Ever feel like you're faithfully abiding by every skincare commandment you've ever learned, but your skin is still acting up? We've got the lowdown from New York City dermatologist Julie Russak on what you're doing wrong — and how to do it right in plenty of time for your wedding day.
1. Minor food sensitivities
You don't always have to have a major reaction to have a food intolerance. Gluten allergies and sensitivities can manifest themselves in breakouts and redness, Russak says, adding that food with a high trans fat content can increase oil production and cause dandruff. Hormones in milk can aggravate acne, while processed meat and tomato sauce can cause perioral dermatitis, a red, bumpy rash around the mouth. If you're having an issue, try eliminating suspect foods from your diet for a few weeks and then slowly reintroduce them one at a time to identify the culprit.
It's the superstar ingredient in most makeup primers, but breakout-prone women have to be careful. "They wreck havoc on your skin, resulting in product build up and acne," Russak says. Breaking out near your hairline? Silicone in your hair products might be to blame, so keep them away from your face.
3. Expired products
Just because that blush has lasted since college doesn't mean you should still use it. "Using expired products can cause serious allergic reactions because the chemical makeup has changed," Russak says. (Not to mention the potential build-up of bacteria that can cause major acne.)
4. Environmental pollution
Ever notice that when you're vacationing in the fresh air your skin just looks better? It's not only because you're relaxed. Environmental pollution is at an all-time high and those living in cities bear the brunt of it. "Our skin is a breathable organ that absorbs the good and the bad," Russak says. "The best plan of action is to protect it." She recommends using antioxidant serum every morning, like SkinCeuticals Phloretin CF, $159, topped with an SPF 30 or higher sunscreen.
5. Binging on sugar (real and fake)
Sugar highs and inevitable lows cause inflammation, which can lead to acne and wrinkles. And sorry, diet soda lovers: Your body recognizes both real and artificial sweeteners as sugar and responds accordingly, Russak says. Have a sweet tooth? Swap Skittles for dark chocolate — at least 70 percent — since it has anti-inflammatory benefits and will satisfy your craving.
6. An incorrect anti-aging regimen
While it's great that you're taking preventative measures, be sure your anti-aging regiment is age-appropriate. Heavy oils or rich creams intended for your mother, for instance, can clog your pores, Russak says. A can't-miss anti-aging combo: sunscreen in the daytime and retinoids, which fights acne and wrinkles, at night.
7. Being unfaithful
To your skin-care routine, that is! Constantly changing the products you're using can shock the skin, causing inflammation, acne, and a host of other problems, Russak says. Give products at least eight weeks to work before switching things up.
8. Using unfiltered water
Hard water (water containing high levels of iron, magnesium and calcium) can lead to dry skin, Russak says. A buildup of minerals in the water can also clog pores and make soap difficult to fully wash off. "This creates a film on the skin and prevents moisturizer from absorbing, further contributing to irritated skin." Try T3 Source Showerhead Filter, $130, which will give you both shiny hair and soft skin.