Inspiration

Natural Beauty, Radiant Skin

Fiona at Graveyard Fields

Have you ever heard the saying, “beauty begins on the inside?” Of course that bit of sage wisdom is referring to the inner person rather than surface appearance. However, outward beauty and radiant skin are also connected to the inner you! It is undeniable that there are an endless number of cultural definitions of beauty. Even within cultures, beauty metrics are radically different. Skinny vs. curvy. Youth vs. aging. While the social construction of beauty has evolved over the ages and youth is certainly fleeting, natural beauty and radiant skin echos a timeless appeal. We’ve all seen those women, regardless of age, who simply glow. As the temperatures rise and we are all showing a little more skin, I thought it would be the perfect time to share my tips for creating natural timeless beauty from the inside out.

Pick up any magazine, scroll through your favorite social media platform, or watch TV and it becomes obvious that the beauty industry is booming! Recent research reveals that women spend $15,000 in a lifetime on cosmetics and men are catching up. Of course we all want to look our best as we face the world each day. Are beauty products and cosmetics really the secret to beautiful glowing skin?

As health and beauty conversations become more mainstream, consumers are confronted with dangerous chemicals found in beauty products and their adverse affects on the body. As a result, a growing number of women and men are adopting a more holistic approach to beauty. The word “holistic” comes from the Greek word holos, meaning “whole.” Rather than just addressing an immediate symptom, holistic therapy is a multi-directional approach that treats the underlying cause, considering lifestyle choices. When it comes to skincare the same ethos applies. Beautiful glowing skin is about good skin care habits and supporting the body’s wellness.

Web.TT.FinalI turned 44 years old this year. There is nothing more important to me than looking and feeling healthy and radiant—from the inside out. Here are my holistic tips for creating natural beauty and radiant skin on any budget:

Diet

Good nutrition is a fundamental building block of healthy skin—healthy fats, sufficient protein, and lots of fruits and veggies. As a bonus, these nutritional superstars also do wonders for the rest of your body including building brainpower, lowering cholesterol and improving sleep. Don’t ignore your gut! What shows up on the outside (skin) is often a reflection of the conditions on the inside (your gut).

Be sure to fuel up every morning with a satisfying meal. Here’s a link to two of my favorite breakfasts, one is a sit down and the other is a delicious meal on the go.

I enjoy one small cup of Joe every morning then immediately move on to water. Water, water, and lots of water. All day. Everyday. Not only does it keep my skin hydrated, but water aids in digestion, circulation and other essential functions including supporting a healthy metabolism.

Go green with tea! Historically, green tea was popular in India, Japan, Korea and China and used medicinally for centuries to treat everything from headaches to depression. These days, tea drinkers around the globe consume green tea due to its numerous health benefits. It contains a high amount of antioxidants as well as enzymes, amino acids, and phytochemicals like polyphenols. It also has B vitamins, folate, manganese, potassium, magnesium and a little caffeine.

My favorite green tea is Zen by Tazo. It combines green tea with notes of lemongrass and mint, and is delicious iced as well as hot. In the warmer months, I love to make a thyme simple syrup to sweeten the tea slightly before icing. It is light and refreshing and the little hint of caffeine is a great afternoon ‘pick me up.’

Yes, I’m going to say it. Moderate your alcohol consumption. There is quite a bit of compelling research on the effects of alcohol on the body (skin being the lessor issue), especially after age 40.

Sun Habits

As a great lover of the outdoors, and a child of the 80’s, I’ve spent a lifetime baking in the sun. It wasn’t until after I turned forty that the effects of all those long summer days started showing up in the form of brown spots, wrinkles and sun damage. “Honey, time marches on and eventually you realize it is marchin’ across your face.” (- Truvy, Steel Magnolias). First it was my face…then the damage started showing up on my hands, décolletage and even my legs. Eeek! This was not the ‘aging gracefully’ strategy that I had in mind for myself.

While you can’t undo the damage from a sun filled youth, you can slow down further damage by protecting yourself with broad-spectrum sunscreen with an appropriate SPF for your skin type. Most important to note, make sure you apply generously and reapply every two hours, or more frequently if swimming or sweating. These days I don’t so much as walk my dogs without sunscreen and a hat.

Lifestyle

We all know about smoking and have already covered the effects of alcohol consumption on the skin. But what about the cool lifestyle choices we can make to enhance our skin? I’ve got two powerful weapons for you: beauty rest & exercise!

