When should you start taking steps to prevent signs of aging? What can you do if you have environmental damage? Our friend and holistic skincare expert Stephanie Tourles shares answers your questions and gives her best tips for how to keep your skin radiant and youthful.
Simplicity and purity – the essentials of holistic skin care. Having healthy, radiant skin does not mean keeping your bathroom cabinet overflowing with a vast assortment of jars and bottles containing scads of “lab-created youthifiers”, nor even products with 50-plus ingredients of natural origin, each fighting for a level of noticeable effectiveness and increasing the likelihood for an allergic reaction. What your skin really wants is a sound dose of TLC and common sense, not a complicated beauty regimen and product overload. So, for a lifetime of healthy, vibrant good looks, follow my eight easy steps:
Step 1: Gently Cleanse, Never Strip
The foundational and most important step in your skin care ritual is proper cleansing – performed at least once per day before you go to sleep (twice per day if skin is excessively oily). The obvious purpose of cleansing is to remove dirt, makeup, sweat, and oil, all of which can block pores and lead to breakouts and blotchiness. No matter what your skin type or age, use a natural, chemical-free cleanser, either a lotion/cream-type cleanser if you have normal or drier skin or a low-lathering product that relies on coconut-derived fatty acids as the foaming agent for oily or combination skin. A gentle cleanser will remove surface filth without causing irritation and won’t leave your skin feeling tight, dry, and stripped afterwards.
Step 2: Exfoliate
A very important second step – to be performed twice weekly on all skin types. Most exfoliants are called scrubs and should be used gently. Your face is not the kitchen sink and should not be scrubbed like one. Many exfoliants can, and should, be used as a mask prior to scrubbing. After cleansing, add a little water to your scrub mixture to form a spreadable paste (I like to use a powder-based scrub blend that contains ingredients such as white kaolin clay, almond flour, rice flour, oat flour, or ground sunflower seeds), but commercial products that rely on jojoba beads, can also be used – then spread it in a thin layer over your clean face and neck, and allow to dry or semi-dry for 20-30 minutes.
Next, moisten the mask and gently roll the exfoliant over your skin using small, circular motions, then rinse. Exfoliation aids the skin in what it does naturally – shed dead skin cells. As we age, the natural exfoliation process slows down. If you have dry skin, exfoliation will help your moisturizer to penetrate better. If you have oily or combination skin, exfoliation will help prevent blackhead formation. Always avoid harsh granular scrubs based on ground apricot kernels or walnut shells as those cut, scratch, and irritate the skin’s surface.
Step 3: Hydrate
All skin is thirsty, even oily skin (it simply contains more fats/lipids). Your body consists of approximately 70% water, and your skin holds a lot of moisture in its three layers, especially young, plump, firm, supple skin – which is what we all desire to maintain into advanced age. Following a good cleansing, be sure to tone your skin with a product that will saturate it with an herbal infusion of beneficial, water-soluble nutrients. True floral waters or hydrosols such as lavender, lavandin, rose, rose geranium, neroli, or rosemary, available from better health food stores or purveyors of quality organic herbal wares, deeply hydrate and freshen your skin, preparing it for the next step. You can even fill a small spray bottle with your favorite hydrosol and spritz your skin throughout the day if feeling dry or parched. Keep in mind that, depending upon the season or climate, your skin will need more or less hydration at different times.
Step 4: Fortify
Immediately after hydrating, you’ll want to preserve all that moisture that now resides in your skin, otherwise it will simply evaporate. You can do this either by applying a natural moisturizer created for your skin type, or use a facial oil that will add needed lipids (fats) AND seal in the moisture. This is exactly what I formulated Healthy Harvest’s Olive Essentials Facial Oils No. 1 and No. 2 for. These products are totally biocompatible with your skin – it will recognize the natural nutrients in the organic, Tuscan olive oil base and beneficial properties of the organic essential oils. Your cells will literally drink them up, thus aiding in healing, nourishing, rejuvenating, comforting, restoring, and youthifying your skin.
