There are so many types, prices and brands of skin cream on the market and very little unbiased information available. How do you sift the wheat from the chaff to find the products right for you?
The myriad choices are overwhelming. Lotions, potions, ingredients, formulations and brands – at best it makes your head spin, at worst it becomes easier to abandon creams altogether. An appropriate skincare routine really can delay a visit to the dermatologist for more drastic treatment, so I have constructed a concise guide on what to look for and how to use it.
SKIN CARE ROUTINE
First and foremost, in order to choose the right products, it is important to know what your skin type is. Otherwise, you can end up with a bigger problem than you started with. For example, if your skin is oily and you use a product that is too heavy, it will block the pores and create lumps and bumps.
If you then over-wash the skin, it becomes dry, which can block the pores further. Dehydration can result in the appearance of fine lines too, so if you are unsure, visit a professional for informed advice.
Once you know your skin type, the next important thing to remember is to cleanse and moisturise morning and night, and apply to sunscreen before heading out for the day.
Moisturisers are products that put moisture back into your skin and hold it there. They are used to correct dryness. Dry skin needs more oil. Oily skin does not need another layer of oil but needs to hold water to prevent dehydration.
Emollients put oils back into your skin. The best emollients are those matched to the skin’s natural protective layer. Ceramides, grapeseed oil, almond oil, macadamia oil and borage oils provide omega six and provide a protective layer on the skin. In the past emollients were mineral oils, which caused obstruction and comedones (blackheads).
Most day creams contain moisturising ingredients, keeping the skin hydrated and nourished, and providing a barrier against pollution and air-conditioning. Day cream is also an excellent base for make-up.
Night creams claim many benefits. They promise to moisturise skin during sleep, neutralise free radicals, improve skin tone and texture, minimise wrinkles and fade pigmentation. During the night, our body enters regenerative processes, so the skin focuses on repairing and creating new skin cells. And it is undoubtedly beneficial for someone with dryer skin to lock moisture in. The most important thing to look for in a night cream is active ingredients.
The skin around the eye is more delicate, so eye cream should be lighter than night cream. Active ingredients should include biopeptides to inhibit expression wrinkles.
A gentle cleanser is an important part of a daily skincare routine, however cleanser is not on the skin long enough for expensive active ingredients to have a great effect, so it is better to spend more money on the serum or cream.
Sunscreens contain a lot of chemicals, so oily or sensitive skin types should choose lower SPF (and reapply often) to avoid blocked pores or irritation and allergies. For protection, apply the moisturiser first and then apply the sunscreen. Nowadays it is thought that it is better to use two separate creams.
The life of a skin cell is about 30 days. The outer skin-layer provides a small amount of protection from UV light and chemical irritants, but dead skin cells can cause pores to block. Exfoliation is the removal of these dead skin cells.
Exfoliation in young skin: In general, exfoliating helps with acne, but all exfoliating products are not the same. Care must be taken to ensure that you are using the right product for your needs. If the skin is not oily, I do not recommend exfoliation. If the skin is oily, I recommend exfoliation every two weeks.
Exfoliation in older skin: As we get older, the metabolic rate slows down and exfoliation encourages new cell growth. Once the dead cells are removed, the skin is left with a smooth glowing skin.
Exfoliating at home: The mechanical method is to use a slightly abrasive scrub when cleansing your face.
The chemical method: Look for alpha-hydroxy acid or beta-hydroxy acid in products to remove the dead cells without harsh abrasion. (The higher the percentage or concentration of acid, the deeper the exfoliation will be, but beware, more is not necessarily better).