Eat Pray Love
Can I just say that exercising sucks? I know that it’s a way of life for a lot of women, and that’s awesome. But that’s not me (although I know I’m missing out on the detoxifying and stress-relieving benefits of a good sweat session).
We all have our bad habits, whether it’s always saying yes to cake, binge-watching Jessica Jones til 3AM, or hitting happy hour more than a few times a week. It’s all good, but the effects on our skin can linger far longer than any of the fleeting fun we have in the moment. There are few quick fixes, but you can adopt some healthy habits to offset some of the skin issues you might experience from indulging in your guiltiest pleasures. Ready, set, glow!
Habit: Eating tons of sugar and processed foods
Hate to break it to you, but sweets and other junk food are the absolute worst for your skin. No surprise here, but sometimes a chocolate-glazed donut with sprinkles just feels like it’s worth a breakout or even a flare-up of rosacea or eczema. “Eating a lot of sugar and processed food throws off just about every system and function in the body necessary to have healthy skin,” says Rachael Pontillo, a licensed aesthetician and holistic skin care educator out of Philadelphia. “It interferes with healthy digestion, elimination and even hormone function.”
What to do
Pontillo’s number-one pro tip is simple: drink tons and tons of plain, room-temperature or warm water because dehydration can exacerbate internal imbalances caused by a junk diet. It helps you purge toxins more quickly, too.
She also recommends taking a high-quality probiotic or eating fermented foods daily to improve gut health. “Adding beneficial bacteria and microflora into your regimen can help offset some of the negative effects of sugar.” Look for probiotics with at least 5 billion CFUs (colony-forming units) per pill and at least three types of bacteria listed.
Habit: Late nights, no sleep
Don’t think I don’t know about your late-night phone scrolling, which can cause dark circles, puffy eyes and a lackluster complexion. (Also, I know because I’m guilty, too.) Whatever keeps you up at night—whether it’s deadlines, a loaded social calendar or stress, it shows. “Sleep is the only time the skin does not deal with constantly being barraged by environmental pollutants and toxicants,” says Pontillo. Basically, you’ve got to give it a rest. But aside from just plain hitting the hay when you know you’re supposed to, there are a couple of remedies.
What to do
Make up for your lack of sleep with an Om session. “Meditation actually causes a similar effect on the parasympathetic nervous system [the part of your nervous system that promotes recovery following stress] as sleep, so it promotes relaxation and encourages the body to rejuvenate,” says Pontillo. Ever heard of yoga nidra? If not, get into it. This yoga and meditation practice translates to “yogic sleep,” and doing it for just one hour is equivalent to four hours of deep sleep. I’m not kidding. Go. Now.
A miracle eye cream is also essential. I naturally have dark circles no matter my sleep pattern, but Nourish Organics Renewing + Cooling Eye Cream has changed my life. Put it on every night and day, and it works overtime to keep you looking bright-eyed on all those mornings after.
Habit: Not exercising
The runner’s glow is real. Exercising promotes healthy circulation, which increases blood flow and skin’s vibrancy. Sweating is naturally detoxifying, even. And one study showed that people over the age of 40 who exercise have skin quality similar to people in their 20s, even when over the age of 65. So yeah, by skipping workouts, you miss out on a lot of beauty benefits.
What to do
First, you’ve gotta get some exercise even if it’s just taking a daily walk or doing something active and easy that you really enjoy, like dancing a few times a week or doing some yoga-like stretches at home. If you’re like me, and you’re probably never going to get into a consistent fitness regimen, here’s permission to hit the spa instead. If there’s a Korean spa in town, that’s the best bet. Moving between hot and cold rooms and pools boosts your circulation, and all the sweating in saunas and steam rooms definitely help your skin detox.
As for the aging thing, rosehip seed oil is a pretty magical elixir when it comes to keeping skin youthful and glowing. Day and night, this is your secret weapon. Don’t forget the sunscreen!
Habit: Stressing out
Sometimes stress can be a good thing; an adrenaline rush, for example, galvanizes you to pull off your greatest feats. But when stress is chronic—as in, you feel like you’re under constant pressure every single day—that’s no good. This way of life spikes the stress hormone cortisol, which triggers inflammation, kicks up oil production and hinders formation of skin-firming collagen. Translation: redness, zits, and aged skin.
What to do
This is another case when a little meditation can help out. If you’re not the type who can sit still and quietly for a few moments, then just try adopting a mantra that you can recite internally to get centered throughout the day. It can be absolutely anything, from a literal phrase (“I’m calming down”) to something more obscure—I like the words “blue sea” because that’s my idea of serenity.
If that’s still too much to ask of you, no worries. Choose creams and serums with calming ingredients like chamomile and licorice extract. Try a balancing oil like Herbivore Lapis Facial Oil; the blue tansy that gives it its cool blue hue is anti-inflammatory and clarifying. To address premature aging, niacinamide is your best friend.
Speaking of aging, smoking is your worst enemy! It’s on par with excess sun exposure, according to Pontillo. “Certain signs of aging like expression lines around the eyes, on the forehead and [around the] mouth arrive years, even decades, sooner than they normally would,” she says. And just like UV rays, even the occasional cigarette may create hyperpigmentation.
What to do
You’re gonna need all the help you can get from antioxidants. You can get these free radical-fighting compounds by eating lots of fresh berries, dark leafy greens and nuts. Supplement that with topical treatments, too. Look for rich night creams with vitamin E, vitamin C, green tea and retinol. “Helping the skin rebuild collagen is also important,” says Pontillo. “This process can be supported with high-quality types 1 and 3 collagen supplements or with bone broth on a daily basis.”
Sure, you’ve heard the rationalization that red wine is good for you because of all the antioxidants. But the truth is, whatever your poison, dehydration is an issue that reflects back on skin — big time. If beer is your thing, knocking back a few means you’re really loading up on sugar, which we know is bad news for skin. And a rosy glow after one cocktail might be cute at first, but after three, not so much—alcohol is a common trigger for rosacea.
What to do
If you’re going to imbibe frequently, have a glass of water in between each drink to stay hydrated. When you get home, chug some more H2O, and again first thing in the morning. If you’re functional enough to do your skin care before bed, slather on tons of night cream—ones with hyaluronic acid and glycerin will do the trick to reintroduce moisture back into your skin.