What Are the Most Important Steps of Skin Care?

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The most important steps of skincare include creating a healthy lifestyle, minimizing skin damage, and following a proper skincare routine.

The most important steps of skincare are based on the principles of healthy living that include healthy food, regular exercising, stress management, and getting good sleep. The next important steps include minimizing skin damage and following a skincare routine.

Create a healthy lifestyle

  • Follow a healthy diet
    • The effect of a healthy diet can be seen on your skin.
    • Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins to replenish your skin with the vital nutrients and make it glow.
    • Some research suggests that a diet rich in fish or fish oil supplements but low in saturated fats, trans fat, and processed carbohydrates might make your skin look young.
    • Drink at least eight glasses of water to keep your skin hydrated, soft, and supple.
  • Exercise regularly
    • Regular exercise is great for your heart, lungs, and mental health, as well as skin health.
    • Exercising increases blood flow to the skin and promotes sweating and thus helps flush out waste products and dead cells from the skin, which is like cleansing your skin from the inside.
    • Improved oxygenation through the increased blood flow imparts a healthy glow to the skin.
    • Regular exercising boosts the production of collagen, a protein that minimizes the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, and sagging skin.
  • Manage your stress
    • Uncontrolled stress can make your skin sensitive and trigger skin problems, such as acne and rosacea. Research shows that stress triggers the production of stress hormones that can increase the production of sebum and wreak havoc on your skin.
    • Stress makes your skin dull and lifeless.
    • Learn to manage your stress. Take a walk in the park, pursue a hobby, listen to music, socialize, and do things that give you joy.
  • Avoid smoking
    • Smoking narrows the tiny blood vessels of your skin, which reduces the blood flow to the skin. This results in decreased oxygenation and supply of nutrients to the skin. As a result, your skin looks pale and old.
    • Smoking damages collagen and elastin, which are the structures that support the skin’s elasticity.

Minimize skin damage

  • Avoid hot water for bath time: Hot showers strip away oils from your skin and make your skin look dry and dull. Instead, take warm showers for an adequate but short period.
  • Use gentle, mild soaps: Strong soaps and detergents can be harsh on your skin. They remove natural oils from the skin. Instead, choose gentle, mild soaps, or cleansers with less or no fragrance and minimum ingredients.
  • Pat dry: Avoid the urge to rub your skin after bathing or washing your face; instead, pat your face dry with a towel so that some moisture stays on the skin.
  • Remove your makeup at night: Keeping makeup overnight can lead to breakouts and damage your skin in the long run. Remember to wipe off your makeup with a cleanser before going to bed.
  • Try one product at a time: If you are new to using skincare products, buy only one at a time and try that product first on your skin before trying out other products.

Follow a skincare routine that suits your skin type

While there is a lot of hype regarding 10-step or 12-step skincare routines, usually a few steps are enough to maintain healthy skin.

If you are following a healthy lifestyle, you do not need to invest much time and energy in the external application of skincare products. For most people, cleansing, toning, and moisturizing are enough.

  • Cleanser
    • Washing your face with a cleanser cleans the impurities and dirt from the skin.
    • Wash your face with a cleanser that suits your skin type. It may be an oil-based cleanser for dry skin and a gel-based or oil-free cleanser for oily, acne-prone skin. Wash it in the morning, after working out, and before going to bed at night. 
  • Toner
    • Cleansing can be followed by toning, which is an optional process. Though it can calm, smoothen, and soften the skin, this step can be skipped and used only if you have oily skin.
    • Toners help remove any oil or dirt that may not have been completely removed by the cleanser. Some toners may contain additional ingredients, such as glycolic acid.
    • Consult a skin specialist to know which toner will work best for you.
  • Moisturizer
    • Washing your face can leave your skin dry. Hence, it should always be followed by moisturizing. If you use a toner, you can apply moisturizer after it. Moisturizers lock in the moisture and keep your skin soft and smooth.
    • Like cleansers, you need to be a little picky about choosing the right moisturizer as well. If you have oily skin, choose a gel-based, light-weight moisturizer. If you have acne-prone skin, look for a non-comedogenic moisturizer.
    • Do not forget to use a moisturizer before going to bed as well.
  • Sunscreen
    • Exposure to sunlight tans your skin and accelerates the signs of skin aging, such as wrinkles and fine lines.
    • After you moisturize, remember to follow it up with sunscreen, even when you are at home.
    • Choose a sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 30 and make sure you reapply it every two to three hours if you are outdoors.

Other less important steps of skin care

  • Serum
    • In the last decade, serums have become increasingly popular because of the antioxidant nature of their ingredients, such as vitamin C and retinol, which improve the youthfulness of the skin.
    • Many dermatologists recommend the application of serum after applying toner to the skin and before moisturizing. If you are keen on using it, you can try it for one month and check for improvements in skin health.
    • You could ask a skin specialist to know if you need one and ask for their recommendation.
  • Exfoliation
    • Exfoliation is something that can be done one time a week but is not necessary. It may not suit you if you have sensitive skin.
    • Exfoliation helps remove flaky skin and increase skin turnover. If you want to use it, do it after using the cleansing process. You can use a homemade exfoliating scrub, such as rice flour or sugar scrub, or ask a skin specialist to recommend you store-based chemical exfoliant.
    • If you have problematic skin, consulting a dermatologist will work best for you. They can help you find the products that suit your skin the best and offer treatments that may help resolve your skin issues.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

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Northwestern Medicine. Do You Really Need a Skin Care Routine? https://www.nm.org/healthbeat/healthy-tips/do-you-really-need-a-skin-care-routine

Gunn DA, Dick JL, van Heemst D, et al. Lifestyle and youthful looks. Br J Dermatol. 2015;172(5):1338-45. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25627783/

Cao C, Xiao Z, Wu Y, Ge C. Diet and Skin Aging-From the Perspective of Food Nutrition. Nutrients. 2020;12(3):870. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7146365/

American Academy of Dermatology. 10 Skin Care Secrets for Healthier-Looking Skin. https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/skin-care-secrets/routine/healthier-looking-skin