Cleanse your face with a gentle, creamy liquid cleanser. “Bar soap is not only drying, but it’s not hygienic,”. “The dirt that comes off your hands ends up on your face.” Put your liquid cleanser on a ball of cotton and then apply it to your skin. (Your hands just aren’t clean enough, she says.) Make sure you rinse with lukewarm water because hot water can aggravate the skin and inflame capillaries.
In the old days, toner was analogous to harsh. But there are a multitude of toners on the market today that are gentle and formulated to balance the skin. Schorr recommends using a gentle toner over your face and neck after you have rinsed thoroughly. This removes the last traces of your cleanser and restores the pH balance of the skin so it won’t over-secrete or under-secrete oil. For oily or combination skin, you can use a toner that is more astringent. For oily skin, look for ingredients like witch hazel. It’s true they are drying, but oily complexions may need this drying effect.
The purpose of gently exfoliating the skin is to remove the buildup of dead skin cells that causes breakouts. Also, you want to smooth the skin’s surface so your treatment products can be absorbed more evenly. But don’t use exfoliators that are too harsh, says Schorr. Look for very fine abrasives. Scrubs that contain ground-nut shells or apricot pits may irritate the skin because the edges are uneven and can cause microscopic tears. Never use loofahs and buff puffs on your face, she says. “Your face is not a floor and should not be scrubbed like one,” she says. “Over-exfoliating will only result in removing healthy new skin.”
Gently steam your face once a week for five to ten minutes as part of your deep-cleansing ritual. Place a handful of chamomile in a pot of water and bring to a boil. Turn the flame off and let the mixture “brew” and cool. When it’s cooled enough so the steam doesn’t burn you, place a towel over your head for a tent-like effect and expose your face to the vapor. However tempting it may be, do not squeeze or pick any blemishes after you have steamed.
Facial masks are used to revitalize and tighten the skin. For those with oily skin, clay- based masks are best. Hydrating gel masks or cream masks should be used by those with dry or sensitive skin. If you have combination skin, apply a mud mask only over the T-zone, which is the center of the forehead, nose and chin and the center of cheeks. For a real at-home “spa experience,” soak two cotton balls in rosewater and then apply to eyelids while the mask is drying. Schorr recommends doing a “patch test” on your leg before applying a new type of mask to make sure you don’t have an allergic reaction to it.
Regularly moisturizing your skin is critical to maintaining young and healthy looking skin. Another very important reason to wear a daily moisturizer is for protection against the sun’s damaging rays. Moisturizers should be used every morning and every night for maximum results. (Even oily complexions need some sort of moisturizer. Just make sure you find one that’s non-comedogenic and formulated not to block pores.) Nighttime is the best time to apply repairing treatments such as anti-aging or anti-wrinkle creams. During the day, make sure you use a moisturizer that contains an SPF of at least 15.
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