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    What’s My Skin Type?

    Accurately assessing and caring for your skin type is key to having skin that is irresistible to touch and behold. Too many people treat their skin with the wrong products, and consequently, instead of improving its condition, they actually worsen it. What's more, skin type can change with the seasons, personal environment, health, and lifestyle. Yours may be different today than it was even a few months ago. It's important to know your current skin type in order to care for your skin in the best way.

    Your skin probably falls into one of the following skin type categories, though some people may overlap two categories. Whether you lie in one classification or bridge two, though, it's important to assess your skin honestly and not judge what you have.
    In each category you'll find ingredient and formula suggestions for recipes and methods of care. If you run across a particular ingredient or term that you don't understand (and you probably will), please see the index at the back of this book for all page references to that item. You'll be able to find an explanation or a formula recipe in no time. Also remember that in chapter 2, you'll find descriptions and explanations for all the ingredients used in the recipes in this book.
    Normal or Balanced Skin
    CHARACTERISTICS: This skin is neither too oily nor too dry. It's usually free of blemishes, but may form blackheads. It may get a little oily in the T-zone (forehead, nose, and chin area) or in the upper-back region four to six hours after cleansing, depending on humidity and temperature. The pores are normal in size. The entire body may suffer from surface dehydration (lack of moisture) in very cold weather. Normal skin is a balanced skin functioning as it should and is everyone's desired type.
    CARE RECOMMENDATIONS: Use a mild soap as a cleanser if you must (see On My Soapbox, page 25), but it's best to use a gentler, water-based, nonfoaming or lotion-type cleanser on both face and body. Finely ground oat, nut, or seed blends and milk or clay blends are simple nourishing cleansers as well. Follow facial cleansing with an application of an herbal hydrosol mist or an herbal vinegar or tea toner to refresh and further cleanse the skin. Lavender, rose, calendula, lady's mantle, German chamomile, or rosemary are great mild herb choices. The moisturizer you choose for both face and body should be a lightweight yet protective lotion designed to seal in moisture. An herbal elixir is a moisturizing option for the face. If skin is prone to a bit of oiliness, avoid anything too heavy.
    SPECIAL INTENSIVE TREATMENTS: For the face, use a weekly moisturizing mask or pore-refining, oil-absorbing clay mask. You can decide which treatment will benefit your skin most in any particular week — remember that skin condition fluctuates! These masks can be used on the chest, upper back, and throat as well. Fruit-acid masks made from papaya, apple, pineapple, or raspberry pulp are best used once or twice weekly to gently exfoliate, minimize fine lines, and smooth the skin. A weekly herbal facial steam will help keep pores clean.
    Oily Skin
    CHARACTERISTICS: This skin has medium to large pores in the T-zone area and perhaps on the cheeks, shoulders, neck, chest, and back. Overactive sebaceous (oil) glands can give oily skin a shiny appearance within an hour after cleansing. This skin may or may not be prone to acne, but oftentimes has clogged pores. Makeup seems to disappear or “slide off” oily skin after a few hours. Heat and humidity tend to increase its sebum production, whereas cooler temperatures and lower humidity are a boon for oily complexions. Surface dehydration may occur in very cold, dry weather. A bonus: Because it is well lubricated, oily skin is not prone to fine lines and wrinkles.
    CARE RECOMMENDATIONS: You can use a gentle bar or liquid soap for face and body, but it’s best to use twice daily a water-based gel or a finely ground oat, nut, or seed cleanser or a milk- or clay-blend cleanser that does not dry out the skin’s surface. If oily skin becomes dehydrated on the surface, it will tend to produce more oil to compensate, which is not what you want. Your goal is to remove excess oil without stripping the skin of its protective barrier. Learn to equate “squeaky clean” with “dried out.”
