I have been meaning to write this post for a while. I know I touched on my skin care products when I wrote the henna post, but I didn’t really go into full detail (that I remember) of what I actually do for my skin. Skin has been an interest of mine since I was very young. As many of you know I am a certified high definition makeup artist. I was trained in Hollywood by Margaret Kimura, celebrity makeup artist. I have done bridal makeup for more weddings than I can count…
I’ve done makeup for tv show trailers, commercials, and print. You can even find my name on IMDb…I’m Hayley Mason (2) on there, apparently there is already a makeup artist named Hayley Mason out in Hollywood. It’s also really crazy to see someone on tv who has sat in your makeup chair before. That has happened to me a few times and it’s totally wild.
I did the makeup for Diane’s latest professional head shots, as well as her book cover for Practical Paleo, and I also did Liz Wolfe’s makeup for her cover of Modern Cave Girl–go pre-order. Oh, and I always do my own makeup for any professional photos that are taken of us
Makeup was my first passion, and really started at a very young age for me. My mom always told the story of me eating two tubes of red lipstick when I was really small (my first taste of toxins, yum)… After getting into makeup it wasn’t long before I was interested in skin care. Every teenager wants clear skin, and it didn’t take me long to figure out that the first step to flawless makeup is flawless skin. Unfortunately for me, I did a number on my skin after years of wearing MAC, Bobbi Brown, and every other designer line of makeup I could get my hands on. My skin was by far the worst when I was living in Los Angeles being trained to do makeup for TV and print. Everyday we would paint using our own faces as the canvas. I would go home from class with tons of makeup on. Before I knew it my cheeks had a good bit of congestion, and I was left picking at my face morning and night.
After I left LA I went to live on Long Island with my Aunt. A friend of hers was a medical esthetician, and happened to have been great friends with my makeup idol, Kevyn Aucoin. My mission was to train under her and learn all I could learn about skin care. I was her little assistant, and would watch her do all sorts of medical skin treatments. In that medical spa I was introduced to Jane Iredale mineral makeup. It was my first time ever using mineral makeup, and I was in charge of doing camouflage makeup on post op patients, one of my challenges being to cover scars on a woman who had a bad face lift. Keloid scars were along her jawline and around her ear, but I covered them up with no problem using Iredale.
While I was in New York I realized I had a real passion for skin care and wanted to take it to the next level. I came home to Pittsburgh and started school to become an esthetician. My first job as an esthetician was at a new wellness center in Pittsburgh, and I was able to recommend Iredale as the makeup line they brought in to the spa. I was really happy to be working with Iredale again, and was even happier to be making a difference for women with skin conditions that never thought they would feel great in makeup. One of the things I did at this wellness center was makeup workshops where I taught a group of women how to apply the mineral makeup, and taught different types of makeup looks like a smoky eye, day makeup, and how to turn day makeup easily into evening makeup for a work day that ended with a night out with friends. It was fun, but the salon world just wasn’t for me. It can be pretty cut throat, and to be honest I’m not the best person at convincing people they need to spend money on products. Performing skin care services and makeup applications just turned into a stressful sales job, instead of helping men and women have healthy skin.
Through my journey of doing work as an esthetician and makeup artist, I had my battle with my own skin. While I was in New York my esthetician mentor would extract me, and do peels and other treatments on me to help with the congestion in my skin. I used every product under the sun from medical products and peels, to “all natural” skin care products. The list went on and on, and I never improved my skin enough to feel comfortable to go out in public without makeup on. My skin was red and splotchy and I always had little bumps on my cheeks.
Right before starting Paleo, I took myself to a medical spa in Pittsburgh for a facial, and ended up with a chemical peel because the esthetician there was concerned by the small red bumps on my skin and thought I needed something more aggresive. For a week my skin literally peeled off of my face and I looked pretty scary. I was strongly instructed to NOT peel the skin from my face (or I would scar), but I could cut the hanging pieces of skin off of my face with scissors–cute right? I enjoyed the results of the chemical peel, but like any procedure, the results don’t last if you haven’t figured out the root cause of what is going on. It’s like getting liposuction for example, you can suck out all the fat you want, but if you don’t change your eating and start exercising you are just going to acquire body fat again. While all of this was happening I was thinking I was eating well, but I really wasn’t. I was vegetarian, eating soy and grains, and sugar. Along with skin issues, I also was having weight issues. Any time I had ever done any sort of diet or cleanse that removed sugar, and grains, and included animal protein and vegetables my skin looked amazing. Coincidence? I think not.
