At least once a week, people stop me on the street or in stores and tell me I have great skin. This is amazing to me because I had such bad skin as a teenager, and such lifeless skin as a young adult. But I have to admit, I look pretty good for 53 (yes, that’s my age). Then the person will ask, “What do you do to get that glow?”
The list is long, so when this happened again recently, I promised I’d put it on my blog. This is the rundown, everything I do that results in great skin. I didn’t start out to get great skin, but the things I do make me happy, keep me healthy, and give my skin that $500-face-cream glow, without spending $500. (I’d rather use that kind of money on a fun experience for me and my husband.)
There’s some work involved in a few of the steps, but other things are effortless. Overall, they instill a sense of wellbeing. Can’t get that out of a jar.
Ginger “tea.” I got this tip from Yogi Cameron, a fellow graduate of Integral Yoga Institute and an expert in Ayurveda, an ancient Indian holistic health system: Drink a tall cup of warm water every morning. I add a hunk of fresh ginger for taste and for its many health benefits: relieving nausea, reducing inflammation and muscle pain, relieving symptoms of osteoarthritis.
The temperature of the water should be warm to hot, drinkable, like tea or coffee. Masticate the ginger with a garlic press or by poking it repeatedly with a knife, until the water gets cloudy.
Hot water helps with morning elimination. Skin looks and functions better when waste leaves the body. And on that note…
Flax seed and prunes. You didn’t think we were going to talk about bathroom issues, did you? But a big part of getting a healthy glow comes from helping the digestive system to complete its process with elimination.
Each morning I eat 2-3 prunes, which I love because they’re so delicious, and I add 1 Tablespoon of flaxseed to my morning meal (yogurt with fruit, oatmeal, or a smoothie). Flaxseed has healthy Omega-3 essential fatty acids and antioxidants, and it also aids the elimination process. (Not in a scary way, just in an easeful, regular way.)
Asana. This is Yoga’s physical practice, but you don’t have to practice Yoga to do Asana. The Sanskrit word “Yoga” means union, and any movement that unites your mind, breath, and body can be thought of as Yoga.
So find your Yoga. That could be running, walking, swimming, hiking, taking a bike ride, or whatever movement you do. If you go to the gym, skip watching those big TVs and drape your towel over the screen on your machine. Put your full Dharana, or focus, into what you’re doing. Turn exercise into a meditative practice.
Obviously, your skin and your whole body is made healthier by movement. But if your movement is limited, do a visualized workout. A study done by the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio found that a group of participants who merely visualized a workout gained almost half the muscle mass as the group doing the actual workout.
Scrub. Exfoliation has been part of my skin ritual for years. I do it at night, so I’m not putting makeup on freshly-scrubbed skin. I like Burt’s Bees Peach & Willowbark Deep Pore Scrub because it’s gentle and inexpensive. Don’t scrub too hard and avoid your eye area. Use just a dime-sized dab on a washcloth and one tube will last a long time.
Oatmeal. Not something else to eat this time, though I do enjoy a bowl of gluten-free oatmeal for breakfast. But it also makes a great facial cleanser. Yes, I wash my face with oatmeal, every morning. Oatmeal cleanses without stripping your skin’s natural oils, and it even reverses UV sun damage.
Put 1/2 cup of uncooked plain oatmeal (the quick-cooking kind) in a coffee grinder or food processor and grind until it’s a fine powder. Store dry in a small container. In the morning, put about half a teaspoon into your palm and slowly add warm water until you have a paste. Apply that paste to your skin and let sit for a moment. (Meditate while the oatmeal works its magic.) Rinse with warm water and a washcloth. You’ll be amazed at how soft your skin will feel.
Moisturizer. I have sensitive skin and went through dozens of moisturizers before finding the right ones for me. Those are Clark’s Botanicals Age-Defying Radiance Cream at night, and Cellular Lifting Moisture Mist for day. A very inexpensive version of the mist is Twinlab’s Na-PCA Non-Oily Moisture Mist with Aloe Vera. I use spray moisturizers in warm, humid seasons. In dry, cooler times of year, I’ve had great experiences with Kiehl’s Ultra-Facial Moisturizer.
Meditation. Stress damages the immune system and also shows up as lines and wrinkles on your face. Meditation won’t solve all your problems, but it will give you the time and space to allow solutions to come to you. More immediately, it helps you calm down.
I meditate for 10-15 minutes daily. If I’m in a time crunch, I meditate on the subway. I’ll take 5 minutes where I can. My face is one of the first places where I feel stress falling off me during meditation.
Coconuts. You know the saying “Fake it ’til you make it”? Until all of this begins to show on your skin, you can fake a glow with coconut oil. Rub a very small amount of organic coconut oil between your palms to warm it, then pat your cheeks, forehead, chin, and tip of your nose with it (after applying makeup, if you wear it). Works on days when you didn’t get enough sleep, too.
Miscellaneous: Some other things I do, and don’t: I don’t drink alcohol—it puts years on your face. I don’t smoke, though I used to; Yoga helped me quit for good. I don’t eat too much sugar, maybe once or twice a week. Sugar can age you, as well as contributing to depression.
Practice Maitri. Every time I’m in front of a mirror, I practice Maitri, smile, and say something nice to myself. I think good thoughts about others. I practice Maitri meditation, sending good vibes to people who need them. The good feeling Maitri gives you will put a smile on your face, and that creates an instant glow (even better than the coconut oil).
And that is the biggest and best tip I have to get glowing skin: Know that your divine light glows within, and your radiance will glow outward, too.