Let’s face it – it’s tough to maintain clear skin in the long run. Often times we’re tempted with a snack that we know will cause a breakout, but it’s near impossible to resist. Or we’ll slip up and forget to change our pillowcase one night. Any of these small acts, while seemingly “small”, can have undesirable implications for the health of your skin. If you want to be satisfied with the way your skin looks on a daily basis, diligence and patience is key.
Read on to find out some of the common skincare practices that anyone can incorporate into their lives to begin on their journey of maintaining clear skin in the long run.
1) Drink an adequate amount of water.
There’s a reason water is called the essence of life. We use it on an everyday basis – cooking, showering, watering our gardens – the possibilities are endless. And guess what? It helps to keep your skin clear as well!
Hydration is a basic requirement for skincare. People will advise that you simply drink water, but it’s important to stress that you must drink an adequate amount of water each day. This amount will vary, of course, depending on several factors. These factors include: age, level of activity, and sex, among others. To put it simply, adults (19+) should aim for 3.7L (males) and 2.7L (females) on a daily basis. This is approximately 15 and 11 cups respectively. Children should look to consume 1.25L (5 cups), and teenagers age 14-18 2L to 2.75L (8 to 11 cups).
Then there is the question of how much you are exercising. If you are mostly sedentary throughout the day (that is, not doing a whole lot of moving), you will likely be just fine with the recommended amount above. If you are the type to jump on the treadmill or pump iron on a regular basis, you will most likely require more hydration. Your body will give you signals of this, of course, through feelings of dehydration as evident by a dry mouth of throat.
As a general guideline, go ahead and follow the recommendations above to ensure that you are, at the very least, drinking an adequate amount of water. Doing so will allow your body to flush out toxins, which will contribute to clearer skin in the long run.
2) Change your bedding often
Other than providing a feeling of freshness, clean sheets will also help in keeping your skin clear. This isn’t just to benefit your face, but also your entire body. If you’ve ever struggled with acne on your back or chest, this will be the greatest contributing factor for you to see any changes in the health of your skin.
The logic behind this should be a no-brainer – when you rest your face on your pillowcase, you are embedding your sweat and any dirt on your face onto the pillowcase. If you leave your pillowcase alone and allow these substances to settle in, your face will be resting on a dirty surface for eight hours every single night. Imagine putting in the effort to cleanse your face every night only to reverse the cleanliness by forgetting to execute this single, simple action of swapping your pillowcases on a regular basis. Not very efficient! You might say: “But if I wash my face when I wake up in the morning, that should wash away the sweat and dirt, right?” Well, yes – however, I like to compare it to marinating chicken. You lay your face down on your dirty pillow as you sleep and allow your skin to settle into the sweaty, bacteria-infested pillowcase for hours on end. Even if you wash your face after doing so, you will not be able to reverse the effects of allowing your skin to be in contact with your dirty pillowcase for such an extended period of time. All of this rings true for all types of bedding, not just your pillowcase. Make sure to be aware of when you last changed your duvet cover, your various bed sheets, and your pillow case.
The lesson here: Change your bedding on a regular basis!
3) Be acutely aware of your diet
This is a tough one as it requires a lot of trial and error. What’s important here is realizing what foods cause you to break out and taking steps to eliminate these foods from your diet for good. I say to “take steps” because some of these foods aren’t so easy to get rid of! We all need our fix of junk food at some point. However, learning to remove these foods will help you on your path to clearer skin in no time.
There are several sources that will tell you that you should avoid high glycemic index foods as these tend to cause an insulin spike, which leads to flare-ups and inflammation. Although a simplified solution, this is a good starting point to figure out your diet. High-glycemic foods are those that cause a dramatic rise in your blood glucose (sugar) after consumption. Examples include white bread, potato chips, soda, juice, candy, pasta, and white rice, among many others. As you can see, these are not easy foods to give up.
I mentioned that figuring out your diet to reduce acne flare-ups is tough, and that’s because it can depend on the individual. Personally, I have to stay away from dairy as this is my acne kryptonite. Milk? Can’t do it. Cheese? Out of the question. Yogurt? Don’t even think about it. However, my sister (who also has a history with battling acne) has no problems with consuming dairy! So, it’s tough because you have to test certain foods and food groups to create a better understanding of your own acne kryptonite. In general, however, you should take the advice of the public – avoid high glycemic index foods to eliminate dramatic spikes in blood sugar (leading to inflammation) and work your way outwards from there.
4) Be wary of stress producing activities, and how to de-stress
Stress is something that is ultimately unavoidable. Every one of us will experience stress in some form at several points in life, whether it stems from finances, relationships, or other sources. Studies have found that stress is directly correlated to skin inflammation and acne flare-ups. Naturally then, we would want to reduce the amount of stress we put ourselves through on a daily basis.
Again, I have to put emphasis on the fact that stress is unavoidable. If you have a job, you’re going to experience stress. If you go to school, you’ll also experience stress. If you have bills to pay, you’ll likely stress about that to some degree. The question, then, is just how can we reduce this stress to the point where it either feels non-existent or simply does not faze us when it occurs? Fortunately, there are several practices that exist that focus on targeting this exact issue. Not everything will work with everyone, so some experimentation is necessary.
Try the age-old practice of yoga. Depending on your physical ability, this activity can either be calm and gentle or physically demanding. Either way, the purpose of yoga is to self-soothe through holding physical poses (asanas), breath control exercises, and simple meditation. It helps to open one’s mind and connect their physical self to their spiritual being. Sounds bogus, I know, but this won’t make much sense until you actually give it a try. Yoga is popular for a reason – it promotes the well-being of one’s mind and body to build a stronger self. For this reason, it’s a common recommendation for a stress relieving activity. Other variants include Tai Chi and Qigong.
Another activity to relieve stress lies on the other end of the “relaxation” spectrum – lifting weights, or simple physical exercise. Exercise has been shown to reduce stress and will result in you being in a significantly better mood post-session. It doesn’t matter how you get it done, you just need to start (this is true of many aspects of life!). Grab your runners and hit the trail. Throw on the wrist wraps and lift that barbell. Slap on the boxing gloves and knock the hell out of that punching bag. You’ll feel a lot better, both physically and mentally, when you incorporate physical exercise into your life. Less stress means fewer acne flare-ups. Grab your water bottle and get to it!
There you have it – 4 simple practices that you can incorporate into your daily life to aid you on your journey to clear skin. It sounds simple enough, but often times it really isn’t. Remember to take it slow if you need to – you’ll want to do all of these at once for optimal results, but don’t feel like you have to immediately start guzzling water to meet your daily quota. It’s important to reach this quota but if your body isn’t used to it, take it slow!
Stay tuned for more tips on how to improve your skin health in the long run.