With all the science backing skin care products, why does it feel like a gamble when you try a new one? You get a rash with tight, dry patches and your friend gets a glowing complexion. It may be easy to blame the formula, but the factors causing your irritation might be everything outside of the bottle.
The skin is our natural barrier against the world, but we often take it for granted. Especially when you think about what it’s put through on a daily basis. Whether your objective is blemish-free skin, limiting wrinkles or protecting against the sun, the answer will never be found in the cosmetics aisle. You have to consider everything you are subjecting your skin to, as well as putting in your body.
Spanning over 20 feet, you skin is the bodies largest organ. It is also a not-so-hidden map to your overall health. Ask yourself, what is your skin really saying about you?
Read on for some enlightening, sometimes gross, but simple ways you can stop hurting your skin today!
These are in no particular order except for the last one; that really is the worst.
- You don’t wash your hands long enough
The Center for Disease Control says to scrub your hands for 20 seconds after applying soap and then rinse thoroughly. That is just a suggestion… for stopping the spread of disease… because that is their profession and life’s work. But your quick, cold water dip and jean wipe is satisfactory… if you like spreading bacteria and fecal matter on to yourself, your phone, your steering wheel, among other things. Speaking of which:
- You never sanitize your phone
If you have to think about the last time you sanitized your phone then it was too long ago. Your phone harbors 10 times more bacteria than a toilet seat. Think about that the next time you are eating your lunch and scrolling through your newsfeed or reading an article and then rub your eyes. It’s a bad image, but an easy fix. Do you have a stubborn breakout or skin irritation on your cheek bone right where your phone rests? This could be the culprit. Oh, and while you are at it:
- You never clean the high-use places of your house
We aren’t talking about the carpet by the front door. Make an effort to give your door knobs, remotes, computer keyboard, sink handles, refrigerator & microwave doors and light switches a quick wipe every so often.
- You don’t put the toilet lid down
Heard this one before? Water (and other things) can splash up to 15 feet after you flush the toilet. Limit the contamination zone and lower the lid.
- You take long, hot showers
Hot water strips the natural oils from the top layer of your skin leading to dryness and irritation. Over time, your body will start producing more oil to compensate for what you keep losing throwing off your natural balance. This also goes for washing your face with hot water.
- Your shampoo and conditioner are heavily scented
The rugged-lumberjack-by-the-sea scent may be appealing, but cheap, perfumed products can cause irritation along the hairline and scalp, especially if not thoroughly rinsed.
- You use a scented detergent
Again, the smell of freshly-washed clothes and sheets should not be prioritized over how they affect your skin. This is very true during winter months when skin is drier and more susceptible to irritation.
- You don’t change your pillowcase often enough.
The average person loses 30,000 skin cells an hour. That number is even higher when we sleep because that is the skin’s time to recover from the wear and tear of the day. It’s not gross, it very beneficial to your overall skin health and appearance. That being said, you should change your pillowcase (and all of your sheets, but let’s start simple) once a week. Dermatologists also recommend purchasing a silk pillowcase for even more gentle protection for your face.
- You don’t sleep enough
A good night’s sleep is essential if you ever want to have healthy, glowing skin. Experts recommend between 7 and 8 hours for optimal skin health. You can spend hundreds of dollars trying to get rid of puffy eyes, wrinkles and dark spots or you can sleep an extra hour; sounds like an easy call to me.
- You blast your A/C while you sleep
People who can sleep in a sweltering, stuffy room should not be trusted, I agree. However if you keep your room too cold, it will dry out your skin as well as aggravate existing skin conditions like eczema and rosacea. A couple degrees warmer shouldn’t feel too dramatic and will make a difference with your overall skin health.
- You don’t moisturize your whole body
Your skin feels fine so you don’t use a body lotion, right? Wrong. Body lotion is essential to healthy, functioning skin. If you don’t like the way lotions make your skin feel, then you’re probably using the wrong one. You shouldn’t “feel” your lotion sticking on your skin, rather just the effects of being moisturized.
- You use a loofah or washcloth to scrub your face
It’s unnecessary. Too harsh and it will only hurt the sensitive skin of your face, so you should just stop.
