How to Eat For Clear Skin

Any artist begins with a clean canvas. In a similar way, we want to start with a clean, healthy canvas – our skin! – before we start creating a masterpiece. But “pretty” is more than just skin-deep; rather, it starts with what we put into our bodies. Nutrition plays a key role in the health of our skin. Most experts say eating a balanced diet is the best way to get your share of good food for healthy skin. Here are a few specific foods that are more likely than others to add a dose of glowing good health to your complexion:

1. Blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, and plums. What is in common with these four fruits? They all have a high antioxidant content, which have plenty of benefits for your skin. According to Dr. Samantha Heller, MS, RD, a clinical nutritionist at NYU Medical Center, “free radicals — like the kind formed from sun exposure — damage the membrane of skin cells, potentially allowing damage to the DNA of that cell. The antioxidants and other phytochemicals in these fruits can protect the cell, so there is less chance for damage.”

“When you help protect the cells from damage and disintegration, you also guard against premature aging. In this respect, these fruits may very well help keep your skin younger looking longer,” says Heller. Eat blueberries to prevent premature aging? Yes please!

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Photo courtesy of Wishful Thinking

2. Salmon, Walnuts, Canola Oil, and Flax Seed. Fatty acids are essential to keep cells healthy and the membrane functioning. Healthy skin cells have healthy membranes, which keep good things in (i.e. water and nutrients) and allows waste products to pass out. It is a fatty acid’s job to keep those cells healthy. Not getting enough essential amino acids results in unstable membranes that can’t keep their buoyant shape, which results in saggy, aged skin. The best-known essential fatty acids are omega 3 and omega 6, which can be found in the foods listed above.

3. Whole Grains carry a lot of antioxidants, which as we touched before, is great for the skin. They also stabilize blood sugar, prevent insulin spikes and help fight acne. Check to make sure a product is high in fiber and low in sugar when you’re perusing the grocery store aisles for whole grain products, like cereals and breads. Also, opting for ancient grains like quinoa is a healthy option that will keep your body healthy and your skin glowing.

4. Green Tea has tons of great benefits for the skin! Green tea has anti-inflammatory properties that helps pimples from popping out, along with overall skin health. Green tea can also reduce the risk of damage from ultraviolet light (like the burning rays of the sun), which thus reduces the risk of skin cancer. So drink up!

5. Red and Green Vegetables. It would make sense that what is good for your overall body and health is good for your skin too. Red-hued veggies are full of beta-carotene, which our bodies convert into vitamin A. Vitamin A acts as an antioxidant, which prevents cell damage and premature aging. It also helps fight acne. Green, leafy foods like spinach provide tons of vitamin A as well, and helps your skin produce more new cells and remove old ones, which reduces dryness and keeps your face glowing and youthful.

Winter Skin Care Tips

Hopefully you don’t live someplace where it has already snowed in late October (unless you like that sort of thing), but with the cooler temperatures, winter is definitely on its way, which may leave your skin in a funk that it reserves for this time of year. Here are a few simple skin care tips to make sure your skin stays healthy and gorgeous when winter comes:

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Photo courtesy of Renewed Style

PROTECT 

Just because the sun isn’t shining like it was in August doesn’t mean you should pack up your sunscreen for the season. UVA and UVB rays still manage to break through the clouds, even in cooler temperatures, so make sure you are protecting your face by using something with at least an SPF of 15 daily.

HYDRATE

With all the pumpkin spice lattes around, you may gravitate toward warmer beverages this season. However, make sure you are still sipping on good old H20 throughout the day to keep your skin looking healthy and supple – not dry and lackluster. If you still crave something warm, try herbal teas instead of something caffeinated or filled with sugar.

MOISTURIZE

Skin tends to be dryer in the winter months, so you may want to switch to a heavier moisturizer to combat the effects of the wind and dry air. Paula Begoun from Paula’s Choice recommends, “If you’re struggling with dryness, use a moisturizer that is filled to the brim with antioxidants to fight environmental damage. It should also contain ingredients that help keep water in skin, anti-inflammatory ingredients to reduce irritation, and cell-communicating ingredients to help skin produce normal skin cells (which it can’t do on its own because of the factors mentioned above).”