Rest is essential to encourage cell and tissue regeneration and to prevent dark circles and bags under the eyes and the appearance of pasty skin. Beyond improving your appearance, adequate sleep is a key ingredient to a healthy lifestyle, and can benefit your heart, weight, mind and more.

Exercise! It increases cellular metabolism and the flow of blood throughout the body to keep your organs and tissues healthy as well as reducing cortisol levels, which help in stress management. Stick to a good daily schedule and make sure you clean your skin thoroughly after your workout to prevent outbreaks.

Here are some tips to keep moving throughout the day:

  • Every single morning, I jump start my day with simple yoga stretches. One of my favorites is the Sun Salutation sequence. There are many short or long yoga sessions available online for all skill levels. I vary my practice daily based on the amount of time I have available each morning and I also listen to what my body asks for. Planks are also a great way to start the day, engaging multiple areas of the body. The big idea is to engage in gentle stretches to awaken all the body’s systems and prepare for the day ahead.
  • On days when I spend a lot of time at my desk, I set a timer to make sure I’m getting up at regular intervals. Little bursts of activity like taking a walk around the office or down the block help to oxygenate the body. We tend to focus on the cardiovascular benefits of physical activity, and those are certainly important. But anything that promotes healthy circulation also helps keep your skin healthy and vibrant. Bonus, you’ll get an energy boost too!
  • Walk, run or cycle for lunch. If you can spare 20-45 minutes for lunch, why not take advantage of the opportunity to move! Most days I try to eat lunch while I work so that I can spend my ‘lunch time’ in motion. On days that I can’t get out during lunch, I add a little extra time to my morning or after work routine.
  • After work, carve out some time for yourself. Some days I have time for a long brisk walk with my dogs, other days all I can spare is 20 minutes of hard cardio-boxing. All days, I do something. If my kids have an after school activity or sports practice, I throw my sneakers in the car so I can take a walk rather than simply sit and wait. When the venue allows, I throw my bike in the car and cycle around town while I wait. Beats more time on the tush! If you are so inclined, take a class at your local fitness center or gym after work.
  • Before bed, I return to yoga stretches. Working in a fast paced industry, juggling professional and personal obligations, my body can carry a lot of stress in my shoulders, neck and lower back. There are a variety of yoga stretches designed to support greater sleep.

Before you realize it, you’ve exercised throughout the entire day. Your body feels great and it shows with glowing skin.

Skin Care

When most of us think of glowing radiant skin, ads for high end products with big promises and painful procedures come to mind. Who has time and money for that?! Not to mention all the chemicals that are introduced to the body through the skin.

Several years ago, I cleaned out my bathroom cabinet and switched completely and forever to an all natural skincare regimen that I make at home for pennies! The results have been incredible and long lasting. Now my daughters and my husband all enjoy the same routine with equally impressive results.

Here’s what I do for my face:

  • Eye Makeup Remover: Use a little dab of organic virgin cold-pressed coconut oil, gently massage around eyes to remove makeup. Gently wipe off with a square of tissue paper or makeup pad.
  • Cleansing: Nightly, to remove makeup, dirt or sweat, I make a baking soda-coconut oil paste.  First, I wet my entire face with warm water. In my hand, I create a paste from baking soda (right from the kitchen cupboard), coconut oil (described above) and water. I gently massage over my entire face, avoiding the eye area, rinse and pat dry. The result? My skin is smooth, calm and polished. Note: Those with more sensitive skin, like my teenage daughter, might do this 2-3 times per week instead of nightly. Find the balance that’s right for your skin type.
  • Toner: I use an apple cider vinegar toner all over my face (avoiding the eye area) after my morning shower and after bedtime cleansing. I like using Braggs Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar. I’ve found it to be more effective than other brands. My preferred ratio is 2/3 distilled water to 1/3 apple cider vinegar. The toner has been amazing for my daughters! It has cleared up blackheads and clogged pores especially during the sweaty sports seasons. I’ve also noticed a reduction in breakouts on their sweet teen faces. My aging skin has never looked brighter!

For my body, my favorite soap by far is Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Pure-Castile Bar Soap. My entire family uses it and loves it! It doesn’t irritate sensitive skin, great for all ages, and the bar lasts forever. Use all over the body as directed. Since my face is clean from the night before, I simply splash with cool water before finishing my morning shower, pat dry and am ready for toner (see above) and moisturizer (see below).

