Ultimate Guide to Healthy Skin (Diet & Tips For A Youthful Complexion)
There are so many factors that affect our daily health, as well as the health of our skin. Obtaining beautiful, breakout free and youthful looking skin can be a monumental task, and there are a lot of lesser-known factors that may be affecting your complexion.
In this article we will address ways to maintain or improve your skin based on your skin type, what type of issues you are trying to resolve, how to make the appropriate lifestyle choices to improve your skin quality, how to decode an ingredients list, what type of skincare ingredients may be right for you, skin allergies and sensitivities, and tips on how to create a skincare regimen that works for you.
Common Skin Types and Problems
Common skin types include Normal, Oily, Dry, Combination, and Sensitive. Each of these skin types requires a different set of products and routines to bring out their radiant qualities.
Knowing which skin type you have is the first step towards the appropriate care.
Shows few blemishes and does not turn red or hurt when applying different products or going about a daily skin regimen. Those with healthy skin enjoy relatively small pores and leather should be soft to the touch.
Displays large pores that produce much more secretions, giving a dull but greasy or overly shiny complexion. Due to the amount of oil provided and the size of the pores on oily skin types, those who have oily skin often suffer from blackheads, pimples, and blemishes.
Apparently, easily irritated. Sensitivity may be triggered by friction (rubbing your face with a washcloth), particular products or ingredients, allergies or sensitivities to products, food, or environmental factors. It can often be painful due to these sensitivities which can show up as itching, dryness, burning, or redness.
Generally causes you to have a dull complexion, and though the pores are often small and less visible, skin is less elastic, more prone to wrinkles and fine lines, and dry and/or red patches can easily surface due to environmental factors such as wind or sun exposure, heat, products that dry out the skin, or hormonal changes.
Can be dry in some areas and oily in others. It can be a real pain because you have to do twice the work to correct two different problems. It may show itself by dry, rough, or red patches in some areas of the face while being shiny and oily in others (generally around the ‘T-zone,’ or areas around the forehead and nose).
Though healthy skin does not often have issues, at one point or another we all deal with everyday Skin Problems, from dry patches and eczema to acne and blemishes.
Common for problems for adults, not just teens. Stress, hormonal changes, heredity, medications or steroid use, and diet can all lead to acne, which is more than only an outbreak of blemishes, but in fact an infection and inflammation of the sebaceous glands which clog pores and create large, and ordinarily red, stains.
There are different types of acne, some who take the form of blackheads and whiteheads on the face while others can create large, painful, and inflamed cysts on the front.
Acne can be hard to conquer, mainly as its causes and effects are so diverse. There are, however, a wide variety of treatment options from stringent diets to topical treatments to oral medications.
Most commonly used term for the skin discoloration or marks that can stay present after the presence whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, infected hair follicles, or hormonally produced hyperpigmentation. ‘Blemish’ is a pretty broad term, so though there are ways to reduce the appearance of blemishes, their causes are diverse, and it’s hard to prevent them. There are, however, appropriate ways to treat them (don’t pick!!) and reduce their appearance.
In a way, clogged pores are your body’s way of keeping clean- all of that nasty environmental stuff (like pollution and dead skin) gets trapped inside of your skin, and your sebaceous glands have to push them out through the pore.
If they are trying to push out too much, you can quickly get patches of clogged pores.
Clogged pores are easily treatable by following the appropriate skin care regimen.
Dry skin can show up in a variety of ways- from patchy rough spots to a flaky top layer. Dry skin can be particularly frustrating if you wear makeup every day.
Few things go together as terribly as the foundation and flaky skin. It can take time for your skin to rehydrate once it gets dry, but remember that diet (lots of Omega 3s), water intake, appropriate moisturizer (applied often), and the number of times you shower or wash in a day can all contribute immensely to your skin’s hydration.
If you’ve been dealing with dehydrated, red, itchy, and irritated skin, you may suffer from eczema. When dry, itchy skin pops up in other areas as well as your face (such as the back of knees, wrists, hands, and feet) you may want to check with your doctor about it. With eczema, the skin becomes irritated and discolored and itchy as opposed to just being dry.
Though the jury is out on the exact causes of disease, if you think you might have it as opposed to merely having dry skin, you may want to avoid harsh soaps or detergents, sweaty activities, and drastic changes in temperature (such as going to hot yoga or popping into the sauna. Some people can control it by moisturizing heavily and frequently, while others keep food journals to note whether or not certain foods cause a reaction.
Lifestyle Choices to Improve Skin
You probably already know that the path to healthy, bright, bright skin starts from the inside out, not the other way around (though the right skincare regime and products can be incredibly helpful in maintaining the beauty that’s coming from within).
Below, you will find some step by step ways to improve your skin through a mixture of tried and true and unique ideas. Though it does take time, effort, and planning, feeling radiant and comfortable in your skin is invaluable.
The first step to bringing out the best in your skin is the simplest: Water.
Water does a lot of things to help our bodies (and brains) function properly. Water, however, does not work instantly- drinking one glass doesn’t make our skin perk up or instantly hydrate us. It hydrates our cells, and if your cells are hydrated, your lipid barrier (a layer under the skin that protects it by keeping moisture in and germs and irritants out) functions better, and you will be less likely to experience dry, irritated skin.
Dry and irritated skin isn’t the only thing that you will be avoided by keeping your water consumption up. The skin will appear dull and deflated, and wrinkles will be more visible (and continue to be more and more apparent).
