I’ve never been one to have a strict skincare regime. In my 20’s I was lucky to even wash my face, let alone lather it in “active” moisturisers and serums. Facials? I’d never had one.
Then something changed: I turned 30. Whilst I still stand by the notion that age is just a number, and you’re as old as you feel, I noticed some gradual changes. For the better – I knew who I was, what I wanted and I embraced that. For the worse – my skin started to look aged. Sunspots came out of nowhere, my skin was dry, that 20 something glow was gone and my skin became reactive to what I put in to my body and how I was feeling. With entering my 30’s also came more responsibility, so my stress levels went up immensely.
We can all have that youthful glow once more but to do so, we must understand that whilst you can choose your skincare wisely, glowing skin starts from within.
Here are our top tips for glowing skin.
1. Get your beauty sleep
Sleep may very well be the closest thing to the fountain of youth. There is a reason why they call it ‘beauty sleep’. The body’s time to repair and recalibrate is when we sleep. Blood flow to the skin is boosted when we sleep, delivering nourishment and nutrients to the skin. Sleep deprivation means this process in hindered. Ensure you are getting a minimum of 6 quality hours of sleep a night.
2. Drink plenty of water.
If sleep is the closest thing to the fountain of youth, then drinking water comes a close second. I cannot stress the importance of staying hydrated. The skin, like every other organ, is comprised of cells and these cells mainly contain water. If we are dehydrated, our cells simply cannot function at their best. By consuming plenty of water you are replenishing every single cell in your body, including your skin cells, and ensuring optimum function. Dehydrated skin is less resilient and more prone to dryness, tightness, flakiness and wrinkling. If glowing skin is what you’re after then a minimum of 2 litres of water a day is key.
3. Stop stressing, baby!
Let’s face it, we can’t avoid life. But we can choose how we respond to it. When you throw stress into any mix, it is a recipe for disaster. Countless studies have confirmed this.
When we are stressed our body is in flight or fight mode. Cortisol kicks in so that we can survive, and digestive and immune function is reduced as it is not essential in survival mode. Our ability to digest and absorb our nutrients is therefore compromised.
Cortisol is partly responsible in regulating inflammation. Prolonged exposure to stress alters the effectiveness of cortisol to regulate the inflammatory response. As immune function is decreased – another key regulator of inflammation – our body becomes chronically inflamed which presents a whole host of health problems.
Oh, and who else doesn’t sleep well when they are stressed? Yep, getting on top of this is key!
Can you allocate a few minutes every morning and every night to close your eyes, breathe deeply and mindfully and mentally list a few things you are grateful for and what things you achieved or want to achieve? Can you remind yourself that you are in control of how you feel in every situation? We always have a choice and every morning we have the opportunity to start over.
Find what activity reduces your stress and do it on the regular. Yoga, a bath, a walk along the beach, a dance in your lounge room, a cup of tea. Whatever works for you.
4. Look after your gut
Our skin is a mirror image of what is going on internally. The health of our gut will strongly impact the health of our skin and, all aspects of our health. In naturopathic practices, the gut will be the first line of treatment, no matter what the condition. If you’re interested in learning more about gut health, click here.
Ensure trigger foods are identified and eliminated. The most common triggers to avoid, or at least significantly reduce, when it comes to healthy skin are; dairy, wheat and gluten, sugar, alcohol, coffee and stress!
Start each day with ½ freshly squeezed lemon in warm water, or 5 ml of apple cider vinegar. This will kick start all aspects of digestion, including getting those bowels moving.
Be present when you eat. Sit down, breathe deeply and ensure you chew your food really well. If you suffer from bloating, pain, flatulence and/or indigestion, then adding digestive enzymes and probiotics into the mix to assist in digestion will greatly help.
5. Give your liver some love
We know that the liver is the master organ of detoxification. But some of us may not realise its important role in digestion. Under the guidance of the liver, bile is released from the gall bladder into the small intestine to digest fats. The liver also processes nutrients that have been absorbed from the small intestine.
