Over the weekend I celebrated my 40th birthday (and thank you so much for the birthday wishes!). I remember when I was a kid and hearing about someone turning 40, I always thought that was so old. Now that I’m 40, I don’t feel old at all, and in fact I’m happy and proud to be 40.
The reason why I feel good about 40 is because I’m in a good place in my life, I’m healthy, I’m happy, I’ve got good energy, I’ve got a loving and supportive family, and I don’t feel old, nor do I think I look old either.
After I gave birth to my daughter Luna Ray a few years ago, it became even more important to me to take care of myself, and preserve my youthfulness. I saw how easily sleepless nights took a toll on everything from my energy to my appearance. It was hard enough not to get much sleep, even worse to look like it.
Because I’ve always been challenged by acne and breakouts since I was a teenager, over the years I’ve developed a little obsession with my skin. I can be the first to admit that since I became a mom, my obsession with my skin grew even more. Not only to get rid of pimples and breakouts, but to preserve the youthfulness of my skin and keep wrinkles, lines, dullness, puffiness, and sagging skin at bay.
I know many of you reading this blog are in the same boat as me, you’re dealing with skin breakouts (either treating them or trying to prevent them from coming back), plus you’re working at delaying the signs of aging as well.
We all want to look our best, right?
Today I would like to share some of the things I know that have helped me preserve the youthfulness of my skin, perhaps even have helped slow down the signs of aging and have helped so far in preventing lines and wrinkles.
What Keeps My Skin Looking Young?
I rarely drink alcohol
I’m not a drinker. In fact I can go years without a sip of any alcohol (and happily do so).
When I was in teens and twenties, I liked to drink, a lot. But, the hangovers were unbearable, making me severely depressed (almost suicidally depressed). So, for the most part, I stopped drinking in my mid twenties.
Since then I go long stretches of time (sometimes a few years at a time) without drinking, and then once in a while, on occasion, I might have a drink (probably no more than 3 or 4 times a year, max). Wine and spirits make me depressed and give me breakouts, so I stay away from them, and stick with drinking beer.
I know that staying away from alcohol is a big factor in keeping my skin healthy and young. Drinking large amount of alcohol can dehydrate your skin, making it puffy, dull, and blotchy, and over the longterm will age you as well. For many acne sufferers, there’s a direct connection between breakouts and alcohol consumption.
I have VERY oily skin
I’ve received a few emails from some of you asking what to do about oily skin.
Ah, I’ve got crazy oily skin too. I can feel for you, cause I know for myself, this has always been one thing that’s completely out of my control, and something I regularly feel self conscious about.
I will tell you, there is one big benefit of having oily skin. You might hate having oily skin (like I do), but it does help to preserve the youthfulness and elasticity of your skin. Having oily skin delays lines and wrinkles from forming (and could even prevent them too). Your oily skin is a natural moisturizer, and probably better than any oil, cream, or anti-aging beauty product you buy.
I rarely wear make-up
I don’t like the feeling of having make-up on my skin. It makes me feel like my skin can’t breath, I get breakouts and dermatitis from it, my skin gets really oily, and I have to over-cleanse my skin to take the make-up off. When I wear make-up, it makes me fuss and touch my skin.
All of these factor aren’t doing my skin any favours. I do like the look of make-up (and how gorgeous it can make you look), but I only wear it on special occasions, like a night out, going to a party or a celebration. For the sake of my skin, I’ll never pile make-up on during the day. I like my skin to breath as much as possible.
I use oils, honey, or gentle cleansers to cleanse my skin
I’m a big advocate of using gentle cleansers, oils, milks, or honey to clean your skin. The gentler the better. You don’t want to use any harsh cleanser on your face. Even if you have oily skin like me.
If you use a harsh cleanser, you’re stripping your skin of all the natural oils that are working to protect your skin and prevent fine lines and wrinkles. Using harsh cleansers (in my opinion anything that is abrasive, soapy, or lathers), will not only stripe your skin, but it can irritate it, cause breakouts, and over time dry it out so much it can degrade the elasticity of your skin.
To keep your skin smooth and supple, stick with the least irritating and least stripping cleanser you can find.
“Natural” skin care
Being “gentle” is my priority with anything I put on my skin, as well as using products that are “breathable”.
I despise anything that makes me feel like my skin is suffocating or that I’m wearing a heavy mask on my face. Even worse is anything that makes it tight, irritated, or broken out.
Even though I use natural skin care products, I don’t use it because it’s labeled “organic” or “natural.” I use these products because the ingredients are safe, and my skin responds well to them. I find many mainstream products containing mineral oils and synthetic fragrance suffocate and irritate my sensitive skin.
