College is hard enough without skin problems getting in the way. Unfortunately, we are all human and having issues with our skin from time-to-time is inevitable. Here are some everyday skincare problems and quick fixes to hopefully make dealing with blemishes a little bit easier.
Stress Pimples / Junk Food Pimples
Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone.” As stress levels increase, cortisol becomes more active and this – paired with cell debris – leads to breakouts. Don’t worry! You could cut out sugar or milk or both, all causes of cortisol releases, but there is an easier way to deal with the occasional stress pimple. It is important to exfoliate every so often (so like 1-3 times a week) to get rid of dead skin cells that sit deeper in the skin. A cheap exfoliator that gets the job done is the e.l.f. Cosmetics Exfoliating Scrub (around $6 at CVS), but there are many options. Feel free to use a fast-acting spot treatment if you really feel the need to do so. Try to avoid wearing (a lot of) makeup in the area of the pimple so that it can heal more quickly. Some people also find that simply rinsing their face with water helps more than using a cleanser. To all my Dr. Pimple Popper fans out there, DON’T pop the pimple! It’s bad and could lead to scarring. Also avoiding junk food and foods with a lot of grease in them during this trying time would be a good idea.
Dry Skin / Chapped Lips
Welcome to Northwestern. It is cold and windy – even though it is April. Make sure that you are moisturizing your face every day and exfoliating every so often to help get rid of old, dry skin. My favorite moisturizer for super dry skin is taking hydrocortisone (around $2 at Searle) and putting it on areas that are particularly dry. For the rest of the face, try Cetaphil (around $15 at CVS). For the lips, you do not need to invest in all those fancy dropper-things the Instagram lip models are using nowadays…
All it takes is a good chapstick. My personal favorite drugstore brand is Carmex, and when I am feeling extra the Bite Agave Lip Mask is my go-to. Another great thing to do for your lips in the winter months (and just generally, to be honest) is to exfoliate them using a lip scrub. My favorite lip scrubs are from LUSH (because you can eat them after) but you can also just take brown sugar and honey (or olive oil) and it works just the same!
Lack of Sleep
According to 2015 Cosmo, not getting enough sleep can affect your moisture and pH levels. This creates dryness and redness in the skin. Also, evidently, you can get dark circles, but if you don’t have bags under your eyes (please tell me your secret) I’m already jealous of you. It’s Northwestern, so it would be entirely unrealistic of me to suggest you get a good night’s rest every night. For undereye bags, try pressing eyes with cold-water in the mornings before class or using an under eye cream. A cheap eye-cream option is the e.l.f. Cosmetics Illuminating Eye Cream (around $10 at CVS), but Olay also has some cult favorites if you are willing to spend more money. If you are prone to redness, you could try the Green Tea bag trick or washing your face/moisturizing with super hydrating coconut oil or aloe vera. In some cases redness in the face can be caused by a slight allergic reaction to a product that you use – so try to figure out what that product could be. For a quick fix, us a color corrector. My favorite is the Smashbox Photo Finish Color Correcting Foundation Primer ($39 at Sephora), but a cheaper alternative is the NYX Color Correcting Liquid Primer ($11 at CVS). If you’re color correcting for redness you’ll want to go with green.
Dorm rooms can get horribly dusty or moldy if you don’t have time to clean it well. Dust actually makes it harder for damaged skin to heal. Clean your room as often as you can (splurge on Mr. Clean and wipe down your furniture, open your windows...) and keep your skin clean. Other than that, washing your face, exfoliating and moisturizing is the way to go.
At the end of the day your skin is yours. Everyone’s skin is different and different things work for different people. Meet with a doctor or dermatologist for suggestions that are more targeted towards you and your skin type.