There are 40 to 50 million people in the United States affected by some type of acne or similar skin changes. Other than local environmental factors, poor hygiene practices, diet, stress, menstrual cycles, hormones, as well as genetics contribute most to the appearance of your skin. Acne, as affected by variable androgen-hormone levels during the teenage years, occurs by stimulating more sebaceous gland activity (skin oil). For some, sebum is beneficial, producing more natural moisturizer for their skin. In others, with small hair follicles, the follicles may become blocked, producing sebaceous pimples. For most, acne is very mild, each new lesion resolving within 8 weeks if not compounded by picking, pinching, piercing or other traumatic excision that may exacerbate the overall condition. People would not need, nor wish to do as much of that which the market offers as skin care if they preventively cared for their themselves.
Still, aside from simple cleansers, most non-invasive, non-prescription, skin care agents are colorants, bleaches, texturizers, superficial fillers, cause temporary, superficial swelling (thereby local fullness) and are otherwise not scientifically proven to perform as claimed. Many substances included in topical agents have not even been studied for efficacy or safety. Others have not been determined to function the same when applied to the skin as they allegedly act when taken internally.
In a society where presenting for even a few hours per day in an enhanced state of appearance may have pronounced social and financial benefits, who am I to suggest that people should not invest in whatever regimens they can afford, actually work for them personally, and are not associated with unwarranted health risks. But, the risk may be difficult to assess when you have no idea how the products are made, and law favors manufacturers and sellers.
For general skin care, consider the following.
- Never start smoking, or quit ASAP.
- Avoid overexposure to the UV light (e.g., sun, tanning lamps). Use a sunscreen lotion with an SPF of at least 15, although you need no more than SPF 30. Choose a sunscreen that is water-resistant and has zinc or titanium oxide among ingredients.
- Topical moisturizers purchased as commercial lotions often function very superficially. Among product ingredients, if there are many elements with unfamiliar names, particularly names that you cannot even pronounce, beware, and make an alternative selection. If there are no ingredient labels or the product labeling is very proprietary and secretive, the effectiveness will likely not justify the price of the product, presuming the product is safe to use. Natural moisturizers – Some oils provide multiple benefits as good facial cleansers, they are anti-comedogenic (deter acne), are anti-inflammatory and promote an even skin color over time without application of hydroquinone. Two such oils are Castor oil (about 90% ricinoleic acid) and grapeseed oil (about 70 percent linoleic oil). Castor oil is very thick and may be more easily applied if blended with a small amount of olive oil, or grapeseed oil, in clean hands before application. Either may be applied, left for about 15 minutes, then washed off as cleansing agents. Or, either may be applied and left to moisturize your skin during the day, washing the oil off before bedtime. Note that Castor oil may be drying to skin if used by itself, not blended.
- Clothing offering optimal coverage, including hats, light neck scarves, and sunglasses are protective in the right settings (e.g., very sunny environments).
- Pillows, cases and hair care – When your hair and your face are dirty, if you lie on your pillow without cleaning your face or hair, you transfer dirt to your pillow and/or case. So, your dirty pillows and pillow cases can become irritants to your complexion.
- Softly massage underlying muscles to enhance facial muscle tone.
- Try to limit nervous or habitual touching your face with fingertips as they are laden with salts, dirt, and other environmental contaminants. Avoid picking, scratching and squeezing lesions as possible to avoid compromising tissues with scars and discoloration.
- Drink plenty of water daily for hydration of the body including the skin (e.g., one ounce per your weight in pounds).
- Fruits and vegetables abounding with vitamins A, C, and E are great for your skin (see Dietary, vegetables & fruits).
- Foods rich in beta-carotene, omega-3 fatty acids, lycopene, magnesium and, selenium are important for strong, healthy skin development and maintenance (see Dietary, including Supplements).
- Soaps and Use
- Glycerin bars are efficient cleansing agents and non-drying. Glycerin is actually hygroscopic, and thereby absorb some airborne moisture into your skin, making your skin softer and less prone to appear dry/ashy in cold weather.
- Exfoliation – Use exfoliating bars, such as fine to medium grade pumice stones, combined with soap for blackheads (dirt-sebum combination), entrapped sebaceous (sebum) pimples and dirt-embedded hair follicles. Exfoliating bars may also help release hairs that curl back upon their own roots or into nearby sebaceous glands causing local inflammation. Exfoliate skin in this manner only once weekly, as it is like “sanding” your face and is irritating if done too often. Aside from that referred to above, many wrongfully believe that it is necessary to vigorously, mechanically or chemically peel facial skin to acquire a beautiful complexion. However, the skin (epidermis) and hair above the skin surface are dead tissues. By removing superficial layers you are primarily addressing dead surfaces that exist to protect you, to keep that which is outside, out. Avoid overtly damaging your external protection by particularly aggressive chemical or mechanical intervention.
Skin color and melanocyte density aside, skin is not all the same. Some people have very dry skin, others’ sebaceous glands are very active (yielding oily skin). Skin naturally changes with age. And, the skin is affected by factors of the environments in which you live, as well as some materials with which you regularly work.
Marketing companies and vanity may adversely impact consumers. Consumers are often led to believe that humans all have perfect skin or could have perfect skin if they would buy specific products. You do not need specific product labels to heal, maintain, and beautify your skin. And, use of makeup is another topical altogether.
If this is insufficient for you and your personal issues, pursue other assistance. Be mindful, and take care of yourself as you are able. Your good health matters.