Seven Best-Practice Rules for Skin Cleansing

skin cleansingSurely everything that could possibly be said about skin cleansing has already been posted somewhere on the Internet, right? We don’t really think so. In fact, we have come up with seven new rules for fighting acne and other skin problems and bringing out natural skin tones with skin cleansing, starting with one rule you might be surprised to see on a site that offers skin products.

1. If you’re spending more on your cleanser than you are on moisturizers and sunscreen, you’re spending too much on cleaners.

We don’t recommend especially pricey skin care products, preferring to go with skin treatment systems that offer the best value. But if you buy skin cleansers, toners, exfoliants, sunscreen, and other products separately, skin cleanser should be the least expensive item in your shopping basket. Why? All those great ingredients for treating your skin, like alpha-hydroxy acids or salicylic acid or healing herb essences in cleansers don’t actually stay on your face long enough to do your skin any good. You quickly wash the product down the drain. When it comes to cleansers, simple and inexpensive is usually best.

2. Different skin types require different cleansers.

If you have active acne, you really ought to get your cleanser as part of a complete skin care package. It will be less expensive, and it will be coordinated with other products you need. But if you are buying your cleanser off the shelf in between breakouts, here are some suggestions tailored to specific skin types:

If you have dry (sometimes flaky) to normal skin, try Neutrogena Extra Gentle Clean. It’s non-drying, it’s fragrance-free, and it truly is “noncomedogenic,” meaning it won’t clog pores to start another round of zits.
If you prefer a cleansing bar, Cetaphil is a standby. Basis Sensitive Skin Bar is a good choice if you tend to break out when you have allergies or after you eat certain foods. Just remember, use the beauty bar to make a lather of soap you apply to your face. Don’t rub the soap directly on your skin. That would clog pores.
Need a cleanser for “just a little” breakout? L’Oreal Paris Go 360 Clean Anti-Breakout Facial Cleanser and RoC MMmulti Correxion Exfoliating Cleanser both contain just a little salicylic acid. This won’t really make a difference on your acne, but it will definitely lift any makeup and dead skin over areas of your face that aren’t affected by acne yet. You’ll have better skin tone, even if you need a more comprehensive approach to treating a full-fledged breakout.

3. Getting rid of makeup and cleansing your skin aren’t the same thing.

If you ever appear on TV, which is now all high-definition, bringing out every tiny facial flaw for the big screen, you’ve probably been slathered with thick makeup to mask imperfections. Or if you are just starting out using makeup, maybe you’ve used a little too much, too. Don’t worry. It’s not that hard to get it all off. And even if you aren’t putting on the thick layers of makeup required for appearances on TV, even little bits of makeup need to be removed every night.

Be especially gentle removing makeup from around the eyes. Be careful to blot up cosmetics where they tend to accumulate, such as in and above the eyebrows and in the creases around the nose and mouth. And unless you have especially dry, sensitive skin, use toner and little squares of cotton to get every last bit of makeup off your face.

When you have done all this, however, you are not finished. You still need to go through your regular cleansing routine to prevent acne breakouts. Removing makeup just removes the added risk of breakouts that can occur at any age when products are put on thick.

4. Wash your hands before you wash your face.

Fingers don’t really get your skin clean, and trying to cleanse your face with dirty fingers can make acne problems even worse. Wash your hands and inspect your nails, taking care of any obvious deposits beneath your nails, before you touch your face. After you do this, it’s OK to use your fingertips to apply cleanser to your face, but it’s even better to use a clean, soft washcloth (which you use only once before it is laundered) or cotton swabs to apply cleanser to your skin, splashing it away with warm water.

5. Try sonic skin care.

A great way to get rid of dirt, grime, and dead skin on your face is using a sonic cleanser, such as Clarisonic Sonic Skin Cleansing System. It vibrates dead skin away, and it creates microscopic channels in the skin that are large enough to let the individual molecules of cleansers and nourishing serums into the skin, but too small to let viruses, bacteria, or dust particles into the skin. Just be sure to change the brush head every 60 to 90 days.

