sleep better tonight, look better tomorrow

photo by miikka skaffari

photo by miikka skaffari

getting a restful night’s sleep is one of the most important things you can do to live an acne-free lifestyle. our bodies restore and heal themselves while we sleep, so to get – and keep – clear skin getting a deep, restful sleep every night is key… they call it “beauty rest” for a reason! (plus, since you’ve kicked the coffee habit, it will help you stay alert, focused, and energized throughout the day without coffee’s nasty side effects.)

if you’re having trouble getting your 7 – 9 hours every night, there are some simple changes you can try incorporating into your daily routine that will help.

no more bright screens before bedtime

you likely already spend your whole day looking at some combination of computer screens, smartphones, tvs, and ipads, so why not give it a rest for a couple of hours before you’re ready to sleep? the brightness from the screens represses your melatonin production, which in turn makes it hard to sleep.

if you’re someone who typically unwinds by watching tv or spending time on your computer, why not try reading a book (just not on an ipad,) taking a bath, having a cup of herbal tea, or maybe a glass of red wine (just don’t overdo it, alcohol can diminish sleep quality.) if you’re concerned about missing your favorite shows, you can always DVR them or watch them online during the day later in the week, when the screen brightness won’t affect your sleep patterns.

for more info check out chris kresser’s in-depth article on how artificial light could be affecting your sleep.

catch some rays

just as staring at a bright screen at night can mess with your melatonin levels, not getting enough natural light during the day can wreak havoc on your sleep schedule. if you spend your day in a cubicle, or otherwise deprived of natural light, be sure to take every opportunity to get some sun. go for a walk during your lunch break, find a workspace near a window, open up the curtains in your home. even little things like not wearing sunglasses in the morning can help your body more easily recognize daytime vs. nighttime and regulate your sleep-wake cycle.

eat right and exercise more

we all know that eating right and exercising more are essential parts of living a healthier lifestyle – and they play a huge part in promoting restful sleep. exercising during the day helps to regulate your sleep-wake cycle, and not eating within two hours of bedtime will lead to a more restful sleep. no need to be a gym rat either, 30 minutes moderate exercise like walking or biking will yield the same sleep benefits as more intense exercise — you can even break it up into shorter times throughout the day.

if you find that you’re hungry before bed try having a snack like a banana or a small bowl of granola with almond milk (some studies suggest that a small amount of carbohydrates before bed can aid with sleep.) or try a snack that’s high in tryptophan, the chemical responsible for promoting a healthy sleep cycle, like a few slices of turkey or a handful of pumpkin seeds, almonds, walnuts, or cashews.

chill out on the caffeine after lunch

it’s probably no surprise that caffeine can seriously disrupt your sleep patterns. for most people, a little bit of caffeine in the morning is fine, but a good rule of thumb is to avoid all caffeinated beverages after lunch since caffeine can take up to 10 – 12 hours to metabolize. if you find that you’re still having trouble sleeping, try cutting out caffeine altogether and have an apple and large glass of cold water in the morning — studies suggest that doing so is even more energizing than having a cup of coffee.

avoid drinking liquids in the evening

stop drinking water, tea, juice, and any other liquids an hour or so before you go to bed, so you’ll be less likely to wake in the middle of the night needing to pee. if you find that you’re really thirsty throughout the night, it likely means you’re dehydrated, so concentrate on drinking water throughout the day instead of at bedtime or in the middle of the night.

quit smoking

smoking is detrimental for lots of reasons (it makes acne worse!), but it is specifically troublesome for sleeping. nicotine is a stimulant, and stimulants disrupt sleep (especially if you’re smoking in the evenings.) furthermore, smokers experience increasing withdrawal symptoms throughout the night, making it really difficult to stay asleep.

get stress and anxiety in check

stress and anxiety can create serious sleep problems. if you can’t stop thinking about work or school and the million things you have to get done the next day, try jotting down a quick to-do list. the simple task of collecting your thoughts and writing them out, will help get them off your mind so you can concentrate getting the rest you need. worrying at bedtime doesn’t accomplish anything other than to disrupt your sleep, instead try some relaxation techniques like deep breathing, visualizing a peaceful night sleep, or progressive muscle relaxation (tense up your whole body as tight as you can, then slowly relax each muscle group starting with your toes all the way up to your head.)

doing yoga in the evenings is also a great way to relax, and bonus, it counts towards your daily 30 minutes of exercise.

find a bedtime routine that works for you

the two hours before bed should be spent doing activities that relax you, not stimulate you, so make sure to get your invigorating tasks out of the way before it’s time to start winding down. for instance, if you find that washing your face wakes you up, do it earlier in the evening. or, if you find that you relax after a shower or bath, take one before bed.

