I’ve always taken good care of my skin. I wash my face every night, moisturize most parts of my body lavishly, bathe in oils and salts and try to maintain the routine as diligently as possible. I don’t think my skin is any different than most women’s. I had pimples when I was a teenager, suffered minor but nonetheless infuriating relapses as an adult and lived most of my New York life thinking that my skin was OK. Not spectacular, just OK. Manageable. Normal.
But then something changed. Make-up artists started to praise my skin. Random women approached me to ask about my regimen. I looked at photos of myself and saw a noticeable, shocking difference. My skin was glowing, my pores were practically non-existing, and I never seemed to get outbreaks anymore. My face looked better than it ever had, even going back as far as 20 years. It wasn’t a miracle though, nor the act of a benevolent God; I had brought this on myself.
I started to reflect on the changes I have made in my life since turning 40. Some of the adjustments are self-explanatory, but others might be able to help you too, if you’re willing.
- Sunshine: I know what the research says: “Too much sun can damage your skin and cause skin cancer.” But here are the key words: “too much”. It’s all about moderation, guys. I am convinced that 15 to 30 minutes of sunshine per day can do miracles for our complexion. Think about it: nothing lives and grows without the heat and light of the sun. Sun rays lower cholesterol and blood pressure, have beneficial effects on skin disorders like eczema and psoriasis, can cure depression by releasing natural serotonin in our brains, and so much more. I was born with jaundice, a condition that landed little old me in a heliotherapy incubator the minute I exited the womb. My very first impression of the world was a beautiful, bright light, and it was healing! So how can the sun be harmful if it saved my life?* I thank Los Angeles and its wonderful climate for my glorious new facade.
- Alcohol: I heard the warnings and whispers all through my twenties and thirties but I didn’t want to listen. Who on earth wants to give up alcohol?? How will we have fun anymore? I literally didn’t think it was humanly possible to say no to a drink. But I was wrong. When you see the difference, there’s no turning back. Alcohol is not only bad for your skin – it’s dehydrating and inflammatory – but also for your reproductive system, especially when you’re older. I simply don’t want to drink anymore! If you’re really struggling with the idea of quitting though, stick to red wine. My acupuncturist actually recommends s couple of glasses a week.
- Supplements: I take a lot of vitamins and herbs, all related to women’s health. Even if you’re not pregnant or nursing, try Smarty Pants Prenatal Complete. It’s shock full of everything our female bodies need. I take extra C, D, B complex and turmeric. My acupuncturist also prescribes Chinese herbs to help circulate and strengthen my blood. I don’t know if these improve the appearance of my skin but I’m gonna say: they’re not making it worse!
- Clarisonic: So all the above work from the inside out, but what about the skin itself? I recently worked on a project with Clarisonic and got hooked on their cleansing brush. I use it every other day in the shower with Fresh Effects Olay Cleanser or more recently Dior Hydra Life Foam Cleanser, and Dr. Jart Pore Medic Derma @home Peeling. That brush really gets in there. The circular movements have an exfoliating and super cleansing effect and leave your face feel squeaky clean.
- Products: Ever since my girlfriends introduced me to Clinique‘s 3-step method at the age of 16, I’ve applied the same routine but with different products. I honestly don’t think the brand matters that much. I always wonder if it really makes a difference if you’re paying $10 or $100. So I like to switch. I’m not loyal to one brand. I think it’s more important not to let your skin get lazy or complacent. Surprise it now and again, give it a little tingle of newness, a little shock therapy. For the past couple of months I’ve been using, for day: Dr. Barbara Sturm Face Cream, Tata Harper Rejuvenating Serum and Dr. Sebagh Supreme Eye Serum; at night: Dr. Jart Night Beauty Balm, Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate and Nars Aqua Gel Luminous Mask; as cleansers/toners: Garnier Skin Active Micellar Cleansing Water, Roberts Acqua Distillata Alle Rose and Alba Botanica Hawaiian 3-in-1 Clean Towelettes.
There really are no secrets to great skin. We all know that drinking and smoking is bad for us, yet we all succumb to the temptations of life, especially when we’re young. Who cares, right? It’s a simple sacrifice. But as we get older, those tarnished signs turn into wrinkles, frown lines, dark circles and sagging skin. Hangovers are much harder to deal with, exercising gets more strenuous and we don’t turns heads like we used to. It all sucks, but there’s a long-term solution: live healthy, drink water, be mindful. My skin is better because I’m done partying. Been there, done that. But if you’re not at that cross roads yet, take your time, enjoy those blemishes, and read this again later.
Let me know if you want to know why and how I never, ever wear make-up, or how to produce surefire good curly hair days, or what I think about plastic surgery…
Photos by Glynis Carpenter
*Note: Some sunscreens are more in fact harmful than the sun itself, and not just for your skin. On May 1, Hawaii became the first state to pass a bill banning the sale of sunscreen containing chemicals believed to harm coral reefs. Most sunscreens contain oxybenzone and octinoxate that scientists have found contributes to coral bleaching when washed off in the ocean. So please, embrace the sun, but choose a biodegradable, reef-friendly lotion from Raw Elements, Goddess Garden, Alba or All Good.