6. Make skin cleansing a twice-a-day habit.

Keep acne away by cleansing your skin twice a day, in the morning and in the evening before you go to bed. In the morning, cleanser you face and use toner (if you need it) and sunscreen before putting on makeup. In the evening, absolutely every evening, cleanser your fact to remove any products you put on during your morning cleanse to ensure that pores aren’t clogged overnight. Always make sure that you are the only person who uses your wash cloths and towels, and change bath linens regularly.

7. Bring out natural skin tone by exfoliation.

Exfoliation is the process of removing plugs of sebum from your pores and dead skin from your face. It’s not something you need to do twice a day, but it is something you need to do two or three times a week to keep your skin from looking dull. Even if you cleanse your skin well, its natural tones won’t come through that dull layer of dead skin cells unless you exfoliate on a regular basis.

If you don’t have sensitive skin, and especially if you have recently recovered from sunburn, you will probably do best with a very gentle scrub, such as Avène Gentle Exfoliating Scrub. If your skin is sensitive, you may do better with cleansing pads impregnated with alpha-hydroxy acids or salicylic acid.

After you loosen up all that dead skin, get rid of it with a toner. A toner is applied to the skin once and wiped away once—that’s it. If you have blocked pores, tone with Stridex Maximum Strength Pads. If you have oily skin, try La Roche-Posay Effaclar K. And if your skin is currently in great condition, try Clinique Mild Clarifying Lotion or L’Oréal Pure Zone Continuous Action to keep your skin tones rich and deep and your pores open but not enlarged.


So that’s all of them, do you have any skin cleansing tips and tricks?

The Best Daily Skincare Routine for Every Skin Type

The Best Daily Skincare Routine for Every Skin Type

All of us are different: we have different lifestyles and preferences, different personalities, different skin tone and even different skin types. You might have oily skin, dry skin, or a combination of both with or without a sensitivity factor to mix with it. Your skin type might even change with the age, specific body conditions like pregnancy, very intense exercise, menstrual cycle or even the weather!

So how do we sort through this skin-type madness in order to care of our skin the right way? For starters, let go of the misconception that only oily-skin people get acne. ANYONE can get acne, and EVERYONE and EVERY SKIN TYPE needs a proper skincare routine.

And most importantly–anyone suffering from acne needs to treat it the same way: from the inside and outside.

Step 1: Determine your skin type

You might have oily skin if:

  • You notice a visible layer of oil on your skin shortly after cleansing.
  • You have to use oil blotting sheets all over your face multiple times a day.
  • If you “shine” too much during the course of a day and especially in the morning.
  • You find yourself reaching for powder (or a tissue) to get rid of that shiny look on your skin.

You might have dry skin if:

  • You notice visibly flaking skin on your face or body.
  • If your skin feels “tight” or ” stretched” and itchy
  • You have to use a lot of face and body moisturizer just to keep that “dry look” away.
  • You find yourself reaching for moisturizer more than twice a day.
  • You panic at the thought of forgetting moisturizer because you know you might end up with scaly patches on your skin.
  • You have sensitive skin, as sensitive skin and dry skin tend to go hand in hand. Sensitive skin tends to be very responsive: Redness, itching, blotchiness, reactions to cosmetics, redness in reaction to salicylic acid or ingredients, and a general feeling of “discomfort” are all signs of sensitive skin.

You might have combination skin if:

  • You notice visible oil on some parts of your skin and possibly none of them in other places; sometimes you may see dry patches and/or flakiness in other places.
  • You regularly find yourself using blotting sheets on some parts of your face such as the T-ZONE (forehead, nose, chin) and extra moisturizer on the other parts (for example, on your cheeks).
  • You have sensitive skin. Sensitive skin sometimes goes hand in hand with combination skin. As mentioned above, sensitive skin tends to be very responsive: Redness, itching, blotchiness, reactions to cosmetics, redness in reaction to salicylic acid or ingredients, and a general feeling of “discomfort” are all signs of sensitive skin.

best daily skin care routine

Step 2: Follow the correct everyday skincare routine

For oily skin:

Clean: Steer clear of harsh ingredients like salicylic acid, alcohol and benzoyl peroxide. Use a mild, noncomedogenic cleanser. Or, try massaging in a few drops of olive oil or coconut oil and wiping away with a cotton ball soaked in warm water and a few drops of lemon juice.

