As it is with everything else, knowing the condition of the different parts of your body is the first step in caring for it. Skin is no different. Knowing your skin type is the beginning of giving your skin the proper treatment to maintain good skin tone and condition.
Your skin type is a general description of how your skin feels and behaves. The most common types used for commercial products are normal, oily, dry and combination skin. Other categories include blemish-prone, sensitive and sun-damaged skin.
Convenient as these skin type categories are in choosing products, it is not exactly the best way to know and understand your skin on a level that will really help it. This is perhaps the reason why, even though the “right” products have been used for your designated skin type, you still experience either dryness, oiliness, acne and other problems.
Why is this so? First of all, you have to remember, like any part of your body, you skin is never the same all throughout. It goes through all sorts of conditions depending on several factors, some of which include your genes, your lifestyle and habits. Add to this the fact that the problems you are experiencing may not be simply the result of lack of care. There are cases when skin diseases are the reasons.
So from here on end, it will be good for you to forget what beauty magazines, cosmetic salespeople, and aestheticians tell you about the four skin types. It”s about time you go beneath the surface and really know what your skin is about.
First off, know the factors that Influence your skin type. This can get tricky since almost everything can influence your skin and the condition it”s in. Just looking and feeling your face is not enough to determine your skin type. To get an effective evaluation of your skin, consider the following.
The first set of factors affecting your skin are those within your own body. Hormonal changes brought on by your body”s development influence your skin to a huge extent. For women, the menstrual cycle can cause drastic changes on the skin. The same goes for periods of pregnancy and menopause. Men are also subject to these influences, especially in the puberty stage as hormones causes the body to develop.
Your genes also influence the propensity to acquire a certain skin condition that is characteristic of your parents’ own skin types. However, as their skin is also influenced by different factors, your skin and theirs may not necessarily be the same.
Lifestyles and habits also affect your skin and while these may seem external to your body, the way you conduct daily activities such as diet, exercise, smoking and drinking habits influence your body and therefore your skin as well.
Other influences affecting your skin lie outside your body such as weather and climate as well as your skin-care regimen of choice. The climates of areas you spend prolonged periods in influence how your body reacts. Cold climates tend to cause dry skin and flaking where as humid areas cause excessive sweating and oil production.
The skin care products you choose also affect your skin condition. Using creams or moisturizers that have too much emollients will cause your skin to be oily whereas strong cleansers and exfoliates result in dry, sensitive skin.
Now that you know what influences your skin, it is time to know what condition it is in.
First of all, don”t evaluate your skin right after you”ve washed your face. This is because your skin is reacting to the water and cleansers you”ve put on it. Wait four to five hours after you”ve washed. This will give your skin time to recover from the cleansing and allow it to resume its “normal” activity. Also try to do this on a day you had not worn any makeup or put on creams so a more accurate evaluation can be made.
Take a piece of facial tissue and press it on different areas of your face. Hold the tissue against the light and if blotches can be seen, then you have oily skin. This is the reason why you should carry out this assessment when you are not wearing makeup or moisturizers since the oil may be caused by these substances.
If the general area of your face appears dry, feels tight and can see patches of skin flakes, then you are dealing with dry skin. On the other hand, if you observe that some areas are both dry and oily then you have combination skin.
Now that you know the degree of oiliness or dryness your skin has right now, you need to know whether or not your skin is suffering from some form of skin disease.
Are there areas of redness around your nose and cheeks with red bumps and blemishes but aren”t pimples? Do you see fine lines of capillaries on the surface that are sensitive to the touch? If yes, you may have rosacea. Patches of irritated, dry, red to white scaly and crusty skin around the hairline, nose, eyes and cheeks may be caused by a skin disorder called psoriasis. In both cases you will need to consult with a dermatologist.
With these evaluations, you develop a more effective skin care routine that will help maintain your skin’s health. But remember that your skin type won”t remain constant for long even with the right choice and use of products. As your own body undergoes development, your skin type will change as well. It is recommended that you perform this simple assessment every 4 to 6 months.
With proper attention and care, you can give you skin the right treatment when and how it needs it — something that is far more effective than any repair cream or fancy treatment at a clinic.