    Follow face cleansing with the application of a gentle, herbal vinegar or tea astringent such as yarrow, sage, lemon balm, thyme, lemongrass, rosemary, parsley, or peppermint in order to remove cleanser residue and reestablish proper pH level. If you also suffer from an oily body, brew enough astringent or tea to use as a finishing rinse before you get out of the shower. Feel free to apply your choice of oil-removing liquid to face or body as often as necessary throughout the day. This procedure will remove excess sebum but will not dry your skin.
    Depending on the degree of skin oiliness, a moisturizer may not be necessary for face or body. Beneficial, however, is a light, hydrating herbal hydrosol mist such as lemon balm, rose geranium — sometimes listed in catalogs as “geranium, rose” or “geranium (rose),” rosemary, or rose to keep the skin of the face moist throughout the day. You can apply a light moisturizing lotion to your body as needed. For the face, use an herbal elixir specially formulated for oily skin, such as the Healing Thyme Elixir on page 201, to help normalize sebum production.
    SPECIAL INTENSIVE TREATMENTS: Use a clay mask or exfoliating scrub twice a week to discourage formation of blackheads, reduce the appearance of enlarged pores, and minimize break-outs. Fruit-acid masks used twice a week will remove dead skin cell buildup, refine the skin’s surface, and minimize pore size. All masks and scrubs that you use on your face can be used on the body as well. Note: Do not use a granular scrub of any kind on the face or body if you suffer from acne, eczema, psoriasis, poison plant irritation, or any other type of skin inflammation; scrubs can further aggravate the condition.
    A weekly herbal facial steam using sage, rosemary, strawberry leaves, yarrow, peppermint, or other astringent herbs will aid in detoxing facial skin and increasing circulation. As an overnight spot-treatment for minor blemishes or more active pimples, combine a drop of clove, tea tree, thyme (chemotype linalol), or lavender essential oil with a bit of clay and water to form a paste and dab this directly on the spot to disinfect, absorb oil, and kill bacteria.
    Dry Skin
    CHARACTERISTICS: This skin lacks natural oil and moisture, the basic requirements for a healthy glow. It may appear flaky or scaly and feel rough-textured, tight, or dry throughout the day. Dry skin has small pores and feels taut almost immediately after cleansing. It develops lines and wrinkles more rapidly than any other skin type and tends to age prematurely. Dry skin loves warm temperatures and humidity, but the winter can be a real challenge. Cold temperatures and winter air rob the skin of moisture, making it prone to irritation, sensitivity, redness, and chapping.
    CARE RECOMMENDATIONS: You must avoid soap on your face and body at all costs. It’s much too drying! Instead, use a moisturizing lotion or creamy cleanser; a finely ground oat, nut, or seed, cleanser; or a whole-milk cleanser.
    For toning and hydrating, use a classic rosewater and glycerin lotion. Additionally, herbal teas such as German chamomile, calendula, fennel, lavender, lemon balm, marsh mallow root, and comfrey root applied to the face make excellent soothing toners. These gentle teas also make good after-bath splashes to hydrate dry and possibly sensitive skin. A quick spritz of chamomile, neroli, or lavender herbal hydrosol mist makes a great choice to alleviate thirsty skin any time of the day.
    Never forget to moisturize the face and body. Use a rich cream or lotion that provides a barrier against dehydration and keeps moisture in the skin. You can also use an herbal facial elixir designed especially for the needs of dry or sensitive skin. In winter, underneath my moisturizer, I use Repair and Restore Elixir on page 202. When you’ve lived through a number of arid, cold, moisture-sapping New England winters, you quickly learn to layer moisturizers, much as you layer clothing — the more layers, the more protection from the biting cold.
    SPECIAL INTENSIVE TREATMENTS: If you like to bathe in the tub, you can cleanse your body with a small, drawstring bath bag filled with ground oatmeal. Once wet, the oat flour covers your skin with moisturizing and soothing oat milk.