The liver is like the factory that processes everything. In terms of detoxification, there are intricate phases which break down toxins to more absorbable forms so that the body can efficiently excrete them. This includes toxins that we ingest, inhale and absorb from the exterior, but the liver also processes our hormones. When the liver is under functioning, its ability to process and eliminate excess toxins and hormones is compromised, which again can present as skin problems such as acne or breakouts, and menstrual irregularities in women.
A poor diet, high in saturated fats such as fast food and takeaway, and high toxic load can burden the liver and hinder its ability to efficiently detoxify.
How do we support a healthy liver you ask? Reduce your intake of processed, packaged and fried foods. Choose whole foods such as fresh produce, whole grains and minimal dairy and gluten (or cut out completely if you can). Eat a rainbow made up of fruit and vegetables every single day. Read your labels – if it’s full of numbers or something you can’t pronounce then don’t eat it. Become mindful of household items and skincare items that may be full of chemicals and start thinking about what you could swap for a cleaner, less toxic option.
6. Drink herbal tea over coffee
Caffeine has some excellent health benefits, but it doesn’t agree with everyone. I’ve found that those with a sensitive gut don’t tend to tolerate coffee very well as this only exacerbates their gut sensitivity. What is actually going on when I say ‘gut sensitivity’? Our gut lining is inflamed and irritated. Our ability to absorb and utilise nutrients is compromised and a poor functioning gut will often present as break outs and dull skin.
Why not replace coffee with herbal teas that will support gut and liver function, as well as promote clear skin?
Dandelion root – considered a liver tonic, it is a great alternative to coffee due to its slight bitter taste. Dandelion root has been shown to increase bile flow and support the liver in its detoxifying function. As a result, it is an excellent tea to assist with clearing skin.
Nettle leaf – renowned for being rich in minerals, nettle leaf is anti-inflammatory and increases urine output which aids in the elimination of toxic build up within the body and taking the burden off the skin.
7. Strict skincare regime
Since your skin is not working hard to defend itself from harsh UV rays during the day, at night, it heals. Blood flow is increased for this purpose. Our skin is more receptive at night. We also lose more water from the skin at night, so having a solid skincare regime, especially at night is key.
The skincare industry is booming and, in my opinion, takes the piss a little bit. We don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on skincare – a few good products will do the trick. The type of products/regime I would suggest having as your staples, are as follows;
A good quality cleanser, one that is free from foaming agents such as SLS’s and SLE’s etc. These dry out the skin which cause the skin to over compensate the oil production and strip our natural barrier function of the skin.
A hydrating moisturiser with SPF. If you are outside during the day, this is a must. UV rays are the biggest culprit for premature ageing of the skin as well as fine lines and wrinkles and dehydrated skin.
Cleanse. Really important at night, to remove all the impurities from the day, and unclog your pores so they can breathe. If you wear make-up – cleanse twice.
Hydrating serum: A combination of hyaluronic acid and B5 is great. Hyaluronic acid is naturally found within our skin cells and encourages cell renewal. It’s amazing at retaining water too. It’s an antioxidant, therefore leaves your skin feeling hydrated and plump. You can use this morning and night, but I think it works best at night to assist with repair and prevent water loss. It will also end up a lot cheaper for you as you will go through it faster if you use it morning and night. Remember, glowing skin starts from within.
I think the jury is out on night creams… They are incredibly expensive and I am just not convinced they are necessary. Some of the leading experts in skincare recommend only using a hydrating serum at night after cleansing and that’s it.
If you would like something more, why not try a few drops of jojoba oil or hemp oil? The essential fatty acids will help regulate your skins oil production, and leave your skin feeling soft, smooth and hydrated.
Youthful skin is not just in your genes. There is plenty we can do. Remember, glowing skin starts from within!