“What’s your sign?” an aesthetician asked as she examined my skin during a facial. It caught me off guard: What could being a Leo have to do with my breakouts? “Ahhh, a fire sign,” she responded. “No wonder. Fire signs attract a lot of inflammation.”
At first it sounded outlandish. Then, I learned nearly one-third of Americans believe in astrology, according to the Pew Research Center. And although I obsessively check the Co-Star app, follow astrology Instagram accounts, and read horoscopes to guide me through life, when it comes to my skin I can be a skeptical that the stars are truly the culprit. But! While astrology isn’t testable in any scientific way (obvi), it can be a useful tool for introspection.
Just ask Michelle Henry, MD, a dermatologist in New York City who identifies with her own astrological profile. “I’m a typical Cancer: sensitive, intuitive, and loving,” she says. And that applies to her routine: “I try to have patience with my skin and stay in tune with its needs. I change my regimen daily depending on what my skin requires.”
Astrologer Aliza Kelly agrees that we’re onto something here: My stress-inducing “fire energy” might trigger inflammation, she says. Your skin reflects what’s going on in your world, after all—anticipating a big life event is known to spike cortisol and lead to breakouts.
So maybe it’s not completely out there? Each of the zodiac signs is categorized as one of four elements (fire, earth, air, or water) and, according to Kelly, may manifest different issues. “Use your skin to see what elements you are exuding in your life at the moment,” Kelly says. Decode yours with derm solutions, here.
Fire (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius)
“Fire is all about motivation and stop-at-nothing energy,” says Kelly. And if you’re hella stressed (say, into another galaxy?), an unfortunate side effect—or two—can be blotchy, inflamed, and red skin or rashes. You’ll need something neutralizing.
Solution: “Find topical treatments with soothing ingredients,” Dr. Henry advises. “Licorice root, cucumber, and niacinamide all help to reduce redness.” If your inflammation is more like acne, Dr. Henry says one short-term solution is to use a spot treatment that contains salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide to quickly kill a pimple.
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Earth (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn)
Issue: Clogged Pores
If you feel yourself grasping onto things longer than you should (maybe a situation from your past or a material object), you could be exuding the earth element.
“Earth signs are more pragmatic and grounded,” Kelly says. “Earth is about retaining things. They want to anchor themselves in the physical world. Earth has a hoarding quality.” And the last place you want dirt and grime to get comfy and stay awhile? Your pores.
Solution: “A facial with extractions may be the most immediate fix,” Dr. Henry suggests. You can also look for classic pore strips, a scrub, or a gentle at-home extracting tool. As for ingredients, you’ll want to seek out salicylic acid, bamboo powder, and using a prescription retinoid long-term to “reduce the appearance of clogged pores by regulating and encouraging skin turnover.”
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Air (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius)
When your social calendar is particularly busy, you may be putting out air-element vibes.“Air signs are inherently social. Air can make fires blaze and create waves in the water—they’re always thinking about how they can fuel others and elevate other elements,” Kelly says. But when you give so much, it may leave you high and dry—literally.
Solution: “Adopt and stick to a skincare regimen that includes moisturizing the skin at least once a day with something really hydrating. Look for rich creams that contain ingredients like ceramides and hyaluronic acid,” Dr. Henry suggests. Ceramides are the glue that sticks your skin together while hyaluronic acid absorbs moisture to the skin.
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Water (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces)
So you’ve been tapping into your compassion recently, maybe providing support for a friend or just because you’re “in your feelings.” You could be swimming in water energy. “Water signs are associated with intuition, empathy, and compassion,” Kelly describes. “Water energy relates to the world at large.” That sensitivity, however, might translate to overly reactive skin prone to redness and flushing.
Solution: “Look for mineral-based products that are less likely to cause a reaction. Prepare your skin with a great moisturizer to strengthen your skin’s barrier,” Dr. Henry elaborates. Make sure to also avoid fragrance, abrasive cleansers, and harsh astringents. Simplifying your routine to fewer steps and hypoallergenic products is your best bet.
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