skincare routines are difficult to initially get down pat. i’m not sure how many trial-and-error routines i went through before i found what worked for me. it can be an uphill battle for anyone. and since it’s your skin, it’s what shows and can feed into your self-esteem (at least it does for me!). there are all kinds of beauty consultant advice on what to do and what not to do. but what actually works (and what actually doesn’t), no matter the skin type? here are 10 things you shouldn’t be doing, that i think we can all agree on :)
using harsh and toxic ingredients
of course you knew this would be my absolute #1 mistake! i could talk all day about this mistake (i essentially have a blog dedicated to it). cosmetics companies may use any ingredient or raw material, except for color additives and a few prohibited substances, without government review or approval. about one in eight of the 82,000 ingredients used in personal care products are industrial chemicals, including carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins, and hormone disruptors. to top it off, U.S. federal law allows companies to leave many chemicals off labels, including nanomaterials, ingredients considered trade secrets, and components of fragrance. to speed things up, here are very common skincare ingredients that you should Never put on:
- sodium laureth/lauryl sulfate (and its other forms) – possible carcinogen
- propylene glycol – petroleum byproduct; possible carcinogen; toxicant
- imidazolidinyl urea and diazolidinyl urea – toxicant; allergies; releases formaldehyde
- FDC&C/D&C colors – synthetic colors; possible carcinogen
- BHA and BHT – endocrine disruption; possible carcinogen
- coal tar dyes – possible carcinogen; may contain heavy metals toxic to the brain
- DEA – reactions formed can be carcinogenic
- dibutyl phthalate – reproductive toxicant; endocrine disruptor
- parabens – suspected endocrine disruptor; may interfere with male reproductive functions
- parfum (fragrance) – allergies; asthma; known carcinogen; neurotoxicity
- PEG compounds – possible carcinogen
- petrolatum – petroleum byproduct; possible carcinogen; allergies; toxicant
- siloxanes – endocrine disruptor; reproductive toxicant
- triclosan – antibiotic resistance in bacteria; endocrine disruptor
not only does this include your facial cleansing and moisturizing products, but your makeup as well!
washing your face with soap and/or using alcohol on your face
i had trouble deciding if this should be #1 or #2… Stop. Using. Soap. On. Your. Face.!
our skin is one heck of an amazing organ. it’s our little safety blockade. but in order for it to function properly, our acid mantle must be intact.
ok, let’s back up for a little science lesson. skin’s ph is normally acidic, ranging in ph values of 4–6, while the body’s internal environment maintains a near-neutral ph (7–9). this creates a steep ph gradient of 2–3 units between the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of skin, consisting of dead or peeling cells) and underlying epidermis and dermis. the physiologic role of an acidic skin surface is to be a defense mechanism against invading organisms. it has been demonstrated that several key enzymes involved in the synthesis and maintenance of a competent skin barrier are largely impacted by ph. soap cleansers are typically alkaline in nature (ph 10), and have a higher potential to irritate skin (source). [side note - acne flourishes well at ph values between 6 and 6.5, and is drastically reduced at ph values less than 6. what does that mean? do. not. use. soap. on. your. face. ]. the stratum corneum makes up a very thin, slightly acidic film called the “acid mantle” that is secreted from the skin’s sebaceous (oil) glands. this is the barrier that prevents unwanted materials (bacteria, viruses, contaminants) from entering, and excessive loss of water from exiting the body. when we wash with soap, the acid mantle is stripped away, leaving the skin and body vulnerable (source). by using soaps and alcohol (both stripping by nature), you are eliminating your acid mantle, thereby not allowing your skin to function properly (which includes blocking you from the ‘bad germs’).
give your skin a break and try the OCM method or water-only washing. your skin will thank you in brightness, clearness, and suppleness!
not taking an “inside out” approach to skin issues
how you take care of your body in terms of nourishment will directly be reflected on the outside. skin flaws are imbalances somewhere, with something, IN your body. slathering your skin with chemicals will superficially “fix” your skin, but it will not address the real problem. talk to your healthcare professional for all diet and lifestyle changes, of course. not getting enough fats in your diet? you won’t have shiny or strong hair. not getting enough vitamin B? you’ll have ridges in your fingernails. for me personally, the biggest mistake i made was not focusing on what my body’s state was internally, that reflected on the outside. i had to really increase my water intake and address different deficiencies through proper nutrition, and supplementing when necessary (please know that “eating” your nutrients is way better than taking them in a pill). i found that even with my diet, i was needing to supplement with zinc. everyone is different! ask your doctor to check you out for deficiencies, and discuss diet options. i’m a huge proponent of the plant-based diet, with grass-fed meat and butter. yum!
poor intestinal health can make skin problems such as psoriasis, eczema and acne worse. by internally balancing your flora, these can get better! you can do this by getting more probiotics into your body. kefir, anyone? yummy! ensuring you’re staying properly hydrated is also important. about 3/4 of americans are chronically dehydrated. that’s crazy! The Institute of Medicine determined an average, healthy adult living in a temperate climate needs roughly 3 liters (about 13 cups) of it a day, and women need 2.2 liters (about 9 cups). the “8×8″ water rule is a great guideline, as long as you’re including other fluids as well. i personally started drinking more water combined with everything else, and definitely noticed a change in my skin. and my body, for that matter. and yes, there is a such thing as overhydration, so don’t overdo it.
