Beautiful, healthy skin. Skin so flawless it requires wearing little to no makeup…ahh! Every girl’s dream.
How does one get perfect skin without spending all our time and money trying to get there? Plus, isn’t focusing on our beauty a little vain? Shouldn’t we instead be concentrating on cultivating our inner beauty?
“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
-Proverbs 31:30 (NIV)
Let’s start with setting the record straight concerning vanity. According to Webster’s dictionary, vanity is defined as, “inflated pride in oneself or one’s appearance: conceit.”
We live in a world where personal image is everything. People wallpaper Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, and Facebook with perfectly filtered, photo-shopped selfies. The picture we see smiling at us is not necessarily an accurate depiction of the real person. It’s all smoke and mirrors.
Worse yet, is the dissatisfaction many now experience when they turn on the lights, remove their makeup, and take an honest look at themselves. Their bare-faced reflection urges them to make a bee-line to the nearest Sephora.
I’ve worked in the beauty industry for 25 years. I am a licensed Aesthetician, employed in a Plastic Surgery (gasp) and Dermatology practice. And I am a Christian.
To some of you, especially those who are younger than me, this may not seem to be a conflict, but when I decided to go into the industry, the decision was not so easy. While seeing a cosmetologist every six weeks for a cut and color or a manicurist bi-weekly for acrylics was socially acceptable, paying a visit to a skincare specialist was considered vain and excessive. At best, it was a treat, reserved for the occasional spa day with the girls.
I remember a conversation I had with my then-pastor about my decision to go to Aesthetics school. Prior to contemplating the idea, I had never heard of a career in aesthetics. I knew cosmetologists who were trained not only to cut hair, but to wax and do facials, but an actual job doing skin? I had no idea! Then, one day I met a woman who made her living making other women’s skin pretty. After speaking with her, I knew I had just found my dream job. Imagine my dismay when the pastor I respected blatantly told me that he was surprised I would go into a career that made money off another woman’s vanity!
I didn’t see it that way at all. As a teenager, I didn’t inherit my mom’s perfect skin. Instead, I was plagued with acne that required frequent visits to the dermatologist, antibiotics, and creams that fried my face. I watched everything I ate, avoiding picking, and still my skin carries the scars of years of acne that continued into adulthood. As I researched treatments to try and solve my own skin woes, my compassion and desire to help others suffering with the same condition grew.
Did you know that our skin is the largest organ of our body? Healthy skin protects our bodies from microbes, toxins, and the elements. Caring for it is every bit as important as nourishing our internal organs. When it comes to overall health, our skin reflects what is going on inside each of us.
“After all, no one every hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church-for we are members of his body.”
-Ephesians 5:29-30 (NIV)
We all know that taking care of our overall health is important. Because I work in a dermatology practice, I have seen every kind of skin ailment imaginable. We treat conditions such as rosacea, eczema, psoriasis, and even skin cancer. Many of these conditions can be treated, even prevented, with proper home-care products and dietary changes.
I know you might be thinking you can’t afford a dermatologist right now, so where will you find the products you need? We will get to that, but first think twice about avoiding the dermatologist. While most skin conditions are minor and can be addressed with the proper home-care products, some need a professional to treat them. Suspicious moles should always be seen by a doctor. Chronic conditions that are not responding to home remedies are an indication it is time to make an appointment. Even without insurance, the money you save not purchasing expensive home remedies will be money well spent. There are some jobs better left to the professionals.
Because most of you reading this are women in your twenties and thirties, I will address the basics needs for beautiful skin in your age group. However, these suggestions will help women of all ages clean out your medicine cabinets of ineffective potions and scale back your daily skincare regimens to the necessities, saving you both time and money.
While I understand that there are thousands of products on the market to help you put your best face forward, in keeping with our minimalist commitment, we will look at the ones that are tried and true and have the science to back up their effectiveness.
First, it is necessary that you know your skin type and condition. Normal, Oily, Dry, Combination, Sensitive, and Acne-prone are all skin types and conditions. When shopping for products, be sure to look for ones that address your specific skin concerns.
