Healthy skin and simple high quality clothing – sum up my pursuit of vanity. I like to change my health routine by season. Change up the exercise routine. Change the products I put on my face. Take the chance to include seasonal fruit and vegetables into my diet. The weather is ripe for kale and it should be cheaper in the farmers markets. Pumpkins are everywhere and in everything. So why not ! Start with the basics as always :
It should come as no surprise that the outer layer of the skin is not independent of what goes on inside our body. The epidermis, dermis and the fat layer work with each other to facilitate healthy skin. The fat layer connects the nerves from the dermis to the rest of the body. The take home message : its all interconnected. Excess sun exposure can cause structural damage to the cells in the outer layers. Everyday stress effects the nerves. Diet, nutrition, exercise and sleep effects every layer. Slapping products on top and hoping to solve problems is not an attitude I would like to develop. #rethinkSkinCare
Start with the HYDRATION
Its not the amount of water ingested but the amount that is retained by the body that contributes to hydration. The 8 glasses/2 liters is a guideline. I need more. If I chug a lot of water in one go, my body will flush it out. I sip on tea through out the day. I add chia seeds to my smoothie and they help retain the water. Before a hike, run or yoga, I drink some chia seeds. Cucumber and lettuce also aide in prolonged hydration. “Eat your water” is a very under rated concept.
Next with the FOOD
I have performed so many experiments on myself to learn what works for me. A real controlled experiment is out of question. Isolating the variables is almost impossible unless I become a lab rat with no social life. But after all these years, I know what works for me. I avoid gluten and dont own sugar in my pantry. I do not buy anything that comes in a box. That automatically cuts out the unhealthy food. I make exceptions during social gatherings because its not worth the fuss. Few kinds of proven healthy skin aides :
Fermented food : Treat the bacteria in my gut the same way you would treat your pets. Yoghurt and kimchee are their personal favorites. Eat something fermented everyday.
Breakfast food: Green smoothie bowl, yoghurt parfait, a whole papaya, steamed sweet potatoes, eggs.
Greens : Kale, spinach, lettuce, collards, chard are my staples. On days when I know I wont get any greens, I use this powder in my smoothie. The dehydrated greens are my flat stomach diet secret.
Good fats : I once experimented with a low fat diet and I looked like a dried up prune. Brain cells require fat. Skin cells require fat. Every organ requires fat to function well. Hormonal balance requires adequate fat. I get mine from avocado, home made ghee, full fat yoghurt, olive oil and coconut oil.
Raw food: I dont own a luminizer/highlighter/shimmer oil. I eat for my glow. Blue berries, carrot, cucumber, bell pepper, beets do wonders. Inversions – shoulder stands, headstands, backbends, forward bends, 100 meter sprints, … work too.
Tea: A way to include herbs and Ayurvedic plants into the diet : green tea with lemon / ginger / turmeric / mint / parsley / cilantro. I make my tea very mild and drink lots of it all day long.
Alcohol : Cooking in the company of my husband while drinking port wine and listening to music is one of my favorite way to spend time. I am trying to moderate my intake and switch to red wine. And drink as little as possible in general.
Seasonal Vegetables : Good for the planet, good for us by default. They are cheaper and it gives me a chance to master a few recipes by repetition.
Diet: I try to eat like my mom. The ratio of protein to starch to fat is something I learnt from her. She does a 1:1:1 ratio. (Not in volume but in calories). (Not obsessively.) It works for me too.
Make detox a part of the week : We grab a vegetable juice before our Saturday farmers market visit. We add cilantro to our food in good quantities. I eat something raw everyday. Exercise and lemon-ginger tea helps. A tablespoon of apple cider vinegar everyday helps. I dont think I need juice fasts or anything radical to detox. Slow, consistent and steady wins the race.
7 hours of sleep and a 20 minute afternoon nap is the dream. When unattainable, we take what ever we can from the time gods. The organs need to rest. The skin needs the down time. The eyes need to remain shut to regain their sparkle. Its the cheapest anti aging pill that works.
Dry Body brush : There is absolutely no scientific proof that it works. But I find it invigorating. I do it first thing in the morning after I brush my teeth. It wakes me up.
Moisturize : The cold weather is upon us and I can use the protection. Almond oil has the right weight for transition weather.
Olive oil bar soap : Does not contain all the chemicals needed to keep my soap in the liquid form. Good for the planet. Good for my skin.
Exfoliate : I DIY it using left over coffee grain after I make my morning cup, gram flour and green tea.
Hygiene : Wash bedding often, wipe your screens , put a filter on the shower head, clean the yoga mat, shower after exercise, use non toxic laundry detergent, … little things help.
Cleanse : After DIY-ing my soap for a decade, I got myself this Korean cult balm cleanser for the cold weather season. It can be used for a relaxing facial massage : video & app.
Tone : This is also new in. Two weeks of it and its changed my skin for good. I use it as a substitute for getting extractions done by an aesthetician. Its mildly exfoliating and its eliminated blackheads. It really works !
Moisturize : The good old trusty May Lindstrom’s oil that I have been using for years. I have tried so many other oils and go back to this one. Its light on the skin and gives me a glow that I am addicted to. Fully recyclable gorgeous glass packaging and handmade in small batches. Wonderful founder and team.
Stress: I wont lie and say I meditate. I dont. But exercise helps. Ashtanga yoga is moving meditation. Going for a walk with the dog makes my day 10 times better. He is very playful and happy which is contagious. My husband can make me laugh at any given time in under 20 seconds. My dad can, in less than 10 seconds. I call them when I am nervous. Naps help. Living with animals help. Being in nature helps.
Other factors that help : getting enough sun, being on my feet during the day, laughter, vacations, meet with friends often, let the dog lick your face, call mom, share a secret with sister, chat with best friend, aromatherapy, … the little factors add up. Not sweating the small stuff helps too. Not chasing superwoman-ship helps.
End of the day, great skin comes form a healthy lifestyle and consistent skincare rituals. In my 20s, I could eat 22 donuts in one go, pull off all nighters in the lab, skip meals, eat pizza everyday during finals week, gulp down red bulls, bake in the sun, not wash my face in the night and have good skin. But that is absolutely not the case right now. My face has become a journal of my bad habits. I have to make an effort to stay healthy. There are no quick fixes. I dont want to throw money at products to buy good skin. That sort of attitude is something I shun. This list, really helps. Its helped me rethink skin care. I have done a post in the past which is all about products. The products work. But its like going down a rabbit hole with buying stuff. We hear about another new product that is supposed to work. We buy it. Then appears another. There is a new treatment out every month. Another peel. Another procedure. They all work. Where do we draw the line ? A holistic approach keeps my sanity. Stay healthy and all the organs will function like they are supposed to. Skin is the biggest organ after all !