We can all agree that following age-old complexion commandments like drinking more water and always cleansing before bedtime are great base-line skin saviours. But what about the other things we do to our skin, without even thinking, that are compromising our complexion? We spoke to Brooke Holmes, of Me, Skin and Body (who counts local celebs like Zoe Foster Blake among her clientele) and asked her to narrow down the six skin mistakes you might not know you’re making. It’s time to get clear on clear skin.
1. Exercising with makeup on
It’s no secret that with exercise comes sweat. A lot of sweat. While you’re doing your body a myriad of favours, it could be at the peril of your skin if you don’t prep. “When we sweat, our pores soften and open slightly, allowing grime and makeup to settle,” says Brooke. “It creates the perfect environment for blackheads and bacteria to thrive.” It all sounds pretty horrendous, but it is entirely avoidable. “Sweat-induced blackheads can be prevented by a gentle cleanse prior to your workout,” she advises. “If you must wear makeup, try to choose a non-comedogenic product such as mineral powder that won’t clog pores.” Brooke also suggests cleansing post-workout to remove impurities excreted by the skin.
2. Not wearing the correct sunscreen
It’s very easy to convince ourselves that slapping on SPF-infused skincare and makeup is going to protect us from harmful UVA and UVB sun rays, in the same way a good lathering of straight SPF would. But, unfortunately, it can have us resting on our laurels when it comes to the one skin saving step we should all be taking, every day. “So often I hear ‘My foundation and moisturiser has SPF so that’s fine, right?’ Wrong,” says Brooke. “Most foundations contain very minimal sun protection and it is rarely broad-spectrum protection. Moisturisers with SPF are often only good at one job; moisturising or protecting from UV.” Instead, she suggests applying a broad spectrum SPF over your moisturiser and under your foundation to ensure skin is not only protected from sun damage, but also well hydrated.
“Another thing to keep in mind is that a physical (zinc or titanium dioxide) sunscreen is best for daily use to minimise exposure to free radical inducing chemicals,” says Brooke. “A chemical sunscreen is best for when you exercise and sweat or are swimming at the beach, as they tend to last longer on the skin.
3. Eating too much sugar.
It’s no big shock that sugar is no friend to our health, but it’s also causing havoc on our skin. “Eating a diet high in sugar causes insulin levels to spike,” warns Brooke. “[This creates] a lot of inflammation in the body, breaking down collagen and elastin.” You know, those nifty little things that keep our skin young and wrinkle-free. “Sugar attaches itself to proteins resulting in glycation or damaged collagen proteins,” she says. “Lines and wrinkles are the end point of this reaction to high sugar consumption.” Instead, eat a diet high in good fats. Brooke suggests avocado and nuts, fibre from fresh vegetables, complex carbohydrates from brown rice, lean protein from salmon and getting your sugar hit from antioxidant rich berries to make skin really glow.
4. Low fat diets
It sounded good in theory to our 1980s' counterparts, but although we’re a little more knowledgeable on what constitutes bad and good fat, we can still be guilty of opting out of enough good fats in our diet. “Not all fats are bad - quite to the contrary, our skin needs good fats to maintain its health and integrity,” says Brooke. “Dullness and dryness will be apparent in a skin deficient in good fats.” She lists the fats to avoid as: trans-fats and omega 6 fatty acids like those found in vegetable oils, margarine and many processed foods. “These create inflammation and, as mentioned earlier, this is not ideal for healthy skin.” And the good fats? You’ll find those in Omega 3 fatty acids like those found in flax seeds, salmon and seaweed.
Then, there is the saturated fats that, according to Brooke, ‘make up 50 per cent of our cell membranes (alongside water) and without them our cells (such as skin cells) lose their structure and integrity’. They might sound like a no-go zone for fats in our diet, but they help strengthen immunity, gut lining and help our skin. “Some quality saturated fats good for healthy skin are eggs, coconut oil and lean read meat,” she says.
5. Fake tanning your face
Opting for a faux tan on your face obviously wins over getting bronze-faced from a day in the sun without protection. But, it’s still causing your skin some damage (albeit not life-threatening). “[Facial tanners] often cause blackheads by turning any skin cells trapped in your pores brown. These can sometimes lead to breakouts,” says Brooke. “When applying fake tan or having a spray tan to the body, stop the application at the jawline and use a bronzer on the face to blend in the colour.” However, she says if you must fake tan your face, invest in a quality facial exfoliant that will gently loosen and breakdown blockages in the pores. Also, apply a moisturiser first to create an extra barrier of protection.
6. Choosing your skincare based on friends recommendations
Don’t worry, we’ve all been guilty of coveting the complexion of a girlfriend or family member and demanding to know their skincare repertoire to immediately replicate. But, what works for one person’s skin is not necessarily the best option for your skin. “Too often when we ask clients with breakouts, dryness and skin sensitivity what they are using, it is something recommended to them – unfortunately not by a skin therapist,” says Brooke. “Undesirable changes can happen if skincare is not used properly or as professionally prescribed for individual needs.” She recommends always seeking expert advice before starting a new skincare routine, to protect your skin and to save you from wasting money.