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Healthy, clear, and beautiful skin starts with good habits. It’s the smart choices you make throughout the years that add up and pay off. What people usually get wrong is thinking the fate of their skin’s future is all based on genetics. While we are genetically programmed from birth to age a certain way (called intrinsic aging), genetics are now only thought to be responsible for 20-30% of aging. The other 70%-80% is up to you. Caring for your skin the right way, day in and day out, is essential. My 34 expert tips will make a world of difference if you follow them faithfully.
1. NEVER, EVER, USE A BAR OF SOAP ON YOUR FACE OR ANY CLEANSER THAT LEAVES YOUR SKIN FEELING DRY.
The binders that hold a bar of soap together are in an alkaline base (high pH balance). This strips all the water and natural oils from the skin, causing the skin’s surface to dehydrate. Your skin cells need moisture in order to be healthy. Without water, acne, sensitivity, and dry skin become aggravated and worsen. Even if the manufacturers of the soap claim it’s moisturizing, it will still strip the skin, no matter what.
The rule for any cleanser is: More lather, more drying. Less lather, less drying. So, when choosing a cleanser, always look for the words ‘sulfate-free’ on the bottle. This implies that harsh detergents were removed from the formula so it’s safer and gentler for your face. My very favorite recommendation for super-sensitive skin is Moisture Protecting Cleanser (it is SO GOOD!) but I have many other non-drying, sulfate-free cleansers for the various skin types.
2. AVOID USING TONER THAT CONTAINS SD ALCOHOL 40 OR DENATURED ALCOHOL.
Many people like the clean and tight feeling associated with using alcohol on the skin. Unfortunately, though, alcohol strips the skin of water. This, then, results in dead cell buildup and dullness. Trying to dry oily skin with harsh ingredients like alcohol actually has the opposite effect. As a reaction to the drying ingredient, the skin increases oil production as part of its healing and balancing processes. Toners without alcohol are very important for removing drying chlorines, salts and minerals found in tap water. Think of a toner as the rinse cycle for your skin after cleansing. Make sure to use a toner both morning and night after cleansing. Check out my recommendations for alcohol-free toners.
Pro tip: Always leave your toner damp before applying your serum or moisturizer. This helps seal the toner’s hydrating benefits deep into the skin. Also, using these Toning Cloths will help you maximize your toner. They absorb far less than traditional cotton balls and pads, resulting in less product waste.
3. BE MINDFUL OF HOW YOU SLEEP ON YOUR PILLOW AT NIGHT.
This may come as a surprise, but did you know the second cause of wrinkles is sleeping? After sunlight/UV exposure, squishing your face into a pillow for approximately 2,500 hours per year while you sleep is like ironing wrinkles into the skin. If you’re someone who wants to prevent premature wrinkles on your face, you might want to consider giving serious thought to how you lie on your pillow. Here’s how I sleep.
4. GET REGULAR FACIALS FROM AN EXPERIENCED ESTHETICIAN.
It’s a fact that a proper home care routine is essential in keeping your skin healthy and looking beautiful. However, when your home skincare products aren’t giving you the results you want, it’s time seek a professional’s help. As the skin ages, circulation and metabolism slow down, resulting in dull, tired-looking skin. One of the benefits of a facial is that it increases circulation, resulting in healthier, glowing skin. Additionally, deep pore cleansing facials are a must for controlling clogged pores and breakouts. Here are more reasons why facials are so beneficial for your skin. How often should you get a facial? It all depends on your skin type. Read more.
5. ALWAYS CHOOSE PRODUCTS RECOMMENDED FOR YOUR SKIN TYPE.
Your friend may tell you about some fabulous product that she loves or you’ll read in a magazine about a product that a celebrity uses, but that doesn’t mean it will work for your skin. The main reason you may not show improved results is that they aren’t suited to your skin’s specific needs. If you’re still buying products based on the basic dry, normal and oily skin types (and your skin is anything but that!), take this Skin Type Quiz. It will help you learn what your skin really requires for it to look and feel its best.