The other fabulous thing about drinking lots of water (and eating water-rich fruits and veggies) is that you’ll probably consume a lot less sugar. Sugar found in your favorite pop, juice (yes, even ‘good for you’ organic and natural fruit juices), and sports drinks (again, supposedly ‘good for you’) can be filled with lots of refined and natural sugars. These sugars can attach to the proteins present in collagen and cause your skin to sag and wrinkle. We also explain below how eating certain sugars may also be linked to breakouts.
If you’re looking to replace sugary soda intake but find water a bit drab (don’t forget that you can spice it up!), there are a few skin-healthy beverage options available. Green tea contains a slew of polyphenols which can create more elastic, smooth skin, and can also decrease sun damage. It also contains antioxidants called catechins which allow blood (and oxygen) to travel more easily to the skin which will also lead to a brighter, healthier complexion. Almond milk (or cashew milk or hemp milk) are great options if you are looking to cut down on dairy, which some studies suggest is highly inflammatory and tough on skin (more about that below).
Those of you who need a pick me up in the morning and to relax with an alcoholic beverage in the morning will be ecstatic to note that both coffee and red wine have been shown to offer beneficial health effects. Coffee, which is packed with antioxidants, can reduce your risk of non-melanoma skin cancer (if you can keep your consumption to under 28 cups a week, at which point other health concerns arise). And after a perky day at the office, a glass of red wine may decrease your rate of some sun damage (such as keratoses) and is also a good source of Resveratrol, a supposed anti-aging and heart-healthy cure-all which may even help prevent some types of cancer. As with coffee, overconsumption of wine can also lead to some detrimental health effects, so drink up, but in moderation.
Another thing that can increase skin hydration is using a water boosting skincare product may also help your skin achieve a more supple and silky feel. Using a moisturizer with Hyaluronic acid (which holds up to 1,000 times its weight in water) can also achieve this effect. If you exfoliate regularly and make sure your skin is deeply cleaned before applying moisturizing products, chances are that your skin will be able to absorb more water and your protective barrier will be maximized.
Keeping a refreshing and moisturizing facial spray close at hand during the day, particularly if you work in an office with recycled air or in a dry, arid climate. It’s not always easy to apply moisturizer throughout the day, particularly if you wear makeup, but you can always boost your hydration with a spritz now and then when needed.
Basically what you are trying to do is apply a topical ingredient to prevent your skin from losing moisture, and since your skin is the last to receive the hydrating effects of drinking water, using products that retain water are helpful. You can also somewhat control the environmental risks that can lead to dry skin by keeping a humidifier where you spend most of your time, steering clear of harsh and irritating facial soaps, and by adding foods rich in Omega-3 fatty fatty acids and foods rich in other healthy fats (such as avocado) to your diet.
There are, in fact, a lot of ways that you can change your diet to improve the quality of your skin.
For example, what would you say if you knew that the foods you put in your body could actually change the color of your skin? According to research at Nottingham University, healthy skin is more attractive due to some universal precepts of evolutionary biology.
By eating certain foods, you are basically saying, without words, ‘Hey! Look at me! I’m healthy! Let’s procreate!’’ Unlike tanning, the color changes that happen in your skin tone from eating carotenoids, foods generally responsible for highly pigmented fruits and veggies like peppers, carrots, and tomatoes aren’t brown like that of a tan, but a slightly yellowish hue that comes from the fat stored in the top layer of our skin. Also you won’t have to worry about sun damage and wrinkles when your rosy hue comes from the healthy foods that you eat as opposed to from the tanning bed.
The most commonly available foods with the highest levels of carotenoids include leafy green veggies, tomatoes, cantaloupe, broccoli, bell peppers, squash, sweet potatoes, and carrots. If you load your diet with these veggies, you’re likely to see results in about a month and a half. In order to make them bioavailable, it’s also recommended that you eat them with fats such as olive oil or butter.
Pumpkin packs an extra boost for your skin as it’s not only an excellent source of carotenoids, but is also full of vitamin A (400% of your daily value in half a cup!), zinc (a potent antioxidant), and can help your skin retain moisture. It’s so powerful, in fact, that it’s often recommended as a topical facial treatment and not just a great food for your complexion.
Though it may seem counterintuitive that fats are good for your complexion, there are some fats that are great at boosting for your general health and complexion. Omega-3 Fatty Acids paired with a good dose of antioxidants and vitamins can help improve the elasticity and collagen production of your skin. The Western Diet is full of Omega-6 Fatty Acids, which are highly present in most vegetable oils (read: fried food) are highly inflammatory, so though you do need a healthy balance of these Fatty Acids, most people get too much of the latter and not nearly enough of the former.
Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and herring, are excellent sources of Omega 3 Fatty Acids and can help you on your road to a better complexion. Not only do they reduce inflammation, but they make your skin less sensitive to sunlight, are a source of vitamin E (an vital antioxidant to protect you from free-radicals and inflammation), and help maintain the structural protein that keeps your skin healthy.
Fatty fish is also a source of Zinc, which is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties.
If you’re not a huge fan of fish, grass-fed beef is also said to have a higher ratio of Omega-3 fatty acids.
