The human body is an incredibly complex, highly organized structure that works around the clock to protect us. When we feel hot, we sweat so our bodies cool down. When we have an infection or virus, our bodies raise our temperature to kill the bacteria and activate the immune system. There are body systems and functions designed to keep us healthy and alive.
Yet many of us challenge our bodies, test them, and push them to their limits through poor habits, diet, and lifestyle choices. Many of these habits are not good practices to maintain peak health, like drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, and living a sedentary lifestyle. But what about all the habits and products we use daily that are inadvertently causing our skin harm?
Today we'll talk about four everyday things you're doing that damage your skin and what to do instead.
The Naughty List
- Makeup Wipes
- Plastic Loofahs
- Popping Pimples
- Sleeping in Your Makeup
These have got to be one of the most wasteful, harmful skincare products today. Designed for convenience and — ahem, laziness — makeup wipes contain harsh chemicals and ingredients that strip the skin of just about everything.
That's what you want, right? Heck no! Sure, it removes your makeup, which is essential at the end of the day, and we'll talk about that later. But makeup wipes also remove any trace of dirt, grime, sebum (stay with me, it gets worse), and any hint of natural oils that keep skin protected.
Makeup wipes ruin our skin's pH, and they can also damage the skin's microbiome (the microbiome is home to all of the lovely bacteria that keep our skin healthy).
There are several other problems with using makeup wipes.
One. Because of their convenient nature, they often get used alone in a regime with no follow-up products. So once the makeup wipe has stripped the skin, there's no toner, serums, or moisturizers to counteract the damage caused.
Two. The chemicals in a makeup wipe are often harsher than using a simple cleanser. Again, this is because of the convenience factor. They are an all-in-one product, so they often contain many chemicals.
Makeup wipes often claim to have moisturizing properties, so they aren't designed to be rinsed off. But because they contain many chemicals, including fragrance, which we know has no skin benefit and can be a hormone disruptor, you're leaving all of those harsh chemicals on the skin to wreak havoc while you sleep.
Three. And arguably, the most critical reason makeup wipes are a problem is that they cause an incredible amount of pollution in our environment. They contain materials like polyester, unknown quality cotton, wood pulp, and rayon, and unfortunately, people still flush them down the toilet when most wipes are not flushable. The makeup wipes that make it into the trash are mostly non-compostable or non-biodegradable and can take centuries to break down.
There are three significant reasons we all need to stop using makeup wipes. If you use makeup wipes because you like the convenience, then why not try using a zero-waste cleansing bar.
Cleanse: Ethique's face bars don't contain palm oil or animal byproducts, are not tested on animals, and give the skin a beautiful and gently clean without over-drying the skin. Ethique also makes bamboo and cornstarch compostable containers to take your cleansing bar with you on the go with no mess and no worries.
Moisturize: DEW MTY's Bloom Jelly Serum Bar replaces your serums, oils, and moisturizers, and it comes in a small metal canister. It's small enough to fit anywhere (like beside your Ethique face bar container, for example). This bar is nourishing enough to keep your skin hydrated while treating conditions like signs of aging and hyperpigmentation.
While loofahs originate from natural plants, like gourds and sea cucumbers, the more conventional kinds these days are made with plastic. You can probably guess where I'm going with this. Reasons why (plastic) loofahs made the Naughty List are:
Well, they're plastic — need I say more? Plastics are made by extracting gas and oil from the earth and then refined into ethane and propane, where they are treated and heated and eventually made into a polymer. It's an unsustainable practice and incredibly damaging to the environment.
Not only that, but these plastic loofahs get tossed in the trash after a few months' use, and they live on for literally centuries. Even worse than that is the microplastics (pieces of plastic you can't see with the naked eye) that wash down the drain during our showers end up in our waterways, oceans, seafood, and back into our bodies. There hasn't been enough study done in this area to know what long-term damage this will cause us all. So to err on the side of caution, opt for a natural loofah!
The second point I want to make is the bacteria that a loofah harbor is alarming. Think about the place we go to remove all of the day's dirt and grime off our bodies: our shower. It's a warm and wet environment, which also happens to be the perfect place for bacteria to form and grow. So unless you're taking your loofah out into the sun to dry and sterilize between washes, it's highly likely it's crawling with nasty bacteria. Using a cloth, or better yet, your hands is a much more hygienic washing method.
Thirdly, scrubbing the skin with a loofah can cause skin damage. Plastic loofahs are known to "scratch" the skin on a microscopic level. You may not see the damage with your eyes, but it's happening. The harder you "loofah," the more damage you're doing.
Ditch the loofah for some cleaner and safer alternatives.
Etee loofah soap pouch is 100% natural fiber. Slip the soap bar into the pouch to use it, and hang it in the pouch for quick drying.
Picking Your Pimples
While this does not necessarily damage your health, it damages your skin in more ways than one.
It can be tempting to pop a pimple, especially when it's a white-headed volcano, but it can delay the healing process when you mess with one. Picking a spot and breaking the skin opens the pores up to more bacteria, often resulting in a longer healing time. On a scientific level, the follicle walls within which the infection can rupture when we squeeze it, pushing the bacteria under the skin and into the surrounding follicles, ultimately spreading the infection, which can then cause more pimples to appear.
Popping a pimple can also cause scarring. While this is not always an obvious sign when we're younger, as we get older and our skin's collagen production starts to slow down (around the age of 30), any scars can deepen and become more noticeable. So it's essential to refrain from picking our pimples when we're younger—our older selves will thank us.
