My Self Care Skin Routine: looking as young as my kids!
Aging is a fact of life. Looking your age is not! ~Dr. Howard Murad
I love the shocked look that I get when I tell people my age. They ask what I do to look so young, and I tell them it’s “just good genes!” However, there are actually self care habits that I use to reveal my best face possible! This wasn’t the case 3 years ago. I didn’t think I needed to do much to my skin other than wash it and apply the occasional moisturizer. It wasn’t until I saw photos of myself that I realized how quickly I was aging! Sunspots, wrinkles, and stress were not a good look on me. So when I began doing research and developing my own skin care routine, I noticed a huge difference. As I started taking better care of my skin, friends, family, and coworkers all started to notice. They asked me what products I use to suddenly look so much younger! I found myself writing out lists for other people–even my patients! These are the tips I am sharing with you today….shhh, don’t give away my secrets! Four years ago I looked significantly older than I do now. These are the habits I have adopted to reverse the signs of aging.
I have found that my skin gets the maximum benefit with very few (if any) breakouts when I perform skin care at night and allow the agents to work for me while I sleep! The first step to healthy, radiant skin care is to start with a fresh palate. Over time, dirt, dead skin cells, and pollution build up on your skin making your pores clogged and accentuating wrinkles. Exfoliation is nothing more than getting rid of all the accumulated debris on your skin. It takes away that unhealthy build-up on your face and exposes soft, fresh skin underneath. I have used many different types of scrubs over the years and have found that my skin tolerated more vigorous, harsh scrubs (like this Apricot Scrub) when I was younger, but I now prefer detoxifying scrubs such as this Charcoal scrub.
I take a coin-size portion of the scrub paste and rub it onto my skin in slow circular motions for 2-3 minutes. I recommend that you exfoliate your skin at least once every week to leave your skin feeling fresh and healthy. Every Sunday night I get into the shower, dry-brush, and use an Organic body exfoliating agent to increase circulation and remove impurities. (click here to find out more about the health benefits of dry-brushing)
When we bathe or wash our face, our skin becomes void of its natural oils leaving it quite dry and flaky. Skin that is dry appears older, less supple, and very dull. After exfoliation to remove impurities, I like to apply a moisturizer to give my skin a boost and maintain the health of the new skin that I have just uncovered!
It is important to choose the right kind of moisturizer for your skin based on your skin type. I have a face moisturizer that I use that is very hydrating but fragrance-free for my sensitive skin. I use a different one on my body once a week after I shower and exfoliate. If your skin is dry and flaky, go for an thicker moisturizer. If it is a little on the oily side, look for an oil-free moisturizer to avoid break-outs.
Derma-rolling was something that I knew nothing about until I started doing some research! Basically, it is a micro-needling product that produces micro-perforations in the skin to increase collagen production and allow deeper penetration of medication/skin agents. In my personal experience, I have found that it has significantly decreased the wrinkles across my neck and forehead, especially when I combine it with Glycolic acid and hydration serum. However, research shows that you can get significant benefits even without additional agents. I do this 2-3 times per week and started noticing differences within the first month. Just make sure that you clean it after each use.
Hydrogen Peroxide and Toner
Hydrogen Peroxide is commonly used for disinfecting wounds, but also functions as a skin-lightening agent! I use a homemade toner of equal parts hydrogen peroxide and filtered water and apply it to sun spots and acne scars on my face. I keep it in bottle and apply it with a cotton round, the same way you would use a toner. Just be careful where you apply it so that it doesn’t bleach your eyebrows! But it lightens sun spots and fades acne scars really well! The foaming that occurs when you apply hydrogen peroxide on your skin is the result of oxygen release that kills bacteria. If you don’t want to use a homemade recipe, you can use a soothing toner. You can used one that is alcohol based if you need to dry out areas of your skin, or use an alcohol-free toner for a gentle cleansing affect.
