I’ve been meaning to do a skincare post for a while, but somehow just never got around to it until now! I am no stranger to having skin issues, as you can see! The left is me with makeup on two years ago, edited to make the breakout seem better than it was. The right is me a few weeks ago (I look the same now, I promise) with no makeup on and no editing done. And I’m pretty sure I had also just woken up, ha!
Suffice it to say, though, my skin has drastically improved in the last few years. First off, I have had a few people ask for my skincare routine, so let’s start with that!
Now, I used to think I always had somewhat weird skin, and I was desperately confused by the symptoms popping up– my skin was not oily, yet I had acne on my cheeks and sometimes my chin; it didn’t seem particularly sensitive, yet even the made-for-dry-skin cleansers dried it out massively; I used plenty of lotion, yet when I went to put on my makeup, my forehead, nose, and cheeks always, always flaked up; I tried exfoliating regularly, but that just irritated my skin and the flakiness didn’t go away.
Plus, I found myself reacting in a bad way to many skincare lines — even the natural ones like Burt’s Bees or Yes To Carrots — so believe me, I was lost. I generally just gave up on skincare, went with whatever was cheapest and the easiest, and most days slept in my makeup and then scrubbed it off the next morning with Cetaphil and a washrag because I didn’t know what else to use.
But eventually, after forcing myself to regularly use a few different cleansers and moisturizers, my skin minimally improved, and I stumbled upon BeautyMint, which seemed to be the outward turning point for my skin’s health. I didn’t react to it, it worked pretty well, and the breakouts started to lessen. As a side note, if you want to use a simple, effective, personalized skincare that you don’t have to worry about replenishing every month, BeautyMint is a great option! For me, though, it still didn’t quite feel right, and the proportions were just off enough that I ended up with about five bottles of one thing while I was completely running out of the other.
Then, I stumbled upon the video in which the Pixiwoo girls talk to skincare guru Caroline Hirons, and I also started eating Paleo, and those two things improved my skin drastically.
I’ve realized that my skin is on the dry-sensitive side, and exfoliation via scrubbing with a rag or rubbing with any sort of abrasive cleanser does not work at all. And because it’s dry, even using a cleanser that requires water to rinse it off isn’t that great for me. So, because of that video, I searched high and low for a few of the items she suggested, and I’ve found comparable products that I absolutely love. First off, let’s start with my evening routine, since that’s the one I do more with.
I get all of my makeup off with Botanics hot cloth Cleansing Balm. It’s completely oil-based, with shea butter, jojoba oil, and rosehip, and I think possibly a bit of coconut oil as well. It might seem scary to use an oil to cleanse your face, but I promise you using natural oils on your skin — even if you have oily skin, actually — will not make you break out. Unless, of course, you’re allergic to an ingredient. I am in love with this balm, though. It takes all of my makeup right off, it smells fresh, and it doesn’t dry me out like every other cleanser out there.
Because it’s completely oil-based, though, I do still feel like I need to go over my skin a second time with something to take off the slight oiliness it leaves behind. And, as Caroline suggested in the video, I wanted an acidic toner that would exfoliate without my having to scrub. So next in line I use Botanics All Bright Cleansing Toner. It’s made for all skin types, but it doesn’t dry me out at all, it wipes away those last few bits of the cleansing balm my cloth doesn’t take off, and it leaves my skin feeling SO refreshed and clean without feeling stripped and squeaky.
Once a week or so, I will use a clay mask. Right now, I use two, depending on how my skin is feeling. If it’s not feeling particularly rebellious, I’ll go with Botanics Complexion Refining Clay Mask. It’s a nice, refreshing mask that doesn’t strip my skin, and leaves it feeling quite glowy. If I feel like I’ve got a few blemishes that need taking care of, or just generally like I want a more aggresive mask to tone down impurities, I use a Burt’s Bees lavender-mint mask that I don’t think they sell any more. It’s much stronger, and really revs up the circulation in my skin.
And generally, after using the masks or just if my skin is feeling particularly dry or sensitive on any given night, I will also spritz on the Rosewater toner, which gives that extra bit of moisture I want before I put on a moisturizer. And at night, since I don’t want something acidic going over the tender skin around my eyes, I spray a bit of this on a cotton wipe and get the last of my cleansing balm off with it.
Since I have pretty dry skin and the weather is wintry and saps moisture, I’ve been using the Botanics Super Balm after I’m done with everything else, which is a blend of natural oils. It doesn’t take much, but in the morning my skin feels super-soft and ready for the day! I only use this at night, because it is an oil and it takes significantly longer to soak into my skin.