    A mucilaginous fennel seed, marsh mallow root, or comfrey root facial steam once a week helps to hydrate the skin and cleanse the pores. Use a moisturizing mask once or twice a week as needed. For gentle facial exfoliation, try a weekly yogurt or fruit-acid mask made from apple or raspberry pulp. At least a couple of times per week, using a light touch, exfoliate your entire body (sans face) with a sugar, oat, nut, or seed scrub to remove buildup of dead skin cells. This is necessary to promote the absorption of your moisturizer; otherwise, all of the product’s moisture remains on the surface of the skin and you’ll wonder why it’s not doing its job. The nightly use of an emollient eye cream or thin application of your favorite base oil moisturizes the delicate tissue in this area, which is prone to premature wrinkling.
    Combination Skin
    CHARACTERISTICS: If your face has two or three skin types, you have combination skin. It may be oily through the T-zone, where most of the oil glands are, and normal to dry toward the cheeks and sides of the face. In combination skin, the T-zone generally has enlarged pores and visible blackheads and may be prone to minor breakouts or even acne, while the cheeks and sides of the face and neck may feel normal and balanced or dry and tight, with possible surface flakiness.
    This skin type is seasonally aggravated. In winter, the oily areas tend to normalize, while the dry areas feel parched. When heat and humidity rise, the T-zone increases its sebum production and the dry areas usually normalize.
    CARE RECOMMENDATIONS: Combination skin is usually sensitive. Always treat it with TLC. Use products that regulate and normalize the sebum production for the entire face and upper body. Cleanse with a gentle, water-based, nonfoaming or lotion-type cleanser. Finely ground oat, nut, seed, milk, or clay blends are also nourishing cleansers. With combination skin, the skin of the body — with the exception of the chest and upper back, which are occasionally oily — is usually normal. If you want to use soap as your body cleanser, try a nonirritating, clear glycerin type or liquid castile designed for an infant’s delicate skin.
    For toning, a mild herbal vinegar infused with German chamomile, lavender, rosemary, fennel, roses, comfrey root, or calendula helps to control excess oil and hydrate dry areas. Any one of these herbs can be made into a tea and applied as a facial toner or used as a body splash immediately after showering or bathing. Rose, lavender, neroli, rosemary, lemon balm, and chamomile hydrosols are great hydrating mists to have on hand during the day to prevent surface dehydration. One of my favorite pore-tightening and skin-softening toner blends for combination skin is a combination of four parts yarrow tea mixed with one part vegetable glycerin.
    For moisturizing the face, try an herbal elixir. Make one for oily skin (to use in the warmer months) and one for dry skin (to use in the colder months). If you feel the need for more intense moisturizing, apply a light- to medium-weight lotion to the driest areas only. For the body, a light lotion is all you need unless you live or work in an arid environment.
    SPECIAL INTENSIVE TREATMENTS: Regular exfoliation of the skin on both the face and oilier parts of the body using a nonabrasive mask removes dead skin buildup to keep pores open. Once or twice a week, use a pore-refining clay, yogurt, oatmeal, or fruitacid mask — try the Papaya No-More-Pores Double Mask Treatment on pages 152–153 — to improve this skin’s texture and minimize pore size. You can also enjoy a facial steam once each week using an herb of your choice such as lemon balm, peppermint, rosemary, thyme, or lemon peel to improve the tendency of combination skin toward sluggish circulation.
    Sensitive Skin
    CHARACTERISTICS: Environmentally reactive is how I like to refer to skin that is sensitive. It tends to overreact to outside forces such as commonly used skin care products, sunlight, and changes in temperature and humidity. This skin type easily blushes, sunburns, develops rashes, and becomes irritated. Especially when more mature, it typically displays couperose conditions — that is, it’s characterized by dilated or expanded capillaries. A diffused redness, or erythema, is generally concentrated on the nose and cheeks. If not treated extremely gently, sensitive skin will simply appear “unhappy” or “unsettled.”
    Crisp, dry winter air can further upset already irritated, sensitive skin, leaving it drier and more prone to disturbances. Summer’s heat, humidity, and increased exposure to sunlight can also wreak havoc, leading to itchy, blotchy skin, possible blemishes, and general ruddiness.
