In the mountains visiting with family last weekend, the girls got to talking about skincare one evening. Somehow, I ended up fielding questions. At first I thought, “Who am I to answer these?” But the truth is, I’ve been fortunate to befriend and interact with a handful of aestheticians, nutritionists, and holistic personal trainers over the last several years, each of which taught me a skin secret.
After learning what actually promotes clear, glowing skin, I realized how much time and money I’d wasted on over-the-counter quick fixes. I struggled with cystic acne for years, and now that I’m on the other side, I wish I could go back and learn these tips sooner! Keep reading to learn the 5 secrets I’ve learned for glowing skin. It’s likely you’ve never heard of at least one of these…
1. Half a lemon, pink sea salt, and warm water
I first learned of this morning cocktail from Stark Training in California, who helped me get in shape for my wedding. Their approach integrates naturopathic medicine and warm lemon water is a cornerstone of their nutrition program. Soon after having this every morning (before or instead of coffee), the my skin’s clarity drastically changed.
Lemon water gets your digestion going, boosts immunity, and aids in detoxification (the liver). Pink salt adds essential minerals and helps stimulate enzymes that aid in digestion. My trainer at Stark told me that natural salt has been used for skin issues since the ancient Roman times, which is incredible to think about.
I purchase my lemons and Himalayan sea salt from Trader Joe’s, and love to fill up my big monogram mug from Anthropologie. I use an electric kettle for efficiency, but this classic Soho Home teapot is ideal for a leisurely weekend morning.
2. You are what you eat, especially leading up to times of stress
I may not be able to control genetics or how quickly I age, but I can control what passes my lips. After years of trying to fix my acne from the outside-in (topical creams, pills, etc.), I finally adopted an inside-out approach. Now, you’ll find me drinking upwards of 90 ounces of water daily, and I eat a diet rich in whole grains, amino acids, and antioxidant rich foods. We stock blueberries, spinach, bell peppers, quinoa, and sweet potatoes weekly, and I avoid foods I know I’m allergic to like almonds, whey, pistachios, and trout.
I’ve also learned to place extra focus on these positive habits leading up to a stressful event or a certain stressful week of the month (you know what I mean, ladies?). Our body’s immune systems are redirected elsewhere during times of stress, so a flareup of acne is more likely if we aren’t caring for ourselves properly before these stressful times.
3. Food combine if you’re experiencing breakouts
If you’ve never heard of food combining, it’s a nutritional approach that suggests that some combinations of foods are beneficial to digestion and overall health, whereas some are not. For example, proteins and starches are best eaten separately, but either food group pairs well with vegetables. While the layers of food combining go deep and the topic is somewhat controversial, I try to maintain one basic principle: eat fruit on an empty stomach or by itself.
It may sound like mad science, but fruit physically digests faster than any other food you eat. Combining fruit with other foods or eating fruit after starches and protein can cause gas and bloating. I’m no expert, but the less trouble I have with digestion, the clearer my skin is. I love raspberries, blueberries, grapefruit, or strawberries in the morning after my lemon water.
4. Sleep on your back & wash your pillowcase
I was never one to lay claim to a single sleeping position until I hit my mid-twenties. Nowadays, I’m a tried and true back sleeper. One aesthetician pointed out to me that, over time, the position you sleep in can have an effect on your face’s clarity and smoothness. She said to think of it like smiling; much like smile lines appear gradually over time, so our “sleep” or “pillow creases” can exacerbate fine facial lines.
She also recommended washing pillowcases weekly. We spend 6-8 hours (hopefully!) on our pillows nightly, and without frequent laundering, oil and debris will build up and cause breakouts. I rotate between a silk pillowcase and my beloved L.L. Bean cotton pillowcase (it’s like sleeping on a cloud!), washing them together biweekly to save laundering time.
5. Drop dairy
Nearly every professional I’ve worked with has ultimately given me this advice. I know…it’s sad to think about saying goodbye to ice cream and coffee creamer. I especially love greek yogurt every now and then. But when my skin is having unusual breakouts, this is the first thing I take action on. I’ve worked with holistic estheticians and medical ones, and both camps agree that cutting out dairy can make a dramatic difference in skin clarity, especially for recurring acne.
It might seem challenging at first, but – trust me – once your skin starts to get that glow that can go without makeup, you won’t even think about cheese, milk, or that Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked. Try substitutions like cashew milk in coffee, coconut yogurt for a snack, and dairy-free ice cream if you really miss your dairy fix.
Do you have any secrets for maintaining clear, radiant skin? I’m always interested in learning what other people do, so let me know in the comments or on Instagram!