I've struggled with my complexion for years. My brother, sister and I all inherited my mother's acne-prone skin; she was breaking-out well into her 30s. We've all seen a dermatologist at one point or another.
I'm happy to say that I've finally started to get my skin under control over the last few years, and I think it's largely due to breaking some bad habits. In no particular order, here are a few tips I've learned for maintaining a healthy complexion:
1. Don't get lazy about your face-washing routine. Your skin gets used to being treated a certain way, and when you skip washing your face one night or go to sleep with makeup on, it can often result in breakouts. Even after one night of negligence!
2. Flip your pillow. This is actually something my dermatologist taught me. Unless you're a vigilent sheets washer (and if so, kudos to you), your pillow isn't constantly clean. You're probably drooling a little on it and the oils from your face are rubbing into it. Alternating sides each night doesn't give you a completely fresh pillow, but it allows time for the bateria on one side to die and may help rub off dirt.
3. Give your skin a break every so often with a makeup-free day. I like to do this on Sundays. It helps your skin breathe and feel natural.
4. Exfoliate regularly. This is the key to younger-looking skin, because it slough off old cells and reveals fresher skin underneath. My dermatologist once told me to keep my Retin A prescription forever, because its exfoliating properties will help reduce wrinkles later on.
5. This next tip isn't something I actually do (yet), but I heard it firsthand from a stylist who has gorgeous skin: Stay within a family of products. If you love Clinique, use Clinique's cleanser, moisturizer, eye treatment, exfoliant, blemish control, masks, etc. Apparently products cut from the same cloth tend to enhance and work well with one another.
6. Don't use too many products all at once. It can clog your pores. The idea of wearing moisturizer, eye cream, sunscreen, primer and makeup at the same time scares me. I limit myself to no more than three products at once.
7. Don't squeeze blemishes until it's absolutely necessary — i.e. they're close to erupting on their own. Otherwise, you're just going to end up with an unsightly red spot on your face, and it's easier to cover up a blemish when it isn't all irritated and gross. And on that note, always wash your hands before dealing with a breakout.
8. Stop touching your face, and don't rest your head on your boyfriend's bare shoulder or the palm of your hand. Skin-to-face contact — even a seemingly innocuous shoulder — spreads oils and often results in breakouts. I've learned this the hard way. When I'm snuggling with my beau, I make sure my face is on the corner of a pillow or that he's wearing a t-shirt, otherwise it's almost a guaranteed breakout.
9. Don't stop experimenting. I only recently discovered a new favorite cleanser — Galen Labs' 12 Element Cleansing Milk — and I fully expect my preference will continue to evolve. When you live somewhere with drastic climate changes throughout the year like I do, it helps to try out different products and see which ones are giving your skin what it needs at that time.
10. Stay moisturized. If one key to youthful-looking skin is exfoliating, the other key is keeping hydrated. This is a balance everyone has to learn, and the amount needed is unique to each individual.