Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Holistic Skin Care


Writing a post about taking a more holistic approach to skin care is really daunting! Most of these points deserve a whole book's worth of explanation, but I'll try to consolidate a few tips, and explore them further in later posts. The important thing is to expand the way you think about acne and inflammation, and realize that your skin may be trying to tell you that something else in your body is out of whack.

Acne, and I mean inflamed or cystic acne, is often a result of your body trying to let out toxins. (Not always, but often). Sometimes this is because of poor digestion, or an overworked liver or kidneys. If you're feeling good and staying healthy, your skin should be looking good, too. But it also could mean you're stressed out. Your skin can be remarkably sensitive to stress, whether it's from something obvious like a demanding job, or an underlying stressor like low self-esteem.

I don't pretend to know everything about getting rid of acne*, but I want to list a few things that can help. And sidenote, I'm still all for well-formulated skin care products to help tackle acne while you're working on the getting healthy part, but please be gentle! And, of course, remember that everyone's skin is different, so everyone's acne and acne solution will be different.

The List:



Stop picking!

(I’m looking at you, Angie!) I know it’s hard! But I can say from experience, my skin looks better when I just leave it alone, and
tends to break out more if I get into a habit of picking. Like I have right now. Oops. Try reading this if you need more motivation: Stop Picking On Me.

Eat healthy
This is a loaded topic, as it seems like everyone is subscribed to a different miracle diet these days. But I think these are the basics:

  • Eat whole, nutritious foods, including lots of fresh veggies and fruit
  • Drink more water. Drink all the water.
  • Avoid refined sugars and grains, and avoid processed foods
  • Get lots of healthy fats into your diet, including Omega-3s (found things like oily fish, avocados, almonds, flax seeds, olive oil, etc.)**
It also might be worth it to try avoiding dairy and wheat, as those are two common causes of acne and inflammation.

Exercise

It doesn’t have to be anything intense, just need to get your body moving and your blood pumping. It really does wonders for your face, and it helps with the next tip.

De-stress

Easier said than done, I know. Think about some ways that you like to de-stress and try doing them more often. I know I feel more stressed if I haven't played music in a while. And try to get enough sleep!


Get some fresh air and sunshine 

Sunshine is great for your health and your skin, within your limits. It takes 5-15 minutes of sun exposure for your skin to produces Vitamin D, and longer if you have darker skin***. And what ages you and causes most sun damage is the sun reacting to/oxidizing your own sebum. If you're eating well and staying healthy, your skin should protect you better from the sun. It's all interconnected!

Be gentle to your skin
Avoid harsh skin care products and harsh chemicals, or you'll only irritate your poor skin even further.



Ok, so it can be really hard to do all these things at once. I'm still struggling with getting enough sun and fresh air, which is ironic seeing as I live in one of the sunniest places ever (Los Angeles). And don't stress out about making big changes all at once, that's just counterproductive.
Like I said before, baby steps! Be nice to yourself.





P.S. These tips also work for hormonal acne, although you may still need a little outside help. Your hormones are not independent of the rest of your body! Changing your lifestyle and getting the rest of your health under control can go a long way towards regulating your hormone levels. This topic deserves many posts, I know. Angie and I have both struggled with this stuff.


*Again, I highly recommend checking out The Love Vitamin if you're trying to tackle your acne problem holistically.

**I'm completely obsessed with healthy fats right now...Hey, any excuse to eat more butter!

***I feel like all these statistics about sun exposure are meant for people with fair skin. I know I've recommended protecting your skin from the sun, and it is important since sun damage is very real. But keep in mind it takes up to 6 times longer for someone with dark skin to get Vitamin D from sunshine. In fact I've read that Vitamin D supplements are often recommended if you have dark skin, just to make sure you're getting enough. Personally, I only wear sunblock if I'm going to be out in the sun for hours, like at the beach. I just want to make sure we're aware that sunshine, within reason, is really good for you. And blocking it out 24/7 may have some unintended negative consequences.

10 comments:

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