For the last few months my skin seemed to take a turn; it went from being completely clear (with just hormonal breakouts) to feeling completely dull, breaking out in certain areas (mainly my left check, forehead, and chin), loosing its natural glow, and constantly felt red and inflamed. At first, I thought it was just the winter months, colder days we have been experiencing this spring and almost felt that it was normal for my skin to feel this way. It wasn’t until about a month ago I was constantly seeing red spots on my face (dry areas or any last lingering blemishes that wouldn’t go away as well as an increase of broken blood vessels (capillaries)) and noticed that I looked wiped out - for lack of better words, just not as healthy; despite eating a pretty clean diet and working out regularly. Frustrating!
I knew that I hadn’t been the best about washing my face, wiping away the make up I had been wearing after a long day, not allowing my skin to breathe, and consuming too many things that were causing inflammation in my body that I just refused to believe were the culprits. (daily take out for dinner/lunch, pipping hot coffees, and alcohol to name a few)
Everyone always says that your skin health always starts within; from your gut, so I knew personally that there was something wrong in the way that I was consuming things but also in the way that I was simply taking care of my skin.
Here, I just want to share a few things that I have put the breaks on, my routine, the supplements that I take daily for skin health, and a few products that I use (less is more). This is what I have found has worked for me and maybe some of these will work for your skin as well - I have tried a lot and love the ones that I am going to share and all of the supplements that I use do not irritate my already sensitive gut- which is a huge plus for me!
- Face Mapping http://www.cocokind.com/face-mapping/
This is probably one of my favorite things! By understanding where you are breaking out, where your face is dry, inflamed, or uneven you can find the root of the problem. For me, I tend to break out around my chin, forehead and often times my left check. SO, your forehead is related to your digestive system, the left check is all about your absorption of nutrients (liver too!), and the chin; imbalanced hormones (usually during the time of the month for me). You can read about the other areas, but clicking the link! Once I figured out why I might be breaking out in those certain areas continuously I started to look into my diet, my beauty routine, sleeping habits, the products I was or wasn’t using, and how I worked out - I was able to pinpoint what I needed to do! For example, whenever I eat sugary foods, foods loaded with oils and consume alcohol I always break out around my forehead as well as my left check - so I know that my digestive system isn’t agreeing with the foods that I am putting in my body.
A few things that I have noticed that help with clearing of my skin is what I am actually putting in my body or what I need to consume more of to get that glow back:
1. WATER! This is a no brainer; and I felt as if I was consuming enough water throughout the day, but during this time I was also dehydrating my body with a large amount of caffeine (coffee) and I was also having an alcoholic drink regularly! My coffee habits ranged from a hot latte in the morning as well as in the afternoon AND I got into a habit of making a drink/wine daily while cooking dinner, having it with my meal or if I was out to dinner. Coffee and alcohol do not necessarily affect my digestion, but they were both affecting the way my skin was feeling and looking. I am definitely not saying that you need to stop both immediately as some people aren’t affected by either, but maybe it is a good idea to pay attention to how your skin feels after a night of drinking or consuming too much coffee, especially hot coffee - for me I am immediately red (broken blood vessels), have a dull appearance, puffy in the face; especially underneath my eyes, and my skin is completely dry (dull). Ironically, I notice that I do better with an iced coffee or anything that isn't extremely hot as it causes my face to turn red/inflamed.
Also; coffee and alcohol were stressing out my liver (forehead / check breakouts, dryness = sign of problem with liver) and unable to remove toxins, clogging my pores and leading to breakouts. Also, I am low key obsessed with lattes which tend to have more sugar than usual so that wasn’t doing my skin any good as well.
OK, so you are probably thinking how can you survive without your coffee each day? I started to turn to Matcha or simply having a smoothie / green juice first thing in the morning which actually energized me causing me to either cut out caffeine all together that day or reducing it to a half before I was able to cut it out and not be completely dependent on it. Giving my skin a break from coffee as well as cutting back on alcohol has been super positive for me skin.
