In the first post, we took a look at how and why you should check in with your skin from time to time. It helps you to spot any changes or problems early which in turn lets you do something about them sooner rather than later.
Sometimes our skin issues are due to good old genetics or environment and sometimes it’s down to our own bad habits. When you get to know your skin you can immediately tell if something has changed and get on with doing something about it.
So, when you wake up in the morning and you are “faced” with one of the following, what can you do about it?
If you have dry or combination skin you could naturally have areas that are more prone to irritation or dry patches. By nature, dry skin doesn’t hang onto moisture very well and will need some extra love. You may find areas around your nose and mouth that are dry, tight or itchy.
Are you drinking enough water? Your skin needs water. You know the drill, eight glasses. Here is a whole blog post on why you need water. Just drink it!
Nothing harsh: Get rid of harsh cleansers, exfoliants or toners full of alcohol, soap/detergents, peroxide, antibacterials like triclosan and triclocarban, parabens, fragrances and dyes. They can disrupt the skin’s PH and are much too harsh for dry, sensitive skin. Try a cleansing milk or cream instead or a gentle foaming cleanser with no soapy ingredients.
Gentle Exfoliating: Don’t go overboard with exfoliation. A good old facecloth and warm water will work perfectly as well. Put a little cleansing milk on your skin first to soften and then use a warm washcloth in gentle circular motions to get rid of dead skin.
Harsh Environment: Sun exposure, central heating or air conditioning can dry out your skin, hair and eyes. A dry or very cold climate will do much the same. Use facial oils or a richer moisturiser at night seal in your serums and act as a barrier to moisture loss. You can also try a humidifier to add moisture back into the air in your home.
Very Oily Skin
Some of us just produce more oil than others. It is usually an indication of overactive sebaceous glands. You may also be oilier in summer when it’s warm and less so in winter.
No Stripping! I know you want to eradicate that oil with every fibre of your being but you might be stripping your skin of moisture which will cause it to produce even more sebum. Your skin should NOT feel tight after washing. Try oil cleansers to remove makeup and a light foaming cleanser to get rid of the excess. You want to balance the skin, not dry it out.
Heavy Creams: If you do not have oily skin by nature, waking up with oily skin could simply mean that your night cream may be too rich or that you are overloading your skin with product. You can use fewer products to try to balance the oiliness or try a lighter night cream.
Environmental: If you wake up with oily skin, your room could simply be too warm and you are sweating during the night. Your bedroom should be well-ventilated and cool.
Wash with care: Wash your face with a gentle cleanser and warm water (not hot). Don’t scrub your face, use foaming cleansers that do not make your skin feel tight or dry. To freshen up, splash your skin with cool water or hold a cool washcloth over your face for a minute or two.
No harsh scrubbing! Overdoing it with rough scrubs can also stimulate the skin to produce more oil. Try exfoliators that use acids to remove dead skin cells. Salicylic acid, glycolic acid or enzymes from fruit can loosen and dissolve away dead skin cells. They are usually available in a gel format and full of active ingredients. Very handy!
You still have to moisturise! If you strip your skin of moisture when you wash it, you have to put it back. Splash your face with water or mist your skin, apply a light moisturiser under your makeup. Take some blotting papers and powder with you to touch up during the day. Choose an oil control product that still provides you with enough moisture. Anything that leaves your skin feeling tight is probably doing more harm than good. You have to feed your skin at night. Use a light serum and night cream.
Pale, Tired looking skin
Waking up with dull or pale skin can just be due to a lack of circulation from sleeping but if it persists there may be some other underlying issue.
Take a deep breath! According to The 21st Century Beauty Bible, you should put a drop of essential oil in your cupped hands. Hold your hands over your nose and breathe in deeply a few times. Orange, lavender or palmarosa oil to restore, peppermint or rosemary to energise or patchouli, ylang-ylang or frankincense to soothe.
You may be dehydrated: Six to eight hours is a long time to go without water. Make sure that you drink a cup of water before bed and at least one or two as soon as you wake up to get the kidneys working and to hydrate delicate tissues.
Eat something: Your blood sugar may be low. It’s been a long time since you ate anything. Have an apple or banana while you get ready to get some energy going and rosy up those cheeks.
Are you on your period? Excessive bleeding during your period or hormonal changes can also leave you looking a bit pale and drawn. If this persists you may need to check in with your doctor to make sure that you are not anaemic.
You may need to adjust your diet. If you are dull and pale you probably need to take a look at your nutrition. Are you getting enough essential nutrients and fats? You may need more vegetables and fibre and a lot less alcohol, caffeine, salt, sugar or processed foods.