I don’t go tanning, but I don’t like to shun the sun either.
I grew up in Montreal, Canada. The winters are long and cold. I have always been at the advantage of not having strong sun exposure year round, which in turn has help me preserve my skin.
For the past 5 years I’ve been living in the tropics, which climate wise, is the total opposite of Canada.
Because we’re so close to the equator, I burn easily. Even going for a run on the beach at 7am, I can get burned!
I don’t particularly like wearing sunscreen, especially the mainstream sunscreens sold at the drugstores and department stores. It’s for the same reasons why I don’t like wearing make-up; I find mainstream sunscreens suffocates my skin, and I get terrible breakouts and rashes from them.
The best brand I’ve found is Suntegrity. I use their 5in1 Tinted Face Sunscreen SPF30, and their Unscented Body Sunscreen SPF30. I find zinc-based sunscreen don’t irritate my skin, and never gives me breakouts.
In general, I find the best sun protection is avoiding the strong sun. I do my best to stay out of the sun between 10am-3pm. I go outside and run errands in the early morning and late afternoon when the sun isn’t so strong. I feel this really helps to preserve my skin.
I have to say I do feel better when I get some sun, but not a lot. I’ve done experiments where I’ve avoided the sun completely for long durations of time, and I never felt very good. But, at the same time, I don’t like what happens to my skin when I start tanning either (the sun totally dries out your skin and wrinkles get more pronounced). So for me, it’s about finding a healthy balance, and, taking all precautions necessary not to ever burn (which is the absolute worst for your skin).
Healthy diet = Healthy skin
I got into natural health and healthy eating all because of my skin. I tried everything to heal my acne and breakouts and the only thing that had the biggest impact on my skin was changing my diet. The healthier my diet is, the healthier my skin is (and the much better I look).
What makes my skin young and glowing? I would say a lot of vegetables, salads, green juices, and having healthy proteins and fats in my diet (fish, meat, eggs, nuts, seeds, avocados, coconut meat, durian, etc).
Does that mean I stay away from carbohydrates like grains and fruits? No! In fact I have healthy carbs every day (rice and fruit are staples in my diet), but I have small portions of these foods. For me, if I eat too many carbs, especially tropical fruit, I get really bad breakouts. I don’t really eat bread or pasta, but that is because I don’t really like them, not because they are forbidden.
Knowing what foods my skin responds best to and reacts badly too makes my food choices a lot easier to follow. Out of all the health challenges I’ve encountered over my life, breakouts and acne is probably the only thing that I’ve wanted to get rid of badly enough that I was willing to change my diet and lifestyle for.
If you were to ask me what are the 5 most worst foods for my skin, I would say: ice cream, extremely large amounts of tropical fruit, condensed milk, protein powders, coffee.
If you were to ask me what are the best foods for my skin: water infused with fresh mint, plain oatmeal, green salads, green vegetable juices, raw egg yolks.
Hormone health and blood sugar
Over the years I’ve done a lot of experiments with many different types of diets. The two diets my skin responded the best to was a raw food diet, and also a low carb whole food diet.
I would say all breakouts completely disappeared when I was on a raw food diet, but my skin looked the healthiest, brightest, and smoothest when I was on a low carb whole food diet (eating a lot of protein and fats from meats, fish, eggs, cheese, avocados, and eating an abundance of vegetables).
How I see it, my skin is always at it’s best when I’m eating a diet that is supporting my hormone health, and most importantly, keeping my blood sugar balanced.
As I said before, I don’t need to completely take out carbohydrates from my diet, but I do have to be mindful of the portions. Healthy fats in particular are building blocks for your hormones, and I find the more I focus on eating quality proteins and fats, the more elastic, smooth, supple, and healthy my skin is.
I only realized how important sleep was after my daughter was born. Talk about no sleep, and no good sleep for months and years on end. That does take an awful toll on your skin (puffiness and terrible bags under your eyes included).
I really appreciate sleep now. Sleep is gold. Any extra sleep I get is precious.
Beauty sleep is REAL!
No chlorine in my bathing water
Growing up in Montreal, Canada, the city water has always been treated with chlorine.
Where I live now, we use well water. The water is undrinkable, it’s full of bacteria, but it doesn’t have chlorine. When I take showers and baths, I don’t get dry skin after I shower (nor do I smell like bleach). Because it’s so hot here, I also tend to have more cooler showers than hot, and that too doesn’t dry out my skin.
If your water is municipal water that is treated with chlorine, I recommend getting a water filter for your shower head to filter out the chlorine (and let me know the results you get after bathing in filtered water for a month or so, you probably be pleasantly surprised!).