SkinCARE- Relationship Therapy: You and Your Skin
Diane Von Fürstenberg wisely says, "The most important relationship you can have is the one with yourself." No words could be truer, but I also think "One of the most important relationships you can have is with your skin." Relationships can be stressful, challenging, or an emotional rollercoaster, and I don't just mean romantic ones. These statements can describe the relationship we have with our skin. Too often we focus on the exterior, what our skin looks like on the outside instead of redirecting our focus to what we put inside our bodies that affect our skin. Additionally, our mindset towards our skin affects the way we treat it, see it, and if we love it or despise it. And trust me, it wants all the love. This article will talk about how to maintain healthy skin, why we need to adjust our relationship to it, and ways to cultivate a skincare routine. Think of this as a skin therapy session between you and your skin, because communication is key in every relationship.
For many people, the health of one's skin isn't something taken into account until the signs of "trouble problems" start to occur. It is integral to mention that these things do not make you less beautiful. Maybe your skin is dry, oily, combo, a little bit of this or a lot that. Vitiligo, rosacea, chronic acne, wrinkles, etc., are all normal things that we should not be ashamed of. Society often demonizes imperfect skin. Just think of one of those teen films where the protagonist has a “glow up” and after a 5 minute montage sequence to an upbeat song, she descends down the staircase without a blemish in sight. One word: unrealistic.
Taking a slight turn, top model Winnie Harlow has been featured in the pages of Vogue claiming her rightful spot as a fashion iconic by not apologizing for her vitiligo, a skin condition that causes loss of pigmentation. I mention these examples to prove that we need to measure our inner worthiness (and our skin’s worthiness) by our personal standards, not by society’s. By loving our skin in all its forms, color, texture, blemishes, wrinkles, we gain a confidence that no Covergirl commercial can take away. This confidence will change how we feel on the inside too.
Now, I’m not naive to say that having inner confidence is the solution to make all our skin blues disappear. We also have to put in the work to take care of our skin, not from an aesthetic motivation, but from a health one, which yes, can ultimately help with the look of our skin. We all want our inner beauty to glow from the inside out, but when it happens to radiate from our skin, that's definitely nice too.
Below are some of my tips that I've cultivated in order to maintain not only healthy skin, but a loving relationship with it too. Disclaimer: I am not a dermatologist or expert, but these are some recommendations from experts and tidbits of wisdom from my mother and grandmother (who have incredible skin, btw) that I have implemented in my skincare.
1. Inside out mentality
More easier said than done, but a loving and healthy mindset is the first step. Instead of thinking, "I wish my skin was as clear as so and so's," give yourself 2 or 3 complements about things you love about your skin. Maybe it's your skin color or how your cheeks have a lovely natural flush. The choice is yours. It all starts with changing how we think about ourselves, so that we change what we do to ourselves.
2. Drink water
This is also another part of the "inside out" journey. The human body is made up 60% of water according to the USGS. Our body needs water in order to keep essential functions going (^read more in the linked article), but many women do not drink enough water per day. If this sounds like you, maybe an incentive would be that adequate hydration helps maintain healthy skin. Steps to implement more water intake include: drink a glass of water when you wake up, carry a reusable water bottle wherever you go, drink water before your meals, and if it comes down to this, set daily alarm reminders on your phone. Also, keep in mind that certain fruits and veggies add to your daily water intake because they are largely made up of water, like grapefruit. If you don't like the taste of plain water get creative with making different kinds of infused waters, like lemon, cucumber, mint, or strawberry.
3. Eat nutritious food
I'm not gonna sugar-coat it. Eating fast-food, fried, sugary, and unhealthy oils do not do your skin any justice, but more importantly it is detrimental to your overall health. I'm not saying have a completely restrictive diet because once in while a damn good pizza and your favorite ice cream is a must. If you're not a fan of cooking or you don't like the taste of kale, there are ways to still get those nutrients in your body. I love perusing Food 52 Genius recipes, Bon Appétit, Pinterest, and my collection of cookbooks for healthy recipe ideas (also check out Dash of Delish IG for recipes). All this to say, veg and fruit, healthy fats like olive oil and avocado oil, cutting out refined sugars (cane sugar, syrups, HFCS), etc., will not only help maintain a healthy gut, but also clearer skin.
