My Flawless Skin Regimen
By Ebony Clark-Bomani
Let me start by saying that I don't think my skin is flawless, per se. However, it's a drastic improvement from what it was about 9, almost 10 years ago. When I was 28, my skin decided to turn on me. I wasn't sure if it was because I'd moved to a new state, or if my hormones went haywire. All I know is that my skin was breaking out terribly; it was to the point of embarrassment. I'd gone to two different dermatologists, and neither of them could tell me how to get to the bottom of it. They both quickly took out their prescription pads to write me off with a pharmaceutical cover-up. NOOOOOO! In my heart of hearts, I knew that wasn't the answer---at least, for me. So, I started doing research.
What if it WAS hormonal? What if it was the water in my new environment---or just my new environment, period? I began doing a process of elimination. First, I did the obvious things, like, changing the shower head to a filtered one and putting a filter on the tap in the kitchen. To counter the harmful chemicals that I was exposed to on a daily basis, I reduced the amount of toxins I applied to my skin via my skin care regimen. For my cleanser, I switched to Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap, peppermint or lavender. I began using pure witch hazel as a toner and a little bit of a light oil blend to seal in the moisture. Ironically, I have oily skin. No more drug store brands for me! I also wanted to naturally regulate my hormones, but how would I do that? I remembered that the liver played a gigantic role in hormonal imbalances by breaking down or metabolizing the hormones once they have done work in the body. I started drinking lemon and/or lime water everyday to help flush out excess toxins and stimulate my liver. (Adding a tablespoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar to a cup of water or tea is also very beneficial to the skin.) Could this be part of the answer? I wasn't 100% sure, but I was going to exhaust all my efforts. I can say that almost immediately, I began to notice a huge difference in the quality of my skin.
Healthy skin really does start from the inside. Aside from drinking lemon water, I have drastically reduced the amount of simple carbohydrates that I consume. Simple carbs, such as refined sugar, white bread, and fruit juices can cause insulin levels to spike---which leads to a "burst of inflammation" throughout the body, according to Dr. Nicholas Perricone, dermatologist and nutritionist. Inflammation produces enzymes that break down collagen and elastin, causing sagging skin and wrinkles. Furthermore, digested sugar permanently attaches to the collagen in your skin through a process called glycation. Not only does glycation increase the effects of aging, but it amplifies skin conditions, like acne and rosacea. Simple carbs can be extremely inflammatory and are your skin's worst enemy! Try to drastically reduce or eliminate them completely. Some inflammatory foods to avoid/reduce are: white bread, cream cheese, ketchup, fried foods, sodas, pasta, jam/jelly, pizza, and sugar.
My skin care regimen consists of cleansing my face, using a 100% boar bristle face brush (for exfoliation), with Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap, toning with witch hazel, and applying a dab of light oil while my skin is still damp. My oil blend contains approximately 10% babassu oil, 20% jojoba oil, 20% sweet almond oil, and 50% castor oil. Here's the kicker: I only do this once a day, before bed. Being that I have oily skin, I've found that my skin looks and feels so much better if I cleanse once a day. It seems that if I manipulate my skin too much, it will be gushing oil. When I wake up in the mornings, I steam and wipe my face with a hot cloth, splash it with cold water and then apply light oil, if needed.
Mid-week, I cleanse with a honey, lemon, and pink himalayan sea salt mask for brightening and deeper exfoliation. Exfoliation is imperative to having healthy looking skin. It removes dead skin cells that trap dirt, bacteria and oil, resulting in breakouts. Even better, it can help reduce or eliminate PIH, post inflammatory hyperpigmentation. You know, the unsightly dark spots left over after breakouts. On Sundays, I apply a bentonite clay mask, using apple cider vinegar. It deeply cleanses your pores by drawing out impurities, and it also helps tone and tighten the skin. My pores appear much smaller as a result! I've learned a lot about my skin and its sensitivities. Over time, I've also obtained a plethora of information regarding the internal and external factors that lead to glowing skin. It has helped to empower me throughout my skin care journey. I hope you feel empowered to make the best choices for your skin, as well. Oh! Before you go, feel free to try one of my favorite brightening masks.
Honey & Lemon Mask Recipe
1 tbsp of raw honey
1 lemon wedge
1/2 tsp of fine sea salt (I love pink himalayan)
Squeeze the lemon wedge over the honey in a glass bowl and mix well. Add salt and stir lightly. Apply the mask to your skin and massage, upward, in a circular motion for about 60 seconds. Leave it on for 5-10 minutes, and rinse thoroughly with warm water. (If it starts to burn sooner than 5-10 minutes, rinse immediately.)
Are you having challenges with your skin? Have you overcome skin care obstacles? We'd like to hear from you.
*Disclaimer: Please consult your primary care physician prior to implementing dietary changes.