If there’s one defining thing that can be said about any cleanser, moisturizer, exfoliant, serum, mask, or any other skincare product, it is this: Your Mileage May Vary. Your favorite cleanser might make my face burn with the fire of a thousand suns. My holy grail moisturizer might make your face an oil slick. What one person swears by could cause another person to break out. YMMV is at the core of what we’re doing here at Skincare Addiction, which is trying to help you find the products and routine that best suit your individual skin and your individual skin’s special picky princess needs (or is it just my skin that’s a special picky princess?).
Products may be a minefield of finding what works for you and what doesn’t, but there are some things that we can all do to help our skin–some best practices, if you will, for being good to your skin. These habits will help with the overall health of your skin and can be especially beneficial for problematic skin since a lot of the ideology focuses on gentle skincare while minimizing possible bacterial contact. While you’re looking for your holy grail products, start incorporating these habits.
Speaking of products, let’s start there:
- Always patch test a product before incorporating it into your routine. Before you start putting a product all over your face, first you want to make sure it’s not going to break you out or cause other adverse reactions. Apply it only in one spot for a while–this could be days or weeks depending on your skin–and monitor it for any changes.
- Always introduce one new product at a time. If you don’t patch test and you start a completely new routine with a bunch of new products at once, and your skin has a reaction, there is no way to tell what’s causing the reaction. Similarly, if your skin improves, you can’t know which product is actually causing the improvement. Maybe I’m just cheap but I don’t want to keep buying 5 products to maintain my beautiful face if only one of those products is doing any real work. After you’ve patch tested one new product, incorporate it into your routine and don’t change anything else until you can gauge the effects.
While you’re trying to find the products best suited for your skin, be gentle:
- Don’t use a cleanser that makes your skin “squeaky” clean. This usually means that the cleanser has stripped too much of your natural oil off your skin. This can lead to dryness or irritation, and if you have naturally oily skin it could cause your skin to overproduce oil right after you’ve cleansed, and we all know how much we love to feel like an oil slick (again, just me?).
- Don’t use hot water. I’m not saying take icy cold showers like an Arctic lumberjack (unless that’s your jam, in which case more power to you), but try to avoid very hot temperatures. Hot water can also lead to dryness and irritation, and if you’ve got any kind of skin condition you’ll especially want to avoid it. I have eczema and my skin thanks me when I avoid the scalding water, even if it’s the only time I ever feel warm during the winter.
What other better habits can you adopt for better skin?
- Always remove your makeup before bed. When I don’t do this I am guaranteed a breakout from smooshing my dirty face all around my pillow. I mean, if you’ve got a good routine going you’re probably cleansing every night anyway, but let’s face it: there are going to be those nights when you’re too tired (or too, um, inebriated) to have the wherewithal necessary to go through your evening routine. At least hit it with a makeup wipe!
- Change your pillowcases often. Every night, if you can–but remember that a pillow’s got two sides, so you can just flip it. If you’re laying your head down on a clean surface every night, then you’re not giving whatever was on your face last night the opportunity to come in and wreak havoc. A dirty pillowcase is just a breeding ground for dirt, excess product, and bacteria–all of which can cause irritation and breakouts.
- Don’t touch your face. If there’s one thing on this list that needs a “do as I say, not as I do” caveat, it’s this one. I am the WORST about keeping my hands off my face. But think about all the stuff you touch all day, and all of that stuff that other people have also touched, and all of that stuff going on your face. No thank you.
- Don’t pick your zits! Okay, maybe this one also needs the aforementioned caveat, but it’s a no-brainer. Picking and popping your active blemishes can lead to scarring and/or spreading the infection (and thus spreading the breakout; ain’t nobody got time for that). Resist the temptation!
I know that some of these seem like a no-brainer, but none of us are perfect and we can all use a gentle reminder to give our skin some love. I used to think changing my pillowcase at any time other than laundry Sunday was insane; now I switch them out a few times a week and it feels weird if I don’t. I also used to (*cough,* used to) be so lazy that I wouldn’t wash my face before bed and just deal with it in the morning, and now I gross myself out if I don’t go through at least the cleansing and moisturizing steps of my evening routine.
So this may seem like a lot of stuff that you MUST DO (or MUST NOT DO), but really, they’re just guidelines intended to help your skin be the healthiest it can be. Start slow and soon many, if not all, of these best practices will become habits, and you’ll be well on your way to your best skin.