Guys, I just had the best birthday! Which is saying something because my birthday used to be totally cursed. Setting aside the obvious pitfalls of having a birthday that lands in the hangover period of Christmas and New Years, I’ve also experienced other not so great events on January 3rd over the years. For example, I’ve come down with chicken pox, had birthday plans canceled due to too much snow or not enough snow. Plus, one year I was in Australia and I was so excited to finally have a Summer birthday, but the country’s 700-day drought broke on my birthday and all my plans had been made to take place outdoors (great for the country, but not great for my birthday plans!). I was in a car accident one year, got a speeding ticket another year. So whenever my birthday rolls around, I always seem to get a little on edge.
However, for my 33rd birthday, I wanted to experience my day more intentionally. Instead of sitting back and seeing what would happen, I thought through what a perfect day would look like. Food, friends, relaxation…that’s what I wanted to center my day around.
Shifting my perspective from “this is happening to me”, to “how do I want this day to be”, gave me one of the most epic birthdays I’ve ever had. And it got me thinking, how often are we feeling like our skin problems happen to us?
It may seem that the appearance of our skin is totally out of our control, especially when it feels like we’ve done everything to try and fix it, however, simply shifting your perspective and taking a more intentional approach with your efforts can start to give you dramatic results.
So today, in honour of 33 trips around the sun (that’s right I’m 33 years young), I’m sharing my top 33 tips to get clear skin. By all means, do not take this as a recommendation to do all of them (that would be very overwhelming), but instead, use this list as inspiration to start to think about different areas of your life where you could be more intentional with your diet, your self-care, and your mindset when it comes to your acne.
This post is a doozy. I recommend bookmarking it, and coming back often to re-inspire your intentions.
I’ve broken this collection of skin nourishing goodness into 3 categories:
11 Food & Diet Tips for Clear Skin
Swap out organic and conventional dairy products with milk-alternative products such as almond milk, coconut yogurt, and cashew ice cream. Dairy is a common food intolerance that can produce digestive issues. Plus dairy often contains hormones and antibiotics that can affect the body’s hormonal balance as well as insulin levels, which may contribute to breakouts.
Get to know your gluten-containing grains, so you can spot hidden and tricky gluten sources when reading food labels. Gluten is another very common food sensitivity that can cause digestive problems by increasing inflammation, weight gain, and even contribute to breakouts.
Upgrade your Starbucks coffee for a lovingly-made, upgraded coffee or matcha latte at home. Regular coffee drinks not only contain acne-causing dairy and sugars, but they can affect your stress hormone cortisol. Increased levels of cortisol can contribute to belly fat and wrinkles, disrupt your serotonin levels that keep you happy and smiling, and alter your blood sugar levels. Wonky blood sugar levels (yes, wonky is a professional term), can impede the absorption of minerals that help keep your skin radiant and clear. Not to mention that coffee later in the day can disrupt your beauty sleep.
Love fizzy drinks like soda or pop? Unfortunately, these beverages contain a ton of sugar that can wreak havoc on the skin. Opting for a diet version of these drinks isn’t a good idea either as they are often chemically sweetened with ingredients that can disrupt hormones, slow down metabolism, and disrupt healthy gut balance. As a fizzy drink lover myself, I opt for unflavoured sparkling waters and then add a splash of lemon or other natural fruit essences. Or for a supercharged healthy option, try sipping on Kombucha, and benefit from the extra probiotics and digestive enzymes.
Start every single day with a tall glass of water with lemon. Waking up from your 8 hours of beauty sleep can leave you dehydrated, so even before you check your social media, pour yourself some water with lemon. From an energetic standpoint, drinking room temperature or warm water is best for digestion. The lemon will not only make your water taste yummy, but it is a great source of vitamin C and is naturally detoxifying for your liver.
Eat your water. Hydration really is one of the core pillars of having clear skin, but drinking water isn’t the only way to get enough H20 to keep your skin happy. Eating plenty of veggies and fruits that contain water will help keep your hydration up, as will meals such as soups, stews, and smoothies. Soups and stews are excellent options for the colder months, and smoothies are a great way to jam-pack your diet with plenty of fiber and water when the weather is warmer.
