The crucial adjective your skin needs to achieve health, radiance and glow: strength.
If you’re confused about the headline of this article, stick with me for a minute. There’s no doubt you’ve heard a lot of adjectives used to describe an ideal state for skin: dewy, radiant, clear, glowing, hydrated, calm, fresh, baby-soft, clean, elastic, happy, glossy, smooth, soft, fresh. The list truly could go on forever. And while all of these things are admirable goals and more or less translate to mean that skin is healthy, what they all miss is the foundation for getting to that point. The crucial adjective your skin needs to achieve that health, radiance and glow: strength.
That’s right — before we can get smooth, soft and fresh in the face, we must get our skin strong.
While it’s definitely fun to imagine our skin cells pumping tiny iron at a skin gym or doing microscope pilates, that’s not the kind of “strong” we’re going for here. So much of skincare routine revolves around products that are meant to solve or treat an issue or maintain a state that has been achieved after solving or treating an issue. But we rarely talk about peeling it all back and focusing on a strong foundation so that these additional products can do their jobs well or, more appealingly, not have a job to do at all.
So what does it mean to have ‘strong’ skin? Strong skin functions the way it’s supposed to. Strong skin hasn’t been compromised or thrown off balance by an outside — or inside — force. Strong skin does what it’s meant to do: protect everything inside of it, regulate body temperature, function as a part of the immune system (remember, it protects from invaders!), remove waste (yup), retain the moisture and hydration the body needs.
And it all results from the health of skin’s two main layers: the epidermis aka skin barrier, your body’s protective moat that keeps the bad stuff out and the good stuff in; and the dermis, home to connective tissue, hair follicles and sweat glands. If both layers are healthy and working well –independently and together — by protecting externally and internally, it’s safe to say your skin is strong like bull.
‘Weak’ (or weakened) skin, on the other hand, is not doing its protective duty and can lead to inflammation, irritation, breakouts, redness — all the stuff those products I mentioned earlier are trying to fix, so you can see why even a 15-step skincare regimen may not be fixing your skin issues if the underlying issue is weakened skin.
Since we’ve already ruled out a gym routine as the way to get your skin strong and in fighting, protective, inflammation-free shape, what’s the alternative? It’s actually pretty simple and hopefully easier than dragging yourself to the gym…
Strong Skin Step #1: HYDRATE
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: Hydrate. Your. Skin. Make drinking water a regular, frequent part of your daily routine. Opt for uber-moisturizing products and make sure you’re applying them in the correct order to get maximum results. Look for moisture-friendly ingredients like hyaluronic acid, ceramides and glycerin.
Strong Skin Step #2: Keep Things Clean
You know that breathing is what keeps us healthy and, well, alive. Same goes for your skin, which does its breathing via your pores. If pores are clogged, breathing is harder and skin is less healthy, which means it’s less strong. Keep those follicles open with regular exfoliation to prevent the buildup of dead skin cells. Don’t overdo it, though — too much is not a good thing here. Start with once/week (gentle physical buff or chemical) and work your way up from there if you think you need it.
Strong Skin Step #3: Protect Your Acid Mantle
Too many products and too much action alter the pH of your skin. When the pH of your skin is thrown out of whack, your acid mantle suffers. When your acid mantle suffers, your skin gets weaker. Treat your skin delicately, don’t overdo it.
Strong Skin Step #4: Tweak Your Products For the Weather
Similar to Strong Skin Step #1, you’ll want to make sure the products you’re using serve the right purpose for whatever season you’re in. Yes, certain things can and do work year-round, but sometimes you need something a little lighter to keep your pores clear, and sometimes you need something heavier to make up for the moisture your skin loses when it’s cold. Listen to what your skin needs, when it needs it, and it’ll stay strong.