Yet many of us challenge our bodies, test it, and push it to its limits through poor habits, poor diet, and poor lifestyle choices. Many of these habits we already know are not good practice to maintain peak health. Like drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, and living a sedentary lifestyle. But what about all the habits and products we use on a daily basis that we don’t know are actually causing us harm?
We’re going to talk about some of the most common habits and products that are on the Naughty List of things that do us harm, and we’ll tell you about some great alternatives.
First things first: makeup wipes. These have got to be one of the most wasteful, harmful skin care products on the market today. Designed for convenience and (ahem) laziness, makeup wipes are usually formulated with 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 actually really important 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 does get worse), any natural oils that keep skin protected, they 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 a number of other problems with using makeup wipes.
Due to their convenient nature, they often get used alone in a regime with no follow-up products. So once the skin has been stripped by the makeup wipe, there’s no toner, serums, or moisturizers to counteract the damage that has been done;
The chemicals in a makeup wipe are often more harsh than using a simple cleanser. Again, this is because of the convenience-factor. They are designed to be an all-in-one product, so they often contain a lot of ingredients—many we cannot pronounce. You may want to rinse your face after you use a makeup wipe, but being an all-in-one step in a regime, makeup wipes often claim to have moisturizing properties so then maybe you aren’t “supposed to” rinse them off. But because they are formulated with a lot of chemicals, including fragrance, which we know has no skin benefit and can be a hormone disruptor, this means that you’re leaving all of those harsh chemicals on the skin to wreak havoc while you sleep.
The third, and arguably most important reason why makeup wipes are a problem is, they cause an incredible amount of pollution in our environment. They are made using materials like polyester, cotton, wood pulp, and rayon, and unfortunately people still flush them dow the toilet, when most wipes are not flushable. Then the makeup wipes that do make it into the trash are mostly non-compostable or non-biodegradable, and can take centuries to break down.
So there you have three very significant reasons why you need to stop using makeup wipes. If you use makeup wipes because you like the convenience, then why not try using zero-waste bars.
Cleanse: Ethique’s face bars. They’re formulated without palm oil, animal byproducts, and are not tested on animals, and give the skin a beautiful and gentle clean without over-drying the skin. Ethique also makes these handy bamboo and cornstarch compostable containers so you can take this bar with you on the go with no mess and no detriment to the planet.
Moisturize: DEW MTY’s Bloom Jelly Serum Bar replaces your serums, oils, and moisturizers, and it comes in a little canister and is small enough to fit anywhere (like in an Ethique face bar container, for example). This bar is nourishing enough to keep your skin hydrated, while treating conditions like signs of aging ad hyperpigmentation.
Second on the Naughty List are loofahs or poufs. While loofahs were originally (and still are) technically derived from natural plants, like gourds and sea cucumbers, the more conventional kinds these days are generally made from 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 all a very unsustainable practice, and incredibly damaging to the environment. Not only that, but these loofahs, or poufs get tossed in the trash after a few months' use, and they live on for literally centuries. What’s 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 harbors 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 method of washing.
Thirdly, scrubbing the skin with a loofah can actually be causing your skin damage. Plastic loofahs are known to “scratch” the skin on a microscopic level, which is not the best practice to exfoliate the skin. You may not see the damage with your eyes, but believe me, 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 made from 100% natural fibers. Slip the bar of soap into the pouch to use it, and hang it in the pouch for quick dry.
The third on the Naughty List is picking your pimples. While this does not necessarily damage your health, it definitely 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 when you mess with one, it can delay the healing process. Picking a pimple 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 that the infection is contained within can rupture when we squeeze it, pushing the bacteria under the skin and into the surrounding follicles, ultimately spreading the infection. This can 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 that we have can deepen and become more noticeable. So it’s important 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 a strong detox and skin brightening effect. It is nonstripping, non drying, 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 also 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 not only has makeup on it, but it also has a build up of pollutants and dirt from the day. Our skin also produces oils naturally, 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 creating a haven for bacteria to grow and thrive. Your skin will feel gritty, grimey, and it will look dull.
When you lie your unwashed face down on your pillow at night, all of that bacteria and debris gets embedded into the linen. So even if you wash your face the next morning, when you go to bed the next night, all of that pollution from the day before will be waiting for you on your pillow. And, if you haven’t washed your face again, it’s just layers upon layers of dirt and debris, sitting on your face and your bed linen. 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 later on in life the signs will show.
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, it 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 pretty important to aiding our skin in cell turnover, some exfoliants are not as effective, or are too effective, and can cause irreparable damage to our skin if we’re not careful.
Physical exfoliants are the kind that you have to manually scrub, and are formulated with either a crushed up shell, sand, salt, or other abrasive substance. The problem with these is you can physically damage the skin through pressing too hard, or concentrating on an area for too long. This causes “micro-tears” on the epidermis, and can ultimately result in red, inflamed, prematurely-aged skin.
Chemical exfoliants are more preferable to physical exfoliants as they do not “scratch” the skin. But again, if you use them too often, or use a concentration that is too high for your skin, damage can be done. 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 - an exfoliating GLOW potion. Papaya enzymes, hibiscus and kō (Hawaiian sugar) work together to gently exfoliate skin, revealing a healthy glow.
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 a 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 while bilberry extract helps tone and tighten.
So there you have six ways you may be unknowingly doing your body and skin harm. We hope this post shed some light on some things you may not have known. Remember, our body is working hard to keep us healthy, so i's important to help it along the way by adopting better habits.
Emma Masotti is an Australian now living in Austin, TX, and 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 make any profit from mentioning them in our blog. #CollaborationOverCompetition