Treating Oily Skin
Whether a teenager or an adult, oily skin has been the bane of many people just like you. No one likes that greasy feeling and the dirt that accumulates on your face, not to mention the shine that makes you cringe at the idea of flash photography. But there is a solution to this problem and one that is simpler and surprisingly gentler than what you may previously have thought.
First of all, you need to know what causes oily skin. Overactive oil glands that produce the substance, sebum (a natural skin lubricant and moisturizer) are the main culprits. As too much sebum accumulates, it becomes thick and heavy in texture making it feel greasy. Left unattended, oily skin becomes the basis of excessive shine, pimples and blemishes.
But while there is a down side to this condition, there exists a good one as well. Skin with active oil glands tends to be less likely to show wrinkles and other signs of aging compared to other skin types. This is because the oil keeps more moisture in the skin making it more supple and elastic, therefore there is less wrinkling. So while you may fret and moan about your skin”s oiliness, it may be a blessing in disguise 10 to 15 years from now if proper care is given today.
But left untreated, this skin type leads to clogged pores, blackheads, and buildup of dead skin cells making it difficult to have clear healthy skin. It also causes a sallow-looking complexion and makes having large, visible pores very likely.
For now, there is no quick-fix solution to successfully treat oily skin. Patience is your best tool since you are addressing not a surface problem but one that is inside your body. Success may take a while to achieve and in some cases may actually need professional medical attention. And in most cases, the condition is simply put under control and never totally resolved. Even then, the skin will improve its condition and the objective to not have greasy shiny skin will be closer than ever.
First thing to do in treating oily skin is to get rid of the excess sebum on your face, without total drying out your skin. Too much washing and “degreasing” can actually make things worse since stripping your skin of oil will cause your oil glands to work overtime in producing more sebum.
The correct and balanced method is to clean the skin with a very mild detergent or surfactant. It should not contain oils or other “fatty” substances that can increase the oily condition you already have. This kind of product removes the greasy feel of too much sebum and cleans away the surface grime that has built up because of the oil.
Some products contain small amounts of AHA (alpha hydroxy acids) that gently remove dead cells from the surface exposing a fresher layer of skin. Use this on a regular basis to get the intended results. Follow this up with a light (no creams and oils, preferably a water-based) moisturizer just so that the drying effects of the cleanser can be compensated for.
Use a mild astringent or toner everyday to clear off excess oils on your face. Avoid the stronger alcohol-based products. Even if you feel that it gets rid of more oil from your face, just like with the cleansers, you are actually encouraging more production of sebum if you dry your face out completely.
To prevent clogging, cleanse at least two times a day but do not scrub hard, as you will hurt your skin more than helping it. A slight pressure from your fingers is friction enough to slough off the dull, dead skin.
With oily skin, moisturizing need not be done everyday. But on the occasion you face feels tight due to cleanser and toner use, apply a light, oil-free moisturizer. Avoid products that contain substances as mineral oils and cocoa butter as they are too emollient for your skin condition.
For your makeup, choose oil-free products, especially for your foundation and blush. Go for water-based and non-comedogenic products that will not clog your pores. Some foundation products are designed to absorbing oil, which can control the shiny look during the day.
As it is with any skin type, do not forget to apply sunscreen (NON-oil based, of course). There are alternative forms of sunscreen out there, and gel is becoming a popular choice since it is less greasy than conventional sun block lotions. To be effective, your sunscreen should be at least SPF 15.
If you have severe breakouts of acne, use cleansers that contain a mild amount of salicylic acid that clears your skin. Moisturizer containing the same substance is also a good follow-up.
Finally, try to watch your diet as well. Refined starches, sugar, and processed foods may aggravate your naturally oily skin. Choose food that is low in fat and eat more fresh fruits, vegetables, and grains. Drinking lots of fluids (6-8 glasses a day) of water, juice or teas maintains good skin tone. Keep your vitamin and mineral intake up especially with vitamins A, C and B complex.
It will take time for your skin to get into shape as far as being less greasy. But the effort and discipline you put in will pay off. And as mentioned before, as you care for your greasy skin now, the benefits of less wrinkled, dry skin will follow you years later.
Treating Dry Skin
Weather can be one of your skin”s worst enemies, especially during the winter season. As we go through this dilemma, we should remember that there are numerous factors aside from the one mentioned above which put your skin to the normal condition of wear and tear.
