We are living amazing yet dangerous times. Never have we ever lived so long in such peace and prosperity. It is fantastic that our life style and conditions have changed in such a way to allow us to discover more and live full, enlightened and long lifes. That however, comes with the price of pollution, inadequate eating habits, over consumption, sedentarity, sleepless nights and overmedication. We can now live above 100, but with the kind of exposure we get, it doesn't mean that we can keep a healthy, young and beautiful body until then. Modern surgery has found ways to help us preserve beauty for longer. Unfortunately, everything comes at a price that we either can’t afford or aren’t willing to pay.
Because we know that you are the kind of woman that always strives for the best, likes to be in control of her life and the best at everything, including skin care, we have prepared a little guide on how to protect your skin from all the harming elements that your skin is exposed to.
We know that some of you are struggling either with acne or with dryness. Others may have started to see the first signs of aging. And many of you are struggling with either a combination or with all of these problems. That’s why, we thought it’s important to start a series in which we take you through some steps you can follow in order to build an adequate skin care routine and address these problems.
We will take you through the most common conditions that get in the way of your perfect skin target. We will provide you with the causes of these conditions, with prevention methods as well as a recommended skin care routine adapted for each condition.
The first little monster that we want to teach you how to defeat is acne.
We all thought acne is something that you deal with as a teenager and after a certain age, this bad dream just stops. Unfortunately, while deep into adulthood, for some unlucky ones, acne still pops up when least expected and, seemingly, without any logical explanation.
This ugly beast occurs when hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells. It can manifest through pimples, whiteheads, blackheads, lumps or cysts and can be located on your face, neck, chest or back. The degrees of pain that it causes varies from none to strong.
The most important things to know about acne is that, firstly, it is a very common skin condition and secondly, although it seems hard to believe while you’re affected by it, it is treatable. We are very much aware that acne can easily make you fall into despair. But with a few precautions and an adequate skin care routine, it can be corrected and prevented for the future.
In order to control such a beast, it is necessary to know what is causing it, firstly.
What causes acne
There are three main factors that cause acne:
1. Excessive oil production
If your skin is producing too much oil (sebum), then, what basically happens is that the hair follicle - the part of the skin that is producing the hair - gets flooded with this oil and starts producing a little bump.
When the spot is also painful, it is a sign that a small infection due to bacteria has developed.
3. Excess activity of androgens
Androgens are the so called “male hormones”. Of course, you shouldn’t let the name fool you: both male and female produce this type of hormones. It’s just the quantities that differ.
In men’s body, it is the androgens that give the manly look :). In women’s body, they are necessary for the production of estrogen (the “female hormone”) and play a key role in the prevention of bone loss, sexual desire and satisfaction. Acne is the effect of high androgens levels.
On top of these main three, we also add:
Until let’s say a decade ago, the research wasn’t very clear on the relation between diet and acne. But recently, both dermatologists and nutritionists started paying more attention to this connection.
Recent studies have proved that while the omega-6 fatty acids (found in poultry, eggs, nuts) triggered inflammation, the omega-3 (found in fish and seafood) ones decreased inflammation. Other studies also pointed out that sebum production is increased by the consumption of dietary fat or carbohydrates. Consuming more milk and dairy products also showed higher chances of acne.
We guess this one doesn’t need any introduction. It manifests in all sorts of sneaky ways, causes all sorts of conditions and diseases and has become, basically, our partner in crime. Whatever we don’t do to ourselves through diet, sedentarity and all sorts of vices, stress manages to do to us.
Acne can be one of the way through which it manifests.
You’d probably be surprised to hear, but acne is more genetic than environmental.
Genetics are the ones that determine how your skin reacts to certain stimuli or how easily your pores clog. For example, you might have a hereditary tendency to break out. The chances are quite high if your parents dealt with this type of problem as well.