Other things I might replace my morning coffee with besides Matcha are:
- Turmeric Lattes
- Apple Cider Vinegar, Water, 1 lemon, and 1 scoop of either Hum Nutrition Gingersnap Infusion OR WelleCo Super Elixir (more on these later)
- Cacao Almond “Latte” (simply 1-2 tbsp cacao powder, nut milk of choice, cinnamon, dash of turmeric, & sweetener of choice)
- A green juice (filled with more veggies than fruits; I mainly stick to ones that are filled with cucumber, kale, spinach, wheatgrass, parsley, etc and if I want it a bit sweet I love bee pollen or pineapple)
- Or simply, working out first thing in the morning - it energizes me throughout the day!
- My go to Blueberry smoothie (Share below)
So I mentioned two major things that I have been avoiding regularly, coffee & alcohol because I already stay away from dairy (allergy) and tend to monitor my gluten consumption. I do not have an intolerance/ allergy to gluten, but I know that if I consume too many bread products my digestive system acts up, causing me to break out.
Other things that I watch are the oils that I am cooking with; I stick with olive oil but know that when I eat out a lot, order take out, or cook with too much oil my face tends to break out slightly and almost immediately. I also do better with seeds/oats vs. nuts as it seems to stress my digestive system. BUT, these aren’t things that I give up, but tend to watch a bit more by not consuming them as much. So, trying not to entire spoonfuls of peanut butter every single day.
To replace those consider:
- Making your own seed/nut milk from time to time
- Eat sprouted breads as they are easier to digest
- Add seeds like pumpkin seeds (full of zinc) or hemp seeds (Omega 3s) on top of salads, smoothies, oats, chia puddings or yogurt bowls.
- For me, it isn’t so much as to what I am limiting in my diet or staying away from, but focusing on foods that make me feel good, make my skin glow, and give me energy! I am all about focusing on skin foods:
- Avocados, olive oil
- Wild salmon, oysters
- Collagen (either powder form, bone broth, or organic meat products if you eat them)
- Oatmeal, pumpkin/sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, ground flaxseeds or chia seeds, walnuts, brazil nuts
- Dark leafy greens (broccoli, brussels, kale, spinach)
- Cucumbers, pineapples, blueberries (and to think that I was scared of the fruit sugar, yet it is completely helping my skin and gut!), lemons, limes
- Turmeric, ginger, sage, thyme, pepper, cacao powder
- Reducing sugar and salt intake
- Exercise; focusing on ones that reduce stress in body (yoga) but also if I am taking a hot power yoga class (heated) or any other type of workout that normally causes my face to become red or flushed - I am now being more proactive to drink sips of water during even if I do not feel the need too - this will help stop the continuation of repeated broken blood vessels.
- Eating more cooling foods (cucumbers, zucchini, broccoli, fennel, mint, avocado, watermelon, beets)
I now focus on foods that are going to be beneficial for my skin. For example:
My go to blueberry smoothie:
1 cup (or more) almond milk (nut milk/seed milk of choice)
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 frozen banana
Large handful of spinach + kale
1-2 tbsp. cacao powder
1 tbsp. ground flaxseed or hemp seeds
extra add ins: ginger, maca powder, walnuts or cacao nibs, ice.
My typical lunches are usually filled with cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale) cooked in pink sea salt, turmeric, ginger, pepper and paired with wild salmon or organic chicken.
Massaged kale salad with my dairy free caesar salad dressing, sprinkled with hemp seeds/pumpkin seeds, walnuts, raw cucumber, half avocado + protein of choice.
Zucchini noodles with my sunflower seed pad thai sauce, broccoli sprouts and protein of choice
Blueberry Smoothie! or my Lavender Blueberry Smoothie with Collagen.
Over the last few months I have started to incorporate a few supplements into my diet that focus on skin health and have really noticed an improvement. I wrote a whole blog post on the supplements that I take, but here is the list again / updated!
The ones that I have been taking:
- HUM Nutrition:
- Red Carpet
- Daily Cleanse (for help with removing toxins from liver)
- OMG! Omega The Great
- Gingersnap Infusion in my daily waters and Mint Chocolate Chip Infusion for smoothies, homemade bites, mixed into chia puddings, oatmeals, really just about anything!
