As a skin care professional in the Kansas City area, one of the biggest questions I hear from clients is “What do I really need to do for my skin?” The answer is surprisingly simple and can be narrowed down to four simple steps.
Step 1: Cleanse the skin. This is something 99.9% of clients already do (even men), however, some people over cleanse the skin. If you have combination, normal or dry skin you are okay to wash your face with cleanser in the evening and simply rinse with water in the morning. On the other hand, if you have active sebaceous (oil) glands or you have specific issues that need to be resolved in the skin then you should cleanse both morning and night.
Step 2: Use a Toner. Toning the skin is what I have dubbed as the sad and forgotten step of skin care. Toner has a very specific purpose for the skin. Our skin, just like the body, is all about balance. When properly balanced the skin’s ph level should be between a 4.5 and a 5.5 (slightly acidic). When the skin is in this healthy place it produces what is called the Acid Mantle which acts as a protective barrier over the surface of the skin. When we cleanse the skin the alkalinity from the cleanser will shift the ph level of the skin and strip away the acid mantle, removing our protective barrier. The primary responsibility of a toner is to come back in and “reset” the ph and bring it back down to the 4.5 to 5.5 range enabling the skin to rebuild the acid mantle and put your protective barrier back in place. So, if you are cleansing without toning you are simply not taking advantage of the wonderful built in protection mechanism your skin wants to do for you, it simply cannot do it when the parameters of the ph are not set up correctly on the surface of the skin.
Step 3: Exfoliate regularly. Exfoliators can be divided into two categories: manual exfoliators and non-manual exfoliators. A manual exfoliator is something that has grains, beads or some other mechanical ingredient which we usually just classify as scrubs. I do not usually recommend the use of manual exfoliators as they have been proven to cause microscopic cutting and tearing on the surface of the skin. This leads to a premature breakdown of the skin tissue. Most of the clients I work with in Overland Park are coming to see me to prevent the premature breakdown of skin tissue so one of the first changes we make is in their at home exfoliation methods. I use and recommend a non-manual exfoliator which has a very soft and smooth texture. For these exfoliators, it is the ingredients themselves that cause the cells to turn over and renew themselves in a deeper, yet less traumatic way for the skin. There are many great options available and you should consult an experienced skin clinician in your area to recommend one for your skin type. Everyone’s skin is so unique and therefore their rate of exfoliation should be customized from person to person. Anywhere from one night a week to every night can be considered a normal rate of exfoliating.
Step 4: Protect your skin. It doesn’t matter who you are, or what kind of skin you have you need to protect it from the harmful rays of the sun. The last thing you should put on your face in the morning (before makeup if you choose to wear it) is a healthy broad-spectrum sun protector. Since sun damage causes up to 80% of all visible signs of aging we want to prevent as much new damage to our skin as possible. What is done, is done and is stored in the deeper layers of the skin, however, you have the power to protect your skin and affect what your future face will look like. The only two active ingredients you want to see in your sun protector is zinc oxide or titanium dioxide and the percentage of active ingredient should be around the 10% mark, otherwise, you are simply not getting the level of protection you need, regardless of what that SPF number tells you.
If you do these four basic steps on a regular basis your skin will be able to situate itself and start to function as it was intended to do. Cleanse, tone, exfoliate and protect…pretty simple right? There is absolutely no reason why anyone should spend more than 3 minutes a day TOTAL in the bathroom on their skin. Everyone can have beautiful skin with the right methods, products, and aesthetic expertise.