The 5 Big Skin Mistakes You’re Making
By Janet Early
Blemishes. Breakouts. Blackheads.
They can be mysterious, embarrassing and frustrating. As someone who was generally pimple-free as a teenager (super grateful for that!), I was surprised when I developed frequent breakouts in my early 20’s.
While researching this topic, it became clear that I’m not alone – more and more women are experiencing acne in their adult years.
(Not so fun) Fact: Acne currently affects 54% of women and 40% of men in the U.S.
Unfortunately, most of us try to solve this problem in flawed ways. You rigorously scrub your skin or apply chemical after chemical to your face. The truth is, ineffective skin care methods actually worsen the situation!
To heal your skin, you need to:
- Stop using harmful products
- Take care of the skin care fundamentals
- And change your bad habits
The following 5 SKINCARE MISTAKES are incredibly common. Educating yourself on what they are and replacing them with healthy alternatives will set you on a course to better skin.
1. Harsh Treatments
Your skin is the largest organ in the human body – you absorb 60% of what you put on it!
Even though you probably wouldn’t eat scientific-sounding ingredients like benzoyl peroxide or propylene glycol, if you use certain face washes, they are still getting inside your body.
Here are several common skincare ingredients that you should avoid:
- Benzoyl peroxide
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate
- FD&C Color & Pigments
- Parabens (Methyl, Butyl, Ethyl, Propyl)
- Diethanolamine (DEA), Monoethanolamine (MEA) & Triethanolamine (TEA)
- DMDM Hydantoin & Urea (Imidazolidinyl)
- Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)
- Propylene Glycol (PG) & Butylene Glycol
- Sunscreen chemicals such as Avobenzone, Benzophenone, Methoxycinnamate and PABA
These 12 toxic chemicals have been linked to problems such as tumor growth, cancer, DNA damage, skin allergies, birth defects, fertility troubles and learning disabilities.
Certain chemicals like the above are simply too harsh on the skin; a sensitive organ such as the skin must be treated gently for optimal health and appearance. Furthermore, many of these are meant to cut through oil – but oil isn’t always the cause of acne.
There is a distinction between “oily” acne and “dry” acne.
Maybe you have dry skin, but also experience frequent breakouts. In this case, excess oil is likely not your problem. More probable, your skin is actually depleted of moisture and healthy oils. Applying harsh products will only cause further irritation and damage.
I personally have experienced dry acne and made the mistake of rabidly applying rubbing alcohol to my face every chance I got. I figured dry skin is better than pimply skin. Finally, I realized that my habit was only worsening the problem and started treating my skin with the care it deserves.
2. Ignoring The Internal-External Health Connection
You tend to think of acne and breakouts as exterior problems as opposed to interior conditions like gut infections.
But there is always a biochemical cause.
Your body is incredibly smart and if it’s sending warning signals (such as blemishes), you better believe it has a good reason.
Breakouts and rashes hint at oxidative damage, inadequate nutrition and hormonal imbalances. In fact, skin problems such as psoriasis or keratosis pilaris, tend to go hand in hand with gut conditions like leaky gut syndrome and dysbiosis.
Inflammation on the skin is often a sign of inflammation on the inside.
Skin expert Asha Evertsz compares acne to the red light warning signal in your car. If it comes on, “you don’t change the lightbulb, do you? You pop the hood and you see what’s going on in the motor.”
Acne is an opportunity to tune into what’s really going on inside your body and then get the necessary help you need to feel your best.
3. Trying To Solve Your Skin Problems On Your Own
This brings us to the 3rd biggest skin mistake – not seeking expert care. There are numerous fields of skin health and plenty of skilled professionals willing and prepared to help you.
Many people discredit seeking medical care for their acne, because it’s embarrassing or they feel that it is too common a problem and not significant enough to warrant a doctor’s visit.
But skin problems always have deep roots within the body. Getting a professional look can uncover the pathology of the issue and enlighten you to an issue you didn’t even know your body was dealing with.
If you’re at a crossroads with your skin, a professional such as a Functional Medicine Practitioner, Dermatologist or Naturopath can offer you a framework for better skin health.
