For all skin types, following the cleanse, tone and moisturise skin care routine on your face is the secret to a perfect complexion. If you prefer soap, use masses of cool water to rinse it off – do this while you’re taking a shower and benefit as well from the stimulation to the circulation due to the jets of water.
Alternatively choose a cleanser to match your skin type and make sure every last trace is removed by using a toner. Moisturisers actually prevent moisture evaporating from the skin’s surface. Wear one with a sun protection factor (whatever the weather) and you’ll protect yourself from the ageing effects of UV rays.
Exfoliation – rubbing off the dead skin improves your skin tone and although there are masses of exfoliant products on the market, don’t forget that the humble face flannel – scrupulously clean of course – also acts as an exfoliant. People with dry or sensitive skins should exfoliate two or three times a week while those with more oily complexions should so do once a week for maximum benefit.
Simple lifestyle changes can improve your skin
Giving up smoking – smoking ages the skin and often increases the fine lines around the eyes
Limit intake of sugar and alcohol
Eat five portions of fruit and veg a day
Reduce stress levels – learn a relaxation technique to use whenever you feel particularly stressed.
Get enough sleep – most people need six to eight hours
Drink six glasses of water a day – sip water throughout the day
Invest in an humidifier to counteract the drying effect of central heating. Alternatively leave bowls/vases of water in the room
Take more exercise – this improves circulation, which in turn improves skin tone and also reduces stress levels.
Each person’s skin is individual but tends to fall into one of four basic skin types –
- Normal or combination skin
- Dry skin
- Sensitive skin
- Greasy/oily skin
- Common skin problems
Normal or combination skin
Normal skin is perfectly balanced neither dry nor oily. The same health and beauty products are often used for normal and combination skin because so many adults have a slightly oily zone abound the nose forehead and chin forming a T shape. They may also have drier skin on the rest of the face. If the difference between the two areas is very marked, different skin care products appropriate to each area should be used. In general products for this type of skin are labelled for combination or normal skin. Moisturisers are lighter than those for dry skin and toners are less astringent than those for oily skin.
Fair complexioned and light-haired people tend to have drier skin. This skin type burns easily in the sun and is also frequently sensitive. Dry skin is usually very fine with few visible pores and may develop flaky patches in cold weather. This skin type is sensitive to changes in temperature and the dryness may worsen with air conditioning and central heating.
Youthful acne is rarely a problem for this skin type but the lack of oil may cause fine lines and wrinkles to appear earlier. Moisturising is essential and so is drinking plenty of water and avoiding dehydrating drinks containing caffeine and alcohol.
Sensitive skin is usually very dry and delicate and prone to allergic reactions like blotches or rashes. It’s important to use products designed for this skin type, termed hypoallergenic. This means that they don’t contain ingredients that are known to cause allergies. Toners need to be extra mild and alcohol-free. Moisturising is the key to good skin care with this type.
People with dark hair and a darker complexion tend to have oily skin due to overactive sebaceous glands. Oily skin is prone to breakouts of spots and the pores tend to be more visible. Use products dedicated to this skin type. If you wear make up you might find an oil-absorbing foundation or a dusting of translucent powder helps to prevent the greasy shine.
Common skin problems
People with some common skin problems may need to take a little extra care with their skin –
Home grown treatments
Mix fifty per cent witch hazel with fifty per cent rose water for use on oily skin. Reduce the witch hazel for normal or combination skin to one part with three parts rose water. Use rose water alone for dry or sensitive skin.
For an instant moisturising mask, rub the inside of an avocado skin over a cleansed face and neck and – if there’s anything left over – the back of your hands. Leave on for five to 10 minutes then rinse off with tepid water.
For a cleansing mask, whip an egg white until stiff and apply a thin layer to face and neck. Leave to dry then rinse off with tepid water.
To reduce any puffiness around the eye area, place slices of cucumber that have been cooled in the fridge over the eyes and relax for five minutes. Alternatively use crushed ice cubes wrapped in a tissue or a pad soaked in water and popped in the freezer for a few minutes.
Run out of exfoliant? Mix a spoonful of oats with your normal cleansing lotion or to some plain yoghurt. Using your fingertips, rub it gently over the face and neck with small circular movements. Rinse off with tepid water.
The 10 minute skin care routine
One of the secrets of a perfect complexion is the good old cleanse, tone and moisturise routine.
