Page Updated on
November 24, 2007
If you have rosacea, severely sensitive skin, skin allergies, or eczema see a dermatologist for a regime specific to your needs.
Cruelty-free cosmetics are cosmetics that aren't tested on animals (so no putting painful chemicals in bunny eyes just so you can look pretty). Always buy cruelty-free. Vegan products don't contain any animal products (no lard, gelatin, lanolin, collagen, albumen, etc.). If you aren't a vegetarian, you may or may not be concerned about whether or not the product is vegan. Companies use animal testing and animal products in cosmetics because they're cheaper than using human testing and non-animal products, so you may think that you're getting a great deal on your make-up, but animals may be paying the price.
To find cruelty-free products, visit http://www.leapingbunny.org. For vegan products, visit Vegan Cosmetics.
- Take a multi-vitamin.
Yes, I know that there are vitamins in cosmetics these days, but they still don't eliminate the need for a daily oral multi-vitamin. They really do make a difference.
Wash with liquid baby soap or a facial cleanser for sensitive skin.
Washing your face too much can strip your skin of moisture and oils that you actually need (you do need some oil), so unless you have extremely oily skin, try skipping the soap and just using water for a few days, and see how your skin does. Rub gently with a soft washcloth (the ones for babies are my favorite), rinse, and pat dry with a clean towel (you may want to get at least 7 hand towels, one for each day).
Wipe your whole face with a cotton pad soaked with an astringent.
Astringents help reduce oil production and have some cleansing properties. Witch hazel is the primary ingredient in many expensive astringents (they usually just add some fragrance and coloring, some do add medications and herbal infusions, but before you try those, try using just plain witch hazel), and it can help reduce puffiness around the eyes (but apply carefully).
- If you have acne, apply some tea tree
oil to the pimple with a cotton swab during the day. Tea
tree oil is a natural, moisturizing antiseptic, and it isn't
- Apply sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 (higher SPF is better and don't forget your neck, ears,
and around your eyes but not on your eye lids).
The best thing you can do for your skin is sunscreen. If you use anything with alpha-hydroxy acids or beta-hydroxy acids (basically anything that ends in the word "acid"), you must wear sunscreen because such products increase sensitivity to sunlight and can make it more likely that you will get skin cancer.
Look for sunscreens that contain zinc oxide or titanium
- Apply a moisturizer that is appropriate for your skin.
The cosmetic industry would like everyone to put on moisturizer, but honestly, not everyone needs moisturizer. If you don't have a problem with skin moisture or flaking don't use it, but most of us do have problems with flaking (even with oily skin).
If you have oily skin, use a aloe based moisturizer. (Try it
on your hand first to make sure it doesn't feel oily or
greasy.) If you have dry skin, you can try just about
anything you like. If you do use moisturizer, you can reduce your morning routine a step by getting a moisturizer with sunscreen.
- Wash with liquid baby soap or a facial cleanser for sensitive skin and an eye make-up remover (tear-free baby soap can be used to remove eye make-up).
You want to remove any make-up or dirt that has accumulated during the day. The washcloth helps remove these residues and also has a mild exfoliation effect. Make sure the washcloth is soft to reduce irritation, and use it gently, without scrubbing.
- If you have acne, apply some hydrogen peroxide
to the pimple with a cotton swab at night.
This will help reduce the infection (a pimple is a small infection).
It is highly recommended that you do this at night before
you go to bed since it will cause a white spot while it's
- Apply a moisturizer with alpha-hydroxy acid (and beta-hydroxy acid -- salicylic acid -- if you need to control acne or blackheads), and anti-oxidants (vitamin C, vitamin A, B vitamins, vitamin E, and coenzyme Q-10).
You may need to combine a few moisturizers together to get everything you need, or just find two that contains many of the ingredients you want and switch between them every other night. The combination of these ingredients will help you clear out your pores, exfoliate your skin, reduce wrinkles, and repair damage. By using a gentle moisturizer with these ingredients every night, you will eventually begin to see results in a month (sometimes several months). This is much less expensive and gentler than getting harsh chemical peels (which I'm not opposed to, but most of us can't afford a chemical peel and few of us want to deal with the irritation that is involved with a chemical peel). If you are using a beta-hydroxy acid and notice any excessive dryness, redness, or irritation, reduce the concentration, reduce the frequency, or stop using it completely until you see a dermatologist. If you notice dryness, redness, or irritation with an alpha-hydroxy product, reduce the concentration or switch to homemade products, which are weaker.
Apply an eye cream that contains alpha-hydroxy acid (optional).
Some people prefer to have a special night eye cream. Since you won't be putting on any make-up before bed, it's okay to have something with a little oil, but stay away from anything too greasy. A special eye cream is not necessary, though, and your nighttime moisturizer should work fine. (Don't let any cosmetic product get in your eyes and avoid putting products on your eye lids since it can seep through your lids into your eyes.)
Bath / Shower Time
Wash with liquid baby soap or
a cleanser for sensitive skin and a washcloth.
Treat your whole body as gently as you would treat your face. If you have body acne, try using a cleanser with salicylic acid.
- Shave with a shaving cream/lotion and a sharp razor.
I get my best shaving results when I use my body lotion for shaving instead of shaving cream, gel, soap, shampoo, conditioner, or baby oil. Of course, you can always splurge on a shaving foam if you like.
- Rub the bottom of your feet with a pumice stone.
Do this every day, and you'll eventually have nice, soft feet. You can also use it on rough elbows, knees, and other calluses.
- Blot (don't rub) off the excess, dripping water with a soft towel.
Rubbing can actually cause skin irritation. Just don't dry off too much if you will be applying your moisturizer; you want to have some water on your skin.
- Apply a body moisturizer.
If you don't have a problem with dry, itchy, excessively tight, scaly, or flaky skin, you don't need it. Otherwise, you'll probably want to moisturize. If you suffer from body acne, you might want to put a moisturizer with salicylic acid on your problem areas or use a salicylic acid gel underneath your moisturizer. For most of us, almost any moisturizer will work. Just pick your favorite.
Once a Week
Exfoliate your body. Mix some sunflower oil (no mineral / baby oil, it clogs pores) and baking soda, granulated sugar, kosher salt, or sea salt. Rub all over your body (be gentle on your face).
Use a facial mask (optional). There are so many masks that I can't even begin to say what you should use, and there's no proof that they even make a difference. A mask can be relaxing, though, if you use something that just feels good on your skin. I will admit, though, I'm not a fan of clay masks. They do remove excess oils, but proper cleansing can do that, and a milk of magnesia mask works better. As far as detoxification goes, well, I've never seen any study that shows that putting dirt on your face (even ocean dirt) gets rid of "toxins." They can tighten your pores, but only very temporarily, and you'll most likely have your old pore size back by the time you walk out of the house. You can't change your pore size, but you can use over-the-counter alpha-hydroxy acids on a daily basis to help unclog pores, since clogged pores look larger. Masks that are supposed to work like a chemical peel can actually be dangerous, causing redness, swelling, pain, and permanent scarring. If you want a chemical peel, please see a dermatologist.
Sources: http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/cos-toc.html, http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/skinhairandnails.html, http://www.derm-infonet.com/,