After almost 20 years as a make-up artist (13 with a major cosmetic line, the last 5 with the American Cancer Society’s “Look Good Feel Better” program), I’ve learned a thing or two. So I’m really excited to share with you some of my favorite tips – tips that you can easily fold into your busy day, to help you maintain and enhance the skin you’re in.
Let’s start with skin care, and the two most important things you need to know:
If I could say this
100 1,000 a million times in this post I would: regular use of sunscreen - every day, starting right now - is the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT THING you can do for your skin.
And it’s not just a vanity thing, although sun damage is the leading contributor to lines and wrinkles. Shielding yourself from the sun’s harmful rays also significantly reduces the risk of skin cancer. We typically think of using sunscreen during vacation, summertime and outdoor activities. But you are vulnerable year round – on overcast days, in your car and even during winter. So the best way to ensure that you are protected is to incorporate sunscreen into your daily routine.
For me, this means using a foundation that contains sunscreen. But a moisturizer with SPF (minimum 15, please) does the job too. If you go the moisturizer route, just be sure to use a different cream at night (when you don’t want or need sunscreen on your face). And don’t neglect the eye area, as it’s typically the first to show signs of aging. I like this stick:
photo credit: Clinique
but there are many to choose from.
As for how high an SPF you need, the jury is still out. There has been much debate recently about the efficacy of anything higher than SPF 50, and I tend to agree. This article explains some of the new rules about sunscreen claims. I try to stay in the 30-45 SPF range for my face, neck and hands.
Yes, I use sunscreen on my neck and hands. Someone once told me that a woman’s age is revealed not in her face, but in her neck and hands. Think about it - they are pretty much exposed to the elements as often as your face is - why wouldn’t you give them the same level of protection? So other than times when I am certain to be wearing gloves and/or a turtleneck, I apply sunscreen to my neck and hands every day.
So are we clear here?
With an SPF 15 or higher.
On your face, neck and hands, every day.
Exfoliation refers to the removal of dead skin – and it has several important benefits:
1. Better penetration/performance of your skin care products. When you apply moisturizer over dead skin, it can’t effectively penetrate. By sweeping away that top layer of dead skin you’ll experience better results from all of your skin care products, and you’ll need less product too.
2. Smoother application/finish of your make-up. If you’ve ever put on foundation and wondered why your skin actually looked worse, and not better, it’s probably due to lack of exfoliation. Foundation will “grab” and collect on dry, dead skin, resulting in a blotchy, uneven finish.
3. Improved appearance of your complexion. Simply put, a skin that is smooth and glowing looks far more attractive than one that is dry and dull. Exfoliation revs up circulation, removes dry, dead skin and leaves it looking polished and more youthful. While nothing – not a cream, serum or lotion – can remove or erase a wrinkle, dead skin has a way of collecting in fine tiny lines, making them look more pronounced.
There are a few different ways to exfoliate. The most gentle is with a lotion or toner. Used twice a day after washing your face, it sweeps away any surface dead skin. And you can even make your own! Rebecca of The Daily Muse has a great DIY toner that you can find on the equally great Design Mom blog.
Next is an exfoliating cream, which penetrates the skin, getting to those dead layers lodged beneath the surface.
Finally, there are exfoliating scrubs. The grains in these products polish the skin, smoothing out rough patches. The grains can be natural or man-made – I prefer the latter, as the artifcial grains tend to be smoother and more uniform, making them less abrasive.
So there you have it – my two most important skin-care tips.
I’m sure you’re wondering why moisturizer is not mentioned here. In my opinion, women rely way too much on moisturizer as their “do-it-all” cream. If you have dry skin, by all means use a moisturizer to give it comfort – and nothing more. It can be a fancy one from the department store, or an inexpensive drug store brand - it really doesn’t matter. And if your skin doesn’t feel dry and tight after washing and exfoliating, guess what? You don’t need a moisturizer – even if you’re “of a certain age”. What you DO need is sunscreen and regular exfoliation.
Major disclaimer here: I am NOT a dermatologist or licensed aesthetician. Always check with your doctor before beginning any skin care regimen, using my advice as a guideline only. What I’ve shared with you here is strictly my personal experience working in “the field”, as well as taking care of my own skin.
I would love to hear about your skin care routine – your must-have products, special tips and tricks, and any questions or concerns you may have. Please share them here, and stay tuned for make-up tips next!