Walnuts also contain a ton of zinc as well as protein and a healthful balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids. Really, in general, nuts are a good choice for a healthy snack. Sunflower seeds, for example, contain 32% of the recommended daily intake for selenium, a powerful antioxidant, and 37% of the recommended daily intake for vitamin E, another important vitamin and antioxidant that can do wonders for your skin. If you’re suffering from dry and thin skin, they also provide a healthy dose of linoleic acid, a type of fat that can prevent this.
A couple more potent skin-improving foods include oysters, which are full of zinc and protein (and low on calories), dark chocolate which is high in antioxidants and can improve skin hydration (just stay away from high sugar and milk content!), and kale, one of the best sources of lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which absorb and neutralize free radicals that can be created by exposure to the sun and UV light as well as being packed with vitamin C and A.
In general, oil is not recommended for keeping your skin healthy, but Olive Oil is made up of about 75% monounsaturated fatty acids and is loaded chalk full of antioxidants. So not only is Olive Oil not sorry for you, it can decrease signs of aging in the skin. So feel free to load up that delicious vegetable stir fry with Olive Oil.
If you’re an aspiring chef (and maybe spent too much time in the sun at one point or another), you may also be interested to know that both rosemary and orange peel are also incredibly beneficial to your skin and have been studied for their prevention of carcinoma and melanoma.
Rosemary contains an exorbitant amount of antioxidants that have been shown to decrease the risk of melanoma by 60%, and orange peel includes a compound called limonene (just the skin, not the juice!) which may provide UV-protective benefits as well as a decreased risk for carcinoma.
Of course, the stuff that you decide to not put in your body may be just as important as what you do choose to put in.
The strong correlation between breakouts and consumption of foods with a high glycemic index (like sugary drinks, snacks, white bread, white rice, etc.) has been the subject of many studies, such as a recent piece published by the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that linked the two.
So if you’re looking to avoid breakouts, you may also want to avoid the white flour and refined sugars. Eating a lot of beans, mainly chickpeas, has been shown to promote a low-glycemic diet.
As long as you’re putting the cookies aside, you may as well skip the glass of milk. Studies have shown that hormones in dairy can stimulate overproduction of oil, leading to unwanted breakouts. In fact, the case against dairy is extensive, and many people report seeing dramatically different skin when dairy is wholly stricken from their diet. Of course, everyone is different and specific dairy products, such as yogurt, have plenty of healthful effects. If you’re curious to see whether or not dairy might affect the quality of your skin, it’s recommended that you completely cut it out of your diet for at least two weeks and take photos or keep a journal to document results.
Get a Good Nights Sleep
Though there is much mystery that still surrounds the science of sleep, research continually shows that good rest is incredibly essential for a well functioning body. We live in an age where sleep is often very undervalued - in fact; it’s usually seen as some achievement not to sleep much or do not need a lot of rest to keep up with our full and lively professional and social lives. All of the fantastic tv shows you can binge watch and the prevalence of tablets and cell phones don’t make it any easier to get a full eight hours.
But getting a good night’s sleep will do more than help reduces that pesky puffiness under the eyes. Lack of sleep exacerbates conditions that you may already have, including acne breakouts, eczema, and contact dermatitis. Sleeping too little can also dehydrate you and your skin and can also result in a lack of damage control. During sleep, our body heals itself, and cell regeneration is a critical element of radiant skin. On top of it all, some studies show that those who get less sleep or are chronically sleep deprived are also more likely to gain weight.
We will talk more about the how stress management may be affecting your skin and health below, but lack of sleep can lead to a ramped up production of cortisol, which can decrease your health as well as the quality of your skin. Reduced cortisol levels (which dissipate when we sleep) have been shown to be incredibly valuable in cell regeneration- in other words; your skin can’t correctly heal itself at night from the daily environmental factors that can weigh on it.
Your skin will look more aged, and you’re more likely to experience stress (and the breakouts that for many accompany weight). High levels of cortisol also decrease collagen production, the substance which keeps your skin tight and elastic. So, if you don’t sleep, you’re considered to be far more likely to suffer from fine lines and wrinkles.
Your skin is one giant organ. In the same way that we are often more prone to sickness from lack of sleep, your skin will have more problems defending itself against outside factors like sun and dirt. Lack of sleep can also make you dehydrated! And on top of your skin, stress (brought on by lack of sleep) can initiate premature hair loss. And of course, there are those pesky dark circles.
It’s ironic how stress can lead to breakouts and breakouts inevitably lead to more pressure. Weight can come from many places, including lack of sleep (and increased cortisol levels) and poor diet (when we eat unhealthy foods it can lead to increased stress levels just as increased stress levels can influence our gut).
Skin is an elimination organ, meaning that it gets rid of some of the toxins and nasty things that enter our body in other ways (such as eating junk food). Because stress so dramatically affects our bodies as a whole, the skin is often the place where you see the effects of stress as our skin will react to try to maintain balance, and you will (and admittedly have) mainly look at those results if you suffer from skin conditions such as eczema and dermatitis.
Everyone is unique and different, and therefore stress management techniques that work for some may not work for others. Exercise, yoga, meditation, therapy, and sensory deprivation tanks are all common recommendations for those suffering from stress.
There are also a variety of natural herbs such as Sacred Basil, Magnolia, Withania, Echinacea, Chamomile, Lavender, Burdock, and Rehmannia (to name a few) that are often suggested for those needing some assistance in handling stress.
Again, stress management solutions are as diverse as the people in the world, so you may want to try a variety of things to see what’s right for you, but eating and sleeping well are always the pillars to proper stress management.
