Facial Skin Care Products

Written by Serena Berger
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People spend billions of dollars every year on facial skin care products. Self esteem is certainly priceless, and being healthy and looking good are undeniably a part of feeling good about yourself. The thing is, most cosmetic companies are coming out with new products every six months or so not because they've made such stupendous advances in skin care technology, but because that's about how long it takes people to realize that the previously hyped products are not living up to their promises.

The right skin care products can help you look and feel your best. People are often tempted to address the way they look before the less visible aspects of their health, and to do so from the outside rather than the inside. Putting on foundation or concealer, using a powder or gel blush, or maybe trying some of the popular new light-reflecting lotions will probably have an immediately gratifying effect. Your skin tone will appear more even, you'll get the "glow" you want, or your blemishes won't be so apparent. But when the make-up fades, you're back to where you started, and sometimes even worse off if you've irritated your skin or clogged your pores.

As attractive as the idea of an immediate fix is, realize that the best things you can do for your skin don't show immediate results--but in the long run, they yield much more attractive and healthy skin. Preventative measures are the most important aspect of skin care. Sleeping enough (at least eight hours nightly), minimizing stress, and eating a balanced diet are all essential to having healthy and beautiful skin. You need to get enough water (eight glasses daily in the winter, 10 in the summer), vitamins, minerals, and fats in order for skin to perform its best. But preventing sun damage is by far the most important thing to do.

Protect Your Skin from the Sun

The sun is responsible for 90 percent of the symptoms of premature aging. Ultraviolet rays damage collagen fibers (which are the most important protein in the skin's structural layers) and cause abnormal elastin (which causes tissue to stretch) to build up. UV rays also trigger the out-of-control production of metalloproteinases, an enzyme responsible for breaking down and rebuilding collagen. Instead of producing and distributing collagen evenly like you would want them to, these damaged enzymes instruct the body to produce collagen haphazardly, causing uneven buildup and eventually wrinkles. Compounding the problem is the fact that the outer layer of skin is damaged and becomes thin, dry, and brittle. This makes it more likely to sink into the uneven gaps in the inner layer, making wrinkles even more pronounced.

Even more important than the negative effects of sun damage on your appearance is the strong possibility that you could get skin cancer. In order to keep your skin healthy, you must protect it with a sunscreen at all times. Even five to 10 minutes unprotected in the sun has been shown to elevate levels of metalloproteinases for up to a week, so this is not a risk you want to take. An SPF of 30 or 45 can be found in a sunscreen by itself, or mixed with a moisturizer, lotion, or foundation from a high quality skin care line.

If you have wrinkles--either from sun damage, stretching of the skin, or simply time and gravity--you may consider a medical procedure or a cosmetic treatment. Cosmetic products are any which do not change the anatomy or function of your skin cells. In other words, cosmetics cannot reverse wrinkles or lead to any permanent change in the way that your skin works or the way that your body creates skin cells. They may reduce the appearance of wrinkles, which is typically accomplished by strong moisturizers plumping up the skin or mild acids like AHA exfoliating any dead skin cells that are enhancing the appearance of wrinkles by sticking in the little lines. They may use a stimulant to tighten the skin temporarily. But in the end, no cosmetic product can get rid of wrinkles. If you really hate your wrinkles and want to find out about medical and surgical treatments like chemical peels, dermabrasion, laser resurfacing, or a face life, you will have to talk to a doctor.

Treating Blemishes

Beyond sun damage and wrinkles, blemishes are the reason many people are looking for better facial skin care products. Blemishes come from a number of factors, including dryness, oiliness, hormones, stress, environmental pollutants, and bacteria. In some cases (bacterial infection), you need to see a doctor and get an antibiotic. In other cases, you may have to make a change in your lifestyle before you can see a result in your skin. If you can treat blemishes with a skin care regimen, you will have to be patient and consistent in using your cleanser and topical products which help dry oil, gently exfoliate, and dissolve whiteheads and blackheads.

While it is difficult enough to manage dry skin or oily skin, many people have combination skin, which combines the worst aspects of both. It doesn't help matters that this is another area in which you are likely to be misled by advertising. No product can treat both oiliness and dryness at once, yet many companies persist in misleading campaigns which get your hopes up. If you have combination skin, you need to get a drying or mattifying product for the nose, forehead, and chin. You need to treat your lips, cheeks, and under-eye area to a rich moisturizer, however, in order to avoid the redness, flakiness, and even bursted blood vessels which would plague you were you to use a product for oily skin on these sensitive drier areas.

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