15 Tricks for Better Skin.

Everyone loves healthy skin. And everyone loves having nice, pretty soft skin. But not everyone is blessed with adamantine skin that survives anything and comes out looking like we’re on the cover of a magazine. I know I’m not. We all get the odd pimple, blackhead, greasy spot or dry area from time to time. And it’s unreasonable to ask everyone to stay indoors all day, wash their face ten times a day and never eat anything inflammatory or allergenic. So here are 15 tips to make sure you have great skin as often as possible.

1: Drink more water.

The biggest cause of all skin issues is dehydration. Even oily skin, heavy sweats and water retention, that look like they might be caused by excess water, can be triggered by dehydration. If you naturally drink very little or a lot, this doesn’t mean you need to add a litre or two a day, just a glass when you get up and a glass when you go to bed can make a massive difference.

2: Exfoliate.

Using a rough grain exfoliator like a sugar or coconut shell scrub can do wonders for you. It can prevent ingrown hairs, reduce the number of blackheads and even thicken and darken the skin over stretch marks, reducing their appearance.

3: Vitamin D.

Your skin is designed to produce Vitamin D when it’s in contact with sunlight. The amount of Vitamin D in our bodies nowadays, when we spend so little time outside, is very low. So it stands to reason that our skin suffers from this lack of Vitamin D. I have noticed my skin lost some of its ashen complexion and the dark circles under my eyes disappeared after some Vitamin D supplementation. This is especially important for people with darker skin, as higher melanin content makes it harder for your body to make Vitamin D!

4: Scrape pores.

In the same vein as exfoliation, but where exfoliation is prevention, scraping is the cure. When you have blackheads or open pores, this can really help. Take a scraper like you’d use with hair removal cream. Run it over your problem pores, pressing down lightly so it squeezes out any blackheads or clogging. Use a splash of cold water to seal the pores again. Just be sure to do this before bed, as the skin will be red for a few hours after scraping and using makeup can clog your pores again.

5: Moisturize.

Whether you use a damp, warm towel, essential oils, a store bought face cream or a yoghurt and honey mix, make sure to moisturize, especially if the weather is warm, your skin is very oily or dry or if you use a lot of makeup on a regular basis.

6: Disinfect.

If you see redness, scratches, spots, blackheads or swelling anywhere on your skin and it’s definitely a skin surface issue, use a little tea tree oil. It’s a natural disinfectant and could help prevent further damage and encourage your skin to heal normally.

7: Steam bath.

If you have oily skin or pores that clog often, use a steam bath a couple of times a week to clear your pores. The warm steam will open your pores and the heat will encourage you to sweat, which may help force out many of the oils that collect in your sweat ducts and glands, giving your drier, softer skin for the following days.

8: Go lactose-free.

In many people acne is a symptom of lactose intolerance. If your heritage is anything but pure Hungarian or Scandinavian, chances are you are at least a little bit lactose intolerant. Try cutting out dairy from cream to skimmed milk. Butter is still OK as the lactose in it is negligible. After a couple of weeks you may notice your acne is reduced or entirely gone.

9: Pat dry.

With very oily and sweaty skin, sometimes we make the problem worse by poking or prodding too much and using too many products. Keep some facial blotters with you wherever you go and if you feel your face getting prickly, oily or sweaty, just lightly blot your face and neck. This will absorb excess oils without irritating the pores. Never use one blotter twice, especially if your skin is very oily, as you could be adding oils back to your skin after you’re done.

10: Beta carotene.

More urgent for people of Caucasian heritage than any other, but still useful to most people unless your skin is 100% Sub-Saharan Black. Beta carotene is the pigment in carrots, sweet potatoes and oranges that makes many foods orange or red or pink. Your body absorbs it and it lightly colours your skin, filling in the melanin gaps with a golden or orangey colour. This pigmentation gives lighter skinned people a healthy glow and can help prevent sunburn during brief periods of exposure.

11: Cool off.

