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Skin Care Products

      One of the key factors of looking good is healthy skin. We all know this. And the cosmetic industry is constantly turning out products designed to cleanse, moisturize, heal and otherwise improve the quality and appearance of our skin. All of these products can be categorized into five main classifications:
 
Brunette girl wearing a smooth green turtleneck    •  cleansing products (and tonic lotions)
   •  exfoliants
   •  treatment creams
   •  moisturizers
   •  intensive care products.
 
      Cleansing products do what the name says. They cleanse the skin of dirt and excess oils. There are cleansing products formulated for every skin type (and some suited to all skin types) and come in the following forms: face wash, cleansing lotion, and cleansing cream. Face washes are generally detergent-type cleansers that foam when combined with water to lift dirt and oil from the skin, leaving it feeling "squeaky clean". It is especially good for oily or combination skin to lift away excess oil, but some face washes can leave the skin feeling dry.
 
Cleansing lotions are water-based emulsions designed to remove dirt and make-up from the skin. They are good for normal and combination skin, but may be too stringent for those with very dry skin unless they contain ingredients designed to accommodate dry skin conditions.
 
Cleansing creams are light-textured oil-based emulsions that dissolve dirt and make-up quickly and are ideal for very dry and aging skin. They are much heavier than cleansing lotions and can sometimes leave a residue on the skin if not rinsed completely.
 
      Tonic lotions are used after cleansing products to remove all traces of cleansers, restore the pH balance of the skin, and to temporarily tighten and shrink the pores. There are three main types of tonic lotions - fresheners, toners, and astringents - which perform the same functions but with different formulations for specific skin needs. Fresheners have low alcohol content (typically less than 4%) and are great for those with dry skin, mature skin or who have sensitive skin conditions. Toners contain more alcohol in their formulation (usually between 4% and 15%) and are designed for use with normal and combination skin types. The strongest of the lot are astringents, which contain as much as 35% alcohol and are used for oily and acne-prone skin to remove accumulated oils from the skin.
 
      Exfoliants are products that are designed to assist in the removal of dead skin cells in the outer layer of the skin (a process called exfoliation). The benefits of exfoliation are as follows:
 
   •  It makes the skin look and feel smoother
   •  it makes extracting clogged pores easier
   •  it brings lower-level cells to the surface and improves the skin's moisture content
   •  it allows moisturizers and treatments to penetrate more deeply
   •  it allow more even make-up application
   •  it stimulates blood flow to the skin's surface
 
      Exfoliant products and procedures range from milder versions which are designed for use at home, medium-strength versions which are administered and performed by licensed estheticians and cosmetologists, and very strong processes and formulas that can only be administered or performed by dermatologists or plastic surgeons. The two main types of exfoliant products are mechanical exfoliants and chemical exfoliants.
 
      Mechanical exfoliation uses physical contact to scrape or bump the cells from the skin. These include granular scrubs, scrubbing pads, and brushing machines. Home-use versions of these are available, as well as professional-strength variations for use by salons and professionals.
 
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