Within the beauty industry and on social media, there’s so much emphasis on purchasing products. In fact, so much so there’s a name for it — beauty hauls — which basically means showing off one’s shopping spree of recently purchased products.
But products don’t solve all our skin woes. If you’re tapped out with a 15-step skin care routine and still finding yourself at loss, here are other unbottled ways to take care of your skin.
Yes, use sunscreen but for the non-product part of it: it’s time to play hide and seek.
An estimated 90 percent of skin aging is caused by the sun, specifically for folks with lighter skin (!), and not to mention the even scarier risk of skin cancer. Considering that’s a pretty huge number, it’s best to limit your sun exposure or seek shade when hanging out.
Don’t forget to protect your eyes where you can’t apply sunscreen too! Squinting doesn’t exactly protect your eyes and if you insist on doing the peering exercise, you may end up developing more lines and wrinkles around your eye and forehead area.
While you can’t rub a wrinkle into your skin, you can cause them while sleeping! If you’re a side sleeper, you can be smooshing your face into your pillow, putting friction between the skin and fabric. This creates creases which can result in wrinkles since we sleep for a prolonged period of time.
But if you sleep on a silk pillowcase, the fabric allows your skin to “slip,” minimizing the chance of creating wrinkles. It’s also great for preventing frizzy hair!
While drinking water doesn’t directly hydrate the skin it does help all of the body systems function better.
It aids the liver in eliminating toxins from the body, reduces puffiness, helps with kidney function (which in turn helps dark circles appear lighter), and may even help skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema.
How can you tell if you aren’t drinking enough water? Check your pee! If it’s a deep shade of amber it’s time to drink up. The color of lemonade is the goal.
Sometimes the skin takes a while to catch up to how we felt or what we ate last week. If your energy source is primarily added sugar and refined carbohydrates, you might start seeing the effects of that on your skin.
After all, too much of one thing strains the body and skin. Too much exfoliating acids may strip your skin’s protective barrier, just like too much sugar may cause a surge in insulin (the hormone produced by the pancreas that regulates the amount of sugar in the blood), and inflammation.
This process produces an enzyme that attaches to collagen fibers breaking them down and causing them to lose strength and flexibility.
If you’re noticing your skin becoming more vulnerable to sun damage, a loss of elasticity, acne production, and more arrivals the wrinkles and lines department, check in with yourself: what’s driving your diet and can you take back control?
Addressing stress, for example, may help revive the brain energy you need for creating home-cooked meals. Studies show that your acne and/or rosacea gets better or worse based on what you eat, so it might be diet related as well.
Insulin surges may put your oil glands in overdrive, creating a breeding ground for acne to form. Fortunately, there are products to counteract that — so if sugar and refined carbs are staples to your diet, eat away, and rely on products instead!
While it’s tempting to squeeze a pimple, you can create a lot more lasting damage to the skin than that instant gratification is worth. First, there’s a type of acne called acne mechanica, which is caused by friction from touching the face and pushing oil and bacteria back into the pore.
Secondly, picking and squeezing can result in a scar or a brown spot called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. You may prefer dealing with scarring over acne, but it’s not an either or scenario. You can live without both!
Sebum (oil) in our skin has a wax-like consistency and using hot water to wash our face or shower with essentially “melts” the oil stripping the skin of much-needed moisture.
Lukewarm is best because it allows our oils to warm up a bit allowing a proper cleanse without completely stripping it. Keep at massaging your skin for a full minute to make the most out of your cleanser!
Besides old makeup, of course, bacteria, oil, dust, and sweat accumulate on our makeup brushes. If not cleaned regularly all that junk is essentially smeared around your face during each makeup application. This can cause inflammation, clogged pores, and acne.
It’s best practice to clean your makeup brushes weekly!
When we’re stressed or anxious, our bodies release a hormone called cortisol. This hormone activates our flight or fight response (which is a good thing!) but constant stress keeps this response on fatigued overdrive (yep, a bad thing).
Specifically to our skin, increased levels of cortisol can cause us to lose our glow by diminishing the skin’s ability to retain moisture and encouraging an overproduction of oils.
High levels of cortisol
- puts a damper on your skin’s moisture levels, causing dryness and a grey, dull look
- causes a rebound production of oil, which can lead to acne
- premature wrinkle and line development
- redness and inflammation
- inflame and acerbate skin conditions like rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis
If that wasn’t enough, when you feel anxious or worried, you might notice redness or puffiness in your face. This is a result of increased blood flow, such as dilated blood vessels right underneath the surface of your skin.
We all know that getting our sweat on is great for our entire body, but it also has some skin benefits as well.
When we move, we circulate our blood which carries oxygen and nutrients to all of our cells. Not only does this provide an instant glow, but it also helps our skin to repair itself faster.
Another perk to exercise is it helps to reduce stress and, in turn, reduce cortisol levels.
When tobacco is heated via cigarettes — or even, yes, vaping — it releases free radicals that damage the DNA of skin cells. This results in the breakdown of collagen and elastin.
It also constricts blood vessels which deplete the skin of much needed oxygen, vitamins, and nutrients. When that puff of toxic smoke is exhaled it hits the skin on the face and can cause blackheads, particularly around the mouth and cheek areas.
Over time this leads to accelerated aging, dehydration, dark circles, broken blood vessels, and an overall dull-looking complexion. Studies also indicate that smokers heal slower than non-smokers. That means when you do get a pimple it can take longer to heal which can lead to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Beauty sleep is the real deal! While we slumber our bodies heal and regenerate cells.
Sleep decreases the stress hormone cortisol which is responsible for skin discoloration, thinning skin, and stretch marks. For the good stuff, sleep also increases the sleep hormone melatonin which acts as an antioxidant to fight fine lines, wrinkles, and skin cancer.
While snoozing we also produce new collagen which helps keep our face looking plump and wrinkle-free.
Last but not least, we produce a large amount of human growth hormone while we sleep which helps to repair the damage we encounter on a daily basis.
Dana Murray is a licensed aesthetician from Southern California with a passion for skin care science. She’s been using her knowledge to blog about skin and bust skin myths on her Instagram since 2016.