Posted before Dec-31-2007
Our skin is not a single layered structure; it comprises of three layers in the main: the outermost layer is called the epidermis, the middle one is called the dermis, while the innermost or the deepest layer is known as hypodermis. Hypodermis also contains a layer of fat beneath it. All large blood vessels and nerves pass through hypodermis.
Sebaceous glands, hair shafts, smaller blood vessels as well as nerves are found in the dermis. Sebaceous glands produce an oily substance known as sebum, which is then secreted into the hair shafts. Through hair shafts, sebum comes out on the outer layer, that is, the epidermis, and spreads all over it, making a protective layer. A small amount of sebum can effectively protect the skin from external irritants, like allergens. However, excessive secretion of sebum can make the skin oily and may cause acne and pimples.
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Epidermis further consists of many sub layers. New cells are born at the innermost layer of epidermis, from where they move to the topmost layer, and fall off the body when they are dead. The process is a continuous one and forms a very important defense mechanism for the skin. Any harmful invading particle or irritant into the skin is taken out by this process and removed from the body.
We learn to walk before we can run. We need to be well-versed with basic mathematical operations before going into advanced mathematics. However, when it comes to skin care, this basic fact is often forgotten. We start using sophisticated skin care programs even before we have learned basic skin care measures. In fact, if you are not familiar with basic skin care measures, your advanced skin care programs are going to be of little use, or even harmful to your skin.
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As epidermis is the outermost layer of the skin, most of the basic skin care measures are focused on it, and henceforth, when we refer to skin, we will basically be referring to this layer of skin.
The modalities of a skin care program designed for you will invariably depend on your skin type. However, there are some basic skin care measures that should be undertaken by everybody regardless of their skin type. These are:
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Of these, cleansing and moisturizing are most common and frequent. Cleansing and moisturizing twice daily works well for most people. However, if your skin is dry or otherwise sensitive, cleansing once a day and moisturizing twice or thrice, should be enough. Some experts suggest including exfoliation also in daily basic skin care routine. However, exfoliating daily may cause irritation to many people, and doing it once or twice every week is normally enough. Protecting the skin from the sun is a continuous process and requires avoiding moving out in the sun, or using a sun-screen when it can't be avoided. Toning, on the other hand, is an optional skin care measure and would depend on your skin type.
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Normal skin is usually soft and has an even tone with a smooth texture. Unlike oily skin, it has no visible pores or greasy patches. Unlike dry skin, it has no flakes falling off. All it has is a blemish less, smooth and supple surface with a fine texture. It radiates with a glow arising out of clear blood circulation and good health in general.
People gifted with normal skin don't usually have acne. However, in some women, due to increased hormonal activity just before menstruation, sebaceous glands may become overactive giving rise to occasional pimples.
Normal skin is ultimate in beauty. However, it still requires care for this beauty to last. Otherwise, it may show early signs of aging, like wrinkles. If you have this type of skin, you need to follow the following skin care routine.
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Oily skin can be easily recognised by enlarged pores and a greasy shine which is the result of overactive sebaceous glands and high levels of sebum. Because of high levels of sebum, dust and dirt particles tend to stick to the skin which often causes acne and pimples.
Sometimes oily skin may be hereditary, but more often it is the result of abnormal hormonal activity. Such abnormal hormonal activity is more common during teenage years, and so, it's mostly teenagers who suffer from oily skin, acne and pimples. With age, the hormonal activity stabilizes and sebum levels decrease, rendering the skin less oily. However, it is not uncommon for oily skin to continue even into adult years.
Some areas on the skin may be more oily than others. For example, the area around the nose is more likely to develop blackheads. This is because there are more sebaceous glands around here.
Oily skin may also result from other causes, like use of some particular type of cosmetics, or even birth control pills.
Combination skin, as the name implies, is a combination of both oily and dry skin. Strange though it may appear, it is a commonly found skin type, requiring those who have it to use skin care measures for both the skin types.
