Monthly Archives: August 2016

How to Find Skin Care Products

You can’t hide your skin, so you want to take care of it. You want to put your best face forward — with clear, glowing, smooth, natural skin. You may even be willing to spend more for skin care products that boast better results because contain natural ingredients or are labeled “organic.”

But what do those terms really mean? Is the “natural” or “organic” label worth the extra weight of the price tag — is it really any better for your skin and for the environment?

It all comes down to what you want from your skin products and what your particular skin type needs.

Is Natural Better?

“When choosing between a natural or organic product and one that’s not, it’s helpful to think about what is important to you,” says Kelly C. Nelson, MD, a dermatologist and assistant professor at Duke University School of Medicine in North Carolina.

Decide what you want to get out of your skin care products. Are you looking for something that won’t irritate your skin, gives you better results and healthier skin, or has less impact on the environment? Do you want a combination of all those elements?

“If you’re in the market for a product that’s fragrance- or preservative-free, or presented with minimal or recycled packaging, it may be easier to meet those criteria with a natural or organic product,” says Dr. Nelson.

But don’t read too much into the labels or make assumptions that may not be true. Natural doesn’t always mean better, and natural ingredients aren’t necessarily safer or more likely to provide better results.

“People with sensitive skin may opt for natural or organic products in an attempt to avoid skin allergic reactions, which may work, but sometimes doesn’t,” Nelson says.

If you’re going to try a natural or organic product, allow some time to see if it really is compatible with your skin and if it’s worth the additional price.

“Give any product at least a month to determine if it meets your needs, or less if your skin complains,” says Nelson.

Specific Skin Products for Specific Skin Types

If you’re curious about whether a particular natural ingredient is better for your skin, Nelson also suggests just figuring out what your skin needs. It’s also important to understand that you don’t have to choose natural (or more expensive) to get a good skin care product that works well with your skin.

“While oatmeal-containing products do help moisturize the skin, there are many products that don’t contain oatmeal that do a wonderful job, too,” says Nelson. Soy has been found in studies to improve elasticity and firmness of skin. “Soy-containing products can help improve pigment irregularities that are associated with an aged appearance, but there are several prescription and over-the-counter products that can do an even better job,” she says.

Easy Protect Your Skin

You need to protect your skin because of the vital role it has protecting your body. Skin care doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming, and can quickly become second nature, like brushing your teeth.

These five skin protection tips can keep your skin looking and feeling great, by guarding against a slew of skin woes, from chapped skin to prematurely aging to skin cancer.

1. Limit Sun Exposure

You’ve heard the message a zillion times, and there’s good reason for that unrelenting repetition. Ultraviolet rays emitted by the sun cause many types of skin damage:

  • Skin cancer
  • Wrinkles
  • Freckles
  • Age spots
  • Discolorations
  • Benign growths

Using skin care products that offer ultraviolet protection is one of the best ways to help keep your skin looking fresh and youthful:

  • Use sunscreen every day and reapply regularly whenever you’re outdoors for extended periods.
  • Cover skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, pants, and wide-brimmed hats.
  • Stay indoors when the sun is at its most intense, usually between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Keep in mind that tanning beds are just as harmful as direct sunlight, as they also emit ultraviolet rays.

2. Stay Hydrated

Keeping your skin moist is essential to skin protection. Skin that is properly hydrated retains pliability and prevents chapped skin or scaly, flaky skin:

  • Drink lots of water. This is key to hydrating your skin.
  • Use the right moisturizing cream or lotion for your skin type and apply it right after drying off from your bath or shower. Avoid products that contain sodium lauryl sulfate, as this ingredient removes natural oils needed by your skin.
  • Take warm (not hot) showers or baths, and limit them to between 5 and 10 minutes. It seems counterintuitive, but exposure to water actually dries out your skin. If dry skin persists, consider cutting back on the number of baths you take.

Take Care for Your Skin Type

Makeup experts and skin care specialists refer often to various skin types — dry, oily, combination — assuming you know which category you fall under. Your skin care regimen depends on your skin type, but not everyone has a good understanding of their skin. As a result, their skin care plan is more of the hit-or-miss variety.

Know Your Skin Type

Unsure of what skin type you have? See which description fits you best:

  • Dry skin. “Dry skin can be flaky and easily irritated. It’s more sensitive,” says Linda Franks, MD, director of Gramercy Park Dermatology and clinical assistant professor in the department of dermatology at New York University School of Medicine in New York. She says if your skin has these qualities and also tends to react to some (or all) of the skin products you have tried, you have dry skin. The extreme version of dry skin is sensitive skin.
  • Oily skin. The primary test for determining if you have oily skin is when you start to feel some oil on your face. Most people can feel a little oil by late afternoon, but if you feel oil around midday, you have oily skin. Oily skin rarely reacts negatively to skin products like dry, sensitive skin types do. It has slightly better natural sun protection, but is also prone to acne.
  • Combination skin. If the description of dry skin matches your cheeks, but the description of oily skin matches your “T-zone” (nose and brow area primarily), you have combination skin.

Matching skin care to skin type is important. Dr. Franks notes that there are two commonly used skin care products that just about everyone can steer clear of: toner and too-frequent exfoliation, both of which can strip away the protective layers of your skin. If you have a good skin care regimen, you don’t need either one, although you could plan for a semi-annual exfoliation as seasons change.