Did you know that your skin is the waterproof covering that holds in moisture, acts as a barrier to bacteria that are waiting to enter your system, and protects you against external attacks? That the cells in your skin die and are replaced everyday? In fact, all your body cells are replaced at least every seven years. The skin is your body's largest organ. It contains pigments that shield the body from the sun's dangerous ultraviolet rays.
Cleansing: How many times?
Cleansing schedules vary—some rarely cleanse their skin, while others have an elaborate cleansing ritual. A lot depends on your skin type, but not cleansing enough and over-cleansing can both cause damage. If you use mild, well-formulated products, regular cleansing should cause you no major problems.
Why a cleanser? Why not soap?
Soaps are good emulsifiers—i.e., they hold solids and oils in liquids in emulsion form so they can be rinsed away. They have good lathering power, but they come with two problems:
- Their powerful cleansing action results in overuse. This may completely eliminate the protective liquid film on the skin surface which helps maintain its balance
- Some soaps have excess alkalinity.
While oily soaps are enriched with glycerol, fatty acids, or oils, that have a smooth, softening action, other cosmetic products leave the skin dry and, sometimes, itchy.
Before you cleanse
- Use a cleanser that does its job without causing your skin any irritation
- Figure out your skin type: dry, oily or combination
- Pay attention to your age—skin ages as you do and needs different types of treatment at different life stages
- If you have any skin problems, make sure you consult a dermatologist/cosmetologist before you use a particular product
- If you have sensitive skin, your response to certain cosmetics needs to be monitored. Allergies and rashes need to be taken seriously. Fortunately, in today's world where a range of natural products are available, this should not be a problem.
Change your skin's way of life
- Skin is better moisturised from the inside than it is from the outside. You can slather bottles of moisturising lotion on your face, but if you aren't drinking enough water, your skin will still reflect it. Make sure you drink eight glasses of water everyday—even during winter months, when the weather robs your skin of precious moisture
- A diet that is chock full of fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts can do wonders for your skin. With its rich anti-oxidant properties, such a diet will leave your skin glowing
- Your body renews skin cells while you're asleep—so 7-8 hours of sleep is absolutely critical to the skin of your dreams. Read this article on the direct link between sleep and the health of your skin
- If you smoke, stub out the cigarette this very moment. The carcinogens in tobacco are awful for your skin
- There is no way you can be stressed and hope your skin won't show it, because it will. Learn to de-stress with meditation, regular walks, visualisation techniques and music
- You're back from a party and just want to fall into bed. Hold on. Your make-up needs to come off, no matter how late it is, no matter how tired you are. In fact, wash your face twice: once to get the make-up off, and the next time to wash your skin clean. Left-over make-up clogs the pores of your skin.
How to rinse
- Wash the surface of your skin thoroughly to open up and clean clogged pores. Never pull, tug or scrub. A gentle steam followed by washing with soap should do the trick
- Exfoliate your skin with a gentle scrub, at least twice a week. When you're shopping for a scrub, look for products that contain alpha-hydroxy acids [AHA] which are derived from fruit and milk and have anti-inflammatory properties
- A teaspoon of sugar or oatmeal too would work just fine
- Use a toner after cleansing to ensure your skin is clear and the moisture is locked in. Toners are based on plant extracts and have a refreshing effect
- Apply a moisturiser and your cleansing ritual is complete.
Facial mud and clay are excellent in helping to exfoliate dead cells, dry up pimples and rinse away blackheads. The mask, when applied, also absorbs excess oil, shrinks large pores, improves texture and replenishes lost vitamins, minerals and moisture
- Yoghurt, banana and tomato pulp are great natural and nourishing facial masks
- An alternating hot-and-cold shower, called a contrast shower, stimulates blood flow to your skin
- A glass of warm water with lemon cleanses the body of toxins
- Look in your refrigerator and around the kitchen and you should find everything that is good for your skin – gram flour, cream, honey, turmeric, lime juice, and curd.
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