A recent study of 2,000 British women sponsored by United Kingdom-based Sanex Zero% found that British women experience 72 "bad skin days" per year. More alarming, those 72 days a year (or six days a month) are affecting the "mental well-being" of 61 percent of respondents. Though the causes of bad skin days vary - respondents cited everything from acne breakouts to dryness - most troubling are the effects those bad days have on the lives of the respondents.
That’s because, according to the survey, a full 25 percent of respondents have canceled dates over bad skin, and one-fifth have canceled plans with friends.
"Even the most beautiful people in the world have days where they feel insecure about their appearance," says Dr. Ryan Mitchell, a plastic surgeon in Henderson, Nevada. "Having days like that is normal, and generally not a problem. But when those insecurities stop you from living your life, then they become a big problem."
So, what can be done to minimize these bad skin days, or at least minimize the effects they have on your emotional state?
"It really depends on the problem," Mitchell says.
For patients struggling with acne, Mitchell recommends visiting a plastic surgeon or dermatologist and adopting a skin care regimen that includes medical-grade skin care products.
"Sometimes the products we use to care for our skin can make the problems we are trying to treat even worse," Mitchell says. "Products with lots of dyes, perfumes or pore-clogging compounds can have the opposite effect than what you are trying to achieve."
Furthermore, Mitchell says problems like acne may not be due to how well you care for your skin, but hormones, stress or other factors.
"That’s why you should always speak to a doctor before taking matters into your own hands," he says.
For women who deal with regular skin dryness or aging signs, Mitchell says over-the-counter products may not be enough.
"If your skin already has sun spots, deep lines or wrinkles, it can be very hard to see results from over-the-counter products," Mitchell says. "In cases where damage has already occurred, patients may be more satisfied with a clinical treatment like laser resurfacing, chemical peel or even treatments like Botox or fillers that can target specific problem areas and correct them."
Ultimately, says Mitchell, "the goal is to literally feel comfortable in your own skin. If you’re not letting an occasional breakout stop you from living life, that’s great. But if you are, don’t feel like this is how it will always be. There is hope out there. There is help."