Skincare That You Don’t Put on Your Face: Part I

Although I am not a nutritionist, a dermatologist, or an aethetician, I’ve had my share of skin issues and learned a good deal from my experiences and personal research about nutrition and skin care. And I can tell you that what we think and the emotions running through us absolutely affect our bodies, just not always in ways we can see (at least not right away). Acne.org had some findings that support this: http://www.cne.org/stress-and-acne.html. However, if you read my previous article on this topic, you know that I disagree with the general notion that topical treatment is the answer to breakouts brought on by stress. So a truly helpful, long-term treatment needs to include stress reduction as well as effective topical treatments to the skin.

Dos

Look for foods with nutrients and antioxidants: Make sure to eat plenty of fruits, berries, vegetables, oils, and fats (Omega 3 in fish and other sources, olive oil, avocado)

berries

Eat seeds, nuts, avocados, and the like. Your body and your skin need fat! Contrary to what many of us have been told, fat is not your enemy; just remember to eat it in moderation. It helps keep your skin fed, plumped up, healthy, and glowing instead of flat and dry.

Reduce your daily/ weekly alcohol and coffee intake and/or augment your H2O intake to offset how much you consumed since these can severely dry out your skin.

Drink.Lots.Water. Folks, most of us need at least one liter (eight glasses of 8 oz each) per day. If you’re active, you should easily drink double or triple that amount. It takes discipline to drink as much as your body really needs, but it’s one of the easiest, best, and cheapest ways to promote the health of your entire body and keep from getting sick. As an added bonus, it helps you to feel fuller if you drink water between meals.

Eat yogurt with live cultures like Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. This stuff helps your digestion and the balance of healthy bacteria in your body. Don’t go non-fat! It won’t satisfy you, and let’s face it, it tastes nasty! So unless you just really, really prefer or enjoy fat-free yogurt, get reduced fat or just eat a smaller portion of regular yogurt. I recommend buying it plain and adding your own honey or jam to your taste. This way, you have fewer additives, and it’s exactly the flavor and sweetness you like! P.S. Harmful by-products are released in the process of making Greek yogurt. Thankfully, yogurt doesn’t need to be Greek to be healthy, tasty, and have active cultures!

Don’ts

Eating overly-processed foods with lots of additives, chemicals, GMOs, and especially hormones! Many dairy and meat products in the U.S. are chocked full of these. Not saying you have to go all-organic, vegan, or even vegetarian, but pay attention for labels that tell you when products are made without GMOs, chemicals, etc. And start checking ingredients lists. You don’t want to put crap on your face, so don’t put crap in your body because that’s what you’re feeding to your skin.

ProcessedMeats

Going overboard on refined sugar. Everything in moderation, my friends. Eat your cake, and enjoy it! Just don’t have a big portion of sweets at every meal or between meals. Also, look for sweets that satisfy. Fruit can be more satisfying than candy, and as much as I love, love, LOVE milk chocolate, flavored dark chocolate tends to hit the spot and cure my cravings. My favorites are Lindt’s dark chocolate with sea salt and dark chocolate with orange. 😀 As a side note, if you really want the coke-bottle gummies and not fruit, eat them! Just get them in smaller packs (pre-portioned single-serving sizes really help me; if I want more, I have to open a second one, and I’m fully aware that I’m having two servings instead of just one).

Sweets

Overdoing the dairy. Hey, I love cheese of all shapes and sizes, so I’m the LAST person who’s going to tell you to stop eating it. Just consume your dairy in moderation. If you had a big portion of cereal with milk up to the top of your bowl this morning, maybe don’t eat a whole cheese platter with lunch or dinner, or choose a non-dairy snack later in the day.

dairy

Drinking soda every day! Think of drinking a flavored herbal tea with honey and lemon (that you steep yourself) instead. Or at least, reduce the amount and frequency or offset your intake with water. You can give your body and skin more antioxidants with tea (adding milk kills the good stuff, unfortunately). It’s mostly water and therefore low-calorie, and honey also has many health benefits=Win, win, win!

BigGulp

While I definitely have more to say on this topic, I’m going to split it up into several posts because this one is long enough already!

P.S. I realize the font styles/ sizes are a bit inconsistent in this post, but I can’t for the life of me figure out how to make them look the same. If any veteran bloggers or tech wizzes are reading this, feel free to give me some suggestions!

When you trust …

When you trust in yourself, you trust in the wisdom that created you, and that wisdom is infinite.

I’ve been thinking lately about how we fight ourselves, shame ourselves, don’t accept how we look or who we are. This quote is from Dr. Wayne Dyer, and it resonates very much with my own life experience. My greatest achievements have come from listening to inner wisdom. May all who read this connect with that wisdom.

Choosing Skin Care for Acne-prone Skin

Though I currently have only minor breakouts and combination skin, I suffered from significant acne from the age of 16 to age 26. I do not claim to be an expert; however, I have gained insight into caring for my skin and my body that I would like share with you in the hope that you will benefit and be able to avoid some of the problems that I had.

