Taking care of your body can be such a chore sometimes, am I right? Especially with all the products on the shelves, and the pretty packaging, and the lofty promises, and all of the celebrities with their faves and their specific routines.
How do you navigate through it all to find what actually works according to science, but also what works for you as an individual?
Cuz let’s face it. What works for that famous (paid) IG influencer, might not work so well for you.
Because every body is different.
Luckily, we all have the same basic needs. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make a few tweaks here and there to fit YOU.
So how do you do it?
How do you navigate all the products and routines and media vomit to find what works for you?
I’m going to break down the biggest myths about skin care that the media is feeding you right now. Backed up by research. And I’m going to give you some suggestions on what you can do instead to save yourself some moolah and still have your skin looking its best.
Are you ready for this?
Let’s jump right in.
1. Use this miracle ingredient to get your most perfect skin.
You know those “holy grail” ingredients you keep hearing about? I’m not just talking about skin care here. I’m talking about nutrition (like tumeric and kale), natural hair (apple cider vinegar), as well as skin care (eggs and other proteins). Yeah…they’re not a thing. The media decides your “superfoods” and “holy grails.” Take a look at celery juice. If you’ve been following some of the health trends out there, you may have heard about the celery juice phenomenon. But let’s be honest. Who wants to drink celery juice? I mean, the only benefit of eating celery was to get the fiber. But the juice?
Well, celery juice is being raved about for its properties in improving Crohn’s, colitis, IBS, digestion, bloating, acne, high cholesterol, inflammation, liver health, high blood pressure, addiction, and mental illness.
Really? Celery for mental illness and addiction?
Despite all of the lofty claims, there’s no actual research to back any of it up. Meaning, the benefits of celery juice are probably overrated. Or it could mean that more research is needed.
But that doesn’t mean you should avoid these ingredients when you hear about them. Generally speaking, most of them aren’t bad for you…unless you’re allergic, of course. Eat them. Put them on your body and in your hair if it makes you feel good. But you shouldn’t expect them to work miracles. Especially because you’ll be hearing about a new “holy grail” next month. Remember, everyone is individual, which means certain ingredients or products work great for some people and not for others. Instead of focusing on a single ingredient, you want to check out the whole list of ingredients using a more holistic view. Check out this post about the pitfalls of holy grail ingredients and how to get the most out of your skin care products.
2. If you don’t shower every day, you’re gross
Growing up, the mantra I heard from the media was that you were supposed to shower every day. It was the most hygienic, and only nasty people didn’t shower on a daily basis. You know where that mantra came from? Big companies wanting to sell more soap. Nowadays, any dermatologist worth their salt will tell you that showering every day can really do a lot of harm to your skin. Why? Because the human body wasn’t meant to be pelted with hot water and scrubbed with detergents on a daily basis. While a hot shower feels amazing, especially in the cold winter months, according to the Baylor School of Medicine, hot showers can damage the surface of your skin and even cause rashes. And harsh soaps can strip your skin of its natural oils and disrupt the balance of healthful bacteria on your skin. (Yes, you need bacteria on your skin to keep it healthy.) The alternative? Showering in lukewarm water. Meh. Or…you can stop showering every day. In fact, most dermatologists agree that showering a few times a week is more ideal than daily washings, depending on your lifestyle. But if you’re going to wash your body daily, you really only need to focus on a few important places…you know…armpits, groin, and other places that tend to sweat and create odor. No need to go to town on your whole body, especially if maintaining healthy skin is your ultimate goal.
3. Wash your face twice a day to keep acne at bay
We just talked about how dermatologists say you should be washing your body no more than a few times a week. So why does the media keep saying to wash your face 14 times a week? Think about that for a minute. Does that sound excessive to you? Depending on your lifestyle, it might very well be. Washing your face twice a day might be doing you more harm than good.
Lemme tell you a story.
Outside of puberty, I never had problems with my face until I became a consultant with a popular MLM brand that shall remain nameless (yes, I did the whole pyramid thing for a brief minute). I loved the company’s skin care products and tried to use them as consistently as I could according to their recommendations.That was the whole 5-step routine for morning and night.