Effective skin care and treatment are way to keeping your skin younger-looking, supple and full of moisture. The purpose of putting yourself to an effective skin regimen is to minimize the incorrect habits of skin treatment and the factors that injure the skin and causes irreversible damage.
Dermatologists use the term “xerosis” to describe dry skin. In more severe cases, skin moisture is nearly absent thereby resulting to characteristic cracking, scaling and itching called pruritus.
The above conditions are brought about by the skin lacking the required moisture to prevent the aforementioned results. The skin needs a relative amount of moisture to maintain smooth or suppleness, flexibility and protection.
If the skin is a not sufficiently moisturized, harmful UV rays get into the skin easily and travel all the way down the delicate subcutaneous tissue and subsequently make you skin vulnerable to damage.
Causes of Dry Skin
In order to avoid the many activities that jeopardize your skin”s health, it is important to identify the many factors which results to the unwanted condition.
· Avoid Using Soaps with Harsh Ingredients — Regular soaps such as anti-bacterial and deodorant soaps, which are non-moisturizing, dehydrate the skin and rob your integument with essential oils which locks moisture from your body.
Products containing alcohols also dissolve skin lipids and cause the skin”s moisture to evaporate resulting to skin dryness. Water and oil-based products are perfect for your skin. Use Dove, Olay and other soap substitutes available at your local drugstore.
· Washing with Hot Water — Although water is an effective moisturizing agent, it also strips your skin with valuable oils or lipids which are responsible for retaining moisture from your skin.
Frequent bathing, especially with hot water, removes valuable oils and exposes your skin to infections by destroying your body”s first main line of defense.
Once this is lost, your skin will become more prone to organic attacks by pathogens and sometimes cause irreversible damage to your skin.
If you are used to bathing with hot water and cannot resist the temptation, try replacing it with lukewarm water to lessen the effect of skin dryness.
· Frequent Washing — Frequent washing and bathing, usually more than once a day depletes your body with moisture and natural oils. Also, limit your bathing time within 15 minutes.
· Weather — Winter is one major factor in the development of a dry skin. The use of humidifier, in most cases, solves the problem of the effect of the climate. It compensates for the insufficient humidity needed for the preservation of skin moisture.
This is because cold air cannot afford to hold adequate amount of water to serve skin”s moisture demands. Warm air on the other hand holds enough humidity to keep the skin moisturized at a certain level.
· Patients under medication — People taking diuretic drugs remove water from a patient”s body because the kidney will less likely reabsorb the water filtered through it. In this case, frequent intake of water is needed.
· Genetic Disease — People afflicted with a rare genetic disease called ichthyosis are likely to develop dry skin. This genetic disease has no cure and the goal of treatment is to secure the symptoms that manifest along the way.
The skin deserves much attention for it manifests your overall health or state of well-being. It provides you with valuable clues as to how you take care of yourself and how much attention your skin gets in your daily physical management.
One way to maintain that youthful glow is to subscribe to a skin treatment regimen that will help your skin restore moisture when it”s needed.
Most reasons for dryness are bacterial and fungal infections, which do not go away until proper prescription drug treatment is administered. But in reasons not tied up above, products available in the market will help you achieve that goal and maintain a skin that is envied by everyone.
· Alpha hydroxyacid lotions are best for dry skin. Oil-based are more effective than water based lotions for they “lock-in” the moisture stored in the skin.
· Effective moisturizers are dependent on your immediate and long-term needs. If you want to relieve itching caused by dry skin, ordinary moisturizers will serve your purpose.
Humectants such as lotions containing glycerin, propylene glycol promotes moisture retention and allantoin and urea are effective for promoting healing and stripping damaged cells on top of the skin.
· Barrier creams are effective for people who are in a habit of washing their hands frequently. For individuals with advanced dry skin condition (pruritus), anti-pruritic agents such as oatmeal and tar-based pine oil are beneficial.
· Balanced-diet and exercise cause your skin to produce more oil and maintain a relative amount of oil that keeps moisture in your skin. Drinking plenty of water is also important.
If these and other treatments are not effective in alleviating all the symptoms of drying skin, it is best that you consult a professional dermatologist so they can closely monitor the cause of dryness.