Moisturize

While moisturizing technically falls under skincare, this is such an important step that I made it its own category. Also, this is my absolute favorite all-over body tip! If you were only going to take away one tip from this post, this should be it.

Throw out all your moisturizers containing synthetic fragrance and other skin irritants and switch to oils! YES, oils. Even for someone like me who has struggled with oily skin my entire life. This has been the best thing that I’ve ever done for my skin, head to toe.

Here’s my shopping list:

  • Organic Coconut Oil / I love Trader Joe’s but you could certainly use whatever organic virgin cold-pressed oil that you can find near you. Coconut oil’s healing, antibacterial, and cleansing properties take on an entirely new personality when used topically.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil / It is rich in antioxidants, like vitamins A and E, helping to tone, repair and refresh dry, damaged and tired skin.
  • Avocado Oil / Packed with vitamins and nutrients, the skin moisturizing and healing benefits are many. **This oil does spoil if not used in a short amount of time. I keep the larger bottle in the fridge and only dispense small amounts (that I can use over a few weeks) into a smaller bottle that I keep in the bathroom.**
  • Sweet Almond Oil / **Do not use if you or your children have a nut allergy** Rich in Vitamin E, monounsaturated fatty acids, proteins, potassium and zinc, besides a number of other minerals and vitamins, this oil packs quite a punch!

Face Moisturizer in the Morning:

After the shower, I use my homemade apple cider vinegar toner (see above). Once that dries, I scoop a pea sized dab of coconut oil (it is in the solid form at room temperature) into my hand, pour in an equal amount of extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil. I rub my hands together to melt the coconut oil and blend. Then I massage all over my face, neck, décolletage and tops of my shoulders. YES, I put a blend of oils right on my face. You won’t believe how completely it soaks in, after 6-10 minutes or so, leaving behind beautiful glowing skin.

Now your radiant moisture rich skin is ready for priming and whatever make up you choose…or simply apply sunscreen and go!

**If applying makeup, be sure to give your face a little time to absorb the oils. Now that my skin is accustomed to this routine, it takes no time at all. At first, I needed 6-10 minutes between steps.**

Body Moisturizer in the Morning:

After my shower, I pat my skin to damp dry. For my entire body, all the way down to my toes, I mix equal parts coconut and extra virgin olive oil in my hands, rubbing together to blend the oils, and apply right to damp skin. It does take a little extra massaging and a bit of patience for the oils to soak in before getting dressed. But again, your skin will be so smooth and beautiful that you won’t mind the wait.

If you like essential oils (I’ve been a Young Living user for years), add a few drops of your favorite singles or blends to the coconut/EVOO before applying to your body to create your own signature scent!

After the oils have been absorbed, I get dressed and go. After a long hard day of work and/or play, my skin still feels soft and amazing by bedtime. No need to reapply moisturizers. Instead, I’m ready to cuddle with my husband and catch up after a busy day.

Face Moisturizer before Bed

I follow the make up removal, cleansing and toning routine outlined above. Pat skin to damp dry. In my hand, I mix together a pea sized amount of coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil and sweet almond oil. Then I massage all over my face, neck, décolletage and tops of my shoulders. With the addition of sweet almond oil, the blend is a little heavier than in the morning. But it does its work during the night and I wake up with soft radiant skin, ready to put my best face forward.

My Results?Alex & Tina

My aging skin has never looked or felt better! I have personally observed significant healing from sun damage and a reduction in wrinkles and dryness. My skin has taken on a beautiful glow and radiance that I hadn’t previously achieved with any other regimen or product.

The best part, I’ve tremendously lessened the amount of chemicals that I am putting in and on my body creating a space for wellness and vitality to thrive. Isn’t that what living in balance is all about—enjoying wellness and vitality both inside and out?

Final Thoughts

There are five of us in my family, all different ages and skin types. We have all enjoyed individual health and beauty benefits of this wellness routine. My suggestion would be to find the right balance for you and your individual needs. For example, I use more oil on my skin than anyone in my household. My daughters only need the toner a couple times per week, some of them only in the T-zone, whereas I use it twice daily all over my face.

One of my daughters still prefers Cetaphil facial cleanser, but uses everything else from the regimen I described above.

Play with the care routine to find the balance that is right for you while keeping personal wellness highest on your priority list. When you think and act in those terms, you can’t go wrong.

**I am not a doctor or dermatologist—none of these wellness tips are meant as health advice
nor should they take the place of a qualified health professional.**