Thank you so much to all the readers who have tuned in and most certainly to ChicDabbler for this wonderful opportunity to be featured on her blog to cover what goes into comprising a skin care regimen! As 2016 wrapped up, this piece will be the last of my guest-blog series. I hope that you’ve been able to take away some valuable and applicable information that helps break down some of the mystique of putting together a regimen dedicated to your skin and its goals.
Previously, moisturizers and SPF were covered as the final step of a daily and nightly regimen, but skin care can certainly extend to more than that! Supplementary steps can fortify a regimen via the incorporation of scrubs, peels, and masks. These items are not meant to be used on a daily basis, but rather intermittently and based upon what skin may call for at the present time. Think of these products as the cherry on top of a sundae, it’s not needed every time you have ice cream, but every once in a while it’s nice to toss in a little extra something.
Scrubs and peels are products that are classified as exfoliants, which aid in the removal of excess build-up at the skin’s surface. While everyone’s skin has a natural cycle in which cells are shed, sometimes this cycle slows down or is met with external factors like heavy humidity, sweat, extreme cold, dirt, or surface oils which can all affect how effectively cells are removed. When build-up occurs, skin can begin to look dull, feel rough, problem areas seem enhanced, products may not absorb as quickly, pores may become congested, break-outs may occur, and makeup may not apply evenly. The difference between scrubs and peels are their formulation and even physical composition. Like the name suggests, a scrub provides a “scrubbing” sensation as it’s formulated with physical particles that when massaged along the skin’s surface aids in breaking down the build-up so that it can then be rinsed clean from the face. Peels on the other hand may not contain any tell-tale physical component that polishes along skin’s surface, often times a peel may feel like a thickened gel or cream cleanser or be found in liquid form that is applied with a towelette or facial pad. Peels utilize alpha and beta hydroxy acids as a form of chemical exfoliation, these break down the bonds that is holding build-up to the surface, allowing for their removal, but also absorbs deeper into skin to promote improved cellular regeneration. This key aspect sets peels apart from scrubs aside from their composition. There are hybrid products available on the market that have the physical or granular sensation of a scrub, but are also formulated with alpha/beta hydroxy acids so it can be left on skin for a short period before being rinsed off.
How does one go about choosing which form of exfoliation is right for them? Personal preference and analyzing skin’s state provide great insight on how to choose products. Some folks prefer the physical sensation a scrub provides, the concept of being able to feel a product doing its job can be very satisfying while someone with more delicate or temperamental skin may prefer a peel as the idea of something textural may seem too aggressive for their tastes. Regardless of which option is chosen, proper usage is key. Exfoliation can typically be performed 1-2 times a week, with anywhere from 3-5 days spanning between, but again, it’s crucial to cater to your skin specifically as to not throw it off balance and create new issues. While it may be tempting to grind away at skin with a scrub to make skin super smooth, harsh pressure and being too over-zealous can be very taxing and damaging to skin. It’s important to essentially let the scrub do its own job with a delicate touch as if you’re gently massaging the skin so you’re not causing any abrasions or micro-tears. With peels, spacing out their usage, reserving them for night time use as to prevent making skin photo-sensitive to UV exposure, and not believing that a peel has to burn or feel painful in order to “work” will keep things in proper alignment.
Scrubs can utilize a host of physical components, below are a few of them:
- Jojoba beads – By far one of the most gentle physical components that can be found in scrubs, jojoba beads are formed by solidified jojoba oil which in turn is biodegradable and thus very eco-friendly. Its composition is quite soft and spherical, so there are no sharp or harsh edges to tear and scratch at skin.
- Silica or micro beads – Like jojoba beads, these too are spherical and gentle physical components, but they are made from silica or polyethylene. These are not biodegradable and due to this, the United States and Canada have made movements in legislation to ban the use of them in beauty and health products as heavy traces of these types of beads make their way into water supplies and cause pollution and can endanger the health of wild life and even humans if ingested.
- Powder – Powder exfoliants are a newer concept on the market and start off in dry form, they are mixed with a small amount of water or added into an existing cleanser to form a paste-like consistency to then be massaged onto the skin. These powders can be sourced from finely grounded rice, red or green bean, and even corn starch. These have a tendency to dissolve down slightly, making the end result a scrub that becomes more mild as it’s worked along the skin.
- Sugar – Whether it’s refined, brown, or sugar in the raw, sugar itself has properties to help retain water, making it a humectant to help improve with moisture levels in skin; however, due to its composition, the edges and sides of sugar particles can be rough on the face. It may be best to leave sugar in exfoliants for either the body or even lips as skin is more resilient there.
- Salt – This source is actually seem more in body scrubs versus ones for the face, and like sugar, salt’s composition doesn’t make it the most favorable for skin. Again, crisp edges and sides of salt particles can run the risk of being taxing on the face, so it may be best to leave this component to areas of the body that can sustain a bit more.
- Fruit seeds and shells – Fruit seeds and shells can either be incorporated whole (such as with strawberry seeds) or crushed up (like with walnut shells). Due to their size and composition, even if they’re crushed, they may not be as fine as a powder exfoliant covered above, so they may not be as gentle to skin. Like with the mentions of sugar and salt usage, the coarseness of the particles may not make them the most ideal for use along the face as there is a higher risk of tearing or damaging skin.