Aaaaaaand now that we’ve talked about how vital stress management is, we’re going to tell you something that will stress you out. Sorry!
The problem is that many air pollutants are quickly absorbed by the skin, and have a very irritating effect once they get there.
The good news is that scientists and cosmetic companies are finally starting to formulate their products with ingredients that can protect and counteract the effects of air pollution. For now what’s known is that Vitamin B-3 is particularly effective against these results, and the more that you can create a protective lipid barrier for your skin the better.
This means that staying hydrated is key to protecting skin against the many effects of air pollution, especially as many studies have shown that air pollution also leads to increased dehydration. Some even suggest using a mineral based makeup as a shield against pollutants.
You may also want to consider placing air-cleaning houseplants in the places that you spend the most time. Peace Lilies, Boston Ferns, Bamboo Palms, Snake Plants, Focuses, and many other indoor plants can do wonders for improving indoor air quality.
General Skin Safety
You are probably aware of a lot of these public skincare safety techniques, but as long as we are talking about how to ensure best that your skin is the best that it can be, it makes sense to include some of the more general skin safety topics here.
Perhaps the most common sense advice is to protect yourself from the sun. UV damage can cause an array of side effects, cancer, of course, being the most prevalent (and sun exposure is the top cause of skin cancer. Elastin is damaged when skin is exposed to the sun, meaning that when the elastin fibers break down, skin takes longer to heal and wrinkles abound.
Apply a generous amount of SPF throughout the day, and if it makes it easier, use cosmetic products that are already loaded with a high SPF. Hats and UV protection sunglasses are also useful in protecting from the sun’s harsh rays.
Makeup safety is something that is not often talked about but can be a significant factor affecting your skin. Lipstick, lipgloss, liquid eyeliner, foundation, and concealer (really anything that is liquid based) can attract harmful bacteria and possibly cause or transmit infections. Many people don’t know that all makeup comes with an expiration date, usually indicated by a 2m, 6m, 10m, or 12m mark.
This should tell you how many months the makeup will stay right after opening. Eye makeup is generally the biggest culprit of transmitted infections, mainly pink eye, so make sure that you don’t share mascara and that you pay attention to any clumpiness or strange smells. Thankfully most makeup separates and doesn’t work well once it’s compromised, but it’s important to pay attention to the warning signs.
Though it’s often recommended to wash your face twice a day, in the morning and the evening, it’s not always necessary (some experts say that skipping an entire day is just fine). What is essential, however, is to make sure that you’re not using an old washcloth.
Due to the hot, damp environment, your used washcloth is a perfect breeding ground for very harmful bacteria and mold. When you wash your face with a dirty washcloth, you are re-introducing this bacteria (and rubbing it in) to your skin.
Even though you don’t necessarily need to wash your face twice a day, if you wear makeup, it’s generally recommended that you wash it off before bed. Not washing off your makeup before bed can lead to breakouts, dull and old looking skin, dehydrated skin, clogged pores, not to mention toxic environmental pollutants will stay on your skin.
When shaving, whether it’s your face or your legs, it can be essential to take your time to ensure that you don’t suffer any nasty and possibly dangerous cuts from those small, sharp blades. Some say that the key to a good shave is by adequately prepping your skin.
To do this, make sure that you’ve washed the area you wish to shave, and that it’s warm and slightly wet. Next, use a gel or cream (something non-irritating) and lather. Cutting with the grain (not against it) it also recommended decreasing skin irritation and razor burn.
Last, but not least, though makeup remover wipes seem comfortable and convenient, they most often don’t do the trick. Instead of leaving your face clean, they tend to push makeup and environmental residue around on your skin, and since you’re probably not rinsing afterward, the soap, powder, oil, and dead skin continue to sit on your face.
If you do use these wipes, it’s best to rinse afterward and to be sure that you’re not pulling at the sensitive skin around your eyes and lips.
Guide to Skincare Products
You may have already taken steps to increase your skin’s natural beauty by subscribing to a lifestyle that promotes healthy skin, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can skip your evening or morning toilette.
Your Cleanser is always stepping one and the foundation of your skincare routine. It is used to remove dirt, makeup, and impurities from your pores and the surface of your skin, and the cleaner your skin is, the better it will appropriately absorb other products without reintroducing dirt and bacteria to your precious pores. Having a cleanser that works well for your particular skin type is the pillar of good facial hygiene.
You should be using it in the morning to remove any sweat or oil that may have accumulated on the surface of your skin during the night, and of course in the evening to remove the makeup, grime, and other debris that build up during the day. It’s always important to remember not to tug and pull at your skin, particularly with a washcloth.
The cleanser should be applied to clean hands and applied to a wet or moist face and consequently applied to the face using small, circular movements to ensure the cleanest skin. It doesn’t matter what type of cleanser you are using - foam, milk, cream, or oil-based - make sure that you spend enough time cleaning that dirt away to ensure the cleanest and most refreshed skin.
Exfoliators can come in many forms, and it doesn’t matter whether or not you have dry or oily skin - a good exfoliator should remove dead skin cells as well as any dirt or grime that may be blocking your pores that your cleanser just doesn’t have the power to remove. It also stimulates cell turnover, ensuring a bright and vivid complexion.
Though it is generally recommended to only use exfoliators around twice a week to ensure that they do not irritate your skin (of course the directions on your favorite exfoliant may direct to do differently, and may be formulated for a more gentle exfoliating process), exfoliating should generally be the second step of your evening routine, after cleansing, to ensure that it is reaching maximum effectiveness.