After starting a Paleo diet my skin greatly improved, along with other positive changes from my new eating habits. When I started Paleo I definitely was doing the Paleo diet that most of us are introduced to, which is lean meats, olive oil, and green vegetables. I wasn’t eating red meat, I wasn’t eating important nutrient dense foods like bone broth, butter, organs, pastured animal fats, and fermented foods. At this point I didn’t even understand the gut/skin connection, and I really didn’t understand the importance of having a healthy gut in the first place–I mean I did, but I didn’t. Around this time our good friend Liz had started talking about natural body care on her blog. I was first intrigued by the “no poo” alternative to hair washing she posted about, and then the oil cleansing method. By the way…when you are telling friends or family about “no poo” make sure you fully explain what that is before you say the words “no poo” or else expect a reaction like I got which was “umm…isn’t that unhealthy to not poo…” whoops.
I told Liz that I was going to give no poo, OCM, and natural deodorant a shot. I have only had short periods of time where I used antiperspirant deodorant anyway because my grandfather (Dr. Murray Susser) has always said it causes breast cancer, so my mom told me I wasn’t allowed to use it when I was young. I always tried to use natural deodorants, but there were definitely some times in my late teen/early twenties when I used some girly smelling things. I also probably smelled worse because I ate poorly. Now for my pits, I was going to give baking soda and coconut oil a shot. All of this started happening right before the very first AHS in Los Angeles. I remember I took a little baggy of baking soda into the conference just in case I needed a dusting of smell protection throughout the day (good thing there wasn’t a bag check or else I probably would have gotten arrested for a suspicious looking thing in my bag…maybe not arrested, but at least pulled aside for further questioning).
The oil cleansing was the only thing I stuck with through and through. I went back and forth for a while between washing my hair with baking soda and using a gluten free shampoo, and I also tried out a few natural deodorants and used a salt spray along with coconut oil and baking soda. The oil cleansing really helped my skin, and it was noticeable right away. I started out using an oil blend of castor oil and apricot oil from Whole Foods, but eventually I switched to just organic virgin coconut oil. That’s what seemed to work best for my skin, and I love coconut oil. Plus coconut oil has really strong anti-viral properties so I figured it was probably great for breakouts. In about 6 months my rosacea went away. It was amazing. The tiny bumps were finally gone and my skin looked smooth for the first time in years. I was thrilled!
By the time the first Paleo FX had rolled around I was taking Green Pastures Fermented Cod Liver Oil, and was about to learn of Green Pastures Beauty Balm. Liz once again started the trend. I started using that cream and my skin became even better! I couldn’t believe it. I joked often about the smell, and it’s true, it was awful. The first jar I got smelled so bad that at night Bill would walk into the bedroom and be like “are you farting?” and I’d say “no, I have that cream on…” The next batch of beauty balm was much better. Just a slight fish smell, but mostly smelled like cranberry and orange. Bill even started using it too, and realized that beyond the smell it was magic cream. I used a ton of it every night for weeks before our engagement photos and my skin was great!
Sometime last year Liz once again got me hooked on more fun skin things. One day I got a package in the mail of Primal Life Organics skin products. My dear friend Liz wanted to make sure that I got to try some of Trina’s products. I was hesitant at first because I was really loving using coconut oil and beauty balm, but I gave in. It was odd to me at first to be doing a skin care regimen similar to what I used to do: cleanse, toner, moisturizer or serum. Everything smelled fresh and natural, and my skin felt great after. The one thing that did happen to me after starting the PLO was that I broke out a little. This didn’t happen with the oil cleansing method surprisingly, but it’s very common, and a normal reaction. One of the things I realized early on (before Paleo) with my skin was that I wasn’t properly treating it. I was treating my skin as though it needed to be seriously dried out, and needed lots of harsh products to make it smooth and clear. What really was going on was that my skin was sensitive and more on the dry side. My skin was over-compensating by producing more oil because I kept drying it out with harsh products, and then I would have congestion and irritation, and a ton of oil production in my t-zone from my skin trying to over-compensate for the lack of hydration.
