7.20.2010

Skin Theories

While I'm no skin guru, I realized that there are some personal and rather unscientific skin theories related to The Neverending Skin Story II that I'd like to share. It is possible that some of these only work for me at this particular moment in my life (given low-stress levels for the first time ever, the warm weather, etc.) but I thought they were worth mentioning:

1) Cleansing is overrated. Seriously. Unless you wear makeup everyday (or heavier products like foundation that should be washed off at night), cleaning your skin like it is a rug isn't going to help matters. A little natural oils never hurt anybody, and I wouldn't stress too much about making sure your skin is uber-clean. I simply don't think it's meant to be completely dirt and impurity-free - nothing could be more unnatural if you think about it. I've found that rinsing my face just with water at the end of the day (I remove any eye makeup separately and my face powder has usually disappeared by the end of the day) seems to work. Obviously, I'm not advocating abandoning basic hygiene - but that usually doesn't require a cleansing routine that lasts more than oh, about 2 minutes, and certainly not everyday. I also think that it works to do a couple of simple things minimally during the week - like exfoliating once or twice, or just running a mild toner over the face and neck a couple of times, using the "Oil Cleansing Method" once or twice, or applying a face mask. In the long run, those steps seem to pay off more for me than rigorous, daily cleansing.

2) Sweating is good. I know we're all desperately trying to minimize the sweat with powders, oil-free products, and blotting mechanisms during the warm weather. But let me tell you, my skin practically shines during the summer after all the sweating naturally rids it of impurities. I have noticed this every summer since I was oh, about 10 years old. Winter skin isn't just dull because it gets dry. In my case, it seems to be because my pores don't have the chance to do a little self-cleaning through sweat (and I have very tiny pores, so they get clogged easily - cleansers don't really help with this). Sounds gross, I'm sure, but I swear by sweat. Sometimes I exercise just to work up a sweat and improve my skin - same idea as a sauna or a steam.

3) Heavier moisturizers are better than lighter, oil-free ones. Again, unless your skin is freakishly oily, I think it's better to stick with heavier moisturizers than lighter ones, particularly as we age and also because most people have combination skin that changes through the seasons. I'm only 27, but I have definitely noticed a change in my skin - mostly, it is a lot drier than at any other point in time. I used to think that oil-free moisturizers were the way to go, but well, they never really moisturized. It felt like I was slathering light goo all over my face - felt nice, but that's about all. I have convinced myself that a little grease and oil (sorry, no better words for those two) are better for anti-aging in the long-run. Although my mom is blessed with superhuman beauty genes, she has also maintained a skincare routine that includes a cold cream for extra-dry skin. The heaviest I've used so far is Nivea Soft (winter and summer!), but it's a great alternative to the traditional cold creams.

4) A spot treatment for blemishes is better than cleansers/toners/moisturizers/etc. that contain blemish-fighting ingredients. This is because those ingredients tend to strip the rest of your skin - a targeted effort is much better. Again, if you have more problem-skin over a larger area of the face (as I definitely have had in the past), this may not apply as well to you. Even then, I'm not sure anyone needs a targeted treatment, a targeted moisturizer, and a targeted whatever else. I know many acne systems are based on this seemingly holistic approach, but I suspect that these regimens are difficult to maintain in the long-run and harsh on the skin. I have found one great spot treatment that works for me (The Body Shop Tea Tree Oil Blemish Stick) and have one prescription cream (which doesn't work nearly as well as the Body Shop stick and leaves my skin feeling gross - basically, I never use it).

This might seem to negate our love for and use of product, product, product! But I don't think they necessarily keep anyone from experimenting and indulging their beauty and skincare cravings. Just a reminder that moderation is important and that realistic expectations might be the key to satisfaction - not unlike most things in life.

2 comments:

Tanveer Parmar said...

I loved your article.. It is so so true. I agree with most of the things you say. I do sweat a lot myself - and that I think is why my skin looks glowy all the time :)

Also I have been using Ponds Cold Cream / Jergens All Purpose Face cream as moisturisers for my face since a good 6 mnths and I agree with the heavy moisturiser theory.

The only bit where I differ is the cleanser one - I exfoliate almost everyday with my Body Shop Face Buffer. Untill I started this, despite following the above two steps, my skin didn't glow. Once I began exfoliating and cleansing properly, it has made all the difference and has helped my regime really come together to show results. I don't think the good results are only due to cleansing.. All 3 steps do their bit to improve the skin :)

Suman said...

I can definitely see how just a couple of these things might work for you - after all, everyone's skin is different! I also think that exfoliators work better for some people than cleansers. Even for me, its more important to exfoliate at least once or twice a week rather than use a regular cleanser. Maybe I'll try the Body Shop Face Buffer :) The other scrub I used to like from there is the Tea Tree Oil Scrub.

 
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