In a world where beauty bloggers act like they have a medical degree and influencers promote facial cleansing brushes on their Insta stories, basically anyone can call themselves a skin care expert. While it’s great that we can learn everything we need to know about toners and exfoliators from just a quick Google search, it also means that a lot of us have based our skin care routine on information that might not be accurate. Don’t panic and throw out all of your favorite beauty products just yet, though! Take a look at these busted skin care myths to get all of the facts on how to achieve the glowing skin you’ve always dreamed of.
Myth #1: Anti-Aging Products Are Only For People With Wrinkles
You might think that anti-aging products are for “older” people who have wrinkled skin. What many of those people will tell you is that they’ve had no luck getting their skin to look baby-smooth again like it once did. The truth is, once your skin has wrinkles, there’s no magic cream that can take them away permanently. The most effective way to be wrinkle-free is to start taking preventative measures when you’re young (in your 20s and 30s). That means using moisturizer and sunscreen or another SPF face lotion every day to prevent the development of dark spots and/or other signs of premature aging.
Myth #2: You Only Need Sunscreen If You’re Going To Be In Direct Sunlight
This brings us to our next point: it seems that the only time most of us remember to put on sunscreen is when we are going to the beach, or doing some kind of outdoor activity in the sunny summer months. While it is incredibly important that you use sun protection regularly when you plan to go out in direct sunlight, it’s equally as important to wear sunscreen on a daily basis, regardless of how sunny or cloudy it may seem. Especially when it comes to preserving and protecting your complexion, a daily broad-spectrum SPF is essential. Whether you realize it or not, even the smallest amount of sun exposure—whether that be through a window, sitting outside, or even through cloud cover—puts your skin at risk for negative effects from sun exposure. We know that getting a sunburn is very bad for your skin, but the sun can also penetrate the layers of your skin and cause damage deeper down, potentially leading to skin cancer, the most common cancer in the United States.
Myth #3: A Set Skin Care Routine Will Work For Everyone
You may be thinking, “everyone with perfect skin is following the same skin care routine, and I need to use exactly what they use if I want to have great skin too.” Yeah, that just isn’t the case. Each person has unique skin needs based on their skin type. A person with oily skin will need to use different products to cater to their needs as opposed to someone with dry skin. The same goes for people with mature skin, or sensitive skin, and so on. Just because one product worked amazingly for one person, doesn’t mean it will have the same effects for you. Take the time to research your skin type, or visit a dermatologist to find out what your skin type is, and the best way to care for it. The good news is there are so many products available that you’re bound to find the right ones for you.
Myth #4: Once Your Skin Reaches Maturity You’ll No Longer Break Out
You’d think that once you make it past your teens, you’ll never have to deal with acne again. Sorry, but we have some bad news. As it turns out, acne doesn’t seem to magically remove itself from your existence once you turn 20. Actually, your skin doesn’t fully mature until you’re about 30 to 35 years old, and even once you’ve reached that age range, you may still find yourself dealing with those pesky zits. But why? The most probable cause of your adult acne is your hormones. Your hormones change a lot over the course of your life, but factors like birth control, menopause, and even just your menstrual cycle can cause your hormones to fluctuate and create acne on your skin. Ughhh, we can’t have any nice things.
Myth #5: A Skin Care Routine Is Only For Your Face
Finally, you’ve perfected your skin care routine and your complexion looks the best it ever has. While achieving that sought-after facial glow does qualify for a well-deserved pat on the back, you may be forgetting about the big picture: the rest of the skin on your body!
You can’t forget to invest just as much time and energy into the skin on your body as you do for your face. Though your routine won’t be the same—our body skin is much thicker, which is why you wouldn’t use the same products on your face that you would on your body (and vice versa). TG, because facial products are expensive.
When it comes to skin care on your body, keep it simple. Wash your skin well with a soap or shower gel to remove the daily dirt, sweat, and other sh*t that collect on your skin. Next, exfoliate your clean skin. Whether you use a dry brush or a scrub to exfoliate while in the shower, it’s important to remove dead skin cells from your body to reveal the healthy skin underneath. Finally, moisturize. Once you’ve finished cleansing and exfoliating your skin, finishing off with a moisturizer is arguably one of the most important steps, as moisturizing serves to replenish your skin barrier, helping to improve its overall tone and texture.
Myth #6: A Skin Care Routine Is Only Effective If You Use A Multitude Of Targeted Products
With the thousands of skin care products available on the market, you may think that your routine will need to consist of 10 products minimum. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be that complicated (or expensive). If you want to create a perfectly effective skin care regimen, keep it limited to these three steps: cleanse, exfoliate, and moisturize. Cleaning your skin of makeup and dirt, exfoliating off the dead skin cells built up on your face, and moisturizing the new and healthy skin underneath is the simplest way to care for your skin on a daily basis and maintain a clean, clear, and healthy complexion.
However, if you have any unique skin concerns—like acne, for example—you may want to consider incorporating a specialized treatment product into your skin care regimen, as this will work to effectively target and address these areas. An acne cream containing tretinoin, for instance, is great for increasing skin cell renewal, which helps to prevent acne from the inside-out. On the other hand, if you’re concerned about dryness or wrinkles, applying a serum for overnight recovery can help penetrate the skin at a deeper level for better results.
At the most basic level, keep your skin care routine short and simple, and only incorporate more targeted treatments if and when necessary. Make sure to apply these treatments only to the particular areas of your skin that need some additional TLC.
