By Melanie K Nelson
When I was 16 years old and working part time at a coffee shop, I will never forget the day I was running late so I went to work with no make-up on. I had at least 5 different customers ask me if I was feeling OK. My fragile 16 year-old self was mortified. I quickly became a make-up addict and stayed that way for years. It wasn’t until I started getting interested in skin care and developing a routine for myself that I braved the world with no make-up again. As scary as it was at first, there is no bigger confidence booster that running to the store with little (or no) make-up on and getting a compliment! I have all the information that you need to get your skin ready for the cooler weather, so you can rock minimal make-up with confidence!
I know that developing a skin care routine might seem like a lot of work and even a bit overwhelming, so I am going to break down the essential 5-minute skin care routine. Follow my advice and you will have young, refreshed looking skin without a drop of make-up.
The first step to great skin is a good cleanse! You know your skin better than anyone, so think about what concerns you have. Do you have dry skin? Find a cream cleanser that is great for adding moisture. Oily skin requires a cleanser that is a little bit stronger. For my normal to slightly oily skin, I love the new Ultra Rapid Action SuperFruit Splash Face Wash from the PerfectaWash system. I use this wash for a few different reasons. The first is that it has 2% salicylic acid, which helps to stop my skin from getting oily and it clears up any blemishes that might have popped up. The next reason is the PerfectaWash dispenser is an automatic dispenser that gives you the perfect amount every time. I tend to use too much product with everything from shampoo to laundry detergent, so this is a big help! The problem is that using too much facial cleanser can really dry out your skin. One tip, if your cleanser is drying out your skin after you wash your face and your skin feels tight and dry, it’s too strong. The final reason that I love this cleanser is that it smells AMAZING!
The next step is one that I will call “the Extremely Optional Second Step: Toner.” Although many people swear by toners, I have yet to find one that makes a noticeable difference without just drying out my skin. If you have found one that works for you, great! If not, take my advice and cut that step from your skin care routine.
Next we have arguably the most important step, moisturizing. Even though we are making this skin care guide as easy as possible, I really recommend getting two different moisturizers, one for day and one for night. For your daytime cream you want a light, oil-free formula that won’t leave you feeling greasy. Stay away from fragrances that will irritate your skin and make sure it has SPF of at least 20! Regardless of your age SPF makes all the difference in healthy looking skin, not to mention the actual health benefits! My go to day cream is Boots No7 Moisture Quench Day Cream, it is light weight, doesn’t leave me greasy, and it’s sold at Target so I can pick it up any of the 12 times I am there each week, a big plus!
For your night cream you are looking for something slightly different. You want a heavier formula that puts back all of the moisture and vitamins that a long day of make-up, environmental factors, and sweat can take out. Unlike your daytime product, you don’t want your night cream to have SPF. As essential as SPF is, it can irritate the skin if used 24/7 and since you wont need the sun protection while you sleep, pick a moisturizer that leaves it out. I have used countless different night creams over the years and most are OK, but I have yet to find one to jump up and down about. One day I will find the holy grail of night creams!
In addition to an all over moistuizer your eyes need some special attention. The skin around the eye contains no fatty tissue which means that it is very thin and susceptible to wrinkles. While this might be overkill, I have a different eye product for day and for night. My go-to day product is Garnier Anti-Dark-Circle Eye Roller. As most Mom’s probably understand, 9 hours of sleep doesn’t always fit in my schedule, so I usually have dark circles and puffyness under my eyes. This product is tinited so it makes your eyes look bright and like you got significantly more sleep than you actually did! Also, it helps reduce any puffyness with cafeen (what would I do without that stuff?) so even after you wash it off at night, your eyes look better. For night, similar to moisturizers, you are looking for a heavier formula and you don’t want it to have any color that could clog your pores.
The last part to your essential skin care routine is exfoliation. This only needs to be done 2 or 3 times per week. Using an exfoliating scrub removes dead skin cells and gives your skin a glow that even pregnancy can’t match! I like to keep my face scrub in the shower since the steam from the water will open your pores and soften your skin. If you do exfoliate in the shower, be extra gentle as your skin will be much more sensitive.
If you want to go above and beyond, there are three more things to think about. A weekly facemask is not only relaxing, but it is a great way to target your skin’s specific problems (or “opportunities for improvement” as my Mom would always say). For me, my T-zone is prone to clogged pores and hence the dreaded blackheads can appear. So I spot-apply an oil-absorbing clay mask to any area that needs a little help. There are facemasks on the market for just about every skin need, so do some experimenting and find the one that is perfect for you!
Along the same lines as a facemask, I recommend using spot treatments. Ranging from wrinkle reducers to acne treatment, this is another product that is going to take some trial and error to find the right one for you. My personal go-to spot treatment is Clearasil Ultra Rapid Action Vanishing Treatment Cream. It contains benzoyl peroxide, which causes the blemish to be noticeably smaller and less noticeable in just a few hours. Another reason that I love it is that it wears really well underneath my make-up. Some products crack and flake off when they dry, leaving my imperfection the only part of my face without make-up!
The third thing that you can do to ensure great skin watch what you are putting in your body. You can spend hundreds of dollars on creams and gels to treat the surface, but making sure that you are eating the right nutrients can make all the difference. Although I could right a whole article on the correlation between food and beauty, we will stick to 4 fun facts:
- Berries have the antioxidant anthocyanin (as well as many others), which repairs and protects your skin’s cells.
- Broccoli has quercetin, which is another awesome antioxidant. What makes quercetin so great is that it is a natural anti-inflammatory agent that fights the number 2 cause of aging.
- Green tea already has a pretty good reputation for the great things that it can do for your body, but on top of all the commonly known things, studies have shown that green tea can be used both orally and topically to help protect the skin from sunburns and UV-associated skin cancers. Research also suggests that drinking one cup of green tea twice a day over the course of six months may actually reverse sun damage and significantly improve any problems you have with redness and broken capillary veins. Plus it tastes great with a squeeze of honey!
- I talked about berries in general but strawberries are particularly great! They are loaded with vitamin C, an immune-boosting antioxidant that stimulates collagen production and reduces damage from free radicals, which cause skin to age prematurely. Strawberries also contain malic acid, a natural astringent that can help remove discoloration from teeth.