staying clear through the holiday party season

the holidays are fast approaching, and with the onset of holiday work parties and huge family gatherings comes our primal tendencies to binge and celebrate on overdrive. we get it – it’s cold outside, the sun makes a pathetic appearance for months on end, and the last thing you want to do is stay on top of your acne-safe lifestyle. it’s tempting to stay out ’til dawn, partying in the club and bingeing at the corner pizzeria, but this might not help you on your journey to clear skin.

the unfortunate truth is that sugary drinks, sporadic sleep and inflammatory substances like alcohol and sweet holiday foods can all contribute to acne by activating the body’s stress response. even though you may not feel stressed out mentally or physically, your body is working hard to combat the stressors of the holiday season, and sometimes it will let you know by producing a map of inflamed acne across your face.

we want to help you prepare for and adapt to the stress and stressors of the holidays, so here are our tried and true tips for making it through this party season with clear skin:

maintain your skin regimen. try your best to keep your morning and evening skincare habits afloat, even after a hard night of hard liquor. sleeping in makeup that has been caked onto your face for hours can be damaging to the health of your skin, as the ingredients in makeup can irritate pores and contribute to inflammation. plus, we can’t underestimate the importance of washing away the polluting particles that lodge themselves into our skin throughout a day of city-living. nightly cleansing is extra important if you are a smoker or if you are consistently exposed to second-hand smoke, damp and stuffy bar air, or if you interact on an intimate level with people who use cloggy products. if you have a more complex regimen that involves multiple serums, don’t worry about the extra steps – just be sure to cleanse, tone and moisturize in the morning and before bed. we love taping a step-by-step regimen card to the bathroom mirror so we don’t have a chance to forget this important nightly ritual. if you really can’t bring yourself to wash your face, at the very least, wet a makeup-removing sponge with some water and cleanser and wipe off the day’s dust. i must admit that even i have been guilty of saturating a toner pad with mandelic toner, moisturizing and calling it a night on occasion.

stay away from excess sugar. this can be a tough one throughout the holidays, when sweet spiced lattes beckon on every city corner and when the work fridge is packed with pumpkin pies and festive snacks. if you know you can’t make it through december without the tastes of the season, try making your own versions of classic holiday desserts, like a paleo pumpkin pie with low-glycemic coconut sugar instead of refined white sugar, or an apple pie that features an almond-flour crust for an added protein-boost. substitute ghee for butter in this recipe for chocolate-covered chestnuts and you’ll be invited back to holiday parties for years to come. rainbow grocery and whole foods usually offer a plethora of low-glycemic holiday sweets to choose from. bring these tasty treats to work or parties so you have something that you know is acne-safe to munch on. we wouldn’t want you to feel left out of the holiday fun! try your best to moderate your sugar intake, but if it’s not always possible, don’t stress – just remember to have a good time. opt for dark chocolate and fruit, and if you truly can’t resist the temptation of your uncle’s famous homemade pumpkin pie, have just a bite or two to satisfy that craving. as for alcohol, choose clear liquor with no added sugar – just a twist of lime or some bitters and sparkling water will do the trick! check out this site for a comprehensive guide to the sugar content in wines and steer towards the dry side. and don’t worry, dairy-free egg nog can totally be on the menu.

eat a well-balanced meal before or with drinks and skip the late-night mcdonald’s binge. in order to decrease the likelihood that you will face a punishing hangover after a wild night out, eat a good-sized meal with protein and healthy fats like avocado, olive oil and fish beforehand. eating before drinking will also help you steer clear of late-night fast food choices (it’s never fun standing in line at the pizzeria at 2am anyway). if you do end up craving a midnight snack, gnaw on some jerky or an avocado to balance out the blood sugar rush that accompanies a night of drinking. some late night san francisco snack options include the tamale lady, tacos without cheese or sour cream, street dogs on mission (hot dogs wrapped in bacon – yikes!) or crepes without dairy. and of course, if you are really craving some pizza, try a cheese-less slice.

hydrate. we can’t emphasize this one enough. drink plenty of water through the winter season. sometimes we can forget to drink enough water when it’s cold outside because our bodies don’t register dehydration in the same way that they do when they’re faced with a sweltering heat and harsh sun. this may mean that your body doesn’t offer the same thirst signals that it might during the peak of summer, so remember to always fill up your water bottle and sip from it all day long. and drink extra water if you know you’ll be consuming dehydrating alcoholic beverages – have ‘water bumpers’ between drinks by alternating alcohol with water all night. also, think about the hangover you’ll likely feel the next day – maybe that is enough of a deterrent from doing 151 shots?

