All women, no matter your age, race, or culture want one thing... Beautiful skin!!!  Whether you have oily, dry, or combo skin, acne prone or not, we all have our issues, things we love, things we hate about the largest organ of our body, our skin. So the basics are simple.  There are 6 things you need to do in order to have beautiful glowing skin.  It doesn't matter how many expensive creams, lotions or tinctures you use if you are not doing these 6 things every day.

  1. 6-8 hours of sleep.  I know its difficult to do, but it is essential.  Your skin actually repairs itself while you sleep.  Skin makes new collagen, while you're catching some zs, which in turn prevents wrinkles and sagging.  Blood flow to the skin is also boosted while you snooze, which means you will wake up with a nice glow.  Skimp on sleep and you will risk having a puffy-eyed, sagging, drab, dull, complexion.
  2. Drink LOTS of water, at LEAST 8 glasses (64 oz).  You want to keep skin hydrated from the inside out.  Dehydrated skin looks old and dull.  Try drinking 2 cups of rose water daily for added boost of hydration, anti-inflammatory, anti-wrinkle, calming mood enhancement.  Experiment with other additives, such as apple cider vinegar and/or fruit and veggie infused waters.
  3. Get some fresh air and exercise.  Ever notice how your skin glows after a great workout?  Well the increased blood flow gets much needed oxygen and nutrients to the skin, while eliminating waste, like free radicals that can damage the skin.  As Dr. Adebola Dele-Michael, a dermatologist at Radiant Skin Dermatology and Laser in New York City says “Sweat purges the body of toxins that can clog pores and plague the skin with pimples and blemishes.”  So there you go for another reason to exercise.
  4. Let your skin breath.  Take off your makeup EVERY night.  Even if you don't use makeup your skin needs to be cleansed, as pores can get clogged with dirt, sebum, and pollution.  So makeup free ladies, you still need to wash your skin every night before hitting that pillow.  Get a skin care routine.  I am a fan of CTM.  That stands for Cleanser, Toner and Moisturizer.  There are inexpensive natural ingredients for this process.  Make your routine simple so its not a chore.  Use ingredients that you love the feel and sent of so it seems like you are pampering yourself every night.
  5. Protect your skin from the sun (but don't over do it).  So this one can be controversial.  Many people are actually vitamin D deficient.  I know I am.  I have to take supplements to get enough of that precious vitamin that is responsible for calcium absorption, bone health, helps immune system regulation, and playing major roles in the life cycle of human cells.  Our bodies make Vit D when we get enough exposure to the sun, which many people do not get.  Also, if you have darker skin, like most people of African descent our skin doesn't absorb as much sunlight as lighter hued people.  So depending on how dark your skin is will determine how much sun exposure to get.  Midday (noonish) is the best time to get out in the sun without sunblock.  How long you stay in the sun is determined by your melanin content.  You'll have to figure that out for yourself.  Exposure time could be anywhere from 10 mins to 3 hours (I know that seems like a long time, but really dark skinned people have even more of a natural sunblock built into their skin called melanin, which is like a double edged sword. Their skin absorbs the sun’s UV rays to defend against sunburn and skin cancers, but also prevents vitamin D production.)  If its too difficult for you to do this on a regular basis (like you live in Boston and are supposed to stay out of the sun due to lupus) then vitamin D supplements are the way to go.  As for the sunblock, use it when you know you are going to have prolonged exposure to the sun and/or you are very fair-skinned.  Also make sure to read the label of your sunblock; there can be some nasty stuff in there.  You can make your own sunblock.  I'll post a recipe or two.
  6. Eat your fruit and veggies. (And avoid processed foods).  Diet is so important to your health and your skin is a reflection of that health.  Some foods that are particularly great for skin include watermelon, matcha green tea, carrots, avocados, olives, walnuts, oranges, kale, almonds, sunflower oil, peppers, berries, broccoli, DARK chocolate (over 70% cacao), pomegranates, kidney beans.  On the flip side these are the foods to avoid, limit, or eliminate completely alcohol, anything fried, cheese, coffee, cold cuts, doughnuts, fruit juices, gluten, dairy, pasta, pizza, soda, trans fats, whey protein.  If you do nothing else, eating healthy will have a huge impact on the health and appearance of your skin.

If you can do these things on the regular then you will be well on your way to glowing skin.  Now some women have health issues that negatively affect their skin.  If you are one of these women I do encourage you to still do the 6 things above, but you may also need to followup with doctors and nutritionists to get your issues under control.  The thing that has helped me the most with my acne prone, lupus affected skin is diet and nutrition.  Remember nothing is going to work instantly or all the time.  You need to be patient and give your skin time to heal/adjust to a new routine or diet. Now as far as hormonal skin, that's a whole other issue that I will address in another post.  Many women suffer from acne due to our fluctuating or unbalanced hormones.  Good news is there are things you can do naturally to help get those hormones in check to minimize breakouts.