Leave your spots untouched, if possible. For treatment of pimples, follow a solid regime like this one:
Step One: M.S.Skincare's skin-perfecting cleanser - This gentle, non-drying herbal formula effectively cleanses skin without disturbing its natural balance. Skin is soothed and purified with a potent combination of Ayurvedic clarifiers such as holy basil, turmeric, neem oil, and anti-microbial red seaweed.
Step Two: M.S.Skincare's Retexturizing Glycolic Treatment - A powerhouse re-texturizing treatment combining glycolic acid, antioxidant-rich red seaweed, and skin-firming hibiscus for instant, visible results. Together, these powerful ingredients are known to eliminate coarse, uneven texture, fade dark spots, minimize enlarged pores, and support collagen production to reveal your softest, brightest skin.
Step Three: Earthwise Catharsis Face Mask - A healing, hydrating, firming, and invigorating powerhouse blend of just active ingredients designed to remove impurities and provide an intense detox and skin brightening effect. It is non-stripping, nondrying, moisturizing, and gentle.
Step Four: Earth Harbor Adaptogen Clarity Ampoule - A potent clarifying treatment and a gentle glow-enhancing elixir, Nebula Adaptogen Clarity Ampoule is a featherlight flash-absorbing formula specifically designed to help distressed skin prone to acne, blemishes, and excess oil.
Step Five: Earthwise Ambrosia do Cerrado Liquid Moisturizer - Despite its deceptively light feel, this moisturizer is deeply hydrating and nourishing and has an overall brightening effect. Works on healing blemishes and scarring and repairing and replenishing the skin.
Number four on the Naughty List is sleeping in your makeup. Any skin specialist will tell you that this is a big no-no. Reasons why you should never sleep in your makeup are:
- Your skin has makeup on it, but it also has a build-up of pollutants and dirt from the day. Our skin also naturally produces oils, so if you have layers and layers of debris clogging up your pores, those oils will build up under the surface, creating blackheads, whiteheads, milia, and bacteria haven to grow and thrive. Your skin will feel gritty, grimey, and it will look dull.
- When you lay your unwashed face on your pillow at night, all of that bacteria and debris embed into the linen. So all of that pollution from the day before will be waiting for you on your pillow. This will wreak havoc on your skin long-term, as the free radicals that get into your skin and stay there cause DNA damage. They can break down collagen and cause premature aging. You might not see the damage today, but it will affect the skin long-term.
Follow a good skincare regime, like the one mentioned for pimples. Or, if you're strapped for time, use the regime in our makeup wipes section - Ethique's face bar followed by DEW MTY's serum bar. Whatever it takes to stop you from sleeping in your makeup.
Speaking of sleeping, lack of quality sleep is number five on the Naughty List. Men need between six and eight hours a night, while women need between seven and nine hours a night for optimal performance and health.
- Sleeping helps our brains to recover and refresh for the next day. Without getting a solid amount of quality sleep—you'll know how much works best for you—you may notice feelings of fogginess and lack of concentration. This is because the brain hasn't had ample time to recharge.
- Skin restoration is at optimum capacity when we sleep. Without it, our skin can look tired and haggard. Sleep also increases skin's blood flow, aids in collagen production, and repairs damage from UV exposure, reducing wrinkles and age spots.
To help you sleep, we suggest you invest in some good quality sheets, like our silk sheets. They're naturally antimicrobial and antibacterial; they are wicking for temperature control; and they are sustainably sourced and made, making these an incredibly viable option for a great night's sleep.
The last on our Naughty List is exfoliation. While exfoliation is essential to aid our skin in cell turnover, some exfoliants are either not as effective or too effective and can cause irreparable damage to our skin if we're not careful.
- Physical exfoliants are the kind that you have to scrub manually and contain either a crushed shell, sand, salt, or other abrasive substance. The problem with these is that you can physically damage the skin by pressing too hard or concentrating on an area too long. It can then cause "micro-tears" on the epidermis and ultimately result in red, inflamed, prematurely-aged skin.
- Chemical exfoliants are preferable to physical exfoliants as they do not "scratch" the skin. But again, if you use them too often or use a too high concentration for your skin, damage can occur. Skin can become red, flaky, irritated, and inflamed as the microbiome is damaged, and it can stay that way for a long time.
We talk all about exfoliation in our blog post here. But here are three of our favorite sustainably and ethically-sourced exfoliants:
Honua Hawaiian Beauty Water is an exfoliating GLOW potion. Papaya enzymes, hibiscus, and kō (Hawaiian sugar) work together to exfoliate the skin, revealing a healthy glow gently.
Dual-Action Enzyme Cleansing Powder - An Ayurvedic blend of finely milled nutritive powders & naturally derived exfoliants to gently lift impurities and dead skin cells to reveal softer renewed skin. Exfoliation is doubly empowered with high-grade walnut shell powder for gentle mechanical exfoliation while fruit enzymes slough away dry, dead skin cells and refine the appearance of pores.
Brightening Enzyme Mask - Glycolic acid and fruit enzymes are known for the powerful elimination of dead surface cells, repairing free radical damage, and smoothing skin texture. At the same time, bilberry extract helps tone and tighten.
So there you have four ways you may be unknowingly doing your body and skin harm. We hope this post sheds some light on some things you may not have known. Remember, our body is working hard to keep us healthy, so i's essential to help it along the way by adopting better habits.
Emma Jade has been a trained esthetician for over 15 years. She is a sustainable skincare writer, educating and building awareness around proper skin health that doesn't cost the earth.
Some of the products promoted in our blog are from our online store. Many others are brands we have researched and found to be great examples of sustainable, ethical, and innovative brands in their field, and we don't profit from mentioning them in our blog. #CollaborationOverCompetition