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.

acne-safe travel tips

some quickie acne-safe travel tips!

 

  • charcoal pills & oregano oil / when traveling, you sometimes have to take risks when eating! sS founder and ceo, kim, likes to pack activated charcoal pills which absorb toxins and help with digestion & gastrointestinal discomfort. it’s best to take 2 hours prior to eating something questionable, or within 2 hours if you start to feel discomfort. oregano oil is also handy for this reason, with anti-fungal & anti-bacterial properties, it can help to prevent illnesses & infections that we are commonly more susceptible to while traveling. (taking one or two charcoal pills each hour with plenty of water will help stop diarrhea quickly, and the oregano oil should help with eliminating toxic bacteria. be advised that for a day or two after taking this supplement you may experience some constipation and dark/black movements, so drink lots of water and try to eat lots of insoluble fiber to help rebalance your gut). 

 

  • soap nuts /  we have quite a few globetrotters as clients who travel for long periods of time. this can be tricky when it comes to finding an acne-safe way to do laundry. since packing a gallon of laundry detergent isn’t really an option, these soap nuts would be a great alternative. soap nuts are actually dried berries from the himalayas that act as a surfactant when lathered up in the wash to naturally & thoroughly clean your laundry. they are travel-sized & can be reused up to 10 times 🙂

 

  • hydration – both inside + out/  we’ve all experience travel-induced breakouts and dehydrated skin (not to mention all-too-common constipation). travel is very stressful on the body and it’s important to take extra care and be proactive about your skin. topically, i like to add an extra layer of hydrating gel under my regular daytime moisturizer and bring a small bottle of rose water with me to regularly spritz my face during the trip. in the article, “why does food taste different on planes?”  by katia moskvitch, she notes that, ‘at about 30,000 feet, humidity is less than 12% – drier than most deserts.’ this can wreak havoc on your body and skin causing intense dehydration. add a cocktail in the mix and you’re guaranteed to wake up from your in-plane snooze with a headache. “the complete guide to surviving long-haul flights”, an article from the atlantic, recommends that you drink one liter of water for every 5 hours of air travel.

 

  • icing / if you haven’t heard it enough, we love icing 🙂 the benefits of inflammation control & prevention are invaluable. while traveling, our physical stress is at an all time high, so staying on top of icing is the best weapon for maintaining clear skin on the road. ideally, your airbnb will have a freezer so you can easily use your ice pop maker. in the case where you’re staying in a hotel without a freezer, we find it best to order a glass of ice from the hotel barand take it to-go, or get some ice from the ice machine and give the cubes a rinse before using. if the hotel has no bar or restaurant, the next best option is to pack sandwich bags and use ice from the ice machine. happy icing!

 

  • hand sanitizer and wipes / we all know the airplanes are a bacteria playground. to avoid getting sick, which tends to increase inflamed breakouts, it is good to bring hand sanitizer & pure alcohol wipes on the plane. use the wipes to clean the plane window, armrest, eating tray, etc.. we like the disinfecting wipes from “clean well”, or you can get a box of individual alcohol wipes in the first aid section of walgreens. i find these easy to keep in my wallet, and our esthetician kerry is convinced that this has been a game changer for her and her immune system while traveling. these wipes also come in handy to frequently wipe down the rims of my sunglasses and phone 🙂 be sure to avoid touching your face after using hand sanitizer, hand soap or lotion from the plane, both of which can be cloggy!

 

  • snacks/ airport and road trip food is often filled with dairy, soy and lots of salt. this article from BBC says that airplane food is heavily salted because lack of humidity and low pressure in the cabin decreases our ability to taste salt + sweet by 30%. not only can this heightened salt intake increase water retention making your body feel puffy, it can also irritate acne. forego the airport food and bring these snacks with you instead: justin’s single serving almond butter with apple chips (i’ve found these at most metropolitan airports lately), fresh fruit, a sandwich. keep leftover snacks from the trip with you in case you’re in a situation where you didn’t get much to eat at a meal that was dairy or soy heavy. foods that you pack tastes 1000% better than most airport food anyway!

