Complete Guide to Skincare

Overview

Your skin is the living diary of your life’s quality and that is why it needs proper and constant care. Luckily, modern science has come up with some amazing solutions for high quality skincare.

The goal of this article is to provide an overview of important facts about skin, types of skin, various skincare products, and available aesthetic treatments that can help your skin stay healthy and youthful looking.

Important Facts about Skin

Before we get into skin care, let’s talk a little on the structure and function of skin. Being the largest organ in the body, the skin serves as the body’s protective barrier. It was designed to keep the bad things like germs, harmful chemicals, UV radiation, etc. on the outside.

That’s not all the skin does, however. The skin has many other important roles; it plays a part in breathing, moving, heating, and cooling, and provides frame support for all the inner tissues and organs.

Here are some important facts about skin:

There are 3 skin layers

The three distinct layers of skin are called:

  • Epidermis
  • Dermis
  • Hypodermis

The epidermis is the outer layer of the skin. It is the waterproof, first line of defense. The dermis is the middle layer. Hair follicles and glands are located in this skin layer. The dermis is mostly made of connective tissue. The inner-most layer is called the hypodermis. This layer acts as a supportive structure. It is made mostly of fat and connective tissue and it attaches the skin to muscles underneath.

All three skin layers have very important roles and can be nurtured from inside and outside with a balanced diet, supplementation, and quality skincare routine.

The skin renews itself once a month

In the deepest layer of the skin, call the hypodermis, new skin cells are created every day. They need around 28 to 30 days to rise to the surface and replace the old, dead, cells. The skin cells are not the same everywhere on your body. Their elasticity, tone, size, and thickness vary. That is why, for example, the skin of your eyelids is seven times thinner than the skin on the soles of your feet.

This regenerative process benefits greatly from proper skincare, especially from UV protection, cleansing, and moisturizing.

The skin has its microbiome

Different pathogens, viruses, microbes, and over one thousand types of bacteria live on the surface of your skin. Together, they form the skin’s microbiome, a mini-ecosystem that helps wound healing, reduces inflammation, and works together with the immune system to fight off infections. Scientists believe that there are as many of these tiny microorganisms as there are skin cells in your body.

One of the most important goals of quality skincare is to maintain the health of this mini-ecosystem and prevent any damage.

Skin regulates body fluids and prevents overheating

Skin experts say that the structure of the skin resembles a “brick and mortar” pattern. In this structure, skin cells are bricks while fats, known as lipids, are the mortar. These fats fill the empty spaces between the skin cells and prevent the loss of fluids. In this way, they keep the skin moist and help maintain the body’s fluid balance.

Skin is also home to a large number of sweat glands. These have a crucial role in heat regulation. Sweat glands release water and lipids to the surface on the skin to help it cool off in hot weather conditions.

Low-quality skin care products can sometimes obstruct the skin’s ability to cool off properly.

Different Skin Types

Although the role of the skin is the same in every person, not everybody’s skin is the same. Different skin types have different characteristics and they all have their good sides and their bad sides.

The following are the five common skin types:

Oily skin

Skin secrets oils to keep itself moist, this is a normal process for any skin type. However, with oily skin, the situation is a bit different. People with this skin type usually have larger pores and their oil glands are more active. This causes overproduction of oil which makes the skin appear oily, shiny, and often causes clogging of the pores, infections, and acne.

When it comes to skincare products, oily skin does not like heavy and thick creams or moisturizers. This skin type still needs to be moisturized, but not over moisturized. One time a day, usually before going to bed should be enough. Products that contain hyaluronic acid work well to provide proper hydration for oily skin.

Regular cleansing is important for oily skin. Again, simple and light products are the best. Glycolic acid is also beneficial because it will shrink the pores and make them less visible.

Dry skin

Dry skin is the exact opposite of oily skin. Its appearance lacks any kind of shine, even that healthy glow we all like to see in our skin. This is because dry skin is usually covered in a layer of dead skin cells.

Logically, hydration is crucial for dry skin. Dry skin can benefit from thicker creams to get long-lasting moisture. However, dry skin does not like strong detergents with powerful surfactants so cleansing and hydrating should be done with mild and gentle products.

The good thing about this skin type is that it is not prone to major skin problems such as acne. However, it requires constant care because sun exposure, aging, and hormonal changes can leave their mark on dry skin.

Sensitive skin

The name says it all. Sensitive skin is, sensitive. It is prone to acne, rashes, contact dermatitis, inflammation, rosacea, sunburns, etc.

Many skincare products can cause problems on sensitive skin, due to some of their ingredients. That is why people with sensitive skin have a hard time finding products that work best for them.

Sensitive skin reacts to most irritative ingredients of skin care products, such as alcohol or isopropyl myristate (hair conditioners). Friction is also problematic. That is why cleansers and exfoliators should be used carefully by people with sensitive skin.

Gentle face wash and a very mild moisturizer that does not leave a film behind might be all the skincare that sensitive skin needs.

Combination skin

Not all skin experts agree that this skin type exists. Some attribute “combination skin” to seasonal changes in oily skin (dry in winter, oily in summer). Others claim that combination skin is oily in some parts of the face such as nose and forehead and dry in others like cheeks and under eyes.

