SKINCARE, THE REGIMEN
If you haven't read my journal entry about how I healed my cystic acne from the inside-out, you must. The thoughts and insights I share are by and large essential to my skin healing journey, and I firmly believe that topical products alone would not have had the same impact as did turning inward and working through serious emotional blockages. Your skin is a reflection of what's going on inside of you, physically and emotionally.
That said, it's also crucial to consider the products we use topically. As the body's largest organ, our skin absorbs anything we put on it. When I had acne, I learned this the hard way. I tried product after product only to find that most were making my skin worse (and after extensive research into some of these products' ingredients, I learned that they were likely wreaking havoc internally, too).
There are a lot of products out there that can cause more harm than do good, for us and the environment.
In Europe, the government has banned thousands of chemical ingredients because of their negative impact on our bodies and the environment. However, in North America, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration in charge of regulating food and certain health products) does no such thing. Our list of banned ingredients pales in comparison to that of Europe's, leaving consumers in the dark about a lot of our everyday products and how they might be affecting our health. Research has revealed the dangers of many conventional personal care, cosmetic, and household products, linking their chronic use to serious health issues, such as cancer, endocrine disruption and infertility, as well as behavioural problems. In the midst of healing my acne, resources like The EWG's (Environmental Working Group) Skin Deep database helped me to learn more about the harmful toxins contained in these products, as well as urged me to reconsider alternative options.
For me, high quality non-toxic skincare products have not only helped to heal and nourish my skin, but because of their gentle, nourishing ingredients, I can feel good that what's being absorbed through my skin isn't going to be disruptive to my body as a whole. I'm a sensitive being to begin with. Injecting my body with endocrine disrupting chemicals or inflammatory toxins is not in my best interests (nor is it recommended for you).
The importance of cultivating a strong relationship with our bodies in order to have the best skin ever.
In addition to using non-toxic products to maintain the integrity of our well-being both inside and out, and therefore the radiance of our outward appearance, we must consider the cycles of our skin. Our skin regenerates every 28 days. Our skin is always changing. In the same way that our mood or energy levels differ from day to day, so does the living state of our skin. Some days we may experience more dryness, other days our skin may appear bright and clear. With the transitioning of seasons, our skin also changes. Perhaps more congested with humidity or dry and scaly in the dead of winter. Our skin cycle is why it's so important when trying new products, to use them for at least 3 to 4 weeks, because it gives the skin a chance to actually acclimate to whatever is foreign that you're applying.
Considering the cycle of your skin, think about how this might also relate to your hormonal cycle. When I talk to others about my skin healing journey, I always advise them that it's not over. Though I appear to have healed my acne, I still experience the occasional breakout and I go through phases where my skin will appear tired, dull, and dehydrated. I also experience eczema flare ups every now and then. Thanks to years of getting to know my skin (acne included), I can usually equate these breakouts, patches of dryness, or eczema flare ups to either the timing of my menstrual cycle or link them to my level of stress, whether digestive, emotional, or both. I've learned to trust the body's largest organ in communicating what's going on inside of me. Tuning in and listening to your body when it is communicating with you via changes in your skin is important for knowing what topical products to use and when, as well as what nutrition and lifestyle practices you may need to implement.
Learn to communicate with your skin.
With everything I have to say about skincare, from the inside-out to what we should be using topically, learning to communicate with your body is going to be the most rewarding practice in realizing your best skin ever. Seek professional help if you're overwhelmed or unsure about how to start cultivating this relationship with your skin.
I'm often asked about my skincare regimen, so I'm finally sharing it with you. Things to consider when reviewing any skincare regime that's not your own:
We are all unique, we all have different skin. What works for one person might not work for you.
Taking care of ourselves mentally and emotionally is as important for glowing, radiant skin as is using nourishing products.
As the seasons change, as time moves, so do our bodies, so does our skin. The routine and products I'm sharing are a general snapshot, but I honour my body by giving my skin what it needs on any given day.
I should also mention that I am not sponsored by any of the brands that I include below. I am q huge fan of a few local brands. Here are my (current) favourites and the practice that helps me to maintain a clear and nourished complexion.
IN THE AM
Boost your lymph.
I'm a huge fan of facial acupuncture. It's a safe and natural way to promote lympathic drainage for improved skin tone, elasticity, and complexion without the use of harsh chemicals (consider it natural Botox). After a few treatments with Nastasia at Province Apothecary, I've become a complete convert. But ongoing treatments can become costly, so for in between sessions and to maintain the benefits, I invested in PA's Facial Dry Brush. This small natural bristle brush has become a quick, easy, and effective part of my morning skincare ritual. It only takes a few minutes each morning and it helps to keep my skin clear and firm. I love it so much.
Bonus: using the Energy Brush by Living Libations, I'll also dry brush my entire body first thing in the morning. This can have systemic benefits, meaning that it can help detoxify your entire body, leaving all of your skin looking fab.
