There are many reasons you may not have the skin you want: sun damage, genetics, skin disorders, aging, hormone loss, health issues, pollution, skincare products that contain irritating ingredients, and on and on. To one degree or another, all of these factors are responsible for free-radical damage, a complex and continual process of molecular deterioration that occurs both inside and outside the body, often accompanied and/or caused by inflammation.
In addition to the free-radical damage and inflammation occurring internally in your body causing aging and disease, the same sort of progressive deterioration is occurring on and within your skin. Over time, this ongoing process creates and re-creates inflammation, which slowly decreases skin’s ability to keep itself young, healthy, even-toned, from, and breakout-free. Inflammation can also trigger excess oil production and keep skin from looking smooth.
No matter how you look at it, inflammation is just bad news!
Although all the factors mentioned above play havoc with your body and skin due to the inflammation they trigger, what you put on your skin can have the same effect, and often plays a significant role in what is going wrong.
Skincare products can cause irritation, which in turn produces inflammation, resulting in problems—problems that you’ll try to fix with skincare products and cosmetic corrective procedures.
Understanding what your skin needs for your skin type and skin concerns is vital, but it’s equally important to know what your skin doesn’t need. That’s critical because the very skincare products you are using may, in fact, be exacerbating the problems you’re trying to fix.
Given our cumulative years of looking at skincare formulations, it still shocks us that many of the products people buy to treat a specific skin condition  actually make it worse. For example, products you’ve purchased claiming to control oily skin often contain ingredients that make the skin even more oily. Products claiming to be oil-free often contain ingredients that nonetheless make the skin feel greasy. Products claiming they won’t cause breakouts may contain pore-clogging, emollient ingredients that don’t sound like they would be a problem because we don’t recognize the names on the ingredient
label. Countless skincare products contain irritating ingredients that further damage your skin with each use.


We cannot stress this enough: Irritation and inflammation are bad for skin—really, really bad! Daily assaults from unprotected sun exposure, splashing the face with hot water, and applying skincare products that contain irritating ingredients have a harsh and inflammatory effect. These types of attacks reduce the skin’s ability to heal, break down the skin’s chief support substances (collagen and elastin), weaken skin’s outer protective layer, and can cause many other complications.
For those with oily skin, it’s especially important to know that irritation triggers the nerve endings in the pore that, in turn, trigger the production of androgens, hormones that increase oil production and make pores bigger!
That is not good for any skin type!
It turns out that much of what we know about skin aging, wrinkles, brown spots, skin healing, and acne has evolved from our increased understanding of skin’s inflammatory reaction to sun exposure (UV radiation), pollution, cigarette smoke, and even irritation from skincare products. These all trigger an inflammatory process that leads to cumulative damage within skin, resulting in the deterioration of collagen and elastin, depletion of disease-fighting cells, and out-of-control free-radical damage.

It would probably be easier for those who smoke cigarettes to stop smoking if the damage it was causing on the inside showed itself instantly on the outside. Regrettably, that isn’t the case; as we now know, it can take years for the damage to show up. Interestingly, the same can be said for skin damage.

smoking and skin care

People often assume their skincare products aren’t hurting their skin because they don’t feel or see any negative reactions. BUT, although we may not see or feel anything, the damage is taking place beneath the surface of the skin,
from things we apply to it or do to it; eventually (perhaps years from now), it will show up on the surface, and it won’t be pretty.
You can get a clearer idea of how this hidden, underlying damage from irritating skincare routines or from specifc products takes place by imagining what happens to the skin in reaction to unprotected sun exposure. The sun is a major cause of free-radical damage and inflammation. These effects cause brown spots, wrinkling, skin cancer, and other degenerative issues. Yet, other than the (hopefully) rare occasion when you get sunburned, you don’t feel or even see the damage done to your skin from the sun, until—you guessed it— years later. Even more shocking is that the most damaging rays of the sun can penetrate windows—now that really is a silent killer!

Most of us, to one degree or another, have sensitive skin; that is, our skin reacts negatively to the environment and can react negatively to what we put on it. Regardless of your skin type or concerns, irritation inflames the skin, and that’s always damaging, regardless of what the source of the irritation happens to be and whether or not you see a reaction on the surface. Lots of things irritate our skin; some we can avoid and some we can’t, but we can mitigate much of it by using great skincare products and being smart about avoiding sun damage.

No matter how you think your skin reacts to different aspects of the environment and to the products you use, we are all sensitive to irritation and inflammation, and the resulting damage.
As mentioned above, whether you know it or not, you have sensitive skin. If you are going to take the best possible care of your skin, it’s essential you take the same precautions that someone with more obviously sensitive skin takes: Regardless of your skin type, treat your skin as gently as you possibly can. Whether you think of your facial skin as normal, oily, dry, or acne-prone, you still need to be gentle and avoid things that cause irritation as much as possible. Doing so is a key step to getting and keeping the skin you want!

Everyone’s skin will react negatively to irritating skincare ingredients. So, for the overall health of your skin (and because irritation is so terrible for skin), anything you can do to treat yours gently is a very good thing. We mention this many times , not to be repetitive, but so it really sinks in—being gentle is truly that important!
Always keep in mind that treating skin gently and using well-formulated, non-irritating skincare products encourages normal collagen production, helps maintain a smooth and radiant surface, helps the skin better protect itself from environmental damage, prevents or reduces excess oil production, and makes enlarged pores smaller. The chapters that follow explain exactly how that works for each skin type and skin concern. In the meantime, we guarantee you will see potentially dramatic improvements to your skin simply by avoiding irritating products and learning to be gentle.


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