Long gone are days when I’d spend an entire afternoon rubbing baby oil (which was a step-up from vegetable oil I used to use when I was even younger) on my skin while lying out in the sun. The speedier and crispier my tan was- the better. Being tan not only made feel better about my looks, but I also found tanning to be very therapeutic; it always lifted my mood. If I had a stressful day, I loved visiting a tanning salon for a little pick-me-up.
Ah… to be young and stupid.
These days, I’m known for avoiding the sun and slathering myself in sunscreen from head to toe, before leaving the house.
We all know by now that sunscreen is pretty important, right? Well, we should. I still hear so many people say: “but the sun isn’t out today“, “but it’s not hot“, “but we’re not going to the beach!?” If you want your skin to look good, even as you age, you need to wear sunscreen, even on those gloomy, cloudy days. Sun causes skin damage as UVA rays cause your skin to age and wrinkle much faster than it would, had it not been exposed. This means photoaging, sun spots and, of course, wrinkles. Aging is a part of life and it’s just a natural process- one that I honestly enjoy and look forward to. BUT, if aging skin is something you’re concerned about, remember that preventing things like sun damage is much easier than treatment (90% of skin aging is caused by sun exposure). Of course, there’s skin cancer too- something that one in five Americans will develop in their lifetime.
If you want to find a good sunscreen for your face check out this article. You should always use 1/4 teaspoon on your entire face, applying it AFTER your moisturizer. The earlier you start incorporating sunscreen into your skincare routine, the better, but it’s never too late to start. Use of sunscreen is especially important when using AHA/BHA or Vitamin C products (pretty much anything that helps fight hyperpigmenation, promotes skin renewing- not wearing proper sun protection while using these products can leave your skin vulnerable and produce reverse results e.g. your acne scars will get darker, instead of getting lighter).
OVER-EXFOLIATION + CLEANSING
This is something that I’ve been guilty of in the past. I recently started being a bit more open about my struggles with acne here on TT. In one of my previous posts I told you that one of the most irritating things about dealing with bad skin, is the unsolicited advice strangers feel obligated to give you; “Oh honey, your poor skin, listen my cousin’s sister’s daughter-in-law used this cream..” or “my daughter swears by this and this, you should try it“. And don’t even get me started on the “have you tried Proacitv?” (“have you tried getting punched in the face?“) One thing that almost every single “beauty expert” at a department store would always say to me whenever I went to buy some makeup (makeup, not skincare..) was “oh you should totally exfoliate more often” or “you just need a good scrub“. So scrub I did. I scrubbed and scrubbed my skin, thinking I could “scrub” the acne away.
That only caused more breakouts but I continued on scrubbing, since that’s what I was told to do by someone, who I’m very sure meant well, but had no idea what they were talking about. Because I was over-exfoliating my skin, I was stripping its protective barrier, basically making thousands and thousands of tiny, microtears on my face. That left my skin red, sensitive and caused major acne flare ups. Exfoliating is important, but it’s very easy to overdo it, especially when it comes to “mechanical” exfoliation. My skin did a complete 180 when I started treating it with more love (this included a lot of lifestyle changes like cutting dairy from my diet); I use gentle cleansers and swapped most of my scrubs and peels for chemical exfoliation (using AHA or BHA products). If you have active breakouts on your face, constant scrubbing will only irritate them and they will have a hard time healing.
You don’t have to look far to see that being “tough” on breakouts or problematic skin is the thing to do. Except, it’s not. Beauty magazines, beauty experts on TV- I’ve seen so many people say that a good *scrub* can help acne go away. It can’t and it won’t. I’ve done a lot of things that helped my acne go from severe to moderate before going on accutane. One of them was throwing away all my drying face wash products and swapping them for more delicate, gentle and foamy cleansers and gels that don’t dry out my skin. Once I started being more gentle with skin, things changed for the better.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
Pinterest is a wonderful place that I’m very much obsessed with, but every single time I see a “DIY face mask” post that tells you that you should be putting things like lemon juice, toothpaste, mouthwash or baking soda on your skin, I die a little inside. There are a lot of awesome, natural products that work great with your skin, like: coconut oil, avocado oil, honey, oats etc. but lemon mixed baking soda isn’t one of them. Yes, lemon juice can initially help lighten your acne scars, but at a cost. Lemon juice is highly acidic and applying it directly on your skin will irritate and disturb its protective acid mantle. Using lemon juice on your skin can also cause photosensitivity which often leads to hyperpigmentnation, or even something as severe as a chemical burn. Baking soda, on the other hand, is too alkaline to use on your face (your skin’s natural pH is 4.5-5.5 while baking soda has a pH of 9) and using it on your skin can damage its natural barrier. pH is very important in skincare, to learn more about it read this article.
Research and patch-testing are very important. Everyone’s skin is different and once you really dive into this whole skincare world, things get confusing. There are as many opinions as there are experts out there. I, for instance, don’t think mineral oil is evil and love sealing my face moisturizer with a thin layer of vaseline when my skin feels extremely dry- both are things some skin experts would cringe at. My current dermatologist doesn’t have a problem with vaseline or mineral oil either, but also recommended a *gentle* sunscreen for that burned the shit out of my skin. So yes, skincare is a very much an individual thing, which is why doing own research is so important. It’s okay to take advice from other people, experts, bloggers, but keep in mind that everyone’s skin chemistry is different.
TAKING IT ALL OFF
Your skin naturally regenerates itself at night and if you still have your makeup on while you’re sleeping, you are not giving it a chance to recover from being exposed to free radicals- and this can lead to premature aging. Yes, I personally still know a few people who don’t think that not removing your makeup before going to sleep is a big deal. Heavy foundations, powders, silicon and/or oil based primers that “sit” on your skin will clog your pores and oil glands, which in turn can cause breakouts. Of course, your skin won’t be ruined if you happen to forget to take off your makeup once in a blue moon (after a long night out perhaps, when all you want to do is take off those heels and bury your face in the pillow). It doesn’t matter how late it is, doesn’t matter how tired I am, I can’t imagine going to sleep with my makeup on, and neither should you- especially if you have sensitive or acne-prone skin.
This is another area where being gentle matters a lot- using oils, creamy cleansers or balms is the best way to remove your makeup. You don’t want to tug on your skin with makeup wipes, or rub your eyes until all of the mascara comes off. Gentle is the way to go.
I’ve been guilty of doing every single thing mentioned in this post (except for not removing my makeup before going to sleep- I’m a little obsessed with cleanliness) and it took me a few years to figure out what my skin loves and what will never work for me.
My love for
frying tanning began when I was very young. My cousin and I would spend our summer rubbing vegetable oil on our skin, sitting in the sun, all day long, reading magazines. At the end of the day, we’d compare our skin to see who ended up with a “better”, deeper tan. I’ll admit to being in love with tanning beds, too, during my High School years. And… yes.. we used to rub lemon on our faces, like there was no tomorrow and I actually ended up with awful burns on my face.
Well.. you live and learn.
Have you ever done anything cringe-worthy to your skin? Any mistakes you’ve learned from?