Because I’m on a vulnerability streak lately, let’s talk about a thing I tried to hide from the world for a loooong time. It’s something that made me cry, that crushed my self-confidence, impeded my romantic relationships, and cost me a lot of money to try to rectify.
It’s also one of the main reasons I am now the healthiest I’ve ever been.
I was lucky to have beautiful, clear skin through my teens and early twenties. Of course, I didn’t think it was perfect at the time, and I still bought a ton of crap to pile on top of it, taking it for granted, as we do. But when my skin went haywire in my mid-twenties, I finally realized how good I’d had it all those years.
It was then that I decided to go “all natural,” but admittedly I didn’t put a ton of research behind the effort. I went to the store and bought stuff that claimed to be natural. Annnnd, done. When one product didn’t seem to work, I’d try another, and another, and… I accumulated a lot of products.
At some point I got desperate enough to try ProActiv – definitely not in line with my “natural” mission. Note to self: if something is so potent that you have to buy white towels and pillowcases because it is bleaching your darker fabrics, you probably don’t want it on your skin. Just saying.
Did you know that our skin is our largest organ? Anything you put on your skin will seep directly into your bloodstream. Do you want that in there? Would you eat your deodorant? No, didn’t think so.
I battled with my skin for, oh, 5+ years. I messed with my diet, hormones, laundry detergent, makeup, hair products, workout routine, mindset – you name it, I tried it. By year 5 the research efforts had certainly increased, and I was willing to try anything that was relatively natural in nature. I knew the answer wasn’t another chemical, because I didn’t want to cover up the problem and/or invite any nasty side effects. I wanted to support my body in taking care of itself (cuz, you know, that’s what they’re built to do). I’d literally look in the mirror, tears rolling down my face, and say: I love you, I am trying so hard to take care of you, I just don’t know what you need!
Ugh, it was frustrating.
I could go on about how my acne killed my self confidence, how it made me reluctant to date (for fear of him seeing me sans makeup), how I remember waking up and FEELING my skin first thing, or how raising my hand to scratch my face (or upper back) and NOT having to navigate the sensitive and painful spots is now a relief every. single. time. Each time I feel that smooth skin, I am reminded of the toll that acne took on me mentally, how it impacted daily habits and subconscious actions as small as scratching my temple.
I could go on (maybe I have already), but that’s not what this post is about. This post is about the skincare routine I have found to work for myself; the stuff I decided to stick with because I know exactly where it comes from, that it is so good for my skin, and that if challenged to, I could totally eat that shit and not die.
But first I’ll caveat these suggestions with a few points:
1. Please give things time to work. Nothing will change overnight, and constant switching could aggravate your skin.
2. The stuff I put on my skin is only a small part of the equation to healthy skin. I am forever grateful to my shitty skin era because it forced me to look at EVERYTHING in my lifestyle and how I could do it healthier. Your outside is a reflection of your inside; if something is really off, new lotion is likely not the answer.
3. This post is riddled with bias, full disclosure! My search for healthy skin lead me straight into a job at a natural skincare company. Some of the products I now use, I have made with my own hands. I have no doubt that there are other fantastic products on the market, but I’ve had the distinct privilege of learning from a passionate, intelligent, and mission-driven skincare expert why THESE products are so good for you, and I believe in them (and her) whole heartedly.
Without further adieu, here’s what I put on my skin on a regular basis:
IN THE A.M.
I don’t wash my face in the morning (gasp!) but give it a good rinse with warm (not hot) water. Unless you’re not washing your sheets on the reg (ew), your face should be pretty clean when you wake up. Overwashing can be overdrying, which causes skin to overcompensate with oil. So then your skin is oily, and you think it needs to be washed again, and… you see where I’m going with this?
A few spritzes of Soapwalla’s Facial Toning Mist (currently using the “Balancing” variety); this is like washing your face without washing it. Plus it feels great in the summer (keep it in the fridge!). I also keep a travel-size Toning Mist in my bag for a mid-day or post-workout freshen up!
And a few drops of Soapwalla’s Restorative Face Serum – this stuff is like GOLD for your skin. If you’re gonna start anywhere with a new skin regime, start with this serum. I promise it doesn’t feel oily, and you don’t need much (except, in winter my skin drinks it up like a sorority girl in Cancun). Not only is it beautifully moisturizing, but I happen to know (from my insider information) that it is also healing (hence “restorative” in the name), which is super important to me since I have a lot of scarring from my years of popping and picking (gross, stop doing that if you still are).
For protection from the sun (even on cloudy days!), I use La Roche-Posay’s SPF 45 Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid. Sun protection is probably the MOST important part of a skincare routine – don’t skip it! There’s not a perfectly natural option on the market, but this one was recommended by my former boss aka that skincare expert I was telling you about, so I trust it. It’s super light and really doesn’t feel like anything. Seriously, your future self will thank you.
NOTE: My “face” routine also includes my neck and upper chest, and, when I remember (!) I follow the same regime on my upper back in the morning.
AND ON TO MAKEUP
After taking such good care of my skin the rest of the time, the last thing I want to do is put a bunch of junk on it. So, honestly, I keep a bare face most of the time. This was something I couldn’t even IMAGINE doing two years ago; it is both a mindset practice and even healthier for your skin to do so.
Sadly, Soapwalla doesn’t make makeup, but my dive into the natural skincare industry has exposed me to many reputable makeup brands. So when I DO wear makeup, I have found a Canadian company that I love called FitGlow Beauty. I use their Flawless On The Go powder foundation and Mineral Blush. If you're into more than a powder foundation, I recommend Vapour’s Foundation Stick; I was using this but found that FitGlow’s powder is so well-covering, I don’t need to double up anymore!
My eye makeup is still standard, drugstore/Sephora stuff. I haven’t evolved quite that far just yet.
AND AT BEDTIME
After removing my eye makeup (which you can totally use a nice natural oil for, but I will forever be hooked on cold cream because it’s what my mom has used since I was an embryo and frankly I think it’s nice and moisturizing and gentle on the sensitive skin around your eyes), I use Soapwalla’s Charcoal Soap to wash my face/neck region. This is their best-selling soap and specifically good for sensitive and/or trouble skin. Then I slap on another layer of that delicious Face Serum, and call it a night.
AND EVERY NOW AND THEN…
A few times a week I’ll use a soft washcloth to gently exfoliate my skin. Don’t overdo it on the exfoliation though, be nice to your skin, it’s trying it’s damnedest to take care of itself and you beating it up all the time only makes it angry and over-reactive. Also, probably don’t exfoliate when you have a breakout going on. I know, I know, you just want to scrub that shit right off your face. I’ve been there, I understand the delusion and desperation in this maneuver, but you’re only aggravating the problem and probably spreading the bacteria that caused the breakout in the first place. Chill out and let your skin heal, just keep it clean and moisturized and it will love you for it.
After 15 months of standing over a large pot of deodorant and learning more and more from Rachel each day, I could easily write ten more pages on this topic. I’ll get to other specifics in the future though, I promise! For now, how bout you just take a look at your skincare routine and see where you can SIMPLIFY. Do you know what you’re putting on your skin everyday? Do you need to use so many products? Are you scrubbing the shit out of your face and engaging the too dry > too oily > too dry cycle? Stop.
Curious about all the other lifestyle shifts I made that ultimately helped me clear up my skin? Let’s get on the phone to talk about how incorporating wellness into your life can get you that glowing radiance you wish you had.
What questions do you have and what else would you like me to cover on this topic?? Share in the comments below!
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