3. Bad acne? Dermatologist time
If you're suffering from severe acne and you've tried everything at the drugstore or Sephora, it may be time to book an appointment with a dermatologist. A dermatologist specializes in all things skin like psoriasis, vitiligo, acne, etc. and can provide you with specialized medication to help with your condition. I've had many friends go to the dermatologist for their acne and have never regretted it. I also want to mention that genetics plays a part in your acne. If your parents had chronic acne when they were your age, then that may be a reason as to why you're also experiencing it too. Again, a dermatologist can give you the proper medical guidance on how to help your skin.
Getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep not only feels good, but it helps give your skin some TLC time. Adequate sleep helps keep your hormones in check, your internal eating clock regular (less sleep leads to sugar cravings and possible overeating), and can reduce the dark circles and puffiness under the eyes. To get more zzz's, play around with changing your bedtime routine. Instead of getting ready for bed at 10pm, start at 9pm. With that extra hour change your pillowcase (regular changing of your pillowcase also helps prevent acne. You wouldn't want to wear the same shirt everyday would you? Also, SILK cases are more gentler on the skin and can help prevent wrinkles), take a warm shower, drink some chamomile lavender tea, and read a book. Think about it as setting yourself up for success. . . for a successful night's sleep. Experts also advise to stop using all electronics at least an hour or two before bed since the blue light awakens your brain and triggers daytime. This is hard, I know, I love watching YouTube videos in bed, but trust me, it works.
5. Start your skincare regimen early in life
If you’re 55 and reading this, it is still never too late! Age really is just a number, it’s all about your mindset and how you feel. :) Regardless of age, I do highly recommend cultivating a daily skincare routine. I was pretty fortunate to have a mom and grandma who took really great care of their skin, which is why my mom took me on a field trip to Clinique when I was 11 or 12 years old to get a skincare routine underway: face wash, toner, and moisturizer. Very simple, but incredibly effective. You do not need 10,000 products or an exhaustive 24-step skin care routine. What is important are the INGREDIENTS that you’re using. This is why the majority of the skincare I now use are "clean ingredient" products. Hyaluronic acid, colloidal oatmeal, retinol, and clean ingredients are all gonna give your skin the reinforcements it needs to stay healthy. Think about it like this, the food you eat provides the nutrients for your skin and the skincare product ingredients are the reinforcements! If the sound of a “routine” daunts you or you have commitment issues, the 3 basic components of a skincare routine are cleanser, toner, and moisturizer. Easy peasy. Serums, eye creams, masks and the like are all add-ons, but I do consider them to be an important part of my skincare routine. You don’t have to graduate to those steps if you’re not yet ready, but the no-fail basic 3-step will definitely be a major plus for your skin. If you don’t know where to start, I suggest going to Sephora or Ulta and asking questions-- they don’t charge you for asking questions ;). I suggest those stores over drugstores only because you can ask questions and get personalized recommendations. They even use specialized skin technology to help find the products that what would work best for your unique skin type. Remember, skincare is not a one size fits all. What works for someone else may not work for you. Another reason to visit Sephora is because you can always ask for samples before you purchase an item. That way you can go home and see what works/ what you like before dolling out the dollars on products. Get your money's worth.
6. Eye cream
You’re never too young to start wearing eye cream. If you’re 13, maybe try a cream that will give your under eye area moisture rather than using an anti-wrinkle cream, cause you don’t need that yet. But if you’re in college and you’re staying up late, think about trying some eye creams to help de-puff, add moisture, minimize dark circles, help with bags, and prevent wrinkles. Your under eye area is very thin skin, so always pat instead of rub and try to avoid pulling the skin.
7. Never sleep with makeup on
Just don’t do it. I don’t care how “tired” you are, get up and wash your face. Trust me, you’re gonna have a better night’s sleep and you won’t wake up with raccoon eyes. I can honestly say that I've never gone to bed with makeup on. EVER. If I can zombie walk to my bathroom at 2 A.M. and take it off, so can you.
Note: Makeup wipes don't actually get rid of all the impurities left on your skin from throughout the day. Wipes are also not the most eco-friendly or wrinkle-preventative strategy for your skin. I love the Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Melt, which is a cream I apply with my fingers that melts away all the makeup, even that Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara, and leaves my skin wonderfully free of makeup. Even though the packaging is plastic, I'm not creating daily waste of wipes or rubbing my skin with fibrous material.
