BASIC SKIN CARE
Present day skin care has become both an art and a science. Gone are the days when it was a simple, superficial procedure of washing the face with soap and water. Today, it encompasses an educated understanding of the skin's many functions and how lifestyle habits (both internal and external) affect it. Our skin covers an average of nineteen square feet and weighs about seven pounds. A cross section reveals three defined layers. The epidermis is the outermost layer known as the cuticle or protective layer and is made of tightly packed, scale-like cells, which are continually being shed. An entirely new cuticle layer of skin forms every twenty-eight days. (Though this is believed to slow down with age.) The next layer is the dermis. It is also called the 'true skin' because most of the vital functions of the skin are performed or housed here. It contains the glands that secrete perspiration and sebum (oil), the papilla (hair manufacturing plant), nerve fibers, blood vessels, lymph glands and sense receptors. The dermis has an elastic quality that is due to the protein connective tissues called elastin and collagen. They allow for strength as well as flexibility. Below the dermis is the third layer called the subcutaneous layer. It is made of a fatter tissue that gives the body smoothness and contour and serves as a shock absorber for the vital organs. In addition, it stores energy and is an effective insulator.
Together, these three layers form the miraculous 'living fabric' known as skin. The skin serves to maintain our health and well being in an amazing variety of ways. In one square centimeter there are one-hundred sweat glands, twelve feet of nerves, hundreds of nerve endings, ten hair follicles, twenty sebaceous glands, six feet of blood vessels, sixteen heat sensors, four cold sensors and thousands of cells. Unbroken, the skin is our first line of defense against disease and bacterial invasion. It regulates body temperatures, sends neurological messages to the brain, detoxifies by excreting wastes from the body, respirates (absorbs oxygen and releases carbon dioxide), absorbs nutrients, manufactures vitamin D and protects the body from ultra violet damage from the sun. Fundamental skin care recognizes that the skin is our largest vital organ and it requires care and attention to look its best and to maintain peak performance. Following is your 'Checklist for Beautiful Skin'. Each one is an important issue for proper skin care.
Peter Pugliese, M.D., a biomedical researcher who has been studying the skin's response to sunlight, states that ninety percent of the skin problems associated with aging are the result of too much sun exposure. These symptoms include premature wrinkling; dry, leathery skin; sagging skin; distended capillaries; blotchy pigmentation and skin cancer.
Guidelines for preventing the sun-damage symptoms of aging and skin cancer are:
Stay out of the sun as much as possible. Especially avoid extensive sun exposure between 10 am and 3 pm. Beware of reflected light from sand, water, cement and snow. Wear a sunscreen that provides both UVA and UVB protection with an SPF of at least 15. Apply sunscreen thirty minutes before going in the sun and reapply it every hour when swimming or perspiring. Don't forget to protect your lips as well. For extra protection, use clothing such as long-sleeved shirts, long-legged pants and a sun hat. Sunglasses will help for around the eyes. Avoid tanning booths and sunlamps. If you spend a great deal of time in the sun, have your skin thoroughly checked by a dermatologist once a year.
Cigarette smoking robs the skin of its vitality and potential for being smooth and attractive. The skin suffers due to the deleterious effect of carbon monoxide and nicotine on the circulatory system, depriving the skin tissue of much needed oxygen and vital nutrients. People who smoke have a depleted, pallid (almost gray) complexion that prematurely wrinkles. In addition, this type of skin does not heal well or rejuvenate quickly. In fact, it is a common practice for plastic surgeons to refuse performing cosmetic surgery on people who smoke due to the chance of slow, unsuccessful healing. Researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin discovered another cosmetic consequence of smoking. It seems that women who smoke one pack of cigarettes a day or more, have a 50% greater chance of developing facial hair. It is speculated that this is caused by the effect smoking has on the ovaries and /or hormonal metabolism. Though these cosmetic reasons to not smoke may appeal to your vanity, smoking's real curse is to our overall health. Smoking is the largest single cause of preventable death, contributing to lung cancer, emphysema and sudden cardiac death.
People, who are physically fit, look good and feel good. A regular aerobic workout combined with flexibility and strength exercises will keep a person in top physical shape. This kind of conditioning will lengthen your life, improve your appearance, build your self-confidence, reshape your figure and delay the aging process. Exercise benefits the skin and aids in maintaining a clean, youthful complexion by increasing circulation, calming the nerves and promoting a deeper more revitalizing sleep. Even the best skin care program will not be as effective without regular exercise.
In these modern times that have people on the go from morning until night and that encourage physical fitness, it is often neglected to be mentioned that to balance our busy, active days, we need enough rest and sleep. Sleep scientists and researchers feel that sleepiness has become an epidemic in this country and contributes to chronic fatigue, poor work production, ill humor and dissatisfaction with life. It is also a leading cause of car accidents. How do you know if you are getting enough sleep? Dr. Wilse Webb, a sleep research pioneer, says if you have to wake up to an alarm, "you are shortening your natural sleep pattern." To correct it, you must go to bed early enough that you wake up on your own at the time you want to arise. When you are well rested and getting enough sleep, your skin will mirror this with vitality and a healthful glow.
Recent studies are now showing that alcohol consumption for even moderate drinkers (one to two ounces per day) can lead to damaged livers, a variety of cancers and may contribute to osteoporosis and depression. It is certain that anything that has this kind of negative effect on one's general health is going to affect the skin.Alcohol dehydrates the skin and impedes circulation thus robbing it of precious moisture and vital nutrients. It can lead to broken or distended capillaries, especially over the nose and cheeks. It also depletes the body of vitamins and minerals needed for a healthy complexion. Recent studies have shown that women are more susceptible to the ill effects of alcohol than are men. Because women are generally more concerned about the appearance of their skin, it would be prudent to reduce or eliminate their alcohol intake.
