Our face is the mirror of our personality – we are wearing it all the time, contrary to our clothes and jewellery, which we change constantly. So, as requested, I will be doing a series on basic skin care that involves cleaning, toning and moisturising.
OUR skin is the most vulnerable organ of the body. It is constantly exposed to pollution, grime and the adversities of the weather, and not surprisingly, all of us have some skin problems at some stage of life. There is no magic potion that can make your spots and pimples disappear overnight or a remedy to turn the clock back to give you the skin of your youth. However, there is a way by which you can improve your skin, bring it back to good health and even rejuvenate it. The skin has tremendous powers of regeneration when properly cared for and it is never too late to start.
An effective skin care regime which yields maximum benefits comprises a daily routine of cleansing, toning and moisturising – what in beauty language is called CMT.
Cleansing is the most important of these three. Whatever the texture and type of your skin, it requires thorough cleansing. If you look at unclean skin through a magnifying glass, the surface is covered by a film of dirt, sweat, oil deposits, stale make-up and other pollutants. They not only upset the normal balance of the skin but also hamper its natural functions.
Soap and water are the most common cleaning agents used by all of us. We feel comfortable with soap and water because water is refreshing while soap imparts a clean feeling. Actually soap only cleanses the skin superficially and does not remove every trace of grime, oil and other debris.
Do you know that most soaps being alkaline, remove the skin’s natural oils and moisture. Besides, excessive use of soap and water can lower the acid level of the skin and encourage bacterial activity.
The cleaning procedure should be such that it prevents the accumulation of dead epithelial cells. The build-up of dead cells presents many problems – it causes the skin texture to become thicker and the skin looks rough and uneven. Whenever there is accumulation of dead cells, the skin starts looking dark and patchy. Pigmentation also increases and this imparts a blotchy appearance. If proper cleansing is not done, the pores get blocked and you can have a face full of blackheads.
To clean your skin, you must know what type of skin you have. Every individual has a unique skin texture. Skin conditions can be generally characterised into three categories.
Oily skin: It has a shiny appearance with large visible pores containing blackheads and white heads and the texture, if thick, coarse and sallow yellow.
Dry skin: There are two types of dry skins – the oil-dry and the moisture-dry. The oil dry skin is sensitive and has flaky patches with no visible pores. It tends to age and wrinkle prematurely unless carefully looked after. The moisture-dry skin has a fine texture. Its appearance is taut and dry with a tendency to chap easily and even at early age, may show lines around the eyes and mouth.
Combination skin condition: This skin is partly dry and partly oily. The central part of the face – the forehead, nose, chin and parts of the cheek look glossy and oily. The other parts appear dry.
For the test, all that is needed is a few strips of tissue paper.
In the morning, before washing your face, rub the strips gently across your forehead, nose and cheeks by sliding them back and forth. The strips will either gain greasy stains or remain transparent and clear.
If the strips used on forehead, nose and chin are greasy, whereas the strips used on the cheeks are clean, you have a combination skin. If all the strips are greasy, including the ones used on the cheek, you have an extremely oily skin. If all the strips are clean and transparent, it means you have a dry skin. Through this test, you can find out the skin type and also know of parts that are excessively oily or dry.
FOR a cleansing procedure to be effective, it has to perform three important functions:
Remove surface grime
Cleanse without disturbing the normal balance
Keep the skin surface free from dead cells
Normal to dry skins:
CLEAN your skin twice a day using a glycerine soap. Choose and invest in a good cleansing soap or face wash. If you can afford it, it is best to use a face wash as this is perfectly formulated for the skin of your face. For dry skin, use a face wash that contains aloe vera which cleans without disturbing the normal PH balance.
They have powerful curative properties and aid the skin’s natural ability to retain moisture. They also contain certain enzymes that help to dissolve and remove the cells from the skin surface.
Normal to oily skin:
Oily and problem skins require a medicated cleanser/soap.
Should be cleansed according to the dry skin procedure for the dry areas on the face and oily skin procedure for the oily areas. In other words, the two areas of the face have to be treated differently.
If you use heavy makeup:
Clean your face with cleansing milk as soap, water and face wash are not good to remove make-up. After the make-up is removed wash your face.
Some tips for washing with water:
* Avoid using very hot or very cold water. Very hot water removes the natural oils and very cold water closes the pores.
* After cleansing, wash well with plenty of water, especially if you have an oily skin. Do not rub dry with a towel; just pat dry.
* If the water is chlorinated or hard, it can dry the skin further. So, if you have dry skin, use mineral water or bore well water.
* If you have a very dry skin with rough, reddish patches that flake, you are suffering from dry-skin sensitivity. Discontinue soap immediately and use a face wash or no soap at all.
Homemade cleansing scrub:
Mix ¼ cup Multani Mitti (fullers earth), ¼ cup dried orange peel, 2 tablespoons sandalwood powder/oatmeal and store in a container in the bathroom. Take one teaspoon mixed with water and work into the skin in a circular upward motion. Rinse with warm water. Use every other day.
Mix ¼ teaspoon fullers earth, some tomato pulp and yoghurt in a little cucumber juice and apply on the face; leave it on for 15-20 minutes. Rinse it with cold water. You should apply this mask at least twice a week.