With Valentine’s Day on everyone’s minds this week, we thought we’d help spread the love-for your skin!
Women (and some guys, too) tend to have a difficult relationship with their skin. Most of the time, we focus on what’s wrong with it. It’s too wrinkled, saggy, pigmented, dry, broken out, and aged.
The rest of the time we spend looking for ways to make it look better. We scrub, mask, treat, soak, bronze, tan, cover-up, and more trying to improve it and make it look a little more like our ideal version of skin.
According to a study by Noxzema, less than 10 percent of women love their skin. That means most of us…don’t.
Here at Cinco Vidas, we’d like to start a new trend where we learn to love our skin before we set about trying to improve it. Is it possible? Can you love your skin even with all its flaws?
And if you do, could it help improve the appearance of your skin?
Self-Criticism Not Good for Your Health
It’s true that most women are unhappy with how their skin looks, complaining about acne, rosacea, dermatitis, hyperpigmentation, and more. Many of us would love to put bags over our heads on bad skin days-perhaps even more so than when we have bad hair days.
Would you believe that women, on average, criticize themselves at least eight times a day? A day?? This, according to a recent survey of 2,000 women. Nearly half admitted to criticizing themselves at least once before 9:30 in the morning.
Other studies have found similar results. Results have shown that women are, in general, kinder and more nurturing to others than men, but at the same time, meaner, more dismissive, and more critical of themselves.
All this self-recrimination isn’t good for us. According to a 2010 study, self-criticism is strongly associated with depression, eating disorders, and anxiety. A 2011 review of five separate studies found that people prone to criticizing themselves were less likely to make progress toward their goals than those who were more compassionate with themselves.
In fact, being gentler with yourself has shown to have a number of positive effects-which could translate to better skin!
Self-Compassion is Motivating
Did you know that giving yourself a break and accepting your imperfections may actually be the first step toward better health?
That’s what researchers found in 2011. People who scored higher on tests of self-compassion had less depression and anxiety, and tended to be happier and more optimistic. Some of the data even showed that self-compassion may help people to lose weight.
Researchers Kristin Neff of the University of Texas noted that we tend to believe that self-criticism keeps us in line, and prevents self-indulgence. As long as we continue to be hard on ourselves, the reasoning goes, we won’t slack off.
Self-compassion is not the same as self-indulgence, though. A compassionate mom doesn’t allow her children to eat a bucket of ice cream for dinner, because she cares about them. A compassionate person would similarly not take actions that would cause her health problems or other issues down the road.
The truth is that negativity toward ourselves actually hurts us-it leaves us feeling less motivated, and less likely to take action to help ourselves. Being compassionate with ourselves, on the other hand, is more likely to translate into healthy actions.
Research shows that people who are kind to themselves are more likely to stick to their goals, engage in healthy behaviors, and watch out for themselves, in general. Would you believe one study showed that people who practiced self-compassion were able to curb their smoking habits faster? An analysis of 15 studies also found a link between self-compassion and eating better, exercising more, stressing less, and getting more sleep.
How does all this translate into skin care?
How Self-Compassion Translates to More Youthful Skin
If you’re practicing self-love, and loving the skin you’re in regardless of what it looks like, you’re more likely to take positive steps toward taking care of yourself and your skin.
You may eat healthier foods, which we know can positively affect skin. You may choose more natural skin care products that nourish and treat skin rather than tear it down with harsh chemicals. You will probably get more sleep, which as we saw in a previous post about sleep and aging, is linked to more youthful-looking skin. And you’ll likely do more to help yourself deal with the stress in your life-and we know stress tears down skin’s defenses, making it more difficult to resist the effects of aging.
To get you started on loving the skin you’re in, we have five fun things for you to try. A few may require you to “get brave,” but if you try them, we can almost guarantee that you’ll feel better about yourself.
Let us know how you do!
- Take a no-makeup selfie: Ack! Some of us can hardly imagine being seen without makeup, much less immortalizing the look in a selfie. Start by just taking it. You don’t have to share it. Maybe later, you can share the pic with a few close friends and family. Gradually, as your courage grows, you may find yourself more accepting of your skin, just as it is. And by the way, if you need some encouragement, here are some celebrity no-makeup selfies to show you that nobody’s perfect!
- Stand in front of the mirror and praise your skin. Of course it’s not your natural response. Usually when we look in the mirror, we see all the problems. Ooh, a pimple there, more wrinkles here, dryness there. Stop! Spend a few minutes looking in the mirror and say only compliments to yourself. (Shun any negative thoughts.) Surely you can find at least three good things about your skin. Say them out loud to solidify your strengths in your mind. Maybe your cheeks are really smooth and soft, or your lips plump and red, or your eyes bright and sparkly.
- Go one day without foundation and only color. Another scary step, but it could teach you something valuable. Try going a day without foundation, but feel free to have fun with color on your eyes, cheeks, and lips. No concealer, either. For one, you may like how it feels, especially if you use a good moisturizer that nourishes and hydrates your skin. For two, you can play up your best features while ignoring the supposed “flaws” that you’re usually worried about. You may be surprised by the reactions you get!
- Splurge on a skin care product that is good for your skin. It’s time to treat yourself to something that’s good for your skin, and has nothing to do with covering up or “fixing” anything. Just look for something with natural oils, butters, and extracts that will feed your skin what it needs to be healthy, and forget about the rest. Experience how it feels to do something for your skin that’s strictly about treating yourself well, and not about appearance.
- Enhance your natural skin. You know how it goes. If you have pale skin, you’re obsessed with tanning it. If you have dark skin, you may be focused on trying to lighten it. Try taking a different approach to your skin care. If you’re pale, for instance, why not embrace that paleness, and enhance it with darker lip color and eye color? If you’re dark, play it up with fun metallic shades on your eyes or bright colors on your lips. What about your skin helps you stand out? What makes you uniquely you? Find those traits and play them up. Experimenting can help you find a look that helps bring out your special qualities.
Do you struggle to love your skin? Please share any tips you may have with our readers.
Devon Kelley, “New Study Reveals that Women Criticize Themselves Eight Times a Day,” Yahoo.com, January 4, 2016, https://www.yahoo.com/beauty/new-study-reveals-that-women-criticize-themselves-200235902.html.
Kristin Neff, “Why Are We Women So Hard On Ourselves?” Daily Mail, June 30, 2011, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2009632/Why-ARE-women-hard-ourselves.html.
Olivia Longe, et al., “Having a word with yourself: Neural correlates of self-criticism and self-reassurance,” NeuroImage, 2010 (49):1849-1856, http://www.wisebrain.org/media/Papers/Self-Crit,Self-NurtNeuro.pdf.
Theodore A. Powers, et al., “The Effects of Self-Criticism and Self-Oriented Perfectionism on Goal Pursuit,” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 2011; 37(7):964-975, http://www.academia.edu/1201857/The_Effects_of_Self-Criticism_and_Self-Oriented_Perfectionism_on_Goal_Pursuit.
Tara Parker-Pope, “Go Easy on Yourself, a New Wave of Research Urges,” New York Times, February 28, 2011, http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/28/go-easy-on-yourself-a-new-wave-of-research-urges/?_r=0.
Mandy Oaklander, “The Reason You Make Unhealthy Choices,” Time, September 25, 2014, http://time.com/3430670/self-compassion-health/.