11 Skincare Secrets Every Woman Should Know

Every woman seems to have her own skincare secrets, whether they’ve been passed down for generations or she discovered them herself. (Personally, I’ve found my skin looks phenomenal when I start my days with some liquid chlorophyll.)

While every woman and her skincare is different, there are certain time-honored tips and tricks that every beauty needs in her arsenal.

Smooth Skin

Lather. Rinse. Moisturize.
Massaging a moisturizing lotion, cream or gel into skin right after showering will trap water to hydrate skin.

The Essence of Beauty
Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. Staying adequately hydrated helps your body function better and plumps and moisturizes your skin. You should drink half of your body weight in ounces of water every day. (If you weigh 160 pounds, drink 80 ounces of water.)

Do a Dollop
Sensitive skin can be smoothed and touchy complexions nourished by applying a tablespoon of sour cream for 20 minutes, twice a week.

Protect & Refresh

Soy You Later
Resting a soy milk-soaked washcloth on your face for 10 minutes, once a week, will refresh your complexion by brightening skin, and will help prevent wrinkles with its natural estrogen.

Sky High
Always apply sunscreen before boarding an airplane, especially if you’re in a window seat. As your altitude increases, so will the levels of the sun’s UV rays.

Oat and About
Add a teaspoon of organic oatmeal to your cleanser, and smooth it onto skin for 10 minutes. The minerals in the oats are soothing and will help cleanse and hydrate your skin.

Calm Skin

Chill Out
For splotchiness and redness, drink a glass of ice water when it first occurs. The cold will constrict the blood vessels and cool you from the inside.

Cold in Here
Keeping your eye gel in the refrigerator overnight will work with the gel to reduce puffiness when you apply it in the morning.

Banish Blemishes

A Splash of Tea
Splashing your face (but not rinsing) with cool black tea controls oil and shine by acting as a natural astringent.

Time to Hang Up
A dirty cell phone can cause breakouts. Clean it at least once a week with antibacterial wipes.

Easy De-swell
Nasal decongestants are anti-inflammatories. Just as they reduce your nose’s inflammation, a small amount will reduce your pimples’ redness and inflammation.

 

What are your favorite skincare secrets?

 

Adapted from my July 29, 2016 blog post at conture.com.

Hair Styles That Are The Kat’s Meow

When I moved to Houston, I avoided trying a new hair salon for months because I had loved my salon in Baton Rouge so much and was terrified of a botched job.

Sure enough, the first salon I tried six months after moving here gave me Anna Wintour when I’d asked for Jennifer Lawrence. Then, a friend introduced me to the beautiful, magical Instagram feed of Rina Dee, a stylist at Kat’s Meow.

Rina took my hair’s virginity and helped me pass for something of a cool kid with stunning purple ombre hair, and then gave me hair so perfectly white it rivaled the Mother of Dragons.

 

Kat’s Meow, decorated in vintage hair salon dryers, curlers and hair pins, sits on a block in Midtown that celebrates vintage culture. This fun area is full of rockabilly-style restaurants, bars and shops, letting you step back in time with a small community of friendly faces adorned with beehives and pomade. “Once I found the Rockabilly scene here in Houston, I knew I found my tribe,” shared owner Crissy Salazar. “The style of the era is something that can’t be topped.”

But, it’s not just the time travel that makes Kat’s Meow so special — it’s the expertise, as well. Rina, known on Instagram for her transformative iterations of mermaid hair and colorings worthy of anime, recently led a conference course on Iro Iro semipermanent hair colors. As a product educator, the brand tapped her to teach local beauty professionals about the relatively new vibrant color line.

All of the stylists are Redken certified and specialize in vintage styling. Don’t let the vintage decor and specializations fool you, though. “Even though we do a lot of vintage styling, our stylists are up to date with all the current trends,” Crissy said. “More than anything else we really specialize in corrective color. So, if for some reason another salon or friend didn’t quite get that hair color right, give us a call. We can fix it for ya.”

Crissy and her husband, Edgar, opened Kat’s Meow Salon and Big Kat’s Barbershop side-by-side in February 2011. “This style is our style. [Rockabilly is] something we both have been into for many many moons,” Crissy shared. “We felt that our love for the vintage culture would make a unique backdrop for our shop. Even if a vintage styled ‘do is not what you want, everyone seems to love the environment. It’s different and unique, yet familiar.”

Kat’s Meow takes appointments, but Big Kat’s doesn’t — men wait outside the barber shop for up to two hours to get the perfect pompadour. You sign your name to the list, then head to Double Trouble or Natachees for a quick drink or bite, or take advantage of the shop’s free beer while you wait.

