Glowing skin begins within, but our day-to-day skincare, from makeup routines to workout regimens, can enhance a beautiful countenance -- or undermine it.
Clean Up Your Medicine Cabinet.
Just as we look to stock our refrigerators with nutrient-rich sustenance and avoid pesticide-doused, GMO-ridden foods, we should match these efforts on our beauty shelves.
Whereas the FDA and EPA monitor the food industry for safety and transparency, cosmetics regulation remains practically nonexistent. We are living in the Wild Wild West of beauty. Here’s a startling statistics: the European Union hasbanned 1,000+ ingredients from use in cosmetic products, while the FDA has ixnayed fewer than 50, begging the question of how many dangerous chemicals are permeating our personal care staples.
As such, we need to pioneer our own beauty path, navigating away from products littered with hazardous chemicals (many of which disrupt hormone function and canaffect fertility) and carcinogens (as the substances that can precede many cancers, these need no introduction).
Luckily, many wellness advocates have begun to chart this cosmetics frontier. The EWG is one of the best leading the charge,mapping a guide of key ingredients to avoid, and creating a“Skin Deep” database for product screening and discovery of clean beauty swaps for go-to products that do not make the non-toxic cut (because no one expects you to live without the perfect nude pink lipstick).
On that note, all this education is accompanied by a proliferation of non-toxic beauty brands that infuse products with organic, natural ingredients that nourish your skin with the nutrients it most desires. Purveyors likeCredo andFollain are nothing short of clean-beauty playgrounds, offering countless options for each step in your skincare routine, from cleansing and exfoliating to moisturizing, to perfecting your no-makeup makeup look. In turn, we’re confident that you’ll find a swap to “clean” beauty positively painless. With so many nutritive products at your fingertips, here are a few must-haves to incorporate into your skincare routine.
Top Shelf MVPs
Sunscreen:Sunscreen might be the last product you apply in your skincare regimen, but it’s priority #1 when it comes to a youthful countenance. Beach babes beware, the sun is, without question, skin’s mortal enemy, making sunscreen skin’s greatest ally. Rain or shine, UV rays degrade collagen and spawn fine lines and wrinkles, so do your skin a favor and slather on sunscreendaily. Pro-tip: choose a mineral sunscreen (active ingredients are most often zinc oxide or titanium dioxide), rather than chemical, for optimal protection and minimal irritation; chemical solutions can be inflammatory, causing premature aging, which is what we’re looking to avoid by sunscreening in the first place!
- Active Ingredients (here are a few of our many multitasking favorites):
- Despite our best efforts, *some* UV rays will penetrate the sunscreen barrier, so reinforcements are in order. Delivering a dose of antioxidants, we recommend applying a Vitamin C serum after cleansing, which is lauded by skin gurus for reversing sun damage and preventing wrinkles with just a few drops (really, no need to overdo it with these potent formulas).
- Another key ingredient we look for in serums or moisturizers is Hyaluronic Acid, a substance that helps skin retain moisture by attracting water and regulating it within your skin cells. HA occurs naturally within the human body, but often becomes less bountiful in skin cells with age; an extra boost of this substance topically can make up the difference, leading to skin that appears plump and dewy and feels baby-soft. Thanks, hydration.
- Rosehip oil is a powerhouse packed with anti-aging vitamin A, antioxidants and essential fatty acids. This ingredient is increasingly prevalent in essential oil blends, and celebrated for its effectiveness “evening out” and brightening skin tone, with many swearing by its power to fade hyperpigmentation, in addition to fine lines and marks (scars, stretch marks, et al.).
Exfoliants: In stark contrast to sunscreen protocol, exfoliants (non-toxic, of course) are instrumental in achieving youthful skin, and we prefer chemical options to physical ones for the most favorable results. Utilizing a combination of skin-safe acids and natural enzymes (i.e. fruit enzymes like papaya or pineapple), exfoliants promote skin cell turnover by sloughing away dead skin cells and pore-clogging debris, smoothing skin texture and revealing that coveted glow. Here’s a quick 101 to guide you toward the ideal exfoliant for your skin:
AHAexfoliants, like glycolic and lactic acid, are water-soluble and operate exclusively on the skin’s surface. AHA products actually enhance skin cells’ ability to generate and retain moisture, thus working best for those prone to dry skin.
- BHA exfoliants, like beta hydroxy and salicylic acid, are oil-soluble and operate within pores, in addition to on the skin’s surface; BHA products are often preferred by those with oily or combination skin.
- Pro-tip: AHA and BHA products are not mutually exclusive, but we would recommend staggering their usage (one AM, one PM, or every other day) to avoid over-exfoliation.
Let’s Get Physical
Your face has more than 40 muscles operating behind the scenes, the “fitness” of which impact the overall look of your complexion! Stimulating these muscles with regular facial massage can increase blood flow (boosting collagen production and improving skin elasticity), encourage lymphatic drainage (reducing puffiness), and even relieve tension (our skin is no place for stored stress!).
While there are varying methods, from face yoga to pressure-points techniques (there are evenboutique studios dedicated to facial workouts), you can take massage matters into your own hands with these simple techniques, modifying them to your needs and preferences:
- After applying a (non-toxic) face oil, massage your skin in long, diagonal strokes along your cheekbones and jawline, aligning with your underlying bone structure.
- On the forehead, stroke upward towards the hairline.
- For areas in which you experience puffiness, utilize a light tapping motion outward, toward your ears, to stimulate the lymphatic system.
- Stroke under-eye bags from the inside of the eye socket outward.
- Extra credit: Try utilizing a rose quartz or jade roller as a stand-in for your fingers. The cool tool soothes and refreshes while delivering the aforementioned massage benefits.
The Best of the Rest
Sweat It Out:In addition to your face fitness, a more traditional workout benefits skin as well. Exercise increases blood flow, carrying oxygen and nutrients to your skin cells (anti-aging!), and clears the body of toxins that pollute the skin (in the form of clogged pores and stubborn blemishes).
Sleep Smart:When you head to sleep, consider your skin. Stomach sleepers and side sleepers can suffer from pillow-induced wrinkles (from fabric-induced friction throughout your slumber). If back-sleeping seems simply unachievable, opt for a silk pillowcase, which reduces aforementioned friction and its aftermath.