Skin requires a multitude of things to keep it healthy, both internally and externally. Skin care is complex, and what works for one person may be irritating and ineffective for another. There is no miracle cream, or perfect regime. There is a wealth of information out there regarding skin and skin care, much of it false and some of it damaging. So how do we know what skin needs? Let's take it back to basics.
Skin needs.... gentle cleansing.
A water soluble, soap-free, fragrance-free wash is the money. Think gentle. Over-cleansing and scrubbing the skin will cause microscopic inflammation that can degrade collagen and elastin fibres. In other words, it can age you. Treat your skin with kindness! Don't pull or tug at it when removing make-up or cleansing. Avoid overly hot and cold water; opt for a lukewarm temperature.
Product recommendation: Olay Gentle Foaming Face Wash with aloe (normal / sensitive). Around $11.99 from most supermarkets.
Skin needs.... gentle but effective exfoliation.
There are two ways you can exfoliate: manually, or chemically. Face scrubs are only suitable when they are very gentle. That pink, plump look skin has after a good hard scrub? That's irritation and inflammation. Go gentle. Even better, switch to a chemical exfoliant. Products with Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) and Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA), will gently dissolve and unglue layers of dead skin cells. They also promote collagen production, and BHA is able to penetrate the pore lining to help clear oil and debris, and improve pimples and acne.
Expect a beautiful radiant complexion that absorbs products efficiently. You may also see an improvement of fine lines and sun damage (when using an AHA). Be sure to protect your skin daily with a good sunscreen when using these products; ideally appy at night and cleanse in the morning. The two most common AHA's are glycolic acid (derived from sugar cane) and lactic acid (derived from sour milk). BHA is derived from asprin, and has an anti-inflammatory effect on skin.
Product recommendation: Paula's Choice 1% or 2% Beta Hydroxy Lotion. $54.60 from the NZ website.
Skin needs.... nourishment and antioxidants
For most skin types, a lotion texture will provide sufficient moisture. For oily and combination skin, opt for very light gel and liquid textures. Only those with dry skin need to use heavy creams that are high in moisture. All skin types benefit from antioxidants. Think Vitamin A / C / E, Green and White Tea extract and Alpha Lipoic Acid. Retinol, a form of Vitamin A, is particularly good at preventing and treating signs of ageing Daily use can minimise lines and sun damage, and keep skin looking fresh and healthy. Always be diligent with sunscreen use when using any products containing Vitamin A.
Product recommendation: Paula's Choice Resist Barrier Repair with Retinol (for normal to dry skin types). $57.20 on the NZ website.
Skin needs.... protection
The most vital step of all is sun protection. To retain youthful skin and prevent further ageing and damage, sunscreen is essential in every regime. This is a boring message, but the benefits of daily sunscreen use are incredible. Skin can be damaged by UVA rays even on a cloudy day; and even minimal daily exposure during normal activities will create sun damage over time. If you don't already wear sunscreen every day, start now. It is the absolute best anti-ageing cream out there.
Apply daily underneath foundation, or opt for a tinted moisturiser with a sunscreen. Medium to full cover foundation can be used as a sunscreen, but ONLY when applied heavily and evenly. Using a sunscreen prior to make-up application will ensure you're protected; some make-up primers even have SPF included. Don't forget your neck and décolletage.
Product recommendation: Dermalogica Sheer Tint SPF 20 (available in Light, Medium and dark) and Dermalogica Solar Defense Booster. $95.00 from Dermalogica counters and stockists.