Saturday, October 25, 2014

Is your skin in balance?

I thought this would be particularly useful for fall when temperatures drop and skin becomes drier.

Everything good in life comes from moderation and the same applies to our skin. To function at its best, skin should be comfortable naked meaning without any products - after all products should only enhance and improve. If skin becomes reliant on any products to function normally for long periods of time, it is sending a signal that something is amiss. Fret not, this is usually caused by products used rather than a larger holistic issue.

Although people's skin will differ from one another, it's important to remember that we're evolved to be resilient not delicate. Barring any greater health issues at play, skin should not be in either extreme of oiliness or dryness.

Those with oily skin should understand how using stripping products can aggravate and imbalance skin causing further irritation when skin responds by overproducing sebum to alleviate the unnatural dryness. What few in the market understand is that the same can be applied to dry skin. We all hear how moisturizing is key yet how much, how often and which moisturizers to use should be an individual choice dictated by skin responsiveness.

I've met many people who have this over-reliance on moisturizers where it becomes absolutely essential for their skin to function. This actually means skin is no longer able to hold moisture on its own which is not a good thing. Brands aren't to blame for marketing their moisturizers necessarily and I believe it is important to provide your skin with moisture only when this boost is needed. There are several brands such as Dr. Hauschka and Arcona who deliberately take an active stance against moisturizers especially moisturizing at night (to let skin breath and work on its own).

Unlike imbalanced oily skin, it is harder for those with imbalanced dry skin to see when they're no longer helping their skin but suffocating and hindering it's functionality since there aren't clear signs. Those with dry skin who overuse moisturizers will often not notice that their skin has become weaker but that lightweight moisturizers that used to work are no longer enough which will often lead the person to slathering on MORE product and going after HEAVIER moisturizers in a vicious cycle.

If you have dry skin here's an easy way to tell if you've played a preventable part in compromising skin's abilities: cleanse your skin with water in the morning and allow your skin to stay 'naked' for 3 minutes. This is the amount of time after cleansing that skin can lock in "outside moisture". Without the aid of moisturizers or serums, see if your skin is able to manage this on its own. For those who are accustomed to using moisturizers immediately, you may feel some tightness and dryness. Skin that retains function should be able to counter this tightness and dryness within 10-15 minutes. If your skin becomes progressively worse, it could mean you've over relying on moisturizers and your skin can no longer manage this on its own. But base your skin's response off of both how it feels to the touch and how it appears rather than what's going on in your head since our brains are programmed to accept routine.

Here are some tips that can help regain function:

1. Slowly adjust to a lighter moisturizer in the evening until your skin can manage with something on the level of just one face oil.
2. Cleanse your skin. And I mean really cleanse your skin and not just go over it with an oil to hydrate and remove makeup - it does only those two things and not the actual cleanse which in the long term makes skin irritated and unresponsive. To make sure you don't end up using a cleanser that strips your skin just look for ingredients that do not include: soaps (including castille and organic soaps which ARE gentler than conventional soaps but still... not something to indulge in as a daily use product), alcohol (including organic grain/grape alcohol which again are more gentle but still can strip skin), sulfates. Look for a low foam formula that washes off with water (no cloth wiping).
3. Vitamin C and Vitamin A help with skin renewal which means compromised skin can get a fresh beginning. (When using a concentrated C or A serum, it's okay to add some moisturizer to balance the drying effects)
4. Save the moisturizer for the day. If you REALLY can't be without your moisturizer, then use the heavy duty stuff during the day. This is when the primary concern for skin is combating exposure. At night, skin needs to go into recovery mode and having a suffocating moisturizer is of greater hindrance.
5. Avoid moisturizers that use mineral oil that coat skin and for green beauties, do not use facial products that contain beeswax at night as this coats skin as well. Use it during the day, but wash off before bed.

If you use these tips to strengthen and build your skin back up, you must understand that the first few days will be the toughest as you'r weaning skin from an over reliance on these heavy products. Think of it as quitting smoking cold turkey, the first few days will make you not feel so great until you start to feel better. A lot of this is mental as well. You might feel that your skin feels tight or stripped, and it's because the feeling of "naked" skin is one you and your skin have to readjust to. Your skin will reteach itself how to balance itself over time.

Recommended Products:
Pacific Vitamin C Topical Treatment  - mix with serum for hydration and treatment
Elta MD AM Moisturizer or Dr. Alkaitis Organic Day Cream - breathable day time moisturizers
Skinceuticals Renew Overnight Dry - breathable night time moisturizer for improving dry skin
Yuli Halcyon Cleanser - gentle low foaming cleanser without alcohol, soap, sulfates that strip skin