And my acne was at its worst.
And that was weird for me because acne was never a problem. I troubleshooted everything from my diet to my hormones to try and figure out what was causing my breakouts. And eventually I decided to just return to my routine from middle school and high school. I stopped washing my face every day.
I can already hear the shocked gasps and sense the clutching of pearls.
But my skin cleared up immediately when I changed my routine. I now wash my face every other day in the dry season (that is, what passes for winter in Los Angeles), and no more than once a day in the summer.
And acne is a thing of my past.
All that’s to say that the “conventional wisdom” might be to selling you products instead of a functional skin care routine. Because the more frequently you’re washing your face, the more you’re using and replacing products, which means more money for big businesses.
If cleansing your face twice a day works for you, stick with that routine. But if you’re someone dealing with acne, eczema, and other skin conditions, consider what I’m saying. Maybe cut how often you wash your face (and your body) and see what happens. See if your skin improves. If it does, then you’ll be on to something and saving yourself a few $.
4. Use these 10 products in this order in the morning and evening to get glowing skin
K-beauty is all the rage right now. If you have the time for that, awesome. And if you have the finances to spend money on all of those products, more power to you. But the honest truth is, the effectiveness of your skin care routine doesn’t depend on the latest trends or how many products you use. What really makes a facial routine is your cleanser, your moisturizer, and your sunscreen. That’s it. That’s all you need. You know the mantra: less is more. It’s especially true when you consider that some of the products and services currently available on the market actually weaken your skin’s protective barrier rather than improve it.
One of the benefits of having a minimalistic skin care routine? Actually being able to figure out what works for your skin and what doesn’t. It’s hard to determine what’s causing your redness, your skin’s tightness, itchiness, or an allergic reaction when you have to navigate between 10 different products.
You might also notice that after a few weeks of just doing the basics with your skin care routine, any other skin issues may calm down or go away entirely. But if they don’t, then you’ll know what specific products or ingredients to start looking for that may be a good addition to your repertoire or may need to be removed. For example, if acne is your main concern, maybe look for a product with salicylic acid. Whatever your skin problem, only add one product at a time and make sure to use it consistently for 2 weeks to make sure it’s the right fit and meets your needs.
5. Expensive products are better
Except the price. The cosmetics industry spends billions of dollars each year on marketing and advertising. That includes on packaging, buzz word ingredients, and the “store experience.” But beneath the fancy label, consider this fact: most of the well-known brands we’ve all heard of are owned by a handful of major companies. For example, L’Oreal SA not only owns L’Oreal, but also Lancome, Giorgio Armani, Aussie, Kiehl’s, Urban Decay, Garnier, Maybelline, and Essie, among others.
That’s a lot brands that span the price spectrum of luxe to dollar store. According to a New York Times article, L’Oreal spent about 10 times more on advertising and promotion in 2005 than it did on research and development for its product lines. That’s all to say that your favorite Lancome face moisturizer could have more or less the same ingredients as the Maybelline face cream found in drug stores. But Maybelline costs a fraction of the price. It’s so easy to get drawn into a product’s pretty packaging and all of the promises it makes on the labels and in advertisements.
This is where it’s important to be skeptical. We all want to believe in the promises that these brands make. But in the grand scheme of things, it might be better to give your pocketbook a break, especially if your favorite luxe and drugstore brands turn out to be more or less the same. Always check the ingredients and make sure they justify the price you’re about to pay. Not sure where to start? Check out this article on 6 sign to look for that say the product ain’t worth the money.
6. “Chemical-free” products are better because they’re natural and safe
No one means any harm when they use the term “chemical free,” but to the people who tout it, I have only this to say: it doesn’t mean what you think it means.
Wikipedia says that most people (individuals and big companies alike) use the term “chemical free” to imply that their product is safe, healthy or environmentally friendly because it only contains natural ingredients.
The problem is that in real life, literally everything is made from chemicals. Table salt is sodium chloride. Citrus fruits like lemons and oranges contain citric acid. Club soda? That’s a bunch of water molecules and carbon dioxide. Not to mention all of the chemical reactions happening in our bodies every day that keep us alive. People tend to think “chemical-free” means the same thing as natural.
