Moisturizers and sun protection
Moisturizers and sun protection, the most important skincare step is ensuring hydration. Skin’s tone and flexibility depends on the presence of water in the underlying tissues—water drawn from humidity in the air and moisture added to the skin’s surface. Oil is the skin’s natural protectant, preventing moisture from leaving the skin. Oil in the skin functions as a defensive barrier. It smoothes the texture and helps to maintain skin-cell health. When oil glands overproduce, the skin appears greasy, and when the glands underproduce, the skin becomes dehydrated and flaky. Adding moisture to the skin helps maintain skin firmness, smoothness, softness, and luminosity.
Moisturizer is the true fountain of youth. Moisturizers form a barrier between the skin and the environment that holds water in the epidermis. They hydrate and plump up the skin so that it looks smooth and bright. The right moisturizer will enhance the look, feel, and health of the skin and can even help temporarily eliminate fine lines and wrinkles. Moisturizers can also protect the skin from pollution, debris, and weather. The right skincare products help makeup go on smoothly, properly adhere to the skin, and last longer.
There are two types of facial moisturizers. Oil-in-water emulsions usually contain humectants, such as glycerin, which attract water. Added water from the environment is wonderful for the skin. The second category of moisturizer is the water-in-oil emulsion. These creams and lotions work by forming a water-trapping barrier on the skin surface. Look for the ingredient sodium hyaluronate, which locks in moisture and prevents it from leaving the skin. Humectants are often added to these products as well.
The major difference between moisturizing products is the ratio of water to oil. Even products labeled oil-free sometimes have small amounts of oil in them. You can sometimes find the ratio of water to oil on the label of a moisturizer.
PETROLEUM-BASED MOISTURIZERS are very effective at locking in moisture. They can, however, block pores and feel sticky.
VEGETABLE OILS are sometimes used as the base for moisturizers but in general are not as effective as mineral oils or animal fats.
INGREDIENTS SUCH AS VITAMIN E, COLLAGEN, PROTEINS, HORMONES, PLACENTAL EXTRACTS, AND AMINO ACIDS are sometimes added to moisturizing products.
VITAMIN A DERIVATIVES are added to anti-aging products.
CHEMICALLY ENHANCED products contain agents such as urea, glycolic acid, or lactic acid. They are formulated to improve the moisture-retaining ability of the moisturizer and are often recommended for dry skin.
FRAGRANCES are added to products to provide a pleasant aroma and to mask the odor of other ingredients.
All skin types benefit from the use of some type of moisturizer.
DRY SKIN needs a heavier, oil-based moisturizer that will absorb completely into the skin, leaving it feeling soft and supple. Oils are more effective than creams at preventing water evaporation. Look for the ingredients urea or propylene glycol, chemicals that keep skin moist.
NORMAL SKIN has a healthy moisture balance. Water-based moisturizers containing lightweight oils, such as acetyl alcohol, or silicone-derived ingredients, will help maintain healthy, normal skin.
OILY AND COMBINATION SKIN types benefit most from an oil-free, water-based moisturizer. Oil-free products are made from synthetic chemicals and contain little to no oils or animal fat. If you have oily skin, use all moisturizers sparingly. Look for products labeled “noncomedogenic,” which means they are formulated to prevent clogged pores. Test moisturizers to find one that leaves a matte finish on the skin. This will minimize shine and the appearance of large pores.
Tips for Moisturizing
Use a fast-absorbing eye cream under concealer to help skin look smooth, not crepey. The skin around the eyes is more delicate than the rest of the face. For puffiness and wrinkles under the eye, try using a richer formula containing shea butter or beeswax at night.
If your skin is very dry and dehydrated, use a super-rich moisturizing balm with ingredients like petrolatum, glycerin, or shea butter for better texture and for smoother application of foundation. Warm the balm in your palms before applying it to your face.
Layer different textures of moisturizers to achieve maximum results. For instance, use an absorbing cream with balms or oils.