Depending on how different parts of your skin behave you should apply different skincare products. For example, if the area around the mouth is dry, use thicker moisturizers. If the forehead is oily, use oily skin products only in that area, and so on.

“Normal” skin

Normal skin is another disputed skin type. It can best be defined as non-problematic skin that is neither too oily nor too dry.

This type of skin is not prone to overreacting. It is not easily irritated or prone to acne. The appearance of “normal skin” is healthy and hydrated with an even tone.

Normal skin will react well to most skincare products and its maintenance is simple compared to other skin types.

Skin Care Products

Today, the skincare industry is big business. There is a flood of skincare products and treatments, both cosmetic and medical. This is both good and bad; it is good because so many options mean there is something for everyone, it is bad because it can get confusing.

The main purpose of many of these products is to keep the skin clean, hydrated, elastic, and to enable its normal function. However, many products that have the same purpose can differ between themselves significantly.

These are the commonly used skincare products:

Cleansers

Cleansers are skincare products formulated to remove all unwanted accumulations from the skin’s surface. This includes dirt, pollutants, dead skin cells, oils, sunscreen, and makeup.

They are essential for the regular exfoliation of the outer skin layer (epidermis) and unclogging of the pores. However, their effects are only beneficial if they can provide skin cleansing without removing or damaging the epidermis.

Toners

Toners are buffed up cleansers. They provide extra cleansing, especially after wearing heavy makeup or sunscreen. Toners can also shrink the pores and add a thin layer of protection to the skin, but this might not be good for every skin type. Dry skin can be irritated by strong toners.

Humectant toners hydrate the skin and restore its normal pH value that often goes off-balance after the use of soaps and certain cleansers.

Moisturizers

Moisturizers lubricate, protect, and moisturize the skin. They can be found in the form of creams, lotions, ointments, bath oils, and even soaps.

The main task of moisturizers is to prevent the loss of water from the skin through evaporation. To achieve this, moisturizers create an air and water-tight coating on the surface of the skin which stops the loss of moisture. Some moisturizers also have humectant properties. This means that they can attract moisture.

Exfoliators

Exfoliators are skincare products intended for exfoliations of the skin. This is the process in which the oldest, dead skin cells are removed from the surface of the skin.

Exfoliators can be physical and chemical. Physical ones usually come in the form of an abrasive substance that is meant to rub against the surface of the skin. Chemical exfoliators commonly rely on the use of acids to achieve the exfoliation effect.

Serums

Skin serums are products packed with skin-beneficial active ingredients and nutrients such as antioxidants and vitamins. Their job is to nourish the skin. Serums are usually applied at night, after cleansing and before moisturizing.

There are many specific serums in the market today. Some are intended for hydration, others for brightening and toning, and so on. Serums can be very helpful in the treatment of pigmentation, redness, and small wrinkles.

Skin Care and Diet

We are what we eat. Nutrition plays a huge part in our health and skin health is not an exception. Scientists are well aware of the connection between diets and aging, therefore it is not a surprise that we have such things as “skincare diet” popping up everywhere recently.

Skin can be nurtured from the inside as well, especially its deeper layers. Many nutrients, such as omega-3 and omega-6 acids, zinc, vitamin E, vitamin C, beta carotene, lycopene, etc., are known to be essential for skin health.

For this reason, nutritionists often recommend certain foods for “skin health”. These are the most common ones:

  • Fatty fish
  • Avocados
  • Walnuts
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Bell peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Tomatoes
  • Soy
  • Dark chocolate
  • Green tea
  • Red grapes

Skin Supplements

Many skin supplements can be used both topically and orally to boost skin health. These are the most important ones:

Retinol

Many skincare products proudly advertise retinol as one of their ingredients. There is a good reason for this. Retinol, a form of vitamin A, boosts collagen production in the skin. It improves skin tone and effectively combats discoloration.

Retinol-based creams are very effective in reducing fine lines and wrinkles. However, too much retinol can dry out the skin and make it flaky. That is why retinol should not be applied more than once a day together with a proper moisturizer.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that boosts the skin repair process. It easily penetrates the skin barrier and delivers its benefits to skin and other tissues.

Vitamin C neutralizes the production of free radicals, on a cellular level, and slows down the process of aging. Vitamin C also lowers the levels of tyrosinase, an enzyme responsible for the overproduction of melanin, a pigment that causes darkening of the skin.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an essential nutrient with anti-inflammatory properties. It has many important roles in the immune system and skin health.

Vitamin E is an antioxidant, it improves the symptoms of atopic dermatitis and slows down the aging process. Since Vitamin E is not synthesized inside the human body, it has to be obtained through diet or supplementation.

To ensure proper absorption and optimal results vitamin E should always be used in combination with vitamin C.

Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10 is a vitamin-like substance that acts as a powerful antioxidant. When it is present on the surface of the skin in normal, or increased levels, it provides strong protection from the environmental damage such as UV radiation, pollution, etc. and slows down the aging process.

