If you have a wedding coming up, you've probably spent the past few months doing everything to get your skin in tiptop shape for the big day. You've washed, you've moisturized, you've slept a full eight hours, you've even splurged on expensive facial treatments involving bizarre ingredients. So, come time to walk down the aisle, why does your complexion appear drab and dull, not radiant and glowing like you had envisioned? Or even worse, why is there a cluster of fresh new pimples staring back at you in the mirror? The possible culprit to your skincare blues (or reds) may come as a surprise. And we're not talking about the usual suspects (i.e. dirty makeup brushes, stress, and hair products).
Here are the five surprising "skinemies" possibly responsible for your lack of wedding day luster:
1. Water. It may seem shocking, but the water you use to wash your skin may be responsible for your broken-out or less-than-vibrant skin. Unfiltered water is full of metals and other organic materials that can react poorly with skin, causing it to breakout. Additionally, "hard water" (the stuff that leaves the white residue on your shower door) may be creating dulling and pore-clogging buildup on your face! Try washing with distilled or purified water instead and see how soft and smooth your skin feels.
2. Accessories. Our cell phones, sunglasses, and even our jewelry can act as a carrier for acne-causing bacteria. Dead skin cells, dirt, and oils build up on these items over time, so it is so important to frequently wipe them clean. Pay attention to where your breakouts are located; they can point you to the likely culprit (i.e. pimples at the bridge of your nose = sunglasses).
3. Exfoliation. You are probably scratching your head, saying, "Hey, I thought exfoliation was a good thing." Well, you'd be right. Exfoliation, when done properly (one to two times a week), can keep skin smooth, soft, and luminescent. However, wrong exfoliation or overdone exfoliation can irritate complexions or strip skin of its natural oils. Steer clear of harsh scrubs, made from ingredients like apricot kernels, which can create microscopic nicks in the skin and actually roughen your complexion over time. Instead, look for a scrub made from seeds or beads, or when in doubt, just opt for a naturally exfoliating fruit enzyme like pumpkin (you'll see the results immediately).
4. Foaming wash. Instinctually we are drawn to that super sudsy wash we associate with clean. However, be mindful of what is creating those suds in your cleanser because it just may be breaking you out. Foaming ingredients like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and its sisters have been reported as being highly irritating and even acne-causing for many individuals. Just because it is foaming, doesn't mean it is working. Always check the label and research the ingredients inside.
5. Oil-free. Despite common thought, saying "no" to oils is not always the wisest choice. Sure, some oils will clog pores and those we definitely want to keep away from. However, "essential oils" are, well, essential. In fact, these essential oils can treat a wide array of skin ailments from acne to pigmentation to scarring, not to mention make your skin glow like never before. Look for lavender oil for acne-prone skin, lemon oil for pigmented skin, and chamomile oil for irritated skin. There is an essential oil for nearly every skin issue. The best part: They are safer to use than chemical ingredients, and they are extra-nourishing.
Being aware of these possible stealth skin saboteurs will get you one step closer to your dream wedding, glowing skin and all.
Sarah Dakar is beauty director with Sonya Dakar Skincare in Beverly Hills.