Fill up on fats. This isn’t your permission slip to eat all the fried things, but to get clear skin you need to ensure you are consuming enough healthy fats. Fats are an essential building block of hormones. Plus, fats keep you feeling fuller and satisfied after meals, so you feel less “peckish” and likely to snack on sweets and treats that can contribute to your breakouts. My favourite fats to eat come from foods themselves like cold water fish, nuts and seeds, avocados, and coconuts. As for specific oils, it’s best to avoid highly refined and processed oils like canola, grapeseed, and peanut oils. Instead, try avocado oils and coconut oils for cooking, and lovely high-quality olive oils for dressings or finishing off dishes. (ie: olive oil should never be heated as it’s very sensitive to heat.)
Find joy in preparing your own meals at home. Eating out is a wonderful treat, but you definitely sacrifice control over the quality of ingredients that you consume. Sneaky sugars and damaged fats are often used in restaurant kitchens. Instead, head to Pinterest and find a fun and interesting new recipe to try. Then, pop on a fun playlist on Spotify or an interesting podcast, and get cooking. If you’re new to cooking and you get stuck, there’s always a youtube video for that. The main point is to let loose, be creative, and have some fun in the kitchen. And the best part about cooking from home – you get leftovers!
Get sweet on honey. It’s best in general to limit the amount of sugar you consume while trying to heal your skin, but what’s a girl to do when she needs a little something sweet in her life? Natural, raw, unpasteurized honey is a great option! Not only will it satisfy your craving, but it contains beneficial enzymes and nutrients as well as bee pollen, a complete protein, and bee propolis, a substance with antiviral and antibiotic properties. So not only is it great to consume as food, but you can also use it topically on your skin! In fact, honey makes a great 1-ingredient face mask! Simply spread 1-2 tablespoons on your face, and leave for 10 minutes. Honey is a humectant, so it will help draw moisture into your skin from the air, while also calming redness and irritation!
Beauty begins with breakfast every day. Carving out the time to make and consume a healthy and balanced breakfast can set the tone for how you’ll eat and feel for the rest of your day. Have you ever noticed how different an entire day can feel when you sleep in, grab breakfast on the go, and rush to work? Compared to the act of making your own coffee, sitting down to eat your breakfast in peace, before making your way to the office? Being intentional with your morning meal can set you up for a successful day. Be sure to focus on a balanced plate for your breakfast. Soaked and cooked oats with warming spices, stewed fruits, nuts, seeds, and coconut oil is an easy breakfast for more busy days. For the weekends you can build a balanced plate with farm-fresh eggs, sauteed vegetables, and avocado.
Chew your food. This might seem incredibly rudimentary, but when was the last time that you chewed your food with intention? Often we end up multitasking while we eat, and end up swallowing our mouth-fulls before we’ve properly chewed our bites. The first stage of digestion starts in the mouth. In fact, the enzymes in our saliva go to work digesting the carbohydrates in your food in your mouth first, while your teeth start to mechanically break down the proteins and fats. Swallowing your food too quickly makes it much harder on your stomach and the rest of your digestive system to completely break down your food to get the skin-boosting nutrients you need. Plus, improper chewing can lead to acid-reflux, indigestion, gas, and bloating. One of the most simple things you can do to ensure that you feel great after eating is to just slow down, take a bite, put your fork down, and focus on chewing your food.
11 Self-Care & Lifestyle Tips for Clear Skin
Make the most of your daily skincare routine. Since I started making my own skin care products, I have become very deliberate with my daily morning and evening skincare routines. Each 10-minute session is a little dose of self-love. I’ll share my skincare routine with you, in case it inspires you to try your own:
In the morning, I begin by splashing cold water on my face to help stimulate my nervous system and wake me up. I then use 1 pump of my honey foaming face cleanser, which I massage in circles into my skin. I then rinse the cleanser away and follow with 2-3 sprays of my hydrating aloe toner. Once my toner has set, I rub in a generous dollop of my hydrating face lotion, taking extra care to really massage it into areas of my face that tend to dry out.
In the evening, I use coconut oil on a facial tissue to remove my eye makeup, and my exfoliating cleansing balm to remove the rest of my makeup and cleanse my skin. Again, I follow up my cleansing by spritzing my aloe toner onto my face. Once the toner is dry, I massage in 3-5 drops of my nighttime face oil. Doing this routine consistently has helped with the cellular turnover of my skin, reducing my blemishes, and keeping a nice smooth and even tone of my skin’s surface.
