Skin Care 101

Let’s talk cleansing

Most American women over cleanse and under moisturize. European women are not overly obsessed with cleaning the way we are. And the way we over cleanse with harsh waters and harsh temperatures (and some people overly scrub) our skin does it a disservice. Yes, we do need to get the grit, grime, make-up, sweat, bacteria and build up of our days so cleansing is necessary. But how and with what and how often we cleanse our faces matter.

On a scale of 1-14, skin has an average Ph Balance of 5.5. (Interestingly that is the average pH balance of skin for Americans. In Europe the pH is slightly lower because they are less obsessed with being squeaky clean). It is slightly acidic by design. It is known as the Acid Mantle. It protects us.

“The skin’s barrier, which is known as the acid mantle, is responsible for keeping in lipids and moisture while blocking germs, pollution, toxins, and bacteria,” explains Patricia Wexler, M.D., a New York City dermatologist. “…

When it’s too alkaline, skin becomes dry and sensitive; you may even get eczema. You may also experience inflammation, which inhibits the skin’s ability to ward off matrix metalloproteinases [MMPs], the enzymes that destroy collagen and cause wrinkles and sagging.”

The skin will vary in balance depending on a number of variables.  My point is that we must be mindful to not overly cleanse or strip the skin without replenishing that barrier or alkalinity.

Most soaps are alkaline (a 7-10 or so on the pH scale)  and thus throw off that protective barrier and leave your skin dry, and vulnerable to skin problems.  So I suggest finding a cleanser that is pH balanced (my preference is milky ones) and/or if you MUST use a more intense foamy or squeaky clean feeling face soap, then you will NEED a toner to rebalance the pH and restore your skin to function properly.  Left alone the skin will return to a normal pH balance eventually. But people who mess around with acidity versus alkalinity too much without understanding the results may encounter skin problems they might be creating.

I love feeling squeaky clean too, (I am American after all), but I have trained myself to not go crazy on clean with the skin on my face at least.   Every now and again I will use cleansers that gimme that tight clean feeling, knowing it will return to normal again after toner, barrier repair and time.  So if you do that on occasion it is fine, don’t worry.  But if it’s part of what you do daily, I suggest scaling way back.  It may take your skin a little time to return to its balance and not over cleansing might shock you and your skin for a little bit but I promise it will return and feel better for it.

Your skin is an organ not a piece of plastic that isn’t behaving how you want.  It’s health depends on your thinking about it as you would any other organ.  It is self sustaining in many ways, which is why i say less is more. Now if you have acne, my recommended course of action is slightly different but starting with doing less to your skin is also what I tell these people. But most of my clients are skin savvy people who over-do it. I realize that not everyone reading this blog will be like that.

Some people reading this might not be doing anything to their faces at all, which has either worked for or against them depending on genetics. To those people I would simply teach the other neat things skin care can do for them once they learn about it. But this part about scale back will land on them as, hmmm, ok I guess I don’t need to much more but this is just step one. So If that is you, keep reading we will get to how you under skin care-ing people can start caring more.

Not all Estheticians will agree with me, in fact I recently read a blog of a very good esthetician who is BIG on the cleansing and teaches people how to clean. I guess that’s where the Clarisonic comes in for me. That brush will do a phenomenal job so i don’t have to work so hard at it myself. And it isn’t that we have such dirty faces that causes aging and wrinkles after all. I was trained by European mentors and I saw first hand over the years by watching skin (mine and hundred of others) benefit from European wisdom. That being said, if you wear foundation and/or have acne I do recommend two cleanses. One to get off the make up, and another to get off the daily grime.

If you can splurge I do highly suggest investing in a Clarisonic skin brush. (And no the other cheaper brushes at Walgreens or Macy’s are not a suitable alternative to the Clarisonic.) With such an item you can get a super deep cleanse without having to worry too much if you skipped a day, but again always go gentle with cleanser type of products. I suggest using a Clarisonic brush with a gentle cleanser once or twice a week at least.

Some types of skin do need “harsher” cleansers but those should be used in moderation (ie a few times a week) and always followed by serum or moisturizer.

My favorite professional daily cleansers you find at spas or on-line are

  1. Image Ormedic for sensitive skin
  2. Image Ageless for anti-aging
  3. Eminence Stone Crop

Since I do love cleansers that have more “oomph” on occasion I DO have in my arsenal other favorites that are around and are pH balanced:

My favorite more powerful ones are

  1. Image Ageless (pH balanced)
  2. Rhonda Allison Pumpkin Cleanser
  3. Inventive Organics Environmental Cleanser
  4. Clear Cell by Image (for acne)

I do think face cleansers are one place you can save money in a skin care routine.   Save your cash if you must for power products. If you would rather drug store shop than Spa or department store product shop you can get away with a simple cleanser like:

  1. Cetaphil
  2. Cerave
  3. Yes to carrots

If you have acne consider alternating a gentle milk cleanser one day and an acne cleanser the following day. I will write more specific blog entries for the other steps and for special skin conditions and how to treat those.

Next up: Toners…Do you need one????

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