There are a variety of exfoliators out there, from skin brushes to acids and enzymes all intended for regenerating cell production. Make sure that you are particularly careful which exfoliator you choose if you suffer from sensitive skin.
Toners can deliver hydrating or astringent properties, depending on what type of toner you have. The purpose of a toner is to return skin to its natural pH levels and to ensure that all dirt and residue that may have been left on your face by a cleanser has been removed.
They are recommended for application with a cotton ball or pad in the morning or evening after your cleansing (and exfoliating) routine, though they are an optional step in your skincare regimen. Some people prefer to use a toner as it’s water-based formulation ensures immediate absorption and often causes the user to experience a refreshing sensation.
The chances are that you may be using (or interested in using) a serum to achieve a desired goal. Plasmas generally have a specific goal in mind, such as reducing wrinkles, moisturizing, plumping or pore reducing.
Serums are often recommended for use in the morning, though some serums are specially formulated for night use, after cleansing and toning. As with all skincare products, don’t forget that it’s not just the skin on your face that requires care - your neck and decolletage also need some love to keep you looking young and to prevent sagging and wrinkles at the neck and chest.
Having (and frequently applying) a heavy hitting moisturizer is, like cleansing, a pivotal element of your skincare routine that will drastically affect the brightness, quality, and hydration of your skin. Achieving maximum skin hydration is key to plump, bright skin with fewer wrinkles.
These creams (or oils or gels) will protect your skin both from environmental factors and from losing moisture throughout the day. You can also choose to address other problems, such as aging or pigmentation issues, with a well-formulated moisturizer. It is generally recommended to apply moisturizer after cleansing and toning, both in the morning and in the evening, and again, don’t forget that sore neck and chest.
Keep in mind that you can also choose to use facial oil in place of a moisturizer. Facial oils are most often comprised of natural oils derived from plants. Using fat doesn’t make skin oily; however, it does provide unusually deep hydration. Though you can replace moisturizer with facial oil, it is generally recommended to apply before bedtime and not during the day.
This is because though facial oils will not make your skin more oily in the long run, they will make your skin appear greasy until they are fully absorbed, which can take quite a while. This fatty top layer will make it difficult to apply makeup and will give a shiny appearance to the top layer of your skin.
Using a good eye cream can drastically affect the number of fine lines and wrinkles that appear around those peepers. The skin around our eyes is particularly sensitive and though a simple moisturizer can work wonders for the rest of your skin, choosing a good eye cream can assist in creating a more youthful appearance.
There are a wide variety of eye creams available with as many different purposes: to reduce fine lines, puffiness, or increase tightness around the eye, but they should all improve the skin’s elasticity. It is recommended to use eye cream both during the day and at night following your regular cleansing and moisturizing routine. Always remember that due to the sensitivity of this region, it’s best not to rub or tug but to gently pat on cream with the tips of fingers and allow the moisturizer to soak in.
Often moisturizers and makeup include SPF as an added feature, but if yours does not, using one of the many varieties of high SPF facial sunscreen is usually recommended to maintain a youthful, wrinkle-free appearance. Did you know that the SPF number is indicated to show the length of time that you can go without getting a sunburn? So the higher SPF included in your desired product, the longer that you can go without reapplying.
Because sun damage is often not visible until later years (and there is little to be done about it once it appears), it’s important to take preventative measures if you’d like to prevent hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, broken blood vessels, and other effects of sun damage. Facial sunscreens come in a variety of forms including sprays, creams, gels, and powders, and if you would like to add this to your daily routine it’s best to apply before makeup but as the last step of your skincare routine. And unless you live in near one of the poles, it’s only essential to implement in the morning.
At night, during our sleep, is when the majority of our cell regeneration happens. Night creams are often a bit more heavy hitting than creams and moisturizers formulated for daytime use, and usually, contain a variety of anti-aging ingredients to increase the productivity of cell regeneration. Using a night cream will often make your skin appear more hydrated, soft, and silky, and as the name suggests, should be applied at night as the last step of your skincare regimen.
No matter how fastidious your skincare regimen is, the chances are that you will not be able to avoid at least the occasional blemish or a pimple. Though some people choose to leave them alone ultimately, if you are looking to clear up a stain a little more quickly, using a blemish treatment can do the trick.
If you decide to use a serum, lotion, stick, or spot treatment for a blemish, it’s often recommended to apply it directly on top of the stain and to be sparing with your users to avoid drying the sensitive skin around the blemish, which can cause it to take longer to heal. Blemish treatments are generally suggested for application after cleansing and before moisturizer to ensure maximum effectiveness.
Facial masks come in a variety of different formulations and forms but are generally intended for a specific purpose, such as drawing out impurities, hydrating, or offering a boost of vitamins and antioxidants for your skin. Not all masks are made alike, so make sure that you choose one that is specially formulated for your skin condition and issues.
However, they can be applied more frequently, mainly if you are trying to achieve a particular effect or ready your skin for a special event. Masks should generally be used after cleansing but before moisturization to ensure maximum absorption into your skin.
Many people often choose to use masks at night as they are much more time consuming than the usual steps of your daily skincare routine.
If you are a fan of applying waterproof makeup (particularly waterproof mascara) to ensure that your makeup stays in place all day long, you may want to consider using a makeup remover to provide that your cleanser can do its work correctly.
