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Best Skincare Tips for the New Year
With the new year upon us, it's a great time to look over your beauty routine and see if there are any resolutions you can adopt for even better skin in 2018. In some cases, the best thing you can do is avoid pitfalls of the past to make sure you're setting your skin up for success. Here are 10 of the Paula's Choice Research Team's best tips for beautiful skin in the new year!
Beauty Shouldn’t Hurt
Regardless of what beauty magazines and well-meaning skincare professionals say, skin shouldn’t get worse before it gets better. Red, sensitized skin is always a sign of distress—if your exfoliant, retinol, or skincare product causes this reaction, it’s time to change your routine. It could be as simple as switching to a lower-strength exfoliant, but check all your products’ ingredient lists to be sure skin-sensitizing ingredients (like denatured alcohol) aren’t to blame.
Note: Some people experience mild flaking after using a retinol product—in that case, think of it as your skin "getting used to" having retinol in your routine. You can expect this temporary issue to pass. If the flaking persists and your skin becomes reddened or sensitive to the touch, use the product less often or try a product with a lower concentration of retinol.
Play it Cool While Cleansing
Avoid using hot or ice-cold water while cleansing: Both are damaging to skin, can lead to lingering redness, and prolong the staying time of acne. Lukewarm water should get the job done with any type of cleanser—and be sure to gently dab, not rub, your skin dry with a soft towel.
Skip the Long Bath
Long baths are relaxing for your muscles and your mind, but prolonged soaks stress your skin! When skin shows visible "pruning," it’s a sign of a compromised skin surface—Surprise! Too much water is damaging to skin. Too much time in the tub literally breaks down skin, keeping its surface from holding on to healthy substances like cholesterol and ceramides. These serve as the mortar that holds the "bricks" (the protein portion of your skin) together, keeping it feeling smooth, soft, and pliable.
Kick the Addiction to Scrubs
Scrubbing away at skin like you’re trying to remove bad wallpaper is one of the most common ways people hurt their skin—it’s an antiquated way to exfoliate.
While AHA or BHA exfoliants are the best way to exfoliate skin, you don’t have to give up using a scrub altogether—just avoid those that are overly harsh, abrasive, or otherwise poorly formulated. Think of scrubs as an extra measure of cleansing, and always be gentle when using them on your face and body.
Pass (on) the Bar Soap
Bar soaps are always a bad idea for skin because of the residue they leave behind—blame the ingredients used to keep them in solid form: This filmy residue can initially feel good on skin, but with regular use it can worsen dry skin. If that weren’t enough, the alkaline pH level of bar soaps sensitizes skin.
Instead of bar soaps or bar cleansers, try a gentle, skin type–appropriate liquid, gel, lotion, or cream-based cleanser.
Dump Your Abusive Skincare Products
Moisturizers, serums, sunscreens, and other products that contain skin-aggravating ingredients (like alcohol or fragrance) are easy to fall for. But, over the long-term, their drawbacks far outweigh any benefits—and your routine becomes a cycle of treating one concern (for example, acne) while developing another (for example, dry skin). Kick these abusive beauty products to the curb and don’t look back!
Perfume Has Nothing to Do with Skincare
We’ve all said it at least once in our lives—"I love this moisturizer, it just smells so good!" Unfortunately, what pleases your nose doesn’t make your skin happy. Highly fragranced products (whether from "essential oils" or other sources) may smell lovely, but they stink when it comes to keeping skin in top shape. Find out why fragrance is such a problem for skin.
More is Not Always a Good Thing
Even a well-formulated product has the potential to do harm if it’s overused, so heed the directions for your exfoliant, retinol, or anti-acne solutions and experiment to find the balance that’s right for your skin.
Signs that your skin has had enough include a tight, lined, or pulled appearance (especially on waking up in the morning), redness, peeling, or sensitivity.
Peel Now, Pay Later
Whether done at home or in a professional setting, facial peels can be a helpful part of a routine, especially when uneven skin tone is a concern. However, if you’re getting AHA, BHA, or other types of peels too frequently (or opting for ones that are too strong), their benefits can backfire.
Mild peels done at home should not be performed more than once or twice per month; deep peels performed by a doctor should be limited to once per year at most. The goal is to never tip the scales in favor of sensitizing skin, so use this type of exfoliation in moderation.
Sunscreen is the Best Anti-Wrinkle Cream
Sunscreen is not nearly as flashy as the current beauty products being hyped on the market, but sunscreen has anti-wrinkle benefits that no other skincare product can touch. Unprotected sun exposure is the #1 cause of early skin aging, including wrinkles, sagging, and uneven skin tone. Want to look as young as you can as long as you can? Sunscreen is a daily necessity, 365 days per year, even if it’s cloudy—and your anti-aging products will work much better if you routinely shield your skin from ongoing exposure to daylight.
References for this information:
Skin Research and Technology, May 2015, pages 131-136
Indian Journal of Dermatology, September-October 2014, pages 442-444
Annals of Internal Medicine, June 2013, pages 781-790
Journal of Allergy, February 2011, ePublication
Clinics in Dermatology, January-February 1996 pages 23-27
Contact Dermatitis, December 1999, pages 311-314; and February 1995, pages 83-87
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About the Experts
Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books about skincare and makeup. She is known worldwide as The Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula’s Choice Skincare. Paula’s expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international radio, print, and television including:
The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and providing expert advice that solves your skincare frustrations so you can have the best skin of your life!