Some of the biggest problems with skin care happen when our pores are wide open. Regularly washing our faces in very cold water can help keep your pores closed. Fanning and sitting in a breezy area is good too. Keeping cool will help keep your pores closed.

12: Sunblock.

Sun damage on any skin tone is terrible. You have dryness, wrinkled patches and swelling. Even if your skin is dark and won’t show redness, it will show the swelling, wrinkles and peeling. Be sure to use sunblock if you’re out for over half an hour and enjoy the sun without burning.

13: Dry shave.

If you shave your legs and/or arms, consider doing a dry shave once in a while. After a shower, pat yourself mostly dry, take a fresh razor and carefully shave without using water or soap. If the drag hurts don’t do it, but if it doesn’t bother you, you’ll be amazed at how smooth the skin is and how few ingrown hairs you get!

14: Cut back sugars.

Many people get very bad skin from eating fast release sugar. If you find your skin is puffy, oily, aging quickly or covered in acne, but lactose wasn’t causing it, it could be sugars. Try cutting out all foods with simple sugar and having only one or two pieces of fruit a day over a week. You may find your skin looks much better.

15: Oil cleansing.

It sounds counter-intuitive, but actually all soaps are made of oils and for most of our history we made use of oils for washing. The fact of the matter is that oils bind with oils, so if you have oily skin, eczema or generally sensitive skin, oils can bind with your natural skin oils and the irritants that are in them. Your skin could be far healthier if you use oil cleansing. Try using olive oil, coconut oil or walnut oil for the best results.

And that is what I have learned about how to care for your skin!

How do you keep your skin clear, healthy and happy? Have you tried any of the above advice? Share your experience in the comments. 🙂

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

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How To… prepare a “ladies’ kit”.

This post will discuss menstrual matters. Most men may not need to read this or feel comfortable reading it. However, if you are a woman, have daughters or just want to take care of someone who’s having a hard time this month, then the language will be kept polite and clear.

This is part VI of my ongoing “housekeeper’s kits” series. Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV and Part V at these links.

1: The bag.

You will be wanting something discreet, that can absorb odors (such as those from scented sanitary pads, creams or medication) and preferably that looks pretty. I chose a single compartment make-up bag for mine. It’s black, so any lotion or medicine spills won’t show and it absorbs and masks light smells quite well, though a lavender pouch is never superfluous.

2: The essentials.

Obviously, if this kit is a menstrual kit, you will need your basics. Also, if you’re making the kit for yourself, try and be sure to have your closer friends’ preferred basics as well, and some emergency items in case your usual items run out, break or just aren’t cutting it. I use a cup, but I still keep the following for emergencies.

-spare black underwear (because it always seems to be in the laundry when you need it most)

-pads

-tampons

-slips

-sanitary disposal bags

-cleaning equipment for reusable items

3: Extra hygiene.

Regardless of how much you want it to be, this time of the month can get messy. Other basics you could use are:

-a sponge for cleaning external porcelain stains

-well-sealed baby wipes that will treat you more delicately then the usuals

-flannels you can use with warm water for your hands

-some baby shampoo and peroxide in case of emergency stain treatment

4: The medicals.

And some of us need the odd medical treatment from time to time over that time of the month. If you do, keep the medicine in the bag, so you know where it is, and check the expiry date at the end of every month, as many of these medications expire before you’ve had a chance to use them all!

Some that everyone could do with:

-mild aspirin-free painkiller like paracetamol (aspirin is a blood-thinner and is found in ibuprofen, fyi)

-iron supplements

-st john’s wort (check for incompatibilities with underlying conditions or current medication first)

-anti-fungal gel

5: The comforts.

I don’t like treating a natural state of my body as an illness. But, on the other hand, if you can do little things to care for yourself the rest of the time, why not adapt to whatever state your body is in? Here are some things to make everything a little bit nicer, even if they aren’t 100% essential.

-rash creams to ease any stuffiness-based swelling

-a hot water bottle for aches or just because it’s nice

-a small toy to cuddle if you feel the urge

-a bag of your favourite sweets (keep outside of main bag, but nearby)