10 Tips for Better Skin!

Having clear, healthy, glowing skin is something that a lot of us strive for.  As a teenager, I struggled with breakouts - sometimes I would get small ones, and sometimes I would get those horrible pimples that were painful and couldn't be hidden with even the best makeup.

When I was 17, I went on the birth control pill, and this helped a lot in terms of managing my breakouts.  However, I still noticed that my skin didn't look great - it would get both oily and dry in certain areas, it looked uneven and red, and at times of high stress and/or poor eating, I would get these angry red hives on the sides of my face (which only went away after I was prescribed antibiotics).

It wasn't until I was 23 when I really started to focus on the food that I was putting in my body, and how it made me feel and look.  When I stopped consuming dairy, gluten, and refined sugar, and started consuming more real food and drinking more water, my skin completely changed!  I rarely had breakouts, and my skin was tighter and more even.  

Fast forward to last year (2016), when I decided to switch all my makeup and skincare to non-toxic, cruelty free products.   I used to use Spectro Gel and Cetaphil, which kept my skin clear for the most part, but I still had occasional issues with oily/dry skin and overall skin appearance.  I cannot say enough good things about the company that I now use, which is Arbonne - all of their products are vegan, gluten and paraben free, and botanically based, and most of their skincare and face makeup contains SPF to help protect your skin.  Since making this switch, my skin not only looks even better than before, but it feels better too. 

In February of 2017, I made the decision to go off the birth control pill - this was a personal choice for me, as I've heard so many negative things about putting synthetic hormones in your body (i.e. fertility issues, menstrual cycle issues, vitamin and mineral depletion).  Don't get me wrong, I think the pill is a great invention that works very well for a lot of people, but personally, after 10 years of being on it, I was tired of taking it, and wanted to get more in tune with my body.  

Moving on - when I went off the pill, I was SO worried about what would happen to my skin.  I imagined all the worst case scenarios, like cystic acne.  Luckily, nothing like that happened, but I definitely had a few breakouts for awhile, mostly on my forehead and the occasional ones around my mouth and chin.  I decided to do some research about gentle, natural ways to maintain clear, healthy skin (some of which I've already mentioned), and share them in the hopes of helping anyone who is struggling with this issue!

1. Drink lots of water!

This probably seems so obvious, but it can be hard to consume enough water to flush waste and toxins out of our body unless we make a conscious effort.  Water helps hydrate our skin cells, which is what helps our skin look younger, more vibrant, and healthier!  I would recommend at least 2L per day, and definitely more if you're an active person.  This also goes hand in hand with limiting our caffeine and alcohol intake - both of these things dehydrate us, so it's best to enjoy them in moderation.  

2. Dandelion root tea

I had never tried this stuff until late last year! It's similar in taste to a mild coffee - it has that "roasted" flavour.  When I started getting some breakouts on my forehead, I looked into face mapping, which is basically the concept that whichever part of your face is having the issue is related to a specific gland or organ that isn't functioning optimally.  According to my face, my digestion and liver were having some issues.  After careful research, I started drinking a small cup of dandelion root tea everyday before breakfast, and my breakouts went away almost immediately!  I chose this specific type of tea as it is known for its digestive benefits (i.e. stimulates bile production) and ability to help with liver problems.  I use the Traditional Medicinals brand - the company has a great line of teas, and was funded by herbalists :) 

*Always check with your healthcare provider before starting any new herbs or supplements if you're unsure whether you should be taking them or not.

3. Invest in non-toxic skincare & makeup products

I honestly can't say enough good things about Arbonne - I use the RE9 anti-aging line, and my skin feels clean but not stripped, moisturized but not oily/greasy, and overall the healthiest it has ever been.  If anti-aging isn't for you just yet, they also have several other lines (i.e. for sensitive skin, acne prone skin, etc.).  Even though I worked shift work for several years, I found that the dark circles under my eyes disappeared with regular use of Arbonne's eye cream - for any fellow nurses or other shift workers out there, you know what a miracle this is!  

Using Arbonne's makeup has also been life-changing for me - before, when I was using products from companies like MAC and Makeup Forever, I felt like I was wearing a mask of makeup - when I would take it off, it finally felt like my skin could breathe again...this is not how your skin should feel!  Your skin is your largest organ, and it absorbs anything you put on it much faster than if you were to ingest it.  Arbonne's products are non-toxic and lightweight, but still provide the coverage and look that I want from my makeup.  Most of their skincare and makeup products provide SPF coverage as well, which is another awesome way to improve the look and feel of your skin!  Not surprisingly, I love these products so much that I became an Arbonne independent consultant last year, and am so happy when I'm able to help my clients look and feel better about their skin.  If you ever have any questions about the products, feel free to shoot me an email via my contact page or send me a direct message on Instagram!  

