What You Must Know About Basic Skin Care: Moisturizer, Part 1

Happiness is the secret to all beauty; there is no beauty that is attractive without happiness. ~Christian Dior 

The single most important thing you can do to your skin is apply moisturizer. I cannot stress this enough. Your skin needs two things to be healthy: to be nourished from within with nutrient-dense, colorful, plant-based foods and to be protected on the outside from the damaging effects of our everyday environment. Moisturizing is the first defense against skins' water loss (i.e. dehydration). As I described briefly in my previous post, a dehydrated skin shows more lines, wrinkles, sagging, and is more likely to be flaky, red, and have blackheads and breakouts. It is safe to say that in all but a few rare cases, you cannot moisturize your skin enough! The key is knowing which type of moisturizer to use for your skin's specific needs. This post will address the majority average of skin types, which includes combination, normal, dry, and mature. This information also applies to men's skin. A very oily or acneic skin has different needs, which I will address in a future post.

Because moisturizer will stay on your skin all day and all night, it's extremely important that the ingredients are of the utmost, high quality. What that means is that the ingredients should be simple and easily recognizable. Anything that you apply to your skin should theoretically be edible, and if you see a long, unpronounceable word with a number after it in the list of ingredients, it's usually a laboratory-created synthetic chemical. Do not buy that product. It will age you and probably make you break out. The two readily available, inexpensive, and safe brands to use are Aubrey Organics and Burt's Bees. There are many other outstanding organic brands, but they are expensive (I will talk about these wonderful 'luxury' brands in a future post).

Why is moisturizer so important?

Essentially, moisturizer keeps your skin lubricated. Have you ever noticed how the first, and deepest, wrinkles appear where your skin moves the most? Crow's feet around the eyes, little lines above the lips, lines from the nose to the mouth, and creases on the neck? These are all the places where your skin moves the most...from smiling, laughing, talking. Of course smiles and laughs are wonderful and no life is worth living without them. So, since you would never want to stop doing these things, you must lessen their mark on your face. I can tell you right now that the secret to having beautiful skin is prevention. A girl must start moisturizing her skin at an early age, and if an older woman hasn't been doing this, she should start immediately (to lessen further damage). The only way to prevent these lines and the negative effects of dehydration is to be vigilant about applying moisturizer to your skin as often as possible: from head to toe morning and night, and to your body a few times throughout the day (to hands, arms, neck, and chest). It's infinitely easier (and much less expensive) to prevent things like acne, wrinkles, dryness, etc, in the first place than trying to treat them once they are already a problem. So, what to do?

For approximately the past seven years, I have been applying Trader Joe's Vitamin E oil to my skin from head to toe, nearly every single day after I shower and sometimes before I go to bed (depending on how much energy I have at the end of the night!). It costs $4 per bottle and each bottle lasts at least one month. You can find it at any Trader Joe's store or online.

Why is Vitamin E important to skin?

Put as simply as possible, vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that protects your skin cells against damage, and damage is what causes aging. So, by protecting your skin, you dramatically slow the signs of aging. Vitamin E applied to the skin will keep it full of water, reduce the redness and inflammation of breakouts, appearance of fine lines, and formation of blackheads.

Let me tell you a story about this impressive oil: I was fortunate enough this past winter to spend a week in the Caribbean. I savored this gorgeous experience as much as possible, which often meant spending my time lounging on powdery soft white sand, soaking in the strong equatorial sun, for a week straight. It's an experience that I cherish, but it had an interesting and scary effect on my skin. Essentially, the sun cooked it...even though I had constantly applied sunscreen from head to toe, my skin looked like desert sand: cracked, dull, and completely parched. I was mortified that I had damaged it beyond all repair in exchange for my week in paradise. I was out of vitamin E oil, and I tried everything...grapeseed oil, olive oil, aloe, anything I could find. Nothing improved the cracked flakiness. After a few weeks I finally made it to Trader Joe's, and immediately applied my beloved vitamin E oil to every inch of my skin. Two days later, my skin was transformed. It was smooth, supple, luminous. I knew this stuff was good, but that experience really drove that fact home.

I have tried so many different moisturizing products over the past eight years, and I always come back to Trader Joe's Vitamin E oil. It's ridiculously affordable and produces miraculous results. You can't go wrong. Either you try it and love the way your skin looks, or you try it and don't like it and you've only spent $4.

How to use:

At least once a day, after cleansing skin and while it is still damp, apply approximately one to two tablespoons of vitamin E oil from your neck to your toes (I also put a pea-sized amount in my hair after washing, starting at the ends). Take special care to apply, gently and firmly, a bit extra to the areas that need it most (the areas that are most exposed to the environment: neck, chest, shoulders, arms, and hands). Once it's fully applied to your body, utilize the thin film of oil left on your hands and, ever so gently, press it under your eyes, on your upper lip, and give a quick pat to the rest of your face and especially, your neck. Repeat this also at night, after cleansing your face, taking care to apply to your neck, chest, arms, and hands as well.

I can not stress enough that some oil is essential to healthy skin. So many women wage all out war on any trace of oil in and on their skin. I can tell you that this mindset is incorrect, and you are doing yourself an enormous disservice if you 'hate' the feel of any oil on your skin. I've done 'experiments' and asked my boyfriend if my skin feels greasy...he always says no. :-) I can't convince you to like it, but I can tell you that it works. Oil is your friend, and will make your skin look radiant and feel soft. Trust me on this.

Because moisturizing is such an important subject, I've decided to separate it into two parts. Stay tuned for Basic Moisturizers, Part 2!