Tuesday, February 16, 2016

How To Take Care of Your Skin

In the old days (I can't believe I wrote that), most women were not aware about the importance of taking care of their skin. Maybe because there were not much information or skin care products available then. I was raised to wash my face with soap and water and not much else. Before I reached my 50's I really did not pay much attention to my skin. My skin care regimen basically consisted of the following 3 steps, twice a day: washing my face with water, apply toner or astringent, then moisturizer for my oily skin, but sometimes, step 2 and 3 were optional depending on how late for work or how sleepy I was.  And of course, there's sunbathing and sunburn. I was a beach baby up till my late teens and sunscreen/sunblocks were not available in my time.  But even if they were, I don't think I would have used them anyway since tanning was the fad and suntan lotions were the norm.  I remember slathering on baby oil mixed with several drops of tincture of iodine to get even darker. OUCH, those were "innocent" days!

Of course, all that neglect and abuse meant payback time when all the age spots started coming out beginning my 40's. I guess my saving grace is that I started using moisturizer at 20 when someone (I forgot who) gave me a bottle of Oil of Olay, the legendary beauty fluid developed in the 50's that actually worked.  I also do not use soap on my face because I don't like the dry feeling it gives. Whenever I needed to really get a clean face after using makeup, I used Pond's cold cream to remove it.  I started using sunscreen in my 20's, but only when I went to the beach or was under the sun for long periods.  Ten years ago, I began using makeup and beauty products with SPF 15 to 30, and for the last 5 years, I put on a sunblock/moisturizer with SPF 30 before foundation every single day without fail. Yet, all those efforts have not stopped the age spots from appearing in certain areas of my cheekbones, although many people tell me that it's not as many compared to some women my age.  Now-a-days, there is so much information on skin care that there is no reason for women (or men) to not know how to take care of their skin.

Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize - Start Young

It cannot be denied that genes affect how your skin ages but regardless of how good your genes are, it is never too early to start using moisturizer and sunscreen. This is your best protection against wrinkles, age spots and leathery skin.  Studies have shown that daily use of moisturizer on the face, hands and body can slow down skin aging by 24%.  I started on my face when I was 20, which to my mind today is already late, but the habit has paid off resulting in very little wrinkles, unnoticeable crowfeet, and less sagging in the jaw area.  My daughter is 7 but I have started putting sunscreen on her as soon as she started to walk. If she is playing outside, I put sunscreen on her but for swimming, I put sunblock...better protected than sorry!

The unretouched pictures above were taken early last year, showing me (turning 60 in April) and my daughter during a wedding, and my mother who is going to be 82 years old in May.

Stay Out of the Sun

The Sun is the skin's worst enemy! But that was a little known fact in the 60's and 70's and getting a tan was something I regularly did during summer.  Now I know better, however living in a tropical country, I cannot completely hide from the sun.  Exposure to the sun causes many of the skin changes that people thought is part of normal aging process.  The fact is that continued exposure to the ultraviolet rays from the sun damages the fibers in our skin called elastin. As more and more of these fibers are destroyed, our skin will lose it's elasticity, look leathery and begin to sag and stretch.  Healing from sunburn and wounds will also take longer. There are other skin changes that may happen with prolonged sun exposure like the appearance of pre-cancerous lesions, fine and coarse wrinkles, freckles, discolored areas of the skin or most seriously, skin cancer. When one is young (and care-free), all these damages may not be obvious, but it will surely happen.

Skin Cleansing is Important but Do it Right

There is a method to having clean skin and it is not just using soap and water. Some people have the idea that the more often you wash your face, the better.  Well, not quite. Too much washing can dry out your skin, irritation and even sagging!  I never use bar soap since it makes my skin feel dry.  My face is partly oily and I believe that this has helped in preventing wrinkles. Most skin specialists agree that twice a day cleansing is good, but more than that can dry out your skin and even cause breakouts. There are many cleansers available in the market so use the right one for your skin type. You must remove any makeup before washing your face with cleanser.  This is because cleanser alone may not completely remove makeup. I use Pond's cold cream which is affordable and has been tested and proven since 1905.  Also wash thoroughly, and see to it that no cleanser residue is left on your face to avoid adverse reactions.

Use Skincare Products that Work 

When you hit your 40's, it is time to reevaluate your skincare regimenA simple moisturizer alone is no longer enough.  Products with collagen, retinol, anti-oxidants and a sunscreen of  SPF 20 or higher are recommended for older skin.  Hydroquinone is said to eliminate or diminish dark spot spots, but be careful to stay out of the sun when using this as it can aggraviate the dark spots once exposed. Personally I use photosensitive products only during bedtime to avoid adverse effects. Also remember that cleansers should be mild and not dry out the skin.

  • Get enough beauty sleep. Sleep deprivation can cause skin to get breakouts due to stress, compromise your immune system, and prevent the repair of damaged cells. Sleeping undisturbed for at least 8 hours will improve skin tone, remove under-eye circles and make you look younger.  
  • Drink lots of water during the day because recent studies found that it can lessen the appearance of wrinkles and can clear your skin.

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