Have you been outside lately? We need a little sunshine and a lot of fresh air to stay healthy. Hiding in the house can be detrimental to your mental and physical health. Your body needs the vitamin D produced by spending time in the sun. It reduces inflammation and aids in cell renewal. Don’t get burned but a few minutes of sunshine on your skin is a good thing!
To get some colour into your face and reduce the pale, puffy look you can give yourself a quick facial massage. This will get your circulation going and drain away excess fluid. Here is a post on how to do a quick facial massage at home.
Overnight pimple infestation
Waking up with a new spot that wasn’t there the night before will drive most of us crazy.
Hormones: If you are breaking out, think about where you are in your cycle. Hormonal acne is pretty normal and most of us have some version of it during our cycle. Of course, teenagers struggle with hormonal changes and sudden increases in sebum production whether they are male or female. This tends to lead to clogged pores and breakouts.
If you are an adult and your acne is persistent you should go see a doctor. It could be various factors from hormonal changes, your contraceptive or dietary problems among many other things.
Did you cleanse properly the night before? Have you been removing your makeup properly? Is your breakout in an area that you maybe didn’t cleanse as well as you could have? Sometimes we don’t cleanse around our hairline or jawline properly. When you cleanse, pin your hair away from your face and remember to wash all the way down your neck.
Take a look at your makeup and skincare products: Did you try new makeup or skincare? Sometimes new ingredients don’t agree with our skin. You may also want to check how old your products are. Bacteria can build up in your cosmetics or they can simply go out of date.
Are your pillowcases clean? They need to be changed at least once a week. Your pillowcase can be covered in old moisturiser, hair products, old skin cells, bacteria and general dirt.
Have you been touching your face without washing your hands first? You touch all sorts of things during the day. Keyboards, phones and surfaces, in general, are just dirty. You should always wash your hands before you wash your face and before you apply anything to your skin. Try not to touch your face during the day. Don’t squeeze pimples with dirty hands either. Just don’t squeeze pimples at all.
Dark circles and puffy under eyes
We all get them from time to time. Dark circles can have several causes. Sometimes it’s genetic, sometimes it’s due to illness or lack of sleep. For puffy eyes, it could be water retention or allergies that cause the delicate tissues to swell.
Your congested sinuses could be the problem: To reduce the inflammation, lay back, dip your ring fingers in some facial oil like camellia, sweet almond or apricot oil, (you can also use coconut or good old olive oil) and start tapping outward toward your temples from either side of your nose, just below the eye socket. It may feel uncomfortable at first but you will feel some of the “stuffy” feeling drain away.
Have you been sleeping enough? Lack of sleep can give the area around the eyes a dark, sunken appearance. If you don’t get enough rest the little blood vessels around your eyes dilate and you get a nice panda eye going.
Have you been eating too much salt or sugar? Salt and sugar don’t have exactly the same effect but I lump them together because they are so damaging. Sugar destroys collagen bonds, messes with our blood sugar levels, which also has a negative effect on our skin whereas salt causes water retention, inflammation, high blood pressure and cell damage. Behave with the white granular stuff.
How much caffeine are you drinking? Caffeine is my favourite bad habit but I know that if I drink coffee any later than 13:00 I will not sleep very well. It also dehydrates you which causes the body to hang onto fluid which leads to a puffy face and eyes ON TOP OF dark circles (from broken sleep) in the morning.
Are you drinking enough water? Dehydration is horrible for your skin. Your body needs all the water it can get to run your vital organs so if you are dehydrated during the night it will leave you feeling sluggish, achy, dry and wrinkly. Drink at least a cup of water before going to sleep and two when you wake up to get everything moving.
Is your eye cream annoying your skin? Now, I am all for a lovely rich eye cream to smooth out my wrinkles. I’m 40 and I’ve been fighting those little suckers for YEARS but I can tell when my latest experiment contains something that isn’t good for me. This is a trial and error thing but some eye creams or gels contain fragrances or tightening ingredients that irritate the skin and cause inflammation. Watch out for the ones who claim to reduce wrinkles in minutes by plumping skin.
Are you struggling with allergies? Don’t get me started. Spring and harvest season are my WORST. Hayfever and allergies cause inflammation and swelling while constantly blowing your nose or wiping your eyes will break the fine little capillaries around your eyes and nose resulting in puffy, red under eyes and dark circles.
Dry or irritated skin around the eyes
Are you too rough when removing eye makeup? Your common everyday foaming wash isn’t really meant for your eyes. They dry the delicate skin right out and cause redness and irritation.
