If you’re anything like me, clear skin has never come easy to you. I first started breaking out in middle school and it continued throughout high school and college. There were so many times I thought to myself, this has to end sometime right?! There were countless times I would avoid events or going somewhere because my face felt so bad. It felt like everyone else had clear skin except me. I had friends that would go to sleep in all of their makeup and always had the clearest skin. Meanwhile, even with a full, strict skincare regimen, I was still breaking out. Of course, it’s never as bad as we think (we’re our own worst critics), but it can do a number on your self esteem. In the past few years I’ve noticed my skin dramatically clearing up. While some of it is I’m sure the fact that I’m older and my hormones are no longer raging, there are things I’m doing that I wish I knew about a LONG time ago. First things first, my skin is still nowhere near perfect. I still break out from time to time, but the breakouts I do get are typically much less severe and not nearly as long lasting. Note: If I could go back I would have gone to a dermatologist from the very beginning. They are the experts and can prescribe treatments you may need. Depending on your insurance, after getting a referral from your primary care doctor, you can almost always see a dermatologist for a small co-pay. Continue reading to see the things I’ve been doing that have changed my skin for the better.
NOT WEARING MAKEUP AT THE GYM OR WHEN WORKING OUT
I’m so grossed out thinking back on the fact that I used to work out at the gym in college with a full face of makeup (and people were probably making fun of me for it). As a cheerleader, I often felt the need to look perfect all of the time (silly thoughts). I had to be done up for game days (also bad for your skin when you’re sweating), yet I continued wearing a full face of makeup at practices and the gym (although a bit less makeup… but still wearing makeup). I think I had this thought that God-forbid, anyone saw me with a visible pimple or with no makeup on that I would look “ugly” or “undesirable.” I cared so much about my appearance in college that it’s scary thinking back on. At that age, sometimes your appearance feels like your entire worth. As you get older, you start to feel more comfortable in your skin and more comfortable with who you are.
Although we may feel more confident with a bit of makeup on, the facts are that makeup clogs your pores while you sweat. Makeup and oil clogging your pores while you’re sweating is a recipe for breakouts. Today, I’ll never be caught with makeup on at the gym unless it’s a tiny bit of mascara that was already on from the day. If you can’t go without makeup (I’m not judging… trust me I’ve been there), opt for something a bit more breathable. the Bare Minerals line is much more breathable and covers more than it seems like it would.
CUTTING BACK ON SUGAR/CARBOHYDRATES
This is a huge one. Until dating my boyfriend, I didn’t realize how bad my diet was. It was carbohydrate and processed snack heavy with not nearly enough vegetables in sight. Years ago I considered potatoes an acceptable vegetable and almost never ate green vegetables unless it was salads or green beans. While they say it’s not “proven” that sugar causes acne, the fact of the matter is that sugar causes inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation is one of the causes of acne. So pretty much, sugar causes acne. Makes sense right? I do feel like each person is affected a bit differently on this one. For me, I will be pretty much guaranteed to have a breakout after eating a bunch of candy, having a night out of drinking (alcohol is high in sugar), or having a day where I eat tons of carbohydrates. Friends of mine can do the same and will never break out it feels like! Every body is different. Since noticing that sugar caused a huge percentage of my acne, I’ve cut back a lot and now incorporate much more vegetables into my diet.
Eating green vegetables rather than dinner sides like rice, potatoes, and pasta has cleared up my skin so much. However, learning to like vegetables isn’t something that just happens overnight if you’re not used to eating them and liking them. If it’s hard for you to get in your daily vegetables (trust me, I’ve been there) a smoothie with spinach is a good way to get in some greens while not tasting the greens. You can put in a handful of spinach (or kale, but I find spinach much more mild and it chops up better in a blender) with berries or a banana, almond milk, a spoonful of almond butter or peanut butter, a dash of cinnamon, and ice for an easy, healthy breakfast, and a great way to sneak in some extra greens. Berries, cherries, and grapefruits are some of the best options for fruit because they’re lower glycemic (they don’t raise your blood sugar level as high as something that’s high glycemic). Pineapple and bananas are a couple of the worst because they’re high glycemic, however, I still do use bananas quite a bit in smoothies. Just know that some fruits are better than others. You can make your decisions from there.
