There’s so much information out there on how we should be treating our skin for it to look great, and so many products out there. From chemical exfoliators like AHA creams, botanical infusions, toners, and the list goes on. I find so many people are always looking for that ‘it’ ingredient, the ingredient that’s going to zap their pimples, reduce their fine lines, brighten up their complexion. Of course, there are a few ingredients out there that can help with these, albeit not as many as people seem to think when we’re looking at evidence-based efficacy. Sometimes a better course of action is peeling back the layers of your skincare to a simple beauty routine. You really don’t need every type of facial care product for your skin to look great, and sometimes, other courses outside of cosmetics can have pretty big impacts. In this blog post, I laid out 3 tips to simplify your routine and help you achieve that healthy complexion.
Take a look at your diet & lifestyle
This is the best tip I can give you if you want your skin to look great. Too commonly, we undervalue the role that our lifestyle has on our overall health, including the health of our skin. Do you eat a lot of refined simple carbs/sugars? Since higher blood sugar, or swings in your blood sugar, often times results in inflammation, this can demonstrably exacerbate skin problems. Switch those simple sugars, think deserty foods or heavily refined breads, to complex carbs, think whole grains, not so sweet foods. It seems, from the bulk of the research out there, eating a lot of botanical variety, whole grains, less saturated fats (think meats, animal fats), more polyunsaturated fats (but not too much though)(think olive oil, seeds, avocados, certain fish)… this isn’t only better for your overall health, it’s also a great diet for you skin. Other things you can do, get your exercise in and stay hydrated. Of course there are foods that may be even better skin helpers, I’m thinking green tea, my personal go to whenever I’m breaking out. At the end of the day, by having a generally healthy diet and lifestyle, you’re a lot more likely to have nice looking skin!
To break things down here, check out the interview I did with Dr. Rajani Katta, research dermatologist with a focus on the link between diet and skin health. We talked about different dietary patterns and their relation to skin health, research about different foods that may exacerbate different skin conditions, and suggestions to eat for healthy looking skin.
Check out Rajani’s latest book: GLOW: The Dermatologist's Guide to a Whole Foods, Younger Skin Diet.
Keep things simple
At the end of the day, what makes most of your facial care products effective isn’t the ‘actives’ in them, it’s everything else. For example, it’s the surfactants in your cleansers that make your skin feel so clean afterwards, it’s the emulsifiers and oily/humectant ingredients in your lotions that leave your skin feeling hydrated. Good formulations (e.g. stable, pH adjusted, effective for the product type) will generally trump the ‘actives’, although there are a few actives out there that can really amp up your products.
My go-to skin care routine is simple: wash your face with a cleanser (you can also use micellar water, which is often a more gentle way to cleanse your skin), follow up with a serum (optional, a great way to really hydrate your skin and, if your looking to get an impact from your ‘actives’, I find serums are the way to go), and seal that serum in with a cream or a lotion depending on your skin type (e.g. creams may be a better fit for drier skin whereas myself, who has combination skin, I tend to prefer lotions, which have less oil, more water than cream). It seems that keeping your skin hydrated is one of the best things you can do to keep your skin looking supple, and that’s why moisturizing is so important - it forms a barrier to prevent or reduce water loss through your skin (i.e. transepidermal water loss). If you do nothing else, cleansing, washing the daily grime away, followed by moisturizing, is an easy routine for great looking skin.
I also like to exfoliate once to twice a week, using a fabric cloth, which is cheap yet effective.. You can also invest in a cleansing brush, which can be lovely! I suggest avoiding larger grain products, for example sugar scrubs, which can sometimes be a little harsh on the more delicate skin of your face. When I’m wanting some extra pampering I’ll use a face mask, there’s lots to choose from out there. I personally do not use toners. While they can feel nice, despite what some people may tell you, they aren’t a key step for a good facial care routine, just a nice add in if you like them. Finally, when you go out into the sun, wear sunscreen and try to limit your sun time (e.g. with a hat, shade, or longer sleeves). Sun exposure early in your life can have a huge impact on how your skin ages. Missed the boat when you were young? It’s never too late to start wearing sunscreen!
For more on this, check out my interview with Dr. Katerina Steventon, skin biologist and international expert on skin care. We talked about different cosmetic product types, active ingredients, skin types and lot’s more.
Give facial exercise or massage a try
There’s really a limit to how much your cosmetic products can do for your skin. For example, your cosmetic products are probably not going to significantly affect the collagen in your skin, despite some bold claims out there, and as a result, not have a huge impact on skin wrinkles or sagging (note, if they can, they’ll more likely be regulated as drugs rather than cosmetic products). That’s where facial exercise and massage can come in, encouraging blood flow through the area, both can have a profound impact on the look of your skin.
There are many ways you can incorporate this into your skincare routine, some may be more suited for different skin types (e.g. massage, probably not the greatest tool for acne-prone skin, but excellent for mature skin). To take you through this topic, check out my other interview I did with Dr. Katerina Steventon, all about skin massage and exercise!
And that's a wrap! Questions, queries, conundrums or concerns? Leave them in the comments section or on any of our social media feeds. :)