If you have oily skin, try using an oil-control lotion on the forehead and nose to tone down shine. Oil-free formulas hydrate while helping to control overactive oil glands. Foundation applied over the lotion will hold better, too.
For dry, chapped, or cracked lips, apply a balm formulated specifically for lips.
Try patting a moisturizing balm onto your cheeks after completing your makeup. It will give a glow to your face and help the foundation look natural.
To create your own sheer, tinted moisturizer, mix face lotion with foundation.
These tests will help you to determine the ratio of oil to water in a moisturizing product.
Apply moisturizer to your skin. If the skin under the moisturizer is warm, there is a greater percentage of oil in the product. If the area is cool, there is a greater percentage of water. The science behind this is that evaporation cools, and water evaporates. Oil does not evaporate and therefore traps heat in the body.
Put a small amount of moisturizer on a tissue, and hold it over a lightbulb. Products with higher oil content will melt. The wider the area of melted oil, the greater the percentage of oil in the moisturizer.
SENSITIVE SKIN needs a moisturizer that does not contain fragrances or dyes and is designed for this skin type.
EXTRA DRY AND MATURE SKIN requires more moisture. Nourishing oils, dense creams, and balms are formulated specifically for both these skin types. These products help to temporarily plump up the skin, making it appear smoother and reducing the appearance of fine lines. Look for petrolatum-based moisturizers that also contain ingredients such as lactic acid or alpha hydroxy acids, which help to prevent dry skin.
Specially formulated moisturizers are needed for the area under and around the eye. The skin surrounding the eyes has smaller pores, is thinner than the rest of the facial skin, and is more sensitive. It is important to keep this area as hydrated as possible. Products on the market target specific problems. Before you go shopping for an eye cream, decide whether you want an eye cream that hydrates and prepares for concealer, or an overnight cream that is rich and emollient. Anti-wrinkle or anti-aging creams contain caffeine, retinol, alpha hydroxy acids, or vitamin C. Anti-darkening creams contain vitamin K or hydroquinone. Also decide if you want two different creams, one for night and the other for day. To avoid possible irritation of the eye, look for an eye cream that does not contain fragrance and has a pH close to that of tears (about 7.5).
Lips are often the first area of the face to wrinkle. Dry and chapped lips are a clear sign that you need to drink more water. While hydrating the body is the first step toward beautiful lips, there are many products that help keep them plump and smooth.
For personal use, have on hand two facial moisturizers, one lighter than the other. On those days when the skin needs more moisture, apply the lighter product first, and then layer the heavier moisturizer over that. Also find a moisturizing product formulated specifically for the under-eye area, lip balm, body moisturizer, and sunscreen. As your skin changes in response to lifestyle, season, or climate, you can treat it with the right hydrating product. Makeup artists carry a full range of moisturizers in their kits.
Once the face is thoroughly cleansed and toned, and while it is still slightly damp, apply moisturizer using a clean sponge or your fingers. (Note: dense balms will work only on dry skin.) If you are using your hands to apply any makeup products, always wash them thoroughly so you don’t transfer oils and bacteria to your face. Bacteria on the hands or makeup tools often cause breakouts.
Use about a nickel-size amount of moisturizer. Warm the balm or moisturizer between your palms.
With firm, upward strokes, gently press the product into the skin until it is completely absorbed.
Smoking is always a horrible idea
It severely damages your skin and lungs and is a common cause of cancer. It makes you smell and robs color from your skin and lips. Smoke breaks down the skin’s defenses, depriving it of the oxygen it needs for healthy cell renewal. Repeated exposure to cigarette smoke causes the skin to lose its luster and tone and to wrinkle. Smokers often develop permanent wrinkles around the lips. Smoking is the one lifestyle choice for which balance and moderation are not options.
Lines, dark spots, and uneven skin texture are not the inevitable effects of aging but are often the result of too much sun exposure. Overexposure to sunlight can also cause cancer. Too much sun is the skin’s worst enemy. The only way to prevent premature aging and skin damage due to overexposure is to stay out of the midday sun when possible, wear protective clothing and hats, and always use the proper sunscreen.
