Is your skin making you look older?
Have you noticed your skin is dull or that your blemishes don’t go away? Are you getting more lines or those circles under your eyes? If you said yes to any of those good for you! That means you pay attention to your skin and that is half the battle!
Okay so one of my biggest regrets is that I didn’t begin to really care for my skin until I noticed it changing and at that point it was more out of fear that I would not be able to stop what was happening. When I was younger it seemed like my skin could take anything in way of pollution, smoke, sun, and worse with the worst thing happening was a zit-maybe a breakout. Now it seems like even a tiny zit turns into the darkest dark spot that refuses to ever go away. So much that my complexion just turned into one big dark spot! And the hyper-pigmentation! Who knew that was a thing? I sure didn’t until I began getting facials.
I remember the aestetician getting that gigantic magnification mirror with the spotlight on it and zooming in on my face. It was so uncomfortable I may as well have been in stir ups being asked to “scoot down to the edge”… She gave me the news that I had sun damage and that was causing the hyper-pigmentation also known as dark spots. She gave me the best advice that any woman of color who loves the outdoors could get: wear sunscreen. I thought that was a strange thing to say in the dead of winter but she warned that any time the sun is up and shining bright enough for me to not need a light on, I need to protect my skin. The dark spots were my skin’s way of protecting itself since I wasn’t doing it properly. She also recommended vitamin C serums daily to revitalize my skin. This woman changed the game for me!
I thought that all I had to do was keep my skin clean and cut back on the soda and sweets. After all this was what worked when I was younger. But at some point, time catches up with most of us and we have to change up our regime to accommodate the changes in our skin. We do this by paying attention to what our skin is telling us and addressing those issues. My skin is like the United Nations being that it has some of everything going on at various times.
For my oily complexion, I love masks and scrubs. Salt and mud tend to suck out toxins, dirt, and oil along with tightening pores. I rotate between 2-3 facial wash products consisting of glycolic wash, cocoa butter wash, and a rosewater mask that I make at home. I also exfoliate at least once a week. I saw this older woman with beautiful skin and asked her what she does and I’ve been hooked on her very simple routine ever since. She advised me not to over-cleanse. She said that she uses the coldest cold water on her face in the morning and the warmest of warm water on her face in the evening. The warm water opens the pores and allows the serums and moisturizer to settle in for the night. Night of course is the best time to moisturize because we aren’t bothering our face or wearing makeup for the longest window of time in our day. In the morning, why waste all of the good you’ve done the night before? Just rinse well with cold water, pat dry, and put on a light moisturizer/serum and sunscreen then proceed with your makeup routine. She was right-another game changer.
Let’s face it…many of our body issues stem from dehydration. I stand in my truth that I do not like water and should probably have a perpetual IV drip. Knowing this, I have become a person who always has water in tow. Because I hate drinking it so much I gulp it down by the glass sometimes which strangely enough keeps me from being thirsty and has weaned me off of other beverages. I will splurge and have a beverage if I’ve had my water or if I am celebrating but I always try not to overdo it because once you get those beverages on your pallet you want more not because of thirst but because of craving. The side effect of this is that being hydrated has given my complexion a nice glow and keeps the breakouts and zits at bay.
Another secret to fighting dry skin is prevention. Hot water tends to break down our natural oils and wash them away. Using cooler temperatures when showering, washing our hands, doing dishes and anything else where our skin comes in contact with water helps us keep our natural oils as opposed to depleting them. Same thing with the environment…if it’s cold outside we are more susceptible to dry skin. In dry conditions, utilize a humidifier. They aren’t just for when you are sick you know. Also, we have to exfoliate and rid our bodies of dead skin and dirt that can clog our pores and prevent skin from absorbing moisture properly. Use whatever you are comfortable with but don’t overdo it. Finally if skin gets to the critical state of dryness where it cracks or flakes go for the heavier balms and body butters to lock in moisture. They tend to lock in moisture longer and those that are made with organic oils are easier for our skin to absorb and tolerate without being too heavy or clogging pores.
For dullness and to combat all of the junk in our environment, another part of our armor should consist of topical antioxidants. I remember when the aestetician first recommended Vitamin C I told her that I loved fruit! She laughed then explained that putting it on your face was also a great way to fight against free radicals, pollution, fumes, UV rays, and other toxins that we can’t see. This protection is almost as important as sunscreen.
Yes, there is a lot more to taking care of our skin than keeping it clean and moisturized. But paying attention to what your skin is doing can really tell you a lot about your overall health and what may be missing or what there is too much of! I look in the mirror now and some of the imperfections are still there and that is okay. What matters is what I don’t see…the dark spots, acne scars, and hyper-pigmentation are under control. My pores are no longer wide open begging for hydration! Now my skin looks well cultivated and refreshed-without makeup! Because I am paying attention I now know how to take care of my skin and prevent most of the things that gave me problems before. That picture you see there is me! And although my skin will never be like a baby's it certainly does not look like it's been around for 43 years! Nobody is perfect but I realized that knowing how to take care of my complexion makes me look and feel good and that is the biggest game changer of all.
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