4. Picking At The Skin
Full disclosure – I am guilty of this. It’s my worst habit. I touch my face too much and pick at blackheads or blemishes, sometimes unconsciously and more often during times of stress.
Picking at the skin is one of the worst things you can do for your skin health, especially when the skin is already inflamed. Doing so will cause a lot more damage that will take much longer to heal. Sometimes, it won’t even completely heal and the skin will scar.
I get it – it’s a strange guilty pleasure like biting your nails or cracking your knuckles. But you need to stop for the sake of your skin!
So how can you?
- Find something more positive to do with your hands, such as rubbing your palms together or intertwining your fingers.
- Distract yourself – look out the window, check your phone, or go get some water.
- When you realize you’re doing it, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to refocus.
- Lose yourself in your work or some good entertainment.
- Make a “no face touching” rule, especially when your hands aren’t clean.
5. Not Taking Care Of Your Adrenal Glands
Stress wreaks havoc on your skin.
When faced with a stress overload, your adrenal glands – responsible for producing the body’s vital hormones – break down. When the system that manages stress breaks down, you can imagine all the chaos that causes. Such a situation often leads to adrenal fatigue.
Could adrenal fatigue be the reason for your skin troubles?
If you get fewer than 7 hours of sleep each night, eat a highly processed diet, feel exhausted constantly and experience weakness, then adrenal fatigue could be at the root of your problem.
To nourish the adrenal glands:
- Eat whole foods, especially quality fat and protein sources.
- Sleep 8-10 hours each night.
- Avoid juice fasting or going several hours without eating.
- Employ stress-reduction techniques such as meditation or daily walks.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
5 Things You SHOULD Do For Your Skin
So, now that you know what NOT to do to your skin, what should you actually DO for your skin?
THE 5 PILLARS OF SKIN HEALTH
1. Sleep 8-10 Hours A Night. Nap As Needed.
Adequate sleep reduces stress, rejuvenates adrenal glands, benefits your hormone levels and regenerates skin. The natural benefits of sleep cannot be replicated in a skin care product or diet.
Skin only gets the building blocks it needs to regenerate and repair once everything else in the body is taken care of. There is a hierarchy in the body and skin is at the bottom, below your other organs. 8-10 hours each night ensures that the body has time to get to the skin as well.
2. Consume Whole, Healing Foods
Since the skin is the last organ of the body to be receiving nutrition, you need to overflow your body with nutritional powerhouses to make sure it’s taken care of.
- Recommendation: Eat 6-9 servings of vegetables a day, half coming from leafy greens.
- Include good-quality protein sources at every meal.
- Eat enough – every 2-3 hours if you suspect adrenal fatigue. This will reduce stress on the adrenal glands, thereby decreasing cortisol levels.
- Consume fermented foods.
- Bone broths! With the collagen, iron and zinc content found in bone broths, this superfood is anti-aging, anti-inflammatory and one of the best sources of nutrition for skin health.
3. Drink Lots Of Water
Enzymes in the skin can only function in the presence of water. Aim for 2-4 liters per day to enable those enzymes in the skin to do their jobs.
4. Stress-Reduction Techniques
High levels of cortisol will cause breakouts and age your skin prematurely. In times of stress, make sure you take care of yourself.
Whether your output is regular exercise, daily meditation, talking to a friend or journaling, make sure you are somehow externalizing your stress. Getting it outside of your body will spare you a lot of the problems caused when stress is imprisoned inside your body.
5. Don’t Obsess!
Everyone gets breakouts or weird rashes or acne in random places on the body. Please don’t beat yourself up with negative self-talk or sink into despair every time you break out. Instead, seek help and seek solutions that really work.
Ultimately, you need to be kinder and gentler to yourself, as well as to your skin!
If you know of more ways to take better care of your skin and show more love to yourself, feel free to share with us in the comments below!
Janet Early is a health enthusiast living in Los Angeles and working as a researcher for a major television company. An aspiring writer, Janet discovered her passion for wholesome nutrition and natural healing while navigating the struggles of balancing food sensitivities in a modern world. In addition to nutrition, she enjoys traveling, storytelling and embarking on daily adventures.
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