Does anyone feel like you do so much for your skin (all those masks and treatments!? Love and care two times a day!?) that getting a breakout, dry patch, or general dullness feels like the ultimate betrayal? *hand raise emoji.* I mean, you’re doing everything you’re supposed to, right? You already know to never go to bed with makeup on, and you know to put SPF on every day. So when the dry flakes come or a pesky pimple pops up it’s like, what gives!?
It’s likely you’ve looked at Jennifer Aniston’s wrinkle-free glow or Jennifer Lopez’s flawless complexion and thought, ugh genetics. I mean, there’s no way a mere mortal like any of us could achieve skin that perfect, right? WRONG. Skin is not just a result of genetics, it’s also about diet, lifestyle, and proper care, all of which Jennifer (Aniston and Lopez) have clearly mastered.
Turns out there are actually many factors that contribute to skin imperfections, many of which we’re not even aware of. If you wash and moisturize every day with the right products and are still dealing with dark spots, dullness, dry skin, or breakouts (more than the period zit here and there), there’s likely an underlying reason. Here are 13 things that might be sabotaging your chance at Jennifer Aniston/Lopez skin:
1. Ignoring your neck and chest
Imagine this: you treat your face as well as you can for years, maybe even decades. You slather on every anti-aging serum, constantly protect it with sunscreen, and remove all dirt and impurities every day. You may be able to escape the signs of premature aging with all the work you put into your skin, but the skin on your neck and chest will start to wrinkle or become dull. If you don’t take care of the skin on your neck and chest now, it will show as you get older. Don’t just rub on the leftover product for your face, treat it like you would the skin on your face.
2. Forgetting to clean everything that comes in contact with your skin
Cleaning with a wash might not always be enough to keep skin clean. The goal is to avoid as much dirt and bacteria coming into contact with your skin as possible. Wipe your phone screen and sunglasses (or prescription glasses) every day to kill any pore-clogging bacteria, and change pillowcases regularly (at least once a week, if not twice). Also make sure to regularly clean your makeup or skincare brushes since bacteria can grow quickly on synthetic hair. It also goes for your hands — whenever you’re touching your face (like with makeup application or to wash skin/put on skincare), your hands should be clean.
3. Having the wrong airplane skincare routine (or not having one at all)
As fun as traveling is, airplanes are literal death traps for your skin (dramatic, yes, but they’re not great). The dry air draws out moisture, and oil gets trapped under the dry top layer of skin. Plus, your skin comes in contact with more bacteria since the air circulating is not fresh. Add on stress, lack of sleep, and bad food (common factors that come along with travel) and you have yourself a breeding ground for breakouts, blackheads, and inflammation. Having a go-to in-flight routine is crucial for keeping your skin moisturized and clear.
Try: a makeup remover (wearing makeup on a plane will clog your pores, so just reapply when you land), a peel pad for gentle exfoliation (TSA-approved and less mess than a cleanser), a hyaluronic acid serum, and moisturizing cream.
An easy product people use often in-flight is a facial mist — keeps skin hydrated, right? But this step can actually cause dryness — yes, really. The air on airplanes is so dry that it draws moisture from the skin to evaporate into air. Spraying more water on your face actually has counterintuitive results when air is this dry, causing more moisture to be drawn out of the skin. Stick to your heavy creams and oils that won’t evaporate (and apply them once every hour) to keep skin moisturized.
4. Using the wrong toothpaste
Yes, really — if you often get breakouts around your mouth, fluorides and chemicals in most toothpaste (especially whitening!) can cause breakouts. Try switching to a more natural paste with less chemicals and try to use a little less toothpaste with each brush to avoid too much foaming.
5. Using a cleanser that’s too harsh
It might seem counterintuitive that the fix for breakouts could actually be a gentler cleanser, right? While you probably have the itch to treat your breakouts with more concentrations of acids or drying ingredients, that’s actually making it worse. When you over-strip your skin of natural oils, your skin tries to balance it out by producing even more oil, causing oily skin and clogged pores. Train your skin to produce the proper amount of oil by using a cleanser that won’t dry out your skin. A good rule of thumb is if your skin feels tight or dry after washing, it’s too harsh. Look for gel formulas with calming or hydrating ingredients and a lower concentrations of acids.