It’s easy to fall into bad or sloppy habits. Busy people often haven’t the luxury of time for weekly facials. But a regular skin care programme need not be time-consuming and can include all the elements of a facial, spread over the week. Just set aside 10 minutes every evening to follow this routine then in the morning all you have to do is splash your face with water and you’re ready to face the day or your make-up mirror.
1. Brush hair off the face and cleanse the eye area with cotton wool/tissue/ or pad soaked in eye make-up remover. Using separate pads for each eye begin with a wipe under the eyebrow line and then down over the lashes – you may need to do this more than once to remove every trace. Then gently wipe under the eye. Skin around the eyes is very delicate so treat it with kid gloves.
2. Cleanse the face and neck. If you like the feeling of using soap and water, use a very mild soap. For a similar effect use a cleansing bar, facial wash or a cleansing cream appropriate to your skin type. One of the secrets of good cleansing is to remove every trace of the cleanser. So if you use a soap product rinse thoroughly with tepid water. Remove last traces of cleansing lotion with a toner. Place a tissue over the face to absorb excess moisture.
One or more of the following three treatments are to be carried out over your seven-day programme.
3a. Once a week steam clean your face for three or four minutes over a bowl of just boiled water (or run the hottest water into your bathroom basin), placing a towel over your head to prevent the steam escaping – but be careful not to scald yourself. You might like to add a couple of drops of an aromatherapy oil. Pat your face dry with a clean towel or tissues.
3b. Although all skin types benefit from exfoliation – removing the dead skin and unclogging pores – people with dry or sensitive skins should exfoliate two or three times a week while those with more oily complexions should so do once a week for maximum benefit. Apply exfoliant to face and neck, avoiding the eye and lip areas. Rinse thoroughly with tepid water or or wipe off with a toning lotion.
3c. Twice a week apply a face mask. Some products only need a few minutes and some are left on to be totally absorbed by the skin. Alternate a moisturising mask with a deep cleansing one. While the mask is doing its work, pluck any stray hairs from underneath the eyebrow line.
4a. Now your face is scrupulously clean, you can apply a facial moisturiser. With your ring finger gently dab on an eye balm around the edge of the eye area – not directly onto it as it will be absorbed where necessary. Some people prefer to use a separate eye cream, while some facial moisturiser are light enough for use in this delicate area. Then beginning at the base of the neck and working upwards apply your night cream.
4b. Whenever you can treat your face to a few minutes relaxing massage using gently circular movements from the centre of the brow to the temples, then from the nose outwards across the cheeks to the ears. Using the length of your index fingers alternately stroke the area between the lips and chin, then using the back of your hands and long sweeping movements massage up the neck and under the chin.
What to look for in a face cream
Confused by the list of ingredients in a moisturiser? Fazed by technical terms or jargon? Then join the club. Many women are put off by the long list of chemical names on packaging when all they really want to know is ‘will this work for me?’
So what should you look for?
If you have sensitive skin go for hypoallergenic brands that don’t contain known irritants like perfumes.
Everyone should consider using a cream incorporating a sun protection factor (SPF) that screens out both UVA – the ageing rays – and UVB – the burning ones.
Older women will be interested in anti-ageing skin remedies. These include antioxidants like vitamins A, C and E which are said to help to neutralise ‘free radicals’ – unstable molecules that cause damage to cells resulting in poor skin tone, lines and wrinkles. The antioxidants promote natural skin repair. Some creams will specify the use of retinol – which is a pure and active form of vitamin A – to be used as a night cream.
If cost is a consideration for you, remember that many expensive creams last longer because you use less of them. Some cosmetic houses have trial sizes or complimentary samples, so ask at their counter. When buying a new cream, make use of the tester and try some on the inside of your wrist. You’ll soon know if it’s too ‘sticky’ or ‘heavy’ for you.
However much we might like the idea of a glowing tan and regard it as healthy there’s no denying that the sun’s rays can be ageing and harmful.
- The golden rule should be that there’s no such thing as a safe tan.
- If you can’t follow this advice then you must try to minimise the risks.
- Never go out without applying a sunscreen. The sun’s UVA rays are just as harmful in spring and autumn as they are in the summer.
- Don’t be deceived by clouds – you can still catch the sun and burn.
- Wear sunglasses to protect the eyes and also to avoid the squint lines that form when your eyes are exposed to bright light.
- Don a hat with a wide brim to protect the back of your neck and cast a shadow over the face.
- If you like the sun kissed look, apply a fake tan to clean, exfoliated and moisturised skin.