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Take care of your skin, and not just on your face
Health

Take care of your skin, and not just on your face

Remember, our skin is the largest organ of the body. As Gema Herrerías explains, a basic cosmetic routine consists of three steps and is the same for both men and women

Carmen Barreiro

Madrid

Friday, 3 May 2024, 11:07

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Skincare routines for the face are more fashionable than ever. There are millions of videos in which women of all ages – and even some men, though substantially less so – publish on social media the daily treatments they use to improve the appearance of their faces. Double cleansing, moisturising, then maybe a serum, a skin barrier cream, alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), retinol, popping niacinamide pills and applying sun protection... However, the well-known skincare tutorials are almost always limited to the face and very rarely do they address the rest of the skin covering our bodies. These neglected parts of us need our love too as part of our skincare routine.

-Market research confirms that we spend more and more time and money on facial care, yet we barely give five minutes to care for the rest of the body. Why is that?

-For starters, the frenetic pace of life today does not leave us time to take care of our body's skin as we should, and so we skip that step. It is a beauty treatment area that has received little attention, but it is gradually coming to the fore. Areas such as the hands, which can easily show signs of ageing, neck and chest are attracting more interest when consumers are selecting cosmetic products. A moisturising body milk is no longer enough, now we want a product that, in addition to improving the skin's natural barrier (protection against harmful, external agents), will also have an anti-ageing effect, explains pharmacist Gema Herrerías, a leader in dermopharmacy and author, who also runs her own line in cosmetics.

Tricks to overcome short-changing our skincare

That laziness – "and also ignorance" – that often causes us not to dedicate enough time to certain parts of our body such as elbows, knees, legs, abdomen, arms and neckline, can be overcome with a "simple, but complete, skincare routine" designed basically to maintain and reinforce the skin's barrier function, its natural hydration and its equilibrium with the dermobiota (the micro-organisms that live harmoniously on our skin).

Remember, our skin is the largest organ of the body. As Gema Herrerías explains, a basic cosmetic routine consists of three steps and is the same for both men and women: "Choosing a daily hygiene product in accordance with the particular needs of the body's skin, the use of a cosmetic that, in addition to moisturising the skin, will also improve the skin's barrier function and also address wrinkles and sagging areas. We must also protect the places most often exposed to the sun such as our hands."

People who do not usually follow a skincare routine for their body, or who are just starting from scratch, can begin "with a single product that improves hydration, prevents the loss of barrier function and generally boosts the skin. That said, for a more advanced skincare routine, you can also add specific products such as a multi-purpose balm for drier patches. To treat the neck and chest area, for example, you can use the same products as you would use for the face or products formulated specifically for those areas. However, skin with xerosis cutis (abnormally dry skin), that is peeling or has erythema (reddening) must be treated differently with skincare routines adapted to the needs of each case," advises this expert.

After a hot summer and as the autumn approaches "the first thing we will begin to notice on the skin as soon as the mercury drops is a lot of dryness and itching, especially on arms and legs. The mantra to follow is hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Hydration is to winter what sunscreen is to summer," says dermatologist Ana Molina.

A quick tip: if we apply something cold to the skin when it itches, then the itching will stop.

"And should the cold that we apply happen to be a thick, cool moisturising cream, that'll work like magic," she adds.

Your daily routine for healthier skin

"Cleansing of the face and body should be done with a gentle product that maintains the balance of the skin's dermobiota. The texture of the product will depend on the needs of said skin and user preference. At night, it is advisable to cleanse the face twice," says Herrerías

Hydration

"After cleansing, we apply two lots of hydration products, firstly, a moisturising lotion to the face and whole body to restore natural hydration and, on top of that, an anti-ageing barrier cream. It is recommended to combine facial hydration with an antioxidant serum or even a food supplement taken orally for a full-blown, antioxidant effect throughout the body." The routine set out by Herrerías is the same for women as for men.

Exfoliation

It is advisable to do this step twice a week. "On Wednesdays and Sundays the skin should be exfoliated to optimise the effect and penetration of skincare products. For the body, mechanical, granular exfoliants [e.g. sugar- or salt-based scrubs, nuts and seeds] are the most widely used and recommended: they are applied to damp skin and massaged using friction [e.g. with a loofah]. On the face, however, the choice is an enzyme or chemical peel using alpha hydroxy acids such as glycolic acid. Gluconolactone is recommended for sensitive skin. On Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays we should apply retinoids to the face and, on Tuesdays and Fridays, a treatment product according to the needs of each individual: for skin blemishes, spots or wrinkles or to tighten the skin."

Sun protection

This is an unmissable step in our daily facial routine. It is also recommended to apply sun cream to other areas exposed to the sun in urban environments such as hands, neck and chest to avoid the appearance of those brownish spots (aka liver spots, sun spots or age spots) and premature ageing of the skin.

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