For the Face
Your face and your complexion are an important part of your identity and how you feel about yourself. It’s the one part of your body you can’t conceal–unless you want to run around in a ski mask or last year’s Halloween disguise, which would not be very cool. Fortunately, clean, healthy skin is easy to achieve and maintain. I know what it’s like to wake up with a sudden facial eruption or to live for weeks behind a layer of makeup, hoping no one will notice your skin. But I’ve also learned that with a little bit of complexion TLC and the right diet you can face the world with confidence!
First of all, it’s important to understand what type of skin you have: normal, oily, or dry. However, most of us don’t fall neatly into one category or another but instead have a combination of skin types. In fact, your skin type can change with weather, sports activities, and even stress. Here’s a simple way to discover your skin type. Before cleansing your skin, blot the oiliest part with a clean white tissue, then examine the tissue. If you can really notice the oil on the tissue, then you have oily skin; if there’s just a small amount of oil, you have normal skin; and if there’s no oil at all, your skin is dry. Many teens have combination skin, where the forehead and nose area (known as the T-zone) are oily and the cheeks are normal or dry. Understanding your skin type is important, as it will help you choose recipes and products to care for it.
The skin care basics of keeping it clean, full of moisture, and protected from the sun are especially important for your face, but the products you use are a matter of personal choice. At a minimum, you need to use a good cleanser, moisturizer, and sun protection daily. You’ll want to use a mild facial scrub and mask weekly. You may also want to use a toner or astringent daily as an extra cleansing step or as a quick way to freshen up during the day.
Keeping your skin clean is important, as this allows it to function more efficiently and look healthier. What you use to cleanse your face is a matter of personal choice. Simple soap and water works for me, but you may choose to use alternatives to soap, like oatmeal or plain yogurt. And your mom is right; you should never go to bed with a dirty face! You need to remove all of the dirt and debris from the day and let your skin breathe and rest at night. There really is such a thing as “beauty sleep.”
Toners and astringents are a great addition to your skin care regime. They help deeply cleanse the skin and remove any traces of other cleansers. They also help restore the skin’s natural pH, or acidity, which is important for combating surface bacteria and keeping your complexion clear. Astringents are usually alcohol based, making them a bit harsher on the skin and more suited to oily skin types. Toners and fresheners are water based and more appropriate for normal and dry skin types; they can also be used throughout the day to energize and clean your skin.
One word you will hear a lot when it comes to skin care is exfoliation
. This is a step that many people don’t do or don’t do regularly. Exfoliation involves gently scrubbing your skin and removing the oldest dead skin cells. Exfoliating your skin weekly will help unclog your pores and keep your skin really clean. There are several simple scrubs you can use that work well for all skin types, such as superfine sugar, cornmeal, ground nuts, and wheat germ. People with oily or normal skin can use scrubs weekly; those with dry or sensitive skin may want to exfoliate their skin once every two weeks.
Facial masks are another fun and effective weekly beauty treatment that will keep your skin clean and glowing. There are many different types of masks, and the advantage of making your own is that you can create a mask suited to your skin’s needs. For example, if you’re stressed-out and your skin is reflecting that, you’ll want to choose a calming and cleansing mask, like one made with fresh strawberries. But if your skin is really dry or maybe sunburned, you should use soothing and moisturizing ingredients, like aloe or avocado.
I cannot overstress the importance of sun protection. Skin cancer is on the rise among young women, yet it’s preventable if you take the right precautions. Use a good sunscreen on your face every day; even during wintertime and cloudy days the sun is still out. A good sunscreen is something you’ll have to purchase because they’re hard to make at home using household ingredients. Look for products that help block both UVA and UVB rays, and look for these three ingredients in particular: titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, or avobenzene. According to the FDA, these are the only ingredients that give full-spectrum protection to your skin.Beauty Smarts: What Does SPF Mean?
SPF stands for sun protection factor, and the SPF number tells you how much sun protection the product will provide. For example, if your skin usually turns pink in 10 minutes out in the sun, an SPF of 8 will give you 8 times the protection, so you can be in the sun for 80 minutes. Likewise, an SPF of 15 would give you 150 minutes of protection. Remember, it’s always a good idea to be protected. The sun is your skin’s greatest enemy!Ten Tips for an Awesome Complexion
Here are ten simple things you can do for a clean, clear, healthy face:
1. Eat a balanced diet full of fiber, fruits, and vegetables.
2. Keep your hands off of your face and keep your cell phone and headphones clean.
3. Drink plenty of clear liquids and water and avoid drinking too much soda, which is full of sodium, and usually caffeine, sugar, and artificial ingredients.
4. Always protect your skin from the sun!
5. Never go to bed with a dirty face. Always remove all makeup and wash your face with a mild cleanser before bed. Especially after a night out, your skin will thank you in the morning.
6. Always get your “beauty sleep”; lack of sleep can add to stress and cause breakouts.
7. Never squeeze or pop a pimple.
8. Use a facial mask appropriate for your skin type weekly.
9. Gently exfoliate dead skin and surface debris weekly or biweekly, depending on your skin type.
10. When it comes to makeup, less is definitely more. And again, your skin will thank you.Oh Soy! Cleanser
Soybeans are rich in isoflavones, which are natural plant compounds that act like the female hormone estrogen. They’re thought to slow down the aging of the skin, explaining why soy has become such a popular skin care ingredient. This soothing and calming cleanser is perfect for those with sensitive skin. And because the honey helps kill any bacteria, it’s also great for people with troubled or acne-prone skin.
1 cup soy milk
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 tablespoon honey
Put all of the ingredients in a blender and blend on high speed until smooth and creamy. Pour the cleanser into a clean jar with a tight-fitting lid. Store this cleanser in the refrigerator between uses. It will keep for 2 to 3 weeks.
To use, place a small amount in the palm of your hand, then gently massage it into your skin. Rinse well with warm water, then pat your skin dry.
Yield: 8 ounces
Excerpted from EcoBeauty by Lauren Cox. Copyright © 2009 by Lauren Cox. Excerpted by permission of Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.