I am not going to preach too much about what you have to do to have good skin, because I don't know; I don't have great skin. I think that a lot of it comes down to genetics and environmental/lifestyle choices. We all know that people who smoke tend to age faster than those who don't, same with those who are in constant sun exposure and those that drink heavily; those things are changeable, genetics are not. The first step to being happy with your skin is acknowledging what you cannot change. For me, I know that the pores on my nose and cheeks will always be "large"; my mom and dad both have large pores and so do about 90% of my family members. Pore size is not something I can change and I have just learned to be ok with it.
There are very general things that work for most people out there, but keep in mind that these techniques don't work for everyone. I am going to speak about these general techniques and then I will link you to other methods in case these ones have never worked for you. So keep reading!
1) Figure out how often you need to cleanse your face.
- Just like everyone has different skin, everyone has different needs when it comes to fully cleansing your face. I would recommend cleansing your face no more than twice a day since more than that can lead to some serious dryness and stripping of your skin's natural oils. Some of you out there are definitely going to fall into the category of cleansing your face once a day or maybe not even at all. Not at all? Let me clarify; if you are not wearing makeup or sunscreen every day, the need to full on cleanse may not be there. Some folks can get away with just splashing some water on their faces (e.g. my boyfriend, who should be wearing sunscreen but I can only convince him of so much).
- However, if you are wearing makeup or something on your skin each day, you should be cleansing it at night. You might not see the effects now, but honestly, I don't think every dermatologist in America is wrong when they say that this contributes to premature aging. Plus, your pores will thank you when they are able to breath at the end of the day.
- For oily folks (and those who just like to cleanse, I suppose), twice a day will probably be good. If you wake up in the morning and your skin has some excess oil, you should be ok to go ahead and cleanse in the morning as well.
- For the rest of you, sometimes you don't need to cleanse in the mornings and might be better off just splashing luke-warm or cool water on your face and patting dry. Too much cleansing can lead to dehydrated skin.
2) Use a gentle cleanser & cool/luke warm water
- This may seem counterintuitive for those who have suffered with acne, but it's one of the best methods out there. Scrubbing your skin or severely drying it isn't going to make your skin magically look better. If you are suffering from acne, the number one thing you should not be doing is scrubbing your active breakouts; you are contributing to the spread of the bacteria on your face. If you think you need to exfoliate, look into chemical exfoliants, such as salicylic acid (more on this to come, but you can avoid cleansers with it, it isn't doing much to help).
- Cool or luke warm water is your best friend! I think we've all heard our entire lives that taking long, hot showers is not great for you skin and that translates directly to your face. Dry skin tends to be rougher, which leads to uneven texture of your face.
3) Treat the issues you have not the issues you think you have
- We are all our own worst critics. Believe me, I know this very, very well. If you can not be objective, ask someone who will tell you the truth to evaluate your skin. Some issues are fixable, some are not. You cannot change the size of your pores, sorry (unless you want them bigger? You can do that). You can work on clogged pores, acne, texture, and signs of premature aging.
- You know how if you go a day without drinking anything, you would be incredibly dehydrated? That's probably how your skin feels without moisturizer. I don't care if you have some of the oiliest skin on the mofo'ing planet, slap a moisturizer on. You don't need something fancy out of a department store, just something that is simple and doesn't contain high amounts of alcohol or fragrance (which, coincidentally, is usually an alcohol). Hydrated skin is happy skin and it's also young looking skin. We are a youth obsessed culture and one of the best ways to keep your skin happy is to feed it with moisture.
- On top of wearing moisturizer, make sure to drink water. Aside from being great for your entire body (and I mean, it's fucking great for your entire body), it keeps your skin, which is your largest organ, happy. I don't mean drink liquids, I mean you need to be drinking water, at least a few cups a day. Just drink it, please.
- Ok, I know that there are a lot of people out there that don't wear sunscreen every day... including me. I'm going to break this down a bit and you can decide where you fall on the sunscreen debate. Honestly, I'm a pretty big believer in genetics having the most important role in your aging process.
