When we think "spring cleaning" we typically think about de-cluttering and organizing our living and work spaces or purging unnecessary clothing from our wardrobes. But there's much to be said about spring cleaning your beauty routine and abandoning toxic ingredients (both topical and ingested) that unknowingly may be causing damage, even well below the skin's surface.
I used to think that St. Ive's Apricot Scrub was the be-all end-all to exfoliating face washes that got me through on a college gal's budget, but once I started investing more time researching and educating myself on the ingredients that were in my products (not just in my morning smoothie bowl), I began to understand that what we put on our skin is equally important. The general rule of thumb is that if you can't pronounce it, then it's best to leave it be.
Since I am not shy about sharing my love of a good product or two (see last year's feature here), I've rounded up a few of my recent favorite products and recipes that will help nourish your skin from the inside out, sans any accompanying toxins.
When it comes to skincare products, start with the basics. For me, that includes things like face washes and exfoliants since they are used the most often and impact a part of our skin that tends to take the most brutal blow (from breakouts to environmental stress, dehydration and so forth). From there, your next layer of essentials become things like facial serums and toning mists. The goal is to try to keep your routine simple and use the least amount of products with the most potent, cleansing effects.
Earth Tu Face is a purely plant-based line of skincare discovered by two herbalists in California. The Palma Rosa + Aloe Face Wash is a gentle soap made with organic oils. Vitamin E and olive oil replenish and refresh while palma rosa and ylang ylang balance both oily and dry skin types. Not to mention that aloe does wonders for hydrating and healing the skin.
The Exfoliant Powder Mask is a smoothing formula made with bentonite clay, oats, and home-grown flower petals to smooth and soften skin. It's gentle enough to use daily as an exfoliating mask that helps to relieve dry/itchy patches and help protect the surface of the skin.
Once you have the basic cleansing routine down, it's time to find those extra little products to sprinkle in when you find it necessary. For me, it's a serum that I pat all over my face immediately after showering. Aside from how much I absolutely love Maven Made's facial serum, I recently discovered Balm & Co's Glow Serum to throw into the mix. It's great for combination skin and contains the following ingredients:
Tamanu Oil - ability to heal damaged skin and can help fade dark spots and acne scars.
Rosehip Oil - fights against dry, weathered, and dehydrated skin.
Lavender Essential Oil - can inhibit bacteria that causes skin infection. it also helps to rebalance and reduce scarring.
Eucalyptus - an antiviral and anti-inflammatory agent.
(P.S. Balm & Co is the company that make my absolute favorite Matcha Mint Lip Balm! See all of their balm choices here.)
For soothing spot treatment, or all over cleansing, I've recently latched on to Little Barn Apothecary's Simple Toning Water. Simple ingredients include ylang ylang (antibacterial), apple cider vinegar (PH balancing), witch hazel (spot and blemish control), purified water and organic calendula petals (reduces inflammation). Just squeeze a few drops on a cotton round and swipe over your face and voila! Instant detoxifying and soothing effects.
Beyond your face, it's time to slough off that dead winter skin by taking time for extra exfoliation in the shower. Midnight Collective has these insanely amazing botanical soaps that are made from a base consisting of organic coconut oil, rice bran oil, fair-trade shea butter, and mineral water. They're infused with natural clays and salts, organic and wildcrafted botanicals, cruelty-free Tussah silk, pure essential oils, and Pacific Northwest flower essences. Now what doesn't sound more amazing for your skin than that? Varieties include Pink Clay & Sea Salt, Indigo & Rosemary, Cedarwood & Moss and Wild Mint & Fern. Choose your fancy and suds right on up.
Additionally, they have a line of rich soaking salts to help draw out toxins while you bathe away. Hibiscus & Blood Orange, Cedarwood & Red Clover and Spanish Lemon & Vanilla, to be exact.
Ingredient & Recipe Spotlight
Beyond topical products, the types of ingredients that you put in your body have a direct impact on the condition of your skin as well. Of course there are several other factors, many of which may be out of our control, but cleaning up your diet is one of the best things that you can do for yourself and your overall wellbeing.