 

 

  • prep your climate-sensitive skincare regimen/ it’s important to pack the right outfits according to your destination’s forecast 🙂 the same rule applies to your skin regimen! by simply changing up your cleanser and/or moisturizer, you can stay ahead of the climate. if you’re traveling to a hot + humid climate you may want to opt for a foaming cleanser (like the charcoal) and lighter moisturizer like hydrating gel instead of hydrating cream. also, lay off of harsh exfoliants like vitamin-a on days that you’re spending in the sun to reduce your chance of hyperpigmentation. if you’re traveling to a cold climate, opt for a heavier cleanser and moisturizer like our green tea cleanser and hydrating cream (you can even add a few drops of pure sunflower or safflower oil + mix it up in your palm for added moisture) to prevent dryness and cracking from cold temperatures and dry indoor heaters.

 
for both climates it’s good to have pure shea butter on hand. you can apply a thin layer of shea butter on your skin when spending the day in extreme cold, like when you’re skiing, and also in warm weather to protect your skin before dipping in the pool or the ocean.

 

  • neck pillows/ neck pillows are amazing, but they can also get extremely dirty and become problematic for your skin, similar to your pillow cases at home. it’s best to get one that has a washable cover to ensure it’s clean before each use, like this one 🙂 kim personally loves using this blow-up travel pillow, which packs light and small, adjusts to whatever fullness you’d like and can be very easily washed with soap and water.

 

  • linens/ it’s essential to bring your own washcloths and pillowcases with you so that you don’t have to use host’s or hotel’s that are washed in cloggy, fragranced laundry detergent and fabric softener. in addition, it can be embarrassing to bleach a host’s linens with benzoyl peroxide! bring one washcloth per day of travel. you can use the same one morning and night, but not into the next day. bring 1 pillowcase for every 3-5 days of travel. use one side of the pillowcase only to avoid the transfer of cloggy detergent or fabric softener from the sheets to your face or benzoyl peroxide residue from your face to their sheets.

 

  • REI co-op multitowel lite / if fussing with extra pillowcases is too much to deal with when on vacay, try buying one or two of these extra large travel quick dry towels from REI.  i love using them for travel as they dry quickly, can be a blanket for warmth or to sit on, and also as impromptu pillow cases…  i just fold it in half and lay it on top of the hotel pillows for a quick and easy acne-safe sleep! one of the best parts is, is that they go on sale during REI’s 2 annual sales, to about $15! (kim likes to use them to sit on the beach, and in rental cars or airbnb’s with questionable upholstery, etc). 

 

  • zyflamend/ zyflamend is an herbal supplement that lowers your body’s inflammation. This can be a great tool to prevent travel-induced breakouts. I find it helpful to take 2 before a flight and 1-2 per day on my trip as tolerated.

 

  • sleep/ sleep is extremely important for many reasons. when we are deprived of sleep, our inflammation increases and hormones can go out of balance, both of which can create a breakout. when traveling, our time zones often change and we tend to neglect sleep during this time when our bodies especially need it. when traveling, keep your sleep consistent. try to go to bed at the same time as you would if you were at home and be sure to get 8-9 hours of quality sleep each night. if your time zone is dramatically different, try to tune your body to the local sleep schedule right away.  for example, if you land at 1pm in switzerland, stay up until your normal bedtime back at home to quickly acclimate.  taking melatonin can help you fall asleep, and apparently a brisk run first thing in the morning (no matter how groggy you are) can help quickly get your body acclimated to local time.

 

  • birth control/ if you take a birth control pill, take it every 24 hours – NOT the same time in local time (ie, 9am in SF = 12noon in NYC would be the right time to take your pill). when traveling to different time zones, your pill schedule can easily get messed up. even taking it 1 hour off can cause a fluctuation in your hormones, which can affect your skin.