It’s a new year, which means you have the perfect excuse to adopt some new skin-care habits that will help you enjoy that flawless, smooth look you crave.
After all, it’s not that expensive serum or once-a-quarter facial treatment that makes or breaks your appearance-it’s the everyday routine. If yours is rushed, stressed, and fueled by fast food and sugar, your skin will suffer.
Check out these good-skin habits instead, to see what may be missing from your daily regimen.
1. Get at least 7 hours of sleep.
As we noted in a previous post, a recent study found that just five nights of poor sleep doubled the amount of fine lines and wrinkles, with participants suffering three-quarters more brown spots. Lack of sleep also hindered the skin’s ability to repair itself after exposure to the sun or pollution.
According to a 2010 study, sleep-deprived people were rated as less healthy and less attractive than those who got a normal night’s sleep.
Make it a habit to get at least 7 hours every night of the week, no exceptions. Look in the mirror after just two weeks of this and you’ll see the difference.
2. Protect your skin at all times.
The sun is the biggest factor in accelerated aging. It causes fine lines and wrinkles, dark spots and hyperpigmentation, and sagging and bagging. Use a broad-spectrum daily sunblock with an SPF of 30-50. Even if you work inside all day, your skin needs the protection. Don’t forget to reapply as needed.
It’s a mistake, however, if you rely exclusively on sunscreen for protection. It’s easy to miss a spot, or forget to reapply, and sunscreens aren’t perfect. Some UV radiation can still get through, which can lead to long-term damage. Don’t forget hats, umbrellas, protective clothing, and other protective tools.
3. Learn to relax.
Physical stress has been linked to all sorts of health problems, including skin aging. A 2014 study found that the skin was both an immediate stress perceiver and a target of stress responses. Stress produces stress hormones that can encourage inflammation, disrupts the skin barrier and dries it out, decreases the production of plumping lipids, and exacerbates skin diseases like rosacea and psoriasis.
Stress relief needs to become a daily habit. What activities help you relax? These are the ones you need to incorporate into your routine every day! Exercise is a great one. Other options include long walks, hot baths, pet therapy, music and art therapy, time with friends, journaling, meditation, and more. Choose what works for you and make time for it.
4. Use chemical exfoliators rather than physical ones.
It used to be that the only option we had when it came to exfoliating were those harsh products filled with chunky, grainy materials that scratched and sanded skin. True, they were effective at sloughing off that dead layer of cells, but they were also likely to damage the skin’s outer barrier, encouraging inflammation and breakouts.
Now we have gentler options that are just as effective. These so-called “chemical exfoliators” are made up of things like alpha hydroxy acids (many of which are fruit acids), and retinoids. They help stimulate cell turnover and also stimulate collagen production, so you not only get rid of that outer layer, but you help firm up your skin at the same time.
Ditch the grainy scrubs and choose the smarter option, then exfoliate 1-4 times a week, depending on what your skin needs.
5. Exercise every day.
You know it’s good for you, but now we know that it’s good for your skin, as well. It not only stimulates circulation to get key nutrients to skin, it may also actually help reverse skin aging.
Scientists recruited 29 participants, both male and female, between the ages of 20 and 84. About half were active, performing about three hours of moderate to vigorous activity each week, while others were more sedentary, exercising less than an hour a week. Researchers examined skin they were pretty sure hadn’t been exposed to the sun-that on the buttocks.
Results showed that after the age of 40, those who exercised more frequently had skin more like that of 20- and 30-year-olds than others of their age, even if they were over 65. Since it was possible other factors like genetics and lifestyle also played a part in the skin’s health, the scientists asked a group of sedentary participants to start exercising. They worked out twice a week for 30 minutes for 3 months.
At the end of the study period, researchers noted marked improvements in the volunteers’ skin. “I don’t want to over-hype the results,” said lead researcher Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky, “but really, it was pretty remarkable to see.”
Incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Thirty minutes of moderate-to-vigorous movement is all you need.
6. Always remove makeup and use moisturizer.
If you sleep with your makeup on, you’re just asking to wake up with clogged pores, inflammation, and breakouts. You’re also depriving your skin of needed time and tools to repair itself.
Always remove makeup and wash skin well before bed, as it removes not only makeup, but other micro particles that you’ve accumulated during the day that may damage your skin through the nighttime hours. Then apply your best nighttime moisturizer or anti-aging cream to give your skin its best chance to create flawless results for you in the morning.
7. Eat more of what’s good for you.
You know that eating more fruits and veggies is good for your health, but it’s also one of the most effective ways to get flawless skin. Cut back on the sugary items and beef up the dark leafy greens, watery fruits (they’re great for boosting moisture), and flaxseeds and walnuts, which supply your skin with needed omega-3 fatty acids.
Watch out for dairy, too. Those who are prone to acne breakouts may find relief by swapping almond milk for cow’s milk. Some studies have found a link between dairy consumption and pimples, so if this is you, it’s worth a try. Almonds also have healthy fatty acids that are great for plumping skin.
8. Hydrate hydrate hydrate.
Lack of moisture is one of the major factors in skin aging. But you can’t simply slather on more and more cream. You must hydrate from the inside out. That means drinking water throughout the day, and sucking up the moisture in other ways as well, such as adding a lemon to water, cutting up some watermelon for breakfast, adding apples or citrus fruits to your snacks, and drinking some coconut water for an afternoon refresher. Green tea is the perfect way to counteract free-radical damage with powerful antioxidants while hydrating at the same time.
9. Learn how to apply makeup.
Bad makeup technique ruins many a lovely face. Make sure that your skin is hydrated, dewy, and plump before you start applying products, as foundation on dry skin is always unattractive. Determine the right shades for your skin color. If you’re not sure, check with your local makeup artist for a color match. Blend carefully, and never overdo it. Less makeup is always more when it comes to looking flawless.
Of course, it nearly goes without saying that the quality of your products is important. Today’s standards demand that makeup not only make skin look good, but that it’s also good for skin. Look for moisturizing and protective ingredients when you’re choosing, and always avoid mineral oil and talc.
10. Know how to respond to emergencies.
We all have them-that unexpected breakout, undereye puffiness, dry skin, what have you. You know what emergencies plague your skin. Are you ready for them? Gather a list of tips and tricks for your particular skin type.
If you suffer from breakouts, for example, be ready for that unwelcome pimple. Never pick or pop, as that only exacerbates the inflammation and swelling, and can encourage scarring. Apply your favorite paste or product and cover with concealer.
Do you have good daily habits for flawless skin? Please share your tips with our readers.