12 things you need to know about skin and skin care
Skin is the largest organ of the human body. It’s our protection from the outer world, it helps us regulate our body temperature and it’s a great indicator of our internal health or health issues.
Even though tons of research on our skin is being conducted every single year, we still don’t know everything about it and there are a lot of common misconceptions among the general public.
Here are 12 things everybody needs to know about skin and skin care.
Most skin problems come from the inside.
Therefore there’s no point in trying to treat them from the outside only.
First you need to look into potential hormonal imbalances, food intolerances and gut health. Yes, the things you eat do affect your skin if your body is not okay with them in one way or another.
There are a number of hormones that are regulated by your gut, and if your microbiome is unhappy for whatever reason, the hormonal balance can get out of whack really quick.
Eating foods you’re sensitive to is a surefire way to upset your gut therefore potentially starting a chain reaction of hormonal imbalances, so getting tested for food intolerances is a must if you’re having skin problems that came out of nowhere.
Acne is mostly genetic.
If somebody in your immediate family has acne, most likely you are predisposed to having it also. If it’s the opposite and your entire family is acne free, you probably won’t get it either.
It goes for both adolescent and adult acne.
Don’t blame yourself, there’s nothing you can do to prevent it if it’s inherited and it definitely is not your fault.
There are breakouts that aren’t genetic, of course, but those typically are a reaction to the external factors and are much easier to deal with than the types of acne that stem from internal problems within the body.
Makeup won’t make acne worse.
Contrary to popular belief, make up is not bad for your skin if you go about it the right way.
Make sure to clean your brushes and sponges, take off your makeup properly at night, pick non-comedogenic products, monitor the expirations dates and you will be fine and dandy.
Makeup can even be a protection of some sort, creating a barrier from the dirt, so it won’t get into your pores. As long as you’re doing everything right, your foundation and blush won’t do you any harm.
Your skin is constantly in the process of getting renewed.
Approximately every 27 days the epidermis is fully replaced by new cells.
Old ones die and shed all the time — and in order for your skin to look fresh and glowing you should help the old cells leave your face regularly.
I’m not talking about harsh scrubs here, you need to be as gentle as possible, because over-exfoliation or products that are too abrasive will only cause irritation and hurt your skin. Peptide, enzyme and acid peels are definitely the way to go. Always go for the smaller concentration of an active ingredient just to be on a safe side.
You have to drink enough water to keep your skin adequately hydrated.
No moisturizer in the world will fix the lack of hydration from within.
64% of our skin is water.
Our whole body needs water to function properly and if you’re not giving it enough, it will pull the water out of your organs — skin included. That’ll affect you even more, if you’re living in a dry environment.
You have to make sure that you’re consuming enough liquid — both from food and drinks — each and every day for your entire body to be hydrated. Here’s a great resource to figure out whether you’re drinking enough — Hydration Calculator
Ageing is not about time.
At least not all of it.
The biggest contributor to the ageing of your skin is not time, it’s the Sun.
Getting old is not bad, what’s bad is looking way older than you actually are, and the Sun will most definitely do that to you — not to mention the risk of getting cancer.
Wear sunscreen every day (even if you’re not going out) and your skin will thank you years down the line. Read more about prevention of early aging here.
There is no magical overnight treatment.
Whether your problem is acne, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, flaking or something else, there is nothing that can solve any of those quickly.
You can’t expect to use a product one time and see immediate results — in fact, most active ingredients take quite some time to improve the state of the skin, some of them even make things worse for a while before making them better.
Skincare is all about patience, time and observation, and it is a lot of work.
The best advice I can give you is to not jump from product to product all the time. Give the active ingredients a fair try before counting them out and trying something else, unless, of course, your skin is having a bad reaction to them when it shouldn’t.
Read the reviews in order to know what to expect — especially when it comes to retinoids.
Not every oil will clog your pores.
It’s a common misconception that all oils are comedogenic or that they will make your skin oily.
As long as you choose the right ones that won’t be a problem.
Which ones are right?
The best choice would be jojoba oil — it’s the closest oil to our natural sebum chemically and is non-comedogenic. Next best options are argan oil and shea butter, both non-comedogenic as well.