Both facial oils are designed to be used IN LIEU of your regular moisturizer, twice daily. The facial oils actually seal in the important moisture remaining on your skin from your toner/hydrosol and truly nourish your skin, leaving it feeling fabulous, toned, tightened, plump, and lifted, with diminished wrinkle visibility – prolonging the youthful qualities while supporting the integrity of your skin. Please don’t be afraid of using an oil on your face (even on oily skin). It only takes 4-8 drops with each application and rapidly penetrates leaving no greasy residue. The beautiful Italian and Greek peoples have used pure olive oil on their skin and hair for thousands of years – much to their benefit. Many often appear younger than their years well up into their 80s and beyond.
Facial Oil No. 1 – Can be used by all skin types, but I like it best for oily, combination, and normal skin, and especially conditions in need of calming and healing such as acne, rosacea, couperose, eczema, environmentally damaged (that’s on the oily-to-normal side), cracked, chapped, or skin dealing with dermatitis.
Facial Oil No. 2 – Best for those with normal-to-dry, dry, and very dry skin. Helps reduce the appearance of visible fine lines and wrinkles. Revitalizes, tones, tightens, and visibly lifts lackluster, environmentally damaged, and mature skin. Calms reactive sensitive skin. Softens and retexturizes scar tissue, too.
Step 5: Common Sun Sense
We’ve become a sunphobic society. Yet all living things – plants, animals, and people – need some degree of sunshine in order to survive and thrive. Certainly, overexposure to the sun is the single most damaging factor to your skin. It’s not just a sunburn but also a suntan (and the associated skin dehydration) that represent damage to your skin, and that damage is cumulative over a lifetime.
Yet sunshine feels good on your skin and helps your body absorb calcium by causing your skin to produce part of the vitamin D complex that strengthens bones. Sun exposure also aids in healing eczema, acne, psoriasis, and poison plant rashes; helps reduce stress and blood pressure; balances hormone levels; and increases the body’s production of feel-good serotonin. Thirty to forty-five minutes of daily unprotected exposure to sunlight in the early morning or very late afternoon can help preserve your sanity and the health of your bones. Any more than that, then you’re asking for skin damage. If you intend to spend a longer period of time in the sun, it’s important to apply a natural, full-spectrum sunscreen with a base such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide that will reflect both UVA and UVB rays. Find a product that works for your face and body – you may need two different products. Alternatively, you can always cover up in fashionable, cool, breathable clothing.
Step 6: Maximize Your Nutrition
I’ll keep this short and to the point . . . you are what you eat and drink . . . and it’s evident in how you look and feel, no doubt about it. Organic, pure, no junk, clean food, clean water, minimal caffeine and alcohol – are the key diet descriptors. Do the best you can and it will be reflected back to you in the mirror as gorgeous, luminous skin.
Step 7: Exercise
Keep moving to look and feel your best. Regular physical exercise increases lymphatic flow and circulation, improves digestion, stimulates your metabolic fire and the process of waste removal from the internal organs and skin, and delivers a surge of oxygen to your body, invigorating every organ and allowing your skin to take on radiant health.
Step 8: Sleep
Lastly - but perhaps even more important than the steps above– is ample sleep. Instead of thinking of sleep as a luxury or as something you can put off and catch up on later, think of it as an essential nutrient, just like vitamin C or water. Nighttime is the right time for renewal, and those prized hours when you sleep are the optimal time for your body’s repair and rejuvenation. AND, a great time for your skin to absorb the nutrients in your Olive Essentials Facial Oil!
Human growth hormone, which aids in the repair of damaged cells, including those of the skin, hair, and nails, is produced while you sleep. When you’re sleep deprived, your body struggles to maintain itself mentally and physically. Lack of sleep shows up as dark under-eye circles; haggard, sallow skin; puffy eyes; dull hair; lackluster nails; low energy level; weakened immunity; mental meltdowns; depression; irregular appetite; and lack of sexual interest. Sleep deprivation can also trigger the release of cortisol, your stress hormone. Overproduction of cortisol ages your skin and contributes to unmistakable signs of fatigue. You can’t put your best face forward when running on empty!
A solid night of shut-eye is often referred to as beauty sleep or beauty rest because it’s one of the best (and least expensive) beauty secrets of models and celebrities or anyone who depends on physical appearance for his or her livelihood. You can spend scads of money on the latest eye cream or trendy spa treatments, but a good dose of sleep is the most effective beauty and well-being treatment of all.
For more information about Stephanie Tourles, her books, events, podcasts, videos, and to follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and sign up for her monthly blog, visit her website www.stephanietourles.com