Put Your Best Face Forward
A fresh, luminous complexion is not just on trend, it’s a naturally beautiful statement for the ages. Here’s how to achieve that healthy glow for special occasions and all year through.
Start with CTM: Cleanse, Tone & Moisturize
The foundation for a fabulous face is a good CTM – cleanse, tone, moisturize – skincare routine. Here’s the 4-1-1 on this twice-daily process. While taking the time for CTM may seem like a hassle at first, your skin will feel so amazing that you’ll soon find yourself looking forward to those three glow-ready letters.
- CLEANSE: Choose a cleanser that’s right for your skin. Gels and foams are a good starting point for oily to combination skin, while gentle creams and lotions may be a better choice for dry or sensitive skin. Be sure to avoid overdoing it, with oils, exfoliating brushes or pads or simply over-cleansing. The two keys to smart cleansing are moderation and paying attention to your skin’s reactions to every product and regimen you try.
- TONE: Follow up your cleanse with a well-chosen toner. In the past, most toners fell into the category of comes-with-a-sting astringents, containing alcohol, witch hazel or other harsh, problem skin-focused ingredients, that were used more as treatments than supplements to a cleaning routine. Today’s toners cater to a broader range of skin types, with goals of adding balanced hydration, reducing the look of large-size pores and removing final traces of makeup and dirt not caught by your cleansing step.
- MOISTURIZE: Once skin is clean and toned, it’s time to moisturize. Be sure to apply remaining products in the best possible order. Water-soluble lotions should go on first — if possibly, apply moisturizer to damp skin to seal in even more water — followed by oil-based creams and stronger formulas. Finish with a sunscreen for your morning routine and a retinol or face oil at bedtime.
The Basics of Skincare Ingredients
Advances in science and technology have enabled beauty experts to create skincare that is both effective and far more subtle that in the past. Here are definitions of some common ingredient categories you may see on product labels.
- Antioxidants help protect skin from free radicals (particles which harm the DNA of cells). Products containing antioxidants can help reduce skin damage caused by the aging process. Antioxidants include vitamins C and E, selenium, açai oil and green tea derivatives.
- Hyaluronic acid is a sugar molecule, found naturally in the skin. Hyaluronic acid acts as a humectant (moisture binder), which keeps skin plump and hydrated by pulling moisture from the air. It is a beneficial ingredient to look for in moisturizers and serums, but beware if you live in a dry climate — if there’s not enough moisture in the air, hyaluronic acid will actually pull moisture from your skin.
- Alpha-hydroxy acids, such as glycolic and lactic acid, can gently exfoliate the skin’s top layers to give a more refined appearance, enhancing hydration and, over time, making skin look firmer. It is a key ingredient in anti-aging skincare products.
- Beta-hydroxy acids, the best known of which is salicylic, are chemicals that penetrate deeply into pores, dissolve oily deposits and exfoliate skin. Often found in acne washes, creams and peels, these strong acids are generally most useful for specific skin problems.
- Retinol, a derivative of vitamin A, helps stimulate collagen production to improve skin tone and reduce the appearance of fine line and wrinkles. Retinol’s exfoliant properties can make skin dry, so be sure to use with proper moisturizer.
- Sunscreens are essential for healthy skin in today’s environment, and especially important if you use acids or retinol (both increase photosensitivity). There are two types of sunscreen ingredients: chemical (oxybenzone, mexoryl, avobenzone) and mineral (zinc oxide, titanium dioxide). Ideally, sun protection should be broad spectrum (providing both UVA and UVB radiation protection) with an SPF between 15 and 50 — and make sure to apply according to the directions. You need about half a teaspoon of SPF for sufficient coverage, so if your makeup is also your SPF step, you likely aren’t applying enough. Consider using a sunscreen underneath.
A Cleaner World
Dirt and bacteria can collect on many surfaces that come close to your face – and can cause irritation and oily outbreaks. Here are a few tips for keepin’ things clean.
- Clean your makeup tools often. Don’t share makeup. Discard old mascara, eye or lip liners — especially years-old, unused products you can’t even remember buying.
- Routinely sanitize your cellphone, eyeglasses (not just the glass, give the frames a wipe, too), and your computer keyboard. Keep cleaning wipes or mild disinfectant products accessible to help you remember this helpful step for keeping your skin — and the rest of you — a little healthier.
- Avoid touching your face or eyes. It’s a common habit we often don’t even realize we’re doing, but these quick, mindless swipes can transfer bacteria, dirt and oil in seconds.
Lifestyle Tips for Healthy Skin — and a Healthy You
CTM, the right products and clean skincare habits have you on your way to a gorgeous glow. Here are a few more ways to look — and feel — fabulous, inside and out.
- Drink plenty of water. Invest in a water bottle to keep with you all day. Sometimes remembering to stay hydrated is as simple as having that container filled and in view. Drinking water has many health benefits, from boosting your metabolism to cleansing your body of waste to acting as an appetite suppressant. So drink up!
- Eat your veggies, in a range of deep and bright colors. They’re full of antioxidants, which help combat free radical damage and inflammation. Be careful of dairy and gluten. While studies show no direct link between these food categories, some people find that a diet limiting dairy or gluten can be helpful to their skin. Consult a health professional before trying an elimination diet to make sure you are getting essential vitamins and nutrients in alternative forms.
- Get your beauty sleep. Most healthy adults need 7–9 hours of sleep per night. Children and teens need more. Healthy sleep routines begin with a well-made bed and a thoughtfully planned routine.
- Keep your skin in mind. Peels, masks and facial massages are just some of the extras you can add to your lifestyle to make your skin the best it can be.
A parting suggestion: Let your skin breathe. Go without makeup at least one day a week. After a few weeks of CTM and mindful skincare, you’ll want to show off that natural glow!