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The 7-Day Challenge Your Skin Will Love You For

We really put our skin through the ringer over the years. We know that everything from stress to makeup and sun exposure cause wear and tear, but the good news is you can actually reverse or slow a lot of that damage. Start by taking this simple skin care challenge to get things on track again.

Image: Gabriela Arellano/SheKnows

Day 1

Here’s the deal: You don’t need to wash your face in the morning. In most cases, it’s not doing any serious damage, but by overwashing, you’re also stripping your skin of the good oils it worked hard to produce in recovery overnight. Take care of the skin on the rest of your body each morning by lathering up with a moisturizing body wash while you’re in the shower — but skip your face. Instead, just splash your face with some cold water and moisturize, and take note of how your skin reacts throughout the week.

End your day with a good face cleanse, but don’t stop at your skin. Take some time to trash expired skin care and makeup products and clean any makeup brushes or sponges if it’s been a while. Check out this guide to when every type of makeup expires to get you started.

More: How to Clean Your Makeup Brushes in Less Than Five Minutes

Day 2

This one is a no-brainer. Drink more water. Hydration is essential to making sure your organs function properly, skin included. The jury is still out on whether water has a direct impact the appearance of your skin, but it certainly promotes healthier skin (healthier everything, really). Next, pencil in a full-body exfoliation session for nighttime to say goodbye to dead skin cells and get a fresher look from head-to-toe.

Day 3

Sugar is delicious, yes. Good for your skin, though? Definitely not. Well, let me back up. It’s a great exfoliator used topically, but when you eat too much sugar (guilty), it can break down elasticity and prevent collagen from doing its job. If you’re feeling up to the task, kick off a sugar detox (beware, it’s in everything). Or, simply initiate no sugar days throughout your week. Everything but naturally occurring sugar from fruits gets the boot.

End your day by starting to focus on sleep quality. Poor sleep quality can hinder the production of collagen and hyaluronic acid, speed up aging and cause inflammation. So start a sleep ritual about an hour before bedtime and do it nightly. It could be anything — meditating, reading, stretching and even little touches like misting your pillow with lavender spray and turning on ambient noises. Pick things that tell your body it’s time to wind the eff down (and yes, that means no more phone or computer).

More: The Five Steps of Sugar Rehab

Day 4

Bacteria is the number one cause of acne, so it’s time to do a major cleanup of all the things that touch your skin. Wake up and throw your sheets in the washing machine and toss them in the dryer before you leave for the day. Buy some cellphone wipes. Get a new loofah (or stop using one altogether because they’re actually pretty gross). Think of anything else that your skin comes in contact with, and put it on your “clean me ASAP” list.

Now, you may not like this next part, but it’s time to take note of how many glasses of vino (and other booze) you drink weekly. I get it; a couple of glasses of wine or a beer at happy hour is pretty much like going to yoga after a long day at work. However, too much booze can dehydrate your skin and cause inflammation. Initiate a month without booze, or add a no-booze policy to your no-sugar days.

Day 5

The New York Times reported on a study that found exercising regularly gave people ages 40 and up the skin quality they had in their 20s and 30s. That’s as close to magic as you’ll ever get. Now, you don’t have to run a marathon or anything. Start small. If you don’t exercise at all, pick a couple of days a week to start your day with a jog or stop at the gym on your way home. If you do exercise but want to step it up, try something new like a Barre class or a new yoga studio.

Then end your night by relaxing with a face mask. Choose one that caters to your skin type or a common skin issue you face.

Day 6

Now, for the V-word: vitamins. There are so many that help your skin in one way or another, so talk to your doctor about which ones may help you. Vitamin A can help stop premature signs of aging. Vitamin C can help regulate collagen. Zinc is anti-inflammatory. Vitamin B helps reduce redness. You catch my drift.

While vitamins can be a great addition to your routine, most doctors and nutritionists will also tell you it’s always better to get nutrients straight from food. So start a rule at dinner to eat one type of leafy green every night. According to our sister site StyleCaster, spinach is a good source of vitamin A and iron. Arugula contains sulfur, which helps with collagen. The infamous Kale (yes, I capitalized it) is a good source of vitamins A and C.

Day 7

We shouldn’t have to tell you this one, but we’re going to anyway. Always wear sunscreen. Wear it on rainy days. Wear it on cloudy days. Wear it when you go to work. Wear it often. There are tons of great brands making daily-use SPFs that don’t make you smell like you’re going to the beach, so find one you like and use it often.

Now, if you started this challenge on a Monday, today is Sunday. There’s no better way to reward yourself and kick off many more weeks of better skin habits than to get a massage. Go drop in somewhere for some R&R — bonus points for setting up recurring appointments. Massages have endless health benefits, like improving chronic pain and lowering blood pressure, but they also increase blood flow, which is great for your skin.

This post was sponsored by Dial Body Wash.

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