- You don’t cleanse your neck or chest
The skin on your chest and neck can handle the same cleanser you use on your face. It is a good idea to cleanse that skin the same way you cleanse your face, at least twice a week and especially as you age.
- You pop your pimples
Every time you pop a pimple you run the risk of making it worse by pushing the bacteria and oil down instead of properly extracting it. A small bump can easily turn into an infected sore and then scar.
- You exfoliate every day
Somehow the incorrect and destructive rumor got started that under your skin is all this beautiful, unblemished, radiant skin just waiting to come out. That is so incredibly false. Violently scrubbing your face will only irritate your skin and break delicate blood vessels. Twice a week seems to be the golden number for exfoliating.
- You never exfoliate
The flip side of that coin is you never properly exfoliate. You naturally lose thousands of dead skins cells a day and exfoliating is a good way to remove it for a more luminous appearance. If your skin is too sensitive for scrubs and brushes, try a clay-based cleanser which absorbs oil and dead skin cells into itself.
Fun fact: smoothing the outer layer of your skin actually speeds up cell turnover.
- You’ve never used a face mask
As your skin ages, the extra dose of hydration from a sheet mask is just what you need. The 15 minutes you spend with a mask seals in moisture and pushes the products deeper into the skin than a normal wash ever will.
- You don’t cleanse your face in the morning
You only slept so how dirty can your skin be from the last time you washed it? It’s not about dirt exactly. An a.m. rinse preps your skin for the day, so it can absorb the rest of your products better. It also sloughs off the dead skin from while you are sleeping and gets rid of any lingering bacteria.
- You apply moisturizer to a dry face
If you want to get the most out of your moisturizer, apply it with a little water or directly after cleansing for the best results.
Still worried you are washing your face wrong? Click here to fix it.
- You use a straw
Restaurants making moves away from straws is good for your face as well as the environment. The puckering motion breaks down collagen and leads to wrinkles around the mouth.
- You rarely use sunscreen
Come on, man... You've heard it and you ignore it. Very few things will age you as drastically as sun exposure. Plus, men have a higher risk of developing melanoma, the most deadly skin cancer. So what are you doing to stop it? Every day of your life, you should be wearing sunscreen. EVERY DAY! Dermatologists recommend SPF 30. Find a moisturizer with it or a lightweight sunscreen to layer with your products.
- You shock your skin
When you get a new bundle of skincare products, you are excited to try the whole regimen at once. Depending on the sensitivity of your skin and the quality of your previous products, this can cause your skin to mildly freak out. This doesn’t mean you have to go back to your old ways. Just like starting an exercise program, doing too much at the start can make you extremely sore. Take time and listen to what your skin is telling you. If the discomfort continues, try integrating only one product at a time. It might take longer to get the full benefits, but the transition will be easier.
- You never clean your glasses
Sunglasses or readers, they all need to be sanitized. Oil and bacteria can build up and lead to irritation.
- You don’t use a quality Chapstick
The skin on your lips is five times thinner than the skin on your face and they need to be moisturized and treated. Try to avoid any Chapstick with the active ingredient phenol or menthol. They initially soothe on contact, but dry up quickly and requires more frequent applications.
You can have the cleanest bathroom and religiously follow your skincare regimen, but you will still never have healthy skin. For all the emphasis we put on our products, you can only build good skin from the inside out. A healthy glow comes from what you feed your body; there is no way around it. Here is a breakdown of things to include and what to avoid for your best skin:
- Too much alcohol
This is the part of an article where people tend to tune out, but before you do, listen to what alcohol does to your skin. More than just dehydrating you, alcohol creates inflammation all over your skin. That flushed feeling you get from being drunk is your blood vessels widening and causing an increase of blood flow which leads to broken capillaries, discoloration, dullness and sagging.
- You use artificial sweeteners
Real sugar is a sworn enemy to your skin and although the artificial brands don’t have the calories, they disrupt the healthy bacteria in your gut and throw off your insulin levels. This plays out on your face in the forms of acne, rosacea and more.
