4 Tips for a Clear Complexion
September 26th, 2019
Which sounds better: covering up your acne, dark circles, and dry skin with chemical-laden lotions and makeup, or having naturally clear skin by healing it from the inside out?
Your skin is the largest organ in the body. It’s your barrier to the outside world. When you’re putting toxic substances such as caffeine, sugar, alcohol, and processed food into it, your body is going to detox by pushing those chemicals out through the skin. That “self-cleaning” often manifests on your skin as dark circles, rashes, and acne.
Luckily, I have four tips to help you navigate skincare and step-up your skincare routine to optimize all aspects of your health!
1. Diet Matters
If you are eating a diet filled with real whole foods like organic vegetables, fruits, and pasture-raised meats but have yet to see your complexion clear up, it’s possible that you have some underlying food sensitivities. Eating inflammatory foods such as gluten, dairy, corn, and soy if you are sensitive to them can be a stress to your system. Your body responds to this stress by releasing the hormone cortisol. Too much cortisol causes weight gain, poor sleep, and, you guessed it: acne.
Hormonal imbalances are one of the largest factors in acne development. It’s why acne is more common during puberty. Fluctuations in hormone levels can also happen if you’re eating non-organic, GMO meat or dairy products as they often contain added growth hormones. Always look for 100% USDA certified organic, grass-fed and pasture-raised on the label.
2. Your Gut Is the Gateway to Health
The goings-on in your gut have big implications for the rest of your body. A poorly functioning intestinal tract puts you at risk for chronic health problems such as autoimmune diseases, diabetes, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, eczema, rosacea, and mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. You must heal your gut to heal the rest of your body, including your skin.
In Functional Medicine, we use an approach called the 4R program. Simultaneously, you:
- Remove the bad. This includes inflammatory foods, yeast and bacterial overgrowth, parasites, and other irritants.
- Replace what’s missing. digestive enzymes, HCL, and other components for good digestion that may have been depleted.
- Reinoculate by adding beneficial bacteria back into your system.
- Repair your gut lining by supplementing with nutrients to promote healing.
For a more detailed description of the 4R program, see my article here.
3. You Are What You Apply
To your skin, that is! Just as “you are what you eat,” you are what you put on your body. Your skin has a very large surface area making it great for absorption. That’s why certain medications are administered as creams and gels. This also means however, that you can absorb toxic chemicals from beauty and personal care products into your bloodstream where they can wreak havoc on your hormones.
According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the average American uses approximately 10-15 personal care products with a total of 126 different ingredients daily. Parabens and phthalates, which are found in almost all hair care products, lotions, and skin care items, are estrogen mimickers. That means that though they do not contain actual estrogen, your hormone system believes they are estrogens and acts accordingly. Once again, hormonal imbalances are to blame for blemishes, and other, bigger problems, such as early puberty and reproductive difficulty.
Check the ingredients in your personal care products using the EWG’s cosmetics database, “Skin Deep,” and replace any offending products with paraben-free and phthalate-free alternatives. If the idea of replacing everything at once is too overwhelming or cost prohibitive, set a goal of replacing one item per week or month until you have replaced everything.
4. Relax and Get Your Beauty Sleep
Stress is your skin’s worst enemy. By now you know that stress causes hormonal imbalances that negatively affect your complexion. During sleep, your body is working to repair damaged tissue and soothe inflammation. If you have acne or other skin problems, good, restorative sleep is essential for healing.
The natural cycle of your hormones throughout the day is governed by your circadian rhythm, or 24 hour sleep cycle. Insufficient or poor-quality sleep raises your cortisol levels just like stress. Aim for about 8-9 hours of sleep each night. That’s the amount that most people are going to need, but you can find your ideal number by seeing when you wake naturally without an alarm.
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