Top Tips for Clear Skin
Having suffered with acne since my teens, I have come to learn one golden rule; "There is no such thing as perfect skin, there is no secret to clearer skin". Nobody’s skin is perfect. Clever cameras, make-up and good lighting can give anyone that 'flawless' finish. So I'm not going to promise you that the tips below will give you perfect skin, for me, it's something that doesn't exist. BUT, what I can give you is tips and advice, tried and tested methods from over 10 years of experimenting (and still experimenting!) on how to improve your skin and get it into peak condition,
And remember, acne is normal! Nine out of ten people have it so you're not alone. A combination of hormones, genetics, diet and external factors all contribute to a multitude of acne problems.
1. Water - yes, that worn out five letter word that is instantly thrown at anyone who is suffering with acne. BUT, it's with good reason. Think about your daily water intake, are you really getting your eight glasses a day? (Plus one for luck!). Water flushes out the toxins in your system, cleansing you from the inside out. So try replacing a few of your fizzy drinks with a tall glass of H2O, and try keeping a log to ensure you're getting enough! Make sure your up your intake during the warmer months and try eating more water soluble fruits such as grapes for an addition boost.
2. Sleep - When you sleep, your skin takes this opportunity to heal, renew and rejuvenate. Studies have shown that those who are getting enough sleep (around seven to eight and a half hours per night) can reduce their stress levels - stress can cause your skin to become dry and dull, causing you to breakout. Remember, it's not called beauty sleep for nothing! A top tip for sleeping is to try to sleep on your back. Sleeping on your back allows gravity to give you a 'natural' face-lift, and means you will not be sleeping with your hair, pillow or quilt rubbing against your face and transferring bacteria. Ideally, you should change your pillowcase once a week.
3. Exercise - Exercising increases and improves your blood circulation and, lowers stress levels (by releasing endorphins). An improved circulation helps your cells to renew and your body to move toxins out of your system. By lowering your stress levels, you can reduce breakouts. Before exercising, I would always recommend removing any make up or thick product from your face. These mixed with the sweat from exercising will clog up your pores. Also, after exercising, make sure you cleanse your skin to remove all traces of dirt and sweat.
4. Food - Aim to include food and drink high in antioxidants in your diet. Antioxidants are amazing things that cleanse your system, removing toxins and impurities. So try including some of the following in your diet; strawberries, grapes, pineapple, kiwi, red cabbage, peppers, apricots, soybeans, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds and green tea. Also, look for foods high in vitamin E - a skin-loving nutrient that will aid in improving your skin, for example; sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, kale, olives, kiwis and tomatoes. Notice how some of those foods fall into both categories? Also, try to avoid over consumption of foods high in fat, these excess fats can cause excess oils which, when excreted through your pores, can cause a buildup of bacteria, resulting in those pesky breakouts. Be sure to wash around your mouth/chin area as well as your hands after eating to remove excess oils and grease from the skin.
5. Moisturize - For a while, I thought that moisturizing was what caused my oily skin. Avoiding moisturizing your skin for that reason though can then cause your skin to dry out. If your skin feels under moisturized, it will start to produce excess sebum, thus resulting in oilier skin and a bacterium build up. Select a moisturizer that is right for your skin type and always look for those that include an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15. Remember to change your moisturiser with the seasons, something lighter during summer and thicker during winter to help combat the change in weather.
6. Know your skin type - Knowing your skin type will help you select the right products for your skin. Be it oily, dry, sensitive or a combination, knowing your skin means you will select the right products designed to work with that skin type. Using products for oily skin on dry skin will cause dry skin to become dryer etc, so know before you buy! Even if you don't have sensitive skin, I would always say treat it as if you do,. Avoid harsh chemicals, alcohol based products and go organic if possible.
7. Using products - I do believe that products can help immensely with skin care, but buying the most expensive product on the shelf does not mean you will get the best results. You have to find the right products for you. Avoid alcohol-based toners and they dry out the skin, and keep exfoliating to once a week for normal skin, twice a week for oily. Treat yourself to face masks, clay based are fantastic for removing deep-rooted impurities. Steam your face to open pores and add a few drops of lemon to turn the steam into a cleanser, which will cleanse deep into the open pores. Try to minimise the amount of lotions and potions you put on your face, and look for multi-purpose products such as balms and salves. Always wash your hands before application of any product, and if you use brushes or sponges, be sure to wash them at least once a week as they can build up quickly with bacteria, grime and dead skin cells.
8. Understanding your skin - Understanding why you break out in certain areas can help you understand which parts of your diet and lifestyle needs improving. Check out my hub on face mapping for a more in-depth look at the internal factors than cause acne in certain 'zones' of the face.
9. Go Natural - Do you dare to bare? Try having a few make-up free days in the week, allowing your skin to breathe. If you find it impossible to leave the house without any make up on, then make sure you remove it as soon as you get home for the day, and take it off properly. Make up residue left behind on your skin will clog your pores. (As will using dirty make up brushes, so aim to clean them at least twice a week and air dry). Try going natural with some of your products too. There are some great home made remedies you can search for online for face masks, toners and cleansers etc that are made of all natural things found in most kitchens. Not only will these be a treat for your skin, they could also save you money.
10. Don't look for short cuts - You cannot clear up your skin over night. It’s a process that can take some time, understanding your skin, changing your habits, lifestyle and diet, trying out new products etc. It all takes time. Start believing you will have clear skin, mind over matter. I strongly believe in the power of thought, how your thinking can almost train and alter your body and behavior in certain ways.
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