Myth: Any skin care procedure you need must be done by
a medical professional.
Truth: There are procedures that don’t need a medical professional.
Let’s say you have your basic skin care regimen in place and it’s working well for you, but you want something extra. Maybe you have acne blemishes that just aren’t going away fast enough for you. Maybe you’re like me and you have dark marks left from the acne. Maybe you have fine lines or wrinkles. Maybe you have facial hair, either peach fuzz that’s not clearly visible or contrasting hair that is more obvious.
There are purists out there who will tell you that it’s what G-d gave you and you should just love it and not worry about it. If you really feel that way, that’s fine, but most of us don’t, me included. However, you might assume that the only way to deal with these things is at the dermatologist’s office. While it’s good to have a dermatologist, there are things you can do that don’t require a medical professional.
From me, you get the truth.
Procedures like exfoliation (removal of dead surface skin) and hair removal can be done by a professional esthetician or even at home by yourself. It’s true that you’ll get better results if you have these done professionally. Professionals can see areas and spots that you might miss. They’re also trained to use and manipulate the tools and chemicals needed. They use professional-grade tools and chemicals, and they know which ones will work best for your skin type and skin concerns. Naturally, the results will be better. Is it worth it? For a lot of women, it is. Not only am I not arguing with that, but I stand by what I said before: Every woman should have at least one professional beauty treatment in her life. Pampering is fun.
That said, I’m a low-maintenance type. I prefer doing my own beauty treatments at home with drugstore products. Maybe I’m not getting the same results as those from a professional treatment, but the results I get are still great. And I’m not alone – a lot of women, even celebrities, have beauty procedures that they do at home.
So what can you do at home? Here’s one thing.
Exfoliation should become a regular part of your skin care routine once you’re in your 30s. Most women don’t need it more than once or twice per week, but it’s important to take that extra time. When you remove all that dead skin, your moisturizers and other lotions and potions will penetrate better (you’ll really feel it) and do their jobs better. And when you apply makeup, it sits better on your face. There are three ways to exfoliate at home.
Light Peels – exfoliation by chemical. You apply a peel cream to your face, let it do its work, and then remove it, usually by rinsing with water. The chemicals go into your skin and allow a lot of dead skin to be removed. This is particularly good for scarring and dark spots. There are peel kits to be found in drugstores and if you follow the directions, you’ll get good results. There are medium and deep peels too, but those must only be done by a medical professional.
Microdermabrasion – exfoliation by scrubbing. You scrub your face with small particles to dislodge dead surface skin. As long as those particles are smooth and not jagged, you’ll get smoother, more polished skin without any actual cuts or scrapes. It makes lines, scars, and dark marks less noticeable and it helps clean acne-prone skin. It’s also particularly important for dry skin, because if you don’t get rid of the dry, dead surface skin, moisturizers can’t penetrate. There are kits to be found in drugstores and they do work, but I myself use plain white granulated sugar mixed with a drop of cleanser and just enough water to make a paste. To keep things safe, it’s best to scrub gently for a full minute. Rinse with water.
Side note: If you have chapped hands, especially in winter, scrubbing them with granulated sugar and water is necessary to allow moisturizer to penetrate and allow the hands to heal. I find that when I get a cold, my hands get chapped, but I scrub them at bedtime and then apply hand cream. My hands sting for a minute or two but then I feel that soothing cooling sensation of the moisturizers penetrating. And my hands feel much better the next day.
Dermaplaning – exfoliation by shaving. I just started doing this myself. You use a blade to shave off dead surface skin and facial hair (I had no idea that my face was so hairy). Dermaplaning blades are smaller than regular razors and are serrated for exfoliation. This is great for lines, facial hair, scars, and dark marks. It will also help prevent new acne breakouts. If you have one or two acne blemishes going on, it’s okay to work around them, but if you have a lot of blemishes, it’s best to not do this until your skin clears up.
Before you do any of these things, it’s good to know what your skin type actually is so that the treatment can be done just right. Whether your skin is oily, acne-prone, dry, normal, combination, or sensitive, the procedure and any chemicals/lotions/creams used have to be geared to you. And if your skin is sensitive, you’ll need to be careful and see how your skin reacts.
Whatever kind of exfoliation you do, it’s best to do it in the evening time when you aren’t going to be going out into the sun right after. Exfoliation exposes new skin that is sensitive to the sun and that means you must be even more careful about using sunscreen. Sunscreen is an absolute must no matter what kind of skincare routine you have; it prevents all manner of sun damage ranging from lines and wrinkles to cancer, not to mention sunburns, which do hurt. Moisturizers with sunscreen will save you that extra step in the morning; but if your favorite morning moisturizer doesn’t have sunscreen, you must add that step.
The best exfoliation treatments leave your face slightly pink for a short time but feeling smoother and polished. When you apply moisturizer later, it will penetrate better and you’ll feel it.
Taking care of your skin is not as difficult or as technical as it may sound. So take advantage of whatever you can do at home by yourself. You’ll look and feel better. Who doesn’t want that?
To be continued…