Whatever the wait, though, it’s worth it to get the best vintage ‘dos and colored tresses in Houston.

3 Simple Ways to Prevent Acne

I’ve talked before about certain everyday items that can trigger breakouts, but, for most people, skincare and acne prevention go far beyond avoiding coffee or sterilizing your phone.

Though there are several things you can, and should, do regularly to prevent acne and breakouts, they all boil down to three basic principles: hygiene, health and products. Throughout your skincare routine, be sure to check the labels. You always want products that are hypoallergenic, non-comedogenic, and water-based (not oil) when possible. Avoid fragrances and irritants such as citric extracts, menthol and denatured alcohol.

Diet and Exercise

  • Protect your skin. You know you need to wear some kind of sunscreen daily. Do you do it? Probably not. But did you know wearing daily SPF not only helps protect against skin cancer, but can also prevent acne? Overexposure to the sun can exacerbate acne, redness and irritation.
  • Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. Staying adequately hydrated throughout the day helps your body function better, increases your metabolism and clears up you skin. When you don’t get enough water, your body can build up toxins and excrete them through your skin. Drinking at least eight cups of water each day will help your body flush the toxins the way they’re supposed to. Think of it as a daily detox.
  • Eat healthy. Eating a balanced diet rich in antioxidants, healthy fats, zinc, vitamins and minerals helps prevent acne by keeping your skin healthy and functioning properly.
  • Avoid potential irritants. While modern scientists put much less stock in the idea that chocolate causes acne than scientists of the last century, certain foods can worsen your acne or cause breakouts. Every person is different, though. Try cutting out different potential risk foods—dairy, sugar, legumes, high-glycemic foods and wheat—from your diet to see what does and doesn’t work for your skin. Cut out each food (one at a time) for two weeks for the best analysis.
  • Get the patch. You know smoking and drinking are bad for your health, but they’re also bad for your complexion because the toxins in tobacco and alcohol can act as skin irritants or contribute to the unhealthy toxic excretion that happens when you’re not your healthiest you.
  • Lace up. Stress is a huge contributing factor to your acne. Putting on your sneakers and getting outside, up and moving can relieve stress and help acne. Even better, regular exercise will help your heart, overall health and mortality.
  • Catch your zzz’s. Just like exercise, proper sleep can help your body function better and reduce stress which, in turn, helps prevent acne. Each hour of sleep lost beyond your normal allotment can increase your stress level by up to 15%. Aim to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night (9-10 if you’re younger than 18).

Finding the Right Products

  • Benzoyl Peroxide is a common ingredient in acne medication because it kills the bacteria that causes acne. Look for products with 2.5% benzoyl peroxide concentration; less won’t be as effective, and more can irritate the skin. It also removes dead skin to reveal brighter, rejuvenated skin.
  • Salicylic Acid also helps kill acne-causing bacteria. It causes the skin to shed more rapidly and promotes the growth of new skin. Apply small amounts to affected areas after you wash your face at night.
  • Tea Tree Oil is a natural home remedy that acts as an anti-inflammatory, making pimples less noticeable in size and redness. The oil is often concentrated, so be sure to dilute it with water before applying to affected areas with a cotton swab.
  • Airbrush Makeup is one of the best and simplest ways to prevent acne. Using airbrush makeup on a daily basis keeps your skin hygienic (no dirty hands or brushes touch your face), moisturizes your face (it’s water-based and so hydrates your skin), covers current blemishes without being heavy and improves skin texture.

Keep it Clean

  • Wash your face. Dermatologists suggest washing your face in the morning and before bed. While you’ve likely always heard to wash your face with hot water to open your pores, exposing your skin to extremes can cause irritation, excess dryness and blood vessel ruptures. Always wash and rinse your face with lukewarm water. If your skin runs dry, take care to select a cleanser and products that have moisturizer. Contrastingly, if you have oily skin, be sure to avoid overly moisturizing products.
  • Wash your hands. It’s important to avoid touching your face as much as possible, but when you have to do it—such as when washing your face or applying sunscreen or moisturizer—wash your hands first. Dirty hands can transfer bacteria, causing breakouts, irritation and possibly infection.
  • Moisturize. Ensuring your skin is properly hydrated is as important as making sure it’s not oily. Apply moisturizer after every face wash to avoid dryness and irritation. If you have oily skin, choose a gel-based moisturizer, which will provide hydration without overdoing it. If you have dry skin, use a cream-based moisturizer that will, by nature, be heavier and longer-lasting.
  • Exfoliate. You may have read blogs from women who talk about exfoliating as part of their daily ritual (we’ve seen our fair share), but over-exfoliating can irritate your skin, cause excess dryness and make your breakouts worse. You should exfoliate, at most, once a week, to remove dead skin and unclog pores.
  • Take it off. Removing your makeup at the end of the day is one of the most important steps of your skincare regimen. Sleeping in your makeup can clog your pores and worsen your breakouts. Even sleeping in mascara can cause little infections in your eye area. It’s important to wash your face after removing your makeup to remove all traces of makeup.
  • No touchy. As we said earlier, touching your face—with your hands, brushes, sponges or anything that could potentially harbor dirt or bacteria—can cause breakouts and infection. This especially means no popping your pimples, as the dirt from your fingers can get in the open sore and worsen the blemish.
  • Sleep clean. While you sleep, oils transfer from your face to your pillowcase, causing dirt, grime and dead skin to spread night after night and cause acne. Try washing your pillowcases once a week. If that’s not enough, wash it more frequently and switch the side of the pillow you use every night. If you don’t have time to wash it frequently, keep several pillowcases you can alternate.

