The health of our skin is determined by so much more than simply what we apply to it topically. It can be a delicate balance, particularly when it comes to breakouts and irritation.
So if you’re still chasing after an elusive clear complexion, here are some small environmental adjustments you could be making to bring you one step closer.
1. Regularly sanitise skincare/makeup brushes, tools and your phone
The implements we use on our face daily can act as excellent breeding grounds for bacteria. By not cleaning your makeup brushes, facial sponges, cleansing tools etc., bacteria can grow and be spread around the skin, creating or worsening acne or breakouts. Wash these items regularly with warm soapy water to prevent this bacteria buildup. It’s also recommended to sanitise your phone frequently for the same reason as we are constantly touching this throughout the day, creating a bacterial hotspot, and pressing it to our faces during calls. Wipe down your phone daily with alcohol wipes to stop the spread.
2. Choose your skincare wisely
One of the most common culprits of poor skin health, including breakouts and sensitivity, is skincare that is inappropriate for the user. This could be for any number of reasons – products are too heavy for your skin and its natural oil activity, the combination of actives is too harsh when combined, you are over-stripping or over-exfoliating, or perhaps you require something stronger and more active to combat heavy congestion. Choosing the right skincare for your skin needs is crucial in the journey towards clear skin, so avoid choosing products based solely on qualities such as trends, packaging, or convenience.
3. Don’t overdo it
Skincare routines can be an absolute joy to carry out, and a multi-step regime really can act as a relaxing daily self-care ritual. However, while you may enjoy layering countless products together morning and night, be mindful not to go overboard. In many cases of skin flare-ups, dermatitis, sensitisation, over-thickening, breakouts and impaired barrier function, these issues have arisen as a result of skincare routines that are too harsh and over-complex. A great example is using too many products containing AHAs and/or BHAs at once, or an over-use of retinols, or both! If you love a long and luxurious skincare routine, instead of too many products, opt for elements like massage or tools like rollers to meet your self-care needs. If you simply can’t live without your layering, swap out some of your exfoliants or brighteners with hydrators and antioxidants that aim to nourish and protect rather than pushing the skin to its limits.
4. Never sleep in makeup
Going to bed with a layer of makeup on means that skin secretions like sweat and oil and bad bacteria are sandwiched in overnight, accumulating within the pores. This is a sure-fire way to encourage breakouts, as well as fast-tracking things like milia and blackheads. On top of this, sleep is your skin’s opportune time to heal, renew, and regenerate and it can’t complete these processes to the best of its ability if it is clogged with makeup, or worse still, inflammation is increasing as a result of blockages and bacterial proliferation.
5. Cleanse twice daily
If you’re prone to breakouts, cleansing twice per day is even more important. This will allow you to remove bacteria and skin secretions that occurred overnight, slowing bacterial growth and providing a fresh blank canvas for your morning products to better absorb. Remember to replenish the skin after cleansing with hydrating and soothing products. If breakouts are your concern, calming and antioxidant ingredients are key to reducing inflammation and redness, which will in turn speed up the healing process.
6. Avoid picking or squeezing
It can be so satisfying to squeeze pimples and blackheads, but what you don’t see is what is occurring underneath. When you squeeze lesions yourself, you are exerting forceful pressure on your follicle walls, which you can rupture. This usually doesn’t appear as anything on the surface, perhaps a little redness, but this is how scarring can occur. And by constantly picking at skin that is dry, bumpy or flaky, you are triggering the skin’s inflammatory process. Again, this may not appear on the surface, but your skin will take a lot longer to heal in the areas you pick. You will also be increasing damaging free radicals in the tissue, and stimulating the release of more antihistamines, which can trigger sensitivity and itching.
7. Follow product instructions
Particularly when it comes to active ingredients like vitamin As or chemical exfoliants, always be cautious to follow the instructions given on the product. Significant damage can be caused to skin without proper adherence to the directions of use. For example, if a product recommends you start using a vitamin A product just once per week for 1-2 weeks before increasing, it is crucial that you stick by this even if you think your skin ‘can handle it’.
8. Soothe irritation
If you ever experience sensitivity, or sensations like stinging, itching or burning, quickly switch to a gentle approach. Restrict the use of your products that bring on these sensations, and adopt a less is more regime. These types of sensations are not normal ones, and suffering through them without the guidance of a professional can be extremely harmful long-term. Be sure to use a very gentle cleanser, remove your actives and exfoliants, and stick only to hydrating and calming ingredients. These could include plant antioxidants, aloe vera, chamomile, squalene, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, etc. Stick to just these until signs of sensitivity are clear.
9. Always moisturise – even oily skin
Even oily skin should be moisturised in order to maintain balance and barrier function. Resist the urge to skip moisturising oily skin and instead, find a moisturiser that is lightly-textured enough to feel comfortable when you apply it. Be sure to find a cleanser that you feel provides a thorough clean without inducing dry, tight sensations. Once you’ve removed bacteria and build-up, replenish the skin’s moisture with your light moisturiser.
10. Apply sunscreen: EVERYDAY
There is still a great deal of misconception around sunscreens, UV, and skin health. Skin damage does not only occur when your sun exposure results in a burn. There are several wavelengths of light within the UV spectrum, and even if you don’t burn, some wavelengths still penetrate deeply and cause damage to skin cells, impairing their function, and damaging their genetic material. These wavelengths even penetrate through the glass of your windows on your home or car windshield. For this reason, sunscreen should be worn every single day, even if you aren’t going outside. Even small amounts of UV exposure can upset the skin’s balance, its barrier function, its microbiome, and its dermal activity and function. It can also slowly destroy collagen and elastin fibres, and trigger pigmentary activity. All of this can result in advanced ageing, wrinkle formation, sun spots, and impaired barrier function leading to inflammation or breakouts. Thankfully, sunscreen formulations have improved significantly over the past several years, and there are countless options that won’t leave your skin feeling sticky, oily or ghostly.
Remember: your skin health is about so much more than your daily serums. It’s a holistic journey that can incorporate elements such as these as well as lifestyle factors, exercise, nutrition, and mental wellbeing strategies.
We hope that these 10 tips can help you on your path to clear, youthful, glowing skin that brings you confidence that shines from within!
Still have questions? We offer consultations with qualified skin experts to help you discover which products and ingredients are right for you. More info here.