In the past few years, I’ve totally overhauled not only my style, but my health and how I take care of my body. While I’m nowhere near perfect, I have made some changes that have made a significant impact, especially when it comes to my skin. Like many women, I’ve spent tons of money and time attempting to find a “magic” cream to fix issues that have plagued my skin, such as acne, the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, sun damage and dark circles underneath my eyes. But in the past two or three years, I’ve finally found some solutions, most of which cost very little.
The number one thing I’ve done to enhance my skin is quit drinking alcohol. While there are obviously numerous benefits to quitting drinking, this was so tangible and evident, it really helped me keep my resolve when I first stopped imbibing. Within two weeks of quitting, my skin was transformed, and it’s continued to get better as time goes on. My acne and dark spots on my face cleared up, my fine lines smoothed out, my eyes were transformed – no longer puffy or dark – and my skin now has a healthy glow. I also started drinking tons of water each day, and recently have cut out most sodas and sugary drinks. I was told by my favorite makeup artist, the best way to get rid of dark circles or undereye puffiness is to drink a giant glass of cold water. She was right! If you suffer from sallow skin or undereye issues, before you apply any makeup, try drinking a tall glass of water and wait five minutes. You’ll be shocked at the difference.
However, even as my skin has become remarkably healthier, I have had some issues arise that needed specific attention. Earlier this year I noticed small patches of acne appearing on my chin. These weren’t like my past acne, they were painful and seemed to spread quickly. A few months ago I switched over to oil cleansing as opposed to harsh soaps, so I thought maybe that was the culprit. But after trying every over-the-counter application, nothing helped!
After some research and a doctor’s visit, I found out that I was suffering from something called cystic acne. This condition is characterized by large, painful bumps, usually deep in the skin. It stays around for quite a long time, and can cause scarring. It is brought on (for me) by stress and hormones, which explains why it showed up right around when I went to New York City for the first time this spring and was completely overwhelmed with life/work stress. I wasn’t sleeping, my diet wasn’t great and I wasn’t taking very good care of myself, which all contributed to this issue.
My doctor said he could prescribe a steroid, but I wanted to try some natural treatments before I jumped to medication. The first thing I did was cut down on sugar and salt in my diet. I’m sort of a sweet tooth, so I couldn’t cut it out COMPLETELY, but I did my best. I also made sleep more of a priority. I was working late into the night, and found I was unable to slow down my brain when I was done, so I’d end up sitting up watching TV or reading until 2 or 3 in the morning. I decided to try and stop working at night (for the most part) and get up earlier to work instead.
I also found this incredible, natural, affordable treatment for cystic acne. You take equal parts lemon juice and apple cider vinegar, then mix in turmeric powder to make a paste. You leave it on your inflamed skin for five to ten minutes, then wash off (beware: the turmeric will leave a slight yellow stain on your skin, so you will probably have to use soap and water with a warm washcloth and not just rinse with water). I would follow this up with a touch of moisturizer.
The combination of the lemon juice (an astringent), the vinegar (restores pH balance) and turmeric (an anti-inflammatory) helped clear up my acne in about three days. The diet, stress and sleep changes help keep the condition away, but I know if I flare up again, this mask will be the first thing I try! Turns out I don’t need expensive creams or treatments to keep my skin healthy and happy. Some sleep, a lot of water and a few items in my own kitchen do the trick!