pay attention to what it feels like to fall asleep

when i was a kid, i noticed that when i start to fall asleep, my mind thinks of lots of random things. since then, whenever i have trouble falling asleep, i’ll start to think of things that are totally unrelated (like free-association, but where the associations don’t make any sense) and before i know it, i’m drifting off! if you are able to model your thought or breathing patterns before you actually fall asleep, that can help to trick your mind and body into relaxing to the point that you end up really asleep!

we hope these tips help! if you have any tricks of your own, let us know in the comments. we are always looking for new ways to ensure a peaceful and restful night’s sleep so we wake up feeling (and looking) our best.

thinking outside the (hair product) box

hair products are some of the biggest offenders when it comes to clogginess, so sometimes finding products that not only work for your hair, but also don’t mess with your skin, can be a challenge. a lot of people find that non-cloggy shampoos can be drying and might leave their hair lackluster. and styling creams? good luck finding one that’s not cloggy. it can feel like you have to make tradeoff: do i want great hair or do i want great skin?

luckily you don’t have to pick… you just might have to get a little creative with the products that you already use: enter shower gel and body lotion. it might feel like sacrilege to use body products in your hair, but when used strategically, you can see great results for both your hair and body.

shikai shower gels (or shampoos!)

shikai shower gels (or shampoos!)

if finding the right shampoo is your problem, consider trying the shikai moisturizing shower gel we sell at sS. it smells great and leaves hair clean and shiny — without being drying or weighing it down. the soap-free formula is formulated with aloe vera for gentle moisture and colloidal oatmeal to help bind the moisture to skin (or in this case, your hair). and, unlike a lot of acne-safe shampoos, it comes in a ton of flavors, most of which are available at whole foods, if you feel like mixing it up.  just to be safe though, avoid the coconut “flavored” one, as it’s scent agent is comedogenic coconut oil.

derma-e body lotion

no more dry skin, and no more frizz

if fly-aways, dry hair, and/or frizziness is what you’re trying to combat, an acne-safe body lotion could really help. for dry or frizzy hair, smooth a small amount on the tips and shaft of your hair, being careful not to use so much that your hair ends up greasy. for fly-aways, rub a small, pea-sized amount into your palms and then lightly apply to your trouble spots.

see? there’s no need to compromise your hair for your skin. you just need to embrace the unorthodox and you could find your hair’s in better shape than ever.

acne AND candida safe soy sauce cooking alternatives

so a lot of our asian clients cook with a lot of soy sauce and when they cut down, they clear up.  we realize though how challenging it can be to substitute this in the kitchen – so here are some safe alternatives!

coconut secret coconut aminos

– coconut secret’s coconut aminos is a great soy sauce substitute.  it’s many times more nutritious than soy sauce, and is very rich in amino acids.  it takes almost like a spiked teriyaki soy vinegar.  **candida safe

ginger & green onion sauce!

– chinese steamed chicken with ginger and green onion is one of my most favorite foods.  i made a batch and found that the ginger/green onion sauce is delicious on EVERYTHING!  try steaming different foods and topping them with this sauce.  the recipe is: 2 whole bunches of green onions, a large knob of ginger, blended or chopped up in a bowl, then add about a 1/4 cup hot olive oil and some stock (if you have some around).  add salt to taste.  (shout out to SF’s mama for the recipe 🙂 )   **candida safe

spicely organic vindaloo curry powderthai kitchen organic coconut milk

– curries can be made easily and acne-safely with curry powder, coconut milk, and  bit of pink salt.  you can also add chopped up aromatics like anti-inflammatory turmeric, digestion enhancing ginger, or fragrant lemongrass (just beat it up a bit with the back of a knife to get the flavor out of it before simmering it with the sauce). **candida safe

herb chart from

-fresh herbs can add a lot of flavor to dishes – they may seem subtle at first but once you start working with them you’ll discover they pack a lot of punch!  rinse them well, dry and pick off the leaves to cook with/eat, you can compost the main stalk upon the tasty leaves grow.  **candida safe

pesto, image from

– any green pesto.  in a blender, combine 2 cups of packed greens (basil, kale, spinach, arugula, any kind of green!), 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup of nuts (pine nuts are traditional, but you can use any nut – roasting them first on a hot pan til fragrant definitely hooks it up with flavor) and a couple of squeezes of lemon juice.  blend it up and add salt and pepper to taste..  if you google recipes, you’ll find that they often include cheese – add this at your own risk!!  anyhow, you can eat this with pasta and or top your steak, fish or veggies with it!  ***candida safe if you use candida safe nuts and NO CHEESE!

olive tapenade from

– olive tapenade pesto – for a twist, you can also add some olives to the above mix, creating a sort of green tapenade.  or you can just do olives and omit the greens.  check out this site here for other great spread ideas (just watch out for the dairy!).  ***candida safe if you use olives that were NOT packed in vinegar!

garlic & lemon

– garlic and lemon are one of the most easiest combinations – i bet you have these 2 things in your kitchen right now.  one of my favorite ways to prepare salmon is to lay the salmon on a baking sheet, chop up some garlic cloves, slice some lemon, and get a few sprigs of rosemary and lay these aromatics underneath and on top of the fish..  then drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper.  roast at 400F for about 15-20 mins and voila!  ***candida safe

candida safe noodles (updated 7/7/13)

as we all know, an important part of doing the candida cleanse properly is to avoid processed foods, and stick to whole, nutrient-dense, organic foods.  basically, the closer to the natural state a food is (how it looks when it’s still growing in the field, or on a farm), the healthier it is to eat.  whole grains (like brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat) are a good way to help get fiber while on the cleanse, but should be eaten moderately.  i’d say a 1/4 cup of grain per meal is safe.

but sometimes you just CRAVE a noodle.  so here are some candida-safe ones, but remember to eat these like a treat and not as a staple, since they are processed and extruded under heavy heat and machinery to create the noodle shape.  the heat basically kills off all nutrients, and the fine grinding of grain turns into sugar faster once it enters the digestive system.  for more information, you can read this article to find out why extrusion-processed foods are bad news.

eden 100% buckwheat soba noodles

100% buckwheat soba noodles, though expensive (around $8 a pack) would be a great candida-safe staple, especially since it is so high in fiber and protein.  these are the only ones i have been able to find that are 100% buckwheat – they are often combined with regular wheat flour, so make sure to read those labels carefully!

brown rice noodles

another candida-safe find is brown rice noodles (about $3 a pack).  these cook up quickly and can make for a quick soup or stir-fried noodle dish.  what i also like to do is cook up noodles and mix it up with a salad, making for a really yummy and filling and nutritious meal.

acne and candida safe – homemade mayonnaise

hey guys.  so i am finally doing the candida cleanse, after making so many of you loyal sS’ers do it for clear skin 🙂  except that i am doing it to help with my allergies, and overall health.  ill post more about my journey, but for now here’s a great recipe for homemade mayo – one of the things that have definitely made the cleanse much easier for me.

one of the things i’ve quickly learned is that though the candida-diet can be strict, it just takes a little research and creativity to recreate your favorite recipes.  alls you have to do is substitute ingredients to make it candida friendly.

for this recipe, ive included 2 ingredient lists: 1 candida safe, and 1 acne safe.  try them both out and let us know what you think!

zucchini cakes & home made mayonnaise!


candida-safe ingredients:
– 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder (mustard seeds will do in a pinch, especially if you have a vitamix to pulverize them)
– 3/4 teaspoon salt (pink himalayan preferred)
– 2 whole eggs (local and pasture-raised eggs preferred – especially since the eggs in this recipe are consumed raw)
– 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or lemon juice (i personally love 1TB of each in a batch)
– 2 cups olive oil (i use this one, that i got from farmer joe’s in lower diamond, oakland)
OPTIONAL: you can blend in some fresh garlic or herbs if you want to make aioli!

acne-safe ingredients:
– 1/2 teaspoon prepared mustard
– 3/4 teaspoon salt (pink himalayan salt preferred)
– 2 whole eggs (local and pasture-raised eggs preferred – especially since the eggs in this recipe are consumed raw)
– 2 tablespoons vinegar (any kind, get creative!)
– 2 cups any acne-safe oil (no corn/canola, soybean/vegetable or coconut oil)
– OPTIONAL: fresh garlic, herbs, or even avocado & cooked bacon..  yum!

1.  in a blender (or with an immersion blender), blend up the first 4 ingredients.
2.  while the blender is still running, slowly drizzle in the 2 cups of oil.  the blending action will emulsify the mixture and it will soon start to thicken.  if you are going to add the optional ingredients, you can add these in now, too.
3.  once everything has been blended up (this happens quickly, no more than a minute or two), try the mayo out!  you may want to add more mustard or salt or a splash of lemon juice/apple cider vinegar to your taste.
4.  transfer to a storage container (glass mason jars are what i like to use) and stick in the refrigerator to further thicken.
5.  eat on EVERYTHING.  i love these on my shredded zucchini cakes, as pictured above – recipe for that to follow! 🙂