The first thing people see when they meet us is our face. What does yours say about your age? If you look old beyond your years and want to appear younger without spending a fortune, the best place to start is your daily skin care routine.
As people age, they also develop ‘liver spots’ on their face and particularly their hands. Even if you are smart enough to use an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) sunscreen/moisturiser of 30 or more each day, do you also think to put it on the back of your hands? If not, it’s time to start.
What about your neck? As we age, it starts to look slack and pouch. So does the skin under our eyes. This is gravity at work, it is true, but it also signals a loss of skin tone and collagen that can be prevented with a good beauty routine and healthful diet.
The skin is the largest organ of your body. It protects our inner organs and musculoskeletal system from injury. It allows nutrients in and stops essential fluids from leaking out.
It’s easy to take our skin for granted-until something goes wrong with it. The most obvious example when we are young is acne. As we age, the big concern becomes wrinkles.
However, an even bigger concern is aging the skin through poor lifestyle choices, which in some cases can culminate in skin cancer. The most common type is melanoma.
Melanoma is caused primarily by the harmful effects UV rays of the sun. Those who spend a lot of time out in the sun without sunscreen or sunblock are at increased risk. So too are those who:
- spend a lot of time at a beach or pool
- work on the water, where the sun’s rays are reflected
- go to tanning salons often
- work outdoors and don’t cover up against the sun.
Any unprotected exposure to the sun carries risks. The most common location of melanoma is the left forearm in men. Researchers attribute this to men leaning their left elbows on the edge of their car doors as they are driving.
If you’ve ever seen the skin of people who spend a lot of time out in the elements, such as fishermen, you will notice their weather-beaten look. Sun, wind, salt, and sea spray dry the skin while the rays of the sun darken it, causing a craggy, darkened complexion.
Caring for your skin regularly
There are a few steps to this to keep it looking youthful, including washing, toning and moisturising. Let’s look at the most important aspects of each.
Washing Your Face
You would think that most people would know how to wash their faces. After all, we do it every day. Cats make it look easy too, don’t they?
The truth is that especially if we live in a large city with a high-level of pollutants, it can be tricky to keep your face clean and blemish-free.
Every day, we get a build-up of impurities on our face that can clog the pores and give us a washed-out complexion, which makes us look older than we really are.
Some personal care products can make the situation worse. Studies have shown that women are exposed to up to 100 chemicals each day through the personal products they use. For men, the average is about 40. The first step, therefore, is to strip down your products to the basics, all-natural ones that can be used for a range of purposes.
The most basic is pure Castile soap and warm water. Soap is best in its liquid form because no chemicals have been added to turn it into a solid bar of soap. Castile or vegetable glycerine soaps are mild enough even for sensitive skin. Wash your face and neck, rinse well, and pat dry.
Many people choose a toner based on skin type. One good choice for a natural toner is pure witch hazel which is mainly alcohol-free. Some women use lemon juice, but it can cause photosensitivity, that is, sensitivity to sunlight, and make skin darker, sometimes permanently.
If your skin is very dry, add a couple of drops of a soothing essential oil such as myrrh to the pure witch hazel.
Toner removes impurities that soap alone can’t reach, and refines the pores, making your skin smooth. It helps keep down blackheads and whiteheads and lessens your risk of breakouts.
Once you have toned, putting on moisturiser helps keep moisture in. Even people with oily skin need moisturiser. A daily moisturiser with an SPF of 30 will protect you from the aging effects of the sun. Look for one that is oil free.
At night, when applying before bed, SPF is not important, but you could use a heavier cream than you would use if you were going out in public, or applying before you put on your makeup if you are a woman.
If you are a man, moisturiser can help keep down the irritating effects of shaving and the raw look it can give around your face and neck. Shaving will, however, offer one benefit in addition to hair removal, and that is exfoliating.
Exfoliating is the process of removing dead skin cells from the upper layer of your skin, the epidermis. Dead skin cells can make your complexion look dull and weathered instead of youthful and radiant. Soap and a washcloth will work well, Scrub lightly in small circles over every part of your face, taking care in the eye area.
A mild scrub made from ground almonds or apricot kernels can also help. A homemade sugar scrub can serve as a fruit peel as well. However, it can redden skin for up to 2 hours afterwards, so if you wish to use it, apply it only at night.
Exfoliating 1 to 2 times per week should be more than enough to keep the fresh young skin cells shining through.
Use fresh, oil-free makeup and keep it only 6 months so it will go stale and harm your skin. Some foundation makeup will also have SPF, for double protection if you apply it over your moisturiser.
To remove your makeup, use soap and water, or pure apricot kernel oil. Avoid any products with a lot of chemicals and fragrance. It is important that all traces of makeup are removed before you retire for the night, because sleeping with your makeup can clog your pores overnight and cause breakouts.
Protect your lips with lip balm as to stop them from drying out and becoming chapped. It should have an SPF as well.
Other delicate areas
Wear sunglasses or Transitions lenses with a UV coating. Use eye cream at least once a day to hydrate and protect the delicate skin around your eyes to avoid wrinkles.
Some people recommend silk pillowcases, so you do not cause lines and wrinkles from snuggling your face into the pillow.
Whole body skin care
After showering or bathing, pat your skin dry, and finish off with moisturiser suitable for your skin type.
If you have dry skin, create your own nourishing cream with shea butter, apricot kernel or olive oil, and a few drops of rosemary essential oil.
Wear clothing in natural, breathable fabrics, cotton, linen, silk and wool, to avoid the irritation caused by synthetics. Always wear a hat when going out in the sun. Wear light-coloured, long-sleeved tops, and long skirts or pants if you plan to be in the sun a long time and know you are not likely to keep re-applying your sunscreen every 30 to 120 minutes.
Re-apply to your face often-a sunscreen stick can help. Look for high SPF and low fragrance. Don’t forget the back of your neck and your ears.
Avoid any products high in alcohol. These are the kind that sting. Alcohol dries out the skin a great deal. Hand sanitisers are one good example. They are great for quick clean ups if you have no soap and water, but avoid using too often, because dry, cracked skin on your hands will leave you open to infection.
If you do love the tan look, apply self-tanner. Steer clear of tanning beds.
If you smoke, stop. It dries the skin and leads to wrinkling around the lips and eyes.
Now that you understand the basics of proper skin care, you’ll be glad of your investment of a few minutes each day and night all adding up to younger-looking skin no matter what your age.
It is important to keep in mind that it is never too early to start to care for your skin. Pass on this information to people of all ages to help prevent skin cancer and signs of premature aging.
However, these are only external treatments for the skin.
It is important to keep in mind that it is never too early to start to care for your skin. Pass on this information to people of all ages to help prevent skin cancer and signs of premature aging. However, these are only external treatments for the skin.
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