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Half of your skin care success is in how you apply the products
It is common knowledge that different people can get very different results with the same product. Experts usually explain this fact by variations in individual body chemistry. Sometimes it is indeed true. However, quite often the truth is far simpler. Different people often get different results because they apply skin care products differently.
Keep in mind that lack of results does not necessarily mean that you are applying your skin care incorrectly. Quite a few products don't work whether you apply them correctly or not. Many products work for some people but not for others even if applied correctly. Still, it is quite common that a product fails to work due to incorrect application.
Let us take a look why and how the method of application makes a difference. In essence, a topical skin care product, such as a skin cream, gel or lotion, is a mixture of chemicals. Some of these chemicals are active ingredients (natural or synthetic substances responsible for biological action of the product), while the rest are inactive ingredients (substances that help protect and deliver active ingredients). Ultimately, the effectiveness of the product depends on whether (1) active ingredients work, and (2) whether they penetrate into your skin deeply enough and in sufficient amounts. The former depends on your choice of a product, and the latter -- at least in part -- on how you apply it.
Skin is a dynamic system whose condition and properties depend on temperature, hydration, environment and other factors. Therefore, the skin's ability to absorb topically chemicals can vary greatly. Here is what you can do to ensure optimal penetration of active ingredients:
Cleanse your skin before applying skin care products (particularly if you have applied anything to your skin since your last skin cleansing or washing. The best time to apply skin care products is after you are fresh out of a warm shower or bath because not only is your skin clean but it is also thoroughly moist and should better absorb whatever you apply to it. CAUTION: Do not wash your skin with hot water, excessive heat accelerates skin aging. The water should be comfortably warm but not hot. However, if you plan to apply potentially comedogenic products, splash some cool water onto yourself when finishing your wash in order to close pores. Also, don't spend too much time in the shower to avoid excessive exposure to chlorine in the water.
It is best to apply most products when the skin is moist because active ingredients can penetrate better when they are dissolved. Once your cream has dried up, its rate of penetration decreases dramatically. Don't wipe your skin dry after you cleansed or washed it if you intend to apply a products. If the skin is too wet, just pat a little with a towel.
Warm skin absorbs ingredients better. Before applying a product, make sure your skin isn't cold. Apply a warm towel if needed.
When cleansing your skin, don't use regular soap or shampoo (too drying), use either a good moisturizing soap, like Dove Moisturizing Soap, or simply warm (but not hot) water.
The uppermost layer of the skin, called stratum corneum, is composed mostly of dry, dead cells. If this layer becomes too thick, which is seen in aging or poorly maintained skin, active ingredients of a skin care product have trouble penetrating deeply enough to have an effect. Some people remove stratum corneum by using chemical exfoliants such as alpha hydroxy acids, enzymes or other chemicals. While some exfoliation may be beneficial, overdoing it may do more harm than good to your skin. For most people, a gentle scrub that provides mild exfoliation without doing any harm is a safe and sensible alternative. Furthermore, an excellent facial scrub can be done using very low cost natural materials. For instance, table sugar can be used to prepare a scrub that is both mild, safe, effective and refreshing. It enhances the absorption of active skin care ingredients without damaging your skin. Facial scrub should not be used more than four times a week.
Use short, firm strokes to apply skin care products (it is best to use the middle finger). Do not stretch the skin. Do not rub. After applying, gently tap the area with your fingers for half a minute.
Even if you think that you are doing everything right, you still cannot tell whether the products actually penetrate deep enough to be useful. Fortunately, there is a way to test whether your skin is absorbing what is being applied to it. Certain natural substances can produce a tingling sensation when reaching the dermis, i.e. the target layer for the majority of active ingredients. Applying such a tingly substance to a small area (not near the eyes, of course), allows you to test whether your skin is receptive enough to absorb active ingredients.
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