I've been reading Simple Skin Beauty: Every Woman's Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin by Ellen Marmur, MD, because I like that kind of thing.
It wasn't as fun as books about homemade food masks (honey + milk is my favorite), but it did have a lot of information that is revolutionary--to me, anyway.
First, homemade food masks are USELESS. Why, oh why, did I read this book?? You have no idea how much enjoyment I got from mixing up an oatmeal/honey, or avocado/oatmeal, or milk, or bunches of other things, masks. As they aren't harmful to your skin, I could still make them, but a lot of the fun will be gone now that I know they don't do anything.
Except milk. According to the doctor (according to herself she's the Chief of Dermatologic and Cosmetic Surgery at The Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York), milk is a natural exfoliator so if you want to stop using chemicals, using milk once or twice a week for normal to oily skin would be sufficient exfoliation. Just swipe it on, leave for three to four minutes, and rinse off. Awesome, because I already do that. My skin is too sensitive for scrubs. And yes, I do love all this girly stuff. I'm very much a Fancy Nancy at heart.
Other revelations--all facials are bunk. There is no such thing as "deep cleaning" your pores as the dermis effectively blocks outside particles and the skin is constantly renewing so the deep part of your skin doesn't need cleaned. The best part of facials, according to doc, is the massage as it stimulates something or other that leads to something or other and makes your face look brighter. Or something. What I got from it--facials, waste of money skin-care speaking, facial massages good.
Other revelation--the number one problem people have with their skin is OVER WASHING it. And, well, over doing it in every category. She claims that she only rinses her face with cold water in the mornings and applies a tiny bit of moisturizer if her face feels tight. Usually she doesn't moisturize in the morning. At night, she washes her face with a face cleaner and washrag, applies moisturizer as she feels her face needs, and that's it. She doesn't use toner at all because with all the chemicals and cleaning agents in face cleaners, there is nothing left for the toner to remove. She says the only use she could possibly envisage for toner is for someone with oily skin using it in the morning instead of washing her face. Who knew???
She says the less we put on our faces the better so use a good cleanser with a good moisturizer and that's about it for basic maintenance.
She also said the only anti-aging cream known to work is SUNSCREEN. She goes on and on about this during all the chapters and she devotes one whole chapter to just this. Yes, I am feeling guilty. Yes, I know I should put on sunscreen right after my moisturizer and right before my make-up. Yes, I've been doing it faithfully since reading this book. That's all I have to say about that.
Here's the best part--she gave us a quick list of things to look for and avoid in our products if we have certain tendencies in our skin (don't say you have an oily skin type, she will disapprove--all skin has stages of dryness, sensitivity, and oilyness--the important thing is keeping track of what our skin needs are today).
If your skin is generally oily or acne-prone look for: sodium laureth sulfate, sodium cocyl isethionate, cocmidopropyl betaine, disodium cocamphodiacetate. Active ingredients: salicyclic acid, benzoyl peroxide. AVOID: emolliants such as shea butter, mineral oil, lanolin, petrolatum, paraffin, beeswax, squalene, oils, alkyl benzoate, silicones, palmitates (ethylhexyl, isopropyl, and cetyl palmitates), acrylate polymers (in sunscreen), titanium dioxide, zinc oxide. So, basically, I shouldn't be using cetaphil. Grr. Now to find a different cleanser I like as well.
If anyone wants the generally dry or generally sensitive lists, let me know and I'll post them. FYI: I thought cetaphil was an extremely gentle product to use but it is actually more in the medium range. Also, she listed some natural products that she thought were good if you're into that thing. She said it didn't matter so much in skin care because all the synthetic stuff is the same stuff as natural (acid is acid whether it is produced or extracted from citrus). Don't kill the messenger--I'm just telling you what she said.
Pleasant dreams and beautiful skin to all my lovely book club friends.