When it comes to my skincare routine I have developed a somewhat unhealthy obsession with finding the perfect products. I can easily spend hours, if not days, religiously pouring over reviews, posts, videos, ingredients lists, etc. all in the pursuit of the perfect complexion. That's the easy part though... that's the bit I love. The hard part is remembering to spend time on all the things that affect my skin that aren't product related. So, whilst you probably won't see anything groundbreaking on this list, it's more of a note to self than anything else:
PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT GOES INTO YOUR BODY
You can have the fanciest, most expensive and highly acclaimed skincare regime in the world, but if what you are putting into your body isn't healthy and good then that is going to be reflected in your skin. This is the bit where I struggle the most because, let me tell you, this gurl likes me some cheese and some milky coffee. However, on the several occasions where I have been disciplined enough to cut down on sugar, dairy and caffeine I have definitely seen the most noticeable difference in my skin. It's the whole 'you are what you eat' cliche. And with the risk of sounding like a broken record- water. Serums and oils are only half the hydration battle. Yes, you actually have to drink water too- it will be the best skincare decision you've ever made.
Something that is far less talked about (I'm not sure why) is hormones. I'm sure you are all no stranger to the hormonal breakout- be it that time of the month, pregnancy... whatever the reason, a sudden change in your hormone levels can have a huge impact on your skin. Just as there are those people who are prescribed the contraceptive pill to help clear up their acne, there are those people on whom it has the equal and opposite effect. The moment I came off hormonal contraception the inexplicable and unforgiving breakouts on my cheeks cleared up within a matter of days- just something to keep in mind.
ADD WHAT YOU'RE NOT GETTING
Following on from the last point- while you should always try your best to eat well and avoid foods you know don't agree with your skin (dairy/gluten), there are some vitamins and minerals that it is harder for your body to absorb through diet alone. I found Meg's post incredibly helpful, and whilst I don't take quite as many supplements as she suggests, I've worked two into my routine that cover most of what she mentions. I have started taking a 1000mg Cod Liver Oil tablet that contains Omega 3, which, as any Caroline Hirons disciple will know, helps to reduce inflammation and aid general skin health; Vitamin A, which (again) helps reduce inflammation and combats excess oil; and Vitamin D, which is somewhat harder to come by in the overcast UK but works wonders for both skin and mood. In addition, I take Holland & Barrett's Silica Complex. It's marketed as a skin, hair and nails supplement and contains Zinc, which helps to maintain a hormonal balance and encourage healing; and Magnesium, which can help regulate sleep cycles thereby reducing stress levels and consequently break-outs.
WASH MORE THAN YOUR FACE
Just as important as cleaning your actual face, is keeping the things that touch your face clean too. Firstly- hands. Always wash your hands before you touch your face- there is no good going in there when you've got the remanence of the day left on them. Secondly- makeup brushes. It is so easy for bacteria to collect in the bristles of your brushes and that tends to just aggravate any breakout that you are trying to cover. It's best to wash your brushes, if you can, at least once a week- twice if possible. I have two or three of my favourite face brushes so I can switch over if I'm feeling lazy. Same goes for face cloths and pillowcases- try to use a different face cloth every time you wash your face (you can buy a set of 4 for £1 at Primark) and even if you don't feel you need to change your sheets, just make sure you rotate the pillowcase you sleep on.
LISTEN TO YOUR SKIN
Learning what your skin needs and when it needs it is a skill that can only be developed with time. It can be tempting to throw everything under the sun on your face or attack it with chemical exfoliants because that is the latest craze. But only you know what your skin likes and doesn't like. Some days it may need ALL the moisture and other days it may need to just breathe. Work out a routine that works for you and then keep a couple of standby hero products tucked away for the days you feel you need them.
RESIST THE URGE TO TOUCH
If I am left to my own devices my hands have a tendency to stray to my face. There is something oddly soothing about exploring the not-so-alien terrain of your own skin and don't get me started on the unexplainable pleasure that comes with popping a new spot or picking away a dry patch. I paint a picture of glamour here- but we all know what I'm talking about. Firstly, harking back to point three, your hands probably aren't clean so you can't be doing yourself any favours in that respect. More importantly though, picking at your face vastly increases the chances of scarring and I can vouch for that. I've got a whole slew of dark purple scars that are even harder to conceal than any active breakout because I just couldn't leave them alone! Save yourself the hassle- attack any breakouts with an onslaught of treatment and oil and for the love of God do not pick at them.
On that note I'm off to hide the Magnums and clean my makeup brushes... there's no good writing it down if you're not going to follow your own advice!
What are your tips for better skin?