Medically reviewed by Aimee Paik, MD, MD
Written by Apostrophe Team
Last updated 11/2/2022
Whether we are preparing our skin for a big event or when experiencing a sudden breakout, the first thing most of us do is reach for a mask, cream, or cleanser. For skincare junkies, our routines are key to maintaining healthy, clear, and glowing skin. However, lifestyle choices can be just as important for the wellbeing of our skin. Read on to find out from dermatologists what changes you could be making!
People often point to soda, chocolate, and pizza as the causes of breakouts and zits… and they aren’t completely wrong. Research shows that refined sugar and processed foods can exacerbate acne-prone skin, and these dermatologists agree. Dr. Maggie Kober and Dr. Mamina Turegano both recommend eating a low glycemic index diet – that means things like fresh veggies, beans, and steel-cut oats – and limiting foods like white bread, potato chips, and fries which can all cause blood sugar spikes. Dr. Turegano adds, “Researchers think that these spikes in blood sugar lead to inflammation and more sebum production, which is known to clog pores, and therefore cause more acne.” A healthy diet = healthy skin! Learn more on our blog about the link between diet and acne).
It’s a common refrain, but that doesn’t make it any less true. All of our derms say the first step in treating any skin issue is to apply sunscreen every day, rain or shine. SPF not only protects against skin cancer, but also acne flares, rosacea, and the overall redness and inflammation caused by a sunburn. Long-term sun damage exacerbates existing skin concerns and speeds the aging process by damaging your skin’s underlying blood vessels and connective tissue. Don’t let the sun undo your skincare routine! Maintain a good foundation for your products to do their jobs by layering on the SPF every day.
Working up a sweat is fun and healthy, but sweaty fabric against your skin? Not so much. Your post-workout glow may be contributing to your breakouts! Dr. Kober says, “Wash your face, chest, and back after working out to remove sweat quickly.” Moisture, heat, and bacteria create the perfect environment for breakouts to happen. The best way to avoid them is to wash off sweat and get into clean, dry clothes as soon as you can. (Pro-tip: if you keep breaking out in the same places on your chest or back, your sports bra may be to blame! Try taking it off and showering right after you workout to see if your skin clears.)
There’s no way to avoid it – stress is a part of our daily lives. Feeling overwhelmed and stressed can trigger flare ups of all kinds of skin concerns like eczema, psoriasis, and, of course, acne. It can even impact your scalp by exacerbating seborrheic dermatitis (causing flakes) and telogen effluvium which leads to hair loss. Mitigating stress isn’t just good for your mental health – it helps your skin, too. Dr. Mamina Turegano let us know how she handled the stress of planning a wedding, saying, “I tried to get into a routine with meditation. If you are having trouble figuring out where to even begin with meditation, I recommend either checking out the Headspace app or the Ziva Meditation online courses. I also got into a regular exercise routine. Just taking time to myself every morning was helpful and making sure to spend time with my family and friends.” If her routine is good enough for a bride-to-be, it’s well-worth a try!
Eating right, applying sunscreen, exercising, and staying away from stress – there aren’t any secret shortcuts when it comes to good skin. These lifestyle choices are tried, true, and dermatologist-recommended. What could be better?
What lifestyle changes had the biggest impact on your skin? Tweet us @hi_apostrophe!
1. Barnes Z. Here's How Stress Actually Impacts Your Skin. SELF. https://www.self.com/story/how-stress-impacts-skin. Published 2019. Accessed September 13, 2019. 2. Can the right diet get rid of acne? Can the right diet get rid of acne? | American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne-and-rosacea/can-the-right-diet-get-rid-of-acne. Accessed May 14, 2019.
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