For removing makeup prior to cleansing, try massaging in some coconut oil or olive oil and wiping away gently with a damp cotton ball.

If you choose, follow up cleansing with a natural, gentle astringent like chamomile tea.

Exfoliate: Never exfoliate more than once a week, and always be sure to wear SPF, never exfoliate after sun or wind exposure and never get sun exposure after exfoliating. We recommend exfoliating gently and naturally with natural ingredients based exfoliating masks using foods, such as avocado or papaya, which contain natural enzymes that will “dissolve” dead skin cells without any abrasion.

best daily skincare routineQuick Papaya Exfoliating Mask

To exfoliation with papaya, mush fresh, ripe papaya and blend with 2 TBS of honey. Leave on skin for 10-15 minutes, rinse well with lukewarm water and pat dry.

Moisturize: Look for lightweight, oil-free moisturizers containing ingredients such as water, aloe vera, marine algae, lemon grass extract, willow bark extract and witch hazel.


For dry skin:

Clean: Choose gentle products free of harsh ingredients like salicylic acid, alcohol and benzoyl peroxide, any chemicals you cannot pronounce or have the word “acid” in the name. Use a mild, noncomedogenic cleanser. Or, try massaging in a few drops of olive oil, avocado or coconut oil and wiping away with a cotton ball soaked in luke warm water and a few drops of rose oil or lavender.

For removing makeup prior to cleansing, try massaging in some coconut oil or olive oil and wiping away gently with a damp cotton ball.

If you choose, follow up cleansing with a natural, gentle chamomile astringent; you may also try to use fresh cucumber juice.

best daily skin care routineExfoliate:  Do not exfoliate more than twice a month – never after sun or wind exposure; always use at least SPF 30, and a moisturizer after exfoliating. We recommend exfoliating gently and naturally with food type ingredients such as avocado or papaya, which contain natural enzymes that will “dissolve” dead skin cells without any abrasion.

To exfoliate with papaya, mush fresh, ripe papaya and blend with 2 TBS of honey and 1-2 drops of olive oil. Leave on skin for 10-15 minutes, rinse well with lukewarm water and pat dry.

Moisturize: Look for richer, noncomedogenic moisturizers, ones that contain, for example, extracts of olive oil, small amounts of jojoba, almond, apricot, grape seed oil, avocado, rose water and oatmeal. You can even try a bit of organic raw shea butter. Just do NOT over-do it. And remember, if you think you also have sensitive skin, note that the only way to treat it is gently. No hot water, no ice cold water, no scrubbing or heavy oily make-up.

best daily skin care routineMoisturizing Oatmeal Mask

To moisturize with oatmeal, mix 2 TBS of dried lavender, 2 TBS of plain yogurt and 2 TBS of oatmeal, finely chopped or ground (not instant or containing sugar). Spread onto face and neck, recline and relax for 20 minutes. Wash gently with lukewarm water and pat dry.

For combination skin:

Clean: Avoid harsh ingredients like salicylic acid, alcohol and benzoyl peroxide. Use a mild, noncomedogenic cleanser. Or, try massaging in a few drops of olive oil or coconut oil and wiping away with a cotton ball soaked in warm water and a few drops of lemon juice.

For removing makeup prior to cleansing, try massaging in some coconut oil or olive oil and wiping away gently with a damp cotton ball.

If you choose, follow up cleansing with a natural, gentle chamomile astringent.

best daily skin care routineExfoliate: Never exfoliate more than once a week, and always be sure to wear SPF, especially after exfoliating. We recommend exfoliating gently and naturally with foods, such as avocado or papaya, which contain natural enzymes that will “dissolve” dead skin cells without any abrasion.

To exfoliation with papaya, mush fresh, ripe papaya and blend with 2 TBS of honey. Leave on skin for 10-15 minutes, rinse well with lukewarm water and pat dry.

Moisturize: Look for simpler, noncomedogenic ingredients (that you can actually pronounce!) in moisturizers. If you have dry and/or flaky patches that you want to moisturize a bit more heavily, try treating those areas with small amounts of noncomedogenic oils, such as a small amount of coconut oil or olive oil or shea butter.