Back to my breakout after starting PLO: It’s very common to experience a break out when switching to an oil based cleansing method. What can happen is the oils can pull the toxins to the surface, and really get your skin to purge the crap that is under the surface. The other thing is that your skin will adapt to the chemical products you are using (just like our bodies get used to eating gluten, you don’t realize how much it is hurting you until you remove it), in which case the skin will need to rebalance once you are using chemical free, oil based products that actually work with your skin instead of against it. A new skin care approach can take up to a month or even slightly longer before your skin has completely rebalanced.
Now that I have been using Primal Life Organics for several months, I am completely hooked. My skin looks absolutely amazing, and I am using a product that I feel 100% good about putting on my skin. Your skin is your largest organ, and the things you put on your skin get absorbed into your bloodstream. It’s very important to put non toxic products (things you would/could eat are best) on your skin. The other thing that I love about Primal Life Organics is that the products are so high quality, they could be used in a spa for facial treatments, and I really feel that they should be! If I were still practicing skin care in a spa I would be trying to get these products into the salon to use for skin treatments. They are that good.
So now that I have burned your eyeballs off telling you my whole life skin story, let me break down for you what I do and don’t do now. What has helped my rosacea, and how I am taking care of my skin in preparation for our wedding (I mean one of the things on our Knot.com check list is for the bride to start her skin care regimen…this is important stuff people!)
Things I used to do to my skin that I no longer do:
Perfume: Super toxic, and truthfully anything with a really strong perfume smell gives me an awful headache now. I used to walk through a spritz of perfume anytime I went out.
Deodorant: Another really toxic product that has been linked to breast cancer. I went through a phase of using Dove antipersperant deodorant in my teens.
Body wash/body lotion/sunscreen: More toxins. The chemicals in skin lotions and sunscreens have also been linked skin cancer, and it’s becoming known that these products are more dangerous on the skin than getting natural sun exposure.
Shampoo/Hair products/Hair color: I can’t use regular shampoo because it seriously irritates my scalp, but it took me a long time to realize this. I get extremely itchy. I also no longer use chemical hair color due to toxins getting into the bloodstream, and I also do not put any chemical hair products on my scalp. I used to use the best salon shampoo I could get my hands on, and darkened my naturally medium brown hair with chemical color for a deeper hair color.
Makeup: MAC and Bobbi Brown were the only makeup I used to wear because I thought that was the best. Sephora was also one of my favorite shops, I loved all of the designer makeup in there.
Teeth: I always tried to use more natural toothpaste, but even that has undesirable ingredients. I also probably used fluoride–eeeek!
Skin products: I did chemical peels, manual extractions, face masks, acne cleansers, anything harsh or abrasive went on my skin. All of these things just made my skin worse.
Food: I was always eating “diet” food from my late teens to early twenties. Chemicals, low fat, fat free, lean meat, etc. After that I was vegetarian until I was 24, no animal protein and lots of grains and sugar.
What I’m doing now that has drastically changed my skin:
Perfume: None. My natural smell is great since I eat well and take care of my body. Every once in a while I will use a vanilla essential oil, but usually I just don’t fuss with it. My 13 year old cousin Paige even told me recently that if she hugged a bunch of people with her eyes closed she would know which one was me because of my smell, and she said that was a compliment. Adorable.
Deodorant: Primal Life Organics Pit Stick in Lavender. The ingredients for this are coconut oil, baking soda, lavender essential oil, and beeswax (not in that order). I absolutely love this deodorant. It lasts for months, smells wonderful, and is just what I need to smell fresh all day long.
Body wash/body lotion/sunscreen: In the shower I either use some sort of lard or tallow soap (I love Grandma’s Lye Soap made with lard), or I will use Dr. Bronners liquid castile soap or unscented bar. I also use Dr. Bronners liquid soap to shave my legs and underarms. For body lotion I use coconut oil. You will smell like “a tropical traditions egg” as Bill will call me when I lather up in coconut oil. Shea butter is also great for moisturizing. For sun protection, I use Badger sunscreen (can be found at Whole Foods), clothing, or hats. Dr. Mercola also makes sunscreen that is non-toxic that I have tried, and I believe Epicuren makes a pure Zinc suncreen (don’t quote me on that). Your best bet is to get out of the sun when it is the strongest, or when you feel like you are burning. Nobody needs to be a hero with the sun, vitamin D is super important, and having a glowing tan is nice, but cooking yourself in the sun all day long isn’t cute.