Remove your eye makeup with a dedicated eye makeup remover fluid or micellar water and a very soft cotton pad. Be careful with cleansing wipes as well, some of them are too rough or are actually meant to exfoliate and are not suitable for eyes.
Did you remove your makeup? If you go to bed with your eye makeup (or any makeup) on you should expect to see irritated and puffy skin around your eyes. The skin is so thin and delicate that it needs to be properly cleaned and hydrated before sleep. Old makeup clogs pores, stops the skin from healing itself and traps dirt on your skin! It also means that you probably didn’t use a moisturiser or eye cream before going to bed. And if you applied skincare products on a dirty face then I don’t even know where to start with you…
Did your makeup irritate your skin? Just like your skincare, you need to keep an eye on your makeup. Some companies use talc, parabens, fragrances and preservatives in their products.
Old makeup, especially eye makeup is a nightmare. Bacteria can accumulate in old product and infect your eyes and the skin around it. Old makeup also becomes unstable and the ingredients go “off”. Write the date of purchase on the back of packaging or put it in your phone somewhere so you can keep track of how old your cosmetics are.
Are there ingredients in your eye cream that could be upsetting the skin around your eyes? Again, look out for parabens, fragrances, preservatives, dyes and alcohols.
Stinging or red blotches
Ingredients: Check your cleanser and exfoliator for detergents, soaps, dyes, fragrances and alcohol. If you are using a toner, make sure that it does not have an alcohol base.
It could be that your skin is dry and needs a richer serum and moisturiser. I use much richer creams in winter because the icy cold weather and central heating dry me out terribly. I’ve also noticed that as I get older my skin needs to be nourished and protected more than it used to or I end up with dry, irritated blotches around my nose, mouth and eyes.
Do you have eczema or inflammation on the skin surface? Does your skin feel tight, dry, hot or itchy? Are there areas that have cracked or started to bleed? You need to see your doctor as soon as possible.
Have you recently been for a peel or treatment? If you have been for a facial or resurfacing treatment you could still be healing or you’ve had a reaction to one of the products used. It’s always a good idea to find out which products they will be using beforehand. You can then go online and read through the ingredient list to make sure that they don’t contain any known irritants.
Are you using chemical resurfacing products at home? I know you can buy professional grade products online but very few of us actually know how to use them properly. Some of them also don’t play well with other cosmetics so be very careful that you follow instructions to the letter or you’ll end up with a burnt face. Better yet, let the professionals do it!
Have you tried a new mask or sample? I LOVE trying masks and sample cosmetics. I’m almost more excited about the samples that come with my cosmetic orders than the products I actually paid for! Just with any other product, take a look at the ingredients and instructions before slapping them on your face. Clay masks can dry your skin out horribly if you leave them on too long and some peel off masks are just full of alcohol that evaporates to leave the film behind on your face!
Are your makeup products too old and out of date? As I said earlier, makeup and cosmetics have a use by date. Take note of when you buy or open your product and if it changes consistency, develops an odour or separates, it probably should have been replaced already.
Wrinkles and sagging
If you can tell that one side of your face is sagging a little you may be sleeping on that side or you need a better serum with firming properties. Check in with those 3 sets of corners on your face, is one side significantly lower than the other? This can be due to age or your habits like sitting with that side of your face cradled in your hand while you write or work.
Sleeping on one side of your face will cause wrinkles and sagging on one side eventually. Try to sleep on your back instead. To train yourself to do that, put two pillows on either side of you when you go to sleep. It may disturb your sleep for a couple of nights but your body will learn.
Read more about anti-ageing ideas here.
Dark spots and pigmentation
Do you see more pigmentation than usual? Hyperpigmentation is simply an overproduction of melanin in the skin. It can happen to anyone but it can be more pronounced in people with darker skin tones.
Pigmentation can happen due to hormonal changes, medication, sun exposure, age or good old genetics among many other things. If you haven’t been using a sunscreen to protect your skin then you can expect sunspots to appear eventually.
With pregnancy or some contraceptives, you can develop melasma which is quite hard to treat but does fade away after pregnancy or if you change the birth control.
Some mental health medications can cause hyperpigmentation, so can acne scarring as well as some cosmetic laser treatments.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation is caused by the body’s inflammatory reaction to skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, acne, infections or even cosmetic treatments.
You can read more about hyperpigmentation here.
Most of us will have an issue with our skin every now and again. Many are self-inflicted. Pay attention to any changes and if irritation or discomfort persists, go see a doctor.
Thank you for reading and let me know if you have any advice or suggestions!