In an ever-growing cosmetics industry, it's hard to truly tell what's good for your skin and what isn't. Every day we're bombarded with new magical acne-clearing products as well as advice from beauty gurus and celebrities from social media. But what products and practices should we utilize to get our skin naturally and healthily acne-free or simply more healthy overall?
Here are 10 tips backed up by research that can answer those questions you have about getting you that clear, radiant skin you've been wanting.
1. Wash your face twice a day, and after exercising/sweating
This is the golden rule when it comes to preventing breakouts!
There is some controversy as to whether or not you should wash your face in the morning, but it is absolutely necessary to wash your face at least once a day to remove the dirt, makeup, or oils that have accumulated on your face throughout the day. However, dermatologists recommend washing your face in the a.m because your face is exposed to irritants 24/7, even when we're sleeping! Indoor pollution, oils, and dust on your pillowcase or even your hair are all reasons to quickly cleanse your face in the morning. The only reason to wash your face more than twice a day is after a sweaty workout.
But be careful not to overwash; usually, red dry patches aren't the result of frequency, but rather as the result of harsh face washes. If you're waking up with dry, flaky skin, skip the face wash and use a purifying face oil instead. Experiment to see what works for YOUR face, our skin types are all different!
2. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize!
During the cool, dry days of winter, your skin is most prone to drying out. When your skin is excessively dry, your body begins to compensate for all that lost oil by overproducing instead. The result? Breakouts.
Even if you feel oily or "heavy" because of the moisturizer (use a lighter one instead!), moisturizer is extremely important in one's skincare routine. To avoid dry skin, be sure to use lukewarm or warm water when washing your face (hot water further dries the skin, cold water does NOT tighten pores), use a moisturizer AFTER cleansing your face and applying toner, and always moisturize if your face is flaking or feeling tight. In addition, I would highly recommend using a moisturizer solely for the face, not just anybody lotion (although it still works).
Remember that it may take a while to find a moisturizer that works best for your skin!
3. Use a facial toner twice a day
If the toner isn't part of your daily routine, you may want to contemplate implementing it. If used correctly and avoiding alcohol-based toners, it can have numerous benefits on your skin. Before moisturizing and following your facial cleanser, a face toner is a quick, air-drying liquid that helps to remove additional grime, balances and corrects the pH of your skin, moisturizes, and controls pores and acne.
I highly recommend the Lancome Tonique Confort toner for anybody who is new to using a toner!
4. Use a gentle, mild cleanser
Wait, but when you're trying to take off as much dirt and oil as possible, why gentle? Our skin creates an oil called sebum, which is what prevents dirt and microorganisms from entering your body, and it locks in that moisture that makes our skin glow. When you cleanse your skin, it's important to ensure that you are still leaving behind some sebum or else your skin will become drier and more prone to irritants.
This is what gentle cleansers are great at, even for people with oily skin! It takes away dirt, grime, dust, makeup, and removes excess sebum that has accumulated over time, but unlike a harsh soap or deep cleanser, it still preserves some of your skin's oil. Keeping your face naturally "oily" is especially important when the dry winter comes around.
Using a face brush can also help to get a deeper, more thorough clean
5. Use non-clogging makeup
It is commonly known and backed up by studies that cosmetics can increase the likelihood of having breakouts. To ensure that your makeup is skin-friendly, be sure to:
- Wash your makeup brushes and sponges on a weekly basis
- Simply wear makeup less often!
- Always wipe off your makeup before a workout and then use a face cleanser
- Always wash your hands before applying makeup
- Find makeup that is labeled "oil-free" or "noncomedogenic"
6. Stop touching your face!
Although it's tempting for some to pop that pimple in the middle of your forehead, popping pimples only brings more consequences, such as infections and permanent scars. Your fingers are also home to various oils and bacteria that accumulate throughout the day, so touching your face all the time or popping those pimples increases the risk for infection. Therefore, be sure to always wash your hands with soap and water and leave those zits alone.
If you have a pimple that really hurts, see a dermatologist and they can perform special treatments to safely get rid of it without infection.
7. Maintain overall hygiene
To clear your skin on your face, it's also important to maintain good hygiene throughout. Washing your hands, showering daily, and changing pillowcases are all little things that tend to add up if ignored. For example, if you don't wash your hair daily, oils will start to build up. When you sleep, those oils get on the pillowcase, and you rub your face against your pillowcase when you sleep. Aim to wash your pillowcase every other week or so, and be sure to shower daily and stay clean throughout. Do you know how they say if you want to lose fat somewhere, you have to lose fat throughout? It's kind of like the same thing here as well.
8. Get enough sleep
Sleep deprivation can cause numerous consequences, with one of them being acne and breakouts. Running low on sleep weakens your immune system, making your body more vulnerable to acne-causing bacteria (which may also be due to poor hygiene), and the increased inflammation that comes with sleep loss can also worsen breakouts, turning small pimples into the painful red ones. It's not just sleep, too. Increased levels of stress can lead to cortisol increase in the body, which triggers your skin to produce more sebum and natural oils, which leads to more acne.
To get an adequate amount of sleep, aim for at least 8-9 hours a night and treat yourself. Look for healthy ways to de-stress, such as:
- Meditation or yoga
- Take a walk outside
- Write out your thoughts in a journal
- Take a break from your work and do something pleasurable!
- Face masks, spa days, self-care and more!
9. Eat foods with a low glycemic index
The glycemic index (GI) helps you compare how quickly your body digests various carbohydrate-containing foods. Foods with a lower GI raise blood sugar much more slowly than foods with a high GI. Although there has been little research done on links between diet and acne, there have been links between good diets and stress, and I can speak from personal experience as well, and there have been some studies that link a high-carb diet and more acne.
To cut back on carb-heavy and high GI foods, try to:
- REPLACE, not REDUCE! Replace chips with an apple, and brownies with a healthy granola bar.
- Limit processed carbohydrates, such as white bread or bakery items, and switch to whole wheat
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Cut back on sugary sodas and juices
10. Work it out
Exercise is great for keeping acne under control. Not only does regular exercise lower stress, sweating during a vigorous workout unclogs the tiny opening called pores. Many deep cleansing face washes claim to unclog pores, but sweating through exercise is a great way to naturally lighten up your pores. Just be sure to wash your face after a workout and to aim for at least 60 minutes of exercise - light or intense - a day.
The bottom line, be careful of what you put on your face. Washing your hands daily, using the right cleansers, implementing toner into your routine, and straying away from cupcake facial cleansers (yes, I've seen them before) can all make a difference in your facial complexion.
Focusing on other lifestyle factors such as stress, sleep, and diet can all lead to a healthier lifestyle along with a more vibrant face.
But most importantly, be patient! Change does not come overnight, so be consistent with your routine and you will surely see changes!