My Healthy Skin Routine: Part II

Mastermind Weekend 1/16

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I'm Tina

I’m the owner of Carrots ‘N’ Cake as well as a Certified Nutrition Coach and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner (FDN-P). I use macros and functional nutrition to help women find balance within their diets while achieving their body composition goals.

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Back in September, I wrote a post about my healthy skin care routine, which explained how I’ve reduced the frequency of breakouts in my life. I’ve struggled with acne for as long as I can remember, so switching up my diet, living habits, and the products I use has worked wonders in the past several months. I received a lot of positive feedback from my first post, so here are a few more things that have helped to keep my skin clear.

Omega-3s

I already mentioned omega-3s in my first healthy skin routine post, but I just want to emphasize how much they seem to reduce breakouts and the overall quality of my skin. My skin is definitely not perfect, but I have seen a huge improvement since I started to take a daily fish oil supplement (and/or Coromega) and fill my diet with omega-3s from as many food sources as possible. (I also take a multivitamin every morning.)

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Some of my favorite omega-3-rich foods are chia seeds, ground flaxseed meal, walnuts, and fish (canned and fresh).

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Less sugar

Ever since I wrote my Confessions of a Sugarholic post, I’ve been a lot more conscious about how much sugar I consume. I still enjoy sugar on a daily basis, but not like I used to, which means that my blood sugar is a lot more steady. Fluctuations in blood sugar levels cause increased sebum production, which creates clogged pores and acne [source]. Plus, replacing all of that refined sugar with nutritious fruits and veggies has improved the quality of my skin too.

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Fewer products

I can’t even tell you how many different skin care/acne products I’ve tried over the years, including both over-the-counter and prescription products. You name, I’ve tried it! And, even worse, I’ve spent way too much money on them without results.

Less than I year ago, I used about 8-10 different products on my skin (face wash, toner, moisturizer, acne medication, serums, night cream, foundation, etc.). One day, when I was complaining about my skin for the millionth time to Mal, he pointed out just how much crap I used on my face alone. No wonder I kept breaking out! My skin was confused by all of the different products and chemicals it was being exposed to everyday, so I immediately pared them down.

Now, I use just three products daily: Neutrogena’s Oil-Free Acne Wash, Sephora Tinted Moisturizer SPF 20, and Ole Henriksen Invigorating Night Gel. If I get a big zit, I use CVS brand benzoyl peroxide to spot treat it. If my skin gets really dry (like in the winter), I use Purpose moisturizer before I put on the tinted moisturizer.

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Yoga

Yoga relaxes and detoxifies the body, so it seems that my regular practice is benefiting my skin too. I guess it’s worth the money! 😉

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Water

I also mentioned water in my first post, but it’s important to mention again since I definitely notice a difference in my skin when I don’t drink a lot of water. Water hydrates the skin, transports nutrients around the body, and flushes toxins, which all give the skin a ‘healthy glow’ and reduce the chance of breakouts [source], so I guzzle it all day long. (Added bonus: Drinking lots of water seems to help control my sugar cravings!)

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As you know, I’m not a dermatologist, esthetician, or doctor of any kind. This post is based on my own personal experiences. If you have specific questions for me, please don’t hesitate to ask!

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93 Comments

  1. Great post! I’ve always felt that less is more with skin care products. I’ve been lucky to have relatively “good” skin my whole life, but I partially attribute that to my very simple skin care routine. Sunscreen during the day, EVERY day, and a simple Oil of Olay moisturizer at night. Oh- and NO SOAP/cleanser. I wash my face with warm water at night and that’s it. I know. It sounds crazy, but for me, it works.

  2. It’s amazing what a difference water can have! I hate drinking regular ol’ tap water, so I try to mix it up by adding some fruit or veggie slices… cucumbers, strawberries, lemons, limes, oranges, mint leaves, or any combination! The possibilities are endless for thirst quenching yum!

  3. I noticed a big difference in my skin when I started exercising regularly, using LESS products on my face, drinking lots of water and eating less junk. Also I have broken the habit of touching my face all the time — sounds silly, but I’d always sit with my chin in my hands, and guess what, my chin would get pimples all the time!

    Thanks for sharing Tina!