Myth #7: “A Little Dab Will Do Ya”
Most skin care products will say to only apply a pea-sized amount of the product to your face, and this is true when using a product like an eye cream, where a little can go a long way. In reality, however, the suggested amount of product for proper use with most skin care products isn’t enough to give complete results for your skin. If you’re going to cleanse, exfoliate, or moisturize, don’t be afraid to apply a little bit extra. The lighter products like a cleanser or moisturizer can’t really hurt your skin, so if you want to get your complexion extra clean and smooth, you can add a little more than the bottle suggests.
If you do choose to use more of a product than suggested, keep your skin type in mind. For instance, those with dry skin shouldn’t over-cleanse, as their skin will dry out easily, and for those with oily skin, there’s no need to go overboard on the moisturizer or facial oils.
For products like a serum, a chemical exfoliator, or a targeted treatment, you’ll want to stick to the directions on the label, as these products are stronger and can cause damage to your skin if not used improperly or too frequently.
Images: Retha Ferguson / Pexels
In case anyone has forgotten, there’s still a pandemic going on. Unfortunately, the virus doesn’t have as short of an attention span as the President does. In efforts to slow the spread, the CDC has strongly recommended that we all wear face coverings when out in public and when social distancing isn’t an option. So, because the coronavirus hasn’t disappeared like that guy that you went on one FaceTime date with in the beginning of all this, it looks like face masks and coverings are here to stay. While masks can be great for avoiding exes and covering up breakouts, they can also be irritating your skin (and contributing to those breakouts in the first place).
If we can all agree on one thing, it’s that nobody enjoys acne, and if your skin has been particularly angry during the age of COVID-19, just know that you’re not alone. Take note of your breakouts. If your acne falls under where your face mask sits, then you may be a victim of maskne, aka mask acne. Like COVID-19, maskne doesn’t discriminate. It’s a skin issue that can affect everyone: people who are already prone to acne, people who normally have clear skin, and literally anyone who is abiding by the CDC’s face mask recommendation. Luckily, I spoke with a dermatologist to get the breakdown on these breakouts: why they’re happening, and how to prevent and treat them.
What Is Maskne?
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I spoke with dermatologist and RealSelf contributor Dr. Sonia Badreshia-Bansal, and it turns out that your maskne is actually Acne Mechanica—a skin issue that is triggered by excess heat, pressure, friction, or rubbing. Dr. Badreshia-Bansal explains, “Acne Mechanica is a special type of acne that occurs in areas of occlusion.”
“Sweat, dirt, and oil under the areas of occlusion then cause clogging of the pores, resulting in inflammation,” she adds. Acne Mechanica has traditionally affected athletes, especially those who wear helmets and shoulder pads, but now that the whole world is wearing masks on their face, literally anyone can get it.
How can you tell your typical breakouts apart from maskne? Dr. Badreshia-Bansal says that, “Acne Mechanica is distributed to the area of occlusion, so maskne will affect the area that the mask is protecting, which normally involves the lower half of the face.” Go look at your face in the mirror, when you connect the dots where your pimples are, do they all coincidentally hang out where your mask lies on your face? If the answer is yes, then you, my friend, have maskne.
How To Prevent Maskne
Like I said before, face masks are here to stay, so prevention is key. Just because your skin has survived against masks so far, doesn’t mean that you are immune to the annoyances of maskne. To use a sports reference, the best offense is a good defense, so start taking preventative measures now, rather than having to correct later. Start by opting for a breathable and soft cotton mask. Using a cotton mask will help ease any harsh rubbing and friction, and since it’s reusable you’ll be able to wash it regularly—ideally, between each use—to keep it fresh and clean. Dr. Badreshia-Bansal also advises wearers, “Wash or wipe any dirt or sweat off of the face as soon as you can, because oil and dirt can get trapped under your mask and cause breakouts.” The warmer it continues to get outside, the more pertinent that advice gets. Don’t sweat it—literally.
Another pre-emptive step, according to Dr. Dr. Badreshia-Bansal, is to “Apply a topical vitamin A serum such as a retinol, adapalene, or tretinoin.” You may also want to consider passing on full glam for now. Dr. Badreshia-Bansal recommends electing for mineral-based makeup as opposed to heavy foundations. I’m not saying that you have to fully embrace the all-natural look, but you should consider skipping full-coverage foundations that can clog your pores. After all, no one is seeing half of your face anyway.
How To Treat It
Suffering from maskne? No need to freak out, because just like any form of acne, there is an arsenal of lotions and potions aimed at treating and clearing up all of your skin sorrows. Dr. Badreshia-Bansal advises that you should treat maskne “the same as other forms of acne.” She recommends, “Use a benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid-based cleansers.” With that advice in mind, you should continue your standard skincare routine: wash your face regularly, exfoliate your skin, and moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! Moisturized skin is happy skin, just make sure you’re using an oil-free moisturizer.
Most importantly, don’t panic if your breakouts are a result of wearing face masks. Just do what you would normally do when you break out—blame your boyfriend and do a purifying clay mask. After you accomplish that, spot treat your problem areas with your go-to pimple nullifier, and whatever you do, resist the urge to pop. Get your pimple popping fix from YouTube like the rest of us and leave your face alone! If you have an especially aggravated spot you can also apply a thin layer of Aquaphor (or Vaseline, salve, etc.) over it before you put your mask on to help eliminate friction and further irritation.
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Maskne is a vicious cycle. You break out, you hide it with a mask, and then break out more, causing you to wear your mask more, and so on and so forth. Face masks are more than a fashion statement, so we’re going to have to adapt and learn to live with them, like it or not. Just remember to regularly wash your face, wash your mask, and to have some chocolate—the chocolate won’t help with your skin, but hey, you deserve it.
Images: Michael Amadeus / Unsplash; aj_hernandez, betches / Instagram