Double Whammy – Combination Skin
Skin types vary so as the type of treatment tailored to meet their needs. Some have normal, oily or dry skin and each remains the same even if temperature changes.
For some, cold, frigid weather could turn an oily face dry in minutes. This is because cold air does not carry enough moisture to moisten dry surfaces, especially the skin, and eventually makes the skin less damp and more prone to scaling.
There are many skin regimens to preventing double whammy situation to set in. More often than not, our daily skin treatment and cleaning behavior influences the way our skin maintains moisture and inhibit dry skin symptoms.
Moisture is the key to a wonderful, healthy-looking skin. Being fair-skinned does not always suggest good skin tone but the amount of moisture your skin posses implicates how you take care of your integument.
Appropriate Skin Treatments
Given the fact that people with combination skin possess dry and oily skin scattered in different areas of the face (in most circumstances), each skin type should be treated as it is: dry skin treated with ointments and medication for dry skin and oil removal creams for oily skin types.
Areas of the skin that are dry should be gently cleansed, preferably with cold creams and pat dry with towel without rubbing and wash with lukewarm water.
Oily parts should be thoroughly cleansed and kept dry to avoid breakouts of acne. Oily areas are so sensitive that any incorrect application of medications and creams may cause acne and other irritations to erupt.
There are specially made products created for each skin types and your dermatologist can you provide you valuable details about which facial products will best suit your skin as each skin requires unique treatments.
Moisturizers for Combination Skin
Skin of all types should remain moisturized. A considerable degree of dampness should be maintained to make skin less liable to infections that tend to attack the skin.
While we consider that both skin types, oily and dry, require a certain level of moisture, the oily portion demands greater care and intensive cleansing.
Greasy skin is more prone to bacterial attacks resulting to acne for bacteria thrive on these areas. Oil produced by your sudoriferous glands (oil glands) contains cellular debris which is an excellent breeding ground for bacteria.
If your skin is too oily, bacteria may feed on this part and multiple as a result of continued nourishment. If any of these microorganisms gets in the way to the skin pore, multiply and deposit sedimentary toxic material, it clogs the pore and eventually initiates infection.
Oily, Dry skin and Essential Oils
Remedies for both skin types are accorded with different kinds of medications. For oily skin, oil-removal skin care products for oily skin are applicable, and oil-based skin care products for dry skin are required for skin lacking the minimum moisture requirement.
Dry skin is a result of a low sebum (oil) level on the skin which makes the skin unable to retain enough moisture. Oil locks in the required moisture to maintain structural flexibility and protect the skin, at a certain degree, from harmful rays of the sun.
If the skin lacks any of these characteristics, you will experience the feeling of “tightness”, burning sensation, itchiness, irritability, and increased sensitivity to texture and temperature.
This condition may be a result of improper caring of the skin including but not limited to too much scrubbing, too much exposure sunlight, frequent washing, poor diet, chemical vulnerability, hereditary condition as in ichthyosis, and other preexisting medical condition such as seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema, hypothyroidism, and medications such as diuretic drugs, antihistamine, etc.
Oily skin poses a lot of problem for most people. Skin looks dull; pores are enlarged and prone to blemishes such as blackheads. If left untreated, it may result to acne infections. Greasy-looking skin are more common for people who are pregnant, uses oil-based cosmetic products and people with varying or unstable hormone levels.
Like most traits, oily skin can be traced to parents and are inherited. Diet and weather also induces one”s skin to become oily.
Having all this information at hand, you will be able to choose essential oil that is compatible with your skin type. Essential oils are best in supporting treatment for oily and dry skin. Essential oils makes skin trap the right amount of moisture needed to maintain healthy skin, with fewer blemishes, and inhibit the growth of other microorganisms, etc.
For oily skin, you can choose either or a combination of any of the following essential oils: Geranium, Bergamot, Juniper, Cedar wood, and Sage. Cypress and Frankincense are also nice alternative. Lemon is excellent and all natural.
Rose, Patchouli, and Hyssop are best for dry skin. Lavender and Geranium can be used for both types of skin and people with history of allergic reaction to scents. For some, Ylang-Ylang and Sandalwood are also used.
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