Your skin -- your largest organ -- is your first line of defense against the world. Your skin protects you from foreign invaders, extreme temperatures, chemicals and pollution. Over time, all of these protective duties can do a number on your skin’s appearance. But don't give up on your biggest ally if it starts to get dull -- proper skin care can help to keep your skin super soft and smooth, even in those harsh winter months.
Cleanse regularly. Cleansers remove dirt and oil from your skin, which helps make your skin smooth and soft. Ditch the soap and choose a mild cleanser that is pH-balanced for the skin. If you have normal, oily or combination skin, choose a gel-based or foaming cleanser. Opt for a cream cleanser if your skin is dry. Use a separate cleanser for the skin on your face, which is more delicate than the skin on your body.
Exfoliate your face two to three times per week. Your skin regenerates every 28 days, on average. During regeneration, dead skin cells rise to the surface of your skin. Some fall off, but some remain attached to your skin and are easily removed by exfoliation. If you have dry skin, choose a gentle exfoliating scrub or a rotating exfoliating brush. If you have combination or oily skin, choose a chemical exfoliator -- like a mask that contains alpha-hydroxy or beta-hydroxy acids. Normal skin can handle either type of exfoliator.
Exfoliate your body two to three times per week. Use a scrub, a pouf or a loofah to remove the dead skin cells from your body. The skin on your body is more resiliant than the skin on your face, so you can choose a scrub that contains larger sugar or salt particles.
Moisturize daily. On the days that you shower, apply a water-based moisturizer within two minutes of stepping out of the shower or bath. When your skin is still warm from the bath, the pores are open and absorb product more easily. On days that you don't shower, apply moisturizer in the morning before getting dressed. If you have oily skin, opt for an oil-free moisturizer that's not too heavy. If you have dry skin, reach for a thick, water-based moisturizer. If you have combination skin, you may need to apply a thicker moisturizer on your dry areas and an oil-free moisturizer on your oily areas. Normal skin does well with a lightweight, water-based moisturizer.
Stay out of the sun. The ultraviolet rays of the sun penetrate through your skin and can actually change the DNA of your cells. This can lead to fine lines, wrinkles, discoloration and cancer. Avoid the sun especially during the peak hours between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Apply sunscreen before leaving the house, even on cloudy days, and reapply throughout the day.
Drink water. Every cell and organ in your body needs water. Your skin is no exception. When you’re dehydrated, your skin gets dry, making it rough and more prone to fine lines and wrinkles. Dehydrated skin also looks dull and lacks the glow of healthy, hydrated skin. To determine how much water you need each day, take your weight in pounds and divide it in half -- that's how many ounces you should drink. For example, if you weight 150 pounds, you need 75 ounces of water each day.
Pamper yourself. Facials and body treatments feel like a luxury, but they are also essential to keeping your skin soft and smooth. An esthetician can recommend facial services and body treatments that target whatever skin problems you may be having at the time. A professional esthetician will also be able to recommend a skin-care regimen that you can do at home that is tailored to your skin needs.
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