Like I mentioned in my Stages of Beauty Product Review, I am frequently complimented because of my (allegedly) smooth skin. In my eyes, my skin is not very smooth. But nevertheless, everyone seems to think I was born with really great skin.
Unfortunately for me, I was not- I come from a long line of women (and men) who have suffered at the hands of the environment, time, and other external influences with the result being that their skin does not look like a baby’s backside.
Because of traumatizing experiences during my adolescence, I have developed an irrational paranoia about my skin. Though this paranoia manifests in some rather unorthodox and (probably) unnecessary habits, there are a few habits which I think are absolutely necessary for an individual to have and maintain clear and smooth skin.
Some of these steps may seem obvious, and some of them will remind you of reading teen magazines in middle school, but trust me: when combined, these six tips are absolutely fool proof.
1. Water is Your Friend: I’m not saying other beverages are illegal or satanic. Ok, maybe I will say that from time to time (I’m liberal and I’m loud- so sue me). But no matter what other liquids you enjoy, you can’t expect to have fresh and vibrant skin without drinking a lot of water. That whole 8-8oz glass equation? Yeah, that’s real life. You need to do it- it will also help control rampant midday hunger pains. I’m sure you’re probably wondering how you can manage to fit that much liquid into your diet. It’s simple- invest in a 32 oz water bottle, fill it up at the start of the day, and aim to drink the whole thing by lunch. Then, after/during lunch, re-fill your bottle and sip the contents through the rest of the day. See? Boom goes the dynamite- you’ve just ingested 64 oz of nature’s kool-aid. But whatever you do, DON’T buy disposable water bottles. They are, in the words of The Office’s ever-wise Gabe Lewis, the “scurge of the earth”. It really is worth it to buy a reusable bottle- they are very affordable nowadays, and they are super handy. Inexplicably, I’ve managed to acquire a mini-collection of nalgene bottles. But if you don’t have time to gradually accumulate products, check out this nalgene model.
2. Put Down That Cancer Stick and Cork Up Your Wine- Ok, I’m not an idiot and I was born in America’s tobacco capital: I am well aware of the prevalence of smoking among young adults, ESPECIALLY those living in the Old North State. Because no matter what your parents or DARE coach said, smoking does have a certain ‘cool’ cache. Especially when you’re young and hanging out in seedy yet bad ass locales. Same goes for alcoholic goodies- if they didn’t look cool and weren’t fun, most adults wouldn’t imbibe so frequently. But here’s the thing- if you overindulge in both of these common vices, you can kiss clear skin good-bye. Because as much as you don’t want to admit it, smoking and drinking will shoot your skin straight to hell (not to mention the rest of your body). I’m not here to be the hypocritical morality police- god knows I’ve got enough vices and bad behavior to make a school girl blush. But I have seen too many beautiful girls smoking like chimneys to not make an internet plea. Even if you don’t care about your vocal cords (or your liver…or your gums…or every other precious internal organ), think about your cheekbones. And your teeth. And your bone structure. And your eyelids. Think about how all of those lovely features are going to be riddled with stains, blots, lines, and other disfigurements. And it won’t have anything to do with age. You’ll be a 35 year-old with the face of a 45-50 year-old. And there’s no skin care regiment to fix that sort of damage. So do yourself a favor, and lay off the unnecessary (and premature) damage.
3. Eat Your Fruits and Veggies- Popeye had the right idea. So did whoever said ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’. Increased intake of fruits and vegetables (especially a wide array of colors and types) has a profoundly positive impact on skin. By integrating a wide variety and LARGE quantity of fruits and vegetables into your diet, you will see noticeable results within a week or two. Honestly, when I think my skin looks especially bright and ‘glowy’. It’s usually because I’m stuffed full of a veritable cornucopia of vegetation. However, this is another area where people can’t seem to figure out how to reinvigorate their diets. There are dozens of ways to do it, but here are three of my favorite ways:
- When you leave home in the morning, toss three different fruits in your bag. That way, when you get the midday munchies, you have a healthy and skin brightening snack on hand. I eat a lot of oranges, apples, and bananas, mostly because they are wicked portable. But don’t be afraid to slice fruit on the go, or pair your fruit with a tablespoon of your favorite nut butter (I’m partial to almond butter).
- Green Monsters are the way of the future. The vitamin intake you can get from one green smoothie will blow your mind, and you can fit a day’s worth of fruits/veggies into one beverage. Plus, they taste freaking delicious and are really versatile. You can throw together a green monster with whatever fruits and veggies you have on hand. I’ve actually already written about this topic- check out my tribute to Jack Lalanne’s Power Juicer and the magic of the green monster.
