Spring Cleaning for Your Face
Let’s face it (pun intended), we all tend to be indoors a bit much during the winter months, exposed to the extreme dryness of artificial heating, which not only depletes our skin of moisturization, but can also saturate your surroundings and turn the air into gritty environment.
These little particulates, which are invisible to the naked eye, may deposit on top of the epidermis, clogging it, which may result in unsightly breakouts, black or white heads and ultimately enlarged pores.
There is also a great chance that the regular layer of dead cells that daily forms as the outermost layer of your skin is now thicker, contributing to “suffocating” your skin, which causes not only all the above, and makes it look dull and murky. Everything but the youthful, glowing tone that we all yearn for.
This year it feels that winter has been longer than ever, no matter where you live. I would even venture to say that a strong argument can be made for the fact that our skin has experienced a two-year long winter, with barely any exposure to the outside air, and partially covered when outdoors. Many of us have also take less care of properly cleansing, toning, exfoliating, hydrating, and moisturizing as a result of the “what for? nobody will notice on camera, or I just won’t turn it on” syndrome. Our faces are suffering from all that!
We are all ready to show up, as this summer is looking like it will be the end of this long mad two-year period that has been keeping us inside, covered, with not much reason to look our best. Perfect time to do a bit of spring cleaning, on our skin.
- Examine: First, and very important, examine your face, neck and décolletage, and do it in depth. Be generous with your time and honest with what you see. Don’t be afraid to zoom in, magnify and look into pores, nicks and crevices. Communicate with your skin, it has so much to say to you. Take note of what you observe.
- Exfoliate: I am not a big fan of frequent mechanical exfoliation, be it physical (in form of beads, sugar or salt scrubs, etc.) or chemical (acid peels), as it can be fairly aggressive and throw skin’s biome off balance. But they are necessary when you want to purify your skin. No better time than this present. Make it mild so it doesn’t “scratch” your face, strip your natural barrier, or worse yet, you end up looking like beef carpaccio. Best if you get it done by a professional. But if you opt for DIY, always follow the instructions, especially regarding dosage and time applied. This is not a time to follow a “more is better” philosophy. If what you observed when getting in touch with your skin was dullness, scaly layer and dryness, your best option will be a scrub, always mild though so there is no potential damage to your skin barrier. If you observe enlarged/clogged pores and shininess (coming from excess oil), a soft, controlled chemical peel will be your best bet. Look for one (or ask your aesthetician) with salicylic acid when the oil level is higher than usual.
- Get Professional From A Pro: If you have the time and your budget allows splurge on a custom facial. And don’t be shy to discuss your concerns with a pro to understand your options to target them. I am a fan of HydraFacial, which can cleanse and hydrate at the same time. Should you be to get extractions, make sure that they are preceded by a steam bath and followed by mild laser zapping treatment, which will help scarring and prevent infections.
- Protect Your Skin: The sun is as damaging as they say, and as much as we love to have a good sunkissed glow, it is best when it takes longer to achieve it. Limit exposure and always wear a sunscreen with SPF 40 or higher. I always recommend mineral, but any is always better than none. Do not rely solely on it though. Compliment with a hat, sunglasses… you know the drill. And speaking of protection, choose a good moisturizer. It is the only way to keep the hydration of your skin in and the adverse atmospheric agents out!
- Skin Routine: Spring is always a time to get into a routine to get healthy and maybe even lose those winter (or pandemic) pounds. Why not finding one for your face too? Follow the steps (two-in-one products are so out!). Cleanse, tone, treat and moisturize twice a day, and in the morning if you are planning to be outside, top it with a good SPF product. Do a deep cleaning with a mud mask, clay cleanser, very gentle (preferably non-mechanical) exfoliator once a week followed by a thirst quencher. I am sold on those single use paper masks impregnated with product. But make sure you leave them as directed on the package, if left too long they may start pulling the hydration out of your skin, resulting in the opposite of the desired result.
- Dry Skin: Whether you have been indoors or exposed to the wintry elements, your skin is likely to be dry, which is still possible when you see excess oil and possibly the results of it (i.e. breakouts and black or white heads). Remember always that dehydration is the main trigger of all those signs of aging. Treat it with a serum packed with hyaluronic acid (one of my all-time favorite ingredients), vitamin B, and some urea derivative, which could penetrate deep into the dermis, where collagen resides. Winter sun can be very dangerous; since it is not hot, you are less likely to realize the damage it may be causing. Time for ingredients that can prevent sun or age spots coming from its exposure, such as kojic and ferulic acids or alpha-arbutin. I would avoid hydroquinone and its variations.
- The Three Ss Plus One More: And always remember the three Ss that are the skin worst enemies: Stress, Sun, and Sugar (ingested, not in products). I also like to add to that lack of Sleep, which prevents from much needed “systems reset”, which will always show on your face first. Preventing is always easier and less costly than treating.