get your beauty sleep. getting a good night’s sleep has not only been linked to more stable blood sugar levels throughout the day, but also with the ability to make better food choices, which is extra crucial this time of year. it makes sense – if you make it through the night with only five hours of sleep, you’re likely to wake up tired, reaching for that sugary coffee drink just to function at work. pair that with a fluffy pastry and you’re setting up yourself up for another afternoon crash. so try to prioritize this precious rest time and aim for a solid eight hours of sleep each night. just remember: you don’t have to go to ALL of the parties your invited to. you can always say no. if you do tend to your every social obligation, cut some of them short or party alcohol-free. allow a couple nights a week for your body to rest so that you don’t end up with a nasty cold that puts you out for days.

don’t leave home without your sterilizing toner. skinSALVATION’s sterilizing toner has many benefits throughout the holiday season. first, it’s a fantastic antidote to any type of hot and heavy behavior that may occur in the club. if you find yourself sweating buckets on the dance floor, simply swipe some sterilizing toner across your face as a way of freshening up while preventing the spread of acne-causing bacteria deep into your pores. and if you find a special someone on the dance floor and end up locking lips, the sterilizing toner can be a great way to help ensure that their cloggy products won’t interfere with your clear skin journey.

icing – if you haven’t already jumped on the icing bandwagon for clear skin, get on it! icing is a great way to decrease the redness and inflammation that sometimes accompany hormonal and stress-related acne. if done in conjunction with your regimen, icing also creatures micro-fissures in your skin that allow potent product like mandelic toner to penetrate more deeply. so if you don’t already have an ice pop, come by the shop and pick one up! then, head home, cleanse your face, pop in home alone and start icing your face for 20-30 minutes. be sure to move the ice constantly in order to avoid ice burn and follow it up with toner and moisturizer. it’s an easy and relaxing way to heal current acne and to prevent new acne from forming. icing is both a great way to relax before hitting the sack after a night of drinking AND a perfect pick-me-up on a hungover morning.

prepare for a long night out. if you know you’ll be spending the night at a friend’s house, pack an overnight bag full of 2oz travel size skinSALVATION products and a clean pillow case. don’t sabotage your clear skin journey by settling for your pal’s bacteria-filled linens. bringing your own pillow case also ensures that your skin won’t be exposed to any residue from her cloggy products. similarly, you won’t have to scrub with her coconut oil-infused bath and body bar if you think ahead and pack a travel bag of acne-safe face products.

take a minute to slow down. the holidays can be stressful as we rush around town in a frenzy, seeking perfect gifts for our loved ones while making holiday feasts for friends, hosting parties and still attempting to keep up with work deadlines. it’s a lot to handle. so take a minute to slow it on down everyday and either meditate or acknowledge a few aspects of your life for which you are thankful. this is the season for giving but we often get so caught up in giving to others that we forget to take time out for ourselves. so next time you need a few minutes for an epsom salt bath or a few sun salutations, don’t feel guilty. instead, recognize that you are making positive choices for yourself and for the people around you by allowing your holiday stress to melt away. we love the meditation app, simple habit, which has a ton of great 1-5 minute meditations that can be done anywhere – in a cab on the way to an event, on bart before walking to the office, or on your morning walk with the family pup.

at the end of the season, try out a liver cleanse. this can be especially important if you went a little overboard with the cigarettes/cocaine/molly that some random person offered you in the bathroom line at the bar. our livers work overtime during the holidays to process all of the added substances we feed our bodies, so it’s good to give our star quarterbacks a break every now and then. this is why january is such a popular month for cleanses and whole30s and detoxes. when you feel like your body has had enough of the drugs and alcohol, try nourishing it with liver-supporting herbs like dandelion and burdock roots, nettle and milk thistle. consuming these herbs as teas alongside a diet free of processed foods can help give your liver a much-deserved break. we love sipping on detox teas all through the cold winter months. when our livers are functioning properly, they become the front line of defense against acne, as they flush toxins and excess hormones like estrogen from our bodies. if the liver is overwhelmed, the skin becomes the next organ to take on the responsibility of flushing out these nasty little invaders. so, the less mess we put into our bodies, the more energy our livers devote to helping us maintain clear skin.

one of my favorite clean green soups to make involves simply steaming a ton of green vegetables (kale, broccoli, spinach, zuchinni) and blending them with the water from steaming (that’s where all the nutrients are). add half an avocado for creaminess, a bunch of cilantro, dill or parsley, and a hearty squeeze of lemon, and you’ve got yourself nutrient-dense detox powerhouse. i love this soup on cold mornings with a poached egg and some sauerkraut. you can also down some chlorophyll (not to be confused with chlorella, which is not acne-safe), to boost your daily dose of beauty greens. Check out these tips to get started on a gentle post-holiday liver cleanse for clear skin.