When looking for a good acne treatment, it is important to inform yourself about the ingredients in each product and any potential side effects they may have. Don’t simply take anyone’s word for it (not even mine). Try it out for yourself, and use what works for you. Even dermatologists can be wrong, especially if they do not specialize in acne treatment (and many do not). You get to be the skeptic and the expert here, so take charge of your search!

Some ingredients to avoid are ones that dry the skin such as alcohol, sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium C14-16 olefin sulfonate or those that clog or block pores like Isopropyl isostearate, Isopropyl myristate, Myristyl myristate, Laureth-4, and Oleth-3. In contrast, alpha hydroxy acids (AHA)s like citric acid, glycolic acid, and lactic acid help beneficial ingredients such as antioxidants to penetrate your skin. AHAs are natural acids found in foods like milk and fruit also help to exfoliate, moisturize, treat acne, and reduce acne scars and discoloration (Web-MD).

For any skincare treatment, basic products to use include a gentle but effective cleanser, a toner, a treatment product, and a moisturizer-sunscreen. You might be thinking “but how can I find the best one?” The best approach is to get samples or small sizes to test out the products. But before you spend any money, find a beauty blogger with a similar skin type to yours whom you trust on YouTube or in the blogosphere.

Also look at reviews not just on the brand’s website itself but from multiple sources: You might also look at magazine and newspaper articles online or in print, and I recommend seeing what people on acne.org think about it, especially if at least 25 people have reviewed the product. It is very difficult to get an accurate picture of a product from any one review, so look around and listen to what people are saying; then try it for yourself to be sure.

Cleanser: Should clean dirt, excess oil, and possibly remove the makeup from your face while still being gentle. If your face feels tight, itchy, or uncomfortable after using a certain cleanser, try again and get another one or change to a more mild cleanser for the winter months or any time your face feels too dry. Remember to touch your face very lightly as you apply your cleanser. There is no need to scrub to clean your face well.

Here are ones that I like: Michael Todd’s Honey Oat facial wash, MT’s Cleanse and Tone. They suggest Charcoal Detox cleanser for acne-prone/blemished skin. However, since I have not tried it yet, I wanted to recommend the others first.

Toner: It’s not always easy to find a toner that is any good. Though it is typically described as a step to completely clean your face, the benefits of a very good toner also include calming any irritation, having anti-bacterial properties, and adding hydration. Some toners also help to resurface the skin and reduce wrinkles and discoloration or darker pigmentation through the use of alpha hydroxy acids like citric acid and glycolic acid. Overall, a well-formulated toner helps treat and hydrate your face and prepare it to absorb all the treatment and/or moisturizer you are about to apply. *Avoid toners with alcohol or other harsh ingredients.

  • I love Michael Todd’s Blue-Green Algae toner, and it’s formulated to fight acne-causing bacteria while being hydrating and safe for sensitive skin. I also really want to try their Organic Lemon toner because it is formulated with several AHAs and should counteract my remaining discoloration and acne scarring.
  • I’ve also used LUSH’s Breath of Fresh Air toner (Bouffée d’air frais), which is nice, mild, and hydrating. However, their Tea Tree Water and Tea Tree Toner Tabs (Kryptonique) are made to suit oily or acne-prone skin. Though I adore the fact that LUSH’s products are hand made and use mostly natural ingredients, I simply do not think their products are properly formulated to really deliver the all the “good stuff” in them to your skin. So half the equation is missing for me.

Treatment: This could look like a serum, a mask, or an exfoliating product or anything else you’re using for your acne or general skin care. Some treatments you will want to use every day (e.g. serum); others you might use 2-3 times per week (e.g. exfoliant), and still others you will only use once a week (deep treating or cleansing mask).

No treatment is a substitute for a good cleanser and toner and no amount of awesome toner or cleanser can replace your treatment. This applies to every skin type but especially to acne-prone skin because you need to get deep into your pores and not only remove toxins but also give nourishment and healing to your skin. That’s why treatment is so important.

Moisturizer: If you have a good toner and a serum that moisturizes, you might not need this step. However, if your skin is still dry or you just prefer some extra hydration, I recommend these:
For non-greasy but deep hydration try Michael Todd’s Hydration Boost serum I looove this product. I also want to try their Organic Aloe Vera Oil. Both are recommended for all skin types. Don’t be frightened away by the “oil” part of the aloe vera, it’s 100% organic and has four ingredients: Organic Glycine Soya, Euterpe Oleracea (Acai Fruit) Pulp Powder, Organic Aloe Barbadensis, and Lavender Essential Oil, which is NOT on the pore-clogging ingredients list (I checked). Finally, adding a few drops of organic 100% jojoba oil to your moisturizer is a good idea.

Sunscreen: The products necessary to treat acne and acne scarring (AHAs) often make your skin extra sensitive to the sun, but even if they didn’t, a good sunscreen or a moisturizer or foundation that includes an SPF of 30 or higher would still be a must to treat your skin right.

Here are a few to try: The top three sunscreens reviewed by acne sufferers on the acne.org forums were

  1. Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock SPF 30,
  2. Neutrogena Visibly Even Daily Moisturizer, SPF 30, and
  3. Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Moisturizer SPF 30.

