By now you have probably come to realize that I am a quality over quantity and less is more kind of person in all aspects of life - makeup, friends, ingredients, labels, skin care, all of it. I don't like toxicity of any kind and I definitely don't like to put chemicals in my body, on my body or anywhere near my body if I have any say in it and I have EXTREMELY sensitive skin so I rarely try new products unless I have to.
I have never really suffered from acne but I have had eczema on and off in certain places for most of my life and luckily I hadn't had a real flare up for years, but thanks to my hormones as of lately my skin has been a total war zone. I am currently having had one of the longest and worst eczema flare ups I've ever had, I'm waking up to new hormonal acne breakouts every day and my skin is so sensitive that I had a reaction to an anti inflammatory raw honey mask last week (WTF). To put it lightly, it's not an awesome time to be my skin right now, but I see the light at the end of the tunnel and I am sprinting towards it - AKA doing everything in my power to get my skin back to a good place.
I'm going to share it all with you, from nutrition to hydration to sleep to products. You're getting the low down on everything - so read on my friends!
*The first & most important part of skin health*
It's not a secret that what you put in is what you put out, you know that saying "you are what you eat" well it could not be more true. Every cell in our body is made up of what we choose to feed it with, we literally have the power to control what we are made of (how cool is that). We should want our skin to be high in vitamins, minerals and nutrients and low in all the crap that we don't need. If you feed your body with greasy, processed foods you are going to see that on your skin, that grease will most likely show on your skin in oil, dullness and breakouts. If you want to glow and look vibrant and alive it’s important to start on the inside by feeding your body with nutritious, whole foods and fruits and veggies and include healthy fats in your diet. It's also super important to practice mindfulness when you eat and pay attention to how you feel after eating a certain food! Healthy fats are also a HUGE part of skin health, essential fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6 are the building blocks of healthy cell membranes, they help produce the skin's natural oil barrier which keeps skin hydrated, plump, and looking youthful!
Some of my favourite skin foods are;
- Coconut oil
- Whole grain oats
- Flax seeds
- Chia Seeds
You can always tell when someone has just worked out by that post workout sweaty glow they have going on. If there was a way to make my skin could look exactly how it does after a workout all the time I would do it in a heartbeat! Exercise causes us to sweat and improves blood flow and circulation which is amazing for your skin. Our skin is the largest organ for detoxification and sweating helps move that detoxification process along by eliminating toxins.
Skin is an organ and just like every other organ in your body it needs water to function. If you are dehydrated then your skin will not be getting the amount of water that it needs and the lack of hydration will start to show. Dehydrated skin looks dry, tight and flaky, has less elasticity and is more prone to wrinkling!
Stress causes the release of Cortisol which triggers inflammation in the body and the skin. After a while all of the excess inflammation starts to break down the collagen in our skin which is the protein that keeps your face looking smooth, firm, moisturized and youthful. Excess cortisol also reduces hyaluronic acid production - think of this as your skins natural moisturizer - which results in dry and easily damaged skin.
Stress happens to the best of us but unfortunately a lot of the time we can't really avoid the things that stress us out (work, school and bills I'm talking to you) but we can learn to manage our stress and reduce how it affects us. Take time to relax every day (multiple times), try a short mediation, take a yoga class, go for a walk or just try to incorporate some deep mindful breathing whenever you can. Remember that life is only as stressful as you allow it to be and you really do have the power to control how you deal with your circumstances!
When we are sleep-deprived the body makes more of the stress hormone cortisol which increases inflammatory skin conditions like acne and eczema! I make sure I get a MINIMUM of 7 hours of sleep every night and I put my phone and laptop away at least an hour and sometiems two hours before bed in an effort to lower my cortisol even more.
Probiotics - we need probiotics to maintain our gut health, without them our microbiome becomes damaged and depleted and one of the first places that this manifests is in our skin in the form of acne and other skin issues like rosacea and eczema. It is particularly important to maintain gut health when dealing with hormonal acne because the microbiome helps process and eliminate excess estrogen.
Omega 3's - think of this as nourishing and hydrating your skin from the inside out. The Omega 3 EPA reduces inflammation and alleviates irritation at a biochemical level which basically means that it gets to the root cause of aggravated skin conditions (like eczema). The omega-3 fatty acids also protect the skin against sun damage, supply hydration to your skin and help with inflammation.
B Vitamins - taking a good B complex is crucial to skin health because the B vitamins provide all of the energy that our skin cells need to regenerate and renew.
Vitamin D - unless you live somewhere that is constantly sunny or you take a supplement then chances are you are not getting/synthesizing enough vitamin D. In the winter our vitamin D production drops because we aren't exposed to sunlight as often, this causes our immune system to weaken which can cause the skin barrier to break down which puts you at risk of developing a skin infection (eczema). This is why eczema sufferers usually have flare ups during the winter!
Magnesium - a lack of magnesium causes inflammation in the skin. PRO TIP: when magnesium is taken with calcium it protects skin health by lowering the amount of C-reactive proteins that cause inflammation.
Zinc - zinc deficiency is quite common especially in women. When we are deficient in zinc our immunity becomes lowered and our susceptibility to inflammation and irritation increases in both the body and the skin.
When people say that coconut oil is good for everything they're not joking. You can cook with it, clean with it, oil pull for your teeth, take off your makeup, wash your face, moisturize your face, you can even put it all over your lady parts (yup I went there) to prevent yeast infections and UTI's and to keep your business nice and moisturized. Coconut oil is quite literally THE SHIT (yes I'm yelling this). So what do I do with it? Well all of the above really but the thing that has really helped my skin lately is that I have started taking my makeup off with it instead of a makeup remover. I always hesitated using it to remove makeup, mostly just because it makes your eyes VERY blurry (you've been warned) but it has been a game changer and has really improved the dryness and texture of my skin in the last few weeks.
I am in currently the process of switching all of my products and makeup over to all natural and non toxic versions so I am currently testing a few things out and don't want to put them out there for you guys until I can give an honest review on how I'm liking them (I'll do a full blog post in the next week or two) but I will include a couple of things below that I have been using for a few months or more and love!
Cocokind Matcha Stick - this literally saves my eczema flare ups and is amazing for moisturizing your under eyes!
Origins Active Charcoal Mask - really good for breakouts and you can use it as a spot treatment.
Tarte Amazonian Clay Tinted Moisturizer - this has been my GO TO tinted moisturizer for the last 3 years and it is THE BEST, it has really nice, glowy, sheer coverage and doesn't clog my pores.
As I said I'm in the process of trying to switch everything else over to natural products right now so this is all I have for you for now when it comes to products but I will report back!
I should note that as always these are things that have worked for me and my skin and might not work for you. Healthy skin starts with a good diet, lots of water, sleep and a happy and (mostly) stress free life so before you run out and buy a bunch of products or supplements try to get those things working for you first!