Hydrate + tone.
After dry brushing for a few minutes, I spritz my face with this rosewater, which I purchase at my local health food store. As an astringent, the rosewater helps to cool and tone the skin, as well as provide hydration. The glycerin in this particular product also helps keep moisture. I love keeping a small spray bottle of this in my purse during the warmer months to spritz throughout the day.
Moisturize + protect.
I seal in the hydrating rosewater with a facial oil. Seabuckthorn Best Skin Ever by Living Libations is my favourite. In the summer, for sun-harmonizing benefits and to nourish the skin, I'll use Everybody Loves the Sunshine by LL. For SPF coverage, I'll use a BB cream by Coola. I love how lightweight this product, while also providing minimal coverage and protection.
I'll drink a large glass of filtered, room temperature water with lemon and chlorophyll. I'll follow this with a green tea or an herbal infusion I made the night before. My favourite herbals for reducing inflammation and promoting clear, healthy skin are tulsi (works on the adrenals and mediates stress), red clover (great for redness and inflammation, especially eczema or skin irritations), moringa (a great blood purifier and full of zinc, magnesium, and iron), and rose (cooling, astringent properties).
Good gut health.
I'll listen to my body for what I want to consume each morning for breakfast. For a long while, I was consuming butter tea elixirs with lots of adaptogen mushrooms and herbs, but I found my body was craving protein in the morning, which is important for supporting adrenal health (which has always been something I need to work on, anyway). To support the adrenals, I make sure to consume some protein in the morning. A standard breakfast for me might be a couple of soft boiled eggs with sauteed greens, some avocado, and kimchi. This is what works for me to balance blood sugar levels, nourish the adrenals, and reduce inflammation in the body, which is important for healthy skin.
IN THE PM
Remove the dirt.
For removing any makeup, I use organic castor seed oil. It's thick and sticky, so it might not be for everyone, but I like it because I feel like it can really help to get the dirt off. I'll massage it into my eyes/lashes/brows, as castor seed oil can also help to nourish and stimulate the hair follicles, promoting healthier brows and lashes.
I only cleanse with raw honey. It's antimicrobial, deeply cleansing, hydrating, and full of nutrients. With wet fingers, I'll massage about 1/2 tsp. of raw honey all over my face, I like the local brand Beekeeper's Naturals. Another great brand for raw manuka honey is Wedderspoon. Rinse with a warm face cloth.
Follow the raw honey cleansing with a spritz of rosewater.
Moisturize + heal.
Add moisture with Seabuckthorn Best Skin Ever or depending on how I'm feeling, sometimes I'll use Rosehip Seed Oil by Skin Essence, which is rich in vitamin E and great for reducing hyperpigmentation and post-acne marks.
Spot treat, if necessary.
For any blemishes, my absolute favourite product is Zippity Dew Dab by Living Libations. A more common natural blemish treatment is tea tree oil, which can be effective for some. However, with my dry, sensitive skin, I find it can actually be too harsh, drying out the skin surrounding the blemish. The Zippity Dew Dab treats the blemish, reducing redness and inflammation, but doesn't harm the skin surrounding the blemish.
I get asked A LOT about what eye cream I use. I don't. For the under eye, I'll dab on my favourite all-purpose balm: Egyptian Magic. This stuff is incredible for so many different uses. I like it for under eye, in the winter I'll use it all over my face for a deeply nourishing night cream, and it's also really awesome for bug bites, rashes, eczema, and other skin irritations.
Favourite skin supplement hands down: probiotics. I'll take a probiotic supplement at night on an empty stomach, so it can work its magic while I sleep. I also consume probiotic-rich foods everyday. My favourites being miso, kimchi, and kombucha. Gut health is so important for great skin (and so worth a blog post completely its own!). Other food supplements that I like to include regularly to support the skin are collagen for its tissue building, L-glutamine for its gut-healing properties, and tocotrienols, which are rich in skin-loving vitamins E and D.
Please note: before taking any kind of supplementation, I always advise to first check with a trusted and professional healthcare practitioner in order to make the best and most educated decision for you.
There's a reason it's called beauty sleep. It's when we're sleeping that our body repairs itself. A deep, undisturbed sleep is best. For me to achieve this, I need plenty of time to wind down in the evening, which I don't always get. But when I do, I'm putting my phone away at certain time, turning the TV off and listening to a podcast or reading a book instead. I might have a warm epsom salt bath to calm my body and mind. I'll drink magnesium and take some of my reishi tincture. Whatever helps make you feel relaxed is going to benefit your sleep.
I understand that both physical and mental ailments can affect us in different ways. If you're dealing with skin issues or other health concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out. As a holistic nutritionist, I work to create space and offer guidance, so that you can get quiet with your mind, get reacquainted with your body, and learn to heal yourself from within.