Skincare is all fun and games until we’ve amassed enough product to last two full lifetimes and still struggle with derma-dilemmas. According to Annie Tevelin, founder of Skin Owl, sometimes our skin’s saboteur is right under our noses (or all over our pulse points). After dealing with years of skin she was ashamed of to no avail, Annie took a post-graduate course in cosmetic chemistry and founded Skin Owl with her new understanding of how ingredients interact — and how simplifying is almost always the solution to persistent skin problems.
From perfume to toothpaste, Annie is showing us a few common culprits of chronic skin woes…
Eat an ounce of dark chocolate a day. Drink a glass of red wine a day for antioxidant support. Eat your vegetables. Exfoliate three times a week. Wear sunscreen every day.
We’ve all been on the end of general food and beauty product claims, most of which seem reasonable and more than easy to do. We gladly welcome any claims that invite dark chocolate into our lives every day! But what if some of the “rules” we’ve come to abide by actually worked against us, putting our largest organ in harm’s way? What if our “healthy habits” turned into low-level allergies over time? Or cyclical skin problems and sensitivity?
Here are some unexpected foods and products that may be sabotaging your skin health:
Toothpaste. We’ve all heard of the benefits of putting toothpaste on our skin, to get rid of skin problems like acne. Many toothpastes contain sodium lauryl sulfate, a known skin irritant. Dr. Leslie Baumann states, “It strips the natural lipids from the skin, disrupting the barrier and rendering it more susceptible to external irritants. It can also cause chapped lips and skin irritation, sometimes even making perioral dermatitis worse.” Throw in the irritating effects of fluoride, which occasionally causes skin eruptions, such as atopic dermatitis, eczema or urticaria, and it might be worth trying a fluoride-free paste, such as Tom’s or Living Libations, if you’re experiencing any of the above.
Coffee. Cold brewed. Nitro. Brain-Octane infused. Without question, coffee is having a moment. With all of the amazing benefits pouring out of our coffees these days, it’s easy to believe our mind, energy and skin is in the clear. Much like salt and alcohol, caffeine dehydrates the skin, causing the liver to work overtime. End result? Elastin and collagen depletion + increased inflammation and redness. Take your coffee with a spoonful of sugar and cream? This dairy and sugar intake can build up quickly causing increased breakouts, hormonal fluctuations, and premature aging. Additionally, the tannins found in coffee can build up in the liver, causing liver spots on the skin.
Salicylic AciD. As an acne “survivor,” I can’t tell you how many times I turned to salicylic acid to heal my acne. While this ingredient is known to kill bacteria and gently exfoliate, it can also cause extreme skin dryness, diminishing your skin’s natural radiance and youthful appearance. Avoid harsh cleansers and exfoliators in conjunction with salicylic acid (and other harsh topical agents, such as benzoyl peroxide). The continuous use of this acid can also cause the skin to thin over time. Too much of a good thing is exactly that.
Perfume. A little spritz here. A little spritz there. And maybe an accidental spritz on your face, on the way to your neck or hair. I can’t tell you how many times I have advised our clients to spritz fragrance onto the wrist and then apply from the wrist to the neck directly. While it only feels like a little displaced spray, the backlash of synthetic fragrance on the face is a heavy one. Most fragrances contain synthetic “trade secret” formulas, making the ingredients hard to decipher when looking at a perfume’s ingredient deck. Stay on the safe side and keep the atomizer pointing south.
Rice Cakes. When you’re craving a tortilla chip, but responsibly reach for the rice cake, you’re making a good decision, right? Not exactly. Simple carbs, found in rice cakes, cause blood sugar to skyrocket, causing your body to metabolize them by converting them to glucose. Collagen and elastin are damaged over time, making the skin look lackluster and aged.
Agave. The world rejoiced when sugar was pushed aside for this plant-based sugar alternative. Unfortunately, the agave plant is chock full of fructose, arguably higher than high-fructose corn syrup. Fructose is metabolized by your liver, thus turning it into fat, and it breaks down collagen causing skin problems faster than you can say, “Ugh.”