and last not but least, stress is also an internal factor, which reflects on the outside. take care of your mind, and take care of your body!
not moisturizing or over moisturizing
your skin is an amazing organ; truly. it repairs itself every day, but it needs you to nourish your body in order for it to do its job. you don’t want your skin to become dependent on moisturizers to “normalize” itself. your skin repairs itself while you sleep, and over moisturizing will tell your skin “hey, don’t produce so much oil because we already have all this to work with.” then, the next thing you know, you ‘need’ moisturizer even in the summer because your skin is so dry on its own. on the flip side, truly naturally dry skin needs a little extra lovin’ and needs to be moisturized.
everyone is different, and it can take a few weeks to ditch the products and see what type of skin you really have. you also need to be cognizant of your climate and season. you could have a completely different skin routine based on the season, or where you’re traveling. maybe you don’t even need a “skin routine”! :)
and of course, stay away from ingredients like those listed under mistake #1. look for natural moisturizers, like these.
for me personally, i’ve found the OCM works wonders and provides the perfect balance of moisture.
not using a silk or satin pillowcase
silk/satin pillowcases are wondrous for hair and skin! by using silk or satin pillowcases, your skin is not “crinkled” by harsher fabrics while you’re passed out in one position (tummy sleepers, beware of earlier wrinkles!). you’ll also wake up with less (or no) bed-head, from your hair not being crunched around from a regular pillowcase fabric. the silk won’t cause friction on your hair, leading to less damage and breakage. a
lso, cotton fabrics absorb moisture, whereas silk doesn’t. if you’re suffering from dry facial skin and rely on overnight moisturizers, try a silk pillowcase. besides, silk feels awesome to sleep on. duh.
believe it or not, there is a such thing as over-exfoliating. here’s some background:
your body naturally exfoliates itself. yep! it’s a process called desquamation. super sciency sounding, right? the process of exfoliating your skin with scrubs or chemicals serves to irritate your skin to get it to produce newer skin cells faster.
what’s the limit? never combine an exfoliant product with a loofah or similar cloth. ever! as far as products or natural diy exfoliators, only use them once a week as the maximum, without risking long-term damage and premature aging signs. also, be cognizant of the condition of your skin after exfoliating. you may find that you need a light moisturizer.
a great way to exfoliate and increase the health of your skin and body is through dry brushing. i have a natural bristle brush that attaches to a longer handle, for an all-over body exfoliation. it’s awesome!
not washing your sheets, pillowcases, and headbands often enough
i can’t stress enough that what goes on your face needs to be clean. even those stretchy headbands need to be washed! your oil and sebum and other dirt will accumulate, and then sit on your skin, leading to blemishes and clogged pores. they need to be washed at regular intervals to avoid breakouts.
clean sheets = clean face.
letting sunburns happen
don’t get me wrong; sun is great! sun bathing isn’t bad… but sunburns are. so go enjoy the sunlight! your body very literally Needs it. supplementing with vitamin D isn’t the same as getting plain ol’ sunshine.
if you need a daily spf for your face, try switching to natural alternative, like these.
also, make sure to eat your sunscreen (plenty of healthy fats and antioxidants) and use natural sunscreens when outside for prolonged periods of time, or if you know your burn easily. i know my skin has a very low time limit outside before i start to turn pink, so i always keep some natural sunscreen with me!
please know that i am not making any statements to hurt those affected by skin cancers. i believe Mommypotamus said it best: “i realize that some people who read this have experienced the pain and difficulty of skin cancer, either personally or with a loved one. i would never dare to invalidate these experiences or to treat them lightly. it is my hope that … i will make a compelling case for re-examining our cultural attitudes about sunlight. i am not a doctor and i do not advocate sunburns at all, but it is my opinion that responsible sunlight exposure positively affects our health when a good diet with plenty of healthy fats/antioxidants are present. my writing reflects a commitment to that lifestyle.”
not letting your skin “breathe” &/or falling asleep in your makeup
your skin needs time to “breathe” and repair itself (note: your skin doesn’t really breathe). try sleeping naked if you can! also, make sure to remove your makeup at night with non-toxic removers so your face can properly repair at night as well.
this of course ties into switching to more natural makeup (check here), and letting yourself go makeup-less as much as possible. ladies, you ARE BEAUTIFUL. try leaving the foundation at home. :)
using dirty makeup brushes
just as it’s important to keep your sheets clean, it’s important to keep the brushes that touch your face every day clean as well. over time, makeup brushes accumulate old makeup, oil, sebum, and bacteria. you don’t want to smear that into your fresh morning face, now do ya?
keep your brushes washed weekly with a natural soap (castile soap) and let air dry, bristles down. voila!
what mistakes are you guilty of? what other skincare tips do you have??