Your skin is your friend, not your enemy

Approaching your skin condition with the right mindset can make all the difference

Particularly with inflammatory conditions such as rosacea, acne and psoriasis, it can feel like your skin is doing everything it can to work against you. Stubborn visible symptoms, uncomfortable irritation and sudden flare ups make you feel as if you’re fighting a losing battle – one that can significantly impact your day-to-day life.

But the fact is, the symptoms you’re seeing and feeling are your skin’s own natural way of responding to triggers, aggressors and hormones that it doesn’t feel are sitting right in your body. It’s actually trying to help you.

Reframing your understanding of your skin as your friend, not your enemy, can help you approach it with the patience and care it really needs. Here are some steps that will help.

  1. Listen to your skin

Paying attention to how and when your skin reacts can help you manage your symptoms. Keeping a diary to log any flare ups is an effective way of pinpointing specific triggers, whether those are dietary, hormonal or in response to external irritants like detergents or synthetic materials.

Find a method that works for you. There are some great apps available that let you record symptoms and can even help identify any patterns – but you might find it easier to jot symptoms down in a notebook, or keep a notes page on your phone.

  1. Take the time

Progress will come with a consistent daily routine. I know life is busy and it’s easier said than done… but setting enough time aside each morning and evening will also mean you can apply products properly.

The ritual of a skincare routine can be beneficial for your mental health, too: studies have found it can significantly reduce levels of cortisol, the stress hormone (which can in turn benefit your skin!).

  1. Don’t ‘attack’ your skin

Overloading your skin with too many products may work against it. If you’re introducing any new ingredients to your routine, do this one product at a time, and slowly… wait to see how your skin responds. That way you’ll be able to see what’s really working for you.

Keep in mind that harsh chemical formulas and aggressive scrubs – which might appear to be the most effective solution – can damage the skin’s barrier and actually make inflammation worse… I see so many cases of conditions exacerbated for this very reason. Take a look at my previous post Is your skincare routine damaging your skin? for more.

  1. Grow your understanding

You’re never alone. Listening to the experiences of other people who are living with the same issues as you can help to build your understanding of your own skin, what might be triggering your condition, and what might help to ease it.

Feeling the support of a community is also no small thing, and this is where social media can be a real force for good. As well as dedicated organisations and support groups, several influencers – who have built valuable communities of people suffering with specific conditions – are helping lead a more positive approach to skin issues. Rosacea influencer Lexie Gilles and acne positive campaigner Maia Gray are great examples.

If you’re living with a skin condition that gets you down, or if you sometimes feel like your skin is working against you, I can promise that developing a more positive and patient relationship with your skin will be worth your energy.

A lot of patients come to me frustrated with their skin and wanting to see results straight away – which is understandable. But results take care, patience and understanding, and I see the most progress in those that adopt this approach. Knowing that your skin is always doing its best for you can make a difference to your mental wellbeing too.