You can use oils to quickly and gently remove makeup or as a last step of your skincare routine, or to help you with dryness.
But you need to be careful with oils. They can be an immense help and a holy grail, unless you use them wrong.
Oils tend to dry out the skin even more if it’s already dry, weird, right?
There is a way to not let it happen, though. You need to make sure to put your oils over something moisturizing (and, of course, manage your daily water intake as well), e.g glycerin or hyaluronic acid applied on damp skin.
Skin is acidic.
Our skin has a natural protective layer — an acid mantle. It consists of lipids that come from our sebaceous glands, amino acids from sweat and our skin microbiome.
It protects the skin from drying out and harmful bacteria, so, as you can imagine, its integrity is crucial for our wellbeing.
A ton of people unknowingly mess up their skin barrier, in fact I did it too and I did it a lot.
Skin’s natural pH is somewhere around 5.5, while tap water pH is usually within the range 6.5-8.5 which is not really all that ideal for the skincare purposes.
Another culprit is the bar soap that can be incredibly drying and can affect your skin barrier substantially.
Now, I’m not saying that you can’t use your tap water or even bar soap (unless it’s antibacterial, then it is %100 a big no-no). You definitely can get away with using either or both as long as you do appropriate aftercare.
Toners, for example, are a great method of restoring the pH balance of your skin, as well as most of the other skincare products they’re slightly acidic, just as our skin is.
Knowing how to mix/layer active skin care ingredients is important.
Let’s be honest, we don’t always check whether what’s in our moisturizer and toner works together or not.
Unless it was made to be used together, i.e a line of skin care products from one company, chances are that some ingredients might be cancelling each other out or even making each other a lot harsher to the skin.
For example, if you’re using benzoyl peroxide treatment, you shouldn’t be using Vitamin C serums, toners or moisturizers with it, before it or immediately after, because benzoyl peroxide is an oxidizing agent and Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, so they will cancel each other out and you will end up not getting any benefits from either of them.
Another example would be retinoids and acids — salicylic, glycolic, ascorbic(a.k.a Vitamin C), or any other BHA or AHA acids.
Retinoids are derivatives of Vitamin A — retinol. They encourage cell turnover and are strong exfoliants. AHA and BHA acids exfoliate the dead cells as well, but if you use them together with a retinoid, most likely you will get either a full on chemical burn or at least some pretty severe irritation.
That’s just two examples of ingredients that shouldn’t be used with one another, and there are so many more.
Wrong combinations might be just a waste of product and therefore money or they might cause harm to the health of your skin, so please be careful with what you’re mixing/layering.
Not all skincare is good.
And not every company creates products with good intentions. Some of them just throw whatever together as a cash grab without consideration for the customer’s health.
One example of bad skincare are harsh scrubs – apricot scrub(yikes!), and salt/sugar scrubs. Little particles of all three have sharp edges that will cause micro tears in your skin. You should never use them on your face and I would strongly advise you to skip them for your body also.
Another thing that comes straight to my mind is alcohol based lotions and toners, just why?
It’s sooo drying, not to mention how awful it is to your natural skin barrier, it exterminates all of your good bacteria and trust me, you really don’t want that to happen. If there’s Alcohol Denat in a product, avoid it at all costs, there are so many other products to pick from.
Hell, this section can be so much longer, I’ll probably write a whole other post dedicated just to that lol.
You don’t need 10+ steps in your skin care routine.
Honestly, even 5+ is excessive. While it is a great way to have some high-quality me-time, it surely isn’t a necessity.
Realistically speaking, an average person needs three things only in their skin care routine — face wash, good moisturizer and sunscreen. Yes, that’s it.
If you want some extra stuff, add a toner for balancing your skin pH, and maybe some Retin A at nighttime to tackle acne, hyperpigmentation and sun damage.
Overloading your skin with active ingredients is not a great thing to do, chances are it will only make things worse.
Keep it simple.
Taking care of your skin doesn’t always mean putting products on it. Knowledge is care. Ability to recognize things that cause your skin harm is skin care. Making good healthy choices is skin care. Everything else comes second.
Share your thoughts in the comments! xo