Shampoo/Hair products/Hair color: I love, love, love Primal Life Organics Dirty Poo, and shampoo bar. Dr. Bronners is okay for shampoo as well–Bill likes to use that. I also love using baking soda for shampoo, and rinsing with apple cider vinegar. The smell from that isn’t the best, but ACV is super great for your hair and scalp, it really has helped with my itchy scalp. Currently I have been trying out the 100% Pure healthy scalp shampoo which I like. All the ingredients are clean, and it is gluten free (not all of their shampoo is gluten free so make sure you read ingredients if using it). I rarely put product in my hair anymore. For straightening my hair I will do some Holistix brand lite oil (this is argan oil, but has some non-ideal ingredients), but I’m going to try the Kinky-Curly brand hair oil. I love the tropical traditions hair oil for deep conditioning overnight, and I like the Kinky-Curly hair spritz for when I leave my hair natural, which is curly. I only use henna for color now. I absolutely love it. It is a bit of a pain to apply and wash out, but it’s worth it. It gives my hair beautiful rich color that still looks natural, and it fades evenly. I use Lush brand Caca Noir henna for a deep brown color.
Makeup: I have been using Jane Iredale mineral makeup for almost 10 years. I use it on all of my brides and for all photoshoots. It photographs beautifully, lasts all day long, and doesn’t feel like you are wearing any makeup. It is meant to act as a barrier on your skin to protect it from airborne pollutants, and still allows your skin to breathe while you are wearing it. 100% Pure and Caren Minerals have some better ingredients than Iredale, but I haven’t tried those brands yet. I do not wear makeup everyday, and often not even every week (perk of working from home). I also NEVER recommend sleeping in your makeup. It doesn’t matter if your makeup is the most magical mineral makeup ever, it will congest your skin if you sleep in it. Always go to sleep with a clean face so your skin can recover and rejuvenate during sleeping hours.
Teeth: I mentioned on Facebook that I just went to the dentist the other day and the hygienist told me my teeth were beautifully white. She said “keep doing what you are doing!” What I am doing is using PLO Toothpowder and Gum Serum. We tried the orange toothpowder before and really loved it, but found that the peppermint one really made our mouths feel fresh, just like toothpaste. I often will rinse with peroxide to kill bacteria as well (a trick my grandpa told me to do to prevent cavities and whiten teeth), and also will brush with baking soda for extra polish. My daily routine is to floss with organic floss, and brush with PLO toothpowder and gum serum. I also brush my tongue, and/or gargle with the gum serum mixed with water, or OraWellness mixed with water. Both of those products are great for killing bacteria in the mouth.
My current evening skin routine:
- If I have makeup on I will do the typical oil cleansing method to remove my makeup. This means I massage coconut oil into my skin to lift all of the makeup, including my eye makeup (people with contacts, make sure you take them out before doing this).
- I then run a wash cloth under warm water, wring it out, and place it over my face. I then press the warm cloth into my skin lightly to steam my face, and then wipe away all of the makeup.
- After that I will then cleanse with Primal Life Organics Earth cleanser, sometimes using my clarisonic machine to remove any residual makeup, and to exfoliate and polish my skin lightly.
- After cleansing I use the Primal Life Organics Infiniti Toner (this is extremely refreshing and can be used to freshen your skin in the afternoon after a long day).
- After toner I apply either the beyond moisturizer or serum. Every now and then I will also use Fire and Ice, which I love. It really makes your skin glow! Often I will use Green Pastures Beauty Balm before bed and apply Beyond for daytime. If I have a slight breakout I will apply Neem Oil to my skin, which is great for breakouts, and a bug repellant (you will know why when you smell it).
- If I have not worn makeup all day then I just go through the Primal Life Organics routine without the makeup removal step of course.
