valentine’s day: navigating acne, sex and dating

image source: pinterest

winter is in full swing, which means that many of us are on the hunt for a special someone to cuddle up with on cold nights and to romance through the coming valentine season. but dating new people can be intimidating, especially while attempting to take care of ourselves and our skin with an involved skincare regimen. here at skinSALVATION, we are all about empowerment and asserting our needs while also striving to have fun and connect with new people. dating can be a healthy and nourishing part of life – it provides necessary social connection and physical touch, which has been shown to increase serotonin levels while lowering cortisol – great news for those with acne-prone skin!1 we also love the excitement of getting to know new people and the opportunity to reinvent ourselves along the way with each new partner.

so in the spirit of st. valentine, we have compiled some practical tips for staying clear while your sex life heats up.

plan ahead. if you’re going out on the town and have an inkling that you might spend the night in a lover’s embrace, pack a travel-size getting started kit, or at least cleanser and moisturizer. if all of that won’t fit in your purse, wet some toner pads with hydrating toner and pop ‘em in a tiny ziplock bag for the night. we strongly recommend trying to at least rinse and moisturize (but preferably cleanse, tone and hydrate) your skin after a night out in order to clear away any makeup and bacteria-breeding sweat.

we also suggest getting into the habit of bringing your own pillowcase if you know you’ll be out for the night – one that you know will be clean and free of cloggy personal care products. if you forget your own pillowcase, turn your shirt inside out and pop it over a pillow for a quick fix. later on down the line in your relationship, ask to stash your skin products in your partner’s bathroom for convenience.

be a gracious host. if you’re concerned about spending the night in a new date’s possibly cloggy bed, try inviting them over to your house for the night instead. you’ll have more control over food and drink, and you can more easily slip away to the bathroom to do your nightly skin regimen. plus, you won’t have to worry about any linens carrying cloggy ingredients. speaking of linens, ditch the sexy satin and stick with cotton – its breathability is much less likely to contribute to body and face acne.

practice your cooking skills. nervous about going out to eat with a new date because of your new aversion to dairy and soy? everyone likes to be wined and dined, so hone those acne-safe cooking skills and invite your date over for a lady and the tramp-style feast (you can even kiss mid-bite because you won’t have to worry about coconut oil residue on your partner’s lips!) plus, cooking at home is perfect if you’re on a budget and you’ll know exactly what’s going into your body. check out our pinterest and blog for acne safe recipes that will wow your foodie date.

or just eat out and be prepared. if you can get a heads up as to what restaurant you’ll be dining, you can take a look at their menu in advance to find out what their acne-safe choices will be. if you’re not sure, a quick call or email to the restaurant should help inform you further!

in any case, avoiding dairy and tofu are totally common dietary restrictions, and it’s the job of the restaurant staff to cater to your needs. so let them!

don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. if you miss your skin regimen the first few nights with a new date, don’t stress. building trust and comfort with a new person doesn’t happen overnight, so we certainly don’t expect everyone to bust out their mandelic toner and bp gel on the first night of a fling. if it’s just too soon to let your tinder date in on the secrets to clear skin, skip your regimen – or just give your face a splash of water + moisturizer (a swipe of toner would be great!) and call it a night. even we estheticians struggle with sticking to our healthy habits the first few nights of a new relationship – kim religiously wears her mouthguard to bed each night, EXCEPT when she is just getting to know someone new! 😉

image source: avert.org

let’s talk about sex. having sex with a new partner who doesn’t know the ins and outs of the acne-safe lifestyle can be tricky, but we have a few tips to get through it like a champ. first, we love the idea of showering before (as foreplay AND to rinse off your partner’s cloggy products) and after sex. if this seems like too much of a commitment to cleanliness, even a splash of water or a hot towel on the face and body after the act will do the trick. we recommend rinsing off afterwards so that you aren’t stuck in a cloggy embrace for the rest of the night. you’ll be in the bathroom anyway for your post-coital pee, so you might as well use some toner or rinse off with a fresh wash cloth. second, change your sheets (or at least your pillowcases) after each romp to prevent breakouts from sweat, body fluids and bacteria. you could also lay down some towels, though we know this is less realistic given the heat of the moment. when you finally decide to sink into sleep while blissed in an embrace, try your best to keep your face away from your partner’s sweaty body parts, especially after doing your skin regimen.

what if you wake up in the middle of the night feeling frisky and you and your partner decide to have some fun? no need to do your entire regimen again afterwards – just a swipe of some hydrating toner or a hot towel will help prevent future breakouts. if you find that your lip or chin area is sensitive to your partner’s stubble, avoid toning and exfoliating the area until redness and irritation dissipate. continue to cleanse and moisturize, but avoid exfoliating serums and any other products with active ingredients that can exacerbate the irritation.

lube lube lube. if you use lube, try to steer clear of silicone-based lubes, as they can be detrimental to our health and to the environment. we like probe lubes (available at rainbow and online) because their ingredient lists are short and acne-safe. you can also experiment with using acne-safe oils like sunflower and safflower as lubes. if you are unsure about the clogginess of the lube you prefer, you and your partner can always use gloves to apply it (black latex gloves are usually a big hit!)

last, but not least – have fun! dating shouldn’t be yet another source of stress in our lives, but we know it can be difficult to stay in the moment while making out with someone for the first time who uses cloggy lip balm, face products or beard oil. it’s far more important to relax and have a good time than to stress yourself out, which may ultimately lead to an increase in systemic inflammation (and more acne). so when you’re vibing with a new cutie, feel free to relax about your skin and just enjoy the present moment!

we wanna know: how do you navigate sexual relationships and nights out on the town while maintaining your skin regimen? let us know your tips below!

footnotes
1. konnikova, m (2015) “the power of touch” in the new yorker. mar 4, 2015.

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