Now that you have spent some time improving the health of your skin and giving it the tools it needs to rebuild itself, you can work on establishing the best possible maintenance routine. Remember that habits are made in three to four weeks.
Start with what you know you can follow for those three weeks. If that means just working on establishing your skin maintenance routine for a month, then your hair routine, that's fine. Just don't forget your foundational routine improving your nutrition, hydration and rest!
FACIAL SKIN MAINTENANCE
All makeup should be removed before bed each evening. There are a countless number of products for cleaning your skin, with different formulas for each skin type. Unless you use heavy makeup, it's easiest to pick a cleanser that also removes makeup. Another option is to just use makeup remover or oil on eye makeup, as foundations and blushers usually come off easily with most regular cleansers. Either way, clean your facial skin every evening before bed, and again in the morning. If you've cleaned your face properly in the evening, morning skin will just require a light washing to remove sebum and sweat and prepare your face for your makeup.
If using a water-based cleanser, wet your face with lukewarm water. If using an oil-based cleanser, apply directly to dry skin.
Using your fingers or a soft cloth, gently apply cleanser in small circles over your face, working from your nose to your hairline. Don't forget to apply cleanser to your neck, using soft swipes upward towards the jaw line. Be careful not to pull or stretch the skin when cleansing.
Rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water. If you are planning to take a shower or bath, apply your cleanser before getting into the shower/tub to give it a few minutes to work on your skin.
Toning restores the skin's natural pH and provides a protective acid mantle that makes the skin stronger. It helps remove any cleanser residue and reduces the size of pores. Depending on your skin type, toners will range from gentle acidic formulations to highly antiseptic formulas.
Soak a cosmetic pad liberally with your toner and gently wipe your face from your nose outward and over the forehead. Don't forget your neck. You can use cotton balls, but cotton cosmetic pads are easier. You should avoid the delicate skin around your eyes unless using a very gentle toning formula that contains absolutely no alcohol or peroxide and only then to remove oil and dirt from the eyebrows.
Your skin should be protected from harmful UV rays daily. Protecting is a two-step process. The first part of the process is providing your skin with antioxidants and ingredients that will help it protect itself by maintaining natural protective enzymes. The second part is providing it with sunscreen protection.
If you are going to use a vitamin/nutrient antioxidant solution or serum, you can soak a cotton ball with your solution and apply to face, patting your problem area first, then gently wiping over the rest of your face. Apply to neck in upward motion. If using a commercial antioxidant serum, follow manufacturer's directions.
As women get older, their natural sebum production slows. Skin needs inner and outer hydration to maintain is strength, flexibility and integrity. Moisturizers also reduce the risk of mechanical damage to the skin, by reducing friction and reducing the chance the skin will be stretched or torn by contact.
You can protect and moisturize in one step, but use an all-inclusive skin lotion that provides vitamins C, E, and A, and oils to moisturize and a sun block. You can also provide your own antioxidant protection by applying solutions of nutrient vitamins/herbs to your skin, then using a moisturizing sunscreen. We'll show you more about which ones to chose and how to apply them in later chapters.
Apply moisturizer lightly to face in outward motions. Apply to neck in upward motions. Be careful not to pull or stretch your skin. For daytime, if your moisturizer does not already contain sun protection, apply a grease-free sunscreen to your face, throat, as well as all body skin exposed to the sun.
As your skin grows and repairs itself, the outer layer of dead cells slough off. To expedite this process and get to the fresher, newer cells below, it's recommended that you exfoliate your skin at least once a week.
There are basically two ways of doing this, mechanically and chemically.
- For mechanical exfoliation, you can use a good skin scrub, a microdermabrasion cream or a loufah pad.
- Chemically, you can use one of the common acidic exfoliating preparations, glycolic acid peels, lactic acid peels, alpha-hydroxy, etc. Some skin cleansers come with this step built right inside the formula. Your skin type will determine how often you should exfoliate and which method you should use. Irritated skin, like that with acne, eczema or rosacea will not appreciate the heavy scrubbing of mechanical exfoliants, and even a chemical formula may be too irritating for more than occasional use.
Older skin that is highly sun-damaged may require either or both methods, perhaps more often, to remove the layers of damaged skin and help stimulate the production of healthy collagen structures in the deeper layers of the skin. Again, we'll show you how to determine how often and which method of exfoliation will work best for you.
Whatever formula you plan to use, exfoliants should be applied similar to cleansers. If you are using a chemical peel, avoid scrubbing your skin, let the chemicals do the work. If using a scrub, apply VERY light pressure, and work in tiny circles. Again, be careful not to pull or stretch the skin.
Most exfoliants will require some time to work. Applying exfoliants right before showering is a good idea, because you can rinse them off under the shower, which helps in removing any residue.
Facial masks serve several purposes, the most important one being the deep cleaning of pores. Masks are also made for super-hydration, the increase of circulation and for sheer enjoyment. Which kind you use and how often will be determined by your skin type and your results using the P-Method. Generally, it is a good idea to use a deep cleansing clay-based mask at least once a week. Various cosmetic clays are used in these masks because they pull and absorb impurities, dirt and dried sebum out of your pores, allowing sebum to flow naturally and smoothly, brightening the appearance of the skin, helping to prevent acne infections, and improving the texture of your skin. Several types of clay masks are available for every skin moisture type.
Apply the mask gently and allow it to dry. Most clay masks will require 10-15 minutes to absorb all the impurities and wastes from your pores. Rinse the mask off gently with fingertips, don't pull. Again, it's a good idea to apply these before getting into the shower.
After exfoliating or using a mask, tone, protect and moisturize your skin.
- Cleanse: Use a gentle cleanser to remove any sweat or sebum from your skin.
- Tone: Use the proper toner for your skin type. Using toner will help your makeup go on smoother.
- Moisturize: Use a non-oily moisturizer if wearing makeup. The combination of an oily moisturizer and foundation can make a made up face look cakey and greasy within a few hours, even on dry aged skin. If you don't wear makeup, you can use an oilier moisturizer.
- Protect: Absolutely necessary, use a sunblock of at least 15 SPF daily (unless you work the graveyard shift). Even the darkest skin should be protected from the harmful rays of the sun. Sun protection can also be found in some commercial foundation formulas. If you use a moisturizer or foundation with a built-in sunblock of at least 15 SPF, you do not need to add a separate sunblock, though you should reapply these throughout the day.
- Cleanse: Cleanse your skin thoroughly before bed at night. Remove all makeup and use a cleanser that is right for your skin type.
- Tone: Use a toner to remove cleanser reside and restore pH balance.
- Protect: Add any anti-oxidant serum to your skin and allow to soak in (may be combined with your moisturizer).
- Moisturizer: Add any special eye cream plus skin moisturizers gently to your skin.