Peels utilize chemical exfoliants which don’t have any discerning feel or texture. Certain peels may look like a cleanser but remain on skin for a specified amount of time like a mask prior to being rinsed off while others may be wiped along skin on a saturated cotton pad of some sort and even be left on skin. Alpha and beta hydroxy acids can be broken into a few types, but all of them aid in supporting healthier cellular regeneration which is a huge bonus because not only are they able to tackle smoothing skin at its surface, they’re able to help change and improve skin’s condition from essentially the inside out.Here is a break down of chemical exfoliants you’ll come across:
- Glycolic acid – Derived from sugar enzymes (not sugar granuals used in physical scrubs) from sources such as pineapple, papaya, pumpkin, sugarcane, and sugar maple. These particles are quite small and penetrate further into skin to really help with repairing damaging, making it one of the more potent alpha hydroxy acids available.
- Lactic acid – Sourced from milk proteins/enzymes, this makes it an ideal alpha hydroxy acid for for sensitive or blemish prone skin as milk has anti-inflammatory properties to calm redness and irritation, this AHA is more gentle than glycolic as the particles are larger.
- Citric and Mandelic acid – Citric acid is sourced from citrus fruits such as orange, grapefruit, lemon, and bergamot while mandelic acid is sourced from apples and bitter almonds. These alpha hydroxy acids will be the most gentle of the bunch as they’re the largest particles in the AHA family. Citric acids are also high in vitamin C which supports natural collagen product (as the collagen particle itself is too large to be absorbed through the surface of skin) and provides anti-oxidant protection (anti-oxidants shield skin from free radicals which attach and break down healthy cells that comprise collagen and elastin which can lead to sagging regions, fine lines, wrinkles, and even cause pigmentation damage).
- Trichloroacetic acid – TCA is an alpha hydroxy acid that will be found in full potency at through licensed skin care professionals and establishments. To my personal knowledge, Peter Thomas Roth’s Triple Acid Peel does incorporate TCA; however, it’s listed well after glycolic acid so it’s potency level can be interpreted that its incorporation isn’t as high of a percentage.
- Salicylic acid – This beta hydroxy acid caters effectively to oil regulation and dissolving sebum, making it lend a hand toward oily/combination skin types and acne prone skin.
Masks are another supplementary component that can embellish a skin care regimen. Masks can come in a host of formulas, but they generally fall into two categories:
- Purifying or detoxifying – These formulas focus on “drawing out” impurities from the skin and provide a deeper cleansing sensation. Often they contain various forms of clay, volcanic ash, or charcoal as an absorbent agent that pulls oil and sebum from skin to help control shine and tackle blemish sites. It’s important to note that with these formulas, utilizing them too often may result in skin become dried out or feeling overworked, especially if used too frequently in conjunction with exfoliators.
- Hydrating or conditioning – These formulas impart moisture and other nourishing ingredients back into skin, making them ideal accompaniments to exfoliants as once skin has been renewed and refreshed with a peel or scrub, adding back in some extra care to the skin ensures suppleness and softness. Formulas fitting into this category can contain boosts of humectants (such as sodium hyaluronate, honey, or glycerin), anti-oxidants, oils or botanical extracts (such as from shea, coconut, lavender, olive, or safflower), and soothing ingredients (such as oat extract, feverfew, echinacea, or aloe).
Masks are like a super-charged, healthy smoothie for the skin, as they contain a higher dosage and concentration of active ingredients to give skin a real treat and allow you to amp up the results and benefits your daily items may provide. Multi-masking is a term that has more recently came to fruition and it describes using more than one mask at once to treat certain and specific concerns on an as-needed basis. By targeting an application, you’re allowing a mask’s ingredients to treat the area it’s genuinely needed which can cut down on waste and even affecting skin that may not require the attention. For example. If only the T-zone is super oily, it may be best to apply a charcoal-based mask just to that particular region so the formula can do its job and not worry about pulling out excess oils from other areas that may not be super oily to begin with. Another example would be if someone has a bit of windburn on their cheeks but some blemishes along their jaw line, they may opt to apply a soothing cucumber mask or oat mask to those chapped and sensitized areas and a sulfur and clay mask to just the blemished regions.
Of course, multi-masking only works with mask formulas that apply like a thick cream or gel, if you’re opting for a sheet mask, trying to puzzle piece multiples together may be too cumbersome and tricky. Sheet masks have caught on wildly in popularity in the United States, but have been a staple in many Asian countries, such as Korea. These masks are made of cotton or cellulose fibers that are saturated with an enriched fluid or essence and are applied wholly to the face and worn until dried down. By forming a physical barrier on skin, these masks do an effective job at making sure those active ingredients are fully absorbed by the skin and can give skin a beautiful, glowing finish. ChicDabbler has done a beautiful job at putting together a series that features sheet masks and highlights their star ingredients, check it out here.
Sleep masks or packs are a specialty product that not too many skin care brands produce; however, these formulas apply like a rich, creamy face mask and can give added boosts of hydration to parched skin while you’re sleeping. Directions and usage can vary, but many varieties will instruct you to rinse off any residual product left on skin by the morning when you’re waking or it can be tissued off or massaged into skin to further absorb if left for a shorter period of time. Certain formulas can also advise being used as a heavy-duty moisturizer, so less product than a mask application is applied so it can sink into skin quicker.
This wraps it up for my guest-blog series with ChicDabbler, I want to give my continuous thanks to her and to all the readers who have taken the time and followed her blog and this series to get a more in-depth understanding and knowledge over skin care regimens and what goes into comprising them. I hope everyone has a prosperous 2017 and some happy and healthy skin!