What are your tried-and-true methods to preventing acne?

 

Originally published on blog.luminessair.com

How to Keep Your Youthful Glow As You Age

I’m convinced that the secret to never looking old is to utilize every anti-aging treatment and practice I can now, in my 20s. I started using preventative creams and serums in high school, but, in line with basically every other aspect of my life, I’ve always been too ADD to stick with one product or method.

I’ve flitted between anti-aging moisturizers, serums, cleansers, oils and devices, but I do have one constant: my lifestyle. These three lifestyle and regimen changes are part of my everyday life, and will help keep your skin looking young, even into your 90s.

  1. Kick butts. Smoking is one of the most detrimental habits a person can have. You know what it does to your body—the cancer, the lung damage, the yellowing of nails and eyes—but it can also exacerbate wrinkles. Not only do the chemicals and products in cigarettes age your skin, but the constant, day-after-day lip puckering that happens when a cigarette is in your mouth creates deep furrows. Smokers as young as 20 exhibit early wrinkling. While their wrinkles may be difficult to see at first, they will worsen and become more frequent with more years and packs smoked. Wrinkles are also likely to be much deeper in smokers than in those who don’t smoke.Solution: Stop smoking. I know stopping is easier said than done, but it is so vital to your good health. Whatever method you decide to choose, whether that’s a patch, cold turkey or hypnosis, is fine as long as it’s healthy and works for you.
  2. Tap it in. Your eyes are not a magic lamp; don’t rub them! Every morning when we wake, we yawn, stretch, rub the sleep from our eyes, and cause wrinkles to form. Every time you rub your eyes when you wake up, are removing your makeup or applying an eye cream, you create wrinkles. In your youth, your skin springs back easily, so the effects don’t show until you get older and your skin loses its elasticity. As you age, springing back becomes harder and less frequent, resulting in more permanent grooves.Solution: If you need to remove the sleep from your eyes, gently wipe it away instead of rubbing. To remove makeup, apply eye makeup remover to a cotton ball and let sit on your closed eye for a few seconds. This will allow the skin and makeup to soak up the remover, making it easier to gently pat away. (If you still need to wipe, do it lightly and with care.) To apply an eye cream, serum, moisturizer or any other product, get a small amount on the tips of your pinky or ring fingers and gently tap into the skin around the eye area.
  3. Keep it clean. As troublesome as removing your makeup at night can be, it far outweighs the risks of leaving it on. Sleeping in your makeup prevents your skin barrier from functioning properly. Your skin can’t breathe or repair itself, and the makeup and environmental pollutants accumulated during the day settle into your pores, breaking down collagen and elastin, and therefore speeding up the aging process.Solution: Before bed, you should remove your makeup, cleanse your skin (yes, you have to wash after removing makeup) and moisturize. When you use moisturizer, you’re not putting moisture onto your skin; you’re keeping moisture from leaving your skin. As you age, your skin loses its moisture more and more easily. Since dehydrated skin also accelerates aging, it’s necessary to moisturize daily.

While these tips prevent against the three major contributors to wrinkling, drinking plenty of water, getting enough sleep, keeping a balanced diet rich in antioxidants and omega-3s, and exercising regularly can go a long way to your skin’s overall health and help you keep your youthful glow.

These 6 Everyday Things Could be Causing Your Breakouts

I swear that every day it feels like I’m being told something else is bad for my skin or will give me acne. And, to be honest, a lot of times it seems like mixed messages. Exfoliate, but not too much. Never touch your face, but go ahead and apply makeup with your fingertips.

I researched and researched and researched to learn what things I’m doing that actually do make me break out, and how to remedy those pimple perpetuators. While it is a bit annoying to adjust a daily ritual, the good news is that, once your skin clears up, you can add all of these back — as long as it’s in moderation.