But there’s a problem with that thought process.
Take urushiol for instance. Never heard of it? It’s the oily resin that causes a rash on your skin when you touch poison ivy. Eucalyptus is another example. Those cute koalas can eat it because they have a specialized digestive system to break down the leaves and its chemicals. But in humans, and for many other animals, the essential oil from the eucalyptus leaves is toxic if ingested in large quantities.
And even with ingredients that we don’t normally think of as toxic, they can become toxic in the right dose. Remember, water is a toxin if you ingest too much of it. It’s rare, but under the right conditions, it’s still possible.
And there are allergens, which are specific to individuals (e.g. peanuts are natural, but there are plenty of people allergic to them).
The point is, be skeptical of “chemical free” and “natural” claims. Is that brand claiming to use natural, healthful ingredients? Or is that brand using that “chemical free” term to sell a product?
So what to do?
So we’ve just broken down 6 myths that the media and big companies have been feeding the public about hygiene, healthy bodies, and personal care. It seems like these folks are only in it for the money and may not have your best interests at heart, right? So, what’s a person to do?
Do you just pick products at random off store shelves and hope for the best?
Do you just never shower until someone calls you out on being particularly pungent?
Do you throw out your entire medicine cabinet and buy the most inexpensive, plainly packaged product with the most minimal ingredients you can find?
Don’t do it.
Especially the not showering part. You might lose your friends, and no one wants that.
So what should you do instead?
Well, I have suggestions. They won’t be easy, because there’s some trial and error involved. But it’ll be worth it in the long run.
So let’s jump into it.
Your Best Skin in 5 Steps
1. Understand your body.
That means understanding your skin and its needs. Do you naturally tend toward dryness, or is your dryness the result of using a poor quality soap? If you don’t know, then maybe it’s time to have a better understanding of your own body. Our bodies are incredibly good at telling us when something’s up if we take the time to listen. So, give your body a listen and make sure you really know what it needs and what it’s been missing.
2. Know your ingredients
Look for ingredients that you’ve had success with in the past. If you’re in an experimental stage, focus on one ingredient at a time, if you can, and make sure it’s listed near the top of the ingredients list (the top 5 would be best). Get to know how your body reacts to it. Look for ingredients that have research backing good results in addressing your specific needs. Also, avoid listening to what celebrities have to say about a particular product or ingredient. A lot of the time, they get paid for those endorsements.
3. Search for your products
Products and ingredients go hand in hand, and you likely won’t be able to research and test one without the other. Test out one product at a time that’s meant to address your specific needs. Remember, a lot of brands, especially big ones, like to claim they have the “silver bullet” to cure any skin ailment. That’s a load of BS. Be skeptical of those claims and their promises. This is your chance to research what works for you.
Make sure you’re actually using your product or products. Too often I see people testing a product out once and expecting immediate results. I’ll tell you right now, immediate results are rare. You have to use a product repeatedly like it’s supposed to be used in order to get a sense of whether it works for you. If you can handle it, 2 weeks of consistent use is ideal. The results are worth the wait.
5. Assess and adjust
…unless you break out in a rash or hives or have some other allergic reaction. Then, stop using that product immediately. Your body doesn’t like it. If you don’t fall into the allergy category, you have to give products a chance. Bodies need time to respond and to heal. If after 2 weeks you’re still like “nah,” get rid of it and move on. Don’t spend your hard-earned dollars on products that don’t work for you and don’t bring you pleasure.
Like I said, the process isn’t an easy one, and miracles do not happen overnight. But the key to a healthy body is a consistent routine. If you’re adding something new to your routine, keep in mind that your body needs time to adapt to the addition if you want to see real results.
Looking for a place to start with your new skin care routine? Check out CaLoveCo.’s line of handmade and natural skin care products. All of the ingredients are sourced organic, sustainable, and fair trade wherever possible. Plus, I have travel-friendly 2-ounce containers available for purchase for those who are on the go or just want to try before committing.
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Because every body deserves the best.