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Facial Skincare Basics

Okay, let’s talk about facial skincare basics. We’ll call ‘em the face-ics.

Before we dive in, let’s make a distinction when we’re talking about facial skin. You see, I'm not talking just about the skin your face. I'm talking about the skin on your face, neck, and decollete (or “deck” for short - this is the upper torso below the neck). I'm making that distinction because these areas all deserve pampering. These areas of skin are very different from the skin on your arms, legs, and the rest of your body and should be treated accordingly.

Skin types are classified in a few different ways: oily/acne prone, combination, normal, and dry. Your skin type never changes, as it is what you were born with and is determined by genetics. Your skin tone, texture, and condition are all changing variables that we work on in your facial treatment.

A regimented skin care routine is recommended on a daily/weekly basis for all skin types:

- Cleanse twice daily (not with just water, friends!)

- Apply toner after each cleanse

- Moisturize with a lotion or cream after toning

- Use sunscreen in the morning after moisturizing

- Exfoliate 2-3 times a week

- Apply a mask 2-3 times a week

To start off your routine, you need a cleanser to properly dislodge the dirt and pollutants that accumulate on your skin, as well as the skin cells that are ready to come off. Cleansers come in both gel and lotion forms and are used for different skin types. Gel cleansers are typically used for oily and combination skin, whereas lotion cleansers are used for more dry or normal skin types.

It is always recommended that you use a toner after cleansing. “Toners” come in several types: astringents, toners, and fresheners. Astringents have the most alcohol, toners have small amounts of alcohol, and fresheners have none to treat different types of skin. Different skin requires different toners, so I make toners that are custom to each skin type.

It is important to note the difference between hydrating and moisturizing the skin. Hydrating is done with water (contained in toner), and moisturizing is done with oils (lotions and creams). When it comes to moisturizing, you want to find a lotion or cream that is suitable for your skin type and is noncomedogenic (not pore-clogging). After moisturizing in the morning, it is recommended that you apply sunscreen to provide a shield from the sun. Sunscreen works long term to protect you from harmful UV rays, prevent dark spots, and prevent skin cancer.

Exfoliating agents are used to get rid of dead skin cells and prevent clogging, so it’s important to incorporate them into your weekly skincare routine. Exfoliants can be light scrubs (mechanical) or chemical (AHA or salicylic acid). Chemical exfoliants I use in esthetic services are totally safe and can be quite helpful for some people, so don’t get scared by the word “chemical”. When using exfoliation products, please be gentle with your skin! Let the exfoliants do the work. Harsh scrubs, washcloths, and scrubbing brushes do not help. These only cause irritation and make skin conditions worse.

Masks should be applied 2-3 times weekly, preferably at night. Masks can do several things for the skin depending on the type. They can pull out impurities (especially charcoal masks), reduce inflammation and acne, remove excess oils and dirt from pores, soften and moisturize skin, increase circulation, and so much more. When used regularly, masks can really do wonders for your skin.

With all of this in mind, preventative maintenance is the best way to ensure great skin as you age. Daily habits can contribute to wrinkles like biting your lip or using a straw, so it’s best to be cognizant of these tendencies. Your skin changes with the seasons and so should your skincare routine. Estheticians provide advice and product recommendations to keep your skin looking great year-round.

Seeing an esthetician is not a luxury, it’s a necessary piece of the skincare routine just like you see your doctor or dentist. Once a week treatments are recommended until your skin is manageable, then once every 1-2 months for maintenance. Expensive or invasive treatments aren’t necessarily more effective. There are many inexpensive, gentle, and non-invasive methods for dealing with skincare issues like acne and aging skin. However, certain skin conditions like rosacea or eczema should be treated or evaluated by a dermatologist.

Your face, neck, and deck will love you for this.

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