A lot of people mistake me for my daughter’s older sister. Most people don’t peg me for 40 unless they see me first thing in the morning (I’m definitely NOT a morning person). Although I do sport quite a deep liver line (in Chinese medicine we call the crease between the eyes the liver line – it’s an indicator of stress or eyestrain) the rest of my face is fairly wrinkle free. I get a lot of compliments on my skin, but that wasn’t always the case. I had the chicken pox twice as a child, and the second time left me badly scarred on my forehead and nose. Severe acne runs in my family too, and I certainly wasn’t immune as a teen. And my fellow TCM students saw firsthand the severe case of rosacea plus melasma I dealt with during my last pregnancy / miscarriage. I battled that for two years before getting it under control (but not cured, it’s a chronic thing). So I’ve learned a lot about skin issues. And I’ve been on the wrong side of staring and rude comments too. Like it or not, people do judge other people by their skin. But it’s not just about beauty – our skin is the biggest organ of protection we have, and we as a society tend to treat it like a measure of beauty only and not of health. It’s not vain to take care of your skin; it’s just as important as taking care of the rest of you. If you want beautiful skin, you have to be willing to work on it everyday for the rest of your life. It’s not hard, but it does take a little discipline and some dietary adjustments.
Here are my DOs and DON’Ts for beautiful skin:
• DO drink water. There is no substitute for hydrating your skin. If you are low on water, your internal organs get first dibs and shorts your skin. The rule of thumb I use is drinking half my body weight in ounces each day. Mind you, I don’t always make that benchmark, but I see a huge difference when I do stay hydrated. I especially love Voss water from Norway. Nix the crystal light packets or anything with artificial sugar. You can deal, especially if you have a good tasting water. Add a slice of lemon or lime if you have to have a little flavor.
• DO see a professional. It’s your choice whether you see a dermatologist, esthetician, Chinese doctor, or any combination. My dad and sister see a doctor. I have an awesome skin care specialist (Bina at Skintopia) who helped me get my skin back to healthy. I saw results in under a week. There are quite a few Chinese herbal formulas to help acne and itchy skin too. I used one to help help with the itching. Whichever route you go, it’s important to not pay attention to other people’s well-meaning but perhaps not accurate advice. Everyone who took one look at the oozing, itchy red-butterfly shaped mess on my face had a fix for me. Most of it made my face worse, not better. (And no, I don’t have lupus. I was diagnosed with rosacea by a doctor. I also had symptoms as a child but had no idea what it was back then). Even some professionals I saw recommended things I felt weren’t appropriate, and it turned out they weren’t. So listen to your inner voice, and if you don’t see good results or it aggravates your skin don’t be afraid to speak up.
• DO create a full beauty routine. Yes, you do need the cleanser, toner and moisturizer. I never had a full beauty routine or wore makeup until I saw Bina. Now I wear a creme foundation and powder as well, which created a layer of protection from the elements so my skin could heal. I also have a corrective makeup pallet that I can use to cover whatever blemishes I have. There’s nothing wrong with making your skin look the best it can every day.
• DO wear sunscreen. Every day. It will make a difference.
• DO remember that your skin “eats.” If you wouldn’t put it in your mouth, don’t put it on your skin. I use all natural soaps and neem shampoo (especially important since your hair gets on your face all the time). What I do get is amazingly soft and not-dry skin with a clean feeling that no other soap matches. Even the stuff in health food stores can be full of junk like parabens, phthalates, petrolatum or sulfates. Read labels. Every time.
• DO get a good night’s sleep each night. Enough said.
• DON’T drink alcohol, coffee, black or red teas, chocolate or spicy foods; limit the dairy and red meat too. Inflammation starts from the inside, and most of it comes from our diet. A lifetime of poor diet choices will show up on your face. My skin looks so much better when I avoid these things. I can see a difference within hours if I eat something inappropriate for my skin. Yes, it hurts. This is the hardest change to make, I won’t lie, but it is worth it. And when you do indulge, make sure the situation is worth it. You may want to invest in a good anti-inflammation diet book if you are ready to go hard-core. I think Dr. Perricone has one.
• DON’T touch or scratch your face. Wash your hands before and after if you must touch your face. My rosacea itched and flaked so bad! It was nasty, and it was hard not to mess with it. That’s one reason why it’s so important to get a good serum for your face – if your skin isn’t itchy, you won’t touch it, and it will heal faster.
• DON’T let stress get to you – it will show up on your face! Massage, aromatherapy and acupuncture treat stress well.
• DON’T use those fancy microderm abrasion cloths unless your skin care professional tells you to. Learned that one the hard way too.
And here is the most important tip to remember:
• DO tell yourself you are beautiful, every time you look in the mirror. It doesn’t matter how scarred or acne-ridden or itchy your face is. It doesn’t matter what other people think or say about it either. You are beautiful, exactly the way you are. OWN IT! You deserve to feel beautiful everyday of your life.