8. Don’t pop those pimples
I try to not do this, but have I? Why yes, of course I have because I’m human and I want to get rid of that pesky pimple that only appears when I’m on my period. The obsession with those pimple popping videos don’t help my case, but leave it to the professionals and I mean a certified professional. You’re not a professional even if you’ve been doing it since you were 13. Popping them can lead to scars, bacteria, and bleeding, none of which are fun. Remember, we want to have a loving relationship with our skin. No one likes a relationship marked by scars, bacteria, and bleeding. I’d say, “Honey get out now!”
9. Chemical exfoliant
There are two types of exfoliants: physical and chemical. Even though Olivia sings, “Let’s get physical, physical,” this does not apply to the skin on your face. Physical exfoliants deceptively feel good because the grit of the product signals to us that we are getting a deep cleanse and getting rid of any dead skin. The problem with these exfoliants is that they break down the top layer of our skin which is supposed to protect the other layers and receive moisture. Depending on the type of grit, which can also be made with harmful ingredients to the environment, they cause skin abrasions, redness, and irritation. A solution? Chemical exfoliant! At first I was skeptical because anything “chemical” on my sensitive skin made me wary. But after speaking with the experts at Sephora, doing my own research (always do your own research, don’t just take a statement at face value), and after a few days of trying the sample at home, I was convinced. Chemical exfoliants are similar to toners in that they are liquid and you apply it onto your face as you would a toner. It may tingle a little at first and maybe some minor redness will occur, but it should not irritate you. And that’s it. It’s more simple and less messy than a physical scrub and it does not strip your skin of essential and natural moisture or cause microscopic tears to your skin. Below I've linked the one I use and love.
This is probably the MOST IMPORTANT thing when it comes to caring for your skin and overall skin health. I always wear sunscreen even if it’s cloudy and rainy, why? Because our skin is still being exposed to the bright white light that is reflective of the grey skies. Sun damage is not an overnight thing, it is accumulated over years and years of exposure. To not just to prevent skin cancer, but to prevent age spots, wrinkles, and ultra-violet ray damage, sunscreen is your best friend f-o-r-e-v-e-r. And don’t just put that tiny dollop, be generous. Generosity is a key part of a relationship too. Also, don’t forget to apply it to the neck! If you’re not a fan of the sunscreen smell, texture, weight, white-cast in pictures, the effect it’ll have on your makeup, etc., there are a lot of great SPF’s out there formulated to combat all of those problems. Again, research is key, but no doubt you’ll find one that meets your needs. I’ve linked the two that I use along with an SPF 101 video with YouTube star Hyram from Skincare with Hyram. Check out Sephora’s top list of sunscreens too. I have yet to try it, but the Supergoop sunscreen has been getting notable rave reviews.
*Get SPF 30+ to 50+
11. Lymphatic drainage
I do this every morning after I apply my moisturizer and by golly do I feel the difference. It’s like a free spa I gift myself every morning. You can use tools like a jade roller, but I just use my fingers. There are a bunch of glands all over our body, including our face and neck. Lymphatic massages help create blood flow throughout your face and massage those glands. It’s also a great way to prevent wrinkles and tone your face. I’ve linked videos on how to do lymphatic drainage from Sophie Carbonari, a French skincare expert whose lymphatic method I've adopted.
12. Don’t forget the NECK
Clean the neck, tone the neck (with toner), add a serum to the neck, apply sunblock to the neck, and that’s how you won’t need cosmetic surgery on your neck when you're 60. Do the work now to prevent the work later. Our necks are one of the first things that start to show age, which again, aging is beautiful, but our neck is just as exposed to the elements as are face is. And I know you don’t want to be wearing a turtleneck in the middle of summer, especially with climate change making the summer's unbearably hotter. Acclaimed writer, Nora Ephron, even wrote a book talking about a woman's relationship with her neck called
I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman. It's a great read, I highly suggest it.
13. Clean your hands before you touch your face.
14. Pat dry, don’t rub.
15. Rinse with cold water. I love doing this because it wakes me up and it supposedly helps keep your skin’s elasticity. If a cold brunt is not your thing, at least use warm water, never hot.
16. If you have the means, get regular facials. If you're like me and you don't, DIY. Take a warm shower to open up your pores and apply a face mask. If you’re feeling fancy, cut some cucumber slices and place them on your eyes.
17. Hats and sunglasses can help prevent sun damage too.
18. Lip balm with SPF.
19. Try to avoid fragrances in your products.
20. Look into the mirror and tell yourself “I love you.”
My Favorite Skincare Products (not-sponsored):
Sunscreen (coral reef safe)
One of my favorite skincare YouTubers- Skincare with Hyram: