What Does it REALLY Take to Get Good Skin? My Skin Care Basics Guide!

What Does it REALLY Take to Get Good Skin? My Skin Care Basics Guide!

I had mentioned on my instagram account a while back that I would talk about my story with skin care. Most of us at some point in our lives have some type of skin care concern — whether it be acne, wrinkles, sagging skin, hyper-pigmentation, and so on. That’s when skin care starts to become more important for us.

I actually went from a person who in my teens didn’t understand why people even had a separate cleanser for the face to someone who now has a multi-step routine for both morning and night.

It was all because at age 32 (which was two years ago now), I started seeing visible signs of aging on my face and I actually freaked out because I didn’t expect it. This caused me a ridiculous amount of stress, mostly due to my tendency towards anxiety more than anything else. I literally thought I was aging way too rapidly and that by 35 I’d look 60.

I also ended up going down a path of trying a ton of different products and routines, which is why I’m writing this blog post now.

That being said, this is a HUGE topic. So as to not make this a ultra-gigantic blog post, I’m going to highlight some of the most important things to know about skin care and also get a little more specific with aging. I may write a separate post about acne later as well.

In this post I’ll be recommending some products to you that worked for me, so I’ll tell you a little bit about my skin to see if my product recommendations might actually help you.

My skin: I have neither oily nor dry skin, it is fair and prone to sun spots, and I have developed fine lines under my eyes along with crepe-y skin in that area. My face overall has also lost some volume and I can see that it’s a little more “saggy” than it used to be (though not to a point where it would be noticeable to others yet).

Tip #1 — Know that you need more than cleansers and creams to maintain the health of your skin.

I still see a lot of people really getting into different skin care cleansers and creams. There’s nothing wrong with this, but like exercise, you need consistency and a multi-factor approach to keeping your skin looking its best.

For example, if you wanted your whole body to become muscular, you wouldn’t just keep doing pull-ups nonstop and expect your whole body to change, would you?

That might be a silly analogy, but it kinda works. I’ll get into what else you need to do in the following tips. But first, here are some of my favorite cleansers (after using a ton of them):

  • My #1 favorite — GLAMGLOW SUPERCLEANSE™ Clearing Cream-to-Foam Cleanser. This one really feels like a super thorough cleanse and uses charcoals, which is a bonus.
  • My #2 favorite — Murad’s Renewing Cleansing Cream. This one feels super moisturizing for a cleanser, so it’s great for drier skin!
  • Oil cleansers (which I use on my skin for hydration before applying a second cleanser) — DHC Deep Cleansing Oil®. Applying oils like olive oil, almond oil, rose hip seed oil, or jojoba oil can make a HUGE difference and is essential for all skin types. Does not make your skin oily, but rather soft and more moisturized. I don’t go without it!
  • And my most favorite cleansing oil is from Origins: their Clean Energy™ Gentle Cleansing Oil.

Exfoliation

Proper and regular exfoliation is also necessary in order to keep your pores clean and improve the texture of your skin. I didn’t used to exfoliate regularly until the few times I went into the medical spa and they told me that my pores were a big clogged on my cheeks and that I had some product buildup on my skin. This was a result of not exfoliating enough.

There is a daily less-involved exfoliation you’ll want to do, and occasionally a deeper exfoliation if you choose. You’ll want to be careful with deep exfoliation if you have sensitive skin.

Here are some exfoliation products I have used and I love:

Tip #2 — HYDRATION 

Normal vs. Dry Skin

This is huge for your skin. Don’t skimp on the water every day and make sure your skin stays hydrated. Older people (like 55+, or potentially even younger) usually have more trouble keeping their skin moisturized, so they often require thicker/heavier moisturizers and will likely need to moisturize multiple times per day.

I use this lavender toning mist to keep my skin hydrated throughout the day, and I live in a relatively humid climate. If I were living in the incredibly dry climate of Arizona still, I’d likely use moisturizer multiple times per day instead.

I also use this Hyaluronic Acid serum by Radha Beauty after I wash my face. Skin care products with hyaluronic acid is a molecule that actually already exists in our bodies. It basically will grab onto moisture so that your skin absorbs it and it makes it easier for your skin to stay hydrated and firm. This also makes it a great thing to use for older people who have a harder time keeping their skin hydrated.

Chronic dehydration can actually cause wrinkles to appear or be more pronounced.