- If you are going to be exposed to the sun for really, any amount of time past about 30 minutes a day, I would recommend wearing sunscreen. If you are exposed for less than 30 minutes (like me most days), then you can maybe skip the sunscreen. The reason I say this is because your body needs vitamin D and one of the best ways to get it is through sunlight (you can read this highly scientific article /s or just google it).
- However, consistent sun exposure has been linked to premature aging and the most obvious thing of all, skin cancer. It's your choice whether you wear sunscreen every day, so keep in mind all of the above. Cancer is not discriminatory, it affects everyone, so don't put yourself at a high risk just because I said you might need some sun every day.
- This goes back to the whole idea of being nice to your skin; don't scrub the life out of it every single day. Scrubbing your skin ruins, can you guess (?), the natural barrier of your skin. Scrubbing every day can lead to excess oil production and dehydrated skin. It's recommended to physically exfoliate 1-2x a week, but I think it's pretty ok to do it 3 times. Everyone has different skin and some people can tolerate physical exfoliation better.
- I unfortunately call into a group of people who don't react well to this, but there is also chemical exfoliation. This is using Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs - such as glycolic or lactic acid) and/or BHAs (salicylic acid) to exfoliate the skin in a gentle way. If you have acne, BHAs are your best friends as they gently get rid of dead skin that can cause clogged pores (which then lead to acne).
- I know that was kind of harsh (I swore!), but it's true. If you smoke, drink in excess often, and fill your body with crap... it will come through on your skin. Besides all of the other horrible things that smoking will do to you, it's going to manifest in your face and make you look a lot older. Just stop smoking, seriously, you will thank yourself for it later. Excess alcohol consumption? Yes, getting drunk, a lot, messes with your skin as well. I'm not saying you can't have fun and getting a little wastey faced every once in a while, but if you do it multiple times a week, every week, you're ruining your skin. You know how you wake up and feel like crap after a rough night out? Your body is dehydrated and what have we learned about bodies being dehyrdated? Yup, your skin is going to manifest that loveliness.
- In regards to putting crap in your body, again, I don't mean you can't eat some delicious, delicious McDonalds or Taco Bell or Cheetos, but don't make that your diet every single day. There are healthy fatty acids and natural anti-oxidants that your body and skin will thank you for.
- Because honestly, you have one skin and you're kind of stuck with it. If you want to pick that zit until it bleeds, deal with that fact that you might have a nice scar because of it. If you want to have horrible wrinkles around your mouth from sucking on you cigarettes, deal with it. Treat your skin nicely.
9) Don't pick your skin
- This is pretty stupid for me to say, because I am a picker and quite honestly, I think I have a very small case of dermatillomania. If I could go back and not pick at the things on my face, I would. I have scars, albeit small ones, on my face from my compulsive need to pick. Popping an angry zit is one thing and I won't admonish you for it, but picking at your skin until you bleed or trying to get something out that is very clearly under the skin is another. If you have issues with picking, look online for methods to help you stop.
If you have tried the above and nothing has worked for you, there are other methods of cleansing to make your skin happy. A lot of people have found success in the Oil Cleansing Method (I actually double cleanse sometimes if my skin is feeling particularly icky), which you can find out about at Crunchy Betty's Website <- This is seriously one of the best articles that I've read on it.
Also, I want to note, these are just tips and suggestions. Like I've stated a bunch up above, everyone has different skin and this is just a mass generalization. Some people's skin responds fantastically to different things. If you have a routine that works for you and your skin looks fantastic, then don't feel the need to change anything. If you have skin that bugs the crap out of you, why not try some of the above?
Just remember, if you are trying out new products, introduce them one at a time in case you have an allergic reaction to something. It is much easier to identify one product that is irritating your skin rather than have to decide between 4 different things.
If you have any questions or are looking for product recommendations, please feel free to ask me. I have been dealing with my skin for about 6 months after a lovely allergic reaction and mild chemical burn during a product testing for a company. My skin is finally almost back to normal after trying a whole bunch of different things until finally going back to this routine. I'm all ears, so ask if you are curious!