When I began sipping this Cool Weather Beauty Smoothie during harsh NYC winters, within a week I began to notice more hydrated, supple skin and improved digestion (thanks to the coconut oil). And once I pinpointed that it was dairy that was causing me to have crippling stomach pains, completely removing it from my diet has certainly helped to clear up my skin as well. By making the conscious decision to exclude meat and dairy from my diet, I wanted to shift what many define as a "lack" in my eating habits to a focus on the addition of more (and better) clean ingredients. They simply just make me feel better.
Because of this shift, it opened me up to new ingredients that two years ago I likely would have looked past with the blink of an eye. Bee pollen? Maca? Are we still even speaking the same language? Trying them was a part of my experimental process, and they're now just a few staples that I use very regularly in things like my morning smoothies.
Taking on the look of bright yellow sprinkles, bee pollen contains high levels of Vitamin B that helps to combat acne and wrinkles. Not only that, but it's alkaline dense and full of antioxidants, essential amino acids and proteins. "A potent aphrodisiac, blood nourisher and muscle food, bee pollen supports fertility and stamina, muscle growth and definition, and recovery from exercise." I certainly think that Queen Bey would approve, don't you?
I've talked about maca plenty before, but I imagine it's something that people are still coming around to. It helps that it takes on a rich, caramel-like flavor, which is why it's so, so good in simple morning smoothies. In circumstances where acne is related to an imbalance of hormones, maca can lend its hand in improving problem acne because it's in a natural hormone balancer. Aside from the potential of improved skin, it helps to elevate your mood, provide abundant energy and an enhanced libido.
Do I really need to continue to share my love for avocados? I think it's apparent enough, but they always find their perfect place in many of my posts. Like coconut oil, healthy fats from avocados are essential if you're looking for better complexion. They're also high in Vitamin E, which protects the skin from cell damage and supports healthy skin growth. There are several DIY recipes out there for face masks that call for mashed avocado, but why "waste" such an amazing food when savoring it does even better things for your overall health? Instead of an apple a day, perhaps the more common day approach is an avocado a day.
The skin also reaps benefits from raw nuts and seeds like almonds and pumpkin seeds, however cashews get a special spotlight here. They're particularly rich in copper, which contains enzymes that enhance the pigment of your skin. Copper also helps in preventing free radicals, therefore helping to rejuvenate the skin. (Psst. They're also great at fighting PMS, ladies.)
Berries in general fall under the "glow foods" category since they're filled to the brim with potent antioxidants that fight free radicals (i.e. wrinkles) in addition to being anti-inflammatory (acne fighting). In particular, aim to have a good mix of goji berries, blueberries and raspberries on hand. They're excellent in spring and summer salads, as a topping for homemade granola with almond milk and of course, blended in or sprinkled on smoothie bowls.
And this is the fun and delicious part where we get to see how all of these ingredients come to life in a few gorgeous, easy recipe creations that you can truly feel good about. So while you wait around for that exfoliant mask to seep into your pores and work its magic, put that blender to good use and have yourself a nourishing beauty bowl...or two.
I can't get over how beautiful and nourishing McKel Hill of Nutrition Stripped's Frozen Berries with Pink Cashew Cream looks. She refers to it as a dessert, but you can certainly call this breakfast. Better yet, it can be made in less than 10 minutes with less than 10 ingredients! Skin nourishing ingredients used here include raspberries, blueberries, goji berries and cashews.
Avocado masks itself in this recipe for Matcha Green Tea Soft Serve. There's no need for morning coffee when you can enjoy this energizing, healthy fat-filled bowl of goodness. I made a similar kind the other day with fresh mint leaves, giving it a nice, cooling effect that when sprinkled with some cocoa nibs, would almost taste like mint chocolate chip ice cream. I did not have cocoa nibs, so sprinkled with bee pollen. Still amazing, check out the recipe here on Instagram.
And you sort of have to wonder what isn't included in this AMAZING Yoga Recovery Smoothie Bowl from Renee Byrd of Will Frolic For Food. I actually did blend it together the other night after my evening run (not yoga, but still) and the bowl was clean in less than 15 minutes. Skin nourishing ingredients used in this genius creation include blueberries, avocado, bee pollen and goji berries.
Make sure you follow her here on Instagram to ensure that your feed will be filled with her dreamy looking creations.
And for more nourishing goodness and recipe inspiration, be sure to follow my Eat Well board on Pinterest.
Nourish & be well,