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 Make Any Meal Instantly Healthier

As much as I know about eating healthy, I know even more about eating junk food. I didn’t start truly paying attention to the foods I ate and how they affected my body until I was about 22 or 23 (roughly five or six years ago).

Before that (and maybe a bit after that, too), I had a lifetime of eating pizza, burgers, quick-fix meals and everything else you’d expect to see in Peter Griffin’s home, never giving a second thought to the fact that my choices were expanding my waistline, decorating my face with little red dots and shortening my years on this planet.

But, whether you’re in the same place I was in 2012, or where I hope to be in another five years, there are certain things you can do to make any meal healthier. Some are simple changes you probably already know — use olive oil instead of butter, swap out white grains for whole grains, substitute turkey for beef — and some you and I have never thought of.

Thankfully, these few I have heard of and use as often as I can. So, without further adieu, here are four superfoods you can add to any meal to make it healthier.

Avocado – Long avoided for its high fat content, and currently lauded as a millennial luxury, the rational among us can appreciate avocado for what it is: a yummy, healthy source of good fats. This hipster favorite is loaded with fiber, potassium, magnesium and monounsaturated fats. You can easily add diced avocado to some pico de gallo for a quick, healthy guac alternative, and even add it to pancake batter for a thick, creamy carb replacement.

Turmeric  – I’ll never forget a retired LSU professor telling me about his colleague’s research that showed turmeric not only slowed the effects of Alzheimer’s disease, but actually reversed them. It also has shown that it can slow the growth of certain types of cancer, specifically colon, and may fend off viral infections. Incorporate it into your diet by mixing a little in your oatmeal, or add a pinch to your daily lemon water.

Matcha – I’ll admit, matcha is an acquired taste, but one that’s well worth acquiring. It’s more potent than average green tea (because you’re ingesting the entire tea leaf) and, therefore, packs a powerful punch of antioxidants. It has been tied to possibly protecting against heart disease and some cancers; lower cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure; as well as aid in weight loss and slow the growth of breast cancer cells. The most common way to consume matcha is in a tea, but you can also add the powder to eggs, soup, guac and whatever else you’d like. I’ve even had some delicious matcha cookies!

Ginger – There is nothing like a glass of ginger ale to calm my upset tummy, but this best friend of sushi is also used to fight osteoarthritis because it as amazing anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have also shown that eating a small dose of dried ginger in the morning increased fat burning for 13.5 percent for two hours. Get your ginger in by adding it to stir-fry, eggs, fruit salad, or, really any dish.

What’s your go-to healthy add-in?

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.

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?

How to Get Better Skin in 5 Easy Steps

I’ve never been the makeup kind of girl. Every time I try to get really into it, I make a trip to Sephora, use my new toy once or twice, then I’m done. My makeup routines are usually reserved for days that my red skin is especially active, I’m having a breakout, or, for whatever reason, my skin looks dull.

What I do get obsessed with, though, is skincare.

I love taking care of my skin so that I can keep going makeup-free. But, still, I’m not one for long routines. I’m not going to have 10-step skincare regimen I have to do every morning and night. I prefer to take care of my skin with my lifestyle.

Way too many people forget all the factors that can have an impact on their skin. I’ve had so many friends blame genetics or the luck of the draw, then tell me al of the overpriced products they use to make their skin somewhat decent look.

Granted, genetics do play a big part. For example I get the redness in my cheeks from both sides of my family. But, I also get it from being overweight and working in a very stressful environment.  Pollution, diet, sunlight, age and so many other factors play into your skin’s radiance, as well. The good news? You can’t control genetics, but you can control your environment and your lifestyle in order to take control of your skin’s health.

  1. Get More Water – This one is huge. Adequate hydration not only helps your body function better, but also helps you look younger. When you’re dehydrated, your body will use water from wherever it can get it, including your skin. When your skin starts to lose water, fine lines, wrinkles and other “blemishes” are exaggerated, making you look older. I try to drink a gallon of water a day, but a good rule of thumb is to drink half your weight in ounces. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should drink 75 ounces of water each and every day. If you’d like an extra kick in the metabolism, try drinking lemon water first thing in the morning.
  2. Catch Your Zzzz’s – Your skin’s repair mechanisms are hard at work while you’re fast asleep. Bedtime is when your proteins and melatonin are produced, and when other anti-aging activity occurs. Skin conditions and irritations are exacerbated when you’re sleep-deprived; that tired state can also accelerate skin aging, and cause breakouts as more adrenaline and cortisol are released. Sufficient sleep (7-8 hours) gives your body its best chance for optimal skin performance.Conture Green Tea
  3. Go Green – Green tea has anti-inflammatory properties that can be soothing to red or blotchy skin. Try to drink it cold, because hot beverages can worsen redness and other imperfections. In addition to soothing unevenness, the epigallocatechin gallate in green tea may help prevent the collagen destruction that leads to wrinkles, lines and discoloration. Try replacing your morning joe with some morning green.
  4. Protect Yourself – While you may put on sunscreen every time you head outdoors, did you know that UV rays can penetrate your windows? So, even if you’re safe inside, your skin could still be at risk of wrinkling and brown spots. Whether the windows are in your home, office or car—studies have shown higher rates of skin cancer on the left side of the face and upper body than the right—you’re at risk. Always be sure to apply sunscreen to your face and neck, and any other areas that are exposed, every morning to protect yourself whether or not you leave the house.
  5. Stress Less – I totally get it. Stress can’t be avoided. Between your boss, your kids, your spouse and everything else in your life, stress happens. But, how you deal with that stress has a huge impact on your overall health, and your skin in particular. Stress increases your production of hormones, like cortisol, that cause breakouts by making your skin oilier and less able to fight off acne-causing bacteria. Stress also impacts your sleep patterns, eating habits (Just say no to the brownie!) and mental acuity. Find a way to deal with your stress that works for you: meditation and yoga can help you recenter and find balance, whereas more active exercise like cross-training or running can help you get out your frustrations. Added benefits of these activities: reduction of skin conditions such as acne and psoriasis.

What do you do to take care of your skin?