Cleanse, treat, moisturize
I have spent years working on so many different faces and encountering many different skin types. There is not one face that wouldn't benefit from the simple steps listed in the title. Now, through the years I have heard some horror stories about the skincare routines, or lack there of, and of the products people have used that are beyond wrong for their skin type. Hopefully I can help you figure out what has been working or hasn't been. After all, your makeup is only going to look as good as your skin will allow, and if your canvas isn't at its best your application can suffer. Keep in mind, the products and treatments and home remedies I suggest are those I have suggested to people with their specific concerns and while they may have worked for those individuals there may be separate concerns and allergies you may have that could prevent you from getting good results. Make sure to do your research and test out any product before adding to your daily routine.
First thing to cover is skin types. There's oily, dry, normal, and combination. Each type comes with its own unique concerns and with each concern there are tips, tricks and treatments that can help. Keep in mind your skin is doing most of its replenishing and repair at night when you are sleeping so treatments go a long way when used before you head to bed. One way to figure out what skin type you may have is to observe your skin in the morning when you have washed and moisturized it the night before.
In the morning, does your skin have a bit of a sheen to it, is it slightly slick to the touch, or feel almost greasy? If so, you probably have oily skin. Oily skin can tend to be problematic when it comes to breakouts because a your skin is over producing sebum (your skins natural oils). This sebum, if not properly cared for, can clog up your pores causing blackheads and whiteheads, and since the skin is oily it is easy for infections from one broken out area to transfer to another area and cause more breakouts. With this skin type most people tend to be of the mind to strip all of the oils away with toners, wash with cleansers containing types of acid (some of those acidic cleansers can help but most tend to be too strong for a daily use) and avoid moisturizers. By doing these thing you could vary well exacerbated the problems you are having. What you might be surprised to find out is your skin is actually dehydrated. Your skin is screaming for hydration and moisture and is responding by over producing oils. By drinking plenty of water, using a gentle cleanser and moisturizing morning and night, and using hydrating treatments you should notice a wonderful change in your skin.
Some cleansers I have used in the past for oily skin are BareMineral Purifying Cleanser and First Aid Beauty Face Cleanser. Both are very gentle, so they can be used on sensitive skin and around the eyes to remove your makeup from the day. They’re strong enough to give you a thorough cleanse, but without drying you out, which is what you want from any cleanser you use for this skin type. As long as your cleanser doesn’t leave your skin feeling tight and/or dry before you moisturize but instead leaves you feeling smooth and hydrated you should be on the right track. When it comes to moisturizers, you want something to leave your skin feeling light and hydrated, not heavy or over saturated. I tend to suggest a natural approach for evening treatment, such as coconut oil or grape seed oil. A good alternative, if you aren't keen on putting an oil on your skin every night, is Tarte Cosmetics Rainforest of the Sea Drink of H2O Hydrating Boost Moisturizer. For daytime I suggest a moisturizer containing the natural form of SPF (titanium dioxide) such as bareMinerals Purely Nourishing moisturizer in Combination/Oily with SPF.
Let's say in the morning your skin feels a bit rough to the touch, lacking of natural oils and maybe a bit flakey. This is typical of dry skin. Similar to oily skin, this type is dehydrated but doesn’t overproduce oils in response, for whatever reason, genetic or environmental or whatever. So you get the expected texture or dry skin, flaky, rough and scaly. As with oily skin, firstly make sure you keep your whole body hydrated by drinking plenty of water. That plus daily and nightly cleansing with a hydrating cleanser, followed by moisturizing should help with these concerns. Breakouts aren't very common, but a frequent cause when they do happen is dead skin clogging your pores. Simply exfoliating 2 to 3 times a week should help. One home exfoliant I like to make is a mixture of honey or olive oil (both for moisture) and sugar. Lightly mix together to create a gritty paste, then scrub it around on your face. The ratio of oil or honey to sugar can be altered to make a gentler or stronger scrub, so experiment to see what you like. You can even add an essential oil if you see fit, as long as you do your research on what types are good for your skin type or concerns.
As for the hydrating cleansers mentioned before, a good daily cleanser to use would be one that is gentle and, you guessed it, hydrating. One I have used for this skin type that is also strong enough to take off your makeup from the day is Soy Face Cleansing Milk from Fresh. Ole Henriksen's Pore-Balance Facial Sauna Scrub is perfect for a weekly or bi-weekly cleansing and exfoliating to give you that extra deep cleanse we all need from time to time. When it comes to moisturizer, you want one for the day that will hydrate and keep you that way, and that also absorbs quickly into the skin, something like First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Face Moisturizer. For the evening, a hydrating cream that is a bit more rich and creamy to the touch would do the trick, like bareMinerals Purely Nourishing Cream.
