Days are shorter, the temperatures cooler, and you can feel the air drier on your skin. In the Fall, it is is worth spending a bit of time to rejuvenate the skin after a summer of heat, humidity, sun, travel, and air conditioning. It is also a perfect time to prepare skin for the deep cold and dry heat of winter.
The goal is quite simple: It is by no means perfect skin, but rather good skin barrier integrity and skin that feels as comfortable as possible. If you care for your skin always keeping the microbiome in mind, then you are more likely to favor gentle care and less likely to err on the side of overzealousness.
The focus: sleep, water, gentle exfoliation and hydration.
Sleep: Only you know how much is right for you. I need 8-9 hours of sleep to feel good. Enough sleep is critical for cellular health, organ regulation, and general detoxification. The skin is our largest organ, but it is not priority in terms of the body's own healing processes; internal organs take precedence.
Not receiving adequate sleep means your skin will mostly likely miss out an opportunity to heal the wear and tear suffered during the day. If you see your complexion as drier, more sensitive or irritated, more aged, a little dehydrated, the answer could simply be to get more sleep. In addition to regulating organ and cellular function, circadian rhythms regulate the intestinal microbiome, and gut health is directly related to skin health. Insufficient and irregular sleep over time can lead to inflammation and an over active immune system. This means more stress, which also adversely affects the skin.
Try to give yourself the treasure of enough rest. It is the must have, miracle, holy grail, editor's choice, product of the year, celebrity secret, can't-do-without beauty essential, blah blah blah,-- except that it really is the very ultimate luxury. You don't have to get involved in any of the cellular processes; its done for you. You don't have to buy anything or read instructions--just relax and get some good sleep.
Water: Hydrate for everything. Your brain, your skin, your mood. If you dislike drinking glass after glass of water, switch it up: light soups, teas of nettle, dandelion, lavender, and or rosebud. Come February, your skin will let you know know whether you are hydrated or not, and you'll be able to see it.
A note on healing: Upon seeing a fresh scar on face my heart would sink. I used to think what's done is done, and the only reprieve would be some invasive treatment that I'm unwilling to undergo. Not so. Acne scars, sun burn, wounds, breached skin barrier integrity happen, but the skin is living and it heals, if you don't get in the way and maybe even help it along. A little patience and acceptance goes a very long way. Everyone has imperfections; they are charming. A lot of glow is inner radiance. Bruises, scars...they fade--it is actually quite wondrous to watch and appreciate.
Now, with the microbiome in mind, exfoliate and hydrate...gently.
In exfoliating, there is a distinct difference between sloughing off dead skin cells that are ready to come off to reveal fresher skin that will more readily accept nourishing product and over exfoliating to aggressively mine your face for new skin, thereby destroying your acid mantle (a fine layer of beneficial microbiota mixed with eccrine and sebacious secretions that protects your skin) and setting off an immune response and attendant inflammation.
Forcing skin cell turnover can damage skin, making it thinner, less resilient, and less comfortable. Despite the mainstream acceptance of retinoids, they are controversial.
It has become become perfunctory for dermatologists to recommend retinoids to patients beginning in their 20s and up the dosage for wrinkle treatment by the time these same patients are in their 40s and beyond. A lifetime is a really long time to use a strong stripping solvent on your skin and merits a few minutes of critical thinking. Resurfacing the skin may be tempting, but in my view, retinoids constitute invasive treatment that can leave your skin irritated and sensitive. In the long term it could damage the skin microbiome and cause chronic inflammation.
Go for gentle exfoliation by using super soft facial brushes to dry brush your skin, or, for something very safe and basic, try a mask of raw honey and gently peel it off with your finger tips, with light suction gestures, and then rinse clean.
At Balbec, all our products are designed to protect the acid mantle, so our exfoliation is gentle. In most instances, the lactic acids from the yogurt in our clay and yogurt cleansers is more than enough exfoliation. The probiotics of the yogurt help nourish the beneficial bacteria of the skin adding extra protection to your care regime.
For those who like a more pronounced exfoliant that is still soft, try the Moroccan clay and Yogurt Cleanser with patchouli and geranium. Another suitable choice is Nomad--our prebiotic cleansing powder that is rich in vitamin C and contains hibiscus, a flower-derived alpha hydroxy acid that assists with gentle skin cell turnover. A note on using Nomad: simply apply it and leave it on the skin, rather than massaging the face with it. The flower acids left alone are enough. If it is a face massage you really want, enjoy it with a fully on slippery high quality, non comedogenic oil.
A reminder for cleansing in general. Whatever you use to cleanse your face, your face shouldn't feel tight afterward. The tight feeling indicates you've robbed yourself of your delicate acid mantle; it should take about 4-14 hours to come back.
Hydrate, Moisturize. You don't need to overdo it with a facial oil or your moisturizer of choice. But moisturize enough to keep skin comfortable and free of flakiness and dryness--especially as the heat goes on and the wind picks up. I love to feel moisturized and protected, so I tend to go a little heavy. If you like a little less, then follow your instinct. Apply your facial oil or creams after you have cleansed, when skin is slightly damp and as you need during the day. I like to wear our moisturizing oils in the morning and evening always adding a little bit as an eye cream around the eyes and on my lips.
So go forth--into the Autumn light and mist, refreshed, well-rested, prepared, glowing, healing, and comfortable.