My Top Tips for Awesome Skin

Good morning friends,

It’s getting chilly here in New Mexico so I’m bundled up in front of the computer looking over recent emails & Facebook posts & I found something interesting that I wanted to share. I think it will be helpful to a lot of you out there. So, I hope you’re all staying nice & cozy wherever you are & I hope you enjoy the following blog post containing excerpts from a recent email conversation I had with a friend.

This friend of mine contacted me because he needed help clearing up his facial & body acne. He emailed saying that he had tried Proactive & his skin only got worse. I could totally relate! I had the exact same experience using Proactive. Now I will say that I know Proactive has helped a lot of people, so I don’t want to say that it’s a terrible product, but it was definitely way too harsh for me personally. Many of my clients say the same. For those who are able to tolerate the harshness of the product, it seems to work well, but for those of us with any sensitivity, it can wreak absolute havoc. For me, Proactive caused burning, extreme dryness, & then, as a result, an intense over-production of oil as my skin tried to compensate for how Proactive stripped all the sebum from my skin.

So here is my best tip when it comes to skin & skincare products: You don’t have to “FIGHT” with your skin. I know that sometimes it feels like a battle, but your skin isn’t trying to do you harm. Blemishes, oil, dryness… they are all your skin’s way of trying to balance itself out & sometimes it just needs a little help. Listen to what your skin is trying to tell you & work with it to achieve the beautiful, flawless complexion you’re dreaming of. If a product seems to be too harsh, stop using it, even if everyone else seems to think it’s a miracle in a bottle. We’re all very different & so is our skin; it may take time, but just keep looking for what works for you specifically (samples are awesome for this reason!). New complexion regimens take about 30 days to produce visible results so buy in small amounts until you find exactly what your skin needs, but absolutely do not put up with increased sensitivity or irritation; those are not signs of a beneficial skincare product (skincare should heal & soothe).

I also recommend using as many natural products as possible. While it is still possible to have an allergy or sensitivity to natural products (just as many people have allergies to plants) it is a  lot less likely. Not to mention it is comforting to know exactly what you’re using & that it isn’t full of crazy chemicals that have who-knows-what kind of side effects. In the past six years of working with all-natural products I have only ever had one client who had a negative reaction to some of my suggested (lavender & tea tree oil, which caused a mild allergy-like symptom, so we simply omitted those from her skincare & found some other things that worked well).

Finally, (& you’ll probably know this one already) I suggest drinking lots & lots & lots & lots…. of water. Very few of us actually drink the recommended amount of water per day so even though this is a suggestion that we all hear often, it’s worth repeating. Staying well hydrated supports all functions of our bodies & especially healthy skin. It helps keep us looking glowy & smooth from the inside out & supports the cleansing functions of our bodies allowing the toxins to escape through normal elimination rather than being pushed out of the skin in the form of blemishes. For an added boost, squeeze a bit of lemon in your water for the benefit of Vitamin C & citric acid which also helps get rid of acne. (Citrus is awesome for getting rid of acne, by the way!). If you workout or have an active job where you sweat a lot make sure to wash up quickly (sweaty skin is bacteria covered skin) & replace all the lost moisture with plenty of water.

Above all else, listen to your skin & don’t over do it with harsh products. Even cleaning with gentle, all-natural products too often can be bad. Your skin wants to be balanced & healthy, so give it a little space to do that. Follow these guidelines & spend some time figuring out what works for you. If the products you are using now aren’t giving you the results you want, discontinue them all & then start slowly, using one new product at a time, giving each about 30 days to see the results.

I welcome questions & comments & love to share what I have learned about skincare so please don’t hesitate to strike up a conversation!

Best wishes!

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Do You Think You Have Sensitive Skin? You Probably Don’t. Here’s Why.

I regularly work with many different clients and the one thing I hear most often is “I have sensitive skin”. No matter the skin color, ethnicity, sex, or age, skin sensitivity is something that continues come up in conversation in my consultations. Throughout my time as a makeup artist & also from my time working at all-natural day spa, I learned that most people simply do not have sensitive skin, they actually have sensitized skin. For more information on what it means to have sensitized skin, pick up The Complete Beauty Bible by Paula Begoun & check out the science behind the term.

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From my studies & experience I have found that many external factors have a huge impact on the sensitivity of our skin. Just take a couple minutes to look around your bathroom or vanity & consider how many products come into contact with your skin on a daily basis. Then consider how many of those products contain chemicals; many of which you may have no idea what they do. A majority of the chemicals in makeup & skin care products have absolutely no benefit to the skin, but are added only to enhance the color, smell, thin the product & make it cheaper, or work as a preservative. Now think about the other external factors your skin might be battling regularly from UVB rays, air pollution, dry or cold climates, wind, or typical day-to-day dirt & grime. Washing at the end of the night isn’t necessarily sufficient to combat all of these skin stressors, especially when we’re adding to them by using products containing harsh chemicals as well.

My mother used to say to me “If you can’t put it in your mouth, you shouldn’t put it on your skin” & my advice is still basically the same. Our skin acts like a sponge, soaking up the substances we put it in contact with. Here are a couple scary statistics: According to dailymail.co.uk, women absorb up to FIVE POUNDS of chemicals per year from our lotions, makeup, hair care, & other beauty products. Yikes! That isn’t including the 1,500 grams of lipstick, lip balm, or lip gloss that we typically ingest per year. It might be frightening to think of all the chemicals we are ingesting without even thinking about how they’re affecting not only our skin, but our overall health.

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Personally, I feel that removing all makeup, skincare, lotions and so on from our daily routines is not plausible or realistic. However, I do know that there are some really wonderful & effective alternatives to using so many chemicals. I try to remove any unnecessary chemicals from my beauty routine by looking for natural alternatives. For example, I wrote a blog recently about many homemade beauty remedies using coconut oil (find it here).

Removing even only a few chemical laden items from your daily routine can have a positive effect on the condition of your skin. I know that when I began my apprenticeship as a makeup artist I had painfully dry skin that would overcompensate terribly for the lack of moisture by producing so much oil that by mid-day I’d have an oil slick throughout my T-Zone. To help combat the oil, I’d apply oil-controlling powders, makeup, astringent & while attempting to resolve one issue, I’d be creating many others. I’d get home at night & feel terrible about how my makeup had smeared or started to break down from the oil. I’d wash my face & then feel tight, dry, & sometimes even a burning feeling; then I’d go to bed & start the cycle again the following morning. I was desperate, frustrated, & nearly hopeless after trying nearly every product I could find (& wasting soo so much money). Little did I know that all the products were doing more damage than good.

It wasn’t until I started eliminating skin care products from my routine & replacing them with simpler & more natural alternatives that I started to see a huge improvement in the condition & feel of my skin. I began using one cleanser made from the ash of plantain peels (African Black Soap. Available online or at Sprout’s Farmers Markets) & Jojoba Oil. The oil cleansing method described in my blog on coconut oil is also miraculous for sensitized skin because it reduces skins contact with hard water. I also stopped using foundations filled with chemicals. Now, I use a custom blend mineral makeup & the only additives found in it are green tea leaf powder, licorice root powder, zinc, or grapeseed powder depending on the individual skin care needs. I personally use green tea leaf powder for it’s antioxidant & anti-inflammatory properties.

Now, I never suffer from burning dryness, inflammation, itching, or ‘general sensitivity’. I will occasionally test out products that previously would have sent my skin into a tail spin, without any trouble. Please leave me a comment with your thoughts; I’d love to hear what you think.