 

Your Morning Fix
In my humble opinion, coffee does more damage than good to your body. If you’re like me and love your coffee with milk, sugar, syrup, whipped cream and everything else the barista wants to throw on there, there aren’t many redeeming qualities in your blended cup of joe, other than the endorphins and sugar high. But, even just a cup of black coffee will raise your body’s acidity, throwing off its pH balance and making your skin inflamed (most usually as a pimple around your mouth).

Your Solution: If it’s the caffeine you need, switch to tea. There’s obviously a huge variety in the world, but if better skin is your biggest concern, opt for green tea. Once you’ve had a fix, drink plenty of water to hydrate your body, restore your skin and flush out toxins. If you just can’t do without your coffee, though, you can add a few pH drops to make it less acidic.


Your Bedtime Ritual
Adequate sleep is one of the most vital, precious gifts you can give your body. But, if you like to watch TV, play on your phone or catch up on emails in bed, the light from the device will make your body think it’s daytime and keep your mind awake. Devices like your smartphone will also emit electromagnetic wave frequencies that can run through your body and mess with your circadian rhythm. Your sleep pattern will be disrupted, your immune system weakened, your mind stressed and your face broken out.

Your Solution: Turn off all of your electronics 30 minutes before bedtime, and place your phone far away from you. If you need something to do before bed, read a book — a real, tangible, made-of-paper book — to calm your mind. You can also drink a cup of calming tea, like chamomile, to help make you sleep so that you get your full 8 hours and keep your body functioning properly. (Want more sleepy time tips? Read this.)


Your Daily Face
You know that sleeping in your makeup is horrible for your skin, but, depending on your foundation of choice, just wearing it can wreak havoc, too. Thick makeups can clog your pores, trap sweat beneath your layer of foundation and attract dirt, which can sit on your skin, allowing bacteria in (and further clogging pores), which will cause pimples to sneak up on you. (Not to mention the bacteria transfer that happens if you use dirty brushes or sponges to apply your makeup, which can also lead to breakouts.)

Your Solution: Opt for lightweight, water-based foundations like airbrush makeup, which offers the added benefit of never having to touch your face with dirty fingers, brushes or sponges (which dermatologists strongly advise against). Airbrush makeups also tend to be noncomedogenic (don’t clog your pores), oil-free and completely buildable, so you can determine how light or full you want your coverage to be simply by the number of layers you apply. You’ll also want to always wash your face after removing your makeup. No matter what makeup you use, there can always be occlusive residue that a makeup wipe simply won’t get.

Conture Skincare Dessert Acne

Your Mini-Binge
That after-dinner dessert, when combined with that morning-meeting donut and afternoon pick-me-up, may help with endorphins, but it’s not doing your skin any favors. When you consume too many processed carbs, breads and sugar, your body’s glycemic index will elevate, making it produce more oil. The sugar can also break down the skin cells (in a process called glycation) which will weaken your collagen and elastin, causing fine lines and wrinkles to appear. Your skin will also suffer from the overdose of bad bacteria in the body caused by the yeast in bread.

Your Solution: Moderate your sugar intake (the World Health Organization recommends no more than 6 teaspoons a day for adults) within a well-balanced diet with the right proportions of protein, fiber, leafy greens and complex carbs. And, of course, drink plenty of water.

 

Your Slight Addiction
Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting you give up Instagramming your cute new shoes (I wouldn’t dare). But, if you’re on your cell phone all the time — you know, talking — and tend to breakout on one side of your face or jawline, it’s likely because of your mobile device. Every time you touch your phone’s screen to text, to post, to catch ’em all, you’re transferring all the germs from your hands onto your cell. That bacteria will then be transferred onto your face, creating blemishes.

Your Solution: Make it a point to regularly wipe down your cell with sanitizing wipes, especially if you’re about to make a call. If you’re completely grossed out by the idea of the bacteria getting on your face and don’t think a wipe is good enough, you can invest in a phone sanitizer (many often charge your phone, as well), which can kill 99.9 percent of your phone’s bacteria in about five minutes. These will typically run around $80.


Your Skincare Routine
The obvious solution to oily skin is to dry it out, right? Except that drying out your skin — from harsh cleanser, too many spot treatments, etc — can ruin your skin’s natural protective barrier. This will cause more bacteria to get into your pores and cause breakouts and, if you’ve let your skin get so dry that it cracks, that bacteria can cause infection.

Your Solution: Learn the best skincare solutions based on your skin type. You should wash your face at least once a day, more if you have oily skin, and pay special attention to the type of cleanser you use. Charcoal products like a charcoal soap or a charcoal mask will get rid of the bacteria and clear your pores without over-drying your skin. Make sure you’re not over-using your acne treatment, and finish your routine with a lightweight moisturizer.