 After I switched to using Arbonne skincare and makeup products in 2016 :)

After I switched to using Arbonne skincare and makeup products in 2016 :)

4. Always wash your makeup off

This is something that I'm sure you've already heard, but it's SO important - washing off your makeup not only gives your skin a chance to breathe and your skin cells time to regenerate, but it helps prevent clogged pores and bacteria build-up.  I will always, always take my makeup off - once you get in the habit of it, you won't even have to think twice!

5. Avoid foods you are sensitive to

I'm a firm believer that each individual is unique, and that what works for one person may not work for another - however, it has been demonstrated that a lot of people in North America have sensitivities to gluten, refined sugar, and dairy.  I definitely fall into this category - when I consume these foods (especially gluten and refined sugar), my skin looks pretty rough - I'm talking breakouts, dry patches, an oily T-zone, and I can definitely kiss that healthy glow goodbye.  When I started to take care of my gut health by avoiding these foods, I noticed SO many positive differences - your gut health is intricately linked to the health of your skin and other bodily functions (I will definitely do a blog post about this in the future).  

If you're unsure whether you are sensitive to the foods I mentioned above (or other foods), you could try an elimination diet, and see how you feel/look.  For more information on gluten, click here to read an article by holistic nutritionist and best-selling author Joy McCarthy about its possible negative side effects.

 2013, when I first eliminated gluten, refined sugar and dairy from my diet (but hadn't discovered eye cream yet).

2013, when I first eliminated gluten, refined sugar and dairy from my diet (but hadn't discovered eye cream yet).

6. Maintaining a balanced diet

Like I said before, everyone is different in terms of what lifestyle works best for them.  My relationship with food is constantly evolving, and I'm still on the path to try and find what works best for me.  However, I think that simple things like consuming enough fruits, veggies, protein, and healthy fats (i.e. avocado, coconut oil, nuts) can do wonders for your skin.  Supplements (i.e. omega-3, vitamin D, probiotics, magnesium, collagen) can also play a role in ensuring you consume the right variety of nutrients, vitamins and minerals.  If you're unsure of what you need, I recommend doing some research!  There are so many great resources out there :)  Seeing a nutritionist or naturopathic doctor would also be a great idea.

7. Stop fake tanning...

I will be the first to admit I used to LOVE stepping into a tanning bed for a good 10-15 minute sizzle sesh.  I loved everything about it, from the "healthy glow" it would give me to the smell of burning flesh I'd smell when I walked into the tanning salon (ok, kidding about that last part...but you know exactly what smell I'm talking about if you've ever fake and baked).  Sometimes I would even get into the tanning bed with a full face of makeup on! The thought of it makes me cringe now...I totally understand that sometimes you just want that healthy glow (especially if you live in Raincouver), but you can opt for healthier choices, such as non-toxic self tanning lotion - it gives you the same results as a tanning bed, but saves your skin from becoming damaged, dry, and wrinkled.

 2008 - the height of my tanning days. I thought I looked GREAT lol...

2008 - the height of my tanning days. I thought I looked GREAT lol...

8. Maca root powder

I love this stuff so much.  Maca root is is an "adaptogen" - aka a natural substance that helps the body adapt to stress and maintain equilibrium.  Maca is also known for its skin benefits and hormone balancing effects, which I think has helped me greatly since I went off the pill - I add 1 tsp of it daily to my morning matcha latte.  Hormones play a very key role in skin and overall health, so I take great care to do whatever I can to ensure mine are balanced.  To read more about other benefits of maca root, click here.*

*Always check with your healthcare provider before starting any new herbs or supplements if you're unsure whether you should be taking them or not.

9. Exercise

Nothing like a good sweat session to get rid of some toxins!  I always notice that my skin looks better when I'm exercising regularly, and doing exercise that I enjoy.  Personally, I'm really into high-intensity interval training (i.e. sprints) and resistance training, but I also appreciate walks in nature (getting fresh air regularly is also great for maintaining healthy skin!) and am really wanting to get more into yoga.  Whatever you feel best doing, is what will serve your body best!

10. Do what makes you happy!!

While all the above topics I discussed are definitely important factors in how you look and feel, I strongly believe that if you hold sources of discontent in your body (i.e. stress, anxiety), they can show up in/on your body - when you're stressed, cortisol is released, and can throw off your hormone balance, causing skin issues.  So, whatever you can do to increase your happiness, go for it!  This may be traveling, spending time with friends and family, binge watching Netflix, or indulging in some self care - whatever it is, if it genuinely makes you feel happy, healthy, and balanced, it will positively contribute to your overall health and wellness.  

 2015 - traveling around Europe with my lady loves <3 

2015 - traveling around Europe with my lady loves <3 

I hope this post will help you to look and feel your best - when you are taking care of your body, it will naturally show, and you will feel amazing!  Also remember, outward appearance is only a small percentage of who you are as a person - you have so much more to offer than just that <3   

Thanks so much for reading, everyone!

xo

Zakiya