I realize that perfect healthy skin doesn’t really exist, and yet it’s been pretty much the white whale of my beauty routine.
Since I started breaking out at the age of like, I dunno, 12, I’ve tried everything under the sun to clear my skin up – harsh acne regimens, prescribed topicals and antibiotics, grainy scrubs, the gentlest of cleansers, not washing my face at all for a hot week or two.
In this search for ‘perfect’ skin, I’ve realized that for the most part, focusing on my overall health generally improves my skin – eating right, drinking water, exercising, getting outside every once in a while (while wearing sunscreen, natch). Yet, it’s lead me to a couple of tips and tricks that have severely improved my skin over the years. I like to think of these things as the adult upgrades from St Ives and no moisturizer and a prayer.
Here are my 6 adult-y secrets for great, healthy skin:
Oh damn, another person on the internet telling you to drink water!! Like, I know you know this. You’re not stupid. I’m not going to beat you over the head with the science behind it.
And yet. AND YET.
If you’re consistently dehydrated or pumping your body with other drinks (read: coffee, sugary sodas, alcohol…) that don’t hydrate you, your skin is never going to look healthy or feel healthy.
Obviously, I’m not here to tell you that can NEVER have another marg or iced frap if want to have nice skin. Not so! If you’re drinking enough water (which should at least 64 ounces a day, but it depends on the person!) you’ll probably be fine.
If you’re like me and struggle to drink water during the day, try keeping a 20 oz mason jar full of water on your bedside table when you go to bed – the moment you wake up, drink as much of it as you can.
During the day, try swapping out sugary drinks for green teas (green tea is high in antioxidants, also making it a great choice for healthier skin); green tea is very low in caffeine, and therefore will help keep you and your skin hydrated.
…and Watch Your Diet
You know me; I’m solidly on team food. Pasta, Indian food, tacos, fried chicken, ice cream, all of it – I love food so, so much. If it tastes good, I want it.
But there are definitely foods out there that can throw your skin into absolute mayhem; super salty foods that dehydrate you and cause you to bloat; greasy foods that can clog your pores; super-sugary foods that inflame your skin.
Like with hydration, you don’t have to throw the baby out with the bathwater and only eat salads. Just remember that the aforementioned foods aren’t always good for your skin, the same way they’re not good for your waistline, your brain function, your energy levels.
Luckily, foods that are good for your skin are some of your yummy favorites; fruit like blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, plums, and cherries are high in antioxidants and are great for snacking, baking into dessert, or blending into smoothies. Omega-3 rich foods like salmon, walnuts, hemp seeds and avocados are all great sources of fat that keep skin hydrated and healthy. And inflammation-fighting greens like broccoli, kale, cabbage and spinach are easy to toss into soups, stir-frys, casseroles, smoothies and juices.
Oils Are Your Friend
Okay, now that we’ve gotten the hydration/diet part out of the way, let’s talk about the PRODUCTS.
If someone told me even five years ago I would have a medicine cabinet stacked with cosmetic oils in the future, I would have laughed. As a person with acne-prone, oily skin, adding oil to oil sounds like a one-way ticket to pizzaface city.
Yet, some of my best-kept skincare secrets are oils, from cleansing oils to beauty oils to homemade body scrubs with avocado and olive oils as binders. A great place to start is coconut oil; if it doesn’t break your skin out (it is comedogenic, so definitely do a patch test before you slather it all over your body!) you can use it for basically anything. Makeup remover, to double-cleanse, to oil-pull, to prevent ingrown hairs after you shave, to treat damaged hair, even.
You can find cleansing balms (which are basically oils!) for decently cheap if you want to try oil cleansing with product first rather than a straight-up oil or oil blend.
There are also tons of beauty oils out there that are formulated for all sorts of skin concerns (shut up and take my money, Lapis oil), but if you’re not willing to bite the bullet on the expensive ish (and you shouldn’t, without trying it first…trust) rosehip oil is hella cheap and great at preventing breakouts and diminishing hyperpigmentation.
Get a Dry Brush, Stat
I was recently out with some friends and friends-of-friends and someone gently grabbed my arm in order to get my attention. But instead of telling me why they were randomly grabbing me in the middle of a crowded bar, their eyes went wide as dinner plates; they exclaimed, “You have the softest skin I think I’ve ever felt.”
And I told them: “It’s because I dry brush.” They literally bought a dry brush on Amazon then and there.
Dry brushing is basically what it sounds like – taking a natural bristle brush and brushing your dry skin in long strokes towards your heart, swirling a little around joints like your elbows and your shoulders, and firmer strokes in areas like your armpits and your groin.
Its touted as a way to increase lymphatic flow and blood flow to your skin. I can’t really speak to its ability to do that (and neither can science, like most skincare myths) but I can speak to it being an excellent way to exfoliate the skin on your body before showering or applying moisturizer. The best part? You can get a dry brush on Amazon for like, five bucks.
One word of caution; if you have sensitive skin, try only dry brushing once or twice a week because it can irritate your skin. And if you have skin conditions like rosacea and eczema, y’know, don’t dry brush those areas.
Exfoliate for Healthy Skin
Exfoliation gets a lot of lip service as a cure-all for all sorts of skin ailments, from rough texture to blackheads and pimples to hyperpigmentation. For the most part, exfoliating products deserve most of their hype — adding a chemical exfoliant has drastically improved my skin over the last five years.
A few caveats: if your skin is sensitive, you definitely want to avoid the harsh stuff and look for products specifically for sensitive skin. With most exfoliating products, you want to avoid pairing them with vitamin C products, retinols, or benzoyl peroxide products. If you do, you’re going to have a bad time – a red, peely, painful bad time.
I use a couple of exfoliating products interchangeably based on my skins needs – for regular exfoliation, I use the Pixi Glow Tonic, and for a big ol’ glowy boost, I use the Herbivore Blue Tansy mask.
If I have an event coming up and my skin is in realll bad shape, I’ll drop a couple bucks to buy this guy, which I can use every day leading up to the event, leaving me with a pretty wild glow and very clear skin. Obviously I don’t use this every day because I’m not like, made of money, c’mon.
Do I really need to tell you to wear sunscreen everyday, y’all? Read a book, or something. This is why I love Coola products; they layer nicely and don’t break me out/leave me feeling or looking pasty.
What do you think of our healthy skin guide?
Do you do any of these things? What are your adult-y secrets to healthy skin? Let us know in the comments below!