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


  1. Really loved this post, thank you for sharing! I cleanse my face every evening with a cream cleanser wiping it off with a muslin cloth but this doesn't seem to be anything you really recommend? I use a low foaming gentle cleanser in the morning but feel this alone in the evening wouldn't be enough...even though I rarely use make up. Would love a few more thoughts regarding this! - Nic

    1. I think your morning cleanse is fine. In the evening I think you should double cleanse. The first cleanse should remove everything on the surface that includes sunscreen and make-up. Then you want to focus on the skin itself with your second cleanser (which can be the one you use in the morning).

  2. Thank you so much for this post. I was looking to change my routine for fall and I was looking for moisturizers. Now, I know the Do's and the Don'ts.

    One question, How about eye creams, should they be applied morning only ? Also, anti-aging serums that have the same consistency of a lotion ?

    I would be very grateful if you write a post about Exfoliation (acids-based, enzyme-based, mechanical with beads or grains, mechanical with brushes or facecloths, sponges, clay...) What type and frequency would be beneficial to dry, oily, sensitive and balanced skin ?

    Thank you

    1. The eye is kind of a different area in the sense that the skin around the eye is exceptionally thin and doesn't produce as much oil, so I treat it differently. I don't think it's a bad thing to use an eye cream day and night. I do recommend one of those lighter products that won't pull and tug at your skin when you apply it as some thick moisturizers can be quite heavy.

      When it comes to products, look at ingredients and how your skin is handling them and less at labels like serums/moisturizers because many companies will have overlap. For example the Tata Harper serums are quite thick and can work as a lotion. In that case, I might just go with the serum and end it there.

  3. I agree with OrgaNic... What would u suggest for AM cleanse? I cleanse pm with Yuli Halcyon... Is a AM cleanser necessary? Or is water fine? I tried your water test...and even after 30 min my face still feels tight....want to regain balance...looking for suggestions and your seem extremely knowledgable

    1. Jenna, I think cleansing is one of the most important steps for healthy skin so cleansing regularly is necessary. Of course you'll need to remove more in the evening so that's when you should go a little more heavy duty.

      Simple washing with water is better than not cleaning skin at all but it won't dissolve oils and grime or clear out the bad stuff further down under skin surface.

      I think it's important to ease skin in, you might feel that it's extremely uncomfortable in the beginning. That's fine, apply some moisturizer until you feel comfortable but don't just use the amount you always use, try to go for less each time. Soon you'll give your skin a workout to recondition and strengthen itself.

  4. I agree...what do you suggest for AM cleanse? I cleanse pm with Yuli Halcyon and I do not wear a lot of makeup. I did the water test and my skin is still tight an hour later... Just trying to see what u suggest as your posts all seem so knowledgeable and make extreme sense