However, your face isn’t the only place where skin should be moisturized more – keep a hand cream and a lip balm in your purse, as these are especially sensitive (and exposed) areas that can to be hydrated on the go and throughout the day. Also, make sure to use a body lotion after you shower to keep all of your skin moisturized.

AVOID

Sure, soaking in a burning-hot bath feels great after being out in the cold; but the intense heat of a hot shower or bath actually breaks down the lipid barriers in the skin, which can lead to a loss of moisture. You’d be better off using warm water and moisturizing afterward.

And…

EXFOLIATE

Thirsty, central-heating-parched skin can start looking dull and tired due to the build-up of dry dead skin cells. The solution is to exfoliate regularly. This can be done by using a gentle, well-formulated exfoliant once or twice each week that will turn over the top layer and replace it with newer, smoother cells that can better protect skin, not to mention keep it looking brighter and youthful.

7 Tips for Banishing Acne Breakouts

We’ve all been there – right before some significant event or other, when you want to look particularly stunning, acne suddenly attacks your face like you’re a high school freshman again. Maybe it’s triggered by the weather, stress, unhealthy eating, scrimping on skincare health, or a little of everything.  Don’t panic! Here are ways to get your skin (and your life!) back under control.

1. Wash your face. Whether or not you’ve been keeping up with your morning/evening face wash routine, there are some facial cleansers that are directed toward the acne-prone skin by removing pore-clogging oils and dirt and penetrates pores with salicylic acid to fight breakouts. My favorite is Neutrogena Naturals Acne Cream Cleanser, but virtually any drugstore or high-end skincare brand will carry something similar.

2. Acne Spot Treatment Cream. Every time your wash your face, you should apply acne spot treatment cream right on top of those zits. This helps to speed the healing of blemishes and prevent new ones from occurring. I highly recommend Murad Acne Spot Treatment, which you can find at a Sephora or Ulta near you. While the price tag ($18) may look a little high for such a small tube, I can assure you that it is well worth the investment. It really works! And a little goes a long way, so you won’t be smearing it all over your face.

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3. Light moisturizer.  The last thing you may feel like you want to do with an overly-active oily face is apply moisturizer, but I encourage you to fight the urge to toss it, and instead go for a light-weight moisturizer. Drying your face out will not help to settle the storm, it may aggravate it instead. A lighter moisturizer like First Aid Beauty Daily Face Cream will hydrate, nourish, and improve the natural barrier to your pores while calming redness and irritation.

4. Don’t overload the makeup. The last thing you need to do is clog up your pores with thick foundation and undo the work you’ve been doing in steps 1-3. I completely understand; the urge is to hide all of those ugly blemishes on your skin. However, unless you’re going to THE event that you’ve been stressing over (a.k.a. a wedding, reunion, etc.) I would advise to just let your skin breath and recover. If you absolutely must wear something on your face in public, go with a light layer of mineralized powder foundation.

5. Drink up that H2O. Water helps cleanse your system. It also keeps your skin hydrated and healthy-looking. The recommended amount of water to consume is eight 8 oz. glasses per day. I don’t know about you, but that’s not something I think about throughout the day. Just keep a filled water bottle nearby all day long, and make sure to take some sips every so often. You’ll probably meet the necessary amount for your body just fine.

6. Eat healthy.  Stay away from/minimize fatty foods that cause your pores to freak out. Fast food, chocolate, whatever your weakness is, and you probably know better than anyone what causes your own breakouts. Usually, I eat these kinds of unhealthy foods that I don’t normally eat only when I’m stressed out, so I give my skin a double whammy. And I regret it every time, because not only does it NOT help me at that moment; my stomach then regrets it hours later. If you feel like you need a snack, instead reach for some carrots and hummus or apples and peanut butter. You’ll get some healthy fats in your system and probably stop your urge from devouring an entire tub of ice cream.

7. Take a breather and go for a run. Nothing makes me feel better about myself and whatever chaos has inflicted by life than a nice run, an exhilarating yoga class, a relaxing swim, an intense burst of Jillian Michaels in a workout DVD, or even just a long walk in nature. I find that stepping away often puts everything in perspective. It’s good for your skin, and great for your body, health and mind!

What do you do to get rid of acne breakouts?

