is available for severe acne.
It’s a little trickier with combination skins. Wash your face using a gentle milky exfoliating cleaner once or twice a day. An alcohol/oil-free toner can be used to care for the two types of skin. In case of acne breakouts, benzoyl peroxide can be applied to the trouble areas in the evenings. On dry areas, apply oil-free moisturizer. A mild exfoliating cleanser followed by toner and moisturizer is fine for normal skin.
MORE SKINCARE TIPS FOR HEALTHY SKIN
When caring for skin, using products that contain as many natural ingredients as possible is always best. Invest in a toner and moisturizer designed for your specific skin type. Light/sunscreen moisturizers work well for during the day, while moisturizers with reparative properties can be applied at night before bed. Saturating the skin isn’t advisable, though – it must breathe.
Exfoliating is fine, whether you have a normal or oily skin type. Oily skin can be exfoliated two to three times a week. This will unclog pores and do away with unwanted dead skin, which all skin types should do for healthy and youthful-looking skin. For dry types of skin, mild exfoliators are available, but these should still be used quite sparingly – exfoliation can strip and dry significantly.
Finally, for those areas around the eye, there are numerous moisturizers and anti-aging products that work well, it’s just a matter of choosing one that suits your skin type and/or works best for you. Just be sure to avoid pulling or dragging when applying in the delicate areas under the eyes – use smooth, even strokes from underneath the eyes to the outside corners of the nose’s bridge.
YOUR TURN: Got some skincare tips of your own to share? How do you keep your skin looking young and youthful? Do let us know in the comments.