6. EXFOLIATE REGULARLY WITH AN ACID-BASED EXFOLIATOR.
Studies show that exfoliation from acids like glycolic, salicylic and lactic is extremely beneficial for reducing the appearance of past sun damage, smoothing and softening the skin, clearing clogged pores and increasing cell turnover rate (which slows with age). Other exfoliants try their best, but these acids work deep within the pores to deliver amazing, visible results. The word “acid” can sound scary, but there are many gentle formulas available. The right formulation for your skin will deliver results without causing redness or irritation. See this collection of gentle acid serums, and be sure to use them as directed. Confused about exfoliation? Here’s everything you need to know.
7. UP YOUR PREVENTATIVE STRATEGIES SO YOUR SKIN CAN AGE IN A HEALTHY WAY.
Now more than ever, there is so much awareness about preventing the appearance of lines, wrinkles, and loss of tone. Often, though, people are confused about where to start. Read my Beginner’s Guide to Anti-Aging.
8. IF YOU HAVE ACNE-PRONE SKIN, LIMIT THE USE OF PRODUCTS DESIGNED FOR PROBLEM SKIN.
Sounds weird, right? Let me explain. A skincare line geared towards acne is designed to fight bacteria and dry up breakouts. For someone whose skin is covered in severe acne (like, perhaps, a teenager) this may appropriate. However, for most people who get some breakout activity (but not on the majority of their face), acne products can worsen it. These products can be extremely drying. Although they will help dry and heal breakouts currently on the skin, they will also over-dry other non-broken out areas. This results in dry, dead skin cell buildup. This new cell buildup then acts as a barrier, trapping oil under the skin causing more clogged pores and breakouts. So your effort to clear up your skin may actually cause you to break out more!
The most important steps for controlling clogged pores and breakouts are to exfoliate with a salicylic acid product (I recommend BHA Clarifying Serum) and to keep the skin hydrated and balanced. Salicylic acid will effectively penetrate the pore lining to reduce acne-causing bacteria. It also prevents dry skin cells, which reduces clogged pores and smoothes the skin. This amazing ingredient is also found in Rapid Response Detox Masque. It’s very effective for PREVENTING breakouts. Exfoliation also helps fade red, post-breakout marks, resulting in more even-toned skin. Read these 17 tips to prevent blemishes.
9. WHEN CONSIDERING GETTING BOTOX OR FILLERS, MAKE SURE YOU’RE DOING IT FOR THE RIGHT REASONS.
Many people quickly resort to getting cosmetic procedures after looking in the mirror and getting frustrated with how their skin looks. It’s very important, however, to make an educated decision before you take the plunge. Read this.
10. AVOID THE FOLLOWING INGREDIENTS IN SKIN CARE PRODUCTS:
- Mineral Oil and Petrolatum (may be pore-clogging, leading to breakouts and closed comedones)
- SD Alcohol 40 and Denatured Alcohol (the “bad” alcohol commonly found in toners–extremely drying)Isopropyl Myristate & Isopropyl Palmitate (may cause blackheads)
- Synthetic dyes (can be a skin irritant; listed as “F D & C #” on the ingredient list)
- Sodium or Ammonium Laureth/Lauryl Sulfate in gel cleansers (drying and irritating to the skin’s moisture barrier)
- Synthetic fragrances (the #1 cause of allergic reactions to products; listed as “Fragrance,” “Parfum,” or “Perfume” on the ingredient list)
- Plastic exfoliating beads (commonly used in facial scrubs; have been proven to negatively affect marine life in the Great Lakes by slipping through water treatments; listed as “polyethylene” or “polypropylene”)
- Walnut husks, kernels, or seed/ shell powders (naturally made particles found in facial scrubs that can scratch and irritate the skin, causing bacteria to spread)
Of course, all of the products in the Renée Rouleau line DO NOT use any of these ingredients.
11. AVOID DAIRY PRODUCTS IF YOUR SKIN IS PRONE TO BREAKOUTS.
Many people have heard that greasy foods and chocolate cause breakouts. In my experience, when the breakout is cyst-like in the chin and jawline area, most often it is related to too much ice cream, yogurt, milk and/or cheese. Try cutting dairy out of your diet for three weeks and see if there’s an improvement. Read more about why dairy causes breakouts and consider using Anti Cyst Treatment if needed.