- Make a point to add extra vegetables into your evening meal. Start small: spinach topped with special seasonings. Try adding an array of chopped bell peppers to your pasta, or just try out a new-to-you vegetable. Better yet, find a fun recipe for your least favorite childhood vegetables- braised Brussels sprouts, perhaps? Cauliflower topped with earth balance and old bay seasoning? Make your childhood nightmare into your new favorite side dish.
4. Remove Makeup Before Bed- I know, it sucks. You’ve been out having the time of your life, you watch the sun rise with your best buds, you stumble home at 7am and you’re ready to fall face first into Egyptian cotton and down feathers. However, before you can go into a vampire coma, you have to….REMOVE YOUR MAKEUP AND WASH YOUR FACE?! SAY WHAT?! But, um…yeah. You do. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned from my female family members, leftover makeup+your skin+bed friction does not equal happy fun times. It equals mascara tears, perma-lipsticked lips, and (the worst part) facial bumps that make your face look like the exterior of a black truffle. And let me tell you something about truffles- fun to eat, NOT FUN TO LOOK LIKE. Do yourself a favor, take 15 minutes before bed, and give your face a good wipe down. I use two different makeup removers: Boots Sensitive Eye Makeup Remover and Yes to Carrots Eye and Face Makeup Remover. I like them both for different reasons, and I use them interchangeably. It’s really important to use a remover that’s not harsh on your skin (say no to toner– as a makeup remover, that is), and make sure to wash your face afterward. Both of these products can be found really easily- you can buy them both at Target and Boots only costs about $5-6.
5. Wear Sunblock- For the love of god almighty,put on some freaking sunscreen. I don’t care if you’re ebony, ivory, or somewhere in the middle. Wear it. Even when it’s not sunny. Because here’s a fact of the universe- just because you can’t see the sun doesn’t mean it’s not beating the crap out of your skin. The sun is obviously really awesome- who doesn’t love vitamin D? I certainly do. But unless you want a side of skin cancer with your breakfast, you’d better lather up before you head out. Even in the winter. This is not just for girls– year-round sunblock application needs to be a genderfree rule. However, if you plan on wearing makeup (or don’t like blotting sunblock grease from your forehead), buy a dry-touch sunscreen. I really like Neutrogena’s sheer dry-touch product– but I’m cheap and it’s expensive. Therefore, I buy the Walgreens knock off– in my opinion, it’s just as good as the real thing. And it’s both oil-free and water resistant- very important traits.
6. Use Separate Face and Body Lotions- Surprisingly, skin on your face is not like skin on your feet. Or your butt. Or your back. Due to evolution, it does different things, is exposed to different elements, and needs to be taken care of differently. Because my skin is so dry, I refuse to use body lotions that are not SUPER thick and creamy. I have a test- if I pump some lotion into my hand, overturn my hand, and the cream slides to the ground, I know not to use that product. I only use body creams that are thick enough to literally defy gravity. However, my face doesn’t need quite such a thick formula. I prefer to use a much lighter face cream, and I can definitely tell the difference. Don’t just buy one lotion and think you’re perfectly ok- invest in your lotion options, and I guarantee you’ll see a difference.
You’re probably wondering why I didn’t talk specifically about face wash. After spending the last decade trying out different products with mixed results (some good, a few bad, and some REALLY F****** ugly), I’ve decided that the best face washes vary from person to person. For example, I usually swear against scented products on my face- but I use Neutrogena’s Pink Grapefruit Face Wash on the daily and I think it gives me the best results I’ve ever had.
My only real advice is to do research on your skin type, and try out different products. If you can afford to do so, talk to an esthetician and get their advice. But if you rely on the internet and your own wit, trial and error is the best response.
ALSO, how’s this for exciting: Stages of Beauty wants to make sure their products are accessible to all ladies (regardless of financial means). Therefore, to help out, their offering all Jessamyn Not Jasmine readers a 20% discount on all online Stages of Beauty purchases made from until 12/31/2011. Just enter my name (JESSAMYN) in the promo code box during check-out.
Basically, the key top having skin that makes everyone jealous is to take care of yourself. Treat your body like a temple, inside and out. And all of these tips (especially the dietary habits) will result in a stronger and healthier total physical package.
What are your skin-care rituals?