The human body contains many complex organs and systems that work in a variety of ways to protect the body from external infections and dangers. Organs such as the liver and spleen help to filter toxins from the body, while other organs, such as the appendix, draw infections in and hold them, helping to protect the rest of the body. The most complex and largest of the human body’s organs, however, is not located inside the body, but outside.
The skin of the human body is classified as an entire system, the integumentary system. The integumentary system includes the multilayered skin as well as hair and nails. The entirety of the integumentary system serves a variety of functions, protecting the body not only from external damage but also helping the body to retain water, regulating body temperature, excreting body waste in the form of sweat, and it houses the various sensory receptors that detect sensations such as pain, pressure and temperature.
Skin covers the entire human body, making it the most visible organ. The health and fitness of another person can often be inferred from the condition of the skin, and many medical conditions have an effect on the skin, so much so that skin changes can be the first indicator of more serious interior illness. The visibility of skin also makes it an important part of an individual’s appearance; clear, smooth, healthy skin is considered one of the most attractive and desirable features, especially for women. There are millions of individual products available, both over-the-counter and by prescription, which women seek out every year to improve the look, feel and quality of their skin. The best way, though, to maintain healthy skin and improve skin condition is to follow a skincare regime.
Determining your skin type
Planning a personal skincare regime should begin with understanding skin types and requirements. There are three basic skin types: dry, oily and combination/normal. Most women can experience any of these three skin types throughout their lives, which is why it is important to reassess the skin type regularly. Young skin in the teens and 20s may tend toward oiliness, while older skin is frequently drier and sometimes more sensitive.
Age is not the only factor that affects skin type. A poor diet lacking in vital nutrients and antioxidants can have a very detrimental effect on the skin, with most of the damage not readily visible until it is too late to prevent it. Using too many products can also affect skin in a negative way, causing irritation, inflammation and even allergic reactions. One of the most important factors that can negatively affect the skin is sun exposure. Even if the skin never burns, the effects of the sun’s rays on the skin’s ability to produce collagen, as well as the drying effect the sun has, can cause the skin to become drier and more sensitive.
Finally, skin conditions will require consideration when planning out a skincare regime. Some specialist medication for conditions such as eczema, including topical steroids, may not be used with some skincare products; consult with a dermatologist or pharmacist before using a product if these types of medications are needed.
Basic steps of a good skincare regime
Cleansing the skin is the first priority when putting together a skincare regime. Take into consideration skin type when choosing cleansers for the face and body. Bar soaps and body washes are best for the body, but for the face and neck, using a cleanser that is made specifically for those areas is best. Exfoliation is also important, and products are made for both the face and the body that help to remove dead skin cells without hurting the skin.
Women with dry skin need a cleanser that is gentle and emollient, meaning it is loaded with naturally sourced lipids such as olive oil or lanolin. Another option is cleansing creams, often called “cold creams” or milky cleansers.
For women with oily skin, emollient and creamy cleansers can do more harm than good. Look for products that are made for oily skin types that will clean the skin without stripping out all of the oil. Stripping the skin of oil will only serve to stimulate more oil production as the skin tries to replace this essential lubrication. This is also why over-washing should be avoided as well.
Normal or combination skin requires a degree of experimentation to find the right products to suit the skin’s individual needs. Many products are labeled for combination/normal type skin, and these cleansers will remove dirt and oil without over-drying the skin.
The next step in a good skincare regime is moisturizing. Moisturizer is important for all skin types, even oily. The key is to choose a product that is made to fit particular skin needs. Dry skin types benefit from emollient moisture sources such as olive oil. Other good ingredients to look for on a moisturizer label are dimethicone, glycerin and hyaluronic acid. To moisturize oily skin, look for products with the words “non-comedogenic” on the label; this means the product will not clog pores. Also look for moisturizers with a humectant such as glycerin; this will help the skin to retain and lock in water, skin’s natural moisturizer. Most moisturizers can be used on combination/normal skin, but the moisturizer should only be applied where needed.
Now that the skin has been cleansed and moisturized, specific attention can be given to the unique problems and conditions affecting the skin. Aging skin can benefit from products that contain antioxidants, which stimulate cell repair and regeneration and help to reverse the damage caused by environmental factors and free radicals. Over time, wrinkles and other aging signs can diminish considerably. Vitamin C is an antioxidant ingredient that can also have a positive effect on skin that is red or irritated. Vitamin C ester soothes damaged and antagonized skin, even if caused by sunburn or conditions such as psoriasis.
Good skincare for life
Taking care of the skin is not simply about looking good and having a smooth, clear complexion. Caring for the skin, keeping it healthy with a good, regular skincare routine, as well as eating right, drinking plenty of water and exercising, will help keep one not only looking their best but feeling their best for many years to come. A good skincare regime is the starting point for a lifetime of good health.