The next skin type is my skin type, namely combination. This type is usually defined by having a bit of dryness as well as a bit of oilyness in different areas. Typically the oily areas are the "T zone", along the nose and forehead, whereas the dry areas tend to be the cheeks. The key here is to keep your skin hydrated, exfoliated, and clean, but you never want to over strip the oily areas or over exfoliate the dry areas or else you may irritate the skin or cause breakouts. As with the other two skin types, drink plenty of water to keep hydrated.
When it comes to cleansing I use and suggest a cleanser that is gentle, hydrating and very lightly exfoliating. One cleanser I have been adoring lately is the First Aid Beauty Face Cleanser with Red Clay. One to two times a week I use a more heavy duty exfoliating cleanser to really clear out my pores of any excess sebum and dead skin, like the one I suggested for dry skin. I just make sure not to over use this one since it can be too harsh if used more than that on combination skin. Moisturizing is key for this skin type as well. Depending on whether my skin is more oily or dry in the morning tells me which moisturizer to use for the day. More often than not I use bareMinerals Purely Nourishing Moisturizer in Combination/oily, but if I am a bit more dry that day I’ll reach for their Purely Nourishing Cream, and concentrate on my cheek area. In the evening I use a moisturizer that is light yet very hydrating to help both the oily and dry areas like Tarte's Rainforest of the Sea Drink of H2O Hydrating Boost Moisturizer.
Last but not least of the skin types is normal. This skin type is well balanced in natural oils and usually blemish free. This could also be called ideal skin. If you have this skin type, you’re not likely to need too much advice on skin care, problems are usually incidental and temporary. Just make sure your daily cleanser isn’t harsh, or leaves your skin tight and dry, and make sure your moisturizer is not too heavy or oily. I know, this section seems kind of dull but with with this type your body is naturally balancing everything the way it needs to be.
In addition to these types, there are also sensitivities that your skin can have. I, for example, tend to get more breakouts when I use makeup or skincare products that are not all or mostly natural. Synthetic ingredients and certain types of acid, such as salicylic acid, depending on the time or concentration can produce a range of reactions from mild to severe. Others have a sensitivity to hormonal changes and even to the dietary decisions they make. Be wary or products marketed for “sensitive skin”, because this isn’t really a category. Sensitivities are highly individual, often caused by a variety of factors like environment or body chemistry or diet. They’re not necessarily bad, but read the ingredients and do your research to be sure.
Treatments come in all types and are used for many different concerns, but Nine times out of ten the best time to apply a treatment is after cleansing (cleansing opens your pores so to better clean them out) and before you moisturize (moisturizing closes your pores to seal in all the benefits you get from your cleanser and treatments). This would include remedies like under eye cream or wrinkle cream for things like crows feet.
The most asked for treatment is for one problem that I have some of the most personal experience with, blemishes or acne. I am the queen of breakouts. Something that has helped me understand the source of my breakouts is something called face mapping. You can section your face into multiple sections but I tend to focus on 3. The forehead and down the nose tends to be stress related. The cheeks and tip of the nose tends to stem from digestive issues. Lastly, the chin and neck area breakout with changes in hormones. When I see the first sign of redness, it’s usually in the morning, so I just apply some ice to reduce the inflammation, throw on some concealer and deal with it later. One of my favorite overnight treatments for pimples is to apply teatree oil directly to the affected area. Teatree oil is antibacterial and anti-microbial so this helps to fight the infection that causes the whitehead. You can also try lavender oil for the same properties if you prefer the scent. A good mixture to use is honey, known for it's anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, mixed with aloe vera, known for its soothing and healing properties. Mix in equal parts to make a paste and either spot treat or apply all over. Another favorite mask of mine is the peel-off charcoal mask. Super easy to make, fun to do, and great at removing dead skin, clear out pores, and detoxify your skin.
Please do NOT pop your blemishes!! It causes scaring, leaves an open wound to allow for more infection and can spread the infection from that spot to anywhere else on your face you touch after popping it. Yes I know those pimple popping videos are satisfying as hell but most of them are done by a trained esthetician or dermatologist and they use proper sanitation and tools. Which leads me to another point, the remedies I have listed above have worked for me and my skin issues as well as my makeup clients. I am not a dermatologist, I am just a lover of all things beauty and skin, so I obsess over and study everything to do with these topics. Please visit a licensed esthetician or dermatologist to help remedy any severe problems, or underlying issues that may be causing your acne or other concerns.
The main point to take away from this post, though, is that no matter what your skin type, your routine should be Cleanse, Treat then Moisturize. The products and treatments may differ, but not the routine itself. Keep in mind that your skin is the largest organ in your body, and so is connected to everything else. Whatever you do to or put in your body can and usually will affect your skin. Like so many health related concerns, often the best remedy for skin problems is a wholistic lifestyle change to healthier overall choices. Eating well, sleeping enough, not being over stressed or exerted, and many other factors can be just as essential to alleviating skin problems as choosing the right cleanser or moisturizer. Please feel free to leave any comments, questions and concerns you may have in the comments section. I would be happy to expand on any subject listed above that you have an extra interest in.