How to Improve Your Complexion

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A standard skin care regimen includes cleaning, toning and moisturizing.
A standard skin care regimen includes cleaning, toning and moisturizing. (Image: Skin care. Beauty. image by Monika 3 Steps Ahead from Fotolia.com)

Whether you decide to give yourself a makeover or pay for one at a salon, you're going to need to know some basic skin care tips for daily maintenance. Most experts agree that a standard three-step regimen is all you need to keep your face in good shape. If you have more serious skin conditions, several more-involved solutions are available.

Cleanse Daily

If you have dry skin, you'll need to pump a little moisture into your face with your soap. Look for brands of soap that contain either glycerin or a type of silicone, such as cyclomethicone or dimethicone.

If you have oily skin, you're going to want to dry up some of that grease with your soap. Oil is like a glue that sticks all the dirt and bacteria to your face. In turn, this clogs your pores and starts the cycle of eruptions and breakouts. Use a soap that contains salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide to reduce blemishes.

If you have sensitive skin, you're going to need something a little milder than the typical ingredients. Find cleansers that are soap-free, fragrance-free and non-comedogenic.

If you have normal skin, use soaps that contain lanolin, or other oil-free ingredients that will not overly dry your skin.

Many women may want to go through a skin cleansing routine twice: once to start the day by looking their best, and then again at night to remove any makeup before going to bed. Experts will tell you that this is a personal choice. Though it's quite possible to harm your skin by over-treating it with scrubbing, and exfoliating, you should always wash your face before bed to remove makeup and dirt from the day.

Tone Daily

Toning is the process of removing dead skin cells from your face so that the only layer visible is one of bright and healthy new cells. The average human generates a new layer of skin every two to four weeks. You can improve your complexion tremendously by sloughing off dead skin cells and getting rid of excess oil with toner. Toning also helps balance your skin's pH after cleansing.

Moisturize Daily

Having cleansed and then toned your face, you're going to need to do a little mending. Those first two stages can be a little rough on the skin and even if you use products especially designed for your face's chemistry, you may nevertheless have dried it out a little.

Create a protective barrier on your freshly pampered skin. Moisturizers act in two ways: by adding a barrier that traps hydration in your skin, and by pulling water out of the air. One kind acts like a dam (occlusive moisturizers); the other acts like a humidifier (humectant moisturizers). The most famous occlusive is petrolatum. Humectants may include ingredients such as urea or hyaluronic acid.

Use Sunscreen

Two types of UV rays can damage the skin. The first, UVA rays, are known as "tanning rays" and are used in many sun lamps and other sources of artificial tanning. UVB rays are the type that cause sunburn. Using moisturizer that contains SPF 15 or higher can help protect your skin from sun damage.

If you want a glow that will not cause sun damage to your skin. Sunless tanning creams can add a tan to your skin without leading to wrinkles and discoloration, which result from UVB rays.

Treat Serious Skin Conditions

If you're suffering from acne or psoriasis, you may need professional treatment. For mild or moderate acne, your doctor can prescribe topical treatments such as benzoyl peroxide ,salicylic acid and retinoids to clear up the sebum (an oily skin secretion) and unblock your pores. Sunlight and ultraviolet light can also help acne briefly, but can still damage the skin.

Psoriasis is another skin disorder that occurs in as many as 2 percent of adults. The condition manifests itself through red patches on the skin that are covered by silvery-white scales. Though the precise causes of psoriasis are not known, most researchers believe the problem is triggered by an abnormal immune reaction against some component of the skin -- common causes may include stress, injuries to the skin and, less frequently, certain medications. The reaction leads the skin to grow at about seven times the normal rate.

A professional dermatologist or physician can treat both of these conditions.

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