Taylor’d With Style: Swirl It In
By JeanAnn Taylor
In 1999, when the world was predicted to end on New Year’s Eve because of computer glitches, people all over America stocked up on water, canned goods, and other necessary survival items. Me? I thought about what I would miss most of all if I were doomed to die soon and decided to stock up on creams and lotions.
As a young girl, I was infatuated with everything my grandmother did—from baking biscuits to her skill of cutting the skin off an apple in one, long, swirling piece. I spent most of my weekends with her and tried to absorb everything she taught me. Although Crisco or bacon fat were included in many of her recipes, she tried to have a healthy lifestyle and take care of herself.
To stay fit, she went for long walks in the late afternoons; to stay limber, she touched her toes every night before she got into bed. She also took pride in her skin care regimen, which included washing her face every morning and night, then applying her “cream.” I can still hear her say, “Just swirl it in.” When she passed at 110-years-old, she still had her soft, glowing complexion.
Skin care is a complex, billion-dollar-plus industry, but it doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive because the two most important elements are simply cleansing and moisturizing. While there are hundreds of products to choose from, the two main considerations are your skin type and the season.
Normal skin is not oily or dry: it maintains a natural moisture balance and is not prone to breakouts. A light, water-based moisturizer is recommended.
Oily skin has overactive oil glands and can look shiny or greasy. Oily skin is prone to breakouts. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that oily skin doesn’t need to be moisturized! A light, water-based moisturizer that won’t clog your pores is recommended.
Dry skin appears flaky due to its lack of moisture. An oil-based moisturizer will work best.
Sensitive skin may look dry or red when exposed to certain ingredients. To avoid reactions, choose products with no added fragrances or dyes.
Combination skin has both oily and dry places on the face. Choose products specifically created for combination skin.
Mature skin deserves extra pampering. An oil-based moisturizer will help skin cells stay hydrated—reducing the appearance of fine lines. Ingredients such as retinol, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin C add anti-aging properties.
To begin a skin-care regimen, the most important element is clean skin. Washing your face each morning will remove night cream and provide a fresh canvas for day cream and makeup.
Cleansing your face each night before bed will wash away sweat, pollution, excess oil, and dead skin cells. It’s called “beauty sleep” because when you sleep, your body heals itself by repairing and rebuilding. Clean skin will allow your night cream to work more effectively.
To properly cleanse your face, first remove all traces of makeup using a makeup remover, or for a natural choice, coconut oil. Wet your face with warm water before applying cleanser. This will help the cleanser glide across your face. Too-hot water will dry and irritate delicate facial skin.
Massage in a circular, swirly motion. It’s important to use a cleanser specifically made for your face as regular soap is too harsh and may cause dryness and irritation. Gentle exfoliation can also be done each evening. There are many exfoliating products available, but a soft washcloth will do the job. Don’t rub or pull; gently massage your face with the cloth—in a swirly motion.
Be sure to use a clean cloth each time or you will be applying bacteria directly onto your skin. Rinse and pat dry. Dead skin cells are dull skin cells. Washing them down the drain will allow new cells to rise to the surface. A clean face will also make it easier for your skin to absorb the moisturizer.
If you desire, the next step is to apply a toner. The purpose of a toner is to improve the skin’s surface by reducing the size of pores and to balance the pH. Toners also moisturize by acting as humectants which draw moisture into the skin.
The next, and most luxurious step, is to moisturize. Moisturizers not only feel wonderful, they plump skin cells to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles; attract and seal in water; encourage your skin to repair and regenerate; help makeup glide on more easily; and create a protective barrier against the elements of weather and pollution. The choice now is to determine between lotion or cream.
Lotions are lighter because they have a high water-to-oil content. They go on smoothly and absorb quickly. During the day, you may choose an SPF lotion. Lightweight lotions typically require more preservatives to keep bacteria from growing in the water-based product.
Creams are thicker than lotions because they have a higher oil-to-water ratio. The higher oil content means that fewer added ingredients are necessary since bacteria cannot grow in the low water-based emollient. Night creams are specially formulated to keep skin hydrated during the hours you are asleep.
It’s best to apply moisturizer to your face while your skin is still damp so that it can seal in the water. To properly apply lotion or cream, dab a bit on your forehead, nose, cheeks, and chin. Swirl it in using only your ring finger. This massaging motion will increase blood circulation and encourage absorption without pulling or tugging.
Don’t forget your hands, nails, heels, and toes! WebMD.com recommends using petroleum jelly on your feet for an intense softening session. Simply rub the jelly along the bottom of your feet and in between your toes. Slip on a pair of socks and let the jelly go to work.
You can also apply thick jelly or cream to your hands before putting on your gardening gloves; you’ll get a beauty treatment while you pull weeds. Nails need moisture too. Brittle nail syndrome can be avoided by simply pushing a little moisturizer into your cuticles each time you apply hand lotion.
With each new season, you may find that you need to assess your cleansing and moisturizing needs. In the winter, you may enjoy using a heavier cream, while during the summer, a lighter lotion will do. The seasons of your life will also dictate which type of skin care works best. Age, pregnancy, and menopause all impact the integrity of your skin.
With the exception of sunscreen, most creams and lotions don’t have expiration dates. They do however have a shelf life for optimum results. The New Year is the perfect time to check and toss out anything that is old or has expired.
As you clean out your skin care products, you may also clean out your makeup shelf or drawer, and wash your makeup bag. Skin care products can be messy! Keeping your space and products clean will help keep bacteria from growing and spreading onto your face.
All this modern, scientific information just confirms what my sweet granny instinctively knew all along, “Wash your face and put on your cream—just swirl it in.”