Last week, I talked about the history of my complexion and how I’ve managed to avoid acne for most of my life. It wasn’t meant to be a humble brag, though I have been blessed to not have painful, embarrassing acne. But, I’ve mostly been able to avoid terrible breakouts with a few lifestyle changes.
Water, that is. Water is paramount to your skin’s health, as it refreshes and revitalizes your entire body and helps it perform its functions better. Staying properly hydrated helps your body process and clean out toxins. Often, when our kidneys are overloaded with toxins, they’ll expel them through our skin. Drinking plenty of water helps flush them out. Experts recommend drinking half an ounce of water for every pound of your body weight. So, if you weigh 130 pounds, you should be drinking 65 ounces of water every day for adequate hydration.
Take it off.
Always, always, always remove your makeup before bed. Sleeping in your makeup once in a while won’t necessarily cause a breakout, but it’s best to consistently be in the practice of taking it off first. Sleeping in your makeup can cause bacterial infections and clogged pores, making your acne worse. Wash your face after removing your makeup to ensure you get all of the concealer and foundation off. (If you’re in the market, these my absolute favorite makeup wipes are the Clean & Clear Night Relaxing Cleansing Wipes. They’re incredibly soothing and help me wind down for the evening, while getting all my makeup, including waterproof mascara.)
Baby your skin.
While acne can be exacerbated by a poor skincare regimen, it’s not caused by dirty skin. People who believe otherwise often end up over-washing their faces, or using harsh chemicals and treatments that only irritate the skin more. As important as it is to wash your face before bed and in the morning, it’s just as important to be gentle in your washing. Over-exfoliating can dry out your skin and cause “microcuts,” through which bacteria can enter and, again, worsen acne. For a gentler exfoliation than grainy scrubs, use a salicylic- or glycolic-acid cleanser. Start using one of these three times a week, alternating with your regular cleanser, and adjust depending on your skin’s reaction. Avoid getting a daily cleanser with fragrance or harsh soap. If you have dry skin, try a cleanser with shea or glycerin. If you have oily skin, try a foaming wash to help your skin feel cleaner. (For more info on how to take care of your skin, read my blog post, The Best Skincare for Your Skin Type.)
Clean your brushes.
Most women don’t clean their makeup brushes regularly or take any extra precautions to ensure their brushes and sponges are hygienic. They leave them in the bathroom, in the open air, etc. and never clean them. When you apply makeup with dirty hands, brushes or sponges, you’re transferring bacteria to your face which can clog pores and, sometimes, lead to infection. I admit it, I’m terribly about washing my brushes, too. I maybe do it once a month. I justify it in my head with the rationale that I rarely wear makeup and, when I do, I use an airbrush system. Using an airbrush system to apply your makeup means you never have to touch your face and make your acne worse. Just drop your makeup into the bowl of the stylus, pull the trigger, and let air do the application and blending work.
Check the label.
There are many chemicals and factors in the ingredients of your skincare products that can actually irritate your skin more. Check the labels of skincare products for known irritants like essential oils, citrus extracts, menthol, denatured alcohol and, obviously, anything you might be allergic to. These can cause daily irritation that only lengthens the amount of time before your skin can heal and your breakouts clear.
Check your makeup.
Oftentimes, the relationships we create between acne and makeup is a vicious cycle. We have a little breakout, so we cover it up with oily, pore-clogging (comedogenic) makeup. The makeup makes our breakout worse, so we cover it with more caked-on heavy makeup. And the cycle continues. So, break the cycle. Using a water-based, noncomdedogenic foundation provides a light (yet acne-concealing) coverage that allows your skin to breathe and, therefore, heal. Again, I use airbrush makeup, but you can find other solutions that work with your skin and lifestyle. Start by looking specifically for oil-free foundations, and go from there. You’ll want to look for “noncomedogenic” as a benefit.