Treat yourself to a spa-worthy bath! Everybody may prepare their bath a little differently, but this is my personal recipe for a relaxing, hormone-balancing, and beautifying bath: draw your bath and add 1/2 a cup of Epsom salts; add 10-20 drops of lavender essential oils to the bath; light some candles or incense, or add some eucalyptus essential oil to a diffuser or nebulizer; keep a cool glass of water within arms reach; and don’t forget a good book or Spotify playlist. The Epsom salts are the key ingredient to relaxing your muscles and sending you into a blissful state. If you don’t have any salts on hand, you can also add 1/4 cup of baking soda to the water to help soften your skin. If possible, skip any artificially fragranced bubble bath products. Simply slip in, close your eyes, breath in the lavender and enjoy!
There are two BIG things I recommend to anyone who wants better, more rejuvenating beauty sleep: one, get blackout curtains; and two, go to bed early and get a full 8 hours of sleep. Blackout curtains have made a HUGE difference in the quality of my sleep. By reducing the amount of light pollution that spills into my room at night, my body is able to slip into a deeper state of sleep. I always feel so much better after a full 8 hours. I recently listened to an incredible podcast about sleep, and one of the biggest takeaways I got from it was that if humans were intended to function on less than 8 hours, then evolution would have caused us to adapt to be able to function on less.
But the truth of the matter that’s not the case, and therefore, the earlier you can get to bed the more your hormones will stay in the correct balance, the better you will feel, and the more radiant and clear your skin will be.
Just as it’s a good idea to read the labels on the foods you eat, you should also be aware of the ingredients in your beauty products. You can download my list of what to look for in your common skin care products here, and then go through everything – toothpaste, cleanser, shampoo – and see if there’s anything nasty hiding in your products. You don’t have to necessarily get rid of it right away, but just be aware, and when you run out of that product, use the opportunity to replace it with something that is more natural and doesn’t contain harmful ingredients. This is also a great time to clear out any products that you haven’t used in a while, is dried up or expired. Decluttering your beauty cupboard can bring peace of mind to you and your skin.
As I’ve slowly switched all of my body and skin care products over to more natural options, I have also slowly upgraded all of my makeup. In today’s online shopping era, you now have unlimited access to many safe and natural makeup brands that will not clog your pores, will actually work, and won’t disrupt your hormones. A great way to find brands is to use Instagram. Search hashtags such as #greenbeauty or #organicskincare. This is exactly how I found my favourite place to buy all my makeup: The Green Beauty Collective. Run by two totally rad makeup artists, Amanda and Jacqueline, these two gals search high and low to find awesome, safe, and trustworthy products that they use on their clients and then sell in their shop.
Check them out here, and you can get 10% off! Woot!!
Cat Videos. Do I need to say more?
Ok, whether its funny cat videos, or adorable pandas, whatever is going to make you smile and give you the warm and fuzzies, it’s worth taking a 10 minute Youtube break. Science actually shows that watching these video will boost your mood and give you energy, thus lowering your cortisol and keeping your hormones and blood sugar in check – all positives for clear skin!
We are all creative. Even if you can’t paint or draw, you have the ability to express creativity in anything that you do, and making the effort to do so can have positive and lasting effects on your overall health and skin. Do you have a phone with a camera on it? I challenge you to this creativity project: every day for 7 days, take 1 photo of something that brings you meaning to your life. It might be your partner, a pet, a tattoo, or a gift you’ve received…anything. Share your project on social media, or print them out and make a collage. Daily reminders of what gives our life meaning help to bring lasting fulfillment into our lives.
When was the last time you played? Like seriously played? Played with reckless abandon? Today it’s so easy to focus on all the serious things that need to get done that we forget that at the core of each of us is a sliver of our 3-year-old self who is craving the opportunity to laugh, play and experience joy. Take 5 minutes, and write a quick brainstorm of things that you used to love to do as a kid. Review your list, and identify any opportunities to stop ignoring your 3-year-old self and invite her out to play.
For me personally, I plan on taking me and my 3-year-old self to the trampoline park to bounce and jump until I can remember how to do a backflip!
Treat yo’ self. Self-care is not selfish. As women, it’s our tendency to put everyone else before ourselves. Unfortunately, at the end of the day, we’re left with a close to empty cup to drink from. To keep the cup metaphor… My personal approach to self-care is to focus first on filling your own cup up to the point where it spills over and out into the lives of those around you. This feels much more sustainable because when you take the time and care to look after yourself first, you’ll never run out of energy to care for those around you. Plus, the simple act of honouring yourself is inspiring!
