If you’re experiencing mysterious breakouts, you’re not alone. Adult acne is a real thing — and it’s incredibly frustrating. If you’ve tried all the typical habits, tips, and tricks for clearer skin, then it’s time to turn your attention to all of your habits, including the “healthy” ones. Our skin is extremely sensitive and the truth is, sometimes even our healthy habits can disrupt its natural balance. This applies not only to what we put on our skin but also to how we spend our days. If you’re on a mission to support your skin, consider these three healthy habits and how they might be backfiring for your skin:
1. Using too many products (even natural ones)
We love a great skincare routine as much as the next person, but it is possible to overdo it, even if you’re using natural products. As Dr. Cybele Fishman, an integrative dermatologist in New York City wrote on her blog: “I am always amazed when patients tell me their skincare regimens. They are so complicated, filled with unnecessary steps…Washing your face, then toning, then a serum, then a moisturizer with SPF, then makeup – OY! And that does not include the exfoliation, the Clarisonic brush, the masks, etc.” This not only takes a ton of time out of your day (and money out of your bank account), an over-the-top skincare routine can also disrupt your skin’s natural environment. As Dr. Fishmen wrote: “Your skin is supposed to be an acidic environment.” And according to her, the less you do to your skin, the more you allow your skin to function at its optimal pH. In fact, Dr. Fishman confesses that she barely washes her face at all.
2. Working out too much or too hard
Having a fitness routine is one of the best things you can do to safeguard your health in the long term, but if you’re working out too much or too often, it can backfire, at least when it comes to your skin. Why? Because study after study has shown that there’s a strong link between stress and acne severity, and exercise is a type of stress we put our body through. When we do intense exercise, our body produces the stress hormone cortisol. This is normally okay — in fact, it’s beneficial! — but if we’re already chronically stressed or we’re working out too vigorously, for too long, or without proper nutrition, it can exacerbate chronic stress. For example, a 2010 study showed that endurance athletes experience elevated cortisol production over long periods of time. Of course, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work out, just make sure your exercise routine is decreasing stress instead of adding to it.
Oh, and one last expert tip about exercise and acne: According to the American Dermatological Association, make sure you remove your makeup before your workout to prevent breakouts!).
3. Wearing sunscreen
If you’re going to be in the sun for an extended period of time, wearing a sunscreen is a must to prevent sun damage, which as we all know, can lead to premature aging and skin cancer. That said, you want to be selective about the type of sunscreen you use and where you use it. First, if you’re applying sunscreen to your face, make sure you’re using a sunscreen specifically formulated for your face. As dermatologist Dr. Noelle Sherber told Health, “If you’re acne-prone or sensitive, avoid the body versions for your face, especially the dry-touch sprays—they’re absolutely full of alcohol, which is very drying and irritating for facial skin.” If you’re wearing sunscreen on your face or on your body, check the ingredients lists with a critical eye. Many sunscreens contain chemicals that can disrupt your skin’s natural ecosystem and others can contain pore-clogging ingredients, which don’t exclude natural oils like almond oil, coconut oil, and apricot kernel oil. Instead, try one of these safe and effective sunscreens.
We all want clear, flawless skin, but it’s also important to remember that for normal humans — not the photoshopped and filtered images we see on social media and TV — a blemish or wrinkle here and there is totally normal, especially if you’re out there living your life! Make sure your healthy habits aren’t unknowingly causing breakouts and then, keep up the good work.
“Looking and feeling great has never been easier!” Discover the simplicity of personalized nutrition with Clean Plates Founder, Jared Koch, on this free webinar: The 5 Secrets To Sustainable Weight Loss, Radiant Energy And Effortless Health.