    CARE RECOMMENDATIONS: Follow all recommendations for dry skin, above, unless skin is normal to oily, in which case use a lightweight to medium-weight moisturizer for both face and body. Cleansing only with an ultra soft cloth — no terry towels, facial loofah sponges, or brushes on this delicate skin!
    SPECIAL INTENSIVE TREATMENTS: Follow recommendations for dry skin, above. When choosing any treatment product or ingredient, gentle, nonabrasive, and fragrance-free or fragrance-tolerable are the key words on which to focus.
    Mature Skin
    CHARACTERISTICS: Skin can generally be referred to as being mature when you can detect an apparent loss of tone and the skin exhibits a crepelike texture: It’s saggy and loose with many fine lines and at least a few shallow or even deep wrinkles. Most of the time such skin is found in people over age fifty, as part of the natural aging process, but I’ve seen mature skin on individuals as young as their early forties, and, for the lucky few, these signs don’t reveal themselves until the early sixties. Good genes, plenty of natural oil in the skin, a healthy lifestyle and sound nutrition, and proper consistent skin care all determine when or to what extent mature skin appears.
    This skin type tends to be dry but can be normal or slightly oily in the T-zone, especially if the skin was oily earlier on. If you are over fifty and have oily skin, however, consider it a boon — you’ll wrinkle later than your friends. Mature skin is generally more comfortable in warmer climates with higher humidity. In cooler, more arid surroundings, it ages faster and tends to suffer from additional dryness. Such skin may also have hyperpigmentation (age spots, freckles, or liver spots), depending on an individual’s history of sun exposure, smoking, and alcohol consumption.
    CARE RECOMMENDATIONS: Moisture retention is key to preventing the rapid increase in fine lines and wrinkle depth, so it’s important not to use drying soap, especially on the face. Remember that the collagen and elastin matrix within the dermis layer depends on constant hydration to maintain plumpness. For facial cleansing, use a gentle lotion or cream cleanser once or twice a day if you have dry skin or a lighter lotion cleanser if your skin is normal to oily. Finely ground oats, milk or dairy cream, and fat-rich sunflower seeds make super-moisturizing cleansers for face or body. Use a clear glycerin or super-fatted soap on the body only, unless you have normal-todry skin.
    My favorite toners for mature skin are a classic rosewater and glycerin lotion and a lavender, German or Roman chamomile, rose geranium, neroli, or rose tea or hydrosol mist. Try using a soothing rosewater and glycerin lotion as a body splash on occasion, especially when your skin is very dry.
    For moisturizing both face and body, depending upon the degree of dryness and the season, use an easily absorbed nutrient-rich lotion or cream. An herbal elixir containing carrot seed essential oil and rose hip seed base oil, key ingredients in Repair and Restore Elixir (page 202) and valued for their highly regenerative and vitalizing properties, can be used as your only facial moisturizer or as a first layer followed by lotion or cream if your skin is extra-thirsty. Avoid rose hip seed oil if your skin is oily; it can lead to breakouts.
    SPECIAL INTENSIVE TREATMENTS: To minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, fade age spots, and help maintain a smooth, refined appearance, twice weekly use a fruit-acid facial mask made from papaya, raspberry, strawberry, or pineapple puree (unless you have sensitive skin). A honey mask or moisturizing facial mask deeply hydrates mature skin tissue and can be used daily. Enjoy a fennel seed, lavender, or calendula facial steam once a week to hydrate, cleanse impurities from the pores, and increase circulation.
    Use a rich body oil following each shower or bath to seal in moisture and keep skin supple. Eye cream should be applied as part of your daily skin care ritual. Because skin naturally thins and produces less oil as you age, by the time you reach your fifties, the already paper-thin skin surrounding your eyes has become even more translucent, drier, and wrinkle-prone. For youthful-looking eyes, don’t forget these hints: don’t squint, and invest in a snazzy pair of quality sunglasses!
