Let's Talk Skin!
Growing up I had terrible skin. My acne was the worst in highschool (ahh the good days) and I remember the silicone pressing up against my forehead pimples as I put on my swim cap before swim practice. I tried different cleansers, scrubs, masks, pimple stickers, toothpaste; none of it worked. I was abusing the heck out of my skin, and incredibly insecure about my face. Each morning was spent meticulously applying concealer to my bumpy face, every night was spent further picking at pimples and blackheads. I was eating a healthy vegan diet, I was exercising regularly, and I was drinking a ton of water. I was so frustrated and confused...what was I doing wrong?
All I wanted was to have that beautiful, clear, glowing skin all my friends and favorite bloggers had. It wasn't until I took a closer look at my skincare regimen that my skin finally began to clear up. It's still not perfect and I still get clogged pores now and then, but for the most part I'm very happy with how my skin looks most of the time!
NOTE: Of course genetics and environment both have a huge impact on the condition of your skin, but having a tailored, consistent, and vigilant skincare routine (and a decent diet) can't hurt!
things that worked for me:
Cleanse: If you wear makeup, make sure you remove it thoroughly before going to bed. Don't rely on facial cleansers as makeup removers, use an oil-based makeup remover, then go in with cleanser. Annnnnndd if you want to be extra, sleep on silk pillowcases and wash them once a week. Here's one that I got my friend on her birthday!
Exfoliate: Chemical exfoliation is the #1 thing that saved my skin. There are two types of chemical exfoliants: salicylic acid and glycolic acid. Personally I prefer glycolic acid, but try out both and see what works best for your skin type. I started off exfoliating once every two days, and worked my way up to twice a day. Now that my skin has settled down a bit, I only use it once a day before bed.
Here are some of my favorite chemical exfoliant products:
- Paula's Choice BHA : This is a super popular product, and for good reason! I didn't notice much of a result when I first started using it, but over time I realized if I skip a day my skin feels more congested and oily. I use this immediately after cleansing my face, before my toner.
- Peter Thomas Roth Glycolic Lotion : Absolute game changer for me. The first application burns, though, so be prepared. I would start by using this one twice a week, and more as your skin adjusts to it. This was the product that got rid of all the annoying forehead bumps I had for years.
- Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel : Incredible. I scored a sample of this with one of my Sephora orders, tried it before bed, and woke up with the softest, clearest skin I ever had in my entire life. I ordered two boxes the next day (these are so pricy!!) and never got the same result again. I recommend trying a sample of these peels if you can, or purchasing the pack of five and using them before special occasions. At one point I was using a few of these per week, and I think my skin grew tolerant and they stopped working. But definitely give these a go!!
Be gentle: Be kind to your skin. Quit using harsh scrubs, astringent toners, and washing the crap out of your face. Squeaky clean skin my feel nice, but in the long run it will cause your skin to become even more oily because your pores will produce extra oil to compensate. Be gentle to your skin. Make sure, after cleansing, that you add moisture back to your skin through toners, essences, and moisturizers. Product choices really depend on your skintype, but in general I recommend going for unscented skincare products. If you have oily skin, try using a water based moisturizer.
Hands OFF: I can't stress this enough. I know it's tempting to pop pimples and pick at your face (guilty) but try your hardest to KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF your face. Over the course of the day your hands come into contact with billions of bacteria - you don't want that on your skin. And if you must pop a pimple, make sure to wash your hards and sterilize the area afterwards. But try to resist the temptation!!
Eat good fats: Avocado, coconut oil, nuts, nut butters, flax, chia, and salmon are all great for nourishing your skin. I notice that my skin feels dry and tight when I eat a lower fat diet. Don't skimp on the healthy fats!
Hydrate: Invest in a water bottle if you don't have one, and use it! Water flushes out toxins, rehydrates cells, and helps your skin get that plump and healthy look. Yes, you will pee. A lot.
Sleep: As tempting as it is to binge watch all 9 seasons of The Office in one week, you need your sleep!! At least 7 hours a night. Sleep is your body's way of resting, repairing, and renewing skin cells. A lack of sleep can result in dull, sallow, tired looking skin. No good!
Things to avoid for better skin:
Sodium: Salt draws moisture out of your skin and turns it into bloat. High sodium foods include microwaved meals (insane amount), packaged sauces and soups, soy sauce, cheese, deli meats, and processed foods in general. Try to cook your food from fresh ingredients when you can, and save dining out for special occasions. Restaurant food is generally very fat and sodium heavy...that's why it tastes so delicious! Instead, save money (and your skin) and cook at home. Season your food lightly, and try using herbs and citrus fruits instead of relying on salt.
Alcohol: Have you ever woken up from a hangover, looked in the mirror, and thought, "wow my skin is looking great!" Probably not, right? Truth is, alcohol is extremely dehydrating, and deprives your skin of valuable vitamins and minerals. Personally I choose to not drink alcohol, and my skin sure doesn't miss it!
Dairy: Personally I don't find that dairy negatively affects my skin, but many people report otherwise. The hormones in dairy can be problematic for those intolerant to it, and cause breakouts and bloat. If you love milk and cheese and experience skin issues, try cutting dairy from your diet for two weeks to see if there are improvements.
Spicy foods: That spicy sriracha sauce you pour on everything? Yeah, it might be causing breakouts. Even though it hurts so good, eating spicy food might increase the chances of breakouts. Not to mention, spicy foods are usually also very flavorful and therefore, high in sodium.
Stress: ...Did I just tell you to stop being stressed? No, although wouldn't we all love to be stress-free? Truth is, stress can wreak havoc on your skin. I'm not knowledgable enough to explain in depth how stress affects your body on a physiological level, but basically, stress releases cortisol which causes hormone imbalances...which messes up your skin. So, try to relax. Go for a walk, do some yoga, read a book, light some candles, take a bath, bake some cookies...anything that will help clear your head is good.
Give these tips a go! Do your research for skincare, and if you need help with the diet part, check out my ebooks!