  4. I never had many problems with my skin (beyond sensitivity) after the age of 13/14… until I turned 25. I was the poster child for adult acne — a year after cleaning up my diet, starting to workout, and drinking a ton of water. Dermatologists and prescriptions sometimes are a girl’s best friend 🙂

      1. @Mary: @Jen G.: I can relate! I tried absolutely everything, and finally I just had to suck it up and go to a dermatologist. She told me that some people are just more likely to get acne regardless of their routine due to imbalanced horomones…lucky me! The medication I take now has made a world of a difference. I wish I had your skin, Tina!

  5. I totally agree with the skin care part. I used to have terrible eczema on my face when I was using various types of products. I was told by my dermatologist to give my skin a break, and use fragrance-free, alcohol-free products combined with a good sunblock. My complexion has never been better.

    I try to take fish oil only when I remember. I think this is certainly something that I have to learn to do on a regular basis. Thanks for the wonderful post.

    1. @Michelle (The Runner’s Plate):

      Chia seeds and flax provide your body with ALA, a type of Omega-3, but not the type you really need: EPA and DHA. Fish oil supplements are the best source of this, but make sure it is an omega-3 supplement and NOT an omega-3,6,9 supplement (we get too much omega-6 without a supplement already).

  6. thank you so much! I struggle with bad acne, too and I do all of the above except for the Omega-3s. Maybe I should try to add some! Also, have you noticed any correlation with dairy and/or meat? I’m convinced the growth hormones mess with my skin. Thanks Tina!

      1. In your post from September you said you avoid cow’s milk. Do you still avoid milk but you eat other organic dairy products?

  7. I totally agree about minimizing the number of products you use on your face. I have to work on the water drinking though….

    What do you use when you do have breakouts? Like when you have to spot treat a zit?

  8. I love these posts! Honestly, it helps people become more aware of things they may not even think of. I had a bad B12 and iron deficiency a month ago and just by talking about what I was going through, people realized that they had forgotten about getting the right vitamins. Thanks for sharing this Tina!

  9. I use less products too. I have a friend who sells Mary Kay and she gives me free stuff all the time. I use their face soap and lotion but for the most part I keep my skin clean and fresh–very little makeup. I also use LOTS of sunscreen!

  10. I have got to figure out a plan for my skin! Right now I’m super simple – dove soap (yes, soap!) and face cream from The Body Shop. Not bad, but I’m not getting any younger!

  11. I used to get the worst acne, and just like you, I used everything under the sun, including ProActiv and prescription meds. My mom suggested the same thing as Mal, to just stop taking the products and let my skin get “back to normal.” I found out normal for me was that my skin was super sensitive!

    Now I use the Body Shop Aloe Vera line for sensitive skin. It has done wonders! I haven’t had a serious breakout for months. And I’m also drinking a ton more water and that has definitely helped too. This was the first winter where my face wasn’t a flaky mess. 🙂

    1. @Alaina: Sensitive skin – me too!! harsh products were making me get eczema on my face, and when I started to read labels, I realized I was allergic to some of the ingredients in the products that were supposedly good for sensitive skin (i.e. macadamia nut oil in Cetaphil). Now I swear by the Spectro line of products, and I’ve discovered that gel moisturizer is great for combination skin.

  12. Like many others, I also found that less is more when it comes to skincare (except for sleep and water, then more is more)!

    I tried ProActiv and just about every store brand acne fighter, but it wasn’t until I started using a super gentle face wash and sensitive skin moisturizer that my face cleared up. It makes sense when you think about it – ProActiv’s lotion was so strong that it actually bleached the necklines of my sleep shirts when I used it. Something that strong can’t exactly go with healthy body chemistry.

    A question about the fish oil supplements – do they give you the fishy burps? I tried them years ago, but I couldn’t get over the burps…

  13. Thanks for this post! I just returned from a trip to Italy, and I’ve noticed a number of blemishes (which is unusual for me). I immediately blamed the Italian water, but this is a good reminder that it was probably my the sharp uptick in my consumption of sugar, refined carbs, and dehydrating wine!

