Depending on their lifestyle, budget and culture, women engage in a wide variety of skincare routines. Caring for one’s skin not only helps treat and prevent skin imperfections; it can leave women feeling pampered, refreshed, and special. Skincare regimens, whether they involve two steps or twelve, are uniquely personal routines. Since no two women are alike, which skincare regimen is right for you?
To keep skin looking as fresh and young as you can, appropriate and regular skin care is essential. While some people choose more complicated routines, most regimens should include several basic steps. How you choose to care for your skin is largely based on skin type, so the first step in establishing a routine is determining which type of skin you have.
How to Determine Skin Type
There are a few key steps involved to help you pinpoint exactly what skin type you have:
Wash Your Face: Using a gentle cleansing agent, wash your face, remove any makeup, and pat it dry with a soft, clean towel. Be sure all traces of makeup are removed before moving on to the next step.
Do Nothing For One Hour: Don’t put anything on your skin for 60 minutes, and refrain from touching it or blotting at it. Keep your fingers away too. This will help your skin bounce back to its normal or natural state, which is important in determining skin type.
Check the T-Zone: Using a facial tissue, blot your face. After every touch, look at the tissue to see if it picked up any oil or dead skin. Be sure to pay special attention to the area of your nose and forehead, or the “t-zone.” This is the most likely place to show oil, while cheeks are most likely to show evidence of flaking or dead skin cells.
Analyze the Results: Your skin should fall into one of four skin types. Normal skin, which few people are lucky enough to have, will show no evidence of flakes or oil. If your tissue is clean, you have normal skin that probably feels smooth and comfortable, even without a moisturizer.
If there is a great deal of oil on the tissue and no dead skin cells, and if your face has oil spots outside the t-zone, you likely have oily skin. Usually, people with oily skin will notice a distinct shine all over the face and often have large, noticeable pores.
Dry skin will show evidence of flaking, usually all over, and will have no areas of oil anywhere on the face. Usually, people with dry skin have very small, unnoticeable pores. Their skin usually feels uncomfortable and tight without a moisturizer. This skin type is more common with people older than 40, though it can happen to anyone.
Combination skin is by far the most common skin type. People with combination skin have some oily spots, usually in the t-zone, but still show some signs of dryness, usually in the cheeks, chin, and neck.
Four Basic Skin Care Steps
Whether you seek a simple or more complex skin care regimen, there are four basic steps to maintaining healthy skin that most skin types will benefit from. A basic skin care regimen includes:
Cleansing: The first step in any skin care regimen should be removing makeup and dirt from the skin, usually twice each day. If you wear eye makeup, begin by getting rid of mascara, eyeliner or other substances around the eye. Many people have sensitive eyes that can be irritated by soap or other facial cleansers. If this is you, choose a specific eye makeup remover, which is usually applied using a cotton ball or cotton pad. Once eye makeup is removed, focus on the rest of the face. Use warm water and a gentle cleansing agent to remove everything from the skin.
People with dry skin might want to try using a cream based cleanser that helps add moisture to the skin. Regardless of skin type, it is important to choose a cleansing agent that does not contain harsh chemicals that can leave the skin irritated or even damaged. Avoid heavy scrubbing, even to remove stubborn traces of makeup. Rinse completely with warm water and use a soft, clean towel to pat the skin dry without pulling or scraping the surface of the skin. This part of a skincare regimen should be performed twice each day – once in the morning and once just before going to bed at night.
Exfoliating: Some people are tempted to skip this skincare step, but exfoliation – or removing dead skin cells – is an essential part of any routine. Exfoliation is especially important for aging skin, because as we age, our skin can easily become dull from layers of dead skin. By sloughing off dead cells from the surface of the skin, cell regeneration is encouraged, and skin begins to look brighter and more youthful. Try using an apricot or nut-based scrub to gently remove dead cells, and rinse thoroughly with warm water.
Toning: People with dry skin might skip this step, though it can be a great way to remove the last traces of an exfoliating agent. Toner, which is usually alcohol-based, is swabbed on the skin using a cotton ball or pad for removing oil and dirt that builds up, especially in the t-zone. People with oily skin find toning especially helpful in keeping pores free from dirt, which can reduce the development of acne. For sensitive skin or dryer skin, choose a toner without alcohol for the best results without risking skin irritation.
Moisturizing: Adding moisture is fundamental for any skin type – even oily skin – though it is especially important for people with dry skin. Choose one specifically made for your skin type. For sensitive skin, avoid lotions with added fragrance; for oily skin, look for the words “non-comedogenic,” which means the lotion will not clog pores and cause acne. People with extremely dry or aging skin might use a serum just before moisturizing to help fill lines and give skin a boost.
When applying moisturizer, apply a small amount to your clean hands and smooth it gently into all areas of the face. Don’t forget to moisturize your neck. If you have sensitive eyes, avoid the eye area, and instead choose a separate moisturizer formulated specifically for that area of the skin. If your skin feels too oily after applying moisturizer, gently blot the face with a tissue or towel to remove any excess lotion.
While you might choose additional steps to add to your daily routine, such as using a masque, anti-aging product, sunscreen, or adding other skin care extras, these four steps will keep your skin looking its best no matter what type you have.