Posted: 10 March 2007 at 6:03am
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The Basics of Beautiful Skin
Your skin's appearance is reflects your health and your lifestyle. Radiant, dewy and smooth skin indicates good habits. Congested, dull and roughly textured skin suggests the opposite. To keep your skin looking its best, it's important to not only know the basics of skin care, but to understand the physiology of the skin.
Good Skin Begins with Good Health
Healthy skin glows. If you don't get adequate nutrition or hydration, you skin will be dull and lifeless. Follow these suggestions for overall health:
;Drink at least 8 glasses of water each day to keep your skin and body hydrated.
;Make sure your diet is colorful--eat lots of fruits and vegetables
;Get at least eight hours of sleep a night.
;Don't smoke cigarettes
Cleanse, Treat, Moisturize and Protect
In addition to preserving your skin through healthy living, a basic skincare regimen is necessary. Take the time to develop a daily and nightly ritual that includes cleansing, treating, moisturizing and protecting. The products you use will depend on your individual skin type and/or condition.
Cleanse skin once or twice a day with the type of cleanser appropriate for your skin type. Cleansers should leave your skin clean and refreshed and prepared for treatment--they shouldn't strip or dry the skin. Finish the cleansing process with a gentle toner to remove any lingering traces of makeup.
To target specific skin concerns, it's necessary to treat your skin with active ingredients that penetrate the skin's upper layers enough to make changes at the cellular level. Active ingredients that can change the skin's structure include antioxidants like Vitamin C, AHAs and Retinoids.
Exfoliation is another way to treat and refine the skin. Depending on your skin type and sensitivity level, you can exfoliate using scrubs, textured cloths, AHAs or BHAs. Exfoliating removes the upper layer of the skin (the stratum corneum layer of the epidermis) to reveal fresher skin. In the beginning, it's best to be conservative to avoid over exfoliation.
Unless you have abnormally oily skin, it's a good idea to moisturize daily. The role of moisturizer is to mimic healthy skin by introducing ingredients like antioxidants and water-binding agents. For dry skin, emollients like oils and fatty acids are necessary. It's helpful to apply moisturizer directly after washing the skin to help seal in moisture.
No skincare regimen is complete without daily use of a broad-spectrum sunscreen. If you're pressed for time, use a high-quality moisturizer with added SPF. Otherwise, wait 15 minutes after moisturizing to apply sunscreen.
The skin is comprised of three levels: the epidermis (surface), the dermis (cellular level), and the hypodermis (inner-most fatty layer). For basic skin care, we're most concerned with the epidermis, because it's most responsive to certain skin care treatments.
The dermis contains fibroblasts, which produce collagen and elastin. Collagen gives the skin its strength and smooth, plump appearance. Elastin keeps the skin resilient and elastic. Over time, the dermis stops producing both, leading to sagging and hollowed skin. It's much more difficult to affect skin at the dermal level and only products with high concentrations of active ingredients stand a chance.
To keep skin looking youthful for as long as possible, try to preserve the healthy collagen you still have and prevent future damage. To do this, avoid UVA and UVB rays and prevent free radical damage. By adhering to a healthy lifestyle and a good skin care regimen, your skin can stay beautiful for a lifetime!
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