Your skin is one of the most important organs you have, as well as the biggest. The best way to look after your skin and fight breakouts is prevention and daily maintenance, rather than only dealing with spots once they appear (and its already too late!).
The wonderful thing about skin care is that it can be a quite time that becomes part of your daily self-care, and some aspects of the practices I will share here can be quite meditative to perform.
My last post covered all things spots and breakout related including how to work out what’s causing your breakouts & what foods you need to be eating for a healthy skin diet. In case you missed it or need a recap you can see it here.
How to look after your skin
Looking after your skin can be split into two parts; looking after your skin from the inside out, and the external looking after your skin physically. In my post on breakouts we covered what you should be eating for a healthy skin diet to keep your skin happy from the inside. This also includes avoiding foods such as alcohol, refined sugar, anything you have an allergic or inflammation reaction to such as dairy or gluten, processed foods, & those that have man-made ingredients you can’t pronounce!
If you feel you are low or aren’t getting enough of one or more of the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients needed for healthy skin there are some herbal plants and natural supplements you can use to help that I will cover below. As well as some skin care recipes and body brushing techniques to keep your skin in tip-top condition, and we are covering the skin on your whole body – not just your face!
Look after your skin from the inside
Lets start with the internal side of skin care and maintenance. As i already mentioned, I covered skin friendly foods in my last post so lets move onto other things:
The simplest thing you can do for your skin is to make sure it is hydrated! Not drinking enough water throughout the day is a common problem for most people, and water is the best way to moisturise your skin from the inside out. You should be aiming to drink eight glasses of water a day.
You can add a pinch of good quality salt such as Himalayan salt to your water too if you want. This increases the vitamins and minerals you are consuming with your water. Himalayan salt contains magnesium, potassium, and may macrominerals and trace minerals that are necessary for your health. In fact many of these minerals are electrolytes.
A good portion of your cells run on electricity, we are all energy after all. Electrolytes help your cells carry an electrical charge, and there for do their job better, and give you a boost of energy.
Did you know your skin breathes too?! it actually exchanges small amounts of oxygen and carbon dioxide with the air it comes into contact with!
Your skin needs a good supply of oxygen brought to the surface to function fully. This is supplied by the oxygen in your blood stream. You can help your body in this process by taking time out to practice some breath work. Taking deep breaths and breathing from your diaphragm will make sure there’s plenty of oxygen entering your blood stream, and is how we all should be breathing – so that your stomach expands, not just filling your lungs.
Not only that but taking time to sit and focus on your breathing is a form of meditation. Do this for 10 minutes each morning and it will help reduce your stress levels, and let you be better prepared for the day ahead. Reducing stress is good for your skin too, as this can also cause breakouts and spots!
Your skin needs various fatty acids, vitamins and minerals to function fully (as I covered previously when we covered a skin healthy diet). Specifically, your skin needs omega-3’s to make sebum and protect the skin and allow your body to deal with inflammation. Vitamin C for collagen formation. Vitamin A to maintain and repair your skin. Vitamins D & E that act as anti oxidants. B vitamins, particularly Biotin (although a full vitamin B complex is recommended if you are taking this in supplement form), for the formation of skin hair and nail cells, elasticity, & skin hydration. It also helps keep our hormones balanced. Copper and zinc are also essential for your tissue regeneration and healing.
If you do not feel you are, or can, get enough of these essential skin nutrients from your food then you can take a variety of supplements. Always do your research firs and make sure you are getting the best quality ingredients. Your local health foods store will always be able to advise you if you are unsure.
For reference I have included the natural sources of each nutrient below (although this is not a complete list!)
Omega-3’s are found naturally in dark green leafy vegetables, you can also eat seeds such as flaxseeds and chia seeds, walnuts, soybeans and eggs.
You can find Vitamin C in broccoli, oranges, cranberry, kiwifruit, bell peppers and strawberries.
Vitamin A is found naturally in sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli, black eyed peas, mango, dried apricots, and spinach to name a few.
For vitamin E you can eat broccoli, spinach, seeds such as sunflower seeds, nuts including almonds, peanuts and hazelnuts, and some vegetable oils.
Vitamin D is slightly different in that your main source of vitamin D is the sun! Ideally we should be outdoors with our sin exposed to the sun for at least an hour per day. Although in the Northern hemisphere we know this is not always possible, especially in Winter months.