The topical use of coenzyme Q10 keeps the skin looking fresher, younger, and healthier.

Collagen

Collagen is a protein which is naturally found in the human body. It plays an important part in providing elasticity to the skin.

Topical use of collagen can improve certain skin issues such as acne, eczema, and wrinkles. The use of collagen in acne treatment prevents the creation of acne scars. In eczema treatment, collagen speeds up the skin healing process and reduces blemishes and discoloration from appearing.

This protein can also reduce some visible wrinkles temporarily. The topical use of collagen smoothens the skin and causes the fine lines and smaller wrinkles to diminish or disappear entirely.

Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid is widely used in skincare products because of its ability to hydrate and repair the skin. It is naturally found in the human body, especially in the neural and connective tissue.

Hyaluronic acid helps skin repair and keep the space between the skin cells hydrated and open. In combination with retinol, hyaluronic acid is extremely successful in making the skin look softer, smoother, and healthier.

Sun Protection

In most cases, skin cancers are a direct consequence of sun exposure. The UV radiation of the sun often causes changes in the skin. Some of these changes are not harmful to overall health. Such changes include:

  • Age spots
  • Freckles
  • Discoloration
  • Noncancerous changes  (seborrheic keratosis)

On the other hand, exposure to the sun’s UV radiation can cause cancerous changes, such as:

  • Basal cell carcinoma
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Melanoma

The best way to protect yourself from UV radiation is to completely avoid sun exposure. This means wearing clothes that cover all the body or avoiding going outside between 10 am and 4 pm, especially during the summer months.

If you can’t stay away from the sun, you should always wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or greater. The best sunscreens contain zinc-oxide which physically blocks sunlight.

Aesthetic Treatments

Aesthetic medicine is a branch of medical science that specializes in non-invasive aesthetic treatments. Most of these are skincare treatments such as:

  • Botox
  • PRP
  • Dermal fillers, and
  • Laser treatments

Aesthetic treatments focus on skin rejuvenation. Their main purpose is to make you look younger. Unfortunately, most of these procedures treat the symptoms and not the cause of aging and their results are aesthetically excellent but temporary.

These are some of the most popular non-invasive aesthetic treatments:

Chemical Peels

The main purpose of a chemical peel is to remove the top layer of old dead skin and enable the growth of new skin which is smoother and younger-looking. As a result, the newly-grown skin layer shows fewer signs of aging. Chemical peels can be used to treat scars, skin discolorations, and wrinkles.

Different chemicals can be used to target different depths of skin layers. Therefore, we differentiate:

  • Light chemical peel – Removes epidermis, which is the outer layer of the skin
  • Medium chemical peel – Removes epidermis and a portion of the dermis, which is the middle layer
  • Deep chemical peel – Affects all three layers of the skin and should not be done more than once.

PRP

PRP stands for “platelet-rich plasma” and is a popular aesthetic treatment in the form of PRP injections.

Plasma is the liquid part of the blood, made mostly of water and protein. Platelets are one type of blood cell that enable blood clotting, meaning they play an important part in the wound-healing process.

PRP injections are made from the patient’s blood from which platelet-rich plasma was separated.

The injections are administered in the treated area, where they release growth factors and help the renewal and repair of existing cells. This procedure is relatively low risk, with infection being the main concern.

In aesthetic medicine PRP injections are used to improve the tone of the skin, reduce, dark circles, smooth out fine lines, and give the skin a healthy glow.

Botox

Botox or botulinum toxin is a neurotoxin used in small quantities to relax facial muscles whose contractions are responsible for the creation of wrinkles in the face, including the forehead lines, “crow’s feet”, frown lines, etc.

Wrinkles that are successfully treated with Botox injections are those that were created by repetitive facial expressions such as raising the eyebrows, frowning, and smiling.

The effects of Botox treatments are usually very good but temporary and there is a small risk of infection or eye droop if the injector is not well trained.

Dermal Fillers

Dermal fillers are a group of injectable, synthetic and natural, substances used to add volume to certain areas of the skin.

Dermal fillers can:

  • Improve facial contours
  • Fill out deep wrinkles and creases
  • Improve the appearance of scars
  • Reconstruct deformities in the skin
  • Increase the volume of thin lips

Like Botox fillers are relatively low risk but not no risk. Dermal fillers can lead to infection and even blindness if the injector is not well trained.

Regenerative Aesthetics

In regenerative aesthetics, state-of-the-art technologies are used to treat the causes of aging and skin damage. These technologies are based on the use of stem cells, the type of cells that can assume the role of all other cell types in the human body, including skin cells.

The use of stem cells for skin treatment regenerates the skin on a cellular level. It restores the skin’s function and, partially or completely, reverses the aging process. This means that regenerative aesthetics can treat the cause of aging, not only the symptoms.

Because of its revolutionary possibilities, regenerative aesthetics are considered to be the future of skincare.

The Final Word

Skincare is important. It maintains your skin and enables it to perform all of its functions on an optimal level. A skin that is well taken care of will also look healthier, fresher, and younger. There is so much that you can do for your skin nowadays that taking no action is simply not an option.

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