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.


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:


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.


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!

REVENGE OF THE BANANAS T-Shirt – Joining the Forces of Good Health

REVENGE OF THE BANANAS T-Shirt – Joining the Forces of Good Health

The way my blog at Life in Balance started was all by wanting to inspire people to eat healthier and to learn to really appreciate food.

This passion didn’t come out of nowhere — I had my own journey and realizations through learning to become healthier, and I began to feel like I might be able to help others as a result, because there is a lot that goes into it.

One of my ideas was to create fun characters accompanied by health facts that have a specific story behind them. That way when people were learning about health facts, it would be in a much more fun, unique way and would help the information stick in their minds as well.

One of my projects born from this concept was my “Revenge of the Bananas” t-shirt.

At first this t-shirt had a simple front and an elaborate back which had a whole ton of nutrition information about bananas, what they were made of, and different ways to use bananas.

I ended up simplifying it from there to be more simple on both the front and back so that the design wouldn’t looks so busy.

Commander Banana Shirt

Basically, with this shirt you can now represent the glorious Team Banana who’s on a mission to take the world over with forces of good health in order to banish the addiction to sugar which spreads like wildfire! By wearing this shirt you’ll reinforce your own well of willpower to stay strong against the temptations of the opposing ever-so-addicting dark forces of sugar and its equally as addicting allies.

Snag your own on Teespring here, or on Amazon here.

7 Things You Can Do to Feel Alive Again

7 Things You Can Do to Feel Alive Again

I have found that many of the systems and paths that we have carved out for us in life, or that we follow, can improve our skills but may sometimes dull our creativity or even cover up things in life that we feel truly passionate about.

We may learn that following a path and acquiring achievements and recognition from doing so is the kind of happiness that we think we need. We forget what it feels like to be truly ignited by something, or we sacrifice pursuing that as we consider it less important.

However, I don’t think there’s anything more important.

Sure, we have to make a living and that requires us to make sacrifices sometimes. But, we still are in charge of getting our priorities straight and creating a life for ourselves that may be the “road less traveled by” but allows us to be our best selves and give to the world and ourselves all of our potential.

And, this kind of awareness helps us to truly appreciate life and what we are here for. It brings us out of the mud and makes us feel alive again.

Adulthood doesn’t have to be dull, systematic, and dominated only by to-dos.

There should be an undertone of joy, even amidst all the ups and downs.

Learning How to Appreciate

In thinking about what “becoming alive again” REALLY means, I realized it boils down to one primary attribute: appreciation. You have to learn to appreciate what’s in front of you. Being grateful is talked about a lot these days. However, it’s not just a matter of turning on your “grateful” switch. It’s often not simply just an intellectual process.

It’s very much an awareness that unfolds with really seeing and understanding what comes together in our lives to make us healthy and happy. In other words, it might take some work.

For example, once I tuned in enough to my body to see how good it feels when I eat food with wholesome ingredients (not processed, no added sugar), that represented a very real kind of awareness that made me appreciate healthy food that is doing good for my body.

At the bottom of all of this is us. We have to learn to get in tune with our selves and the rest will follow.

Here are seven things I thought of that can help uncover that feeling of becoming alive again (note, most of these need to be done regularly and require effort and patience. But if done, they will make a huge difference in your life.):

  1. Appreciate your food. Take a moment to think about where your food came from, be thankful that you have it, and chew slowly. Try to observe, and enjoy the process of eating. This took me a long time to do. But I noticed that I started naturally doing it in my times of highest awareness and clarity – like after spending time in nature.
  2. Observe the cause and effect of all situations in your life. Take a look at what happened to lead you where you are today. If you are happy in your current situation in all regards, that’s great. If not, observe the circumstances that took place to lead you where you are today, and where you might be able to make changes to an entirely different path that will lead you to entirely different place.
  3. Watch your mind. This one is the biggest one and I could write a book about it (and many have). But, your mind is the tool with which you create your perceptions and shape your life. Do not hold on to negative thoughts. We all get them, but practice letting them go. Observe and see how your perspectives might be telling you what you can or can’t do, or how life should or should not be. You don’t have to do anything here, but learn to watch.
  4. Experience more. Try new things. Things that might connect you with others, or show you something about yourself. It could be as small as trying a new food you were hesitant to try. Dare to go outside your comfort zone. You’re not getting anything from being in it.
  5. Start paying attention to gut reactions. Learn to say no. I always considered myself a pretty in-tune person, but I realized that just by habit I was often dismissing my own feelings on things. It can actually be a difficult process to differentiate between “this feels like something I should do, not that I’m excited to do,” if we’re always used to putting away our own feelings.
  6. Evaluate your life goals. What kind of goals are you setting, and why? What are you looking to achieve, and why? Is it something that you feel will make you more fulfilled on a deep level, or is it something that you think you should be doing to get ahead? I remember thinking years ago that I just wanted to hit a $50k income goal and that that’s all the money I would need in life ever. Now that I’ve hit that income goal and grown a little wiser, I’ve realized it is so not about the money. We all need it and more is better, but I realized that thinking in terms of money was getting in the way of me focusing on creating a life that fulfilled me, regardless of the income. It is kind of a trick; you have to reverse engineer this thinking. You have to go after what you enjoy doing the most and focus on your talents, and not worry about if it will make you enough money or not. Things will then fall into place.
  7. Set aside time for things in your life on a regular basis. Before bed, I made a sort of routine to light candles, turn off all electronics, read a book and drink tea. This has given me a happiness I didn’t have before. It allows my body to relax and contemplate the day. I’ve realized that constantly being distracted by electronics can create a stress response and not allow us to truly relax, even though you may not realize it at first.
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.

Cranberry Juice and Urinary Tract Infections

Cranberry Juice and Urinary Tract Infections

Good Ol’ Cranberry Juice

Ever since I was young I’ve had a problem with bladder infections of various types. They would come and go easily – they never used to last long, but I’d get them somewhat frequently. It’s pretty common knowledge that cranberry juice has been said to help flush the bacteria out, but I was never sure why and as to how much it actually helped. If it helps flush the bacteria out, does it actually help cure the infection itself? Come to find out, not really.

Cranberry juice can help to stop recurring infections, but doesn’t necessarily function as an antibiotic.

Studies of Cranberry Juice and E.Coli

E.coli (as you probably know) is a type of bacteria, and it was discovered some time ago that when you drip cranberry juice on E.coli, it doesn’t stick as well. Cranberry juice is the only type of juice that will do it. Within hours of drinking cranberry juice, it will reduce the stickiness of the E.coli while it is floating around in urine, and remains that way for most of the day. This is especially helpful for either before or at the very initial onset of the infection, as opposed to after the bacteria has stuck itself in there for a while.

I personally in all my struggles with bladder infections have put cranberry juice to use. One time, I purchased a cranberry extract supplement from Walmart and I found that to be way less effective, if at all. After all, independent tests have shown that you really never know what’s IN supplements, if they have everything in them that they say they have.

Just Don’t Let it Sit For Too Long

For women, bladder infections typically tend to go away on their own. Apparently that is not the case as often with men and children. Either way, if you find yourself with a bladder infection, try to flush it out with lots of cranberry juice and water. If it doesn’t go away on its own within a few days, you may just need to see a doc for some antibiotics. You don’t want it to reach your kidneys, which could be dangerous if left for too long.

source video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRtX42AI9jk#t=212

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