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Skin Care 101

Proper skin care is the first step towards a radiant look. A routine tailored to you is essential for maintaining healthy skin.

 
 

It can sometimes be overwhelming when deciding on which skin care products and treatments are best for you. Regardless of your skin type, this guide is a good way to start learning the skin care basics so you can think about what products work for your own unique needs.

Skin Care Basics

Determine Your Skin Type

Normal Skin

Normal skin isn't dry or oily, but somewhere in-between. This skin type has medium pores, a smooth and even texture, good circulation and a healthy-looking colour.

Dry Skin

Dry skin feels tight, especially after cleansing. It has a tendency towards fine wrinkles, flaking and red patches. In women of colour, dry skin might appear ashy or dull from dead skin build-up. Dry skin cracks easily and is therefore at an increased risk to infection and premature wrinkling.

Oily Skin

Oily skin is generally shiny with enlarged pores. It is prone to blackheads and blemishes – often along your forehead, nose and chin, also known as your “T-Zone”. The T-Zone is oilier than the rest of your face as it has a higher percentage of oil glands. These areas tend to break out more often and are more prone to blackheads, whiteheads, irritation, sunburn and redness. While oily skin is generally unwanted when you are young it might work to your advantage as you age, giving you a more youthful appearance.

Combination Skin

The most common skin type, combination skin includes some areas that are oily (often along your T-Zone), while other areas like your cheeks are normal to dry.

Sensitive Skin

Sensitive skin tends to be thin and delicate with fine pores. It flushes easily and is sometimes prone to broken capillaries and allergic reactions. More susceptible to irritants and inflammation, sensitive skin is often subject to acne, rosacea, burning, stinging and contact dermatitis.

Cleanse

Normal skin: Use whatever non-soap cleanser and other products feel best for you. The best cleansing strategy is to not disturb your skin’s healthy balance.

Dry skin: Avoid alcohol-heavy skin products to prevent skin dehydration. It is sometimes recommended to use cleansers on the face and body only when the humidity is low.

Oily skin: Wash oily skin as often as you feel is necessary and ideally more than once a day. Using skin care products that contain alcohol will reduce the oiliness of your skin. Consider products that rinse off well such as bar soaps and liquid cleansers.

Combination skin: Wash the oily areas at least twice a day with a non-drying cleanser.

Sensitive skin: Skin care products for sensitive skin often do not specify for which type of sensitive skin they work best so make sure that your cleansing products are suited for your particular sensitivity. Some experts recommend using lipid-free liquid cleansers – these do not contain fat. They can be applied to the skin and wiped away or rinsed off with water. These are particularly effective for removing cosmetics and are especially useful for those with eczema.

Exfoliate

Exfoliating removes the surface layer of dead skin cells, helping to prevent fine lines from looking more visible and imparting a healthy glow. It is a crucial step that is often skipped in skin care. There are several ways to exfoliate skin, including microdermabrasion, scrubs, chemical peels and retinoids. Exfoliating skin once a week with a microdermabrasion kit keeps skin glowing year-round. Scrubs work by removing the top layer of dead skin cells that tend to dull your complexion. Try to use a gentle scrub with tiny grains. Many over-the-counter peels work over the course of a month. Retinoid skin care creams, lotions and applications fight the effects of aging but do cause irritation in some, so keep this in mind when purchasing an exfoliating product.

Tone

Toning is important for both men and women as it is the protective step after cleansing and exfoliating. It is particularly helpful for people with oily or acne-prone skin and those who like extra cleansing after wearing makeup. Toning products help to keep pores clean and breathing and thus more receptive to moisturizing.

Moisturize

This step might not always be required in your skin care routine, especially if you have skin conditions like acne. However even those with oily skin can benefit from moisturizing. Moisturize when or if your skin feels dry or tight. Take care not to over-moisturize as this can clog pores. Those with dry skin might wish to try an oil-free moisturizer if overuse resulting in greasy skin is a concern.

Winter can be extremely stressful for our skin due to winds and cold temperatures outside as well as drying low humidity resulting from heating inside. Moisturizing skin is a good way to reduce this stress to your skin. During the hot, sunny summer months your skin is more susceptible to damaging dehydration. To restore hydration during the summer, moisturize twice daily and apply a moisturizing mask once or twice a week. For normal, combination and oily skin use a light oil-free moisturizer marked “non-comedogenic” in the form of fluid or gel. For drier skin you might wish to use a thicker moisturizer. Look for either an oil- or water-based cream marked “for dry skin”.

Protect

This crucial element should be the final step in your skin care routine. The primary cause of wrinkles is sun damage, so it's important to always use sunscreen – even in winter and on cloudy days. Some recommend using a day moisturizer that includes UV protection (your night moisturizer should not include UV protection if your daytime product does). The best sunscreens provide broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB-sunburn) protection. You might wish to consider sunscreens that contain either zinc or titanium minerals and with at least 30 SPF. It is important to apply sunscreen to not only your face but your hands, neck and chest as well to avoid the aged look that sun damage inflicts on skin.