If you think you also have sensitive skin, note that the only way to treat it is gently, and also avoid heavier moisturizers.
stretch mark cream

Stretch Mark Creams and Treatments

stretch mark creams kigelia africana
What are stretch marks?

Stretch marks are a type of skin scarring associated with pregnancy, obesity, puberty, and short-term weight gain from bodybuilding and other physical activities.  Stretch marks form when the dermis – the middle layer of the skin that maintains shape and elasticity – is stretched more than it can tolerate. This causes connective tissue  in the skin to break, disrupting collagen production and causing dark marks.  Stretch marks do fade over time but much slower than typical scars. stretch mark creams.

While generally considered harmless stretch marks can be a serious concern when they effect the happiness and self-esteem of an individual.  Stretch marks may be treatable with stretch mark creams, laser therapy and microdermabrasion.  If you do seek treatment for stretch marks, know that treatments are only partially effective and won’t remove the stretch marks completely.

How do stretch mark creams and treatments compare?

The following treatments are among those available to help improve the appearance of stretch marks. None has been proved to be more consistently successful than the others, so the best approach is to start with the cheaper solutions first.

  • Stretch Mark Creams. Research shows evidence that that retinol creams may improve the appearance of recent stretch marks, specifically those that are less than a few months old and still red or pink in tone. If you are pregnant or nursing, your doctor may suggest avoiding or delaying treatment with topical retinol creams.   When retinol  does work it helps by stimulating the production of collagen, thus restoring the natural appearance of the skin.  Retinol can irritate skin and increase sensitivity to the sun.  Retinol isn’t effective on older stretch marks.
    Clinical research suggests kigelia africana can improve stretch marks and age spots. Kigelia africana works by supporting elastin, melanin and collagen production and increasing the rate of natural healing processes.  Kigelia africana can be used on stretch marks of all ages.
  • Laser treatment. Laser treatments use high intensity light to stimulate the production of collagen, elastin and melanin production in directed areas. Your doctor can help you determine which type of laser technology is appropriate for you, depending on the age and location of your stretch marks and your skin color.
  • Microdermabrasion. This type of treatment involves a hand-held device that blows tiny crystals onto your skin. These crystals gently abrade, or “polish,” the skin’s surface. Then, a vacuum tube removes the crystals and sloughed skin cells. Microdermabrasion gently removes the skin’s topmost layer, prompting the growth of new, more-elastic skin. This therapy is an option for older stretch marks.

Consult your physician or skincare specialist to determine the most appropriate treatment.  Important considerations include:

  • How old are the stretch marks
  • Convenience — treatments differ in length duration and commitment
  • Cost — stretch marks are considered cosmetic and not covered by insurance
  • Your expectations — most treatments are, at best, only partially effective

Natural Eczema Creams

natural eczema cream and probioticsDiet and Lifestyle

Before we talk about natural eczema creams and topicals, it seems appropriate to start by noting that all the creams in the world won’t make a different unless more preponderant underlying issues are addressed first, specifically dietary and lifestyle factors that are contributing or even causing the immune dysfunction that leads to eczema.

So, just as you would supplement a diet with vitamins it makes sense to address any underlying factors contributing to eczema.

Eczema isn’t easy to treat and there are a variety of potential causes but there are some simple steps that everybody can take and are proven to help.

In my family, my sister suffered from eczema off and on for a long time before she was finally able to get rid of it.  She was given anti-bionics and steroids as a child and this led to problems with her gut flora (good bacteria) which were being expressed in her skin and digestion.  When we heard about the GAPS diet we decided to give it a try and both saw major improvement in our energy levels and mood but more importantly her condition started to dramatically improve.

The GAPS diet is a protocol in “Gut and Psychology” and is essentially an intense nutritional and dietary regiment designed to support the gut lining.  It does this by encouraging the use of foods that heal, support and soothe digestion like bone broth while boosting beneficial gut bacteria with probiotics and fermented foods.

You can learn more about the GAPS diet here.  But even if you don’t want to follow any diet, probiotics are a cheap and simple way to make sure you gut is in working order. You can take them in pill form or just include more fermented foods in your diet, like yoghurt.

