How can you keep your skin looking healthy at any age?
For starters, follow the tenets of natural medicine: Lead a balanced lifestyle that incorporates plenty of whole foods, exercise, water and rest. Avoid smoking, alcohol, excessive sun exposure and irritating skin care products.
But beyond that, here are some guidelines:
Nutritional supplements can help maintain the integrity of your skin. Dr. Nicholas Perricone, author of the best-selling book, “The Wrinkle Cure,” advocates daily doses of the antioxidants Co-Q10 (30 to 100 milligrams), alpha lipoic acid (100 milligrams) and pycnogenol (50 to 100 milligrams) for preventing skin damage from environmental influences such as sun exposure. He also recommends that you include in your diet the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and flax oils.
You can nourish your skin with cleansers, toners, moisturizers, exfoliants and masks as well.
It’s easy to get confused about which skin care products to choose. Numerous products claim to cure acne, erase wrinkles and fend off signs of aging. However, many of these products contain synthetic ingredients and fragrances that can irritate or dry your skin, leaving you with even more pimples or aging lines.
Alexandra Avery, an esthetician practicing in Honolulu and author of “Aromatherapy and You, A Guide to Natural Skin Care,” says that “skin care can be considered food for the skin.” Avery recommends using all-natural cosmetics.
Before choosing skin care products, Avery says you should identify your skin type. There are four basic types: sensitive skin; underactive, dry skin; overactive, oily skin; and a combination of dry and oily skin.
Avery says that there are three basic steps to caring for your skin: cleansing, toning and moisturizing, which should each be done twice daily. She recommends enhancing your skin care program with an exfoliant, a revitalizing mask and aromatherapy (the essential oils of plants and flowers).
A gentle cleansing milk or mild foaming soap is the best cleanser for all skin types. Bar soaps generally are too strong for your face and can upset your skin’s natural acid mantle. These alkaline cleansers promote bacterial growth that can cause pimples and red patches. Oil of Olay cleansing milk is a good over-the-counter cleanser, but it isn’t all-natural. Avery markets Complexion Care Cleanser, a natural product rich in coconut oil and oats.
Or, she said, you can make your own cleansing grains by combining equal parts of finely ground almonds and oats moistened with water.
After cleansing, it’s important to hydrate your skin with an alcohol-free toner. You can make your own toner by mixing equal parts water, aloe vera juice and witch hazel. Avoid using alcohol; it can cause excessive drying. Avery recommends saturating a cotton pad with toner and pressing it into your skin; in effect, giving your skin a drink.
To complete your skin care routine, apply a moisturizer while your skin is still damp from your toner. Avery says that the best moisturizer in the world is found right here in Hawai’i: Kukui nut oil has antibacterial properties and nutritive qualities for your skin.
She recommends mixing five to 10 drops essential oil per ounce of kukui nut oil, depending on your skin type. To soothe sensitive skin, add lavender essential oil. If you have dry skin, add rosemary to stimulate your sebaceous (oil) glands. For oily skin, add lemon for its antiseptic and astringent properties. Ylang ylang will nourish combination dry and oily skin.
An exfoliant can be used two to three times per week to remove dead skin cells. Excellent natural exfoliants include green-papaya enzymes (papain) and pineapple enzymes (bromelain).
Masks can be used following exfoliation to nourish and hydrate your skin. Most masks contain clay to draw out impurities and some hydrating ingredients to soften and moisturize. Look for masks that have nutritive value; avoid chemical dyes and synthetic fragrances.
Your skin will look and feel great if you take care of yourself from the inside out. Just as the best foods for your body are those that are high in nutrients, the best products for your skin are those that feed and nourish it naturally
Article was originally printed in the Honolulu Advertiser, honoluluadvertiser.com