 

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The Top 5 Mother’s Day Gifts

If you’re like me, then every year, around this time, you start wondering what you can possibly get your mom for Mother’s Day that will be … sufficient.

Sure, there’s flowers. But, she gets those for every other occasion, not to mention the probability that your father and/or siblings are planning on a bouquet, as well. So, what’s out there that’s not cliche or tacky, that she doesn’t already have and that somehow manages to convey how much you love and appreciate her?

Don’t worry, friends; I’ve got you covered. I always strive to get my parents gifts that are beautiful, personal and cherishable. I’m kind of a gift whisperer. So, I’ve gathered my top 5 gift choices for Mother’s Day — no matter what your mom’s interests are, she’d love at least one of these!

Perfume

I’ve recently fallen in love with Jo Malone’s fragrances. Each scent is beautiful, flattering and complements her other scents. You can wear the Peony & Blush Suede cologne with the English Pear & Freesia hand lotion and smell absolutely divine, not cacophonous as you might when mixing other scents.

Miracle Serum

Ok, maybe “miracle serum” is a big claim, but, honestly, this is one of my favorite products in the world. Designed for all skin types, Estee Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair is meant to combat signs of aging (don’t tell your mom), but it does so much more! It actually repairs skin to also fight dryness and dullness, and is our go-to medicine for small burns. It instantly soothes the sting after you got too close to the oven and helps skin heal faster.

A Classic

My mother has always loved Waterford Crystal, but has never gotten any for herself. In high school, I had the opportunity to visit the Waterford factory in Ireland. She asked me to bring her back some crystal; I, not knowing a thing about crystal, got her a thimble. As an adult, I can appreciate the beauty of classic pieces, and better know what she’ll be able to love and admire for years.

Jewelry

I know I promised no cliches, but what’s better than a beautiful piece of jewelry that’s unique to your mom? Mark & Graham is one of my favorite sites for gifts because they offer free personalization. Whether you want a monogram on a suitcase, children’s names on a necklace or the family name on a bocce ball set, the site is full of wonderful, personable gifts.

The Perfect Purse

One of the beauties, I’m sure, of having your children all grown up is that you no longer have to tote around their diapers, snacks, crayons, toys and more. Another beauty is that your grown up children can get you real gifts (instead of sweet, adorable handmade cards), like this beautiful Rebecca Minkoff Clutch. Nothing says “my kids are all grown up” quite like an extremely impractical, un-motherly, stylish clutch.

 

What about you? What are you planning to get your mom this Mother’s Day?

7 Things to Drink for Amazing Skin

If you’re like me, you take care of your skin. You use sunscreen every morning. You wash your face every night. You even started an anti-aging regimen as a teenager. (Or, is that last one just me?)

But, is your skin the best it can be?

All the topicals in the world can’t guarantee great skin if your diet is lacking. Great skin is helped by great nutrition—specifically, incorporating plenty of Omega-3s and antioxidants. While there are definitely food choices you can make for better skin, today I’m focusing on your drink choices, and how exactly you can drink your way to better skin.

Water. Water is vital for both skin health and overall health. It keeps the body functioning properly and makes your skin look plumper and firmer. Experts agree that the right amount of water for each person is half their body weight (in ounces). For example, if a woman weighs 140 pounds, she should drink 70 ounces of water each day.

Lemon Water. Starting your day with a big glass of lemon water (like I discussed here) can help flush toxins out of the body to rejuvenate skin. Added bonus: lemon water also helps with digestion, increases metabolism and boosts your immune system.

Green Juice

Green Juice. Vegetables, especially kale, are amazing multi-vitamins for your skin. Kale is packed with vitamin A, vitamin C and copper, which are all staple ingredients in anti-aging creams. Kale also helps promote healthy cell growth and healthy cell turnover, getting rid of old, dull skin, and keeping skin strong. Need a little guidance on how to create a green smoothie you actually like? Start with the recipe below, then tinker with it based on your preferences. It provides a perfect combination of natural sugar to sweeten it, and green veggies to hydrate and de-puff the skin.
Combine all ingredients in a juicer or high-powered blender

  • 1 apple
  • 4 celery stalks
  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • 2 handfuls of spinach
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 beet
  • 1/2 handful of kale
  • lemon and ginger to taste

Soy Milk. Using soy milk instead of regular milk in your morning coffee or tea can help protect collagen and prevent new wrinkles from forming due to sun exposure. The minerals and proteins in soy milk can also help brighten and even-out your skin tone.