Morning routine: Sometimes I cleanse with the Earth cleanser, sometimes I splash with water, and sometimes I just give myself a spritz of the Infiniti toner. I always wash my face after a workout, and will also keep an extra bottle of Earth cleanser in the shower to wash my face in the morning easily in the shower, but now that my skin has normalized I don’t have to wash it all the time, and I can get away with just a splash of water.
Food: Nutrient dense Paleo. Bone broth as much as I can. If I can’t drink broth then I supplement with Great Lakes Gelatin. Organ meats as much as I can (I don’t do this as much as I should, but try to remember to hide it in burgers or meatloaf when we make them), a serving of fermented foods a day (usually 8 oz of kombucha), supplements which are ones that make me feel good (and I don’t remember to take them everyday)–consult with your own doctor on supplementation. Fermented cod liver oil. We only cook with saturated fat (grass fed butter, ghee, coconut oil, pastured lard, duck fat, and tallow). Pastured meats and eggs (lately duck eggs), organic vegetables, organic fruits, and I try to limit my sugar consumption–especially lately because my first wedding dress fitting is in about a month. I don’t eat nuts unless we are baking with almond flour and we really limit that. I don’t drink coffee, and I try to drink enough filtered water throughout the day.
Something that I really want to stress here is that this was NOT an overnight fix. This was something I have worked toward for over a year. I have been eating strict Paleo for 3 years, and oil cleansing for 2 years. It took me about 6 months for my rosacea to clear up, but about a year for my skin to look completely different from how it looked before. Now my skin is pretty close to flawless.
The other thing that is really important to know is that it took the right skin care, and the right food for this to happen for me. In my mind you can’t do either/or. It takes internal and external work. You can eat an amazing diet and ruin your skin with chemical products, and you can use all the Primal Life Organics you want, but it may not help completely if you aren’t eating the right foods. The way your skin looks is a huge indicator of how healthy you are on the inside, and putting the right “food” on your skin is what will really make your skin shine. If you would like to learn in full detail how you can heal your skin from the inside out, I recommend purchasing The Skintervention Guide. I fully credit Liz Wolfe for teaching (and inspiring me to enjoy skin care again) me about how to treat and heal my skin naturally, and I can’t thank her enough for that!
Here are my tips for preparing your skin for a big event (like a wedding):
1. Do not wait until the last minute to change your skin products. As I have explained above it can take up to a month or more to adjust to a new skin routine, so to be safe you will want to start 4-6 months before an important event, and also for damage control if something really isn’t working for you.
2. Limit sugar, grains, and other gut irritating foods. Cleaning up your diet is going to significantly change how your skin looks, as well as how quickly your skin improves with oil cleansing.
3. Introduce nutrient dense foods into your diet like broth, gelatin, pastured meats, colorful vegetables, fermented foods, and pastured animal fats as well as coconut oil. These will heal the gut and make your skin glow!
4. Reduce stress. Meditate, take a yoga class, go for a walk, listen to calming music, cuddle with your pet. Avoid stimulants like coffee (especially people with roscacea) and dark chocolate bars, and try some Natural Calm at bed time, or relaxation tea.
5. Make sure you are getting adequate vitamin D, and A. This is where fermented cod liver oil comes in handy. The butter oil blend is even better because you get A, D, and K2 which work together to create skin magic!
6. Purchase “clean” makeup, or better yet-try going a while without wearing any. Don’t ruin all the good work you are doing for your skin by covering it up with chemicals. This will reverse the progress you are making.
7. Drink lots of water, and adding fresh lemon juice is really detoxifying! This will really make your skin glow.
These are all things that I do myself. Our wedding is the end of August, and I have no doubts that my skill will be lovely on that big day.
That’s my skin story, and I’m sticking to it. Please remember that these are all things that have worked for me personally, so I cannot offer them as a solution for what may be going on with your own skin, but hopefully this information can help guide others to get on the right track to better health inside and out.
For the next three days we are running a complete skin wellness giveaway. The lucky winner will be receiving:
- One free copy of Liz Wolfe’s Skintervention Guide
- Our new cookbook The 30 Day Guide to Paleo Cooking
- a $100 dollar gift card to Primal Life Organics.
This is the complete package to get you started on your healthy skin journey. Enter via the widget below!