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Beauty Notes: Skincare (Anne)
by Anne

For the longest time, I was under the impression that I had the stereotypical "dry" skin, yet, sometimes my skin takes on the characteristics of stereotypically oily skin, as I often get oil slicks and clogged pores on my cheekbones and nose, even as my skin tightens after a wash and chaps to rawness in winter. "Dehydrated" better describes the state of my skin, where it is constantly thirsting for water but not necessarily oil, and therefore the most important part of caring for my skin is to make sure that it gets the hydration it needs.

Cleansing is the first and most crucial step of any skincare regime. For a time I used DHC's Deep Cleansing Oil, which is second-to-none when it comes to removing makeup, and it's always marvelous to see an oily film on your face wash off. It also seemed to improve the texture of my skin; however, it seemed to make clogged pores worse, so I always use soap afterwards to rinse away any remaining residue, or skip the oil entirely on days when I'm not wearing makeup. Happy Bath Lavender soap is good, but during winter, I use the classic Dove soap, which moisturizes slightly. A wipe with a muslin cloth exfoliates and cleanses, and feels purifying for a nice finish to the cleansing routine.

Toners are a necessity in my routine, to provide my thirsting skin with the extra moisture it needs. I'm currently using The Face Shop's Arsainte Eco-Therapy Extreme Moisture toner, which is pleasant, though not indispensable: in my experience, all toners are pretty much similar, and are only really differentiated by other factors such as scent, packaging (i.e., how pretty it looks on your dresser table) and price.

Otherwise, I favor common drugstore brands, partly because their wide distribution means I'll never have to worry about running out. The moisturizer of my childhood was the ubiquitous Johnson&Johnson's Baby, but now most moisturizers are too emulsive and oily for my skin, so I have to be pickier about which products I use. Vichy Aqualia Thermale Concentré Hydratant is the rare product that hits the perfect pitch: its texture is not so much creamy (usually a bad sign for me) as gel-like, and soaks into parched skin instantly.

I can tolerate thick moisturizers better when it turns cold, and body lotion becomes a necessity. I used The Body Shop's Moroccan Rose Body Butter briefly, but after a while the smell of it became too strong, to the point of giving me headaches. Thereafter, I began to really appreciate non-scented or minimally scented formulae for lotions. I recently got a tube of Nivea Soft, which penetrates deeply to moisturize dry hands, legs, and feet. It's still a bit too rich to use on the face, but I have a feeling it will serve me well come winter. Atrix Strong Protection Cream (not pictured) also works well.

For the bleakest, darkest depths of winter, however, my hands, feet, and lips will need something a bit richer. Nivea Soft may not suffice for chapped hands in January, so I will probably revert to Nivea cream in the classic blue tin, or to Neutrogena's famous hand cream (both companies also make excellent lip balms). The formulae are thick and take forever to absorb, but in winter, I can't afford to be picky: the only thing that matters is that the products leave my hands soft and moist and happy, which they do.

Yet, while dryness can be moisturized away to some degree, there's little one can do about oil slicks. While this does not fall under the label of "skincare," strictly speaking, I use Innisfree Mint No Sebum powder (basically a scented cornstarch and talc base) to control shine.

All products aside, however, the best I can do for my skin is to drink plenty of water to hydrate it from the inside), eat lots of fruits and vegetables (well, there are any number of reasons I should eat fruit and vegetables, including benefits to the skin), to avoid salt and alcohol (which puffs my eyes up), and get plenty of exercise to get blood flowing to the surface capillaries that nourish the skin. I should probably also wear sunscreen to protect against external damage, but I dislike it's texture, not to mention that most formulae aggravate my oil slicks and even contribute to breakouts. The skin's needs are surprisingly simple. It's odd how difficult they are to meet at times.

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10/21/2009 [1]

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