Wear lipstick. I used to be terrified of a bright lip, but over the last year I’ve acquired a couple different shades, and now I will find any excuse to wear one. There’s something sexy and confident about wearing a lovely shade of lipstick. These are my favourite lippies at the moment: Elate Lipstick in Wild or Tantric (I’m wearing Tantric in the photo), and Spela Liquid Lipstick in Jet Set. I tend to lick my lips a lot, therefore I eat my lipstick, which is why I’m stoked that these beauties are both safe and free from harmful hormone-disrupting chemicals. They’re available from The Green Beauty Collective. Don’t forget you get 10% off when you click here!
There is a psychosomatic connection between self-expression to having acne. I talk all about it in this post here. For some, acne is literally a mask that we wear and use as an excuse to stay small and hide. Finding new ways to express yourself that are true to who you are is an essential step in healing your acne in a lasting and holistic way. Personally, I took this quite literally and ended up joining Toastmasters. Being a part of a community that encouraged me to be creative every week, plus getting to receive other people’s creative expressions as a witness in meetings, helped nurture my throat chakra, and open up the flow of energy between my body and my brain. It was wonderful to feel heard and incredibly powerful to gain the confidence to stand up in front of a crowd and speak confidently.
11 Mindset Tips for Clear Skin
Write a letter of love and compassion to yourself. Pick something in your life that makes you feel insecure, ashamed or not good enough. If you’re here, then it’s probably a safe bet that your skin is a good place to start. Once you’ve figured out what you’d like to address, write a letter to yourself expressing compassion, understanding, and acceptance regarding this part of yourself. Use words and tones as if you were speaking to a really good friend. Try and answer the question – what about this part of yourself makes you grateful? How has it helped or supported you? Consider things that are contributing to the negative aspects and list any constructive changes that could help you cope with this issue better (ie: any of the tips on this list!). You got this girl!
Giving feels damn good, and when you feel good, you’re more likely to make better choices for the foods you eat, how you move your body, and how you treat yourself. One of the easiest ways to feel amazing is by performing little random acts of kindness for people. These can be as big or as small as you’d like, but the goal is for a brief moment, put someone else at the center of your generosity at a time when it’s unexpected. These can be as simple as making a friend a meal, buying a stranger a coffee, donating blood, or paying for someone’s parking. Your receiver doesn’t need to know who you are – in fact, this makes it more fun! Afterwards, write 1-3 lines in your journal about your experience, and note specifically how it made you feel. By becoming more aware of the specific feelings this form of generosity gives you, you’ll be more intentional in seeking out opportunities to do it again and again.
Mirror, mirror on the wall…Chances are one of the first things you do every day when you stumble sleepily into your bathroom each morning, is to look in the mirror. When you do so, do you hear a little voice in your head? What does it say? Is it positive and encouraging? Or mean and negative? I love to write mantras and words of encouragement on post-it notes and stick these to my mirror. Being able to read these written words drowns out the negative self-talk that often arises. When you read your personal mirror love notes, you can either say them aloud, or just in your head, but say them with confidence. At first, you might not fully believe them, but persevere. Continue to repeat the affirmation, and hold it in your mind as already true. Eventually, your mind will stop questioning you, and you will begin to believe it is already your reality. This is where the magic really happens!
“Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back everything is different.” – C.S. Lewis
I love this quote! It’s so true, but what if we were to live more intentionally every single day. It’s good to have bigger, lofty goals to strive towards, but achieving these goals comes down to daily intention and action towards your goals. That’s why I love creating monthly intentions and then using my monthly intention tracker to keep myself accountable and monitor my progress. At the start of every month, I use my Intention Tracker sheet to come up with mini-goals for various areas of my life. I then use the wheel to track my daily efforts. Getting my goals down on paper makes them real, and having a visual representation of my daily actions helps me manifest my achievements into my reality. Want to try?
- Breath is an extremely underrated tool when it comes to healing your skin. Taking time out of your day to become intentional with your breath can deepen your beauty and balance your hormones by engaging your parasympathetic nervous system. One of my favourite ways to take a moment out of my day to breathe is begun by taking a big breath in through the mouth and letting it out through the mouth. Feel free to sigh audibly – sometimes it feels extra amazing to make a weird noise. Then continuing to breathe slowly through your nose, shift your awareness to the different sounds around you. Start to count distinct sounds within your soundscape. Continue breathing slowly and deeply until you’ve managed to identify 10 different sounds.
