1. What is my skin type? and why? In the US, women self classify their skin type as follows:
- Dry 3%
- Somewhat Dry 17%
- Normal 31%
- Somewhat Oily 16%
- Oily 4%
- Combination 29%
Skin type, as categorized by oil secretion, is determined by heredity. Environmental influences can tend to exacerbate conditions, but the different areas in the skin that produce oil and the different amounts of oil produced is based on genetics.
Separately, over 40% of women self classify themselves as having sensitive skin. Although skin is remarkably robust, harsh treatment of the skin over time has been leads to increasingly sensitive skin. Therefore, to avoid developing sensitive skin or to avoid irritating sensitive skin, you should always try to minimize the amount of ingredients you use on your skin, and make sure that mild products are used whenever possible.
2. Why do seasonal changes affect my skin? The skin is remarkably resilient to damage and change; however, skin is in balance with its environment. Skin becomes normalized to the environmental conditions it routinely faces. Therefore, drastic changes in the environment often leave the skin lagging, requiring the skin to adjust to the new conditions over time. Travelling to a dry climate or the sudden dryness of winter often result in itchy, dry skin until the skin responds by increasing oil production to reduce the water loss. Similarly, changes skin cleansers or other products may tilt the skins balance with the environment.
3. Why does stress affect my skin? Skin is the body's barrier to the outside world -- both as a physical protector and as part of a complex immune defense system. Even today, all the interrelated biological systems supporting the skin are not completely understood. The causes and effects of stress on the body are also not fully known. However, the simple fact is that for some people stress interferes with the body's systems that repair and regulate the skin. For example, the loss in the skins natural antioxidant defenses due to stress can lead to accelerated aging of the skin. Also, hormones associated with stress can trigger a histamine release within the skin causing it to erupt in bumpy redness, or break out in hives.
4. Is there a magic potion for improving my skin? Is there a magic potion for anti-aging? Unfortunately, no. The confusing and contradictory nature of skin care products attest that there is no one magic product for all people. Generally, the less products one uses on the skin the better for the skin's long term health. However, there are anti-aging tips and skin care products that provide true benefits for the user -- sun protection, moisturization, anti-oxidant protection, and reduced inflammation.
5. Is cleansing my skin good or bad? Cleansing is important for the long term health of your skin -- reducing bacteria, keeping pore ducts open and exfoliating surface skin cells. However, cleansing changes the balance of your skin with the environment -- striping protective oils and temporarily disrupting the skin's barrier properties. Additionally, overuse of skin care products can also help to create increasingly "sensitive skin". Always use a gentle cleanser and typically washing twice daily is sufficient.