I get asked about this a lot. Friends and family frequently want to know the best products and routine to prevent aging and have better looking, clearer skin.
There are so many blogs and articles available on the topic but yet it still seems to be a mystery. Hopefully this post will clear it up for you and help you have the glowing, more radiant skin you're looking for.
I think the reason that this topic is so confusing (as most health related topics are) is because there are endless options, differing opinions and the same thing won't work on everyone. Many people only look at what they can put on their skin to get miracle results but that's only half of it.
Your skin is the biggest organ of your body and has an external and internal component. It looks, feels and works its best when both are addressed and in balance. Below I'll take you through how to achieve it with both healthy lifestyle habits and some great, cost effective products!
Quick note: my experience with organic/natural skin care and beauty products (the ones I've tried) have irritated my sensitive skin and just do not work. For example, EOS and Burt's Bees lip balms severely irritate my lips, moisturizers leave my skin dry, shampoos/conditioners dry out my hair and irritate my scalp. The products that I list here are the ones I've had really good experiences with, actually work and are the most cost effective for the benefits they provide (I realllllly don't like wasting money :) ).
Skin Care Routine:
This is a good starting place. Before you can even think about the best products to use, you have to start within, with your emotional and physical wellbeing. Your thoughts and habits greatly influence your complexion. Do you frown a lot? Do you have negative thoughts about yourself and life? Are you super stressed out? Do you get enough good sleep? Are you active or sedentary? It all shows and can be the difference between a dull and haggard or soft and glowing appearance!
How To Do It:
- Sleep 7-9 hours/night
- Destress by doing things you enjoy, creative outlet, socializing, yoga, meditation
- Be more active throughout your day (you don't have to spend hours in the gym or start a rigorous workout routine)
- Change negative thoughts and conversations to be more positive and optimistic
- Smile and laugh more
- Focus more on the good
Consuming a healthy diet as well as nourishing the exterior of your skin can make a dramatic difference in its appearance. Skin firmness relies on elastin and collagen and radiance partly relies on moisture, healthy fats and antioxidants to fight toxins and skin damage.
What To Eat:
- Vitamins A, C & E from nutrient rich foods (variety of fruits and veggies) (grass fed beef liver is a great source of active vitamin A)
- Healthy fats (olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, seafood)
- Varied sources of protein
- Drink plenty of water
What To Use On Skin:
- 1-2 times/day use vitamin C powder, it mixes into any moisturizer you use (if in serums or creams it typically loses potency quickly)
- My favorite is Philosophy Turbo C Booster (other cosmetic grade, fine vitamin C powders can work)
- This boosts collagen and elastin, plumps and hydrates and is also an antioxidant
- 1-3 times/week use retinol (vitamin A), prescription strength is best but can be found in over the counter products
- Make sure to greatly reduce sun exposure when using vitamin A (it has been linked with increased risk of skin cancer with UV light), use hats, sunscreen, umbrellas, etc., or avoid use when you're getting more sun
- Retinol provides vitamin A which helps form new healthy cells, even skin tone and fight wrinkles, it's drying so make sure to exfoliate and use a good moisturizer
It's helpful to remove irritative and damaging ingredients and environmental exposures from your life. This will boost your overall health, balance your hormones, improve inflammation and frequency of blemishes, and the overall appearance of your skin. It's impossible to remove them all, but try to be more aware of what you're exposing your body to and cut down where you can.
What You Can Do:
- Limit unprotected sun exposure (~10 minutes/day)
- Eat less processed foods (they're 'empty calories' and increase inflammation)
- Eliminate foods that make your symptoms/complexion worse (common inflammatory foods are dairy, gluten and sugar)
- Eat less sugar and simple carbs (increase inflammation)
- Reduce less-natural skin care and beauty products, (your skin contains pores all over the body which are ways for damaging and irritative ingredients on the surface to make they're way into the body)
- Harmful ingredients can be found in your face/body washes and lotions, make up, shampoo and conditioner, body sprays, shaving cream and aftershave, laundry detergent, fabric softener, deodorant
- Reference this guide by the EWG Skin Deep website for ingredient research/safety, common ones to use caution with are listed below:
- Fragrances (hormone disruptors, irritative/inflammatory)
- Parabens (hormone disruptor)
- Tricolsan (antibacterial that kills good, health promoting bacteria)
- Formaldehyde and formaldehyde releasers (Bronopol, DMDM hydantoin, Diazolidinyl urea, Imidzaolidinyl urea and Quaternium-15)
- Sulfates (linked to increased inflammation, organ/neuro/developmental toxicity, hormone disruptor)
- My favorite products that work well for me and that I've used for years are: Biolements, Skin Ceuticals, Kiss My Face, Tom's and Aveeno (all unfragranced when an option)
Finding is a good cleanser isn't easy. It's important to clean make up, dirt and fine particles from your pores so they don't get clogged and harbor harmful bacteria.
Some Ideas For Cleansing (different methods work for different people):
- A basic cleanser for your type of skin, my fave is Bioelements Moisture Positive
- Oil based products like jojoba oil (the thought that oils dissolve oils)
- Astringent (can be harsh but works well for some people)
- Always use a gentle massaging motion and avoid rubbing too hard with a wash cloth
Exfoliation is broken into 2 components, chemical and manual. You want to loosen the layer of dead skin and then have a good method to remove it. This process reveals consistently fresh and radiant skin.
- Chemical peels at a medical spa
- Over the counter products with various acids in them, 2 good options are:
- My absolute favorite is the Clarisonic with the deep pore cleansing brush (this helps clean skin too, I use it with my cleanser 1-2 times/day)
- Exfoliating sponges
- Microderm abrasion by a medical spa
Last but not least, a good moisturizer is crucial. You want to hydrate your skin as much as possible. When your skin is dry, it wrinkles easier and appears thin, but adding a good moisturizer can be an instant boost. A daily SPF is a good idea, but many common types are not too healthy. Use the EWG Skin Deep website as a resource for finding a natural and less toxic type.
Make up often has SPF in it, I use Bare Minerals which does, so you can find some daily sun protection from that. My favorite moisturizers have been Biolelements Absolute and Crucial moisture.
There are many, many more anti aging products on the market. It's hard to find solid, non biased information because it's a big market, and most reviews, descriptions and articles make you feel that product is a must have and will provide dramatic results.
The recommendations I've explained set a good base to slow aging and improve the appearance of your complexion each day. You can add night creams, eye creams and serums but nothing will be quite as powerful or replace a good, basic routine that addresses the inside and out. Once you have a healthy foundation and skin care routine, then adding some special products might give you an extra boost you're looking for.
What are some of your favorite natural products or experiences with natural products?