Tip #3 — Use a Moisturizer with Sunscreen

A couple years ago I went to the dermatologist who told me I should wear sunscreen every day. Not just for aging, but also because I’m prone to moles and freckles. I have tons of them. Ever since I have been vigilant about keeping sunscreen both on my face and my body. As you probably already know, UV rays from the sun are a quick way to get wrinkles and sun spots. Also, please don’t expose your body to tanning beds! It’s not worth it!

I’ve been pretty picky about my face sunscreens because having a moisturizer with sunscreen can make it more likely to smell funny or have a thick or sticky texture.

Here’s one of my favorite sunscreens for the face, albeit a bit pricey (note, you might be able to find it cheaper on other sites, so look around): Murad Resurgence Age Balancing Moisture

Murad also has an anti-aging sunscreen that I’d like to try and has even better reviews than the Age Balancing Moisturizer. But I think the one linked above is a fantastic option if you’re around my age and have neither dry nor oily skin.

I’ve also recently purchased SuperGoop’s Everyday Sunscreen due to positive reviews, and so far am liking the light-weight barely-there application. My only comment is that it may not be moisturizing enough for some people with drier skin.

Tip #4 — Vitamins A, C & E

Vitamin C for the skin

Vitamin A (which is retinol) is primarily for stimulating healthy cell reproduction. You might see it often as it is usually the main star of many anti-aging and acne products today (Retin-A being one of them). The reason for this is that it thickens the layer of our skin where collagen, elastin and blood vessels are, so it can slow down the breaking down of these as we age.

Vitamin C is a big player in the skin care game because there are multiple things it helps with. It’s hugely effective and worth implementing into your skin care routine.

There are many different forms of Vitamin C that are shown to be beneficial, but the one usually hailed as the best is ascorbic acid. Vitamin C helps your skin stay hydrated, helps prevent sun spots and general damage from the environment due to its antioxidant properties.

Check out Paula’s Choice Skincare on Vitamin C for more great info, as they really do their research!

Vitamin E is another classic antioxidant for skin care that can keep your skin from appearing dull and protecting it from environmental damage. Our skin actually already has vitamin E, but over time, from sun damage and natural aging processes, the skin’s Vitamin E decreases which in turn makes it harder for our skin to retain its youthful appearance.

You can apply Vitamin E topically to the skin; you don’t have to take a supplement. Try looking for face masks that have Vitamin E in them!

Tip #5 — Derma-Rolling, Facials, and Chemical Peels

Derma RollingDerma Rolling

My skin wouldn’t be in the state it’s in today without derma rollers and chemical peels. However, if I were to pick one of them, honestly I’d say go with the derma roller.

Derma rolling in general is fantastic for both acne scars and aging. It works by creating micro-tears in the skin which stimulates its the skin to repair itself by generating collagen and elastin.

You can get this done in a medical spa through a procedure called micro-needling, which may likely be the best route to go for acne scars. I haven’t tried this, though I know it’s a more involved and painful procedure than if you do it at home.

Don’t use derma rolling if you have active acne. If you have any other skin conditions, you may want to consult a doctor before using.

You’ll also want to do your research on what derma roller to use at home. Be sure to get one from a reputable company. If using it on your face, it’s recommended not use a derma roller with a blade longer than .50mm, and use only .25mm or below around the delicate skin of your eyes. Then, you’ll need to disinfect it with 70% rubbing alcohol or higher every time after use.

My favorite one so far has been Stacked Skincare’s Micro-Roller. Their high-quality and highly-reviewed roller has definitely improved my skin, and they have all the instructions on their site for use.

In general, Stacked Skincare’s beauty tools are fantastic, so check them out if interested.

Facials

I always underestimated facials until I went into a medical spa and got one a few months ago. Most of the time my facials have been kind-of “whatever” — they were certainly great experiences but didn’t feel necessary. However my most recent one was a total game changer. Maybe the difference was going to specifically a medical spa that offered a myriad of services focused on the skin, rather than just any old spa.

They didn’t have a large selection of facials to choose from; rather, I just went in and they did one based on what they thought my skin needed. They removed all my blackheads prior to the facial and my skin honestly has never looked better since.

Chemical Peels

I’m a huge advocate of chemical peels, but this is one that I don’t think is really necessary to get regularly for anti-aging. This might be different for serious acne concerns.

My word of advice on these if you’ve never gotten one is to start with a weaker peel. Don’t go right into a strong peel such as the VI Peel like I almost did, for example, when you aren’t sure how your skin is going to react. Especially if you are at a new skin care place and aren’t sure how good they are to work with.

After my first chemical peel (a pomegranate peel) which is supposed to be a mild one, I broke out like I had never before in my life. They told me it was your skin’s process of purging what’s underneath the surface. The second time I went back for the peel, I didn’t break out hardly at all afterwards, but my skin was much more sensitive than it’s ever been for like months after the peel.

So, just be careful with peels unless you’re confident it will really help with your skin care concerns and have done your research.

Final Notes and Useful Links

In reality, I could write so much more on skin care than is even presented in this post, but I wanted to get some of the basics out of the way.

The bottom line is: Drink tons of water, exercise, take Vitamins A,C, and E or use topically, wash your face twice per day and use a cleansing oil before your actual cleanser at least once per day for moisture. Keep a focus on moisturizing your skin always, and use sunscreen!

Super informative links for skin care that have helped me:

Annie Jaffrey’s Morning Skin Care Routine – Annie is a Youtube vlogger who has sensitive skin and has battled many of her own acne issues as well. Now as you’ll see, her skin is perfect! See what she does to maintain her beautiful skin in these videos.

Annie Jaffrey’s Evening Skin Care Routine

Reddit’s Korean Beauty Subreddit – for some of the best recommendations on targeting specific problems, skin care routines, and products. Korean skin care seems to be way ahead!

I hope that even if you’re already a well-researched skin care enthusiast, that you may have gotten something out of this post! My next plan for a post is to really target more specific issues and solutions that I’ve learned about in hopes that it may further help those struggling with their skin.

Be sure to leave a comment below with any feedback!

What Taking Care of My Dad In His Last Months Taught Me…

What Taking Care of My Dad In His Last Months Taught Me…

Helping ElderlyMy dad died this year (2017), on March 20th at age 71. Just a few months beforehand, my best friend and I saw him at Christmas and had been actively convincing him to go to the hospital due to his massive ascites (fluid buildup in the abdomen). His abdomen was gigantic and he could barely move. He had had essentially a lifetime of heavy drinking and smoking, so we thought that likely had to do with it.

It was clear that when we saw him at Christmas he was scared, because right after greeting him he immediately began talking about his symptoms with my best friend, who is a medical student. She had guessed that many of the major symptoms he was experiencing were due to liver failure, and she ended up being correct. However neither of us felt he was in the late stages of anything.

In January, he finally went to the hospital. It took him a long time to get himself there because he hated doctors and hospitals. I knew it wasn’t going to be good, but I didn’t expect that he would be dead just two months later. He didn’t tell anyone what hospital he had gone to, so when I didn’t hear from him a few days later, I called every hospital in the state asking if they had him there. I finally found him, and had learned that he had had TWO heart attacks in the hospital and was in the ICU.

I freaked out. So much was going through my head at this time. I didn’t yet know what kind of condition this had left my dad in exactly, and what kinds of problems would be permanent vs. fixable. Additionally, my dad didn’t have a good relationship with many members of the family, and he was also often too stubborn to reach out and make amends (as many people can be). I began to realize that if he needed care, I would likely end up being the primary person to care for him.

And I’ll be honest — the idea of this was daunting. I was 32 years old, full-time job, not living in the state, not having tons of money…and even if it wasn’t said, I initially got the feeling that instead of people offering to help, they were pushing me to do everything on my own and didn’t want to be involved for various reasons.

I flew down to where he lived as soon as I could to see him. The minute I saw him, I could barely hold back the tears. At Christmas he had he looked as he always did, despite the ascites. There in the hospital, he looked like he had aged 20+ years. Literally. He looked about 95 years old. He was frail and his eyes seemed to be bulging out of his head. He was sound of mind, yet somehow also much more vague than usual.

However at that moment, any overwhelm, fear, hesitance, whatever else it might be, was overridden by the glaring fact that my father was in an extremely vulnerable situation, essentially alone. Nothing else mattered. He desperately needed help. How was he going to function on his own?

I talked to one of his doctors who told me everything about his condition. He had multiple organs failing, they said he had a few weeks to a few months to live, and he was on a number of medications (primarily diuretics). The doctor mentioned to me afterwards, “this is really a lot to be on your plate at 32 years old.” I nodded in agreement. After that point in time I was continued to be repeatedly asked by doctors, nurses, hospice team members, and so on, “There really isn’t anyone else who is going to be helping you?” I shrugged. I wasn’t sure. All I knew was that if I were going back home at any point soon in the future, I’d have to have a caregiver to take my place. How was I going to afford that?

