I’m sure you’ve walked into a department store or a chemist, looked at all the various products and brands and been confused where to start, or which counter to approach.
With so many brands out there, how do you know which is right for your skin? The first thing to help you on your path is to understand your skin better, so you aren’t put in a pigeon hole of a whole routine for ‘over 30s’ or ‘dry skin’.
Generally, you need to choose your cleanser, toner and moisturiser to suit your ‘skin type’. Your boosters, like masks and serums, need to be chosen correctly for your ‘skin condition/concern’.
Let me talk you through the difference.
There is a common misconception between ‘skin type’ and ‘skin condition’. Your ‘skin type’ is generally determined by genetics and stays the same throughout life. Your ‘skin condition’ can be temporary and is generally caused by external factors, or what you are or aren’t doing when it comes to facials and homecare.
There are 4 main skin types - normal, dry, oily and combination.
‘Normal’ is a term widely used to refer to well-balanced skin, which is neither too dry nor too oily, with a smooth texture.
‘Dry’ is used to describe skin that produces less sebum (oil) than normal skin. Dry skin lacks lipids that are needed to retain moisture. A dry skin usually has a rough texture with flaky patches in extreme cases.
‘Oily’ is used to describe skin with a heightened sebum (oil) production and prone to blackheads and congestion.
‘Combination’ is the most common skin type. As suggested, it is a combination of 2 other skin types, traditionally normal or dry with an oily ‘t-zone’.
Your skin type is determined by your balance of oil production in the skin and therefore can be controlled through a suitable cleansing and moisturising routine.
So what products and ingredients are right for your skin type?
For a dry or normal skin, opt for cream based cleansers (not foaming washes) and hydrating toners.
If you skin is oily or a combination, opt for a gentle face wash and toner that contains AHA (alpha hydroxy acids) to cut through the oil and prevent further congestion.
In addition to the correct cleansers, washes and toners, all skin types will benefit from a Vitamin A based moisturiser, which would improve your skin regardless of the skin type!
Let’s move on to look at the most common skin conditions (concerns).
Your skin concerns may well change throughout life and can be triggered by a number of external factors that will require specific products and ingredients to treat effectively.
The most common skin concerns are dehydration, sensitivity, breakouts and photo-ageing.
‘Dehydration’ is the most common skin condition due to the environment. Most people suffer from this at some stage of their life. Dehydration and dryness often get mixed up.
Dehydration is simply caused by a lack of water in the skin. Dryness is a lack of oil, not water. Oily skin can also become dehydrated!
Your skin should be full of an ingredient called hyaluronic acid, which holds up to a 1000 times its own weight in water. A hydrated skin should look plump with no fine lines. When your skin has been over exfoliated or exposed to harsh climates or the wrong products, the NMF (natural moisturising factors) and the lipid barrier in the skin is compromised, which leads to tight and dehydrated skin.
To treat a dehydrated skin use a hyaluronic acid serum, avoid manually exfoliating the skin and use an anti-oxidant moisturiser to protect the skin from the environment.
‘Sensitive’ and ‘sensitised’ skin are not the same.
Sensitive skin is super-reactive to pretty much anything (even water can sting!) and will be thinner, suffer with allergic reactions and have more redness than other skin types. People with sensitive skin have generally had it from a young age.
Sensitised skin is a temporary skin concern that has been triggered by external factors such as unsuitable products, heat, touch and friction or temporary hormonal changes that cause a inflammatory response.
Both forms of sensitivity are treated by repairing the immunity and barrier of the skin. Sensitive skins respond really well to internal supplementations without the risk of further aggravation from topical products. Sensitised reactions can be simply treated by removing the cause of the inflammation, such as exfoliation.
‘Breakouts and congestion’. Breakouts and under the skin congestion can be triggered by hormones, stress and/or diet. Blackheads are another form of congestion, which is a build-up of dead skin cells and sebum.
Tea-tree and AHA based cleansers, toners or masks will help take away the excess dead skin cells, bacteria and sebum which contribute to a congested skin.
If you suffer with a more severe form of breakout (Acne or Rosacea), I’ll be writing an article on my blog very soon going into lots more detail on how to help.
‘Photo-damaged’ is a sun damaged skin caused by exposure to UVA and UVB rays leading to an uneven skin tone (pigmentation marks or ‘age spots’) a thickened textured skin and deeper set lines.
Most of this damage will have happened years ago, but due to every day UV light on the skin, pigmentation marks will eventually become visible on the surface.
Photo-ageing is one of the most common skin concerns that aesthetic and beauty clinics are being asked to treat, however, it’s not generally and quick and easy fix as the damage didn’t just happen overnight!
The 4 key ingredients to help reverse UV damage are vitamin A, vitamin C, AHA’s and an SPF with added antioxidant protection.
If you have any of the above concerns, check the ingredients of your skin care products to ensure they contain what your skin needs.
If you do have any questions relating to your skin, or for more information please email me at Rachel@racheleve.co.uk
Thanks for reading. Rachel Eve x