Keepin’ it Clean with Facial Cleansers

After a long day of work or play, you arrive home exhausted and sometimes the last thing you want to do is wash off your makeup. Sleeping with your makeup on for one night won’t kill you, but if you do this regularly, you could be provoking some serious damage – read about it at this Huffington Post article. Makeup clogs the pores that your skin is naturally trying to rejuvenate, and leaving it on at night ultimately causes acne and premature aging. I don’t know about you, but that’s enough motivation for me to take it off!  Here are a couple ways to remove and cleanse your face before hitting the sack:

1. Makeup Remover and Cleanser – Makeup removers like this one from Neutrogena Naturals are perfect for removing makeup and cleansing the skin without stripping the skin’s natural moisture.

2. Acne Cleanser – Acne facial cleansers like this one from Neutrogena Naturals gently cleanses while thoroughly removing dirt and pore-clogging oil from your face. Additionally, these formulas have salicylic acid that treats breakouts and helps prevent new ones from occurring. For the acne-prone, this product is a must!

3. Eye Makeup Remover – Eye makeup can be the trickiest part to take off. That darn mascara sometimes just won’t come off! Don’t scrub your eyes until they’re red and irritated; instead go a gentler route and your eyes will thank you – eye makeup remover like Maybelline’s Expert Eyes Moisturizing Eye Makeup Remover can be applied to a tissue then gently pressed against your eyelid before wiping it all off. Easy and no pain!

4.  Makeup Remover Wipes – These things are my savior! I use these before I hit up a yoga class or go for a run as a quick way to remove my foundation. Makeup Remover Wipes (or as my brother calls them, “glorified baby wipes”…how ignorant!) are also perfect for when you are dead tired and can’t stand the thought of washing off your makeup. Just a few quick wipes, and you’re way better of than you were leaving it all on. Then you can go to sleep guilt-free, knowing you’re preserving your beautiful skin!

Skincare Basics: Interview with an Ulta Beauty Expert – Part I

Skincare is the most important part of any daily makeup routine. Preserving the beautiful canvas you have will keep your skin healthy and prevent early signs of aging. I met with Sarah, a Beauty Expert at my local Ulta, to ask her a few questions about daily skincare routines.

What is essential to any skincare routine, and what do these products do?

Sarah: The most important parts of all skincare routines are SPF and moisturizer. It is SO important to protect your skin from dangerous UVB rays from the sun, as they can cause sunburns and deeper skin damage, which is a high risk for skin cancer. If you spend a lot of time outdoors during the summer, make sure you reapply your sunscreen every couple hours.

Moisturizers do a number of things; they prevent your skin from getting too dry or too oily, improve skin tone and texture, and protect your skin. There are different types of moisturizers  in many different brands and at various price points to fit your needs. Whether your skin is normal/combination, dry, oily, sensitive, or aging, there are many options for you.

At what age would you recommend women to start including anti-aging skincare products in their routine?

Sarah: I’m a big fan of preventative products! It’s really a matter of preference when to start using anti-aging skincare products. I’d generally say that women may want to use preventative anti-aging moisturizers in their 20s, while stronger formulas with retinoid may not be needed until women are in their 40s. However, this is once again a personal preference, when you think you would like to start using these products.

Which preventative anti-aging moisturizer would you recommend?

Sarah: I use Miracle Worker by Philosophy every morning and evening. It’s a “rejuvenating, age-fighting hydrator that softens, firms, and brightens the complexion.” I like it because it is a water-based moisturizer and it is really light on comfortable on my skin.

What about moisturizer and sunscreen?

Sarah: Women can start using sunscreen and moisturizer as part of their daily routine as early as junior high or high school.

Acne problems can haunt women in their teens and well beyond then. What types of products can help combat this problem?

Sarah: Many different brands carry moisturizers for oily and acne-prone skin. Many of these products contain salicylic acid, which works to reduce acne. However, if you have normal skin with the occasional breakout, I would recommend spot treatment for those small areas on your face. One product I recommend is the Drying Lotion by Mario Badescu. This works great, and it is a lower price than other acne-fighting products, because Mario Badescu’s philosophy is to put their money into the product, not on fancy packaging.

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Thanks Sarah! We’ll chat again to learn more about what to apply after your skincare in Part II.