5 Cardinal Rules For Optimal Skin Health
Have you ever been *so* annoyed at your Mom for constantly berating you to wear your sunscreen? Unfortunately, this is one of those instances where Mom might have actually been right. You see, when it comes to skin — everyone’s is different. But there are a few cardinal rules that can actually be applied to any and all skin types. These simple rules have been studied and proven for any skin type to see a drastic improvement within their skin. And after the year we’ve all had, I think we could all use a skin pick-me up!
Understanding Your Skin
The fact of the matter is, you can’t improve your skin if you don’t understand it. For example, do you know your skin type? Do you know if you have any skin conditions? Some of these things are easy to self-diagnose, others could need a second look from a dermatologist.
As far as skin-type goes ~ there are normal skins, oily skins, dry skins, and combination skins. Combination skin-types are unique in that they have the ability to possess multiple skin-types across their face. One of the most common combination skin-types is an oily t-zone with a dry cheek area & facial perimeter. This is actually the skin-type that I have myself!
The benefit to knowing your skin-type is that you can then inherently learn how to treat it. For me, a combination skin, I have learned that cleansing with gentle clarifying products & replenishing with lightweight yet nourishing hydrators is the secret to achieving the best results for me. But identifying your own skin type is the first step in your skin education in order to better understand what type of cleansing and what type of moisturizing will give you the best results.
Skin Types & Conditions Chart via Skinceuticals
A common mistake people make about their skin is they believe their skin condition is actually their skin type. Aging, Acne, Discoloration, Dehydration, Rosacea & Sensitized skin are actually conditions and not types. Conditions can be treated and in some cases can be fully eradicated with a strict & tailored skin care regime. Your skin type, however, cannot be ‘treated’ ~ it is more the identity of the structure of your skin. Once you learn your skin’s identity, you can learn how to best take care of it.
5 Rules For Optimal Skin Health
1. You Are What You Eat
As beauty consumers, we know that applying topical serums & creams can drastically improve both the look and feel of our skin. The cosmetic industry is surging to all-time highs as beauty consumers scour the skincare market for the perfect cream that does it all. As a result, the global skin care market is estimated to be worth $189.3 billion U.S. dollars by 2025.
But the fact of the matter is, skin care products only go skin-deep. Skin health starts at a deeper, cellular level. It has been scientifically proven that eating a healthier diet can result in a brighter, clearer complexion. Kick-start your skin-care regime from the inside out by fueling your body with the vitamins and nutrients it needs to support daily cellular functions & maintain balance.
2. Know When To Switch Off
Have you ever been so stressed that your face started breaking out? Turns out, stress and skin problems have actually been scientifically linked.
In a study of college students, those who experienced high stress levels were more likely to experience skin issues such as:
- itchy skin
- hair loss
- flaky, oily, or waxy patches on the scalp
- troublesome sweating
- scaly skin
- hand rashes
Other research showed that teenagers who reported high stress levels were 23 percent more likely to have severe acne. If you feel like stress is negatively impacting your skin, don’t worry! There are active steps you can take to greatly reduce the impact that stress is having on your life. Have you tried a new stress reduction technique like yoga, deep breathing, meditation or exercise?
Cultivating a positive headspace to help you tackle all of your obstacles can greatly improve the overall health of your mind & body. Something as easy as taking a long hot bath or reading a chapter of your favorite book can help you recharge and reenergize so that you are better equipped to take on the day. Find out what de-stresses you and make a habit of putting your self-care first. Taking the time out to care for yourself will only cultivate a healthier body AND mind.
3. Apply Moisture Topically
One of the best things you can do for your skin is moisturize it. Skin moisturizers keep the outer layer of skin cells hydrated and seal in moisture. Did you know that cleansing and moisturizing are considered to be the two most important steps of your entire skincare routine? Moisturizers are packed with hydrating ingredients that work in harmony to restore essential hydration levels in your lipid barrier. Moisturizers often contain humectants to attract moisture, occlusive agents to retain moisture in the skin, and emollients to smooth the spaces between skin cells. Topical moisturizers are beneficial for ANY skin type that has been depleted by environmental exposure, UV radiation, harsh makeup removers, astringents, drying soaps, showering and TIME!
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends the following ways to lock in moisture in and prevent skin irritation:
- Take one 5- to 10-minute shower or bath per day. Excessive washing can strip away the oily layer of the skin and dry it out.
- Use warm water instead of hot water.
- Minimize the use of harsh soaps. Use a gentle and fragrance-free cleanser.
- Stay away from abrasive scrub brushes, bath sponges, and washcloths that can damage the skin’s surface.
- Pat skin gently dry with a towel.
- Moisturize immediately after washing. To trap in moisture, ointments, lotions, and creams need to be applied within minutes of drying off.
- Use ointments or creams rather than lotions in order to minimize irritation.
- Never scratch the skin. Cold compresses and moisturizers should help to control itching.
- Wear non-irritating clothes. When wearing clothing made from wool or other rough materials, wear silk or cotton underneath.