DRINKING A TON OF WATER
I’ve always hated this one, especially when celebrities are asked in interviews, How do you keep your skin so perfect? … Oh, I just drink a lot of water. Seriously?! How annoying. While this isn’t an overnight miracle, I have found that if consistent, this can do wonders for your skin. The majority of us don’t drink nearly enough water. Many of us probably don’t even know what it’s like to go through a week feeling fully hydrated. Being dehydrated (even slightly) causes your skin to produce more oil to make up for the missing water. It can also make your skin look lack-luster, dry/oily in parts, flaky, itchy, and often, fine lines and wrinkles are much more visible. When our skin is hydrated, it looks younger, has more of a bounce, looks more plump, and has less breakouts.
I always aim for at least 64 oz. of water a day. For me, having a couple water bottles is key. I’m in love with my S’well water bottles. Since I know that both of mine are 17 oz. I feel that it’s a lot easier to keep track of how much water I’m drinking (I also own this one that I’m obsessed with). I fill up both of these before going to work and then refill throughout the day. If you’re looking for a new water bottle, I love the 17 oz. S’well bottles, and the BKR bottles are also so great (I sadly lost mine… Need to get a new one)!
Another way I used to keep track of my water intake (haven’t used it in awhile), is the iPhone app, “Waterlogged.” It’s a great way to keep track of your water intake and there’s something that makes you feel so accomplished about filling the giant water bottle on the app as you drink your water throughout the day.
USING A CLARISONIC BRUSH
I feel like I didn’t even know what clean skin was until getting a Clarisonic brush. I have sensitive skin, so I had always shied away from getting one of these. Ohhh, I wish I purchased one of these sooner. A Clarisonic gets deep into the pore to wash away all of the dirt and oil and is a great way to exfoliate without over-doing it by exfoliating with something that has harsh beads. I take off my makeup, wet my Clarisonic brush (I have this one in black which seems to be discontinued, but I did find it here in this value pack), add a little bit of cleanser to it and rub it around on the brush so that it’s covering all of the brush. Then I wet my face and add the cleanser to my face. Then I start using the Clarisonic all over my face. For me, twice a day is too harsh, so I opt to use it at night. When I first started using this, I noticed a dramatic difference in how clogged my pores were and the reduction of blackheads. My boyfriend likes it so much that he also steals it haha (that’s when you know it’s good). I also like that you can choose a brush head based on your skin’s needs. I’ve been using the deep pore to try to shrink my pores. There’s also sensitive, delicate, acne, and radiance.
TAKING PROBIOTIC PILLS
If you’re unfamiliar with probiotics, they’re essentially the “good bacteria” that your body, particularly your gut need to function in a healthy way. There are probiotics in yogurt and some drinks that they sell at the grocery store. I first started taking probiotics years ago because I was taking a medication that gave me constant yeast infections (TMI…lol… sorry). Not on that anymore, thank you Lord. Anyways, when I began taking probiotic pills, I started noticing how much it was clearing up my skin. I’ll be honest, I don’t take them as much today because I often forget, but if I ever notice that I’m having a bad stretch of breakouts that don’t seem to be going away, I immediately reach for these. Look for ones that are in a refrigerated section of the grocery store. Sometimes they’re hard to find at a regular grocery store. If you’re a reader in the Midcoast where I’m from, Good Tern Co-op has a ton of options. Whole Foods also has options. Probiotics should always be refrigerated. I just keep the entire pill bottle in my fridge. While I’ve seen probiotics at the store that aren’t refrigerated, I’m not exactly sure how effective those would be. These don’t come the cheapest ($20-$30) for a bottle, but they do make a difference. I think you’ll also notice that your digestion feels a bit better as well.
Did any of these tips help?! Would love to know if these tips work for you!