so what’s the bottom line? the holiday season is a time for celebrating with friends and for indulging, so have fun and don’t beat yourself up if you stray a bit from the acne-safe lifestyle. do your best and celebrate small victories, like the dairy-free pumpkin pie you brought to your holiday work party, where nobody knew the difference.

what are some of your favorite ways to celebrate the holidays acne-safe?

exercise and acne: move your body for clear skin

whether you are a yoga mat-toting cyclist or a gym rat with a penchant for the elliptical, working out is an important ritual for many of us – it’s our way of shedding daily stress while doing something positive for our physical bodies. daily movement of some kind, be it taking a walk during your lunch break, choosing the stairs over the escalator, going on a robust run or attending a barre class, has been linked to better digestion, better moods and more vibrant heart health. and if you struggle with persistent acne, finding the right balance of exercise and movement is crucial for maintaining healthy skin.

how exercise benefits the skin, the body and the mind

if improved overall health isn’t enough to get you off the couch and into some jumping jacks, here are a few more tantalising reasons to regularly move your body. 

  1. exercise eases stress and helps regulate mood. exercise releases the chemical norepinephrine, which helps the brain adapt to all types of stress. physical movement also releases endorphins, our happiness chemicals, and dopamine, our reward chemical. ever hear of runner’s high? it’s just the endorphins kicking in after intense energy expenditure. some studies have shown that exercise can be as effective an anti-depressant as prescription medication for some people.1 and since stress is linked to the development of acne, reducing stress by taking up some physical activity is a great step on your journey to clear skin. so get moving!
  2. exercise helps us stay sharp as a tack. not only has regular exercise been linked to an increased longevity of brain cells, it is now a common recommendation by doctors as an important step in staving off alzheimer’s. how does it work? exercising boosts the chemicals in the brain that help keep the hippocampus, our memory center, running as a well-oiled machine. exercise has also been linked to neurogenesis, or the creation of new brain cells, which primes us for a lifetime of learning and an enviable quick-wittedness.2
  3. confidence and self-worth skyrocket. this one is fairly obvious, but exercising can help boost self-esteem and self-image. because we know that movement is good for our physical bodies, this often translates to feeling better about ourselves overall. the more you move, the better you feel!
  4. exercise can help create vivacious skin. a recent study shows that regular exercise can help slow signs of aging by increasing circulation and oxygen flow to the skin around the face and by contributing to the growth of collagen.3 regular light exercise in combination with an anti-inflammatory diet and a non-comedogenic skin regimen can have powerful effects on skin health.
  5. exercise improves sleep quality. consistent exercise over long periods of time has been shown to benefit quality and length of sleep.4 daytime physical activity promotes longer periods of slow-wave sleep, which is the deep restful shut-eye we all crave. the quality of our sleep shows in our skin – when we skimp on sleep, our skin doesn’t have the time and resources to heal itself.5  so move your body and drift peacefully into dreamland.
  6. the more we move, the more energy we have. regular exercise can have an astounding impact on our ability to sustain vibrant energy levels throughout the day. those who engage in regular physical activity generally report feeling more awake in the mornings and better able to maintain a stable energy level over the course of the day.6 say goodbye to that afternoon slump! 
  7. movement keeps things moving. if you ever feel a bit…backed up, try some yoga or a gentle jog around the block. physical activity helps move things along internally, acting as a sort of massage for the internal organs. light exercise also helps us absorb nutrients from our foods more readily.7 beware of digestive issues – sedentarism has been linked to the onset of many gastrointestinal diseases. smooth digestion is hugely important for skin health, so make sure you move your body to keep things moving.

exercising your way to clear skin

now that we know why we should exercise, let’s talk about how. exercise is a form of temporary stress on the body that ultimately leads to a greater good – it’s also known as a hormetic stressor. even though exercise temporarily activates the release of cortisol, our stress hormone, from our adrenal glands, low levels of exercise with plenty of rest in between are very beneficial to our overall health and help make us stronger. 

but for many of us, especially us women, exercising can easily spin out of control because of the societal pressures we face to look a certain way, to attain perfect beach bodies and six-pack abs. overexercising can be downright dangerous for women because of the specific ways in which women’s bodies respond to stress, and despite the benefits of movement, an overzealous approach to exercise can contribute to, rather than heal, acne. because exercise is a physical stressor on the body, it’s important to not go overboard and send the body into a state of chronic stress without recovery. chronic stress causes our adrenal glands to release higher levels of male sex hormones like dhea-s, which is later converted into testosterone, often setting the stage for acne along the jawline, oily skin, menstrual irregularities and hair growth.