It seems as though Dermalogica’s Oil Free Matte SPF 30 might be a winner; it is a little pricey at $48 for 1.07 oz, so you might look into getting a sample. I have used a Dermalogica sunscreen in the past and liked it. Also, their Solar Defense Booster SPF 50 (also $48) is customizable as you can add drops of the product to your moisturizer or into your foundation.

Whatever variations you choose, the products you use MUST work well as a team. Just as we can’t mix oil and water, you don’t want to use any product that will either cancel out the effects of another or that will magnify the others’ effects to a level that could irritate or harm your skin. This is why I recommend following a skin regimen that was made to work as a system such as Michael Todd’s regimens for acne-prone/oily skin and acne-prone/oily sensitive skin or The Regimen as presented on acne.org (see the picture below)

Personally, I love skin care products that use as many organic ingredients as possible while making sure the nutrients, vitamins, etc. are delivered to my skin. I believe I have found this in Michael Todd True Organics (MTTO). The trial/travel-size “Discovery Collection” of five key products for acne-prone skin (and for all skin types) costs about 29€ and lasts about one month. MTTO also grous five of their full-size products as regimens, which are made to work as a system for each skin type. Right now, they cost from 51€ to 62€, which is about a 50% savings for each regimen. The regular acne/oily regimen costs 51€ and the sensitive version is about 55€.


Pictured above is the Michael Todd True Organics regimen for sensitive oily or acne-prone skin.

The benefits of acne.org and using The Regimen are that there is a whole online community using it, and the website gives detailed information about acne and acne treatment. In addition, other acne sufferers are talking about nearly every acne-related topic imaginable on the site’s forums. The products are minimally packaged, come in different sizes (one month, 3-4 months, travel size), and have been formulated for maximum effectiveness with a minimum of ingredients. Finally, the founder of the site Dan Kern and his team are very accessible and are known to respond quickly to questions and feedback. Personally, I have found that benzoyl peroxide (2.5%), the staple treatment of this method was far too drying and harsh on my skin when my acne was bad. However, many people swear by it, and Kern’s formulation is a gel so it is never white and doesn’t get lumpy or clumpy.

Because the products from Michael Todd True Organics and acne.org are designed to work together as a system, it is essential that you use them as they were intended for the minimum amount of time they recommend to see results before you decide if you like them or not.

However, if a certain product from a system or skin care line negatively affects your skin after you have used it a few times, you should change the recommended steps. Keep in mind that some products such as masks may tingle or even burn for the first few minutes. If it does not stop or your skin is red, irritated, or dry after you have left it on the minumum-recommended time and washed it off completely, then I would definitely stop using that product and either substitute a similar but less potent one from the same manufacturer or just eliminate that step from your routine altogether.

Also, if you are using other treatments, especially those prescribed by a doctor such as Retin-A, sulpher wash, or Accutane, you will likely need to treat your skin differently. For example, Accutane is extremely powerful and tends to sensitize and dry out skin significantly. So, you would not want to use the entire acne.org Regimen on top but would be better served using MTTO’s Sensitive Skin regimen.

No matter how quickly you want your skin to clear up (everyone has an event they want to look their best for) or what kind of results are predicted, stick with The Tortoise on this one: “Slow and steady wins the race.” It’s not going to be like waving a magic wand. Build up to your optimal level of treatment slowly, maintain that level for as long as you need to in order to see satisfactory results, and have a long-term maintenance plan to keep taking care of your skin.

Your acne is an outward expression of what is going on inside your skin and your body. Getting rid of it with only superficial methods is like cutting off the top of a weed and expecting it to go away forever. And blasting the weed with harsh chemicals? That only harms the ground beneath and keeps the good things from growing. That’s why I believe that what you do to take care of your body, mind, and spirit are equally essential to clear skin and a better quality of life.

Stay tuned! I will write about these issues in my next post

Here’s a fuller list of comedogenic or pore-clogging ingredients.

My Skin Story:
As a teen, I had very oily skin and deep, painful breakouts. At my most oily, I could consistently turn an entire oil-absorbing sheet clear and make a few spots on another sheet. I thought the best solution was keeping my skin squeaky clean, getting rid of all the oil I could, and killing off as much bacteria as I humanly possible by essentially nuking my face.

I didn’t realize until recently that I have been using entirely the wrong types and combinations of products on my skin over the years. Even when I had bad acne, it wasn’t the oil itself that was the problem, it was that my oil and sebum production were not balanced. Can you guess what causes this? Over-drying the skin. While this is not the only cause, drying out your skin or irritating/overstimulating by using exfoliating products can make your oil glands start producing overtime.

Read what founder of acne.org, Dan Kern, says about his own experience over-washing his face here.
Dermatologist Audrey Kunin, MD, Teresa Stenzel, Bioelements Director of Education, and Dermalogica’s research all back up my assertion that stripping the skin causes your skin to produce too much oil and sebum to compensate for inadequate moisture.