Our face is the first thing others notice about us, and a healthy, glowing complexion is a hallmark of both physical and emotional well-being, not to mention beauty. A lucky few are naturally gifted with beautiful skin. Since most of us have to work at it, here are 8 tips to help you increase your radiance:
1. Wash Your Face:
Frequency: Every night
Choose a facial cleanser that’s right for your skin type: Are you normal or oily? Dry? Sensitive? Acne-prone? Bar cleansers can be just as effective as liquids and often much less expensive, but make sure the product is made for your face. Soap that’s made for hands and body can strip away necessary oils, change the pH level of your skin, and leave it extremely dry. Gently wash—don’t scrub—your face with your fingertips in a circular motion to loosen debris. Using a washcloth is a great idea. If you don’t have the time or the energy for a full cleanse, use a facial cleansing wipe.
2. Exfoliate, Tone, and Moisturize
Frequency: Twice a week
Exfoliating is the process of removing dead skin cells to reveal the newer skin underneath. After cleansing, exfoliate either by gently scrubbing your face with something abrasive like a soft loofah or sponge, or a facial scrub that contains gritty particles such as salt or crushed seeds. There are also chemical exfoliants with ingredients like glycolic acid or fruit enzymes that dissolve away dead cells with little scrubbing involved. Exfoliation helps prevent blackheads and increases the skin’s natural glow. For men, this process helps to expose hair follicles and leads to a closer shave. Next, use a toner on a cotton pad to remove any last traces of makeup, sunscreen, or cleanser to prepare your pores for the final step—moisturizing. Moisturizers are very important because they hydrate your skin, and all skin types need hydration—even problem skin.
3. Use Sunscreen
Frequency: Every morning
As part of your morning ritual, get in the habit of applying a facial sunscreen. Even if it’s cloudy. Even if it’s the middle of winter. Because your face is exposed to UV light every day. Daily use of sunscreen can reduce the effects of sun damage, such as wrinkles and brown spots, and help prevent skin cancer. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are two of the safest, most effective sunscreens. Micronized zinc oxide will not leave a white residue on your face. Look for a combination daytime moisturizer with a minimum SPF 30 (SPF = Sun Protection Factor). While the sun is our main source of vitamin D, the National Institute of Health says that we only need about 30 minutes twice a week without sunscreen to get our fill.
4. It’s Time to Call a Professional
Frequency: As needed
If you’ve got a problem with blackheads, consider having a professional facial. Extraction is the fancy spa word for removing blackheads and in this process the esthetician (using a magnifying glass) carefully squeezes each one out. In fact, it’s the only way to get rid of them. Microdermabrasion is a high-powered kind of exfoliation designed to alleviate dullness, brown spots, and minor blemishes by generating new skin cells. It’s often done with a special tool that blasts the skin with tiny exfoliating grains and then vacuums them up. With either treatment, expect redness and swelling for the first 24 hours, followed by a whole new you.
5. Feed Your Skin
Drinking plenty of water is vital to all aspects of our health. But in his book Eat Your Water: The Cellular Breakthrough to Look and Feel 10 Years Younger, Dr. Howard Murad writes that eating a serving of raw fruits or vegetables is more beneficial for your skin that simply drinking a glass a water. Key nutrients support the skin cells’ ability to retain water, which in turn allows for the healthiest cell regeneration. Look for foods high in antioxidants, most notably dark purple berries and dark leafy greens.
6. Work Up a Sweat
Exercise increases our blood flow, which means oxygen and nutrients are delivered to our cells and toxins get carted away. Dermatologist Dr. Ellen Marmur, author of Simple Skin Beauty, says “You can think of [sweating] as cleansing your skin from the inside.” As our sweat travels up to the top layer of skin and out through open pores, it sweeps excess oil and cellular debris up and out, too. Be sure to wash your face after a workout.
7. Manage Your Stress
Stress is one of the skin’s greatest foes. Stress can foil your best skincare plans. If you are stressed, if you are not getting enough sleep at night—or enough good sleep—you will see the effects in the mirror. One of the best ways to combat anxiety is with deep-breathing exercises. When your mind starts to spin: Stop. Take three deep breaths. On the inhale, silently say to yourself, “I am breathing in.” Hold for two seconds. On the exhale, silently say to yourself, “I am breathing out.” Hold for two. Repeat as needed.
8. How to Deal with a Pimple
Frequency: As needed
Suppose you find yourself with giant white pimple erupting on your face. It’s big, it’s tender, it looks awful. Some would say, “Never pick at your face!” But I disagree. The trick is to pick correctly, so you don’t make it bigger and you don’t leave a scar. First, DO NOT try to squeeze a pimple until it’s come to white head. While you wait, apply an astringent with alcohol or salicylic acid to help dry it up. When it’s ready, apply a warm washcloth to the area to open the pores. NEVER squeeze with your fingernails—it leads to scarring. Instead wrap your fingertips in tissue paper and gently press around the base of the blemish until the pus is released. Apply astringent to close the pore and promote healing.