1. Water Hardness
Do you have hard water? When Calcium and Magnesium salts from the surrounding stone have dissolved into the ground water, you get hard water. Hard water is naturally occurring in most of the US, as seen in this map from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) website. The higher the amount of minerals in the water, the harder the water. For reference, 0-60mg/L of dissolved calcium carbonate is classified as soft; 61 to 120 mg/L as moderately hard; 121 to 180 mg/L as hard; and more than 180 mg/L as very hard. Hard water leads to build up of detergent from shampoo and cleansers on skin and hair. This can lead to itchiness, dryness and sensitivity.
Solution? Distilled water. This can be bought at any pharmacy or grocery store for a little more than a dollar. Fill a spray bottle with distilled water and use it post cleansing. Spritz generously — This will wash away remnants of detergent and help achieve a clearer complexion. For a luxurious option, try this rose water from Chantecaille.
2. Fungal Acne (Fungal Folliculitis)
There are several different species of fungi that can cause breakouts on the on the chest, arms, back, and even on the forehead and chin. Fungal folliculitis (or Malassezia (Pityrosporum) folliculitis) appears as tiny bumps called papules and pustules that can resemble acne. It usual appears in warm, humid weather in areas of skin that produce sweat and sebum. It can be exacerbated by antibiotic use.
The treatment of fungal folliculitis can be tricky and best left to a dermatologist. A skin scraping may be taken to visualize the fungus under a microscope, followed by oral or topical (applied directly on skin) anti-fungal agents. One small study showed some benefit with selenium sulfide shampoo (such as Selsun Blue Dandruff Shampoo), but we recommend seeing a dermatologist would be essential to properly diagnose the issue.
Exfoliation is good for the skin, in moderation. One type of exfoliation is physical, using a tool or a scrub on the skin surface. The satisfaction of sloughing impurities from the skin with a brush or a sugar polish cannot be denied; however, physical exfoliant are much harsher on the skin and should be used sparingly, preferably once a week.
The same may apply to chemical exfoliant products, depending on the strength of the treatment in question. Chemical exfoliants contain alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids. Though it can be tempting to use chemical exfoliants such as lactic acid and salicylic acid everyday, this can lead to redness and sensitization of the skin, which can make it susceptible to peeling, swelling, irritation and even breakouts, leading to a vicious cycle of overuse of exfoliants. To avoid the pitfalls of overuse, we recommend using our Aha+Bha+Pha Serum (which contains exfoliating acids) 1 to 3 times a week, and recommend several different ways in which it can be used, including as a one hour peel, or over a moisturizer. If your skin is very sensitive, we definitely recommend applying it once a week over a moisturizer, and increasing the frequency gradually over several weeks to 2 or 3 times/week if desired, monitoring your skin reaction closely.
There are other potent skincare actives that need to be used in moderation, including retinoids and vitamin C, though these ingredients aren’t exfoliants per se. Using multiple potent ingredients together can cause irritation and burning, so thoughtful consideration must be given to their use.
Pollution in our surroundings, such as cigarette smoke and automobile exhaust, is an unavoidable hazard of urban life, to the detriment of skin health. Particulate matter can settle in pores and cause acne. Free radical damage can lead to dullness and premature wrinkles.
The most important factor is to control your exposure to pollutants. However, it is impossible to eliminate it completely from our lives. This is where the right skincare products come in. AHA and BHA exfoliants help dislodge pollutants that block pores and brighten the skin. Fortify your skincare routine with antioxidant containing products — vitamin C, vitamin E, coenzyme Q10, Resveratrol, are just some of the antioxidants that are used in beauty products. Look for product that contain berry extracts that are rich in flavonoids and other antioxidants.
Which one of us has not suffered from stress, be it work-related, school-related, or family-related? Stress-induced hormone release can lead to a breakout, or worsen an existing one. Chronic, unrelenting stress can especially wreak havoc on the skin.
Finding a solution for stress is difficult — it depends on each individual's circumstances, but we recommend starting with a visit to the doctor. You may need to be treated for a medical issue such as anxiety or major depression, or even hyperthyroidism. Get that long overdue checkup.
You may need to adjust your lifestyle, as difficult as it may be. Small changes can make a big difference. Exercise can help alleviate some of the stress. Avoid critical, negative individuals. Talk to a therapist if needed; there are several online resources available if you are unable to make it to an appointment physically. Outsource tasks if possible. Can supplements help? Anecdotal evidence says yes. For example, taking L-theanine with your morning coffee can have a calming effect.
Please share some of your personal tips for achieving glowing skin with us! We would love to hear from you.