Six simple steps are all you need to have healthy, glowing skin.
Step 1 - Cleanser
Cleansers comes in a variety of formulas. Look for one that is free of sulfates, alcohols and other harsh cleansing agents. After cleansing your face, the skin should be free from any residual makeup. A good cleanser does its job! You may need a separate eye makeup remover for waterproof makeup. Most cleansers are balanced to our skin’s natural ph., so toners are not usually necessary. Always cleanse your skin morning and evening. Rinse well and pat dry.
Step 2 - Antioxidant Serum
Antioxidants are vitamins for your skin. Their job is to protect your skin from free radicals (think bad guys) that harm your skin. From UV damage caused by the sun to toxins such as smog to the foods we eat, our skin is bombarded daily, resulting in sun damage, age spots, wrinkles, surface dryness, acne, and other sensitivities. Antioxidants nourish and defend our skin (think Superman for our cells). Antioxidants are found in the foods we eat and in nature. Vitamin C and E, white and green tea, superfruits such as acai berry, pomegranate, and coffee berry are good examples of antioxidants. Vitamin C in the forms of l-ascorbic acid or sodium ascorbyl phosphate are excellent choices as they not only protect the skin from future damage but are excellent for their collagen-building benefits. Use a small amount in the morning followed by moisturizer.
Step 3 - Moisturizer
All skin types, even oily skin need moisture. When looking for the right moisturizer, keep your skin type in mind. Dry and very dry skin types should look for products that contain moisturizing lipids, sodium hyaluronate, and lipid-rich oils such as sunflower, jojoba, and shea butter. Normal and Combination skin should opt for lighter creams or lotions that contain ingredients such as panthenol, vitamin E, hyaluronic acid, and B-5. Oily skin needs hydration because we tend to dry to it out, especially if it is prone to acne. Look for oil-free products containing ingredients such as provitamin B5, sodium hyaluronate, and panthenol to hydrate the skin’s surface. Apply morning and evening.
Step 4 - Eye Cream or serum
Regular moisturizers can be irritating to sensitive eyes. Look for peptide-rich formulas that help prevent and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Moisturizing ingredients like hyaluronic acid and ceramides are a plus to plump dehydrated skin around the eyes. Use eye cream twice daily unless your mascara tends to run when using it during the AM.
Step 5 - Retinol cream
Vitamin A has long been touted as the best anti-aging product out there. Along with being a great wrinkle reducer, it helps fade dark spots, decrease the appearance of pore size, and improve acne. From prescription retinoids to the milder retinols and retinaldehyde, look for a formula best suited for your skin type. There are a few important rules when using a retinol product. Remember to start with a lower strength and work your way up. Signs that it may be too strong are dryness, irritation, and redness. Start by using it every other night and mix it with a little moisturizer to help make it more tolerable. You can always increase the strength and frequency as your skin becomes better adapted to it. Finally, always protect your skin with sunscreen when out in the sun as retinols increase photosensitivity.
Step 6 – Sunscreen
No skincare program is complete without sunscreen. If you use one product to protect your skin and help prevent aging, it’s this one. Look for sunscreens that contain physical, not chemical ingredients. Minerals such as micronized zinc-oxide and titanium dioxide offer excellent UVA/UVB protection without the health concerns associated with some of the chemical ingredients used today. A good sun protection factor for daily use is SPF 30. Go SPF 50+ when outdoors for extended periods. Sunscreen should be applied every morning, even if you are just going to be indoors. Most sun exposure we experience occurs during our daily activities.
There you have it, six simple steps to beautiful skin!
While I know there are tons of products out there to help you get the skin of your dreams, these are the basics. Choose the right ones, and you will see immediate changes for the better. You won’t be spending ridiculous amounts of money or time on your skin either. Finally, stop obsessing over it. Relax, breathe, and smile! Remember, beauty starts from the inside out.
“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
-1 Peter 3:3-4
Dawn Ward is the founder of The Faith to Flourish. When she isn’t making people beautiful, she helps women who have loved ones battling addictions to stay hopeful and find peace in the midst of a very difficult situation.
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