Though not necessary, a makeup remover can get the process of breaking up those hard to remove particles from your face and skin so that you don’t have to cleanse multiple times, which, depending on the type of cleanser that you use, might irritate or dry your skin.
Makeup removers are often found in water and oil-based formulations and should be applied before cleansing to get the process started.
Best Skincare products for your Skin Types
So now that you’ve got a handle on what order might be the most effective in maximizing the results of your skincare products, you may wonder how you are supposed to know which of the many overwhelming ingredients included in over-the-counter products you should be using.
It’s a complicated question, and there is no one right answer for any person or skin type, but there are some guidelines that can help you achieve radiant, blemish and wrinkle reduced skin.
There are so many potent ingredients out there, from acids to antioxidants to oils, some of which work better at certain times and some of which counteract each others’ effects. Some are formulated for particular skin types, and often they are not labeled in a way that makes it easy to choose the right combination of products for your skin, mainly if you are using a variety of product lines.
Choosing the right combination of products for your unique skin.
Keep in mind that everyone's’ skin is different and unique, and although these are widely recommended products for the skin mentioned above types, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they will work for you.
It’s generally recommended to introduce one product at a time to your regimen to ensure that your skin doesn’t react poorly, and have patience with results and before launching a new product.
Acne Prone Skin
Contrary to what you might believe, acne prone skin is often in desperate need of hydration to improve the lipid barrier and cause the skin to function normally by reducing inflammation, healing blemishes and keep out environmental factors that can lead to defects.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need oily products to increase your hydration- in fact, acne prone skin already has difficulty balancing oil production. However, there are a variety of chemicals, antioxidants, and aids available that can help improve your lipid barrier.
These include Hyaluronic acid (for ), Niacinamide (for ), EUK (for ), Azelaic Acid Suspensions (for), Granactive Retinoids (for sparing use as a toner), and Glycolic Acid (for use as a balancing toner). Cold Pressed Oils can also be used in the evening to increase moisture penetration, and Salicylic acid is often recommended as a spot treatment for this skin type (but beware - use sparingly as you want to avoid drying out the skin around the blemishes).
Dehydrated and Dry Skin
Due to the nature of acne prone skin, the treatments recommended for dry and dehydrated skin are often quite similar. Again, you are trying to help moisturize from the inside out and plump up the lipid barrier that keeps skin moisturized and protected from environmental factors.
These include Hyaluronic acid, Niacinamide, EUK 134, Azelaic Acid Suspensions, Squalane, Granactive Retinoids (for sparing use as a toner), and Glycolic Acid (for use as a balancing toner). Cold Pressed Oils in the evening will help essential moisturization reach deep into the dry and dehydrated skin.
The dehydrated and Dry skin may also benefit from using a peeling solution comprised of AHA and BHA as a weekly treatment to slough off dead skin cells and bring forward the supple skin underneath.
Oily and Combination Skin
Oily and Combination skin types often lack the appropriate pH balance. What you are looking to do to treat this kind of skin is to regulate oil production by providing (again, counterintuitively) moisture and hydration for your skin. You will also want to include some acids to prevent clogged pores that are often a product of overactive oil production.
These include Glycolic Acid (as a toner to create a balanced pH), Azelaic Acid Suspensions (to help hydrate and moisturize the skin), Hyaluronic Acid, and a Silicon Primer is sometimes recommended for a base upon which to apply makeup. In the evening, you may want to treat your skin with Glycolic Acid again (to continue to balance and tone), Niacinamide, Zinc PCA, Granactive Retinoid Emulsions (sparingly as a toner), and Plant Derived Squalane. You may also choose to peel weekly to continue to bring forward your youngest, most beautiful skin, with salicylic acid or an AHA + BHA solution.
Dull, Uneven, or Hyperpigmented Skin
The goal to achieve radiant skin if you are suffering from the dark or hyperpigmented skin is to slough off dead skin cells to reveal the bright skin underneath. In the morning, you may want to use Glycolic Acid for toning or a different form of brightening toner and Alpha Arbutin + HA or Niacinamide. Zinc and Ascorbyl Glucoside may also be helpful.
Azelaic Acid Suspensions will keep your skin moisturized.
In the evening, it is recommended to use Resveratrol and Ferulic Acid and alternate with Granactive Retinoid or Retinol. To finish your routine, you may want to use cold pressed oil to seal in moisture.
Keeping sensitive skin calm and balanced can be a chore and may require a great deal of patience. The goal is to increase healthy lipid barrier functions to increase its resistance.
Along with your regular skincare routine of cleanser, moisturizer, and eye cream, you may want to experiment with including Hyaluronic Acid and B5 alongside and Azelaic Acid Suspension to increase moisture and hydration.
In the evening you can reapply the Hyaluronic Acid and B5 along with Lactic Acid and a Granactive Retinoid Emulsion or Retinol in Squalane. Again, cold pressed oil can be the best way to seal in moisture for the evening.
Mature skin is often suffering from dehydration and requires targeted treatments for wrinkles, delicate skin, and age spots.
Again, alongside your routine, you may want to consider adding a Glycolic Acid Toner and a Hydrating Toner as well as Hyaluronic Acid, B5, EUK 134, and a fluid primer in the morning. In the evening you may benefit from Resveratrol and Ferulic Acid, Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution with Vitamin F, Buffet and Matrixyl, and a Granactive Retinoid or Retinol in Squalane (do not use with Vitamin C). You may want to seal in these effects with a cold pressed oil.