12. WEAR A SUNSCREEN IN YOUR MOISTURIZER DAILY, 365 DAYS A YEAR, RAIN OR SHINE.
Studies indicate that 78% of sun exposure is incidental exposure. You may say, “I’m not out at all during the day.” However, just walking to your car, driving, and sitting in your house next to windows can result in unnecessary sun damage from wrinkle-causing UVA rays. And we know that sun exposure is the #1 cause of aging! If you want to prevent wrinkles and skin cancer, use a minimum of SPF 30 every day, all year round. Daily Protection SPF 30 is great as a daily moisturizer because it’s so lightweight and won’t clog pores or cause breakouts.
13. GIVE YOURSELF REGULAR MINI FACIALS AT HOME.
Simultaneously take some “me time” and condition your skin. At-home facials can reveal softer, clearer, smoother and younger-looking skin. Doing so can truly give your skin extra results, above and beyond your normal skincare routine. Cleanse skin to remove all traces of makeup, then exfoliate with a mild facial scrub. Apply a hydrating serum and seal it in with a nourishing facial mask. Run warm water in the tub, sprinkle in some mineral bath salts, light a candle, play soft music and create your own spa at home. Your skin loves the attention and your mind loves the relaxation. Read how to give your skin an at-home facial.
14. USE A RETINOID OR RETINOL PRODUCT AT NIGHT.
Aside from sunscreen, the best, scientifically proven ingredient for smoothing the skin’s texture and lessening lines and wrinkles is retinol. It’s stronger counterpart is a prescription retinoid like Retin-A, Retin-A Micro, Differin, Renova or Avita. If your skin is sensitive or you are new to vitamin A, start with this formula. It’s never too late to start using retinol; if you’re not already using one you definitely need to. New to retinol? Here’s everything you need to know to get started.
15. BE CAUTIOUS WHEN USING A DAILY SONIC CLEANSING BRUSH, LIKE CLARISONIC.
Clarisonic is a skin care tool sold at specialty beauty stores. It uses a soft, gentle brush that oscillates back and forth over the skin. It’s promoted as a tool that “removes six times more makeup than cleansing by hand.” Yet to me, the Clarisonic brush is really just an exfoliating tool designed to physically lift off dry skin cells and, in the process, remove dirt and makeup. Exfoliation is the action that the bristles create when rubbed over the skin.
My problem with Clarisonic is not the brush itself because there are certainly benefits to regular exfoliation. My concern is how often the company recommends using it. They say it’s gentle enough to use twice daily, but it is my belief that this is way too much when combined with other exfoliating products you are probably already using. While it may feel gentle enough to use twice a day, you have to understand how exfoliation affects the skin. The Clarisonic brush, facial scrubs, acids, enzymes, peels or whatever you use to exfoliate with can cause skin damage and even premature aging if used too frequently. I have seen so many people with irritated, dry, pigmented or broken out skin from using a sonic brush twice daily. Read my full review of the Clarisonic.
16. ALWAYS WASH YOUR FACE IN THE MORNING.
I’m sure you all know the importance of washing your skin before bed, but many skip the step in the morning thinking their skin is already clean and free of makeup from the night before. The reason why it’s imperative to cleanse in the morning is that while you sleep, your skin is in repair mode. It secretes toxins and sebum (oil), which can prevent your daytime products from working most effectively. When you wash your skin in the morning, you’re removing those toxins and sebum. Furthermore, you’re removing your nighttime products so that your daytime products (particularly SPF moisturizer) can be more effective.
Finally, nighttime products often contain ingredients (such as acids and retinol) that are suitable for night, not the day. These should be cleansed from the skin to avoid any reactions or potential irritation. While washing your face in the morning may seem like just another tedious task in your daily routine, know that it is a key step in ensuring healthy, beautiful skin.
17. USE A SKIN OIL TO TREAT DRY SKIN FROM CLIMATE AND AIRPLANE TRAVEL.
It’s a fact that dry, dull and flaky skin can be caused by airplane travel, retinoid use, rosacea, eczema, sunburn, windburn, winter, dry climate, Accutane, and excessive exfoliation. Why does dry skin occur? Your skin has a moisture barrier made of natural lipids that keep moisture in the skin and irritants out. When this barrier is damaged, it creates tiny, invisible cracks in the skin that allow moisture to escape. This results in dry, dull, and flaky skin. Additionally, irritants can enter more easily, making skin red and sensitive. Adding a skin oil to your routine will effectively repair your skin’s moisture barrier. It keeps the skin moist and healthy-looking, especially during the winter.