7. Inadequate skin care routine
Stress, genes, diet - all can contribute to the way your skin looks like. But if there’s one thing that can definitely affect and can have a long term impact over the health of your skin that would be your skin care routine. And what we’ve learned from both personal experience and from the ladies that struggled with skin problems is that inadequate skin care routine is very common, especially when it comes to acne.
A lot of people assume that they have oily skin just because they struggle with pimples. But acne doesn’t discriminate based on skin type. People with dry skin can have acne too.
That’s why we think that it is essential to consult a specialist if you deal with skin issues, in order to determine your type of skin, the exact type of problem and to get a proper recommendation for an adapted skin care routine. Because there are certain types of products that you’re supposed to use to solve the problems and to get the radiant, healthy , glowing skin you’re aiming for.
How to prevent acne
When it comes to acne, there are a lot of things that are out of our control. But some depend strictly on us and our discipline. Here’s a list of habits that you have to develop in order to prevent acne:
Keep your face clean
We can’t stress this enough! Cleansing and toning are steps that never, under no circumstances and without exception should be skipped. During the day our skin is exposed to make-up, dust, debris and all sorts of pollutants which can only be properly removed through cleansing and toning.
This should be carried out twice per day: once in the morning and once in the evening.
During the night, your skin is facing the pillow, which can be a source of dust. Moreover, sebum is produced in higher quantities during the night, so that skin repairs itself. So it is important that in the morning, before applying your make-up, you wash off the extra oils produced.
Before going to sleep it is also essential you take off your make-up. Make-up is not only a pollutant for your face, but it is also a cause for premature aging. So make sure you clean it off properly.
Once in a while, preferably every 10 days, we recommend gently scrubbing. This way you remove the dead skin and unclog your pores. We underline the gentleness as rough scrubbing can have the opposite effect of causing breakouts.
While we are at it, we would also like to create some awareness about micro-plastics. Most scrubbing products use tiny plastic particles. Because they end up in water, those micro-plastics have a catastrophic effect on the environment. Not to mention that they get in contact with your face. So, as a environmentally friendly measure, we recommend using scrubs with natural scrubbing elements. Pumice stone, apricot stones, coffee ground, charcoal are only a few examples of natural exfoliants.
The key to a glowing, healthy skin is hydration. By hydration we understand the amount of water that stays inside. The more water, the better. That’s why it is important to drink your 2 litres per day. But it is also important to keep the water in. During the day, the water in your body evaporates. And that’s where the moisturizer intervenes. The moisturizer locks the moisture into your skin.
It is important, however, to choose the right moisturizer for your type of skin. If you’re going through a breakout, it is preferable you avoid synthetic fragrances or essential oils which can have an irritant effect.
To help with acne prevention, we advise the use of fragrance-free, natural moisturizer.
For tips and tricks and factors that you have to consider when choosing your moisturizer, check out our article on How to Build a Skin Care Routine for all Skin Types.
Use acne adapted products
If you’re dealing with a breakout, it is about time you start using some dedicated products. As acne dedicated products have an astringent, antibiotic and ultimately drying effect, we advice using them locally, on the damaged area, and not on your entire face.
A tea tree oil blemish stick or citric oil applied directly on the pimple - disinfects and dries the area, without affecting the rest of your face.
Keep your hair clean
Maybe this is not so obvious, but quite important tip, especially if you have long hair. The oils from your hair transfer on your face and contribute to the pores’ clogging. It is for this reason that is it important to wash your hair often. And as an extra, clean hair guarantees admiration glances.
Keep your hands off your face
We are very much aware this is a tough one! Especially if you have painful blemishes. But just think about it: you touch the keyboard with your hands, you touch the bus doors, you cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough. And most probably you don’t immediately wash your hands after all these. Hands are a little germs paradise. And those germs move on your face if you don’t stop touching. And then, your face becomes germs paradise and acne hell! So stop touching your face!
Resist the urge to pop!
First of all, there’s more to a zit than meets the eye. What we mean by that is that a zit is deeper than just what you see on the surface of the skin. When you pop the zit, you’re most probably focusing only on the first layer and you don’t take out the root. Leaving the root in will only lead to the creation of a new small infection. And this will go on until the root is removed. On the long term, this can lead to stains or even scars.
