From my teens into my late 20s I used to have a really bad skin with lots of zits, dryness and puffiness.
Yoga probably permanently ruined my social life, but it certainly improved my skin condition. To name a few “offenders” that were harming me: smoking, drinking, eating unhealthy food, not exercising and finally, living in an unhealthy environment. I am going to be 39 this year and since I “found” the magic of yoga, my skin has never been better! I think, no matter how old you are, what happens on the inside truly does show up on the outside.
Aging skin is biological rather than chronological. The process can be delayed or even reversed with a holistic, natural approach that includes optimal diet, lifestyle and product choices. Please consult your dermatologist prior to using any new products. Also, please note that this advice is all purely anecdotal, and my goal is to share my path to a clear completion in a genuine hope that it can help you too!
1) Chill out
Stress increases skin problems and often results in wrinkles, zits and blemishes. Besides the physiological effects of stress, when you are under stress, you tend to neglect your skin (we all do). It could be due to a lack of energy or motivation to adhere to the daily skin care regimens. There is no “one-fits-it-all” solution to find your “Zen” place. For me, my daily yoga practice, hike in nature, or simply visualizing the mountains will do.
- Practice yoga
- Take a dance class
- Take a hike or a walk
- Evaluate your environment. In addition to a toxic work or home environment, environmental pollutants and even food additives can make you anxious.
2) Eating well
The processed foods can worsen our skin by causing inflammation. To improve your complexion, enrich your day with raw fruits and vegetables and don’t eat anything you can’t pronounce. I gave up a lot of foods by keeping a journal on what triggers my allergies and pimples.
- Glow with Pomegranates. They are packed with polyphenol antioxidants. Polyphenols fight free radicals and regulate the skin’s blood flow, giving it rosiness. One pomegranate or a few glasses of juice daily should do the trick.
- Go nuts! Seeds and nuts also contain vitamins and minerals for healthy skin. Sunflower seeds and almonds are chock full of vitamin E, which combats the damaging effects of free radicals on skin. Zinc is a mineral that influences oil production in your skin, and can help prevent breakouts. Pumpkin seeds, pecans and Brazil nuts are rich in zinc. Flaxseeds contain omega-3 fatty acids, which contribute to skin health by adding moisture and elasticity to the skin.
- Grains and Legumes. Whole grains and legumes are rich in fiber, which helps flush toxins from your system, and keep your skin healthy. Whole grains and legumes also offer zinc and other minerals which promote skin health. Skin-boosting whole grains and legumes include wholewheat bread, brown rice, oatmeal, split pea soup, hummus, vegetarian chili and bean salads.
3) Never go to sleep angry or without washing your face.
This is really re-enforcing rule #1). Instead of dozing out on Facebook or watching TV, opt out to give yourself 10-15 minutes of transitional time to prepare to go bed. I always spend a few minutes at the end of my day, stretching, reflecting … but only after I have washed my face.
Adopt a “no excuses” philosophy when it comes to taking off your makeup at the end of the day. No matter how late it is and no matter how you are feeling! I don’t wear makeup, but I do wash my face daily. Choose a face cleanser that fits your skin type (see # for my choice).
4) Get some fresh air and vitamin D, but don’t forget the sunblock after 10:00 am.
No, sunscreen isn’t just for summertime! It’s extremely bright here in Colorado; winter sun combined with snow glare can really damage your skin. Try applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen to your face and your hands (if they’re exposed) about 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply frequently if you stay outside for a long time.
5) Beauty sleep
This is not a myth. A lack of sleep will cause baggy eyes, wrinkles, stress and unhealthy skin color. If there is one point you can gain from this article, this should be it: Get more sleep! You can always cut a thing or two from your schedule: late night dinner, TV, Facebook, late night phone calls to name a few.
6) Find great skin care products for your face.
If your facial skin is uncomfortably dry, avoid using harsh peels, masks, and alcohol-based toners or astringents, all of which can strip vital oil from your skin. Instead, find a cleansing milk or mild foaming cleanser, a toner with no alcohol, and masks that are “deeply hydrating,” rather than clay-based, which tends to draw moisture out of the face. And use them a little less often.
- Wash your face before going to bed (also when you wake up, if you skin is super oily).
- I use Naturopathica Aloe Vera for normal to dry skin.
- Apply toner. I use iS Clinical Pro-Heal Serum
- Apply moisturizer. I use Naturopathica Naturopathica Calendula Essential Hydrating Cream.
Twice a week
- Apply a gentle scrub. I use Naturopathica Oat Facial scrub.
- Use a rehydrating mask once or twice a week. I use Naturopathica Pumpkin Purifying Enzyme mask.
7) Get a facial.
A facial is the second most popular spa treatment after a massage. A facial works best when it is part of an on-going program of skin care. It is one of the best ways to take care of your skin, especially when it’s given by an experienced, knowledgeable esthetician. A facial cleans, exfoliates and nourishes the skin, promoting a clear, well-hydrated complexion, and can help your skin look younger. Not to mention the fact that it is relaxing and can reduce stress. I usually ask for referrals from friends and check on-line for specific spa recommendations.
The esthetician can also tell you how she thinks you can take better care of your skin and recommend products. You aren’t obligated to buy anything, but if you like the line, it’s usually worth trying.
I love Devachan Spa in New York. My favorite esthetician is Rita (but all of them are really good) and St. Julian Spa in Boulder. You can get a discount via a Groupon or the spa, if it is offering good deals.
Bottom line: there is no magical solution.
You can apply all kinds of fancy products and hope for results. We can all agree that some of the most effective long-term ways to improve your skin are to chill out, eat well and follow a good daily skin-care regime.
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Ed: Kate Bartolotta
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