    Environmentally Damaged Skin
    CHARACTERISTICS: This skin type, with its premature lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation (freckles and age spots), ruddiness, rough texture, and uneven skin coloration, may begin to rear its ugly head somewhere around age 35. Much to the shock of those who have it, it often takes on the characteristics of mature skin. Environmentally damaged skin is lifestyle reflective. Those who tend to have this skin type include smokers, coffee and cola drinkers, consumers of large amounts of alcohol, routine recreational drug users, ocean-sport enthusiasts, sun worshippers, mountain climbers, long-distance walkers or runners, or any lover of sports that take place in the most extreme outdoor climates. These people generally have skin that has been repeatedly severely dehydrated, and it may be impossible to return it to its former healthy, radiant suppleness. Collagen and elastin, the proteins located in the dermis layer, have lost their elasticity and flexibility.
    Individuals with healthy, naturally fair, thin, dry skin that easily becomes environmentally damaged over time, tend to suffer from painful, papery, parched skin that bleeds and tears easily when elderly. Be sure to take extra precautions when exposing yourself to the elements or engaging in harmful lifestyle choices.
    Environmentally damaged skin might have been oily or normal in its youth, but it’s almost always at least normal-to-dry if not very dry after the age of 40.
    CARE RECOMMENDATIONS: Because such skin is frequently sensitive and dry, read the sections on sensitive skin and dry skin for information on those types.
    For environmentally damaged skin, each season brings its own challenges. Always remember that your skin needs deep hydration and constant sun protection. For the face and body, a nonirritating, mild, water-based lotion or creamy cleanser fortified with skin nourishing oils such as jojoba, hazelnut, extra-virgin olive, or macadamia deep-cleans and feeds your skin. Finely ground oat, nut, and seed cleansers and milk-based cleansers are gentle skin foods that encourage softness and soothe irritation. If the skin on your body is dry, please avoid soap.
    For toning, mild and nondrying are key words. A lavender, lemon balm, chamomile, or neroli hydrosol refreshes and removes any excess cleanser from the face. Skin quenching tip: Never leave home without a spritzer bottle of purified water or your favorite hydrosol. Throughout the day, every hour if desired, spray a light mist on your face. This keeps your makeup fresh and your skin from becoming flaky, dull, uncomfortable, and drab-looking.
    For moisturizing, a lotion or cream enhanced with rose hip seed, coconut, macadamia, extra-virgin olive, or jojoba oil helps to feed, rejuvenate, tone, and support cell membrane functions within the skin of both the face and the body. An herbal facial elixir with carrot seed, rosemary (chemotype verbenon), neroli, green myrtle, or helichrysum essential oil helps stimulate new cell generation and encourage a brighter appearance.
    SPECIAL INTENSIVE TREATMENTS: See recommendations for dry skin.
    Step 2. Maximize Your Nutrition
    Pizza; French fries; iceberg lettuce; lifeless, unripe tomatoes; jelly beans; hamburgers; chips; processed frozen dinners; ketchup: What does this group of foods provide? White processed flour, fatty meat and cheese, excess sodium, trans-fatty acids, preservatives, white sugar, minimal fiber, and artificial coloring. A diet of these foods is void of all nutrient value and is a recipe for health and beauty disaster. Yet these are some of the most commonly eaten “foods” in the American diet today. The four veggies on the list — iceberg lettuce, French fries, unripe tomatoes, and ketchup — describe the narrow variety of produce consumed by many children and adults in any given week. Sad, isn’t it?
    We are often overfed and undernourished. The average American these days is overweight and out of breath, certainly doesn’t look his or her vibrant best, and is aging prematurely — inside and out. Most Americans appear and feel older than their years, proving “You are what you eat.”
    If you belong to this group, you’ll continue to suffer from lack of energy and vitality and a variety of aches, pains, and illnesses. What’s more, what we eat directly affects how we look. At some point, your outward appearance will reflect
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