Green Tea. Green tea, like I’ve mentioned before, is excellent for your skin. It’s loaded with antioxidants that protect the skin against sunburn and reduce redness and inflammation in your cheeks. For best results, drink two or three cold cups a day. If you do go for cold green tea, be sure to make it yourself. The bottled kind you pick up at the store is loaded with sugar and not much else.

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Pomegranate Juice. This super juice is packed with twice the anti-oxidants and polyphenols as green tea, and nurtures your skin’s fibroblasts, which make collagen. Drinking a glass of this a day produces more collagen, results in less wrinkles and fine lines, and evens out your skin tone.

Cucumber Water. Cucumbers are already mostly water, so when you infuse them with a daily glass of water, they help super-hydrate your skin. They’re also filled with magnesium, potassium and other minerals that help keep the alkaline pH of skin and decrease inflammation.

 

What are you favorite drinks, regardless of health value? (Let’s just say, if Long Island Teas were health, I’d be in a world of trouble.)

20 Super Foods for Super Skin

I always find it funny how accurate the old cliché “You are what you eat” is. If I opt for a burger over a healthy meal, I can feel it in every breath I take. If I eat junk food two days in a row, my skin shows it. I get blotchy, pimply and greasy on top of feeling sluggish and maybe a bit gassy.

Whether you want brighter, firmer, younger or more even skin, the right products and a good diet can help you get there. Let’s take a look at a ton of foods that benefit skin, and why they’re so super.

Salmon

This king fish goes at the very top of the list because it’s so good in so many ways. Broiled, baked, smoked and grilled, yes, but also because it’s good for your skin, your eyes, your heart and your diet. Salmon is a reliable source of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation. Inflammation not only causes digestive discomfort, but also contributes to a harsher skin appearance. While the omega-3s are battling the aging process by combating inflammation, they’re also allowing cells to hold more moisture—which results in softer, less blotchy skin—and the fish’s vitamin D helps produces compounds that protect against skin infections. Win-win-win!

Kiwi

When looking for a fruit high in vitamin C, skip the orange and head straight for the brown. Kiwis pack almost 120 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin C in every single furry fruit! A report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition proved that higher intakes of the nutrient were associated with less dryness and less noticeable wrinkles. Vitamin C stimulates collagen synthesis, which smooths fine lines and keeps skin taught.

Flaxseed Oil

Make this your go-to superfood if you’re battling red or dry skin. Flax is abundant in alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid that may help skin retain moisture, limiting roughness and dryness. The British Journal of Nutrition published an investigation that determined that flaxseed oil consumption can reduce skin reddening. Try drizzling it on top of your favorite yogurt snack. Which brings us to …

Yogurt

While dairy can be a main cause of inflammation, Greek yogurt can be pretty beneficial to any diet. The protein found in yogurt—which helps skin become firmer and more resistant to lines—is often doubled in the Greek variety. All it takes is a single serving a day to smooth your complexion.

Brazil Nuts

This giant-sized nut is an excellent source of selenium. According to research from scientists in Australia, blood with high levels of the mineral were associated with a 60 percent decrease in skin cancer incidents. It’s believed that selenium works as an antioxidant, protecting against skin damage caused by exposure to the sun.

Butternut Squash

This fall and winter staple gourd is a good source of carotenoids, powerful antioxidants that may improve skin tone by reducing skin cell damage, resulting in more luminous skin.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes

A 2008 UK study found that people who ate 5 tablespoons of tomato paste daily (along with almost a tablespoon of olive oil) for 12 weeks had 33 percent more protection from sunburn than a control group that only had olive oil. Cooked, processed tomatoes contain higher levels of lycopene which improves skin’s natural SPF. (This is not a substitute for applying sunscreen every day!)

Olive Oil

Start using this as a butter substitute as soon as possible! A 2012 study in PLOS ONE found that women who consumed at least two teaspoons a day of olive oil showed 31% fewer signs of aging, compared with women who had only one teaspoon. The study also tested sunflower and peanut oils, but they paled in comparison; about 75 percent of the fat in olive oil is monounsaturated fatty acids, which may assist with a youthful appearance. Also, the antioxidant polyphenols in olive oil could fight damaging free radicals. Need more reasons? How about …

Dark Chocolate

While milk and white chocolates can cause inflammation, dark chocolate is rich in cocoa flavanols, which help hydrate skin and improve circulation. In a study, women who consumed 3.5 ounces of dark chocolate a day for 12 weeks experienced less skin roughness and scaliness. But, that’s a lot of calories. Consuming just one ounce daily can help you get the benefits without gaining weight.

Kale

Disgusting as it may be, it’s one of the best sources of lutein and zeaxanthin. These nutrients absorb and neutralize UV-created free radicals, even those that pass through sunscreen and reach your skin. Just one cup a day can give you more than 130 percent of your daily requirements for skin-firming vitamins A and C.

