Most of us tend to feel more confident when we feel good about our appearance. We strive to stay looking youthful and healthy. We’re bombarded with images of airbrushed actresses and models and fed advertisements for miracle products. We find ourselves searching for these secrets.
Beauty is big business. I see this firsthand every day. Recently, a client came into our spa looking for a microdermabrasion treatment because she heard it would “erase” her wrinkles and make her look younger. Customers often come into the store asking if we make a product with [the newest touted wonder ingredient] in it. The story always begins the same way: “I heard that…”
Feeling comfortable in our skin is something everyone can achieve. Letting go of our images of what we should look like and enjoying the true beauty of who we are can be a challenging, but empowering endeavor.
When it comes to beautiful skin, it’s important to recognize how detrimental seemingly insignificant, harmless habits can be. Some are widely known, such as sun exposure, cigarettes, diet, water intake, sleep, and stress Here are some of the lesser known skin no-no’s and their fixes:
- Not washing your face.
Washing when you wake up and before going to bed is best. Try adding it to your morning and night routine when you’re brushing your teeth and/or showering.
- Hot showers, or washing your face with hot water.
Hot water removes the sebum layer from the skin surface and dehydrates the skin. Use warm water to shower and wash.
- Touching your face.
Throughout the day we are constantly touching, picking, probing our faces. Unclean hands can drive dirt and and bacteria int pores. Resist the urge to pick and be mindful of when your hands reach for your face and pull back.
- Talking on the phone, wearing hats, and sleeping on pillow cases without cleaning.
If you tend to break out, clean all surfaces that touch your skin daily. If not, clean them once a week.
- Not getting facials at least 2x per year.
Having a professional work on maintaining the health and wellness of your skin is imperative. Like your annual check up, add a facial to your list.
- Using dirty makeup brushes.
Clean makeup brushes weekly and avoid contaminating makeup with dirty brushes.
- Pore-clogging and skin-irritating makeup.
Steer clear of makeup that contains bismuth oxide, cornstarch, rice starch, dimethicone (the primary ingredient in Silly Putty), and other “cone” ingredients.
- Pore-clogging skincare.
Look for products that have non-pore-clogging oils, such as jojoba, sunflower, olive, avocado, rosehip and almond. Products with ingredients you can pronounce are usually a safer bet. If you’re unsure, skip it.
- Facial expressions, belly sleeping.
Laughter and smiling are wonderful medicines. I don’t suggest giving it up, but the facial expressions you make most often (furrowing your brow, squinting, raising your eyebrows) can cause wrinkles over time. A little habit awareness goes a long way. And if it’s not too late, try to sleep on your back, not your belly.
- Sleeping in makeup.
Wash it off!
This can be a hard one to avoid as many people have heavily chlorinated tap water. You can avoid getting water on your face when bathing and use distilled water to wash your face at the sink. If you swim in chlorinated water often, be sure to rinse your face after getting out and apply moisturizer.
- Hair products.
Most people are unaware that the chemicals in their hair care affects skin. When you wash your hair, the shampoo and conditioner rinse all over your face and body. Try to wash to the side so it doesn’t flow over your face or switch to a hair care line that is chemical and “cone”-free.
- Not wearing sunglasses (not cleaning them if you do).
Sunglasses with UV protection defend the fragile eye area against premature wrinkles. If you’re prone to breakouts, make sure to wash them daily.
- Not getting glasses when you need them.
Squinting often can cause wrinkles. See #9 for facial expressions.
- Excessive sugar intake.
It hurts collagen, leaving you with sagging skin.
- Coffee and alcohol.
Both coffee and alcohol are dehydrating. Limit your intake. Even a little less can make a difference. And drink more water.
- Exposure to small particles that clog pores, such as dirt from sports or gardening, flour from baking.
Be sure to do mid-pore-cleansing masks weekly and deep-pore-cleansing masks monthly.
- Dry cleaning.
Look for a chemical-free dry cleaner in your area. If there isn’t one, leave dry cleaned clothes in in another room and take them out of the bag to air out before wearing.
- Chewing gum, using straws.
Avoid using straws and try to break your gum habit. Both can lead to wrinkles around the mouth.
- Using products not suited for your skin.
Don’t box yourself into a skin type. Skin is dynamic and changes constantly. Go with the flow and use what you need when you need it.
- New car, mattress, flea powders.
We’re surrounded by skin-damaging chemicals that are sometimes impossible to avoid. Limit your exposure when possible.
- Regular air travel and/or commuting daily in traffic.
While this may be a habit you can’t or don’t want to forego, it’s hard on skin. Use skin travel tips (think hydration and deep pore cleansing).
- Eating inflammatory foods.
Anti-inflammatory diets are best for skin as well. Eat the rainbow may sound cliché, but skin loves it, too.
- Food sensitivities.
Food sensitivities can cause puffiness, redness, breakouts, and other skin issues. If you suspect you have any, consult with your doctor. Common culprits include corn, dairy, wheat, soy, sulfites, fructose, MSG, eggs, yeast, food coloring, preservatives, and chemicals, like pesticides.
- Using expired skincare products.
Use or toss it. Be mindful of your product-buying habits. Think of it like food: buy less so you can go through it all before expiration.