Super Skin Care

by Kim Erickson

L etís face it ó weíd all love to have a model-perfect complexion. Yet, who hasnít glanced in the mirror only to spot dull, lifeless skin. A blemish here. A wrinkle there. In real life, exposure to the elements, stress and hormonal imbalances all take their toll on our looks. But with proper care, radiant skin can be yours.

Back to Basics

Good skin starts as clean skin. No matter what type of skin you have, the basics of a good skin care routine revolve around three elements: cleansing, toning and moisturizing.

Cleansing is critical to glowing skin. It removes dirt, dead skin cells, makeup and excess oil. But before you reach for that bar of soap, be aware that soaps are highly alkaline and can strip the skin of natural oils. Cleansers, on the other hand, are created to dissolve and wash away impurities without disrupting the skinís natural acid mantle.

Follow your cleanser with a good toner, one containing aloe vera, rose, lavender or other skin-friendly herbal extracts to re-balance the skinís natural pH and refine the pores. Ideally, toners should be splashed, dabbed or misted onto the face. While toners and astringents are often thought of interchangeably, astringents are formulated to rid the skin of excess oil. Often alcohol-based, astringents should be used with caution since they can be extremely drying, even for the most oily complexion.

Finally, apply a moisturizer to hydrate the skin and protect it from the elements. Since moisturizers work more effectively when the skin is slightly damp, apply your moisturizer immediately after cleansing and toning. Wait a few minutes for the moisturizer to be absorbed before applying make-up.

Skin Treats

A regular skin care routine, practiced morning and night, will go a long way towards maintaining healthy, beautiful skin. But, periodically our skin needs a bit of extra care. Exfoliating and steaming are special treatments which benefit the skin, especially as we age. Since the skin begins to deteriorate by the time a woman reaches her 30 th birthday, this extra care can help minimize the signs of aging.

Exfoliation removes the dead skin cells that lead to a dull, lifeless complexion. In recent years, alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) have become a popular way to exfoliate the skin. AHAs, mild acids derived from fruit and other natural substances, peel away dead skin cells, revealing the new cells underneath Papayas, apples, grapes, black currants and citrus fruits are all rich in alpha hydroxy acids and have been used for centuries in natural skin care formulas.

Facial scrubs are another exfoliation technique which can leave you with a softer, smoother complexion. Often based on cornmeal or almond meal, scrubs are mildly abrasive products designed to stimulate circulation and loosen debris from the surface of the skin. Whichever type of exfoliating product you choose, use them once a week if you have oily skin and three times per week for dry skin.

Steaming is another skin care basic. Although a facial steam wonít remove dirt and grime, it will soften the surface of the skin enough to help unclog pores. Steaming your face will also increase circulation and humidify the skin. To give yourself to a facial steam, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cover your head with a bath towel to form a tent and hold your face 10-12 inches from the top of the pot. Allow the steam to work for ten minutes. For a special aromatherapeutic treat, add a handful of skin-friendly herbs, such as lavender, rose petals or chamomile, to the boiling water.

Clear, youthful skin doesnít just belong between the pages of fashion magazines. Adopting a daily skin care routine and protecting your complexion with natural products will give you skin you can glow about ó and benefits which will last a lifetime

More tips on natural skin care Ė and formulas for making your own non-toxic cosmetics Ė can be found in Drop Dead Gorgeous: Protecting Yourself from the Hidden Dangers of Cosmetics.

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Kim Erickson.
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