The goal when dealing with healthy skin is to maintain it the best you have over the course of your lifetime. There’s no need to make it complicated, but to prevent the effects of aging.
After you’ve cleansed, applied toners and eye creams (and always before sunscreen), you may want to consider including Hyaluronic Acid, B5, and EUK 134 to your morning routine. You can add a Glycolic Acid Toner, Hyaluronic Acid, and Resveratrol with Ferulic Acid and a Vitamin C suspension to your evening routine. If you want only to use the acid every other evening, you can use Granactive Retinoid Emulsion on the alternate nights and as always seal it in with a cold pressed oil.
Commonly Found Skin Irritants
Outside of pollution, air quality, and diet, there are a large variety of environmental factors that may also be affecting (and irritating!) your skin. Mainly if you have allergies or sensitive skin, there are a variety of products that you may want to be aware of (and possibly avoid) to ensure a calm and composed complexion.
Some of them may be included in your skincare products, and some may be present in totally unexpected places like your dryer sheets, the scented candle at your desk in the office, or the dye in your favorite candy.
Though we’ve made broad categories below containing possible irritants, if you’re looking for a reasonably comprehensive guide including all of the crazy scientific names of potential bothers to keep an eye out for, you should check out this list.
If you have susceptible skin, this may be a no-brainer, but for those of you who may find yourself with slightly irritated skin some of the time, you may want to check what synthetic fragrances may be present at your home, office, or even in your car (I once had a severe reaction after getting my car detailed, and it took me weeks to figure it out!).
Considering how many people are sensitive to synthetic fragrances and how many natural options are available, it’s kind of crazy how many products still contain them. They’re often found in products (mainly skincare products) that don’t even have a smell or listed fragrance.
If you think that you might be allergic or sensitive to synthetic fragrances, you’ll want to be sure that you purchase products that are labeled that the product contains no fragrances (often products labeled as ‘unscented’ still have synthetic perfumes in them, but the purpose is to mask bad smells).
Just because you are skipping out on the synthetic fragrances doesn’t mean that natural scents will work for you.
If you (or someone you know) is experimenting with DIY skin care products (such as body wash, lotion, deodorant, etc.), the essential oils that are being used may also not be adequately diluted by carrier oil, meaning that they can irritate your skin. This is particularly true with certain essential oils such as Wintergreen, Pine, Cinnamon, Ginger, Peppermint, Basil, and Birch.
When we say soap, we don’t just mean your common dish or hand soap. Irritants can be found in any solvent, including clothing detergent, fabric softeners, or spot cleaners. Other than the synthetic fragrances that can often be found in soaps and detergents, you may also want to note that a variety of sulfates, including Lauryl, Laureth, and Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, can be overly harsh and dry and chap your skin.
So, of course, we want our skin to be clean, but this can be achieved in less harsh ways. If you have cut fragrances out of your household and beauty products but are still finding your skin gets irritated, you may want to double check that your soaps, skincare products, and detergents don’t contain sulfates.
If something is intended to strip a surface of bacteria or dirt or mildew powerfully, it only makes sense that they can irritate your skin as well. Though there are ways to get around this (such as wearing protective gloves), you can also opt for less irritating products that contain a natural base (such as vinegar).
Sunscreens and other cosmetic products can often contain PABA-based chemicals which can cause some severe sensitivities and allergies, so if you think you may be reacting your SPF, you may want to check for that ingredient.
Common Skincare Ingredients
These may include Salicylic Acid, Aluminum, Glycolic Acid, Retinol, and Parabens. If you naturally have sensitivities or reactions to your daily skincare routine, you may want to check your products for these ingredients and discontinue use until you can pinpoint the exact cause.
This is, of course, not a comprehensive list of the possible environmental irritants that could be causing you to have allergies or sensitivities, however, if you are having sensitivities to your environment and can’t quite figure out what is going on, these commonly found ingredients are an excellent place to start your search.
Specialty Skincare Routines
Though caring for your skin and yourself through your lifestyle can be incredibly talented, it doesn’t mean that you should skimp on the time allotted for your daily skincare routine.
There are, however, other times where caring for your skin (such as after hitting the gym) when you may need to take extra precautions to ensure that your complexion gets the care it needs to stay radiant and protected.
Daily Skin Care
Though we mentioned it previously, it’s worth noting again that most experts agree that the essential parts of your skincare routine should include cleansing, moisturizing, eye cream, and sunscreen, in that order. Everything else, including serums, toners, and other products are just a bonus to these simple steps.
Many people don’t consider that when you work out (and sweat), your pores open and become susceptible to harmful and clogging debris and makeup that is sitting on the top layer of your skin. You may not want to (or have time) to run the whole skincare grams pre-workout, but you can opt for using a micellar water cleanser that will remove makeup and not strip your skin of moisture.
Other than normal redness that may appear on your skin post-workout, your skin will probably be coated in sweat and excess oils. To prevent breakouts, it’s important to clear these away without over drying. A cold water rinse is a great way to close up your pores, reduce your redness, and remove excess dirt and oil without overdrying.
As we mentioned earlier, the most important thing that you can do at night is removed your makeup to allow your pores to breath and your skin to regenerate itself. As a bonus, adding a night cream or serum to your regimen will make it ultra effective as your skin will have time to absorb it while it’s undergoing its regeneration process.
