It doesn't matter if you're pale or tan, freckled or smooth, 25 or 50, beautiful skin is easy to achieve and maintain. I'm not an esthetician, but I know a thing or two about self-care.
I've got good skin. I'll say it. I'm fortunate to have it, but I also devote an inordinate amount of time to pampering and protecting it. When I was in my teens, I had acne. Not horrible acne, but I definitely suffered. And when I was about 19, I had a horrible, nasty outbreak on my chin that lasted for MONTHS. I still don't know what caused it, but I think it was a combination of birth control, stress, and not taking care of myself. Now I have a pimple or two, but they are definitely manageable and don't dominate my face.
It's always fascinated me how different people's bodies are from one another. We're all human beings, we're made of flesh and bone, blood and fat, et cetera. Yet some people can eat as much cake, cookies, and cokes as they want and stay thin, while others are forced to eat rabbit food to maintain. Some people have a negative reaction to certain vitamins, others need the same supplements to thrive. It's the same way with skin care products.
I've always preferred a bar of soap to cleanse my face. There's something about the slippery feel of a fat cake of soap, and the voluminous suds, that sends me. I love to lather up two, three, even four times. Two of my favorites are the Dove Beauty Bar and Cetaphil Facial Bar. It's inexpensive, sweet-smelling, good for sensitive skin, and doesn't leave a residue. The second, which I'm currently using, is Cetaphil. It has a slightly more "chemical" feel to it, but it's still a good bar of soap.
I tried using cream or gel cleansers for a long time. They never seemed to really clean my face, nor did they keep blemishes at bay. Yet there are people who would never dream of using anything but these types of cleansers. Others like cold cream or cleansing pads. What works for you might not work for me, even if we have similar skin types, and vice versa. It's interesting how different people can be.
My advice, should you choose to accept it, is rudimentary. Good skin begins with the mind. You need to believe you have good skin. You need to accept that beautiful, clear skin is a part of your identity, what people see when they look at you. Next, you keep rituals which support that belief. Your rituals are the things you do every day to take care of your beautiful skin.
* Cleanse twice a day, once in the morning and then at night. Experiment with different cleansers to see what works for you. Bar soaps, creams, gels, cleansing pads, and even the Oil Cleansing Method are all methods to explore.
* Exfoliate once a day with a gentle exfoliant. I've mentioned my favorite, a mixture of olive oil and sugar, but as long as the grains aren't too large, any one you purchase should suffice. Be very gentle as you rub your face in a circular motion. Concentrate on your nose and chin.
* Moisturize. I'm a huge fan of oils, like olive and grapeseed, but these are not always realistic when beginning your day. I use Dove Beauty Fluid as a moisturizer. It's not my favorite, as I've yet to find a moisturizer I'm in love with, but it does the job and smells nice. You should explore a lot of different moisturizers to find the one that makes you feel good. In my opinion, the best moisturizer should make your skin feel plump, soft, and dewey. At night, you could try the oils that I mentioned. Women in the Mediterranean swear by olive oil for beautiful skin, and I think they may be onto something. I love grapeseed, as it has vitamin e and is touted as being the fountain of youth by some health nuts.
* I think rose water is an excellent way to beautify your skin. It's refreshing, smells lovely, and makes you look like you just stepped out of a Roman bath!
* Once or twice a week, you must use a good mask. Shop around depending on your skin type. If you have dry skin, naturally you would like a hydrating mask. Elizabeth Arden has a nice one. For those with acne or on a budget, the Queen Helene Mint Julep mask is a nice addition to your rituals. For the truly committed beauty queens, there is the Aztec Clay Mask. This is not for the faint of heart, but it is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. It's comprised of nothing but mud clay and when mixed with apple cider vinegar (I've told you how marvelous this is for the skin) or water, it will take care of your skin for years. It will not feel good while it's on, but it pulls impurities out of your skin. When used consistently, it eradicates acne and keeps your skin healthy and flawless. Remember to keep it on until it's completely dry, which could take an hour or so, and do not put anything on your face for about an hour afterwards. Your face will pulsate while it's drying, and that can be uncomfortable, but it's worth it. Expect serious redness after you remove this miracle. The Aztec mask is so inexpensive and lasts forever. It's easily found on the internet, but most health stores should carry it.
* A nice practice is to give your face a steam bath every so often. Boil water on a stove, add some chamomile tea and other nice-smelling things, and hang a towel over your head while you let the scented steam open your pores for ten minutes. Follow with a spray of rose water to further clean your pores.
* It's not realistic for most of us to get a luxurious facial whenever we want at the BEST spa in town, but consider visiting your local beauty schools. For example, there is a decent beauty school in my area that offers hour-long facials for a mere $20 dollars. The students are always overseen by a professional while they perform their work, and you can't beat the price.
* Exercise. There's no way to get around it: exercise is beneficial to your skin.
* Supplements are a great way to make sure your skin gets everything it needs. You needn't drop a load either, as quality supplements are available inexpensively at www.vitacost.com. Here are the ones I've found that provide exceptional support to skin.
A juice complex of some kind (including things like noni, mangosteen, pomegranate)
* You know the drill. As much fresh, clean (no tap) water a day as you can manage without overdosing. Too much can be unhealthy, but your body will tell you when that limit has been reached.
* Ginger and Green tea are good skin beautifiers.
* Try my beauty tonic. Combine hot water with a tablespoon of honey and lemon juice, with some apple cider vinegar thrown in. Be careful, as those last two are highly acidic. You don't want to destroy your beautiful teeth.