Do you dream of having clear and blemish-free skin?
You might be surprised to find out that it takes a lot of work to maintain a flawless face. Luck and genetics might help some people, but for the most part, great skin is due to great habits and a meticulous routine.
Below are six skincare rules that you can follow to achieve healthier and more balanced skin. Go from bumpy and bloated to glowing and gorgeous just by making these slow and steady lifestyle changes.
1. Get 7 to 8 Hours of Sleep Every Night
Who hasn’t woken up with dark undereye circles after a late night or two? If you suffer from chronic sleep deprivation, you may even have consistent hyperpigmentation or puffiness around your eyes.
Beauty sleep is real! Along with your entire body, your skin goes through renewal and rejuvenation while you’re snoozing. You feel tired when you don’t get enough rest. You look tired, too—saggier, wrinklier, and older.
Most people think of sleeping as low on their priority list because of social and work responsibilities, but it is actually an essential part of your day. Studies show that poor sleep also contributes to poor physical and mental health.
7 to 8 hours is the absolute minimum that you should be aiming for as an adult. If you’re in your teens, sleep longer. Give yourself enough time to recharge completely and start treating sleep as a necessity.
2. Wash Off Your Makeup Before Bed
Do you know what happens when you doze off while all of that long-lasting product sits on your face all night? You risk dirtying your pillows and sheets. You also risk clogging your pores and encouraging breakouts and inflammations.
If you think that you don’t need to worry because you don’t often use cosmetics, think again. You’re still on the hook: Air pollutants like dust, dirt, and smog can stick to the skin and remain there even if you went outside only for a few minutes.
Having trouble keeping this habit? We get you. Keep makeup-removing towelettes or pads on your bedside table for easy access. If they’re at arm’s reach when your eyes start to feel heavy, you’ll have enough time to cleanse your face before you drift off. Right?
You can also make it a habit to remove your makeup and wash your face as soon as you come home. It saves you the trouble of remembering to take care of your skin later on.
3. Protect Your Skin from the Sun
If you had to choose only one skincare product to use for the rest of your life, let it be sunscreen.
Sun exposure causes so much skin damage: freckling, thinning, wrinkling, and other visible signs of aging such as lines and discolorations.
It may seem extreme at first, but you should be applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen every two hours if you’re in the sunlight. Doesn’t matter if it’s rainy or cloudy or if you’re wearing multiple layers. UV rays will be weaker but will still affect your skin.
When the sun is the strongest—typically from late morning to midafternoon—try to stay indoors or supplement your sunscreen application with more protective clothing and headgear. Consider tinting your car windows with UV-blocking film, as well, if you drive around frequently during the daytime.
4. Moisturize, and Then Moisturize Some More
If you have an oily face, you may want to avoid heavy lotions and creams. However, don’t think that having oily skin means that you shouldn’t be moisturizing at all. It is a necessary care regimen, regardless of your skin type.
Hydration is important—especially if you’re chasing after that dewy, natural look. Remember that you can work from the outside in and from the inside out, too. To get radiant and nourished skin, you need to practice being aware of your skin’s condition throughout the seasons. Adjust your skincare routine and your water intake accordingly.
Everyone’s skin is different. You might find yourself dealing with extra oil production during the winter and dry skin during the summer heat. It is normal to need different moisturizers depending on your environment and how your skin reacts to it.
5. Be Gentle on Your Skin, Even When Exfoliating
Do you scrub your face raw when you’re sloughing off dead skin? You might want to rethink that habit. Agitating and over-exfoliating your skin may actually bring out more blemishes and breakouts instead of preventing them.
Always be gentle on your skin. Swap out harsh and grainy scrubs and try using face exfoliating products instead. Skin microtears are not as likely to happen with hydroxy acids or retinoids. Collagen stimulation and cell rejuvenation due to the latter are much more preferable.
Limit exfoliation to once a week to give your skin time to renew itself. And whatever you do, do not pick at your blemishes in between exfoliations. Do not pop your pimples! It can be maddening to keep your hands off a swollen zit, but if it bleeds, there will be a chance of scarring.
As a last resort, you may go to a dermatologist to resolve a particularly stubborn zit with a cortisone treatment.
6. Make Self-Care and Relaxation a Habit
Did you know that anxiety and stress are very bad for the skin? The cortisol production that comes with chronic tension can negatively affect elastin and collagen in your skin. On top of that, your sleep habits may suffer if you can’t manage your emotional and mental state.
To prevent wrinkles and the worsening of certain skin conditions—like psoriasis, for example—carve out a regular self-care routine somewhere in your busy schedule. A consistent sleep schedule is a start, but do work up to occasional moments of pampering.
Light candles and think happy thoughts. Meditate, be mindful, and do yoga. Buy clay masks and slather them on before putting on Netflix and binging that TV show you’ve been meaning to watch.
Prioritize your health and happiness. Your skin will thank you for it in the long run.