Monday, August 3, 2009

Bathing Beauty

As I advanced into my forties, my complexion changed. I developed greater sensitivity to the sun, uneven pigmentation, dryness, and adult acne. Mild irritations, like scrubbing with a washcloth, could produce a rash. My skin became thinner, papery, and more fragile.
It needed special care, but I didn't want to spend a fortune or a lot of time. I needed a daily regimen that was simple, but effective. I started experimenting.

As I tried new things, I learned that many of the more expensive products are just that. Expensive. I will never forget the pricey cream that made my eyes puffy. The next morning I looked like I had been drinking all night. I couldn't decide which embarassed me more -- that I had spent so much money on a vanity, or that I had been snookered.

Wiser and humbler, I began reading practical articles on frugal skin care for busy moms. With a little more effort, I landed on a regimen that works well. One of the key principles I learned was that the products with the fewest ingredients are usually best. Classic, simple treatments have proven their value for numbers of women over time. Heavy perfumes and new chemicals are often not a sensible choice for sensitive skin.

Here are my rules for skin care. You can't go wrong with these. The result will be skin that glows and maintains a healthy vigor.

  • Drink plenty of water. Hydrate skin from the inside out. This matters more than you think.
  • Take a good multivitamin. Nourish skin from the inside out. With busy schedules, women often don't eat quite as well as they should. Neglect just happens.
  • Use a simple, non-perfumed soap. I recommend Ivory soap for the bath and an unscented glycerin bar for the face. Don't use perfumed soaps, which dry and irritate skin.
  • Moisturize after bathing. Put some bath oil (with few ingredients) in an inexpensive, plastic spray bottle. I use baby oil in the winter and Avon's Skin-So-Soft Bath Oil in the summer for it's bug repellent qualities. Spritz lightly and spread the oil gently with your fingers.
  • Remove make-up and dirt from the face at the end of the day. Always. The best eye makeup remover is Vaseline petroleum jelly. Wipe it off with soft facial tissue. For the rest of the face, I use cold cream if it's been a hot day or I am especially grimy. I follow this with unscented glycerin soap and warm water. You can massage the soap on your skin for a minute with your fingers. I do not scrub with a cloth or "exfoliate" with anything. I know that's recommended in some articles and books, but it just irritates my skin, resulting in acne or a rash. I most certainly do not ever use one of those facial scrubs with grit in it. A gentle massage with fingertips, and a rinse with warm water and a wash cloth is all the exfoliating that tender skin requires. The main causes of adult acne are dirt and irritation to the skin. Unscented glycerin soap is gentle enough to be used every day regardless of the weather.
  • Moisturize the face after cleansing. Neutrogena has created a line of Oil-Free Moisture products for the face. These have worked wonders for me. The Oil-Free Sensitive Skin Lotion is perfect under the eyes and on the rest of my face in cold weather. The Oil-Free Combination Skin Lotion works well in warmer weather when my skin needs a lighter moisturizer that won't encourage acne. Their Oil-Free Spf 15 Lotion is the best sunscreen for the face that I have ever found. (I never apply it under the eyes, however.) Overnight, a few times a week, I like to use their Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle, Anti-Blemish Cream. It has retinol to reduce fine lines and wrinkles and salicylic acid to prevent blemishes.
  • Use moderation with products. Don't overdo skin applications. A little bit, faithfully applied is ideal. When I consistently wash my face and use small amounts of these products, my skin stays clear, soft, and free of irritations.
  • Shop smart. Inexpensive products which are readily available are the ones that I will keep stocked in my bathroom. I can find these at a drug store or at Walmart. I pay a little more for some of them than I would for economy skin treatments, but much less than for higher end products with fancy ingredients. The small white bottles of Neutrogena lotion are only 5 inches high and hold just 4 oz, and the tube of cream holds only 1 oz. But they last for a full year, because I use the small amount -- about the size of a pea -- with each application.
  • Never use a traditional astringent. For those times when I seem to be a little more prone to acne, and I am feeling the need for something like an astringent, I have found that hydrogen peroxide is just right. It doesn't dry out my skin the way that most astringents seem to do. It gets the job done and kills bacteria on the skin. It also works as a gentle bleach on blemishes and scars.
  • If you are still having trouble with your complexion, look at your shampoo. It may be the cuprit. Use a baby shampoo for a couple of weeks as a test. If your skin improves, you will have diagnosed the problem.
  • Keep lips protected with Vasline petroleum jelly or chapstick day and night. I am most consistent about this when the chapstick is kept in convenient places -- one by the bed, one in my purse, one in the bathroom near the kitchen.
  • Use a heavier cream for the hands. Most of the time, I apply creamy petroleum lotion at night and after washing dishes. The generic brand at Walmart sells for about $2.00. This is also an excellent treatment for the legs after shaving. The results just can't be surpassed. For a special treat, I sometimes use Camille Beckman's hand lotions, either in the vanilla or unscented. But these can be hard to find and are more pricey.

Now you have the benefit of all of my trials and errors. I expect to see glowing skin on each and every one of you when we meet!

1 comment:

  1. How fun a piece to read. I've been giving some thought, "What I should be doing, afterall I'm turning 40 very soon." By years' end. But, I wasn't even sure where to begin. So far, I've gotten by with simple care, but I can see some changes. Thanks so much for the tips.


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