Three types of radiation reach us from the sun. Visible and infrared light rays provide light and warmth. Ultraviolet rays are harmful. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) light falls into three wavelength bands: UVA, UVB, and UVC.
UVA RAYS have the longest wavelength and remain high in intensity all day. They penetrate through the epidermis and deep into the dermis, damaging newer cells. UVA rays are very dangerous and can cause cancers and sensitivity reactions.
UVB RAYS have a midrange wavelength, and like UVA rays penetrate the epidermis and continue into the dermis. These rays break down the organization of skin cells, causing wrinkles and broken blood vessels. They are highest in intensity from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and near the equator. Glass protects skin from UVB rays.
UVC RAYS have the shortest wavelength and are usually absorbed by the ozone layer. They are absorbed by the epidermis and can be very dangerous in large amounts. As the ozone layer thins, attention will need to be paid to these UVC rays.
Tips for Protecting Your Skin from the Damaging Effects of the Sun
Whenever possible, stay out of the sun for long periods of time, especially between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when rays are strongest.
Protect exposed skin all year round. Wear sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 to 30, depending on the season and length of exposure. Long-sleeved shirts and wide-brimmed hats provide some protection. Remember, the sun penetrates through loosely woven and wet clothing very easily, so wear sunscreen even when covered.
Avoid tanning beds. There is no such thing as safe tanning.
Wear sunglasses that wrap around the eyes and have 100 percent UV-blocking lenses. Most sunscreens are too harsh to use on the sensitive area around the eyes.
Select a sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays, sometimes labeled as broad-spectrum sunscreen. Many popular sunscreens will not adequately protect your skin from these harmful rays.
Apply liberally—about one teaspoon of sunscreen to your face and at least one ounce (about a shot glass) to your body each day. The face and hands are high-risk areas for cancer, so apply liberally to those areas.
If you have sensitive skin, use a cream-based product, and avoid sunscreens with tretinoin (Retin-A, Stieva-A, Retisol-A, Rejuva-A, Renova, Vitamin A acid), which dries the skin. Look for a fragrance-free, hypoallergenic sunscreen if you have any allergies to skin products.
Waterproof and water-resistant sunscreens are good if you are involved in swimming or sports. Waterproof products work for ninety minutes; protection with water-resistant sunscreens lasts thirty minutes. They need to be applied/reapplied twenty minutes before entering the water so that the product can bond with the skin.
Those who work out of doors might need frequent application of a sunscreen with a high SPF.
UVA rays are reflected from all light surfaces, including water, sand, snow, ice, and even concrete.
Children younger than six months old should not wear sunscreen but instead be covered and kept out of the sun.
Exposure to the sun produces the formation of molecules in the skin called free radicals. These molecules attack healthy skin cells, damaging and interfering with the production of new collagen. With the destruction of collagen fibers and hyaluronic acid molecules—both of which are responsible for preserving the volume and resiliency of the skin—skin loses its firmness, resulting in wrinkles. The sun can also damage the eyes and affect the immune system. UV rays can damage white blood cells and Langerhans cells, both essential to the skin’s ability to fight viruses and other diseases.
For more information and to learn of new developments in sunscreen protection, these Web sites, listed recently in a New York Times article, might prove helpful.
Environmental Working Group (lists products with UVA protection) www.cosmeticsdatabase.com
Apply sunscreen at least once a day, and use an adequate amount of the product.
Clean the skin before application.
Apply to cool, dry skin twenty to thirty minutes before exposure. Cool, dry skin allows sunscreen to bind effectively. When sunscreen is applied to warm skin, the open pores can become irritated, and rashes can develop.
Two applications help cover any missed spots.
Apply moisturizer and makeup over sunscreen.
Reapply during the day, depending on your rate of perspiration and the amount of sun exposure you get.
Use the equivalent of a shot glass of sunscreen — that’s two tablespoons — to cover skin from head to toe.