The public library is my happy place. I download audio books every 10-15 days on any and every imaginable topic. Got questions about nonrenewable energy, craft beers or transcendental meditation? I’m your girl. My last three “reads” were The Year of Yes, by Shonda Rhimes, Redefining Realness by Janet Mock and The Underside of Joy by Seré Prince Halverson. This week, I’m listening to The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. That last one really has me thinking. So much of what we do in life is habitual. At some point you may have decided to pop into Starbucks before work and order an iced white chocolate mocha in all of it’s caloried glory (and really, who could blame you?). But after a while, your feet wander to Starbucks without much conscious input from the rest of you. And six weeks later, you’re looking at your reflection in a store mirror and wondering, when did I acquire a muffin top?
No-longer-conscious “choices” affect every area of our lives. An extra scoop of ice cream, a cigarette here or there, one less day at the gym – they all have consequences. Sometimes those consequences don’t look related to the action at all, so you have to dig a little bit to discover what’s really happening. If you’re battling skin issues – anything from pre-mature wrinkles to rosacea flare-ups – you may be piling on products or even considering medication. But first ask yourself if one of the following could be the culprit.
Sugar: I hear you moaning. And I understand. Despite the joy sugar brings the moment it hits your tongue, it’s wreaking havoc on your skin. Sugar breaks down collagen, the magic ingredient that keeps skin looking smooth and youthful. You won’t see it right away, but over time excessive amounts of sugary foods (soda, desserts, breakfast cereals, even Thai food!), will steal your youthful beauty. Is that sugar-glazed donut really worth it? It’s your call.
Alcohol: Don’t hate me, but all of those fun, colorful drinks (filled with SUGAR) aren’t doing your skin any good. One now and again, is fine, but if you’re throwing back cosmos every weekend, you’re dehydrating your skin, which leads to fine lines and visible pores. Worse, alcohol also decreases your stash of Vitamin A, which is an antioxidant necessary for cell renewal. Alcohol is also listed as one of the top triggers for rosacea.
Air Conditioning: I have a neighbor who runs her noisy air conditioner at the slightest mention of heat. I really want to tell her that opening a window and running a ceiling fan are much gentler to her skin (and my ears). Air conditioning dries the skin and makes conditions like rosacea, eczema and psoriasis worse. If you have to go places that are heavily air conditioned (I’m talking to you TRADER JOE’S) drink lots of water afterward to replenish the skin. At home,using a cool-air humidifier can do wonders to counteract the effects of air conditioning.
Week-old Pillowcases: If you habitually wash your pillowcases once a week, you’re doing your skin a big service. Pillowcases collect dead skin cells, oil, bacteria and hair products. As you roll around on your pillow at night, your pores are getting filled with all that grossness. A smooth, Egyptian cotton or satin pillowcase washed once or twice a week in a natural, fragrance-free detergent will cause less breakouts, skin irritations and wrinkles.
What other habits can you taper to keep your skin pretty, glowy and problem-free?