I grew up with a mom who’s philosophy was “makeup is great but skin care is greater” Okay she didn’t actually say this as it was in Romanian but I’m trying as best as I can to sort of sum up the statement. In Europe skin care is essential. I noticed here in America that makeup generally gets all the praise but to me, the canvas is just as important as the paint.
Skin care matters…at lest to me. Makeup is wonderful and fun to play with and has saved me on many a day when I’ve rolled out of bed looking impossibly shitty. Yes, it’s a great cover. But the health of our skin underneath makeup matters more. And what we often forget is that skin care is a holistic approach and happens from the inside and outside.
Most women I speak with seem to brush off skin care almost like it’s vain to care about it but I would rather wear less makeup and feel good in my skin than invest a ton of time and money in trying to cover it up with fancy foundations.
Of course, I’m not immune to breakouts. You will likely find one or more pimples around my chin mid cycle, when I’ve eaten too much crap or feel stressed out. I have blemishes and just the natural weird things that happen to all of our skin. But there are basic things that we can do to establish good habits and keep our skin looking healthy and vibrant. So let’s get into some of the factor that impact skin health, the best foods to eat and my personal skin care regimen.
Negative factors impacting skin health
Hormonal changes - My cycle has become a reliable source of breakouts over the years as I will get the random pimple/s around my chin mid cycle, nearly every month. No matter what I do, there’s little control over that one…they just come, terrorize me for a few days then go.
Food - You know it, I know it - when we eat garbage, it shows up on our skin. I’m not infallible and can be found indulging in a little too much sweet stuff from time to time and it inevitably shows up on my skin. Here’s a more in-depth look at foods that negatively impact skin health.
Stress - Stress is an inevitable part of life and I probably don’t have to tell you how it impacts your skin health as you probably see it on your face. Stress affects hormones and hormones affect every system in our body, including skin.
Lack of sleep - Aside from just the really obvious dark under eye circles, lack of sleep shows up on our skin. Our bodies recover during sleep and when we don’t sleep well or enough, the elasticity and structure of our skin is affected.
Too much alcohol - I like wine and have a glass every day sometimes I’ll indulge in two because I feel like it. But then there are those days when we celebrate a little too much, have company or go out with friends and see it on our skin for days after. Excess alcohol dehydrates skin, causing it to be ashy and dry.
Not enough water - Water makes everything better, especially when it comes to our skin health. Without the proper intake of water, skin starts to look droopy, flaky and wrinkles will often times become more obvious.
Yes, that list is kind of a bummer and while we can’t help the hormonal changes and stress that we experience, we can certainly engage in activities that mitigate stress, we can eat better and drink more water. So let’s get into some nutrition and skin care tips.
Best foods for skin health
Fatty fish - I eat a lot of fatty fish. I never intentionally ate it for skin care but it turns out that eating fatty fish does wonders for skin health. Think salmon, sardines, mackerel, lake trout and tuna, which are all high in Omega 3 fatty acids. The caveat is to always look for wild caught.
Avocado - The healthy fats in avocados play a significant role in keeping skin supple and healthy. They’re also full of vitamin E and antioxidants and the great thing is that you can use avocado inside and out. So while you’re eating one, feel free to smash some up and put it directly on your skin, leave it on for 15 minutes then wash it off.
Pomegranate - These little seeds pack an impressive amount of nutrients and antioxidants, which helps to keep skin healthy and glowing. And not only does consuming the seeds and juice provide benefit but so does using pomegranate seed oil directly on your face.
Walnuts - Eating walnuts on a regular basis, helps to diminish the look of skin aging, dryness and sagging. They contain high amounts of Omega 3 fatty acids, which help to strengthen skin membrane. Also, it’s important to note that the body cannot produce fatty acids, and they can only be obtained through food.
Broccoli - Heathy skin needs vitamin C and broccoli just so happens to be the best source of it. It contains far more than citrus. It also contains lutein, which helps to prevent skin oxidative damage and free radicals, which are often the culprits of pre-mature aging.
Tomatoes - If you like tomatoes, you’re in luck as they contain carotenoids including beta-carotene, lutein and lycopene, which play a crucial role in skin health. Combining tomatoes with a fat, such as olive oil, increases their nutrient bio-availlability.
Dark chocolate - I know you’re cheering! I am. Like so many foods on this list, chocolate is rich in antioxidants and also flavanols - which help to protect skin from UV light. This is very good news for all the chocolate lovers out there. But it has to be as close to pure dark chocolate as possible. Conventional chocolate will not have the same effects.
Green tea - Along the same lines as chocolate, green tea acts as a barrier against harmful, carcinogenic UV light. The active compound in green tea (EGCG), which is responsible for its antioxidant and anti-cancerous properties.
Extra virgin olive oil - Olive oil has been used for thousands of years on skin. It has impressive health benefits on the inside and out. Consuming olive oil on a regular basis protects skin against oxidative stress and slows cell breakdown.
Red wine - And finally my favorite beverage. I love everything about this most complex and mysterious drink. Red wine is high in resveratrol which helps skin cells against pre-mature aging, free radicals and acts as a powerful antioxidant.
Water - While this isn’t technically food, drinking ample amounts of water is the best way to keep skin looking hydrated.
Skin care products and tips
There are many skin care products on the market and I’ve tried a lot of them over the years. While conventional companies believe their products to be the best, I’ve actually resorted to more natural ones and they’ve served me well.
My #1 skin care advice is to never to go sleep with makeup on. I take my makeup off regardless of how tired I am.
I also like to perform regular face massage. Not only does it feel incredibly relaxing but massage helps to stimulate blood flow, encourage cell repair and keep skin smooth and youthful.
Now I realize my skin care routine is probably more involved than most people’s but I actually spend less time doing makeup in the morning and more time taking care of my skin in the evening. It’s a good tradeoff, in my opinion.
So here is what I use:
Micellar water - About a year ago I stopped washing my face in the evening with soap and water. I know…the shock! Instead I use this magical water which removes all dirt and makeup and doesn’t dry out my skin.
Vitamin C serum - I decided to finally invest in a serum to provide some much needed vitamin C. I found one that I love and have been using it ever since. It smells wonderful, contains nothing but good ingredients and lasts quite a while.
Coconut massage oil - I only use this product right after the serum and spend a little time massaging my face. You can find loads of tutorials on YouTube from quick ones to lengthier ones. It’s a relaxing little treat before bed. I try and do this at least 3-4 times a week, depending on how tired I am.
Moisturizer - This is one of my latest discoveries and favorite moisturizer. A little goes a long way with this one. I was particularly interested in finding a moisturizer that uses organic ingredients and doesn’t contain any alcohol or parabens.
Eye cream - And last but not least, an eye balm made with basically edible ingredients. I use this only before bed as it is rich.
So there you have my night time routine. It’s something I found really works for me and I never mind investing a little time in taking care of my skin. In the morning after shower, vitamin C serum and moisturizer is all I use (and I only wash my face with water, no cleanser in the shower).
If you invest time in eating the right foods and treating your skin with the care and respect it deserves, you will reap the benefits.