- Use hypoallergenic laundry detergent.
- Avoid getting too close to fireplaces and other heat sources that can dry out skin.
Switch on a humidifier in the winter to replenish moisture in the skin’s top layer.
4. Get Your Beauty Sleep
The National Sleep Foundation officially recommends that adults sleep for between 7 and 9 hours every day. Sleeping for under 7 hours a night could be detrimental to your overall health — and in particular, your skin. Chronic sleep deprivation is known to be linked with a variety of health issues including obesity, immune deficiency, diabetes, and even cancer. Not only this, but research has also shown that the quality of your sleep may also have a significant impact on skin function and aging. People classed as “poor sleepers” had increased signs of premature skin aging and a decreased ability for their skin to repair itself at night from environmental stressors such as sun exposure. During deep sleep, your body enters repair mode and regenerates skin, muscles, and blood and brain cells. Without adequate sleep, your body is unable to produce new collagen. And collagen is what prevents your skin from SAGGING!
5. Promote Healthy Habits
You probably hear this one a lot: “live a healthier lifestyle.” Yeah, easier said than done right? Well, when it comes to your skin, there are actually a few lifestyle choices you can make that will give you noticeable results.
a) Don’t Smoke
Smoking is one of the leading causes of premature aging in the skin. Smoking cigarettes actually narrows the blood vessels found in the outer layer of your skin, which reduces blood flow and exhausts the skin of the nutrients and oxygen it needs to remain healthy. Collagen and elastin are what give our skin its strength and elasticity. Smoking cigarettes can reduce the natural elasticity of the skin by causing the breakdown of collagen and reduction of collagen production. Furthermore, the repetitive expressions that are made when smoking (pursing your lips), can actually cause wrinkles! All of these serious skin complications can be avoided altogether by either massively reducing personal consumption and/or stopping completely.
b) Wear Your SPF
Your Mom constantly told you to put it on, and you may or may not have actually listened to her. But unfortunately, we are here to tell you that this was one of the instances where she might have actually been right. Did you know that SPF is one of the only ingredients that is scientifically proven to stop aging in its tracks? That’s right, SPF is one of TWO ingredients right now that you can legally claim to be anti-aging. Under the FDA, the only other skincare ingredient that you can legally claim to be “anti-aging” is retinol. This is because SPF and retinol both affect the structure/function of the skin ~ which, under the FDA, actually classifies them as drugs. Both affect the skin in different ways, but both affect the skin at the cellular level as opposed to on the surface. Getting into the habit of wearing your SPF daily, regardless of direct sun exposure, will protect you from a whole range of skin issues as you get older. UV damage can harm you 365 days a year, which means getting into the habit of wearing sunscreen year-round (yes, even in winter!) will provide you with the best chance at protection & prevention. Sun spots,
hyperpigmentation, discoloration, and even skin cancer are just a few of the things you can keep at bay by applying sunscreen as the last step in your morning routine. So it looks like Mom might actually be right this time ~ just don’t tell her I said that!
c) NO Sleeping In Makeup
This rule may sound simple, but it’s actually extremely important. Going to bed with clean skin can result in a brighter, clearer complexion. As we explained in the ‘beauty sleep’ section, your skin regenerates when you sleep. If you sleep in your makeup, you are rubbing the dirt, makeup, sunscreen and oil on your skin into your pillow ~ and then rubbing your face all over that pillow all night. Gross! No matter how tired you are, a great rule of thumb is to AT LEAST take off your makeup every night. Even if you can’t manage to do your whole routine, you will be a lot better off in the morning if you went to sleep with a clean face. If you are the least bit acne-prone, you should NEVER go to sleep in your makeup, or you risk waking up with a new friend (or 3, or 4, or 5…)
d) Be KIND To Your Skin — Don’t Pick Your Pimples!
The cardinal skin rule that for me, personally, took the longest to learn ~ is to be kind to your skin. I think when we are faced with problems within our skin, our first instinct is to use a strong product to counteract what has gone wrong. This is especially the case with acne-prone skin types. Many acneic skins are quick to use drying cleansers, astringent toners and little-to-no moisturizer in order to “dry out” the various blemishes. In reality, using harsh products like this can actually cause a lot of damage to your skin’s lipid barrier. Once the lipid barrier is compromised, your skin becomes even more prone to the issues you are already trying so hard to fix ~ and on top of this can become red, angry and irritated.
But don’t worry, this horrible cycle can be broken by using products that are KIND to your skin. Go easy on the acids, take a step back from the retinol, and let’s try and get your skin back into a state of calm and tranquility. Replenish and strengthen the lipid barrier with skin-restoring plant extracts and nourishing antioxidants. Now, when my skin starts to break out, instead of reaching for my strongest salicylic acid, I reach for gentle products that work to calm my skin with soothing ingredients like allantoin and centella asiatica. Once you feel your lipid barrier has been strengthened and restored, then free to add back in your exfoliating acids and your beloved retinol. Don’t worry, your skin is better equipped to handle them now!
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