Glowing skin is possible at every age!
The holy grail of every woman I know is glowing skin that is healthy and beautiful. I get so many emails every month asking about how to eradicate acne, clear hyper pigmentation, shrink pores, lighten dark circles, and de-puff puffy faces.
I believe skincare is far less rocket science than most believe. In fact, I believe skincare companies and the media make it far more complex than need be.
Glowing skin does not take a lot as much effort as many would believe if you learn these secrets.
1. Sleep. Getting enough sleep sounds like a no-brainer but did you know that if you don’t get enough sleep your liver, which does most of its detox at night, can’t do what it needs to do to eliminate all the toxins it needs to eliminate. Also, when you don’t sleep, especially in the hours between 2am and 4am, your body doesn’t release human growth hormone properly. This little piece of the hormone puzzle equals rejuvenation so when it doesn’t happen because you aren’t sleeping, your skin has nowhere to go but down.
2. Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. I am not suggesting drinking 8 glasses of water per day if your body doesn’t need it (and you will know if it does or not) but staying hydrated, whether in the face of heaters in the winter that strip every bit of moisture from the air, or in the hot summer sun when the body loses moisture in order to cool the body, is imperative for skin health. A tendency towards dry skin is often a sign of chronic dehydration as is a sunken drawn look. The best hydration is from the outside in and- surprise surprise- copious amounts of water may not be your best bet for hydration. Coconut water is a good bet as it is rich in a myriad of electrolytes. Stay away from sugary nutritionally void drinks (which can actually dehydrate you further) and, if you must drink liters of water, adding in a pinch of good quality real salt will keep you from disturbing potassium/calcium sodium balances and keep you hydrated without being waterlogged.
3. It’s always a good time for jello. As we age, collagenase (and enzyme that breaks down collagen) increases as does fragmentation from matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), which impair the structural integrity of the middle layer of the dermis. Fibroblasts that produce and organize the collagen matrix cannot attach to fragmented collagen. Loss of attachment prevents fibroblasts from receiving mechanical information from their support, and they collapse. In aged skin, collapsed fibroblasts produce low levels of collagen and high levels of collagen-degrading enzymes (MMPs). This imbalance advances the aging process, in a self-perpetuating, vicious cycle. Incorporating collagen rich foods such as bone broth, homemade jellies and marshallows with gelatin, and adding hydrolyzed collagen to your smoothies, soups, and even coffee can help the body manufacture more collagen. More collagen supports the matrix of the skin. Also, bone broths and gelatin helps repair and encourage gut health. Gut health equals radiant skin!
4. Eat your greens. Obviously eating nutritionally dense foods is always a good idea and greens like swiss chard, turnip greens, spinach, rocket (arugula) and most other green leafies contain a broad range of Vitamin E (along with other essential nutrients like Vitamin K, A, C, and iron). Vitamin E has been known as a super antioxidant for skin health. Vitamin E is the natural protective agent against polyunsaturated fats. PUFAs are known factors in skin aging, particularly when they combine with excess estrogen and iron and are oxidized. These form lipofuscin or “age spots”. PUFAs are also the real culprit behind most oxidation due to the fragile nature of the fats. Glycation (AGEs) is often blamed on too much sugar reacting with proteins but the degradation of the copious amounts of PUFAs in our diets (even healthy diets encouraging the eating of too many nuts, seeds, and grains) is often more so the culprit. Vitamin E is the perfect antagonist for fragile PUFAs stored in the body. PUFAs also have a tendency to increase estrogen in the body and lower progesterone levels. Excess estrogen tends to make the skin thinner and more prone to wrinkling and “sinking” while progesterone (the youth hormone) gives the skin a beautiful glow.
One class of Vitamin E called tocotrienols are especially good for skin health. Because oxidation is a large part of skin aging, antioxidants become an important part of the health of the skin. Tocotrienols interact with antioxidant enzymes reducing DNA damage (we’ll be talking about the death of cells in the future and the role of telomeres in aging). Tocotrienols help keep the skin hydrated as it strengthens the skin’s moisture barrier and protects the skin from both UV rays and radiation. This is why I am a big fan of supplementing tocotrienols. (Tocotrienols are found in abundance in red palm oil and, since I don’t love using red palm oil I have found a tocotrienol rich coconut oil that I use as a supplement in my smoothies that combines the benefits of red palm oil with coconut oil.) One of my favorite supplements is the NOW Foods Tocotrienol and E Complex (with added Selenium.)
5. Go nuts for coconut! Ok, I know what you are thinking. “Come on! Are you going to be just another nutritionist hyping coconut oil?” The short answer is no, I am not going to “hype” it but the long answer is, I absolutely believe in the power of coconuts and their oil for their healthy effects on the body and on the skin.
First bear in mind that if the body isn’t healthy the skin won’t be either. Commit that to memory. If the body isn’t healthy the skin won’t be either. The skin shows EVERYTHING going on in the body. If you have hormonal issues, the chin and nose will be muddied with breakouts. If the liver isn’t as detoxified as it should be cysts will develop in the forehead and temple area. The gallbladder and pancreas not functioning well helps deepen those vertical creases between the eyebrows and no amount of Botox will ease those creases. I could go on forever.
Let’s put aside that coconut oil is good for the thyroid, hormones, blood sugar, and pretty much every other function in the body. But before I put a pin in that, let me remind you again, when your thyroid or hormones are out of whack (such as the case with estrogen dominance) your skin will suffer. Your metabolism will suffer which makes healthy skin impossible. Coconut oil really does boost metabolic function with its lovely saturated fats so your skin will naturally follow suit.
Coconut oil is amazing for both skin and hair. Coconut oil, much like Vitamin E, is a powerful antioxidant. The medium-chain fatty acids help strengthen connective tissue as well as encouraging skin hydration. The lauric acid is a good anti-bacterial which is a boon for acne sufferers. Coconut oil is cooling for the body, a must in late Spring and Summer when temperatures are sweltering but it is has natural sunscreen properties. I rub it, as is, all over my body just after showering all Spring and Summer. Super moisturizing (not to mention deliciously smelling), it also keeps the dry elbows and knees from turning dark or ashy!
I also use it as a pre-conditioner (yes, I oil my hair) overnight and wash it out in the morning for strong, shiny hair!
Staying glowy and healthy with radiant skin at any age is really not complicated. The beauty industry and media would like us to believe we have to have oodles of lab created creams, serums, and gels to make us “beautiful” but I maintain with the right combination of eating well and using a few well placed natural products, your skin will glow and, even more to the point, you will have vibrant health!
Wishing your health, beauty, and elegance,