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Two Simple Steps to Improve Your Skin

Updated on October 6, 2009

Better Skin Made Easy (and Affordable!)

Many women are not satisfied with the appearance of their skin, but they aren't sure how to make their skin better. Today, there are endless choices in anti-aging products, many with the latest science behind them. Peptides, such as those in Olay Regenerist, and hyaluronic acid, the active ingredient in Loreal's Skin Genesis line, are new additions that are quickly becoming anti-aging superstars. Strong antioxidants such as vitamins A,C, and E smooth lines and work together with sunblock to resist UV damage.

Cosmetic procedures, such as facial peels and microdermabrasion, offer a clean slate for your complexion. Lasers are used to remove dark spots. Botox nixes forehead wrinkles and Restylane smooths the "parentheses" between the mouth and nose.

All of these are important advances in cosmetic skin care. Each woman must decide for herself what she wishes to do for her own satisfaction and improvement. These choices may very well be influenced by cost considerations. Professional cosmetic services are expensive and department store anti-agers can be pricey.

I would like to suggest a simple and very affordable approach to better skin--exfoliation and moisturization. Any part of your body will look better once it's been exfoliated and moisturized. Bumpy areas look better. Flabby areas look better. Scarred areas look better. Veiny areas look better. And it doesn't take weeks to notice this change!

The Golden Rule of Skin Care

To start, we have to review the golden rule in skin care: you must apply sunblock to your face and neck every single day. Sunblock is the original and best anti-wrinkle cream available! It's never too late (or too early) to get into this habit. UV damage builds over time, so anything you can do to reduce the effects of the sun will help you to avoid sun spots, wrinkles and possible skin cancer. Eucerin Daily Protective Facial Lotion SPF 30 or Aveeno Positively Radiant Moisturizer with SPF 30 are good choices for sun protection.

Cleanse Gently

Next, look at what cleanser you are using. Deodorant bar soap is too aggressive, leaving your skin parched. Instead, try Dove original bar soap or Johnson's Deep Hydrating Body Wash. For your face, try Olay Sensitive Skin Foaming Face Wash or Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser. Both of these formulas cleanse well and remove makeup, but they won't strip your face of moisture.

Exfoliate and Moisturize--Your skin will look great!

Now we are ready to move on to the first step toward better skin: exfoliation. What can exfoliation do for you? It can help prevent blemishes, smooth bumpy spots, remove calluses (foot scrub, anyone?) and refine your complexion. Refine is a word thrown around a lot, but what does it really mean in terms of the look of your skin? Smaller pores, tighter skin and a fresher look are what "refined" looks like. After you exfoliate, your skin is smoother and much more receptive to your moisturizer/antiagers--they will sink right in!

Chemical Exfoliation: Using acids and enzymes to renew

There are two types of exfoliators: chemical and physical. Chemical exfoliators include alpha and beta hydroxy acids, along with exfoliating fruit enzymes. Glycolic acid and lactic acid are alpha hydroxy acids. They dissolve dead skin cells, lighten dark spots somewhat over time, and smooth the skin. Creams and lotions with these acids will exfoliate and moisturize in one step! Alpha Hydrox White AHA Exfoliating Cream with 8% glycolic acid is a good choice for the face. (This "White" line is formulated for sensitive skin, so it is unlikely to cause irritation.)  For the body, try AmLactin Lotion or Cream with 12% lactic acid.

Beta hydroxy acids, namely salicylic acid, are able to penetrate into the pores. This action is very useful for preventing acne, because blocked pores are one link in the chain that creates blemishes. A good choice for this purpose is Stridex Essential with Vitamins soft touch pads. This is a 1% salicylic treatment that is alcohol-free, so it doesn't sting, and it has added antioxidants and aloe vera to soothe.

Beta hydroxy acids are also used in anti-aging facial lotions to exfoliate the skin. Two good choices are Olay Age Defying Deep Renewal Lotion and Loreal Future E lotion. I used SPF15 Future E every morning for years, and I was pleased with the way my skin looked after the first application. I recommend these lotions especially to those who have oily/acne prone skin.

Several fruit enzymes, such as papaya, pineapple and pumpkin, are used in exfoliating masks and body lotions. The facial masks should be used at night and only 2-3 times per week as they are more likely to irritate the skin when used more often. These masks tend to cause redness and they can feel warm, making them a poor choice for anyone with rosacea or sensitive skin. They are however effective and can give your face a renewed look. One to try? Freeman Feeling Beautiful Pineapple Facial Enzyme Mask. This mask has it ALL: enzymes, glycolic and lactic acid! For the body, try Nature's Gate Papaya Moisturizing Lotion--you can use this daily.

Manual Exfoliation: Out with the old, in with the new!

What about physical or manual exfoliation? Any scrub that uses ground shells or microbeads is a manual exfoliant. Sugar, salt and oatmeal are also manual exfoliants. You get an immediate feeling of smoothness using these, but there is some controversy surrounding them. Some beauty experts believe scrubs damage the skin, causing tiny tears that weaken skin structure. The key to avoiding damage is to use a very light hand. Splash your face with warm water before applying a scrub. Use a soft circular motion to go over each part of the face once. Rinse with warm water without rubbing your face until most of the residue is off. Lightly dislodge the remaining scrub with your fingers. Facial scrubs should be used in the shower because they can be rinsed thoroughly without a lot of rubbing. Aveeno Skin Brightening Daily Scrub is very gentle and you can see results right away.

Body scrubs can make a real difference--your skin will look better, and once you moisturize, it will glow! Try St. Ives Oatmeal Shea Body Polish. It's a sugar scrub with calming oatmeal and moisturizing shea butter--good stuff! Follow with a rich moisturizer such as Palmer's Cocoa Butter Lotion, or an organic choice: Kiss My Face Fragrance Free Olive and Aloe Ultra Moisturizer. (This lotion can also be used on your face.) Do you prefer a body oil? Burt's Bees Apricot Baby Oil is a celebrity favorite!

Tips You Can Use

Use exfoliating lotions for the face or body once per day. Use facial exfoliating lotions before bed. Any time you are exfoliating your skin, regardless of the method, you must protect your skin from the sun. The new skin that is revealed is sensitive to sunlight.

Gentle facial scrubs can be used once daily. Body scrubs can be used 2-3 times a week. All scrubs should be used in the shower so they can be rinsed off with minimal rubbing.

For those with very sensitive skin, using a washcloth with your cleanser may be the only form of exfoliation that is prudent.


Exfoliation is an old school approach to good skin that works! Many of the new antiagers take weeks to work, and if you don't apply them consistently, you won't see a benefit. This simple two-step method gives you immediate results that encourage you to continue your efforts. It is doable, effective and affordable!

Start making your skin beautiful today!


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      milkmoney 8 years ago

      I really like the Eucerin, it does not feel greasy and does a great job moisturizing your face. Never makes me break out!