- WelleCo Super Elixir
- I mix 1 scoop in my water, with lemon and apple cider vinegar
- Probiotic (Either Silver Fern or Gut Instinct from HUM)
I understand that we can get enough of what we need probably from the foods we are consuming, but I felt that my skin needed extra help and often times I don’t feel as if I am consuming enough of one thing or another. For example, I was following a plant based diet; my body was lacking protein and consuming too much sugar (in the form of fruits, vegetables, and nut milks), once I began to consume fish and more protein I noticed my skin improved tremendously.
My Skin Care Routine:
I used to use 100 different products and even though they were all organic, plant based, non toxic - I think that my skin was reacting negatively to all of the different ingredients in each product. Just in the last few weeks I started to use 1-3 different products (one brand for lotion, face cleansing, exfoliating - a second for make up, and third for treating blemishes)
My skin tends to be on the dryer side, redder, and I suffer from broken capillaries. This is because my skin is thin, also stems from genetics, and if I take heated workout classes or ingest in something that will cause this (too much caffeine, spicy foods, long exposure to sun or even long hot showers!). I realized this on my own and knew, but also learned the type of skin I have, what it is prone too, and why from when I received a facial a few months ago.
To be honest, in the morning I simply wash my face with cold/warm water (first thing). Then apply lotion, a face mist.
At night or post working out is when I use a cleanser, face spray, serums/lotions, a face balm (my face is extra dry) and often use an exfoliator; but only 2x a week gently since my skin again is thin and dry.
Mistakes I was making:
- Exfoliating too much
- Mix Matching skin products (cleansers from one, serums from other, but using them at the same time)
- I also found that my skin was too sensitive for products (especially toners) that have apple cider vinegar - instead of helping clear up any blemishes or red marks it would make it worse.
- I now place my eye cream, eye masks in the fridge; as a cooling affect on the face as it will be more beneficial and keeping the skim calm.
- Find a lotion // skin butter (face balm) that worked for my skin and was actually being absorbed instead of just on the surface.
- Not staying hydrated.
- Keeping make up on either overnight or during workouts
- Not allowing my skin to breathe and wearing foundation everyday. Sticking to mascara + lip balm for daily.
- Taking extremely hot showers; causing my face to be completely red and inflamed
- Masking too often and then scrubbing my face vigorously thinking the harder that I scrubbed the mask off the cleaner my face would be.
I will share with you the products that I am currently using that has so far helped my skin; which is also sensitive!
The two brands that I currently use and seems to be agreeing with my skin positively is:
- Gressa Purifying Cleanser or their Balancing Cleanser.
- Gressa Skin; Purifying Oil (see how I use this below in Make up)
- Province Apothecary ‘Clear Skin Advanced Spot Treatment’
- Maria Akerberg: 100% organic Swedish Skin brand
- Olive Cleanser
- Flower Refresher (spray)
- Eye Cream More
- Face Balm More
- Papaya Peeling (gentle exfoliator)
Mornings warm water. Face spray, lotion, eye cream.
Post working out: Cleanser immediately, face spray, lotion
Nighttime: cleanser, face spray, lotion, butter, eye cream
Exfoliate 2x a week.
A few things to quickly mention that might be causing breakouts:
- Constantly touching your face
- Dirty make up brushes
- Ingredients in your make up or skin products
- Not washing your face immediately after you workout
- Not allowing your skin to simply breath and be make up free!
- Dirty pillows, dirty towels from workout places (I found that I break out more when I use the ones they offer)
Once I started to pay more attention foods that are beneficial for your skin and began to incorporate them more into my diet; I noticed that within a few weeks (about a month) my skin was more even toned, less red, and had more of that natural dewy look. Simply by just focusing on skin foods AND making the less common mistakes I was doing before; like not washing my face immediately after working out, touching my face constantly after using weights at the gym, using moisturizers that were extremely greasy, and totally irritating my face with super harsh scrubs. Also, I noticed that I wasn't craving coffee in the mornings, didn't feel the need to have a drink in the evenings, and was switching up my diet so much (adding in a little fruit, more leafy greens, smoothies, eating more food at home vs. out, cooling foods) that my gut health became better as well!
Of course the change doesn't happen overnight, but I feel that my skin is getting back its natural glow finally just by being more aware, using less and simpler products, and understanding how certain foods make me feel and look!
It all seems to simple and obvious, but it took awhile for me to realize what I needed to do to and sometimes it helps when it is written out for you!