Five easy ways to get better skin
I’ve struggled for years with my quite temperamental skin, and from the first skincare adventures to to the somewhat settled state my skin is nowadays, I read voraciously about the topic. Here’re some things I picked up along the way: my easy ways to get better skin!
Less is more
This is actually the most effective and most simple, and least of all, cheapest way to improve your skin. At least it works with mine! I really do get the overwhelming temptation to throw all kinds of stuff at it, again and again, especially when you’re despairing about outbreaks and every kind of issue that seem to manifest on your skin. But: Don’t do it. The most failsafe way to get my skin to calm down is to stop whatever routine I had going on and revert to the basics. And that is a gentle cleanser, a good moisturiser, and sunscreen. That’s it. My skin gets back to normal after a week or two.
There’re diverting studies on this, and people seem to fall into two camps – one who wouldn’t let anything containing alcohol touch their skin, and those who’re rather mellow about it. If your skin is sensitive in any way, it may be a good idea to err on the right side of caution. Have a look at those ingredient lists and shun products containing alcohol. Alcohol will be drying, in the end, and you don’t want dry skin, right?! (Here’s a good overview of different types of alcohol used in skincare. After all, there’re some kinds of alcohol that are rather beneficial!)
It’s a pity that most people choose their lotions and creams after smelling them and deciding ‘hey, that smells nice!’. Fragrance can be highly irritating, and all those ‘refreshing’, ‘clean’ or ‘cozy’ smelling potions and lotions have the potential to play havoc on your skin, even if you’re not actually allergic to them. (A very informative post on allergens in cosmetics in German.)
Ah, the bad, bad ways of my youth, when I (and everybody else) sang the praise of soap, and toners containing alcohol, stripping your face essentially of its natural barrier and of all oil. You want a healthy skin barrier, and you want your cleanser/toner not to be actually stripping. Otherwise, your skin will react with a lot more oil production. Nowadays, my cleansing routine consists of a cleansing oil or balm and the most gentle micellar water I could find. (There’re people who’d warn against micallar water as a last cleansing step, because it’ll leave minuscule amounts of cleansing agents on your skin. I myself vastly prefer that to leaving traces of China’s polluted, chlorine-laden water on my skin.) And don’t use cleansing wipes, please – they’re polluting the environment and are very likely damaging your skin with their harsh ingredients.
Again, I totally get it. You got breakouts, dry patches, flaking skin – exfoliation may seem just the thing for that! But while exfoliation may be just the thing (gentle, once in a while), we usually overdo it. Especially when manually exfoliating, either with a device or with a scrub, usually we put too much strength into it. We also do it far too often, because we crave that feeling of smooth skin. But doing so, we might both damage the skin’s natural barrier. We might even damage the skin itself, giving it small lesions that might get infected. (Never ever use a scrub containing sharp ground up nutshells.) My skin changed for the better when I put down my Clarisonic for good and switched to chemical exfoliation. (Run this post through google translate because it’s very, very good and shows you ways to deal with a stressed skin barrier.)
Find a sunscreen that suits you
Sunscreen is a must if you want to prevent aging skin. About 90% of aging skin signs happen because you’ve been exposed to UVA rays. So if you don’t wear sunscreen, you can put the most expensive serums on your face and will get only minimal results. But forget that for a moment – skin cancer actually is a thing, and you don’t want it. Period. Therefore, sunscreen is the one must-have in your skincare routine. You’ll want to devote some time and money to finding the right one for you. And yes, it exists (here are some I tested recently). And yes, it might not be sexy and exciting as shopping for a new skincare innovation, skintertainment items or that awesome new palette, but much more important than all the above. Sunscreen also has come a long way since the days of yore when it was a burden to wear that white gloopy mess on your face. But the most awesome thing is this: recent studies have shown that sunscreen can even reverse signs of aging when it’s applied diligently.
My skincare philosophy in a nutshell – here you have it. There’ve been studies supporting it (I’m a big fan of studies), but it’s not only science that makes it so appealing to me. It’s rather about avoiding ingredients than going all out (I like to do that to from time to time). That pared back routine has saved my skin again and again.