On a girls’ trip recently, we got to talking about skincare one night over drinks. Somehow, I ended up fielding questions, and my first thought was, “Who am I to answer these?” But the truth is, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with a handful of estheticians, nutritionists, and holistic health professionals over the years, each of whom taught me a secret for clearer skin.
While none of these tips was a cure-all on its own for me, together, they really made a difference in fighting my cystic acne. Now that I’m on the other side of that struggle, I wish I could go back and learn these tips sooner! Keep reading to learn the five 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 coffee, my skin’s clarity drastically changed.
Lemon water gets your digestion going, boosts immunity, and aids in detoxification. 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.
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 I put in my mouth. 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 my cycle. Our immune systems are redirected elsewhere during times of stress, so a flareup is more likely if we aren’t caring for ourselves properly before stress arises.
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 better for digestion and overall health. 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 and wash your pillowcase weekly
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 many hours on our pillows nightly, and without frequent laundering, oil and debris will build up and cause breakouts. I rotate between a silk pillowcase and a cotton pillowcase, washing them together biweekly to save laundering time.
5. Reduce or eliminate 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 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!