Orange Peel

People who eat fruit peelings (like orange peel or lemon zest) have 33 percent lower risk of squamous cell carcinoma, according to research from the University of Arizona. Peels are rich in limonene—which isn’t present in the fruits themselves—that offers UV-protective benefits.

Grass-fed Beef

Beef itself is a great source of protein, packing nearly 30 grams per 3.5 ounces, but grass-fed beef is even better because it contains a higher ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. The fatty acids reduce inflammation, while protein is the cornerstone of collagen and elastin tissue. Both collagen and elastin tissue help keep skin taut and less wrinkled. For optimum all-over health results, stick to lean cuts like sirloin and flank steak.
Rosemary

Rosemary

While it’s a great garnish, we like our Rosemary protecting our skin. A study in the International Journal of Epidemiology found that consuming four or more herbs regularly, like rosemary and thyme, was associated with a 60 percent reduced risk of melanoma. Herbs are bursting with antioxidants—and great scents—that squelch free radicals from the sun before they can damage skin.

Oysters

These slimy little sea creatures are arguably the best dietary source of zinc; just six of them provide more than 500 percent of your daily requirement (and only cost 57 calories). Zinc is essential for the growth and function of skin cells, and studies have suggested that acne sufferers have zinc deficiencies.

Eggs

Here we are with the protein again, but this time, it’s more about the fat. Or lack thereof. Eggs are a great source of protein without the fat that often accompanies it. Higher fat diets may contribute to the aging of skin, and a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a 17-gram fat intake increase also increases your chances of forming wrinkles by 28 percent.

Mackerel

This fish is one of the best sources of vitamin B12, with 270 percent of your daily requirement. A B12 deficiency can result in hyperpigmentation and vitiligo (dark and white spots, respectively). Getting enough B12 every day can help even out your skin tone.

Pomegranates

Greek mythology aside, this superfood basically has magical powers. Pomegranates are packed with polyphenol antioxidants which fight free radicals and regulate skin’s blood flow, making it appear naturally rosy. When applied to the skin, the antioxidants also moisturize and help smooth lines.

Bell Peppers

Or, really any green and yellow veggies. A study in the British Journal of Nutrition determined that people who eat up to 250 grams (one large pepper is about 190 grams) of green and yellow vegetables regularly had fewer wrinkles, especially around the eyes, than those who ate about 70 grams a day. Yellow peppers pack an extra punch because they contain carotenoids which can decrease the skin’s sensitivity to the sun.

Soy

You can thank your soy latte for your clear complexion. One cup of soy a day can reduce dark spots and fine lines, and improve skin elasticity. The minerals and proteins in soy help with the hyperpigmentation, while the aglycone can keep collagen from breaking down.

Sunflower Seeds

Baseball players may be doing more for their skin than they realize with this dugout favorite. Sunflower seeds are loaded with vitamin E to keep your skin supple and pimple-free, and protect its top layers from the sun. Sunflower seed oil is also great because its high essential-fatty-acid content helps dried out body parts like lips and heels. Vitamin E also enhances immune function, helping your body fight off the inflammation that leads to acne.

 

What are your favorite superfoods?

How I Keep My Skin Acne-free

Last week, I talked about the history of my complexion and how I’ve managed to avoid acne for most of my life. It wasn’t meant to be a humble brag, though I have been blessed to not have painful, embarrassing acne. But, I’ve mostly been able to avoid terrible breakouts with a few lifestyle changes.

Drink more.

Water, that is. Water is paramount to your skin’s health, as it refreshes and revitalizes your entire body and helps it perform its functions better. Staying properly hydrated helps your body process and clean out toxins. Often, when our kidneys are overloaded with toxins, they’ll expel them through our skin. Drinking plenty of water helps flush them out. Experts recommend drinking half an ounce of water for every pound of your body weight. So, if you weigh 130 pounds, you should be drinking 65 ounces of water every day for adequate hydration.

Take it off.

Always, always, always remove your makeup before bed. Sleeping in your makeup once in a while won’t necessarily cause a breakout, but it’s best to consistently be in the practice of taking it off first. Sleeping in your makeup can cause bacterial infections and clogged pores, making your acne worse. Wash your face after removing your makeup to ensure you get all of the concealer and foundation off. (If you’re in the market, these my absolute favorite makeup wipes are the Clean & Clear Night Relaxing Cleansing Wipes. They’re incredibly soothing and help me wind down for the evening, while getting all my makeup, including waterproof mascara.)

Baby your skin.