Glycolic acid is a skin lightening agent with anti-wrinkle properties. It fights off dullness, dark spots, blackheads, oiliness,and fine lines. This is one of the agents often used in chemical peels, however it is available over the counter. I use this on days that I do NOT exfoliate since it can be more potent and my skin tends to be sensitive if I do too much in one day.
Glycolic acid products are available in a variety of strengths depending on the pH levels. I recommend starting with a product at a lower strength and slowly increase over time. I started with a lower strength serum but now use a 10% Glycolic acid strength creme 2-3 times per week. I also really love these Glycolic acid pads which are convenient to use and save time. Just be aware that your skin may peel and become more sensitive to the sun, so I recommend using this only at night and not more than 1 time per week to start. I like to use a Derma roller, hydration serum, then apply this to soak in overnight.
Hyaluronic Acid and Vitamin C
Hyaluronic acid is a compound naturally found in the skin. It has been shown to increase hydration by helping the skin to absorb up to 1000 times its weight in water. For this reason, it improves skin elasticity, suppleness, and glow. It works to hold in moisture and and also plays a major role in protecting your skin from sun damage. Sunspots and sunburns caused by UVB rays are largely prevented by using hyaluronic products regularly. I like to combine it with a good Vitamin C serum and apply both underneath my makeup or sunscreen. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that has been shown to increase the efficacy of sunscreen, diminish sun spots, decrease the size of pores, and make the skin appear more radiant.
The way I use this product is by waking up in the morning, either splashing my face with cold water or gently wiping it off with a sensitive skin baby wipe. I then apply the serum, allow it to settle in while I get dressed for the day, then apply anything else that I want to use (such as sunscreen or makeup). I will also use this in the evenings that I use my Derma roller to increase hydration and absorption of Glycolic acid or moisturizer.
Retinol is Vitamin A-1 and is essential to skin repair. It has been shown to help accelerate skin renewal and reduce the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines and age spots for firmer, smoother and more evenly-toned skin. This is best applied at night and may irritate your skin within the first 2 weeks with some mild redness and peeling, however if you can push through it, you can notice significant benefit. The strongest retinol is prescription strength, however you can start with over the counter creams and then move on to prescription strength through your dermatologist if you have stubborn areas. Some people use this instead of Glycolic acid, but I like to use both. This way, I get the benefits of both products and am able to stretch the products longer before I repurchase.
I never realized how much younger I looked with longer lashes!. I started using a natural lash serum and within 12 weeks my lashes were thicker, darker, and significantly longer. I also didn’t need to use my eyelash curler anymore! A good lash serum is lightweight, includes healthy and nourishing ingredients like green tea and biotin, adds an extra layer of protection to your lashes to keep dirt and grime away, and addresses the brittleness in your eyelashes. It can also be used on your eyebrows to thicken them as well. I keep mine by my bedside and apply it every night as a part of my bedtime routine. It takes 8-12 weeks before noticing maximum benefit, but it is well worth it. There are also many recipes for homemade lash serum using Castor oil, Aloe, and Vitamin E.
There are many positive effects of Sunlight, such as triggering Vitamin D, stimulating the pineal gland to produce hormones that make us feel good, and even improving certain skin conditions, such as psoriasis. However, sunscreen is necessary to block the harmful effects of UV light on our skin, especially on our face. UV (ultraviolet) light exposure has been directly linked to basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma, which are 3 types of skin cancer.
UV light also destroys collagen and connective tissue beneath the top layer of the skin, which causes wrinkles, brown sun spots and loss of skin elasticity. Take a look at the top of your arm that is exposed to the sun, and the underside. Notice a difference? If you have changes in skin tone, wrinkles, or pigmentation, it is due to UV light exposure.
Apply a generous amount of sunscreen on your face, neck, arms, and legs before heading out into the sun. Double up with hats and scarves as an added layer of protection. Sunscreens are even more important for a day out at the beach to prevent rashes and sunburns. I do not skip this step, even in the winter if I am going for a walk outside. I love a non-greasy sunscreen for daily use, and use a heavier waterproof sunscreen for beach days. Zinc Oxide will make your skin appear lighter, but I don’t mind that because I have found it to have the best protection. When I need to reapply at the pool or beach, I just use a sport-suncreen spray. And don’t forget to protect your eyes and lips as well!
