Are you your own worst enemy when it comes to skin care? Is your skin always on the defense? Here are 4 ingredients to avoid for your best skin therapy.
Let's get this out of the way before we get rolling: You're not vain because you want to take good care of your skin.
Taking good care of your skin is no more a vanity project than avoiding fast food or getting regular exercise, and don't you forget it! Let's call it skin therapy.
A good skin therapy regimen involves:
1. Knowing your skin: is it oily, dry, some combination
2. Finding beauty products that agree with your skin--in other words, knowing what to avoid
3. Good hydration, exercise, and eating habits
4. Sticking to the plan
Let's assume you've gotten most of these items under control. You're the kind of person who exercises pretty much daily, keeps a bottle of water next to you at all times, and orders a salad when you go out. Right?
And knowing your skin? Sure, it's changed a bit since high school, but you found your soaps and moisturizers years ago.
What to avoid
Knowing what to avoid is just as critical to maintaining healthy skin as your skin therapy regimen. Why? Because from time to time you still like to try a new product, so it's best to have a list of no-nos you've committed to memory.
Not to rain on your parade on the week you've decided to restock your drawers with shorts and T-shirts, but the sun needs to be on the no-no list. In fact, let's make that its own section:
Yes, the sun is great for a lot of reasons. You need that vitamin D!
However, assuming you're not a smoker, the sun is your skin's number one enemy. Yes, you look awesome with a tan, but at some point--like maybe around when you turn 30--you'll need to recognize that all that exposure will age your skin prematurely.
So, the short version: stay out of the sun between 10 and 2, wear a hat and sunscreen if you can't avoid it.
Four ingredients to steer clear of
According to Forbes, only seven dyes are approved by the FDA. These are coal-tar based and some say they threaten a person's overall health, not only the skin. Because skin products that contain dye also contain other questionable ingredients, when irritation develops, it's hard to say which ingredient is responsible.
Sulfates--sodium laureth sulfate and sodium laurel sulfate--are common ingredients in shampoos and soaps. They tend to strip the body of natural oils causing unhealthy dryness.
Methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben and isobutylparaben. These are widely used preservatives. The dangers of parabens are debatable, but they seem to be absorbed into the bloodstream, and some research shows that they might be cancer-causing.
Self.com recommends staying away from many exfoliants because they tend to cause dryness and irritation and can actually make pimples and blackheads worse.
Gentler is better
Some proponents of healthy skin therapies say not to put anything on your skin you wouldn't eat, but that might be taking things farther than necessary.
So, when in doubt, use gentler products with as few ingredients as possible. Always read your labels--and blame your product before you blame your skin type!