A skin care program is generally put together with three products: a cleanser, a toner and a moisturizer. An expanded program will include an eye cream or oil, a mask, an exfoliant and perhaps, special deep treatments. Because these products are the cornerstones of every skin care program, the quality of the program depends on the quality of the cosmetics. Cosmetics with inferior ingredients can actually harm the skin by drying it out, irritating it or blocking the pores. In many cases, using cosmetics of poor quality is worse than using nothing at all.
What constitutes a high quality cosmetic? First, look at the ingredients. Avoid mineral oil, artificial colors and artificial fragrances. It should read like a food label - - the ingredients should be familiar. Be aware that most cosmetics will have preservatives. This is necessary and most skin care professionals accept this, feeling that preventing contamination and possibly skin or eye infections is more important than having a preservative-free cosmetic. Fortunately, today excellent preservatives are available that cover the full spectrum of bacteria, are nontoxic and are only needed in minute amounts. Secondly, investigate the integrity of the company that makes the product. What are their standards? How long have they been in business? Do they stand behind their products? Do they have a particular philosophy that appeals to you? Lastly, what is the manufacturing process? What qualities of raw ingredients are used? Are the products mass-produced or is personal care given it each batch?
Oxygen is our most vital nutrient. We can live for weeks without food, days without water but only a few minutes without breathing oxygen. The art and influence of the breath has been a part of religious, philosophical and health disciplines through the ages. The breath is life itself. Most people think that breathing correctly is a natural instinct. Certainly, we all breathe but it is the quality of breathing that makes the difference and it effects the quality of our lives and reflects in the quality of our complexion. A very simple deep breathing exercise (from yoga teachings) is to lie on your back and slowly fill your abdomen with air, then the stomach, the lower lung and lastly, the upper lung. To exhale, empty the abdomen first, then the stomach and then the lungs. On the exhale, pause for a moment before you inhale again. It is suggested to do your breathing exercises upon rising in the morning for three to five minutes.
The physical human body was designed to be nourished from the plants and animals from the earth. This was true at the appearance of modern man nearly 40,000 years ago and remains true today. Considering individual needs, eating a varied diet rich in whole, natural food; balanced in protein, fats and carbohydrates and void of chemicals, adulteration and refinement is one that will allow humans to realize their potential as physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual beings. Certainly the health and beauty of the skin depends on it. In addition to this diet, one needs to consider possible supplementation. A vitamin and mineral program may be warranted. Because of our biochemical individuality, such a program will be different for everyone and you may want to see a nutritionist to get you on the right track.
SPECIAL CONSIDERATION FOR MATURE SKIN
Through the course of our lives, our skin will change. It will pass from the soft and delicate characteristics of baby skin to childhood's smooth, velvety texture and resilient nature. It will go through the teenage years known for the problems, through the twenties when our skin begins to mature. By our thirties, we may notice it becoming drier with signs of the first wrinkles and by forty-ish, our skin is aging. As the skin ages, it characteristically becomes drier and loses its elasticity. The skin's rejuvenating capacity (cell renewal) slows down and the oxygen and nutrient supply decreases with a decrease in circulation. Protective oil (sebum) production decreases. These changes take place in the dermal layer of the skin. How fast and to what extent this dermal layer changes depends on three things: your age, your heredity and your lifestyle. On the surface of the skin, as the cells work their way from the dermal layer, they are thicker and more dense with decreased ability to retain moisture. They are not well lubricated from the decrease of oil. This gives mature skin its dry appearance. All of the items listed in "Checklist for Beautiful Skin" are crucial considerations for aging skin. In fact, if an effective program was put into practice early in life and before the skin began to show signs of aging, many of the symptoms of aging skin could be avoided for a long time. In addition to the checklist there are other considerations for mature skin.
Over-cleansing can mean two things: washing the face more times than is necessary for the particular skin type and/or using too harsh a cleanser. Over-cleansing is destructive to the health and function of the skin because it strips away the natural oils and disrupts the protective mantle. This can lead to both dryness and irritation. The correct cleanser and routine for cleansing must suit your individual skin type and need. The best cleansers are effective enough to remove makeup and dirt, yet gentle enough to not denude the skin of its protective oils. If your cleanser leaves your face 'squeaky-clean', it is too strong. Avoid products with soaps or detergents. Dr. Peter Pugliese states, "Using soap as the major facial cleansing agent has serious drawbacks. To what extent it adds to wrinkle formation has not been determined exactly, but there is no doubt that it is a contributing agent". The best cleansers are cleansing milks which have been designed as an emulsion of balanced water and oil content, so it will clean both the water and oil soluble dirt on the face without over cleansing.
CARE FOR THE EYE AREA
The delicate skin around the eyes is the first to show signs of aging. Here, the skin has few oil and sweat glands necessary to keep it conditioned. It is also constantly moving, very thin skinned and very sensitive to mistreatment. Preventative care and proper skin care habits can delay the visible signs of aging. In addition to the other considerations mentioned in this manual, it is recommended that whenever you are applying moisturizers in the eye area, pat or press them in place to avoid stretching the tissue. When you are in the sun, wear sunglasses large enough to cover the entire eye area. The lenses must be the type that block ultraviolet rays. In cold weather and wind, use a heavier moisturizer for protection. Try not to rub your eyes. It stretches the skin and encourages the orbital fat to herniate and form bags. Lastly, avoid using 'Kleenex' type tissues around the eyes. They are made of wood bits that can irritate the skin.
How well are you taking care of your skin?
Written by: Internatural
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