For example, one double-blind study examined the use of borage oil (500 mg a day) or placebo in 160 adults with moderate eczema. After 24 weeks, the overall effectiveness was not significantly better with borage oil compared with the placebo.

Natural Eczema Creams

Natural eczema creams and gels are made from herbal ingredients such as kigelia Africana, witch hazel, licorice and chamomile which have shown evidence of reducing eczema symptoms.  The supervening is a list of results from clinical studies:

  • A double-blind study published in the UK compared hydrocortisone 0.5% cream and placebo cream to a cream of kigelia extract.  After 14 days kigelia extract was demonstrated to be superior to both placebo and hydrocortisone.
  • A German study involving 72 people with moderate to severe eczema compared witch hazel extract to 0.5% cortisone cream and placebo.  After two weeks witch hazel proved to be slightly more effective than placebo but inferior to cortisone. This study was double-blind.
  • A double-blind study compared placebo against 1% and 2% concentrations of licorice cream for eczema patients.  Within two weeks both the 1% and 2% creams showed dramatic improvement over the placebo cream and the 2% was even more effective than the 1% in reducing irritation, swelling and itching.
  • Another study compared 0.5% cortisone cream and placebo to chamomile cream.  After two weeks the chamomile was slightly more effective than cortisone in reducing symptoms but substantially more effective than the placebo.  The study was not double-blind so it cannot be considered clinical evidence but inspires promise nevertheless.

Important reminder: consult your physician or skin specialist before using any topical treatment.  Some herbs such as chamomile are known to elicit an allergic reaction.

Finding the Right Acne Cream for You!

There are a lot of ways to treat acne.  One of the most popular types of treatments is topical cream.  The reason is simple, creams are easy to use and easy to acquire.  But do these acne creams really work and are they strong enough to cure acne on their own?

Quick Points

  • For serious acne consult your doctor.  Acne creams are not intended for severe forms of acne like acne conglobata, cystic acne and nodular acne.
  • Mild acne in the case of whiteheads, blackheads and the familiar acne vulgaris do respond to topical treatment.
  • Skin type is important when selecting acne cream.  Oily skin does not mix well with oily cream.
  • Many different chemicals are used in acne cream; the most common include benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid.  These chemicals combat acne by making skin uninhabitable for bacteria, sloughing dead skin cells, unclogging pores and diminishing oil production.
  • It’s common for acne creams containing benzoyl peroxide to dry and stiffen skin.  This can be ameliorated by using a good moisturizer, using lower concentration creams or using products with soothing ingredients like aloe vera and kigelia extract.

What Type of Acne Do You Have?

It’s a good idea to know what you’re dealing with before you rush out to the (online) store and purchase a new cream.  Acne is somewhat of a catch-all term for any type of recurrent skin blemish, in fact there are many subvarieties of acne that require different types of treatment.  Some respond well to acne cream and others do not.  Some of those types of acne are:

  • Acne Vulgaris
  • Whiteheads
  • Blackheads
  • Nodular Acne
  • Cystic Acne
  • Acne Conglobata

Without getting into too much detail the main distinction between these types of acne is where the infection occurs: on the skin surface of below the skin surface.  The types of acne that occur below the surface of the skin are least affected by topical treatment and even the most powerful acne cream will only have a minimal effect.  Cystic acne, nodular acne and acne conglobata occur deep under the surface of the skin and often require a multi-prong approach of life style changes, medication and trial and error.  Sometimes acne cream can do exactly what it’s supposed to and not improve your skin.  For example, if the cream kills all bacteria while irritating and drying the skin your skin may actually get worse.  Often the bacterial infection is only a result of a deeper problem such as hormones from puberty, stress, and diet.  If you suspect you have cystic acne, nodular acne or acne conglobata consult your doctor or skin specialist.  In fact, that’s the first thing you should do if you feel any of the following:

  • Uncomfortable using home remedies
  • Suffer from deep below the surface acne
  • Experience self-esteem issues due to acne
  • Experience pain or physical discomfort

In any other case it’s fine to experiment with home remedies and over the counter acne cream.  Dietary changes to healthier greener and leaner foods are known to work wonders for the skin.  Additionally any kind of activity that induces sweating followed by a shower is extremely effective in both improving complexion and unclogging pores.  Remember the skin is the largest detoxification organ!