6. Working out with makeup on
If you haven’t gotten the gist yet, makeup can really be the enemy when it comes to clear skin. Sad, isn’t it? But that doesn’t mean at all that you need to stop wearing makeup altogether — girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do! Just be knowledgable about when you should be going without it. For example, working out causes your body temperature to rise and sweat to form, which opens up pores. Whatever makeup you wear can seep into opened pores, causing breakouts, blackheads, and inflammation. Pack some makeup wipes in your gym bag for a fresh face while getting that sweat on.
7. Not taking a probiotic daily
If you have a leaky gut, digestion problem, or imbalance of gut bacteria, it could very well be showing up as pimples on your face. Besides just in the gut, we also have live bacteria covering our skin. Adding more good bacteria while removing the bad bacteria can target acne, rosacea, premature aging, and eczema. Plus, probiotics assist in absorbing nutrients, so all those good-for-your skin nutrients found in foods like walnuts, avocados, and berries are more easily absorbed, helping your skin glow.
8. Taking showers the wrong way
This one is probably the hardest to get over for me — I like my showers to be *literally* scorching hot. But since we spend so much time in the shower, it’s crucial to the health of our skin that we’re showering the right way. Showers that are too hot will dry out skin, and even worse, burn it, causing inflammation and rosacea to act up. Whatever facial cleansing you do in the shower should be the very last step, right before you get out — cleansing causes acidity, so you need to put on product immediately after washing to balance the skin.
9. Eating a no-fat diet
Many of the low-fat diets and products are losing popularity with the shocking revelation that fat is, in fact, not bad for you (as long as it’s the good kind!). Whether you’re keto or not, your body needs healthy fats for many benefits, including skin health. Omega-3 fatty acids in particular keep skin moisturized and assist in collagen production, both of which keep skin radiant. Load up on avocados, extra-virgin olive oil, flaxseeds, salmon, eggs, and nuts and seeds to make sure you’re getting enough of the right nutrients to give your skin what it needs to be healthy.
This goes for skipping meals, too. With how busy I know you are, it may be tempting to grab a protein bar or forgo the meal altogether, but each meal is a chance to load your body with amazing nutrients that make you your healthiest, most energized self — and yes, even your most beautiful. Pre-make smoothies or take homemade snacks like trail mix, hard-boiled eggs, or veggies when you know you’re going to be busy.
10. Living in a big city
If you live in a big city like New York, LA, or Chicago, you might want to think twice about how you’re protecting your skin. Pollution has a bigger effect on our skin health than we realize — it can cause breakouts, as well as sallow tone or dullness. But don’t worry, you don’t have to move! To prevent the effects of pollution, load up on lots of fresh fruits and veggies to get rid of toxins and use protective skincare products that are specifically formulated for protecting against pollution.
11. Using a product just because it’s trendy
If you know me, you know I’m a self-titled beauty nerd — I absolutely will try anything once. While this is my greatest passion, it’s also my greatest fault, because I’ve had to learn (sometimes the hard way) to personalize my skincare experimenting for my own skin, rather than what’s new and appealing. If everybody’s raging about the new it-product, it is so tempting to “add to cart” ASAP, but just because it’s all the rage on your Instagram feed doesn’t mean it’s right for you.
Try new products, by all means, but try based on what’s right for your skin type, not what’s popular with your favorite influencer. For example, if you have dry, sensitive skin, retinol or vitamin C can cause inflammation, and oily skin might break out when using certain thick oils or creams. Experiment for the sake of finding out what ingredients work best with your skin.
12. Not giving your skin enough time to adjust to a new product
Speaking of experimenting with new products, there’s an abundance of good stuff out there — sprays, serums, toners, essences, sheet masks, balms — and it’s easy to feel like the dog from Up (“Squirrel!”) when the next best thing is always popping up on the Sephora homepage or written about in your favorite magazine. But — honesty time — most ingredients take a while to actually work, so it’s always important to give it time whenever you’re trying a new product. Ask your dermatologist if certain ingredients or new products are right for you, and give it at least 2-3 months to actually see a difference. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was flawless skin.
13. Ignoring minor food intolerances
You know the typical symptoms of food allergies — swollen throat, severe stomach pains, vomiting. But did you know that certain food intolerances can actually just show up as acne, eczema, or rosacea? The most common food intolerances are gluten, dairy, caffeine, alcohol, and sugar (I know, basically all the good things in life!), so you can try cutting out one at a time to see if it makes any difference in your skin. However, you might also have intolerances to even traditionally healthy foods (like nuts, chickpeas, or pickled foods), so consider keeping a food diary and tracking breakouts or inflammation to find any patterns.