I also wanted to mention hydroquinone, as it is another potent option that I have used within the past 2 years even though am not using currently. With Hydroquinone, Retinol, and Glycolic acid, your body will adjust and plateau over 6 months to a year. So I like to mix up using all three of these agents over time (a 2 year cycle) to continue to reap the benefits of the products while also giving my skin a break from any one specific agent.
Hydroquinone at a strength of 2% is available over the counter and will significantly fade sun-spots anywhere on your body. I apply it to areas on my face and neck, especially after being outside!
By using these products and taking better care of my skin, I find that I really don’t need to wear much make up at all. I used to invest in thick, expensive foundation and powders to cover up my uneven skin tone and sun spots. Now I just use Maybelline foundation or translucent powder, Covergirl mascara, and lipgloss! And my skin looks better than ever.
Of course there are additional things that I do for Self Care which have added benefits of improving my skin’s appearance. I have written articles on the importance of Hydration, Sleep, Movement, and Meditation. Nutrition and eating anti-Inflammatory foods are also very important (I will be writing more on that topic in an upcoming article). And I also enjoy decadent skin care products on occasion, such as different facial masks, body butter, scrubs…but these are not part of my daily routine so I did not include specifics about them today. However, I do have one beauty secret that I will share with you….
Ok, I wasn’t going to include this, but it is something I do almost every day.
If you have read this entire article, you deserve this secret tip! I use hemorrhoid cream on my face. There. I said it! It decreases the appearance of puffiness almost instantly. It is perfect for those days that you: stayed up too late, consumed alcohol, consumed too much salt, had to get up early, or just look TIRED! I keep a tube in my makeup case and either apply it in the morning underneath makeup, or just spot-treat for puffiness under my eyes! A generic brand works wonderfully and is a cheap, easy way to look younger!
And that’s it!
Below is a copy of my weekly Skin care schedule. You can use it for yourself, change it to fit the needs of your skin, and let me know how it works for you! Make sure to take before and after photos so you can see your improvement! And if you would like a session for me to help you establish a skin care routine tailored to your needs, I am happy to help out!
Glowing Skin is Always In!
My Weekly Skin Care Schedule
Every morning: I use a baby wipe for sensitive skin or splash my face with cold water. I then pat it dry and apply either Vitamin C/ Hyaluronic Hydration serum or hemorrhoid cream to my face. Allow it to dry while I get dressed for the day, then apply makeup or sunscreen or both.
Every night: I use baby wash to gently cleanse my face and remove makeup or sunscreen. Then I use a cotton round to apply homemade toner with hydrogen peroxide. Insert my nightly routine listed below, then ALWAYS apply a Lash serum.
At each shower: Daily Superfoliant charcoal face exfoliant is what I keep in my shower. It is expensive but I love it. It is a charcoal powder that you activate with water, making a paste in your hand. It is gentle enough to use 4 times per week and removes impurities and pollution from the day. My skin has been gorgeous without breakouts ever since I started using it. It is definitely worth the splurge (think Self Care present to yourself….) I then apply a quick body lotion, something easy and lightweight. The only exception to this routine is Sunday evenings.
Sunday night: I dry brush, shower, and do a full-body exfoliation. Before I get dressed, I pat my skin dry and apply a baby-oil gel then put on my robe. This can be very thick so I am careful about the pjs I sleep in that evening, however my skin stays soft, smooth, and well hydrated all week by doing this.
Monday night: Retinol cream
Tuesday night: Derma roller, Glycolic acid
Wednesday night: Charcoal exfoliation, moisturizer
Thursday night: Derma roller, Glycolic acid
Friday night: Charcoal exfoliation, Retinol cream
Saturday night: Glycolic acid