The types of acne that DO respond well to acne cream include acne vulgaris, whiteheads and blackheads.  These types of acne occur due to clogged pores and overactive sebum production.

How to Select the Right Acne Cream

The first thing you need to know is what type of skin you have.  If you have oily skin then you want to avoid creams that are mostly oil based because they will increase your sebum production.  Most creams have at least some oil base to keep them viscous and pliable.  (Our Sausage Tree Cream is minimally oily due to the use of aloe vera!)

Typical Active Ingredients in Acne Cream

As we’ve learned acne cream is best used for mild acne or in conjunction with dietary and lifestyle changes.  The best acne cream products for mild acne contain benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, sulphur, tea tee oil, or a combination of these and other countervailing ingredients used to soothe skin.

  • Salicylic acid dissolves the oil and dirt on the surface of skin and allows you to rinse away the debris that often clogs pores – one of the primary causes of acne.  You may be using salicylic acid already and not even know it, that’s because salicylic acid is the active ingredient in Aspirin!  There are two forms of salicylic acid: alpha hydroxyl acid and beta hydroxyl acid.  Both forms exfoliate the skin.  The main difference is that alpha hydroxyl acid is somewhat stronger and will make you sensitive to the sun.    Salicylic acid is used in creams, gels and even pad wipes.  For the most part salicylic acid is gentle on the skin and not likely to cause significant irritation.
  • Benzoyl peroxide is a long lasting chemical ingredient in the vast majority of acne products that fights acne by decreasing the number of P. Acne bacteria that are largely responsible for surface infection.  It comes in variety of concentrations from 0.5% to 10% and also in the form of bar soap, lotion, cream and gel.  Benzoyl peroxide can take between 4 and 6 weeks to begin to improve your skin, so it requires some patience and diligence.  As noted before benzoyl peroxide can dry, stiffen and irritate the skin and so it often necessitates the use of a good moisturizer in tandem to soothe the skin.  Alternatively some opt to use a lower concentration, it’s been suggested that 2.5% is optimal for mild acne while not causing much irritation.  Nevertheless a good moisturizer is recommended when using benzoyl peroxide.
  • Sulphur is used to treat acne and other skin conditions.  It is most effective in reducing flakiness and itchiness as a result of outbreaks.  Sulphur is also a powerful anti-biotic and will kill the bacteria P. Acne that is responsible for most surface infection.  Most significant of all sulphur decreases natural sebum production and facilitates the natural exfoliation of dead skill cells.  It is generally mild on skin and not known to cause irritation.
  • Tea tree oil is a natural ingredient found in many acne creams and gels.  It is best used at concentrations of 5% and provides many of the same benefits as benzoyl peroxide with additional antiseptic and antifungal properties.  It is also less irritating to the skin than benzoyl peroxide and does not cause bleaching.  The drawback is that it’s often more expense to produce.
  • Retinol is a less common chemical ingredient based on vitamin A.  It is useful in combating acne anywhere on the body but causes sensitivity to the sun and as such is best used at night time and with sunscreen.
  • Triclosan is another infrequently used chemical ingredient used to kill P. Acne bacteria due to its ability to be absorbed into skin quickly.  It’s often used in conjunction to benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid and in face and body wash products.

Finally, many of these ingredients can be highly irritating to the skin, causing dryness, redness and stiffness so it’s a good  idea to look for acne creams with soothing additives like aloe vera, sage extract, and lavender oil or moisturizing ingredients that combat skin “stiffness” like eucerin, jojoba, and kigelia extract.  Many “advanced” over-the-counter products exist with different steps and stages but it’s often a one size fits all approach that doesn’t work for everyone.  Whether you’re choosing an acne cream or other more advanced solution always keep in mind the following: your skin type, the instructions and patience.

If you have any comments or feedback please feel free to drop me a line below! 🙂

Oh and because I thought it was cool I’ve attached a flow chart on how medical schools teach their students to diagnose and treat acne:

how to treat acne

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