It’s taken years of experimenting with diet, supplements, and products, but I’ve managed to find a happy balance for my skin. In the past year, it’s been clearer than ever, and although I imagine this is partly due to getting older (it has it’s perks, people), my skin would not be this cooperative without the following clear skin regimen. (As you will see, it’s less of a hard-and-fast regimen and more of a “good practices” routine—meaning there’s wiggle room!)
I exercise regularly—almost every day, but usually not for terribly long. I mostly practice yoga, but sometimes I’ll squeeze in a run or a ballet barre-inspired workout. From a skincare perspective, I think that generally staying active without overworking yourself (which can lead to unfriendly inflammation) is key. Sweat detoxifies while movement boosts circulation. Healthy circulation is critical for beautiful skin because skin receives nutrients via the blood. Better circulation = better-fed skin! Of course, exercise also affects our moods and hormonal balance—which has quite a lot to do with skin’s health.
I eat a strictly vegan diet, and for the most part, I stick to whole foods. I almost completely avoid sugar (sugar is the actual worst!) and prefer to get my sweets from fruits, or if I’m making a sweet recipe, I opt for low-glycemic coconut nectar in moderation. I drink alcohol very rarely (the body converts it to sugar, ugh) and save my drinks for a dinner party with friends. On average, I have about two drinks a month.
But don’t feel too sad for me—that’s about it as far as my dietary restrictions go. I indulge in a morning cup of coffee. I don’t keep track of my carbs or any other macronutrients, but I generally make my entrées with 75% non-starchy veggies (some raw) and 25% heartier stuff (lentils, quinoa, brown rice, etc.).
Clear skin tip: Eat colorful plant foods! (Balsamic Glazed Tofu and Bok Choy)
I’m addicted to herbal tea of just about any variety. Drinking tea is a wonderful way to stay hydrated and get a boost of antioxidants—which help fight inflammation (including acne). I used to hope that I would stumble across a magical skin-clearing tea, but herbal tea is just one little part of my clear skin regimen.
I’ve realized that the important part of staying on a healthy diet and staying sane is to allow yourself some wiggle room and not try to follow too many guidelines at once. The process has to be sustainable for where you are in your lifestyle.
As much as I would like to rely on diet and skincare products alone, supplements have played an important role in my skin clarity. I take Garden of Life probiotics, Garden of Life multivitamins (made from raw whole foods), Estroblock Pro and a DHT blocker. The latter two have been integral in helping to balance my hormones—without over-drying my skin. If you’ve been told that your acne is caused by over-active androgens/testosterone, or if you’ve been prescribed Spironolactone for acne, then you may be interested in Estroblock and a DHT blocker as an herbal alternative.
In my experience, the combination of these supplements has helped flush excess hormones from my system—or at least that’s what I think is happening because I no longer get those painful cystic bumps. These supplements don’t interfere with my weight, and my monthly cycles have near perfect regularity. (Imagine finding the perfect birth control…without the pregnancy prevention part). Keeping up with supplements has definitely required a monetary investment, but the return is absolutely worth it.
Day. I wouldn’t say I’ve ever been wedded to a face wash—I just want something that is gentle, doesn’t dry out my skin, and helps remove eye makeup. For those purposes, Ursa Major Fantastic Face Wash is great. I also like Pacific Sea Foam Complete Face Wash.
To exfoliate, I used either a Konjac sponge or my Foreo Luna cleansing device. I especially like the Luna because it’s easy to clean and doesn’t give me bacteria nightmares (like my old Clarisonic).
I alternate toners, using either Andalou Naturals 1000 Roses Floral Toner (so refreshing!) or Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid. The latter keeps my oil in check while helping exfoliate dull skin. More than any liquid exfoliant I’ve tried, it’s helped even my skin tone and make my pores at least appear tighter (but pores will be pores…). I think this exfoliant is particularly good for acne-prone skin types because it reduces the chances of your pores being blocked by dead skin.
For sunscreen, I use trusty John Masters Organics SPF 30. This formula is rich (but thus far it has only conditioned my skin—not clogged it), so I apply a thin layer and then follow with a tinted moisturizer that contains SPF. (I’ve found that layering is most practical when it comes to using mineral sunscreen.)
Evening. After cleansing my skin and applying toner, I get serious about moisturizing. My skin responds well to plant oils, and my go-to carrier oil is usually organic argan oil. Yes, it does make me look greasy while it absorbs, but I’ve learned to let it slide (har har) because it does such an amazing job of conditioning my skin. I mix chamomile and dill seed essential oils with my argan oil. Chamomile is anti-inflammatory while dill seed is an elastin wonder worker. While I apply my oil serum, I spend a few minutes massaging my skin in small circles and using my finger tips to tap all over my face. This is good for enhancing product absorbency while boosting your circulation. A win-win!
Much to my relief, I’ve been able to experiment with various primers and foundations (both liquid and powder) without my choices really affecting the clarity of my skin. I think because my breakouts were so deeply rooted in nutrition and hormones, the field of makeup is fairly wide open. That said, I try to stick to mostly natural products and mineral sunscreens. My go-to makeup routine (not including eyes, etc.) involves a layer of sunscreen and either a tinted moisturizer/light foundation with SPF or mineral powder. So far, I’ve had good experiences with a variety of brands for mineral foundation (Alima Pure and 100% Pure are probably my favorites.) But I’ve learned to avoid Bare Minerals (it contains a mineral called bismuth oxychloride, which is known to irritate skin and even cause breakouts after repeated use, which was my experience several years ago).
Because my skin is usually so clear now, I go for a less-is-more approach with foundation. This seems to be the best approach for the areas of my face with textured acne scars. A heavy coat of foundation just makes them look creepy. Besides, going easy on foundation means you have more time for a smokey eye, right? 😉
While I enjoy the occasional face mask or peel, I’m afraid I don’t do them consistently enough to be able to report results. Juhea swears by a facial peel, so that will probably be my next avenue to explore!
No longer afraid of selfie time!
What clear skin treatments do you swear by?
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Photos: Mary Hood Luttrell