Your skin can be your beauty routine’s greatest ally, but it can also be your biggest obstacle. Gorgeous, glowing skin is not only a great canvas for beautiful makeup, but it is also an indicator of your overall health. Ideally, skin really shouldn’t need to be covered every day with layers of concealers and foundations, but hey, we’re all busy people and dark circles and zits are inevitable.
What is achievable, though, is that healthy glow touted by facialists and celebrities alike. Great skin is definitely not exclusive only to professionals and those that can afford them. A beautiful and healthy complexion is something that is available to all of us if we stick to the two basic commandments of healthy skin: diet and paying attention to what is in the products you use.
First things first, you are what you eat. You’ve heard this many times and it is especially true for your skin because it acts like a billboard advertising your diet to the world. One of the easiest things you can do to help your skin is to simply drink more water. It hydrates your skin from the inside and helps it build new skin cells to keep the glow alive. To really nourish your complexion from the inside out, try to have the majority of your diet made up of fresh and organic (when possible) vegetables and meats, and include plenty of healthy plant based fats like avocado and nuts. These will help make your hair shine and skin glow, while processed foods tend to do the opposite.
In addition to processed foods, there are three categories that are common instigators of skin issues. Research from dermatologists and skincare professionals has shown that consuming alcohol, dairy and sugar on a regular basis is likely to show up on your face in the form of dryness, redness and acne. Don’t panic, though – this doesn’t mean you have to cut out all of these things forever, but if you are having skin issues I would suggest cutting out these items for two weeks and reintroduce them one by one. Afterwards, if you splurge on a cheesy slice of pizza and get a zit the next day, then you’ll know exactly how dairy affects your skin.
Personally, dairy & alcohol negatively impact my skin the most, so I avoid most dairy and limit my drinking to the weekends. To be clear, this is just a guideline I generally follow in my day to day life. However, I try to not be too rigid in my food choices and rather live in the moment. If it’s a nice summer day and an ice cream cone is calling my name, I’ll cut myself some slack and won’t feel bad about it, because stress and guilt isn’t a good look for anyone.
Next up is what you actually put on your skin. This is important not just for the way your skin looks but for your health as well. Your skin is the largest organ on your body and is very absorbent (example: Nicotine patches). We often never think twice about the $7 drug store lotion we’re slathering our entire body with because we’re used to it and it smells like ocean mist or whatever is the flavor of the month. But there are some dangerous chemicals lurking within those scented concoctions.
The cosmetics industry in the U.S. isn’t heavily regulated in regards to product ingredients when compared to other developed nations. For example, the European Union has banned or restricted about 1,300 chemicals from use in cosmetics and the U.S. has only banned about 30. There are even some ingredients in our personal care products that are illegal in China. So it’s up to us to pay attention to the ingredients in our products. Potentially toxic chemicals can disrupt hormones, cause allergic reactions, further irritate the issues that we are trying to conceal or heal and may even be linked to certain cancers. This is especially important to women because we use many more products; According to the Environmental Working Group, the average American woman is exposed to 168 ingredients a day, just from their personal products. Besides not using any beauty products at all (which, let’s face it, is not something we would want to do), what can you do?
While there are many chemicals out there that could have an effect on your skin and overall health, there are a few big ones to avoid: parabens, fragrance, synthetic colors, phthalates, triclosan, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), formaldehyde, toluene, propylene and glycol. You can read up on these and find out if they are hiding in your everyday products on the Environmental Working Group’s site or on their app. I know that thinking about weeding out all of these chemicals from your products can be intimidating, but this is not a change you have to make overnight. Like with the diet, try a couple days without using any products at all (#nomakeupsaturday anyone?) and then try adding one by itself to see if your skin reacts.
My philosophy with skincare is to try and stay as chemical-free as possible. I try to replace anything toxic in my beauty cabinet with a natural alternative once it has been used up. That way, it’s a gradual transition and you’re not dropping $500 in one day on new products. Also, just showing your skin some love every once in a while can do wonders- get a facial, try a new mask, take your makeup off each and every night and maybe even try a jade roller to massage on that new organic facial oil you’ve fallen in love with. When you make taking care of your skin into an indulgent and luxurious self-care experience, you could be surprised with the results!