Luckily, I was able to stay in the state and care for him in his last months as best I could, while juggling full-time work and trying to make it work with little money. It was definitely difficult. But during and after the experience, you see the sweetness in it, you learn things, you grow immensely from the experience, and best of all, you become thankful for it.

In an attempt to paint a picture of what it was like, here are the major things I learned and experienced…

  • These types of experiences show you people’s true colors, and what people are really made of. Because it is literally, a life or death experience. You will see who is able to put things behind them and step up to the plate to help, and who isn’t.
  • While the above can be some cause for disappointment, it was also incredible to see who did step up to the plate that I never imagined would. Friends messaging me asking if there’s any way they could help, that they would do anything. People who offered to help me clean his house, to help me cook meals, who gave me rides and lent me transportation. It was truly incredible. My cousin was a godsend; he helped me many-a-time on a whim when my dad had had a fall or some other emergency. I am forever thankful for that because without them, it would have been infinitely harder.
  • I learned the true nature of hospice teams — when to use them and when not to, as well as the confusion in what part they serve. They are actually fairly limited in what they can do. They are there to make the end comfortable and can easily get you medications you need and offer nurse visits once or twice per week. If you need someone to help care for your loved one, they need a separate caregiver, or two, or three. I tried to get a nurse or even an aide from the hospice team to come visit my father at his home more often, such as 4-5 days per week at least even just to have an extra person to check on him for a few minutes. They told us they couldn’t approve that (sometimes they can!) because he wasn’t “actively dying.” I said what, then, qualifies as actively dying? How do you measure that? In fact, after I had that conversation with them, he ended up dying a couple weeks later. This frustrated me.
  • I learned about how to make a house accessible for those who are handicapped. Some of the equipment you can buy, and modifications you can make on your own.
  • You learn that you have to really envision their situation in order to understand their world in specific ways. What exactly might happen when they try to walk to the bathroom? Do they need grab bars on the walls? What pathway will they use? Are there things in the way to try to get to it? Do they have pain when they try to sit down to use the toilet? How can they get into the shower, if they have some of their own mobility? Where are the hazards and what in the house has to be altered? Who can they contact if there is an emergency and no one is home, and how are they going to do it if they can’t get to the phone?
  • You will sometimes come across people in the medical/health profession who can seem insensitive to someone’s suffering (i.e. little empathy) just because they have no personal connection to them. They are just another patient, and the professional is just doing their job. Lack of empathy is a common problem and I don’t mean to pass blame, but it can be frustrating when you’re in such a difficult situation and you don’t feel they are truly empathetic towards it.
  • You witness many people’s attitudes towards the elderly in this country — especially in places like rehab or assisted living centers. You witness how some places really just are places for people to go and die, that elderly/handicapped people are sometimes not seen as people that have any life left, but just a set of problems — in my dad’s words. It’s very unfortunately true, and something that really needs to somehow be worked on and changed.
  • Then at other times, you might come across those in the medical profession who are incredibly empathetic and go the extra mile to help when they see such a vulnerable situation, and those people are were like angels to me at that time. They might not realize how much their efforts are appreciated.
  • You learn what it feels like to be completely focused on someone else’s life, someone who is very reliant on you. Similar I imagine to those who have kids. I couldn’t go out to dinner or do anything fun without my mind being completely occupied with thoughts on how he was doing, if he was okay, if he had fallen, and so on.
  • Every time I got a phone call from him while working my heart would drop with stress, wondering if there was an emergency or a problem; and every morning upon waking up I would immediately have another surge of stress, wondering if he had been okay through the night.
  • I learned an insane amount about Medicare, Medicaid, Rehab centers, assisted living centers, home care assistance programs, who qualifies for Veterans benefits and how they work.
  • I learned about what equipment you can get covered through Medicare and delivered straight to their own home. My dad’s hospital bed with a trapeze was a life saver and allowed him to get out of bed on his own.
  • I learned that you can call the fire department when someone falls and just tell them you need lifting assistance, but no transportation to the hospital, and they are awesome and very helpful (we had to do this about 6 times).
  • I learned what it feels like to have to be the strong one even while you’re dying a little inside at any given moment, or witnessing things that just wrench your heart out.
  • Funerals are expensive.

