Leave it to us to make everything way too complicated. We wash our faces too vigorously and too often according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal (“The Real Dirt on Face Washing” by Elizabeth Holmes, Tuesday October 22, 2013). Experts say we usually only need to gently wash our faces once a day.

Face washing is a simple daily act that does not have to be expensive or time-consuming. Women tend to stress over selecting one of the thousands of skin care products on the market and end up with one that is too harsh while men typically use only water or the body soap or shampoo in their hand. Both practices can be harmful to the delicate skin on our faces.

Skin care specialists recommend choosing a product that is mild. Carefully apply the cleaner in a circular motion with fingertips, rinse with lukewarm water, and pat dry. Occasionally we also should exfoliate, especially when older. But again, the exfoliating product we select should be gentle. If we end with our skin feeling tight or irritated, we’ve overdone it, resulting in undo damage.

Our skin is the largest organ of the body and protects us from the elements and bacteria; insulates the body against extreme temperature, sunlight, and harmful chemicals; and permits the sensations of touch, heat, and cold. It has three layers. The epidermis is a waterproof barrier. The dermis contains connective tissue, hair follicles, and sweat glands. And the deeper subcutaneous tissue is made of fat and connective tissue.

As we age, the skin wrinkles due to loss of elasticity, dryness, and thinning. Sun damage and cigarette smoking accelerate this.

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

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