- You never drink green tea
Green tea in a beauty product is amazing (removes dandruff, evens skin tone, reduces redness and bags, stimulates stronger hair growth) but green tea internally is life changing. If you are sworn to a cup of coffee in the morning, don’t break the ritual right away, but try swapping your second cup for some tea. Green tea is the healthiest beverage in the world. It reduces inflammation, increases brain function, aids in weight loss and so many other amazing benefits. Your skin will thank you too since it has way less of the dehydrating caffeine as coffee.
- You don’t get enough fiber
Fiber is vital to the way your digestive tract functions which really is the building blocks of good skin. Fiber fuels growth of health bacteria which are often diminished over time thanks to the things listed above like diet soda, candy, ice cream or white rice. Less healthy bacteria in the gut means problems everywhere, especially on your face. Foods like lentils, peas, lima beans, blackberries, artichokes and pears are all high in fiber and great for your skin.
- You never eat fish
Omega-3 fatty acids are your best friend. They help lower the risk of multiple heart-related diseases, can fight anxiety and depression, improve joint health, probably power a rocket into outer space if they wanted but they won’t because they are too busy curing a slew of other things in out bodies. With our skin, they help keep us hydrated, reduce sun spots and wrinkles from forming. Often found in fish like salmon, halibut, swordfish and albacore tuna, but they are also found in flaxseed, chia seed, walnuts and spinach.
- Your plate is not very colorful
We are obviously referring to more than your dinnerware here. Eating a wide variety of colors like orange (beta-carotene), red (lycopene), and purple (resveratrol) will completely change you from the inside out. Your skin tone will balance out, wrinkles will reduce and you will finally start seeing that coveted “glow.”
-Beta-carotene-rich fruits and veggies: carrots, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, apricots
-Lycopene-rich fruits and veggies: tomatoes, grapefruit, watermelon, guava, red peppers
-Resveratrol-rich fruits and veggies: blueberries, red cabbage, eggplant, beets, purple grapes
- You drink soda
Having a soda every day, whether it’s diet, no-sugar, clear, or purple, affects your health, life-span and skin as irreversibly as smoking. The sugar, in whatever form, and the chemical makeup of those classic carbonated beverages alters your body’s ability to regenerate its cells on a chromosomal level.
- Too many sweets
Surprise! An excess of sugar that is not picked up by the bloodstream can lead to a breakdown in collagen. Collagen levels naturally deplete as we age so adding in sugar from all those cookies, white breads, cupcakes, donuts and all their friends speeds up the aging process drastically.
- You don’t drink enough water
Double surprise! You knew it was coming and here it is. Considering all the work your skin goes through to hold on to hydration, you could give it a boost by drinking a sufficient amount of water. The revered eight glasses a day might not even be enough depending on your weight and activity level. You can apply all the moisturizer you want, but your skin will never look or feel its best if you don’t drink water.
- You smoke cigarettes
Come on now… Smoking damages your skin in every way you’ve already read in this article times 10. Plus it has the unique ability to also increase your risk of skin cancer, give you pus-filled nodules in your groin area, psoriasis and a laundry list of others. This won’t be the first or last time you hear about how smoking affects your skin but the bright spot is, many of the physical effects can be reversed.
- You are stressed
If you doubt the connection between stress and your skin then think about a time you blushed. Feeling embarrassed or scared releases hormones like adrenaline and cortisol which causes the veins in your face to widen and an increase in blood flow. That doesn’t sounds like the worst thing but when you are stressed or unhappy for long periods of time, your hormones become unbalanced. Your brain keeps sending signals that are received in by the nerves in your skin. Overly-stressed people look older with more wrinkles and dull saggy skin. This cycle goes on and on: you were stressed about something in life and then it shows up on your face so you get more stressed. The good news is these things are reversible for the most part but you have to take active steps to reduce stress in your life. Meditating, yoga, a balanced diet, exercise and even therapy will completely alter your life and your appearance.
Healthy, glowing skin is not hereditary or something you can buy. You can take control of your skin by managing your stress, watching your diet and limiting the harmful things it comes into contact with. When something feels off internally, you see a doctor, so do the same of the external signs of being unhealthy too. If you are serious about reducing the signs of aging or acne, a quick visit to the dermatologist will get you going in the right direction but start taking care of it today with these tips.