On day 77 of my 366-day self-care challenge, I explored how to practice good skin care.
Skin care is an important aspect of self-care that is often neglected. It’s ironic, too, because our skin is our largest, most visible organ, which also makes it more susceptible to environmental stressors. The sun, air pollutants, and even some of the products we use regularly can damage our skin over time.
There are many ways we can support good skin integrity: drinking enough water, eating a nutrient-rich diet, and, in some cases, seeing a skin care specialist.
When I was younger I hated my freckles, and I used to cover every inch of my face with makeup to hide them. But now that I’m older I don’t care as much, yet nearly every esthetician I’ve consulted with over the past 10 years has tried to convince me to undergo treatments to reduce “hyperpigmentation.”
I find that interesting.
In some cultures, we perceive lines, wrinkles and blemishes as a sign of wisdom and experience, and in others (especially the US) the natural process of aging elicits less than desirable judgments. Even so, I’ve come to accept and embrace the new creases that appear without fail each year, and I now view them as evidence that I am experienced at “living.”
Reversing the signs of aging may not be among my personal goals, but I do believe that practicing good self-care can help us age more gracefully.
Like massages, facials can be relaxing and rejuvenating, and while treatments vary, most include some combination of cleansing, exfoliating, moisturizing, and massage. Some experts recommend getting facials monthly, but I tend to schedule appointments when I notice that my skin is excessively dry, or when I experience more breakouts than usual.
Today’s act of self-care was to get a facial.
Finding a skin care specialist that you like and trust is important. I’ve discovered that the training and knowledge of estheticians vary greatly within the field. I’ve been told that a product contains “fatty amino acids” (sorry, that doesn’t exist) and that a specific treatment “helps toxify the body” (I’m pretty sure she meant detoxify, except it isn’t scientifically possible for a facial to do that). And there have been several other encounters like this when I knew what I was being told was simply incorrect. To be clear, all the estheticians I have worked with over the years have been some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met, and I know they genuinely believe in what they do – even if they are, in part, motivated to sell products to earn a commission. The point is, be sure to do your own research before deciding to add a new product or treatment to your skin care routine.
Likewise, in some cases it may be more appropriate to seek the help of a dermatologist rather than an esthetician. Changes in the color or size of moles, itchiness, rashes, or other changes in your skin may warrant an examination by a medical doctor.
Regardless of your approach to practicing good skin care, taking time for yourself is what’s important.