As most of us know, our skin is our body's largest organ. So it only makes sense that we want to treat it well and give it the proper care it deserves -- especially since our face is what we present to the world.
Every person has different skin, from dry to normal, from oily to combination, from acne-prone to supersensitive. So knowing how to treat your skin type is essential to achieving that healthy glow you dream of. But regardless what kind of skin you have, there are a few basics steps every person should incorporate into their daily skin-care routine, to maintain a fresh and healthy complexion.
The first step in your skin-care regime should be to find a cleanser that works for your skin, one that provides a thorough cleansing and doesn't cause skin irritation.
Why you need a cleanser
According to beauty expert Paula Begoun, author of Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me, "gently cleansing the face, avoiding harsh cleansers or bar cleansers, is crucial for the basis of good skin care."
And, she adds, you should wash your face with tepid or lukewarm water. "Hot or cold water will irritate the skin and irritation causes skin problems, not the least of which is the breakdown of collagen," she says.
Particularly when we head into the warm summer months and find ourselves spending a greater amount of time in the sun, doing activities that cause us to sweat, proper skin care becomes increasingly important.
"It's important to cleanse the skin, especially if you've been outside a lot," says Dr. Nowell Solish, a Toronto-based dermatologist, citing environmental elements as a factor that affects how our skin behaves.
But Dr. Solish stresses the importance of finding a cleanser that's just right for your skin type. "If [your skin is] really dry and you're using a very strong cleanser, you're just going to irritate your skin," he says.
Begoun agrees. "A cleanser for oily skin will be too harsh for someone with dry skin, and a cleanser for dry skin will be too emollient for someone with oily skin," she says.
Page 1 of 3 — Read more about why you need to use a cleanser on page 2
What's in your cleanser
So read the labels on your skin-care products very carefully. You should also be on the lookout for certain ingredients in your skin-care products and, if possible, try to avoid them.
"Any ingredient that irritates the skin is going to be a problem, such as menthol, alcohol, peppermint, camphor and eucalyptus," says Begoun. "A cleansing agent known as sodium lauryl sulfate should also be avoided as it is known to be extremely irritating."
After you've cleansed your skin, determine whether it needs a toner or astringent. According to Dr. Solish, astringents are drying because they strip the oils from your skin and he therefore recommends that people who have oily or greasy skin use them.
"To remove the last traces of makeup or to add soothing agents or moisturizing ingredients to the skin, [astringents] are great," says Begoun. But she also cautions against using products that may be too harsh for your skin, or that contain ingredients that are known skin irritants.
Find the time
No matter how tired you may be at the end of the day, you should always find the time and energy to cleanse your skin. If you don't, you may be inviting breakouts and clogging your pores. A multipurpose cleanser or a gentle scrub should be able to remove oil and dirt and should also be able to take off long-lasting makeup. For an even quicker approach, try a daily cleansing cloth to give your face a fast but effective wash.
If you occasionally perform a pared-down version of your nighttime routine, or skip it altogether, be sure to cleanse your skin thoroughly in the morning. You'll feel revived and refreshed and you'll be able to start the day by putting your best face forward.
Page 2 of 4 - Learn our picks for the best cleaners on page 3
What do you use and why? We ask these freshly scrubbed web editors:"I love Biophora's cleanser. I got it at my dermatologist's office and it's got glycolic acid in it, so it takes off all of my skin flakes. I also like Dermalogica's Ultracalming cleanser, especially when I'm not at the sink. You don't need to rinse it off. I just use one of those big flat cotton pads. I clean my face with it two times and I'm good to go.
"For removing heavy makeup, I can't get enough of Karin Herzog's Finest Chocolate Cleansing cream. It probably cleans just as well as any other product, but it smells so yummy! You massage some on your face (it's clear, not chocolate-coloured, in case you were wondering) and wipe it off with a cotton pad. It's like dessert, minus the calories."
-- Helen Racanelli, web editor, canadianliving.com
"I use Neutrogena Blackhead Eliminating Daily Scrub [available at drugstores]. My oily/combination/sensitive skin needs frequent exfoliation, and this daily scrub does the trick. I use it every morning in the shower, and the salicylic acid helps keep skin problems at bay."
-- Kat Tancock, assistant web editor, canadianliving.com and homemakers.com
"Daily, I use Artistry Oil Control Cleansing System (foaming face gel, toner and moisturizer). I have problem skin and have tried EVERYTHING. This system is oil-controlling without drying my skin out, plus the moisturizer has SPF 15 and is the only moisturizing product I can glob all over my face without any hint of a breakout in the morning. It's available only through Quixtar.
"Weekly, it's not for your face, but I use Mary Kay Buffing Cream (from the manicure/pedicure line) once a week after a hot bath. It's a lot more coarse than facial scrubs, like a sandy paste, and gives my face a nice glow."
-- Colleen Tully, assistant web editor, styleathome.com and ellecanada.com
"I use Spectrojel [available at drugstores] twice a day because my dermatologist recommended it. I like it because it makes my skin feel clean, but not dry. It's a nice mild cleanser that won't make your skin fight for moisture."
-- Jennifer Melo, web editor, homemakers.com
"I am completely devoted to Dermalogica products. The Dermal Clay Cleanser: The absolute best if you have congested or clogged pores. The green clay combined with sage, cucumber and menthol revitalizes even the most tired skin. I swear by it!
"Daily Microfoliant: My favourite beauty product across all categories,
hands down! It is a rice-based powder that activates when mixed with water. It gently exfoliates dead skin cells while soothing inflammation with green tea, ginkgo and bearberry. Gentle to use daily. Amazing!"
-- Lara Ceroni, web editor, ellecanada.com
"Cetaphil [available at drugstores] is dermatologist recommended so I thought I'd give it a try. That was a few years ago and I haven't turned back since. It's mild, but offers deep cleansing, plus it keeps my skin well moisturized. I love how clean and clear my skin looks and feels after I've used it."
-- Natalie Bahadur, web editor, styleathome.com
Page 3 of 3