While acne can be exacerbated by a poor skincare regimen, it’s not caused by dirty skin. People who believe otherwise often end up over-washing their faces, or using harsh chemicals and treatments that only irritate the skin more. As important as it is to wash your face before bed and in the morning, it’s just as important to be gentle in your washing. Over-exfoliating can dry out your skin and cause “microcuts,” through which bacteria can enter and, again, worsen acne. For a gentler exfoliation than grainy scrubs, use a salicylic- or glycolic-acid cleanser. Start using one of these three times a week, alternating with your regular cleanser, and adjust depending on your skin’s reaction. Avoid getting a daily cleanser with fragrance or harsh soap. If you have dry skin, try a cleanser with shea or glycerin. If you have oily skin, try a foaming wash to help your skin feel cleaner. (For more info on how to take care of your skin, read my blog post, The Best Skincare for Your Skin Type.)


Clean your brushes.

Most women don’t clean their makeup brushes regularly or take any extra precautions to ensure their brushes and sponges are hygienic. They leave them in the bathroom, in the open air, etc. and never clean them. When you apply makeup with dirty hands, brushes or sponges, you’re transferring bacteria to your face which can clog pores and, sometimes, lead to infection. I admit it, I’m terribly about washing my brushes, too. I maybe do it once a month. I justify it in my head with the rationale that I rarely wear makeup and, when I do, I use an airbrush system. Using an airbrush system to apply your makeup means you never have to touch your face and make your acne worse. Just drop your makeup into the bowl of the stylus, pull the trigger, and let air do the application and blending work.

Check the label.

There are many chemicals and factors in the ingredients of your skincare products that can actually irritate your skin more. Check the labels of skincare products for known irritants like essential oils, citrus extracts, menthol, denatured alcohol and, obviously, anything you might be allergic to. These can cause daily irritation that only lengthens the amount of time before your skin can heal and your breakouts clear.

Check your makeup.

Oftentimes, the relationships we create between acne and makeup is a vicious cycle. We have a little breakout, so we cover it up with oily, pore-clogging (comedogenic) makeup. The makeup makes our breakout worse, so we cover it with more caked-on heavy makeup. And the cycle continues. So, break the cycle. Using a water-based, noncomdedogenic foundation provides a light (yet acne-concealing) coverage that allows your skin to breathe and, therefore, heal. Again, I use airbrush makeup, but you can find other solutions that work with your skin and lifestyle. Start by looking specifically for oil-free foundations, and go from there. You’ll want to look for “noncomedogenic” as a benefit.

4 Foods to Eat for a Killer Complexion

I’ve always been complimented on my “lovely complexion.” Because my skin tone was even, I never really had to worry about acne, and my skin naturally glowed, I never had to worry too much about making it look good.

Over the last year or so, though, my well of good complexion genes hath run dry. While I still don’t have to worry about acne other than the occasional breakout, my skin is now dull and blotchy. My body has seemed to realize that both of my parents have a ton of redness and, therefore, I should, too. Because why not?

But, because my skin has been so good for so long, I have a lifetime of habits that glorify a good complexion. I tout the value of natural beauty and I prefer to only wear makeup if I have a function to attend.

I’ve learned to keep my skin in check by knowing what skincare products to use and, most importantly, how to nourish my body. Obviously, I still love junk food (especially sugary treats), but I know the key to a good complexion (and not expanding to the size of a whale) is moderation. A week of emptying my Easter basket will send my skin into fits of rage.

All of the skincare creams and serums and washes and exfoliants in the world can’t beat the complexion that a healthy diet can give you. But, if you’re not entirely ready to trash your chips and chocolate, start small by incorporating these yummy foods into your diet.

Sunflower Seeds

Keep your skin pimple-free and prevent wrinkles by adding sunflower seeds to your yogurt, salad or basically anything that you want! Sunflower seeds are filled with vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps protect the skin from free radicals while boosting your immune system.

Carrots

Once you find out what carrots can do for your skin, you won’t want to stop eating them! We all know carrots are good for your eyes and also clearing out breakouts, but they’re also good for your skin. Carrots contain carotenoids which help give your skin more of a yellow tone, resulting in not only a healthier complexion, but also a natural glow!

Orange Fruits

With orange fruits like mangoes, peaches and apricots you get so many benefits. Not only are they super delicious and good for your health, but they’re also good for your skin! Orange fruits are filled with beta-carotene, a compound your body uses to make vitamin A. Eating a lot of these orange fruits helps to fight acne and psoriasis.

Green Tea

Green tea has a multitude of benefits for your whole body, including your skin! Green tea is very high in antioxidants, especially one named EGCG, which is proved to reduce redness and keep a healthier complexion.

 

How do you maintain a good complexion?