It's something everyone wants and is almost desperate for. We will try anything and go to great lengths to achieve it. But what if I said it is pretty simple once you know your skin? I'm sure there are plenty of you out there, like me, who have tried everything on the store shelves and prescriptions that the dermatologist has recommended which helps a little bit but leaves your skin feeling dry, itchy, red, and inflamed. Fortunately, I've been through it and can give some advice of what worked for me.
Be Nice to Your Amazing Skin
Your skin is the largest organ of your body and one of the most important organs. It protects us from infection, extreme temperatures, harmful substances, and damaging sunlight while producing vitamin D. Now that we know how important our skin is, we definitely want to make sure our it's happy. Many store bought and prescription skin products are super drying which weaken your skin and break it down leading to inflammation. First you will need to heal the damage that's already been done.
Use a Gentle Cleanser
If your skin burns or itches when you wash your face, chances are the cleanser you are using is too strong for your skin. Try something that does not strip your skin of it's natural oils. If your skin is still very sensitive, your best bet might be an oil cleanser that dissolves the built up oils that clog your pores and helps regulate oil production. I like to use natural artisan bar soap.
Use a Clean Towel
Make sure to always use a clean towel to dry your face after cleansing. This is very important but not often taken into consideration. Towels harbor bacteria which can exacerbate your skin problem. Use a separate hand towel for your face and hang it up to dry quickly after every use. Be sure to change your face towel every few days to minimize bacteria build up and laundry.
Don't Over-Dry Your Skin
Rubbing your skin dry or trying to get some extra exfoliation in with your towel is bad! It causes more irritation and tends to rub more skin off than what is necessary. You should always blot your skin only until there is no more visible moisture - your skin should be damp. This is important because it allows your skin to suck up extra water which combats dryness.
I can't say it enough how much of a difference moisturizing makes if done properly. Use an oil based moisturizer while your skin is still damp to lock in the moisture leaving your skin feel soft and supple all day or all night. I know, if you're skin is like mine, it sounds scary putting oil on your face but surprisingly there some logic in it. So your skin produces it's own oil (sebum) which can clog your pores causing blackheads and pimples. The way to combat that is by dissolving the built up sebum clogging your pores with other non-comedogenic oils that work with your body to regulate your natural oil production.
Protect from Sunlight
UV rays are very harmful to your skin causing sunburn (inflammation), liver spots, wrinkles, and cancer. So always shield your skin from the sun, whether that be with an umbrella, a hat, sun screen, or SPF rated makeup. I always use mineral sunscreen since it is a more natural alternative.
Skin cell turnover is about a 30 day cycle, so in theory you will have brand new skin every 30 days, however, we are not like snakes who shed their skin all at once. Our skin sheds a little bit every day which is why exfoliation is important, but first we must understand what it actually means. Exfoliation is the sloughing away of dead skin cells - keyword DEAD. You need to be careful with this one because you can actually damage your skin more if done improperly. For it to work you need a gentle exfoliator like a soft face brush or scrub - I use bentonite clay powder mixed with water as a gentle scrub every 3 days. You should apply your exfoliator in circular upward-outward motion. Only exfoliate 1-2 times a week and be gentle with the pressure you apply with, you're not trying to reveal a whole new layer of skin, you just want to get rid of what is dead on the surface.
Remember this is a process of figuring out what your skin likes. Always listen to your skin - if it is red, itchy, and inflamed it is unhappy with what you gave it and you should try something else but once you get your skin happy, you will be happy with your radiant skin.