Combination skin results due to the fact that sebaceous glands are not evenly distributed on the skin. They are denser in what is called the T-zone, that is, an area comprising the middle part of the forehead, the nose, chin and the cheeks. So, often these areas tend to be more oily and are affected by acne or pimples, while other areas, which are drier, may become flaky.
Combination skin can't be treated as one unified type. The skin care measures, or cosmetic products, that are good for the oily and acne prone areas, will not be appropriate for the drier parts like around the eyes or jaws. If you have this type of skin, you need to use separate set of measures and separate products to take care of different areas on your face. That's the only way to make your whole face truly look and feel good.
Once this fact is accepted, and the basic skin care routine adjusted accordingly, care of combination skin is not difficult. The keyword here is 'balance', balance in both the types of skin on the same face, which can be achieved by taking measures appropriate for oily skin where it is oily and dry skin where it is dry. The skin care products must also be chosen and used accordingly.
Thus, the skin care measures for combination skin are also a combination of skin care measures for all skin types. However, keep in mind the keyword 'balance' and don't go overboard with any one set of measures. For example, using overly harsh or abrasive products even on oilier parts will worsen the dual nature of combination skin by rendering dry areas even drier and giving a rough, reddish look to oily areas. Remember, as described above, harsh treatments do not correct oiliness or improve it in any way.
Dry skin is characterized by low sebum levels and is often sensitive to external influences, like allergens. It is unable to retain moisture and, as a result, has a parched look. It usually gives a tight and uncomfortable feeling after a wash, and use of a moisturizer or skin cream becomes necessary. Extremely dry and dehydrated skin is prone to flaking, chapping or cracking that may be painful.
Condition of dry skin is worsened by wind, air conditioning, or temperature extremes. All of these may cause it to feel tight, or to become flaky, chapped or cracked. Dry skin is tightly stretched over the bones and looks dull, particularly around the eyes and on the cheeks. These spots, and the corners of the mouth, often acquire tiny expression lines, called crow's feet, that do not look good.
Sensitive skin is often unable to tolerate some environmental conditions like heat or wind, or some products containing particular chemicals. Exposure to these often results in reddening or blotching of skin with irritation. We may say that sensitive skin is not a particular type of skin; it is only allergic to certain things. It is mostly dry skin that is prone to sensitivity, and so basic skin care measures for dry skin remain applicable to sensitive skin also. However sensitive skin requires an overall approach for proper care which would include avoiding exposure to the things that trigger sensitive reaction.
Skin sensitivity may differ in degree from people to people. Some people may show very severe reaction to some environmental conditions or products, others may have a less severe, mild reaction or no reaction at all.
A sensitive skin can be very uncomfortable. Sudden eruption of red, itching blotches can affect our work and may even lead to embarrassment. Avoiding everything that causes such a skin to react so violently may be really annoying.
Skin care for sensitive skin is a particularly tricky affair as many chemicals used in cleansing products or cosmetics can cause it to flare up. Therefore, natural skin care measures are the safest and most effective way of caring for sensitive skin as natural skin care products are much less likely to trigger the sensitive reaction. Here are some natural measures that will effectively take care of such a skin:
Pay attention to your diet, it can play a big role in controlling sensitive reactions. A diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables can increase the tolerance level of the skin apart from giving it a glow that comes from good health.
On the other hand, there may be some particular foods that may trigger sensitive reaction. Pay careful attention to your diet to find out if this is the case, and avoid these foods. It is usually hot and spicy foods that cause such reactions.
Drinking adequate water is an essential step in general health care, and particularly useful to people with sensitive skin. Well hydrated skin is healthier and more capable of fighting off skin irritants.
Avoid using chemical cosmetics if you have sensitive skin. Instead use herbs or herbal products. There are so many herbal products that can provide the complete range of skin care without causing undesirable reactions which are often triggered by chemicals. Try some of these remedies if you have sensitive skin:
However, even natural products may not be hundred percent safe for people with sensitive skin. Therefore, check any new product you intend to use on a small area of the skin, and don't use it if it appears to be triggering the sensitive reaction symptoms.