Cold weather often comes with low humidity while the indoor can be bone dry from forced air heat. This is an excellent time to focus on hydration to reduce redness, irritation, and dry, chapped patches on the skin. Now may also be the time to invest in a cool mist humidifier to keep the air at home, mainly where you sleep, less dehydrating.
Hot weather can lead to sweating, and sweating can lead to clogged pores and oily skin. Exfoliating more frequently than usual to make sure that oil and dead skin cells are removed from your face (and won’t clog your pores) is considered by many professionals to be an excellent way to keep your skin beautiful during the summer. Also, don’t forget to stock up on sunscreen!
When You’ve Got Extra Time
When you’ve got a little extra time on your hands, your skin could benefit from applying a mask that is suited to your skins unique needs. Remember to cleanse and exfoliate first to give your skin a clean, absorbent surface to better utilize whatever mask or product you are using.
Korean Beauty Routine
So you have probably heard about the Korean Beauty (or KBeauty) craze. There is a lot of press right now about Korean beauty, and some of it may be for a good reason. The Korean Beauty 10 Step Basics are as follows:
- Cleanse once with an oil based cleanser
- Cleanse once with a foam cleanser
- Apply an essence explicitly targeted to your skin type or issues
- Apply a serum, particularly for targeted treatment of topics such as hyperpigmentation
- Apply a sheet mask
Apply eye cream
- Apply sleeping mask (for before bed, of course)
- Apply sunscreen (for daytime)
Cleansing twice isn’t really for washing your face twice. Starting with an oil-based cleanser is intended to remove and break up makeup and debris from your face, while the second cleansing is to wash away any possible residue that may have been left behind.
Serums are explicitly and consciously used to treat specific problems, such as wrinkles or dry skin, and when it is applied the application should be gentle and precisely targeted. Beauty skin care regimens also tend to focus heavily on which ingredients go together and which parts may cancel out each others’ effects. For example, using retinol and peroxide can be useless as they cancel each other out, but retinol and AHA boost each others’ effects.
Because skin care is such a large part of Korean culture, people also often take time to fully follow through with their routine, which possibly leads to a more gentle and less skin-wearing experience.
Creating your Skincare Routine
Here are a few tips to help you in the quest for the perfect skincare routine:
Identify your Skin Type
As we have noted before, the foundational step to choosing the right skincare routine is by determining your skin type. As a refresher, Oily Skin tends to suffer from large pores, a shiny face, and acne or frequent breakouts. Dry Skin often exhibits dry, flaky patches and can be easily irritated, tight, and can crack. Combination Skin combines the issues present in a dry and oily skin with a prominent, fatty T-Zone area around the forehead and nose and chin typically. Normal skin avoids many of these problems, but like everyone gets an occasional pimple or two.
Set a Good Foundation
As discussed earlier, many factors are unrelated to your skincare routine that may be affecting the quality of your skin. These include your diets, your water consumption, allergies and sensitivities, pollution, the amount of stress and sleep that you experience on a daily basis, and general skin safety issues such as tanning or shaving. You may want to get these in line before you mix up your skincare routine to ensure that you can accurately gauge which products are working for you (or not working for you) and what reactions may be caused by other factors.
Understanding Product Branding
The skincare industry is enormous, and a lot of that money is spent on advertising and marketing. One of the most important things that you are trying to achieve is the proper pH balance of your skin, and it doesn’t matter if you are a man or a woman. Marketing buzzwords appear all over skincare products, indicating that they are ‘specifically for men,’ ‘organic,’ ‘natural,’ or ‘non-comedogenic.’ Unfortunately, the FDA doesn’t heavily regulate these terms for use in skincare products, and your best bet is to check out the ingredients list and note if any additives may be harmful or irritating to your skin (you can find that handy list here).
Try a Patch Test
Mainly if you have sensitive skin, changing products or trying new ones can be a daunting task. It could lead to a terrible breakout or rash, or just dry and itchy skin. If you are considering trying a new product and want to see some of its effects before applying it to your beautiful (and sensitive) face, it’s recommended to try testing it out first on a sharp but not visible piece of skin such as your underarm. This way, if you react, at least it won’t be staring back at you in the mirror.
The full cycle of cellular turnover for your skin is an entire month. It is possible that you may not see benefits of a new product that you are using for that time, so it is essential to do your research before buying a product to make sure that it has the desired ingredients and effects and then give it time to do its work.
Impulse buys are often the most frustrating because we don’t really know what we bought and then we don’t want to give it time to do its thing, but if you carefully research what ingredients you think might be beneficial to your issue or skin type, it’s a lot easier to be patient while awaiting the desired results.
When to Stop Using a Product
Though you may be wanting to experiment with your skincare routine or the latest and highest wrinkle reducing moisturizer, if a product causes severe burning and stinging (unless otherwise indicated on the package that it should do that), peeling, rashes, hives, or itchiness, you should probably discontinue use immediately.
See a Dermatologist
If you aren’t already seeing one once a year, it’s highly recommended that you do. Not only will they check out that weird shaped mole on your arm, but they can help guide you some solutions for your skin care issues or help you bring out the best in your skin.
There is no one size fits all skincare solution - though it would be nice if there were as there is so much information to sift through. There are, however, some general guidelines and best practices that can help guide you on the path towards your best skin.
Good luck on the road to fabulous, radiant skin!