Not to mention, when you pop the zit, you risk creating a bigger infection, because you create a small incision into your skin and you leave it open to the bacterias on your hands or on your nails. That’s why we recommend leaving the popping to the specialists: dermatologists or estheticians.
But if you absolutely must, make sure you properly wash your hands before, cover your nails in clean cloth or fabric and hold the fingers parallel to the skin. Press around the zit and not on the zit. If it doesn’t come out easily, it means it’s not ready to come, so STOP! If it comes out, make sure everything is out. Press until instead of blood, there is limfa - a transparent liquid. Apply alcohol on the spot and, if handy, an antibiotic cream or a disinfectant oil - such as tea tree oil or citric oil.
Skincare routine for oily skin
Because sometimes it is difficult to identify your skin type and maybe you’re not sure if you have an oily or a combination skin, we thought it would be a good idea to explain to you the differences.
Oily skin is characterised by a higher production of sebum than needed, large pores and shiny complexion. It is usually a struggle to keep the shine down during the day. Blackheads and pimples are usually an issue. On the bright side, you never get dryness feeling or itchiness, when you have an oily skin. Moreover, it will most likely take longer for you to get wrinkles, once you reach that age.
To put it in a simple language, combination skin means that your skin struggles with different problems in the same time. Symptoms for combination skin are usually shiny skin, large pores and zits on forehead, nose and chin - also known as the T-zone and dry skin on the other parts of the face.
The distinction is important for your skin care routine, as different types of ingredients have to be used for the two types of skin.
We’re gonna take you through the steps that you have to follow in order to keep under control your oily or combination skin. We’re going to structure in a morning routine and evening routine. The steps are similar, just the types of products differ.
If you have oily skin, then we recommend for the morning cleansing a foaming gel or wash lotion with glycolic acid. It gently breaks down impurities and excess sebum.
For combination skin, a cleansing milk would be more appropriate, as it combines ingredients specific to both dry and oily skin. As such, it nourishes the dry parts and balances the oily ones.
For oily skin, we recommend a toner with salicylic acid. It gently exfoliates and removes dead skin, while also increasing cell turnover and collagen production.
For combination skin, we recommend a toner with lactic acid which gently hydrates the skin.
Normally, after cleansing and toning, the next step would be moisturizing. But since we are dealing with skin that produces too much sebum, a lighter product is recommended. Moisturizers are products based on oils whose purpose is to keep the water in. Serums on the other hand, are water based products, which are better suited for an oily skin, hydrating without creating an oily feeling.
For a combination skin, a light moisturizer or a combination of serum and moisturizer is recommended. If you go for both serum and moisturizer, make sure you first apply the serum - which is a hydrating product and only after you lock in the water with the moisturizer.
For the evening, for both oily and combination skin, we recommend switching to an adapted micellar water as it gently cleanses the skin without creating any sort of imbalance. This is also a better make-up remover than the foaming gel. And it doesn’t require the use of toner afterwards. However, if you feel more comfortable with the latter, stick to that.
Exfoliation should be done only once in a while, preferably every 10 days. But don’t skip it. It is important to unclog the pores and remove the dead skin. Use fragrance-free, natural exfoliators/scrubs.
After using the scrub, we recommend putting on a mask to help the skin regenerate and feed it with all the nourishing, hydrating ingredients it needs. Because you use this on freshly scrubbed face and you apply it in thich layer, we recommend paying attention to the ingredients and make sure you give your skin the best!
Keep it natural, colour and preferably, fragrance-free.
In the evening, it is recommended to use moisturizer for both types of skin, especially since during the night the skin regenerates. Since your skin is already prone to producing more oils than necessary, go for a light moisturizer, fragrance free and dedicated to your type of skin.
We hope this will help you tame the beast! Don’t forget to do it in a conscious way!
With love for you and for the planet,
Looca Beauty Team