Have you developed some bad habits when it comes to your skin? Maybe it’s constant, mindless snacking on sugary treats, or picking and popping pimples as soon as they arise on your face? The first step to changing a bad habit is to identify your habit trigger. As a general rule, the formula for a habit is
Cue + Routine (or the habit) = Reward
It starts with the trigger. Next time you catch yourself performing your habit, bring awareness to what was happening right before you started. What was the trigger? What were you doing, or thinking, or feeling? What time of day is it? Who is around you?
Then spend some time and walk through the actual routine. What exactly is the behaviour or habit from start to finish? And then finally, identify the reward. Once you’re aware of the entire habit loop, you can develop a habit redirection plan.
For example, I have trouble picking my skin. I find that when I’m relaxing on the couch, I tend to touch my face a lot. Every bump I feel, I make a mental note to go and investigate the bump in the mirror. At the commercial break, I’ll head to the bathroom and pop my pimple. It feels incredibly satisfying at the time, but then I’m left with active, open acne that takes a long time to heal, and sometimes scars. I realized that when I’m watching TV I need something else to occupy my hands so they don’t migrate to my face. Now, when I catch myself touching my face, I will stop, and go get my latest knitting project. Keeping my hands busy by knitting has worked tremendously to reduce my skin picking.
Your mind is powerfully connected to your skin. Have you ever broken out in blemishes, a rash or hives during high periods of stress? Your skin can be directly influenced by your emotional state. The beauty of this is that this works both ways. Harnessing your positive, beautiful, and creative thoughts can help keep your skin clear. Believe that you are beautiful and that your skin is getting clearer and more radiant every day, and it will. When you look in the mirror, interrupt any default thought patterns that tell you that you’re not enough, and instead, focus on all of the things you love about yourself, such as your eyes that allow you to see the world around you, or your lips that give you your unique and joyful smile.
Do you ever find yourself hesitating before you really want to do something, only to find that you end up talking yourself out of it and missing out on great opportunities? One of the most amazing books I read in 2017 was called The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins. Seriously, go download this book on Audible right now!
The premise that Mel teaches is so simple (but not easy!). Whenever you have the instinct to do something, you count down from 5-4-3-2-1 and then MOVE. No hesitation and no excuses! You’ll find yourself pushing past limiting beliefs, reaching goals, and building confidence, which translates into life satisfaction! From a holistic perspective, this all will have a positive effect on your body and health.
We’ve all heard that there are incredible benefits to meditation, but what if you can’t seem to sit still or really quiet your mind. In the beginning, meditation can feel frustrating and impossible (one of the indicators that you should keep practicing!), so an alternative to still meditation is active meditation. A good way to experiment with this is to take 10-15 minutes to go for a walk (bonus points if you can do this in nature). Then at a nice, relaxed pace, breathe in deeply and simply take in your surroundings. What do you notice? Do you hear birds? Smell the trees? See the bees buzzing around the flowers? If your to-do list or endless lists of “shoulds” and “coulds” keep popping into your mind, simply notice them and then let them go.
If you’d prefer a stationary meditation, one that I really like to do is the 5 Sense Meditation. Take a comfortable seat. Take a big deep breath in through your nose, and exhale fully through your mouth. Continue to breathe slowly and intentionally, and then scan each of your senses. Identify one thing in your local surroundings that you see, smell, hear, feel, and lastly, what do you taste? This quick meditation can be done anywhere you are, and can disrupt negative thought patterns and recenter yourself in your surroundings.
Replace “I have to” with “I get to”. When life starts to get overwhelming, not only does our cortisol start to spike, and we activate our natural fight or flight response, but we also start to lose our ability to cope. A new pimple can send you spiraling into an emotional tantrum. Practicing gratitude is one of the quickest ways to pull yourself out of this place of emotional despair, but it can feel almost impossible to find anything to feel gratitude at a time like this. One of the simplest tools I use is to replace all my “have tos” with “get tos”. It’s such a simple reframe, but super powerful. For example, instead of “I have to pay this bill,” replace it with “I get to pay this bill.” The get to recognizes how lucky you are to live a life where you have freedom of choice and the means to live the life we want.
Did you make it to the end?
If you did, I’d love to hear one thing you’re going to do today to live more intentionally to help clear your skin. Let me know in the comments below!