Last but not least, because I am pregnant and trying to do everything I can to avoid stretch marks, I slather on some Botanics Hand and Body Nourishing Body Oil. When you are pregnant, or if you just want to really, really moisturize your skin, use an oil! Oils might be a pain because they take longer to soak in, but they penetrate your skin much better than lotions do, plus they’re usually all-natural so your skin isn’t trying to absorb a man-made product. As well, look for oils like almond, coconut, jojoba, and lanolin, which are the most effective moisturizers. So far, with seven weeks left and a belly expansion from 35″ to 44″, I have no stretch marks. The most growth happens in the last month, though, so we’ll see how my skin holds up!
In the mornings, my routine is much simpler. I swipe with the All Bright Toner, and moisturize with Botanics All Bright Hydrating Day Cream, which moisturizes well, has SPF, and is a good base for makeup. I have also used samples of the Age Defense Hydrating Eye Cream, and the Age Defense Super Serum, and I intend to get both of them as I love the texture of the eye cream, and the serum both smells amazing AND makes a noticeable difference with how my moisturizer works and how my makeup goes on.
So as you can see, just because my skin is sensitive and dry does not mean I have to stick to the category of skincare that is expressly made for dry or sensitive skin. I actually reacted very badly to one of the other waterless cleansers from the Botanics sensitive skin line– badly enough that after using it, I looked like I had a really intense sunburn. Skincare is all about finding what works best for your skin, not about using what companies produce for specific skin types!
The second part of my skincare routine is, I think, possibly more important than what products I’m using on my skin: what I’m putting into my body.
I’ve heard and read a lot of claims that what you eat doesn’t affect your skin whatsoever. And I think that is an absolutely false statement. I know for a fact that when I eat junk food, dairy, sugar, things my body is allergic to, it shows up in my face! After a four-day run of having some sort of chocolate or chips every night, I’ve had three immovable zits on the underside of my jaw that are finally beginning to fade because I’m back to eating clean. Your skin is a part of your body, and it’s the largest organ you have. You definitely are what you eat!
And, there are a few things that are really good for your skin. This part is also you pregnant women who, like me, are trying to do anything they can to avoid getting stretch marks, or at least to minimize them. Some stretch marks are probably inevitable, and they say some people just get them no matter what. But I definitely believe that taking good care of your skin on the outside and via what you’re putting into your body will help at least minimize the aggressiveness of the marks. I mean, they say stretch marks can be genetic, but both my grandmother and my mother had stretch marks at six months, and I measure larger around the belly than either of them did at nine months pregnant, and I have none.
First of all: hydrate! This one’s obvious. Drinking lots of water is key to keeping your skin supple. Plus, the more water you drink, the easier it is for your body to flush away any toxins, which helps your complexion stay clear. And no, coffee or tea do not count. Coffee and tea are actually going to dehydrate you, and for every one cup of those that you drink, you’ll need to replenish your body with two cups of water. So fill yourself a bottle, make peace with the fact that you’re going to have to pee a lot no matter what you drink, and keep yourself good and hydrated!
Secondly: eat foods that are rich in antioxidants and good fats. Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, almonds, carrots, mango, sweet potato, squash, red bell peppers, spinach, broccoli, collard greens, eggs, walnuts, fish… these and more all contain the vitamins, fats, and minerals your skin needs to stay clear and stretch without too much damage. Plus, dark chocolate is also good for your skin, in small amounts! So, you know, when you’re feeling snackish, grab a few pieces of dark chocolate. It truly is good for you.
And thirdly: this one is probably obvious, but I’ll say it anyway. Don’t use pregnancy as an excuse to eat whatever you want, however much you want, whenever you want it. Because while you are supposed to be gaining weight and it is healthy to gain a few pounds while pregnant, overeating junk food is not good for anyone, and rapid excess weight gain will kill your chances of retaining mark-free skin during pregnancy. Slow weight gain will not only keep you feeling good, it will also keep your skin from going into an overload and having to tear itself in order to stretch too rapidly with your body’s changes.
Plus, eating healthy while pregnant will nourish you and your baby much more than eating those cookies ever can, it will keep you from feeling sick, and can prevent other things such as headaches, sleeplessness, heartburn, indigestion, constipation, stomach cramps, gassiness, grogginess, stuffiness… the list goes on. When I eat well, I feel great. When I eat junk… I feel like crap. You are what you eat.
And as an added bonus, when you’re not gaining an excess of weight but are right on track with what you should be gaining, you don’t feel fat and you feel more confident. So that’s a plus!
Side note: while coffee and tea can dehydrate you, there’s no danger in drinking a moderate amount of either while pregnant. Two cups of coffee or four mugs of tea is the equivalent recommended.
So those are my skincare tips, whether you’re pregnant or not! I believe eating healthy is every bit as important as finding a skincare line that works for you and using it on a regular basis. I never thought I’d be a health nut, but eating Paleo has improved my skin — and mood, emotions, weight gain, body, feeling of general health — so much that I know what you eat affects your skin just as much as sleeping in your makeup does!
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask! I’m not a guru, but I have used enough products to know what works and what doesn’t.
I hope you all have a wonderful Tuesday!