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!

Should you be on anti-depressants?

Should you be on anti-depressants?

pillsAre you thinking about going on anti-depressants? I wanted to write down my experiences and thoughts based on this topic in hopes to help somebody trying to make this decision.

I’ll just start off by saying there are a LOT of people out there on anti-depressants. At one point, me, my mom, my sister, my best friend, and a bunch of other people I knew had gone on anti-depressants. It made me think, does the brain just have a tendency to really be that unstable during different periods of time? Or is it our society, the expectations it places on us, the lifestyles it dictates for us as well as the diets most people eat and the way they treat their bodies?

Well, I’ve come to understand it’s really a whole slew of different things that could be involved, and it’s usually a combination of them. I was on Prozac for nine years for generalized anxiety disorder. It was only pretty recently that I came off.

My Nine Years of Experience on Prozac

Looking back on these past nine years, let me tell you a little bit about my experience and how I might have handled it differently.

In 2005 I had a major anxiety attack that stayed and lasted for a long time. I’m talking an extremely bad one – I couldn’t function. I couldn’t eat, sleep, or do anything except pace around. I had intense, long-lasting anxiety attacks – and not just attacks, but I was in a constant state of anxiety itself – for the better part of a year and a half.

My mom had some Prozac from when she used to take it and gave me some because she was tired of seeing me like this. Prozac did help; it took the edge off, and all of my emotions were less pronounced. No, Prozac doesn’t give you an easy way out or make you instantly happy. In fact it doesn’t feel good at all to have to be on medication. But it does make the anxiety more manageable, and took away most of my depression that would set in for me after a certain amount of anxiety.

What I didn’t know back then that I know now, is that while these mental issues feel threatening and horrible (especially anxiety), 99% of the time, they are not going to hurt you. Nothing catastrophic is going to happen. You have the reigns to your own mind – you are in control. And even when you feel out of control, yes it is a scary feeling, but you can, and will conquer it. It will pass. Psychological battles are just always the most difficult battles you can fight.

That being said, if you are experiencing something to the extent to which you can’t function, medication is very useful in this case. It helps bring you out of it. The problem is though that you can easily become dependent on this to take your anxiety way and let it do the work for you. I almost consider myself lucky in the fact that I still had anxiety on Prozac and I still mainly had to rely on my own tools and my own self to conquer it.

The Drawbacks of Using Medication for Anxiety/Depression

Many people fall to drugs (either regular prescription medication or illegal drugs) and/or alcohol to distract them from their anxiety. I’ve seen it time and time again. As we all know, this is not an effective long-term cure. In fact, it’s counter-productive. It will just cause problems down the road. But far too many people take this route.

One important thing to consider that I did not know about when I started taking Prozac was how much your diet and exercise regime actually plays a part in your mental health. Especially diet. The amount of sugar, unhealthy carbohydrates, and unhealthy fats that are in the typical American diet (along with some other countries as well) is not doing any good for our brain. It’s disrupting our moods, keeping us addicted to sugar, not allowing our brain to perform functions as well as it normally would. Energy levels are ruined, our ability to fight our own mental battles will be weakened, memory can be affected – the list goes on.

Exercise will boost your brain’s endorphins – especially a long distance run. Sometimes exercise was the only thing that would cure my brain for a while in the midst of anxiety hell.

Another thing is that I work in a creative field, and I found that while anti-depressants did make my brain a bit more organized, a bit less affected by things, a bit less obsessive…they also stifled my creativity, my memory, and my sex drive. This is not to say they will affect you in the same way. But just really think about it to make sure taking them is the right path for you.

My Suggestions and Key Points

The main point I really wanted to get to in this article is firstly that unless you can’t function, medication probably isn’t a good idea to start off with. Try some other things first.

Try changing your diet and sticking to it. Be dedicated to your mental and physical health; they are very intertwined with each other.

Try taking some herbs and vitamins. See my blog post here about natural methods of curing anxiety/depression. There are so many out there these days!

DEFINITELY exercise regularly.

And most of all – learn to discipline your mind. Yeah, saying that is kind of like telling people to learn to speak Japanese by tomorrow. But what I’m really saying is, in order to build up your tools in fighting anxiety and depression, you need to practice approaching them in certain ways with your mind. Your attitude matters 100%. The more you build up your tools, the more you’ll trust your own brain to be able to fight it better, which creates a self-fulfilling prophecy and your mental problems will not be as severe.

Every time I have anxiety I look at it as an opportunity to practice my own mental discipline. Because that’s exactly what it is. Look at and use anxiety as a tool for you to strengthen your own mind and willpower.

I’m not against medication. In fact, I’m grateful it exists for those who need it. But far too many people are ignorant of what types of things are actually causing or having an effect on their anxiety or depression and use medication as a crutch. Far too many become too dependent on it. Sometimes medication is necessary, but many times, it also is not.

If you are struggling with anxiety or depression please feel free to email me. I am always willing to help.

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