Skin Care Basics
Caring for your skin is a very simple process that is crucial to a healthy lifestyle. If fact, most people find that they can perform any routine for healthy skin in only about 5-10 minutes a day. In order to maintain your largest organ, your skin, you need to become familiar with the basic approaches to caring for your skin.
Prior to defining a skin care routine you will first need to determine which type of skin you have. In addition, you will want to take into account any skin conditions that you may have (i.e. acne, rosacea, cold sores...).
Once you have completed the previous steps you will then want to define a skin care routine that meets your personal skin care needs. In addition, you will want to include any special skin conditions that are unique to you, is within your financial budget, and fits your lifestyle and time schedule.
By taking the time to define your personal skin care routine you will ensure that your skin is healthy, vibrant, and projects a confidence that you are comfortable with.
The Different Types of Skin
Normal Skin: Normal skin is defined as skin that is not either too dry or too oily. If you are lucky enough to have normal skin, you do not need to perform much upkeep to keep your skin healthy. You may still have normal skin if you have a small amount of irregularities. Almost everyone has some dry skin, acne, or oily skin.
Oily Skin: Skin that is too oily is this way because of a secreted substance called sebum. Oily skin can be uncomfortable but has its advantages. The excess amount of oil on the skin actually serves as an added layer of protection and a way to keep moisture in. However, most people prefer to not have oily skin as it can make the surface of your body look shiny or unclean. Acne is also more likely to form on oily skin than normal or dry skin.
Combination Skin: Skin that is considered to be a combination has areas that are too dry and areas that are too oily. Many people have relatively dry skin in areas such as the elbows or legs and oily skin on the scalp. The most common case of combination skin is in the face. There are many cases of people having oily noses and foreheads while having dry skin on the cheeks. People with combination skin often have the most complicated skin care routines.
Dry Skin: Contrary to popular belief, dry skin does not necessarily cause blemishes associated with aging such as wrinkles and lines. However, people with constant dry skin should consider a rigorous moisturizing program to alleviate the stiffness and discomfort that dry skin can cause. Causes of dry skin include low humidity living areas, lowering estrogen levels due to menopause, and acidic acne medications.
Sensitive Skin: Even if you have reactions to laundry detergents, harsh chemicals, make-up removal solutions and alcohol based products you may not have sensitive skin. In fact, skin that is actually too sensitive is very uncommon. If you are sensitive to sensations like common chemicals, mild heat and cold, or even wind, consider seeing a doctor to ensure that you do not have a serious skin condition. Treatments for sensitive skin are normally by prescription only.
The 4 Basic Steps to Good Skin Care
There are 4 primary steps involved in maintaining a good skin care routine; cleanse, exfoliate, moisturize, and apply a sunscreen or sun block. The 4th step, applying a sunscreen or sun block, is quite controversial and will be discussed within this article. While each individual will want to follow all basic skin care steps you will need to tailor each step to meet your specific skin type and condition. For example, an individual with oily skin will want to use a different cleanser and moisturizer than an individual with dry skin. Below is a brief description of each of the 4 basic skin care steps:
Suntans and Sunburns
Approximately 99% of the UV radiation from the sun, at sea level, is UVA radiation. However, it is the UVB radiation that causes the majority of problems in relation to over exposure to the sun. Although it should be noted that recent research is beginning to implicate UVA radiation as well.
When an individuals skin is exposed to UV radiation and receives a tan, the cause is due to the melanocytes producing a melanin pigment in response to the UV radiation in sunlight. UV light promotes and stimulates melanin production and the pigment acts to absorb the UV radiation from the sunlight in an effort to protect the skin cells from UV damage.
The production of melanin is not instantaneous and requires a fair amount of time to be produced. For this reason, most individuals require several days of extended exposure to the sun to receive a tan. This concept applies only to Caucasians. In other races, melanin is produced on a continuous basis so the skin is always pigmented, to a varying degree.
Sunburn can be described as a marked erythema and pain that typically follows injudicious an extended period of sun exposure. A sunburn is actually a delayed UVB derived erythema due to an increase in blood flow to the area of the skin that received an overexposure to sun and typically becomes noticeable after about 4 hours and peaks anywhere between 8 and 24 hours after the sun exposure.
The root cause of the sunburn is due to the vascular reaction and the direct and indirect damage to the specific cellular targets from photochemical reactions and the creation of reactive oxygen. Damage to the DNA of the cells and the activation of multiple inflammatory pathways, involving prostaglandins are believed to be the catalyst for this reaction. The end result leads to vasodilation and edema. When an individual receives a sunburn evidence suggests a relationship between erythema and DNA damage.