But there are some foods which contain small amounts too – mushrooms, tofu, fortified milks & cereals, and if you aren’t veggie/vegan fatty fish such as tuna and mackerel, cheese, and beef liver.
Biotin, or B-7 is found naturally in avocados, nuts and seeds, sweet potato, yeast, salmon, and dairy products.
Your hormones can have a huge influence on the condition of your skin. Especially for women who have fluctuations in hormones during our monthly cycles. It is a change in hormone levels that causes higher testosterone than usual in your body & causes your skin to produce excess sebum, this in turn can block skin follicles and pores.
This happens just before and during menstruation, meaning at least two weeks when your skin can be inflamed and even acne prone.
To deal with hormone spots internally you can take a high dosage of a zinc supplement, a 30-45mg dose daily has been shown to reduce acne.
You can also try echinacia and thyme to help your skin & body fight the excess bacteria, cleavers red clover and yellow dock will help your body to cleanse from the inside out, as well as aiding lymphatic drainage for all round elimination and drainage.
Eliminating your body of as many toxins as possible will help with any long standing skin conditions you may have, as well as allowing your body to focus on clearing toxins from your skin. Smoking & alcohol consumption particularly take a huge toll on your skin, and toxins from processed foods and other man made ingredients which take a huge toll on your body.
To read more on how to detox your body naturally I have written a previous post here.
Skin care from the outside
A daily moisturising routine is essential to maintaining healthy skin, for both body and face.
Sesame seed oil is the most compatible with the human body, and is the oil recommended in Ayurveda. Apply oil to your body each morning after dry brushing & showering. Start at the top of your body and work your way down to your toes. Allow to dry.
For the face you can use a more delicate oil such as rosehip or jojoba which have additional benefits for your facial care. Rose hip is full of vitamins, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids that correct dark spots, reduce scars and fine lines, and hydrate dry itchy skin.
Jojoba oil will regulate sebum production, moisturise, and sooth your skin. By regulating your sebum jojoba helps prevent acne caused by blocked pores and helps relieve skin that looks oily too.
People often make the mistake of thinking that moisturising is bad when you have a breakout, but in fact that is not the case! As well as a daily moisturising ritual, you should keep up moisturising your skin when spotty too. The best way to do this is using an oil. Oil does NOT block your pores, it actually lifts dirt away from the skin, and is absorbed better than a cream moisturiser.
Body brush & scrub
Body brushing or dry brushing is a wonderful practice that helps remove dry skin cells and also stimulates your circulation. Making you skin feel soft and supple and will help with your skin texture.
Dry brushing takes only a few minutes each morning before you shower. You should start from your extremities – your hands and feet, and brush towards your heart in long circular movements. After five minutes of brushing your skin may look a little pink and feel warmer. It may feel strange to start with but you will soon get used to this.
For the best results you want to dry brush one or twice a day.
As well as dry brushing you can use a natural body scrub of coconut oil, sugar, and coffee (optional) once a month too. This not only makes your skin feel amazing, but smells amazing as you wash it off, and the addition of coffee helps with lymphatic drainage and the reduction of cellulite too.
Face masks and face scrubs all play a part in skin health and should be included as part of your skin care routine. The same scrub of coconut oil and sugar can be used for your face, but should only be used every other day or a few times per week. This scrub will help remove dirt and excess sebum from your pores and remove dead skin cells.
Face masks can have a variety of uses from moisturising and brightening, to cleansing and detoxing, and even soothing. You only need to use a face mask once a week at most. You can find recipes for a couple of my favourite natural face masks, as well as the sugar scrub here.
Cleansing your skin daily is highly important for removing dirt and grime, especially if you deal with a lot of air pollution. Cleansing should be done at night, with just a simple rinse with water on a morning.
If you cleanse on a morning you will remove all of the natural oils that your face has produced in the night, and was away all of its natural protection.
To cleanse the skin an oil solution is best as it will remove make up and lift dirt and impurities from your skin. You can use coconut oil, or rosemary works well too. Apply all over the face and neck area. Wet a face cloth to remove the oil. Then rise with warm water.
After cleansing always use a toner to help close and tighten pores. Witch hazel makes a very good toner as it is both calming and an astringent to close the pores. If you have particularly dry skin, or during more oily times of the month, you can use a mixture of 1 part apple cider vinegar and 3 parts water.
If using the apple cider vinegar solution make sure to rise your face again after.
And that’s it. Clean and simple. A five step daily skin care routine, plus a few extras.