  14. I totally agree with everything you’ve said. I’m lucky to have pretty clear skin, but I think it’s largely due to the fact that I use very few products on it and drink water like it’s going out of style! Great post 🙂

  15. I took fish oil for a while but broke out in hives…I was allergic to one of the fish! Flax seed supplements work just the same without the fish allergy, in case anyone has this problem! I do think nutrients are better in their natural forms though, like you mentioned.

    1. @Kate: My skin is much better nowadays, but in high school and college, I could have been one of those ‘Before’ photos on the Proactiv commercials. I don’t think there was even an inch of my face without a blemish on it.

  16. Thank you for the helpful tips! I have been struggling with varying degrees of acne since I was about 12 years old. I even went on Accutane (a powerful drug for acne) twice, which worked wonders at the time, but I still get some pretty nasty breakouts (cute I know :p)
    I’m going to try a few of these ideas now!

  17. I have tried everything too help with my skin. And realized, like you said, that I was doing too much to my skin. Now I try just to use about 3 products and get into face care routine. Stress is another big factor for me, slowly working on that 😉

  18. definitely with ya on the omega fatty acids! also, i’ve found (for myself) that taking a complete multi vitamin is helping my skin a lot more. my complexion (and over all skin) have never been better!

  19. It’s insane how much diet impacts your skin. I’m a woman of color, so my biggest problems are hyper-pigmentation and discoloration. Ambi has some good moisturizers to even out skin tone and reduce marks.

    My dermatologist also suggested taking a vitamin D supplement (especially during the winter when I get less sun), fish oil, and reduce my dairy. Cutting dairy immediately had an impact on my skin. The more cheese/dairy I eat, the more zits I get!

    I need to find better make up (specifically concealer), because I think it makes me break out. I wear Bobbi Brown, but it’s so hard finding a concealer that blends with my complexion!

    Thanks for reminding me to take my vitamins today!

  20. have you ever put flax oil omega 3 in your smoothies? I just picked up some the other day- you add it to your smoothies and can’t taste it. It’s 120 calories per tablespoon though- but I thought that was a good way to get in your omega 3’s!

  21. great tips! i think sometimes i trust *real* people more than doctors sometimes… there’s just a brutal honesty, been there done that perspective that i love! thanks : )

  22. I have acne too. I control it by taking fish oil and using all Neutrogena products on my face. Funny the answer was so simple after I spent years trying various products and gimmicks.

  23. I agree drinking water is so important. I am so not getting enough fluids, I can tell I don’t have that glow and plus it’s not good to be in a thirsty state that I have been in lately!

    Great tips!!!! 🙂

  24. I have also struggled with acne and breakouts for as long as I can remember! I definitely agree that using only a few products rather than a bunch of different ones is the way to go. Also, it takes time for a product to start working–so being patient is a very important part of the process as well! 🙂

  25. Tina…love this post!!

    Before I got pregnant, I was on the pill and my skin was pretty much perfect. Since getting pregnant, having a baby, nursing, weaning, …there is SO MUCH hormonal upheaval and my skin feels like Im 15 again!

    I keep dabbling w/ drugstore products but have found that lancome fash wash called mousse radiance is my skin’s friend. I have tried a zillion other things…and mousse radiance, olay toner from the drugstore, and that’s IT works the best for me.

    Of course yoga, water, sleep, etc.

    Love the post!

  26. I have had acne problems for what seems like forever! I have been considering taking fish oil supplements. Can you tell me how you take them–how much, when, how often…?

  27. The best thing I have done for my skin was switch to washing my face with Tea Tree Oil organic soap. That’s it! I was clogging my pores with all of the products I was using. After I switched over a year ago my skin cleared up in about a week or two, and today I maybe get a breakout every couple months. It’s wonderful. I am now using Dr. Bronner’s brand.

  28. I only use the fancy shmancy face creams when I get them as free samples from Sephora 🙂 But I do like Clinique’s moisturizer, and other than that, I try to keep the “crap” off my face too. Your skin always looks great!

  29. Great post!
    I think that most people forget that you have to wash AND moisturize. I have had friends who say that they just exfoliate because they have greasy skin and so on, but in reality your skin could actually be getting more oily without the moisture because it is over compensating!
    I love seeing what other women’s routines look like, thanks for the post!

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