Cosmetic Skin Care: The Five Basics

Good cosmetic skin care sets the pace and lays the foundation for everything you might ever want, now and in the future, for your face. It’s that simple. You can make a major difference in how your skin looks and feels, starting today and at very little expense, by following some very easy, basic principles. Just say, “Yes”. It is never too late and always of benefit to take better care of your skin. And here’s the best part: the same efforts which tend to create better looking skin also create overall healthier skin. It’s a “win-win”! There’s even a third “win” – your healthier, better looking skin will respond better in almost every way to any procedure your aesthetician or plastic surgeon wants to accomplish for you, too. The best place to start is not with that incredible, mystical, “must have” product on TV that “works instantly” and is “not available in stores”.

An evaluation and customized treatment plan by a certified aesthetician or plastic surgeon is. This will typically involve recommendations for office treatments, home care guidelines and skin care products. There are actually a number of excellent products out there but, unfortunately, many product claims are exaggerations. Although there is usually at least some truth to what they say, the ingredients are not nearly as important as having someone you trust to guide you along the way. The top aestheticians and plastic surgeons who really understand and believe in proper cosmetic skin care know that there are some general, simple basics that all should follow, tailored properly to meet individual needs, for good cosmetic skin care.

Cleansing – what to use and how, everyday. A gentle glycolic acid cleanser twice a day is a great basic, giving you both a deep cleansing and a bit of exfoliation (see below) without significant mechanical trauma. Quality product examples: Revision – Brightening Wash, or Glytone – Daily Facial Cleanser. This should be a gentle washing, not a power scrub. Splash-rinse, then gently pat dry (not a “towel version” of dermabrasion!) with a completely clean towel. Generally, cleansing should be followed by the application of an antioxidant and then, lastly, your moisturizer as the “seal it all in” final step.

Moisturization – what science has revealed that really works. Hyaluronic acid, glycerin, shea butter, and niacin have all been shown to be reliable compounds that work great to plump and hydrate the skin. Products which contain any of these ingredients are the best choice. Moisturization also helps to strengthen the skin’s ability to “lock-in” moisture and to maintain good elasticity and tone. Moisturization becomes more important with aging when the skin starts to need even more protection against drying out. Those who are more exposed to the cold and the wind also need to be more focused on this aspect of their skin health. Quality product examples: Obagi – Therapeutic Moisturizer (glycerin), or Nia 24 – Skin Strengthening Complex (niacin). Twice a day application is the minimum recommendation. Proper moisturization is also directly linked to overall proper body hydration (see below).

Protection – Keys: antioxidants and sunblockers. The antioxidants protect against environmental damage (such as those nasty “free radicals”) and help to repair this sort of damage as well – this is how antioxidants work to actually slow down the aging of the skin. Kinetin, idebenone, Vitamin C, Vitamin E and green tea extract are all in this family and are the ingredients you need to see somewhere on that label. Recommended antioxidant use: twice a day. Quality product examples: Kinerase (kinetin), Prevage (idebenone),or Obagi – Vitamin C Serum (15% Vitamin C). Sunblockers work best to help your skin if they block both UVA (aging rays) and UVB (skin cancer rays).

Recommended sunblocker use: apply as the final step in your skin care each morning. During the summer months, sunblockers should be re-applied every 2 hours as their effectiveness diminishes to zero during this short amount of time. Metallic based, or “physical blockers” (such as zinc or titanium oxide) are preferred over “chemical blockers” (such as PABA or oxybenzone). The oxides block better as they reflect those harmful rays; chemical blockers primarily work by absorbing the rays. The oxides also have less overall risk for skin irritation and allergy-like problems. Quality product examples: Obagi – Sunshield SPF 50 (zinc oxide), or MD Solar Sciences Lotion SPF 50 (zinc and titanium oxides).

Good Hydration and Nutrition – healthier skin, from the inside out. What you put into your skin is more important than what you put on it. Almost no one hydrates as well as they should. Do you really drink 5 – 6 full glasses of water a day? Well, that’s about what you need! Sorry, coffee doesn’t count! Proper body hydration may be the simplest, easiest and single most important thing you can do to keep yourself healthy and yet it is probably the single most neglected aspect of most people’s health regimens. And proper hydration of the skin relies on your overall hydration status more than it does on the number of times you apply a moisturizer.

A healthy diet fuels a healthy body – and your skin is one of the largest “organs” of your body, receiving some 20% of the body’s entire blood supply. A diet which includes good amounts of grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables will provide your skin with a steady stream of youth-preserving, age-defying omega-3’s, “good” fats, beta-carotene, and important skin vitamins like A, C, E and B complex. The respect that these powerful, especially healthy foods deserve has resulted in a much greater emphasis on them from the medical community in recent years. Just this month (June, 2011) the old “food pyramid” is being put into retirement – the new guidelines recommend that we can all benefit by having better daily portions of grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables.

Exfoliation (Mechanical or Chemical) – the not so secret “secret” to true skin renewal! Exfoliation has many benefits but its real secret (and what it does best) lies in how it directly stimulates new cellular growth from the deeper layers of the skin on up. Fresher, more plump and younger skin cells are recruited to the surface. In other words, exfoliation causes a true renewal and rejuvenation of the skin! Mechanical exfoliation products eliminate imperfections,smooth and improve skin texture, tone, and discolorations. Quality product example:Nia 24 – Physical Cleansing Scrub(with jojoba “beads”).

Recommended use: after cleansing, 2 – 3 times a week at most, using circular motions. More progress and better advances can be made by combining this “at home exfoliation” with the office mechanical exfoliation procedure popularly known as microdermabrasion, performed by your aesthetician on about a monthly basis. Chemical exfoliation products encourage the shedding of the outer, dead layers of skin, smoothing out fine lines, wrinkles and improving tone. They also help to “facilitate” the absorption of other topical products that we want to get into the skin.

The overall most studied, reliable and best chemical exfoliants are the alpha hydroxy acids (such as lactic acid and glycolic acid) and Retin-A. Quality product examples: Obagi Tretinoin (Retin-A, 0.05%), or Obagi – Exfoderm Forte (lactic and glycolic acids). Besides its exfoliation effects, Retin-A (a form of Vitamin A) also increases collagen production and plumps up skin cells. Recommended Retin-A use: nightly, after cleansing. Again, more progress and better advances can be made if your aesthetician also performs facial chemical peels for you in the office on about a monthly basis. Office peels such as Obagi – Blue Peel Radiance (glycolic, lactic, and salicylic acids) or Glytone (glycolic acid) peels are among the best.

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