As a Naturopathic Doctor, I am often asked about best practices for achieving healthy looking skin. Our skin is a barrier to the outside world depicting what is happening on the inside. When the body is going through inflammation internally (stress, hormonal imbalances, food intolerances) it manifests on our skin. The secret to good skin comes from managing both internal and external health. This blog will be focusing on what you can do externally to have beautiful, glowing skin.
Whatever your skin type is – normal, dry, oily or sensitive it is important to have a daily skin care routine to keep skin healthy. It is no different than any other organ. Taking care of it in the present day goes a long way to preventing long-term damage. Anti-ageing techniques start NOW!
It is very important to be cautious about the products that are being used on your skin. Skin care products can be a major source of toxins for many people. These products are often loaded with chemicals and artificial ingredients that can build up in the body and have long-term impacts on health. Natural products with few and simple ingredients are the best option! Below I explain the 4 important steps to help fortify your skin.
STEP 1: CLEANSE
Every good skin care routine starts with a wholesome cleansing at least twice a day. Cleansers are used to remove makeup, dead skin cells, excess oil, dirt and pollution. It really sets the foundation for the rest of your products. Cleansers work to remove dirt without disturbing the skin’s natural moisture. The skin's natural pH is about a 5, which is slightly acidic and supports the growth of skin’s natural bacteria. Some cleansers can make the skin too alkaline which can be quite harsh and strip moisture from the face. Pick a facial cleanser that has a few gentle ingredients like herbs, honey or oats. Keep in mind that over-cleansing can also make your skin dry and causes the oil glands to produce more sebum. Depending on your skin type, choose a cleanser that is a milk, cream, gel or oil based. Incorporate a facial massage into your routine to make it more enjoyable. Aim to move everything up by making small circular motions.
STEP 2: EXFOLIATE
The goal of exfoliation is to increase the rate of turnover from the top layer of skin. Build up of dead skin can result in excess oils and clogged pores that lead to acne or blemishes. Exfoliation helps to open up those pores so the oils can be released allowing the skin to breathe. This helps to keep skin smooth while providing a fresh and brightening look. Proper exfoliation uncovers new skin cells below, which opens the way for moisturizing products to penetrate more deeply into the skin. This is especially important during the winter months when the skin’s natural shedding process slows down as moisture is lacking. It is best to limit exfoliation to 2-3 times a week as it can leave skin dry and irritated if it is done too often. Try making your own by mixing equal parts of some almond oil with sea salt!
STEP 3: TONE
A toner is used after a face wash to help restore the pH balance of skin. It also helps to tighten skin pores and absorbs excess oil from the skin. Toners can be sold under ‘astringents’ or ‘splashes. Astringents like, witch hazel, lemon or peppermint can be a little harsher on the skin compared to more soothing ones like rose water, aloe or lavender. If you suffer from dry skin avoid toners that are ‘astringents’ and if you have oily skin avoid the ones that also act as moisturizers. Pick the toner that also contains vitamins and minerals infused.
STEP 4: MOISTURIZE
This is the most important step in keeping skin feeling and looking healthy! Moisturizing helps to keep your skin hydrated and looking plump. It is best to apply a moisturizer when the skin is slightly damp. Keep in mind that even oily skin needs a light moisturizer. If you have oily skin consider a gel moisturizer that is water-based and light. If you are more prone to dry skin, consider a cream based moisturizer. Choose moisturizers with rosehip oil, butter cocoa , vitamin E, almond oil, coconut oil or hyaluronic acid. FYI - The best internal moisturizer is WATER!
As a summary, here are the 4 more important steps to a facial routine:
Cleanse (Wash face)--> Exfoliate (Remove dead skin; 1-2 x a week) --> Tone (Helps to balance out pH after cleansing) --> Moisturize (To keep skin hydrated and soft).
Follow these 4 steps for health and glowing skin!