Then, the scenario after your loved one dies is a whole other story and process of learning. It’s insane. I told my friend if you are a child and your parents did not leave a will, there should be an entire manual written about rules on what you should or should not do…with the house, with their bills, learning about the probate process (which is a process that often happens when a will is not present, and thus the parent’s belongings are split up among heirs equally by the courts), when probate is needed and when it’s not, etc. I mean really. There needs to be more education on this, because there is so much about the way things SHOULD be done and it feels like you are expected to just know. If you are nearing or are in this situation, please educate yourself on this matter. It becomes pretty important. But this is a topic for a whole new blog post.

I hope if anything you took something away from this article, but the most important point I can make is that in the end, it is a wonderful experience, and despite the difficult times, I look back on it and feel it was a privilege and a relief to know that my father was able to feel cared for in his last months on this earth. And that’s all that matters. It’s all I could have asked for.

A Faster Metabolism At Any Age

A Faster Metabolism At Any Age

Although genetics and age play roles in your metabolism, recent studies are showing that you actually have more say than you might think in how well your metabolism functions. In fact, you can all but negate the metabolic slowdown that happens after 40 by tweaking your diet, exercise, and sleep habits.

1. Eat early
Specifically, eat breakfast. Leaving for work on an empty stomach is like hitting the pause button on your metabolism.
Here’s why: when your brain senses that your stomach is empty, it sends a message to your cells to conserve energy in case another meal doesn’t arrive. In other words, your body holds onto the fat stored in your cells instead of helping you burn it off.

2. Eat Often
Aim to make each meal at least one-quarter protein, whether animal protein, beans, or dairy, says Marissa Lippert, a registered dietitian. A 2011 study in the journal Neuron suggest that protein stimulates the cells responsible for switching on the body’s calorie-burning mechanism. Foods high in sugar and processed carbs, on the other hand, can lead to insulin resistance, causing your body to store extra calories as fat.

3. Sweat Off the Weight
Not only does exercise affect your metabolism while you’re doing it, but research shows you can keep burning calories up to 24 hrs after you finish because your metabolism stays elevated.

4. Sleep Away the Pounds
Research has shown that people who sleep two-thirds of their usual amount (five hours instead of eight, say) eat an average of 549 extra calories the following day. Experts believe that getting too few Zs upsets the balance of appetite-regulating hormones. “Resistance to leptin-a hormone that regulates body weight–increases, while levels of ghrelin, a hormone that signals to your brain that you’re hungry, also increase,” explains Isaacs.

Just a small change in your sleep schedule can make a big difference in your health, not to mention your ability to burn calories.

Source: “A Faster Metabolism At Any Age” by Julia Savacool. Time Magazine, Fall 2013. Article originally published in Health magazine.

Age Spots (aka Liver spots)

Age Spots (aka Liver spots)

ISS_1980_04544Age spots are flat brown spots that can appear anywhere on the body as it ages. They are also called liver spots.
Most age spots appear on the face, neck, and hands. These brown spots are harmless, but they can be a sign of more serious underlying problems.

They are a result of a buildup of wastes known as lipofuscin accumulation, a by-product of free radical damage in skin cells.
These spots are actually signs that the cells are full of the type of accumulated wastes that slowly destroy the body’s cells, including brain and liver cells.
In other words, they are a surface sign of free radical intoxication of the body that may affect many internal structures as well, including the heart muscle and the retina.

Factors leading to the formation of age spots include poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking, poor liver function, the ingestion of oxidized oils over a period of time, and, above all, excessive sun exposure. Exposure to the sun causes the development of free radicals that may damage the skin.

The formatino of lipofuscin is associated with a deficiency of a number of important nutrients, including vitamin E, selenium, glutathione, chromium, and dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE). Consuming alcohol increases lipofuscin formation.

Very important supplements to consider for this condition:

  • Zinc – 80mg daily, in divided doses. It is a powerful immune system stimulant. Necessary for T lymphocyte function, which is needed to fight infection. Needed for all skin disorders.
  • Ageless Beauty from Biotec Foods – A Free Radical Destroyer
  • Vitamin B Complex – Necessary for older adults for proper assimilation of all nutrients.
  • Kyolic Formula 105 from Wakunaga – Supplies an array of antioxidants that are potent cell protectors.
  • Vitamin C with bioflavonoids repair – 3,000mg to 6,000mg daily. A powerful antioxidant and free radical scavenger necessary for tissue.

Source: Prescription for Natural Healing, Fifth Edition, by Phyllis A. Balch, CMC.

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