Think about all the things that you do in a day, from waking up in the morning until going to bed. You probably held your phone to your ear, walked in the sun, got a sweat going and touched your face multiple times. All of these things have had some impact on your facial skin, and with everything your face goes through in a day, it’s important that you take care of your skin and keep it healthy. An expert from the Texas A&M College of Nursing offers tips on how to keep your skin in tip-top condition.

Do: Have a Routine

Although it may seem odd to wash your face right before bed and right after, especially since all you did in between was sleep, it’s necessary for most skin care regimens.

“You want to wash your face twice a day or after sweating,” said Angela Mulcahy, MS, RN, CMSRN, clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Nursing. “At the beginning and end of the day, it’s important to wash off all of the dirt, oil and exfoliate to remove the dead skin cells.”

Many people may just splash water on their face and call it a wash, but that’s more of a rinse. The proper way to wash your face is with lukewarm water and using your finger tips to apply the cleanser. Don’t scrub your skin. Rinse with warm (not hot) water and pat dry (don’t rub) with a soft towel.

If you’re buying your first ever daily cleanser, look for one that has deep-cleaning ingredients such as salicylic and glycolic acid, which help control acne. Aloe vera extract is also a common ingredient and beneficial since it can help sooth irritation and redness.

Do: Moisturize and SPF

Having dry or oily skin may seem like an inconvenience, but knowing your skin type and working within it is usually the first step towards defeating many common skin problems, such as acne or redness, which will require topical over-the-counter or prescription medications to treat.

One way to fight either problem is to moisturize twice daily, because even oily skin benefits from good hydration. If your moisturizer has an SPF element in it, even better. “Moisturizing and protecting your skin from the sun are two very important things,” Mulcahy said. “Even if you’re not out in the sun all day, just walking from the car to your home or office a few times is enough for the sun to do incremental—but additive—damage to your skin. If your moisturizer doesn’t have an SPF in it, add a little bit of sunblock to your morning regimen.”

Do: Hydrate and keep a good diet

Water is the source of life, and it’s also the source of clear skin. Your skin is an organ, and like all of your internal organs, it benefits from your water-drinking habits.

“When you are dehydrated, you’ll see changes to your skin,” Mulcahy said. “Dehydrated skin can feel tight or appear dull and can even lead to breakouts.”

Also, what you eat is equally important to your skin care. Foods high in simple carbohydrates (or sugar) and saturated fats can cause insulin spikes, which increase the production of skin oils and contribute to worsening skin complexion. So although the concept that chocolate will cause you to break out is technically a myth, it does have some merit in that eating copious amounts of simple sugars can lead to acne.

In short, think of a healthy diet as beneficial for your skin.

Don’t: Sleep in your makeup

Makeup can be part of your skin care routine, but it’s important to highlight how important it is to be sure to remove all of your makeup before going to sleep. Whether you’ve been wearing your makeup all day, or put it on just before going out for dinner, it’s important that your skin is makeup-free at the end of the night.

“When you sleep in your makeup, you are clogging your pores for the whole night,” Mulcahy said. “Your skin and makeup have a lot of dirt that it’s collected throughout the day, so you need to fully remove your makeup in order to clean your face properly.”

Investing in a makeup remover is the most efficient way to make sure you’re getting all of your makeup off.

Don’t: Avoid alcohol skin products like the plague

There is no shortage of debate when it comes to using products with and without alcohol. On the plus side, some alcoholic ingredients are used to slow down water loss in skin. However, some alcohols found in anti-bacterial products can reduce surface oil on your skin, but also dry your skin—which can lead to skin dehydration and irritation.

“There’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to products containing alcohol,” Mulcahy said. “It’s really all about finding what works best for you and eliminating what doesn’t work.”

Do: Trial and error

It can be a little bit intimidating when you walk down the skin care aisles. There is an abundance of products that all claim to give you that perfect glow that you want. It’s unlikely that you’ll get your go-to regimen right off the bat, so you may want to experiment a little, starting with basic cleansers and moisturizers.

“If you know what type of skin you have, then you know generally what to look for,” Mulcahy said. “There is an assortment of products for all different types of skin, so ask some questions, research products and don’t be afraid to try new products.”

Experimenting also applies to choosing your makeup. There are a variety of makeups that claim that they are better for your skin or don’t clog your pores (non-comedogenic makeup), but what works for some people may not always work for you. If you have a particular concern about your skin and makeup, it’s best to research your needs before you wander the makeup isles.

Don’t: Break the bank

Good news! The best products aren’t always the most expensive ones. You don’t need the latest and greatest or multiple-step products that you need to put a down payment on. For some people, keeping it simple is all you need for healthy skin.

Some products, such as an electric brush or facial masks, may be beneficial, but other products, like a daily cleansing face wipe (which is NOT a suitable replacement for a cleanse), can cause excessive skin irritation.

There are a number of fads or new treatments that may or may not be viable or beneficial. While a simple routine is the tried-and-true method, if you’re considering a new type of face product, it’s best to talk to an expert…which leads us perfectly to our last point.

Do: Talk to your health care provider

You know your skin best: You’ve looked at your face every day since you’ve discovered your reflection. You know what products you like or dislike and what your face feels like at the end of the day. However, there are times where you may need to ask your health care provider about changing your regimen or getting prescription strength products.

“If you have redness, dryness or rough patches that had a more sudden onset, then you should talk to your health care provider,” Mulcahy said. “If you have acne that isn’t going away after trying a couple of different treatments, then you may need something stronger. Your skin will go through changes, especially during pregnancy or times of stress, so it’s best to keep an open communication with your provider about concerns you have about your skin care regimen.”

— Dominic Hernandez

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