Even if you've never taken care of your skin, it's not too late to start. Your skin begins to age when you are only in your mid-20s, though you may not see it. Your favorite products may not work as well anymore. Your genes, daily habits, and the sun cause these changes. So don't wait any longer! You may want to ask a dermatologist now how you can get smoother, softer skin, whatever your age.
Use a Gentle Cleanser
Choose a creamy one for dry skin, or an oil-free, foaming one for oily skin. If you have sensitive skin, talk to your dermatologist about how to avoid irritation. Wash with warm or cool water. Hot water can strip away your skin's natural moisture. Pat your face dry -- don't rub.
Moisturizer for Your Face
It protects and improves your skin. Even if you have oily skin or breakouts, you can use a lightweight, oil-free moisturizer every day. If you have dry skin, you may need to put it on more than just once a day. Pat it on while your face is still damp to seal in moisture.
Wear Sunscreen Every Day
You need sun protection during daylight hours, even if it’s overcast or you’re staying indoors. The sun’s rays can pass through clouds and windows, so you're always exposed. Many moisturizers have sunscreen. If yours doesn't, look for a broad-spectrum screen, which means it guards against both UVA and UVB rays. Don't forget to cover your lips, too! And if you sweat or are outside for a long time, reapply sunscreen to stay protected.
Can I Layer My Skin Products?
Yes. Start with clean skin and put on any prescription creams or gels first.
Morning: Moisturizer, sunscreen (if it's not in your moisturizer), makeup if you wear it.
Night: Anti-aging product (if you use one), moisturizer without sunscreen.
Scrub Away Dead Skin
Exfoliate to help your skin glow. You can buff off dead skin cells gently with a soft washcloth, spinning brush, or scrubs. If your skin is dry, exfoliate once a week. If you have oily skin, do it once or twice a week. If you have acne or sensitive skin, talk to your doctor. Exfoliating might irritate your skin.
Reveal a Fresh Layer
Some skin care products have ingredients that get rid of dead cells to uncover the brighter, fresher skin underneath. Acne medicines and anti-aging products may have salicylic acid or retinoids, for example. You can also get microdermabrasion or a chemical peel to slough off dead cells. Both are available from doctors and in at-home formulas. You may not see a big difference from an at-home formula, though.
Skin Color TLC
If you're African-American or Hispanic, for example, your skin might be sensitive to sun or chemicals. Stick with a simple, gentle skin care routine. Don't go a day without moisturizer or sunscreen. Even though you may not ever get sunburned, you still need sunscreen to protect against skin cancer, wrinkling, and dark spots.
What's on the Menu?
Your skin craves good nutrition just like the rest of your body. Some studies suggest that nutrients can improve and protect your skin. Creams and serums that include vitamins C or E may protect against sun damage. Ones that have vitamins A or B3 may be able to correct the sun damage you have already. Of course, you still need to get vitamins from foods.
Organic Is Not Always Better
There's no scientific proof that organic or all-natural cosmetics and skin care products are safer for your skin. In some cases, they may irritate it, especially if yours is sensitive. Like many skin care products, "natural" ingredients like plant extracts may cause rashes or allergic reactions in some people. Test them first on a less noticeable area of your body.
Facials: Fun or Fundamental?
You don't need a salon facial for good skin care, but it may make your skin look smoother for a while. They can be a relaxing treat, too. A salon facial could include cleansing and exfoliating. Facials may cause allergic reactions or irritation in some people, so you should avoid them if you tend to have redness or a rash afterward.
I'm Too Old for Zits, Right?
You're grown up, so why haven't your pimples and blackheads gone away? Hormones, hair products, and stress may be to blame, among other reasons. Your dermatologist or an aesthetician can help you figure out what your skin needs. Some products have ingredients that target acne and the signs of aging, too.
Keep the Glow Going
Don't smoke. It ages your skin and encourages wrinkling.
Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains.
Exercise every day. It helps your skin by boosting blood flow. And sweating flushes out dirt.
Find ways to de-stress. Stress can make your skin more sensitive and worsen breakouts.
Stay out of the sun. Get a fake tan if you want more color.
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News releases, American Academy of Dermatology.
American Academy of Dermatology: "Dry skin: Signs and symptoms," "Sensitive Skin," "Sunscreens," "Skin of Color," "Acne Treatment," "Physical Procedures for Treating Acne," "Laser hair removal," "What dermatologists tell their patients," "Stress and skin."
Arbuckle, R. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, Oct. 16, 2008.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health: "Skin and Hair Health."
Amy Derick, MD, dermatologist, Barrington, Ill.
Skin Cancer Foundation: "What Goes On First?"
The Nemours Foundation: "Should I Pop My Pimple?," "Does Putting Toothpaste on a Pimple Make It Go Away?," "Hair Removal."
FDA: "Removing Hair Safely."
Medscape Reference: "Nonlaser Hair Removal Techniques," "Chemical Peels."
Cleveland Clinic: "Tips for Beautiful Skin."
Leffell, D. Total Skin: The Definitive Guide to Whole Skin Care for Life, Hyperion, 2000.
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases: "Healthy Skin Matters."