Benefits of Sunlight
However, human beings were intended to be exposed to sunlight and there are several health benefits associated with exposure to sun light. In fact, sun light is one of the best healing remedies that can be found in nature. Sunlight from the sun provides the energy that all living organisms require to exist on the earth. To this end, sunlight is responsible for nourishing and energizing the human body.
Sun light plays a vital role in promoting the absorption of the full nutritional value from the foods that we consume. In addition, sun light assists in preventing several chronic diseases like osteoporosis, various types of cancers that affect the bladder, stomach, breasts, prostate, cervix, ovaries, and colon, mental depression, type 2 diabetes.
One of the main benefits of sunlight is that it supplies the human body with vitamin D. By doing so, calcium is absorbed at a higher rate in the stomach and is also transferred across the cell membranes. This process not only strengthens the bones, but also promotes a healthy nervous system by promoting increases in the production of endorphins within the brain.
Additional health and wellness benefits derived from sunlight are as follows:
So if there are so many benefits associated with exposing our skin to sunlight - what's the problem? First, overexposure to virtually anything can have negative affects on the human body. For example, while our bodies require vitamin A to function properly, daily doses over 30,000 international units (I.U.'s) can produce any, or a combination of, the following conditions: blurred and/or double vision, insomnia, headaches, blood clotting issues, microcytic anemia, neutropenia (low white blood cell counts), changes in bone and skin, and liver damage. In fact, while the human body may be comprised of over 66.00% water, consuming too much water can cause serious, even life threatening, conditions.
The controversy over whether or not to apply a sunscreen or sun block lies in the fact that over 84% of the sunscreen and sun block products contain cancer causing ingredients that are absorbed directly into the body through the skin; according to one of the top rated non-profit organizations, the Environmental Working Group. In addition they also stated in their study that over 700 sunscreen and sun block products contain at least 1 toxic chemical.
Below are a few recommendations for individuals that are exposed to several hours of sunlight per day:
Adjusting Your Skin Care Routine As You Age
While the essential make up of your skin does not radically change as you age, small differences in your routine are necessary to balance the hormonal changes that are associated with the aging process. Below is a list of several of the biological changes that do occur as we age also effect our skin as well:
Skin Care in Your Twenties: Most individuals that are in their twenties have relatively dry skin. The reason for this is the normal presence of acne and the high amount of hormones present in the body. Keep these basic skin care items in mind when deciding on a skin care routine when you are in your twenties:
Skin Care in Your Thirties: When you enter your thirties you may begin to experience even drier skin than you did in your twenties. In order for your skin care routine to be effective, a much more intense hydration program may be necessary. Keep these basics in mind when deciding on a skin care routine when in your thirties:
Skin Care In Your Forties, Fifties, and Beyond: At this point in your life, you will experience a drastic decline in the production of certain hormones and an increase in the dryness of your skin. In addition, inflammation can become more of an issue as you age as well. Keep these basic skin care principles in mind when deciding on a skin care routine that will work best for you:
Sunscreen and Sunblock
Natural and petroleum free sunscreens can be used to shield your skin from the sun. Wearing sunscreen will not completely prevent tanning. Remember that sunscreen is not enough to protect you for long periods of time in the sun. However, applying more sunscreen will not add more protection. Consider wearing a hat, sunglasses, and utilizing the shade whenever long periods of sun exposure are expected.
Choosing a sunscreen depends largely on the outside activity that you will be performing. Factors that influence sunscreen selection are:
While sunscreens will absorb UV rays and prevent them from penetrating skin, sun block actually reflects the sun's rays away from the skin. Use a sunscreen is you are tanning and sun block if you are planning on spending an extended amount of time in the sun. While sun blocks can reduce the amount of the suns rays that penetrate the skin, remember that an increase in the SPF rating is not proportional. For example, SPF 15 blocks approximately 93% of the sun's rays while a SPF 30 product will only block 97% of the suns rays.
Basic skin care for individuals without any serious skin conditions is really quite simple and does not require a lot of time to perform. For individuals with a skin condition, or individuals that are considering any of the surgical and non-surgical procedures that are available, we have devoted an entire portion of our skin and beauty section to topics of this nature.
Radiant, healthy, and vibrant skin is not only important for self-esteem, but also for self-confidence, mental stability, and a positive attitude. Healthy skin projects youthfulness and can even assist in maintaining a youthful outlook on life.
In addition, radiant and vibrant skin go hand in hand with a healthy lifestyle that includes plenty of physical fitness, and the consumption of a healthy and nutritious diet.
For these reasons, make sure that you treat your skin care routine with the same priority and comprehensive approach as you do your fitness, nutrition, and mental well-being.
By doing so, you will put together a well-balanced lifestyle that will address all aspects of living a healthy, prosperous, and long life.