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Skin: Your Body's First Line of Defense

You may have heard about the importance of taking care of your skin. You may have even heard how to take care of your skin. But, the fact is, most Americans do very little to care for the largest organ of the human body.

One of the primary functions of the skin is to eliminate a portion of the body's waste products through sweating. Keeping that in mind, the skin is designed to "breathe" through the pores, so if they become clogged due to not being properly cleaned, then the microbes that are involved in causing acne will flourish. Now, that isn't to say that if you wash your face twice a day religiously you will never have a breakout. Sadly, hormones will still play their part. But, keeping your skin clean is a great start!

There are three basic skin types: dry, oily, and combination. If you're really lucky, you may have normal skin. In this case, count your lucky stars and wash your face with gentle cleansers. If you are in the majority of the population not lucky enough to have normal skin, you then fall into one of the aforementioned categories. It is important that you know how to care for your skin type. Properly cleansed skin is a great prevention method from breakouts and keeps the skin looking its very best.

  • Oily Skin
  • You'll know you have oily skin by the constant shine. This skin type tends to attract more dirt and dust than dry skin, thus leading to more clogged pores. This causes blackheads and full-blown breakouts. This skin type benefits from soap and water, so washing with a cleansing bar is ideal. It is best to use warm water to lather as this helps loosen the dirt, then use cold water to rinse. Use toners that contain alcohol and an oil-free moisturizer, though it may not be necessary to use a moisturizer at all. If you absolutely prefer to use a liquid cleanser, be sure that it is light and oil-free.

  • Dry Skin
  • Dry skin is characterized by looking flaky or cracked, and it will feel tight. For some people this means less acne. However, it is very important that you do not wash your face with anything that calls itself 'soap'. This will dry your skin out even more. Instead, use a rich, creamy cleanser followed by a mild, alcohol-free toner. When washing, lather with warm water and rinse with cold. Moisturize every day, including the throat and skin around the eyes. If you wear make-up, use a moisturized foundation - avoid powders if at all possible.

  • Combination Skin
  • This tends to be the most common skin type. Many will find the oiliest spots to be in the T-zone region, which includes the forehead, nose, and chin. The dry areas tend to be around the eyes, parts of the cheeks, and the neck. Ideally you would have skin care products for the different parts, but that is unrealistic. It is much simpler (and less expensive) to use products specifically designed for combination skip type.

Now that you have an idea of how to take care of your particular skin type, there is one more piece of advice that you should incorporate into your daily routine: sunscreen. UV rays and overexposure to the sun can and does cause skin cancer; in fact, it is the leading cause of skin cancer. It is important to protect yourself when spending large amounts of time in the sun. There is no way to safely sunbathe, so for those of you who enjoy it, beware of the risks you take. However, applying an SPF 15 or 20 - better still, a 30 - two hours BEFORE going into the sun and every two hours thereafter, is a good way to help keep your skin healthy.

The mark of healthy skin is looking just as good in your forties as you did in your twenties. By properly maintaining your skin's health, that is an achievable goal!

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