There are so many skin types and skin issues that there aren’t many universally applicable skin care rules…except this one. Most of us are trapped in a cycle of exaggeration and neglect. We carpet bomb skin problems into full blown issues and then cover them up with makeup. By slowing down and giving our skin the attention it needs, we can restore balance and health.
A lot of skin issues can be traced back to an imbalance in oil production. Excessive oil production can cause breakouts, enlarged pores, and just plain oily looking skin. On the other end of the spectrum, diminished oil production can cause dryness, premature aging, and breakouts. Balancing your skin’s oil production should be your first priority no matter what your skin type or goals.
The oil cleansing method is a good starting point for most people as it’s been proven to balance oil production even in the most acne prone skin. But it isn’t a magic bullet solution. A heavy handed approach (either in product use or technique) can aggravate imbalanced skin. Imbalanced skin needs a gentle, attentive and patient approach to restore balance. The steps below outline exactly what that kind of approach looks like. Beautiful skin is a commitment, but with enough patience and care it’s totally within reach.
Start Simple & Be Gentle
Start simple by adding the oil cleansing method to your routine. Choose the right oil or combination of oils for your skin. Gently use your fingertips to rub the oil into your skin, focusing on more congested areas. You could take this as an opportunity to give yourself a 5 minute facial massage or do some gentle face and neck exercises.
Wet a clean terry face towel with warm (not hot) water and gently rub the oil and dirt away, wringing out and re-wetting the towel when it cools. The oil cleansing method is great for removing makeup, even waterproof mascara. Rub a bit of oil on your lashes then use the warm towel to wipe away. You can hold the wet towel over your lashes for a minute to soften stubborn mascara. Remember to be gentle.
Once you’ve cleansed your face, give it 5 or 10 minutes before applying anything else. See next step.
Remember that when applying product to your skin you shouldn’t rub your skin any harder than you would rub the petals of a flower. When massaging, err on the side of gentle and slow. Likewise for facial exercises. You shouldn’t be straining. When you slow down the larger muscle groups relax so you can access the smaller ones and find more space to open.
A note on makeup; if you wear makeup make sure it’s high quality and never older than 3-6 months (no matter what the package says about expiration). Replace old makeup with the same or higher quality versions. When you apply makeup, apply it in natural light using a small brush only to the areas its needed not all over (see next step). You shouldn’t look like you’re wearing makeup. Your goal should be to eventually phase it out and wear your naked skin proudly.
Get To Know Your Naked Skin
Our lives are so busy these days that we hardly ever take a moment to step back and really get to know our naked skin. We’re accustomed to keeping our skin in a permanent cycle of stuff. Stuff to cover, stuff to clean, stuff to add moisture or remove oil.
But your skin is a living organism that changes on a daily basis, to say nothing of seasons. Tried and true products can suddenly stop working, and the change of seasons can make a once functional skin care routine totally useless and possibly even counterproductive.
Tune in to your naked skin. Get to know it on a daily basis. Spend a few minutes looking at it in the mirror without judgment. Look at your contours and colours. Look at what needs improvement. Most importantly, look at what you like.
Practice also feeling your skin. Turn away from the mirror after your cleansing routine and see how your skin starts to feel. Does it feel dry and tight in certain areas? Does it need more moisture or are you just moisturizing out of habit?
When you cultivate this kind of intimate understanding of your skin, two important things happen. First, you become more aware of the effects of products, environmental conditions, your mood, and your habits. Second, you begin to have more regard for it. You begin to understand that your skin is just a reflection of the care and attention you’ve put into it. You stop treating it like this thing detached from you that you can pick at, neglect and then cover up.
This is the only face you’ll ever get. It deserves your full and dedicated attention.
Be Wary Of Dryness
Dryness is skin’s worst enemy. Dry skin (skin lacking oil) is directly implicated in acne and aging.
Although oily skin can be hard to deal with and make you look shiny, skin lacking oil is more vulnerable than oily skin. Diminished natural oil production compromises the skin’s moisture barrier. Oil acts as a protective sealant on your skin, keeping moisture in while helping the skin maintain its flexibility and suppleness. When the skin’s natural oils are stripped moisture evaporates more rapidly, so dry skin can also end up being dehydrated skin, even if you are getting enough water.
Dry and dehydrated skin is unhealthy skin. It’s more prone to cracking and tearing at the cellular level. Micro tears allow pathogenic bacteria to flourish. Even if this bacteria doesn’t present as full blow acne, it compromises cellular regeneration.
What you should remember at all times is that what we think of as beautiful skin (“the glow”) is actually just healthy skin. Hydrated, supple, glowing skin is skin with an intact moisture barrier that’s protected from drying and breaking even in harsh weather. As a general rule applicable to most people, if your skin isn’t glowing it’s dry.
Don’t Treat Your Face Like A Homogenous Mass
Many people (myself included) have combination skin. Many people also have combination skin and don’t know it.
Your face is a highly hormonal and nerve heavy part of your body. It isn’t an exaggeration to say that one penny sized area of skin can differ significantly from another penny sized area of skin right beside it. Your t-zone might be oily except the area right above and below your lips (but not at the corners of your mouth). The hollow indents of your cheek bones might be oilier and more acne prone than the elevated prominences of your cheek bones (where you apply highlighter instead of the moisture you really need.)
When you pay attention you start to notice that every area of your skin is different and should be treated as such. If you have dry areas and you consistently strip away your already diminished natural oils you’ll compromise your moisture barrier and leave yourself vulnerable to breakouts and premature aging.
Act Like Your Skin Is The Skin Your Want
When you look at your skin in the mirror, look at it like it’s already the skin you want. Feel like you’re radiant and glowing.
Research has shown that your body language literally shapes who you are. More confident body language has a measurable effect on hormone levels. Likewise, a lack of confidence makes your body look like it’s collapsing in on itself. Research has also shown that behavioural confirmation can have an effect on people’s perceptions of their own attractiveness. If they don’t feel attractive, they act in ways that make other’s perceive them as less attractive.
What this means for your face is that your perception of yourself can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy in subtle and subconscious ways you likely aren’t aware of. When you don’t feel confident your body collapses in on itself. From an evolutionary perspective this lack of confidence serves to make you smaller and less noticeable. The same happens with your face and if you pay attention you’ll notice it.
When you don’t feel good about your face you might also try to make it less noticeable in subtle ways. You might have smaller, downcast eyes or tight, tense lips. You might have constant tension in your jaw, which can led to facial asymmetry and TMJ.
Our faces are one of the most emotive parts of our bodies. We express subtle emotion through our eyes, brows, lips, and cheeks. We also hold tension in all those areas. Observe whether you hold tension in your face. Start a facial massage routine. Use ice to help relax. Be confident in your skin and let that confidence show on your face.
Featured Image Credit: @racinneca