Back to Basics, Skin Care

Back to Basics: What should you look for in a facial mask?

You may have found the perfect combination of cleanser, moisturizer, and serums. However, you may still be lacking a touch of moisture or want softer skin. You are thinking you already apply quite a few products during your morning/evening routine so what else can you do? Facials at spas can be very pricey, especially when done on a regular basis.

At home facial masks may be the answer to your problem. Their possible benefits cover a wide range of needs, all you have to do is identify what you want. Masks blanket the skin, helping the active ingredients be absorbed more deeply. Depending on the mask, it can draw out impurities, eliminate dead cells, moisturize and tighten or tone skin.

Masks are typically worn for 10-15 minutes, depending on the mask. However, some deep moisturizing masks are worn overnight to allow maximum penetration. When applying a mask you should do so on clean skin before you put any moisturizer on. It is also recommended to gently steam your skin over a cup of hot water or pat with a warm washcloth to open the pores up and loosen impurities.

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Best mask by skin type:

1. Dry and/or sensitive skin: A hydrating mask is the only one you should use. Anything else will be too harsh. Chose a cream formula over a clay or exfoliating mask. The purpose is to rejuvenate and protect your skin. One great DIY mask for dry skin is greek yogurt with a teaspoon of honey. The enzymes in the yogurt help remove dry, flaky skin while maintaining your skin’s natural oil balance.

2. Acne prone skin: Avoid using any mask that strips too much moisture. One powerful recommendation is to use oil to fight oil. As the case with oil facial cleansers, masks with oil are beneficial to acne prone skin as the oil bonds with oil to remove the excess. Start with a clay or gel mask, you can even add a little oil to the formula for double the effect.

3. Oily skin: Clay and exfoliating masks are the way to go. The minerals from the clay will leave your face feeling soft and supple, however, they tend to dry your skin out a bit too much. To counteract that use a hydrating mask afterward to add the necessary moisture back into your skin.

4. Combination skin: Use a clay mask on the t zone and a hydrating mask, such as the DIY enzyme mask on the rest of your face. Another twist on the yogurt mask is to mash up pineapple or papaya as the enzymes found in these fruits are great for removing dead skin cells. Your skin may change with the seasons so adjust accordingly.

If you have a favorite DIY mask or mask in general please share or leave a comment with questions or suggestions.

Makeup, Skin Care

Why shouldn’t I pick my face? Tips on dealing with blemishes

As a teenager and young adult we have been told to stop picking our faces. It is nearly impossible to resist the temptation when you are looking in the mirror and see an unsightly blemish that must go. Especially since they seem to turn up at the worst possible time. What you may not be thinking about is the damage you might inflict on your skin by popping that pimple.

What is Acne?

Acne is caused when hair follicles become plugged by oil and dead skin cells. If the openings are larger you end up with a blackhead and if the opening is small you end up with a whitehead. Both can develop into tender, red, swollen inflammations or pimples. No single factor causes acne but links have been made to hormone changes and, if you have oily/combination skin you are more prone to acne as your skin tends to overproduce oil.

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What’s the big deal?

So, you are thinking why shouldn’t I try to get rid of a blemish? Besides oil and dead skin cell build up, blemishes also contain bacteria. When you squeeze the blemish you may be pushing the bacteria deeper into your skin, causing a deeper inflammation and longer healing time. You are also breaking the barrier between that particular blemish and the rest of your skin. You could actually see more blemishes in that area by picking at it. If your nails and fingers are not clean you may also be introducing new bacteria to the area. Scarring can happen as fingernails and other tools can tear the skin. Scars take much longer to heal and disappear than a blemish. In some cases, scars may be permanent.

What can I do about a blemish?

One easy way to avoid acne is check your makeup bag. If you are using heavy foundations and creams, you may not need them or be using too much and not washing it off at night.  It is also possible you aren’t using the right cleansing/moisturizing products. Go through and evaluate your products to make sure you are using the correct ones. I have said it before, if it doesn’t work don’t be afraid to toss it. You aren’t doing your skin any favors by using a product that isn’t right just because you bought it.

It is also recommended to steer clear of pore strips. They could actually, over time, enlarge your pores, and they don’t really get the deep down portion of the blemish that is causing the problem. Products with salicylic acid are a better investment as they act like a exfoliant, removing dead skin cells and getting deep into the pore. Look for a toner you apply with a cotton swab directly after cleansing.

In reality, blemishes will heal themselves in about 3-7 days if left alone. Instead of picking, invest in a dry, non-comedogenic concealer to hide the visible redness. The dry concealers usually come in sticks or pots. Use a brush to get the product exactly where you need it and blend past the borders of the blemish for better coverage.

If you found this helpful please share or leave a comment if you have suggestions or questions.

Back to Basics, Skin Care

Back to Basics: Why moisturize?

As the case with cleansers there are many moisturizers on the market. The most important question to answer is: Why moisturize? A common misconception is if you have normal, combination, or oily skin you don’t need moisturizers because your skin already produces just the right amount or too much oil. In fact, if you don’t, your skin will actually over-produce oil trying to compensate after cleansing.


Cleansers are designed to wash away the impurities and extra oil. Moisturizers are just as essential as they hold water in the outermost layer of your skin and create a barrier against environmental elements. Skipping this important step can throw your skin’s natural moisture off balance and speed up the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

If too much oil is a problem, you want to make sure you find a moisturizer that is non-comedegenic (won’t clog pores) and oil free so you don’t add more oil to your skin. These are lighter and you will be able to feel the difference between one meant for combination/oily skin vs. one for dry skin. If you use acne products you should moisturize right after to minimize the skin’s irritation. I can’t stress enough the importance of using a light moisturizer if you have combination/oily skin to maintain balance.

If you have drier skin you will want a creamer, more robust moisturizer. It will tend to be thicker and contain an emollient such as Shea butter or Vitamin E. Emollients seal and lock your skin’s moisture in, providing a protective barrier. You will see an immediate difference in your skin when you apply the right moisturizer. It will appear plump, feel hydrated, and the flakes will be gone.

If your skin feels tight, it means you need a product with more moisture. If it is too oily, dial back and find a lighter moisturizer. Your skin will also change with the seasons so if you found a product that works great in the summer and all of a sudden it doesn’t do anything in the winter, listen to your skin and find a moisturizer for the season.

When picking out your moisturizer you will find that some boast anti-aging benefits, organic ingredients, etc. You will need to determine what is important to you.  You may have to try a few different products before finding the right one. Don’t be afraid to return the product if it’s not working for your skin. Using the wrong product is one of the worst things you can do.

If you are unsure of your skin type, refer to my previous post about choosing the right cleanser for your skin. If this information was helpful please share it by liking my post and if you have any questions or comments post them below. I would love to hear from you!