so how do you know if you are overexercising? feeling sore and totally drained after a workout and into the next day is a sign that you are working out too hard. if you experience any of the above symptoms of hormonal imbalance in combination with the symptoms of overexercising, try scaling things back. try less intensive types of exercise like swimming, tennis, walking, and yoga, or reduce the number of days each week that you engage in taxing workouts. if you are used to running ten miles a day, try swapping out a day or two for a moderately strenuous hike. if high intensity interval training is your movement of choice, try dialing it back and alternating with yoga. listen to your body’s needs each day and honor them by finding activities that you enjoy that also work your body – tennis, hiking, or group sports like soccer or basketball always do the trick. and always make time to allow the body to rest and recuperate after workouts. remember to refuel your glycogen stores afterwards by eating plenty of carbohydrates and protein8 – fasting creates an added stress on the body and leaves you utterly deprived of precious energy. so don’t skimp on the nourishing food and remember to take plenty of rest days!

rather than stressing about incorporating 30 minutes of exercise into my daily routine, i try to get other forms of movement in where i can. i take the stairs whenever possible. if i drive to a grocery store, i park far from the entrance to get a few more steps in. i take breaks at work to do a few sets of squats, lunges or jumping jacks. i stretch often and i coordinate walking meetings at work, rather than meetings around the conference table. think outside the box to add little bits of movement to your routine rather than attempting to force a strict exercise regimen into an already hectic day.

packing your acne-safe gym bag

if you choose to get your kicks at the gym, here are a few tips for staying acne-safe in the process. if you have access to a shower, try to rinse off using your sS cleanser immediately following a sweaty workout. the last thing you want is a build-up of sweat and dead skin cells collecting to clog your precious pores. if you can’t get to a shower, try to at least rinse your face at the bathroom sink and follow up with some sS sterilizing toner on some toner pads. if you exercise in the evening, clean any makeup off your face beforehand in order to avoid any makeup creeping into your open pores while you’re getting your groove on on the treadmill. tie your hair up and away from your face and always wear breathable, loose-fitting clothing. and remember to keep your hands off your face during your workout – you never know where that kettlebell has been!

when building your acne-safe gym bag, be sure to include the following items:

  1. cleanser – use sS charcoal or hydrating cleanser immediately after a workout to wash away any lingering sweat.
  2. hydrating toner or sterilizing toner  – use either of these directly after cleansing to close those pores and to ensure that the bacteria from your sweat doesn’t spread.
  3. toner pads – keep plenty of these on hand to apply your toner either as part of your regimen or as a face wipe when you can’t access running water.
  4. sunscreen – whether you’re heading out into the sun or not, pop some sun protection onto your face before AND after working out.
  5. travel-size acne-safe shampoo, conditioner and body wash – these are important pieces of every gym bag that often go overlooked. this is especially important if you are prone to body acne.
  6. acne-safe makeup and clean brushes – if you wear makeup, check those ingredients and make sure nothing is gonna clog your pores! clean your brushes at least once a week with sS charcoal cleanser.
  7. clean towels and fresh clothes. make sure you are not reusing the same grimy gym towel over and over, day after day. just like changing out your pillowcases, swap out your towel for a fresh one every single day to avoid spreading bacteria.

let us know your favorite ways to add movement into your day along with the contents of your acne-safe gym bag!

footnotes

1. american psychological association. stress and exercise.
2. disalvo, d. (2013) how exercise makes your brain grow. forbes magazine. oct 13 2013.
3. safdar, a., et al. (2011) endurance exercise rescues progeroid aging and induces systemic mitochondrial rejuvenation in mtDNA mutator mice. pnas. 2011 mar; 108(10):4135–4140.
4. breus, m. (2013) better sleep found by exercising on a regular basis. psychology today. sep 6 2013.
5. kubota, y., et al. (2010) community-based epidemiological study of psychosocial effects of acne in japanese adolescents. journal of dermatology. 2010 jul;37(7):617-22.
6. fahmy, s. (2008) low-intensity exercise reduces fatigue symptoms by 65 percent, study finds. university of georgia today. feb 28 2008.
7. tauseef, a., et al. (2013) sleep, immunity and inflammation in gastrointestinal disorders. world journal of gastroenterology. 2013 dec 28; 19(48): 9231–9239.
8. chandler, r.m., et al. (1994) dietary supplements affect the anabolic hormones after weight-training exercise. journal of applied physiology. 1994 feb; 76(2):839-45.

doing halloween the acne-safe way

it’s that time of year again, folks – time for pumpkins to adorn doorsteps, for witch memes to take up residence on our social media feeds, and time for a general frenzy among the holiday aisles of our local big box stores as we stitch together our last-minute halloween costumes. the air is a bit more crisp than usual, orange leaves dangle from the trees and everything seems perfectly pumpkin-spiced. halloween has arrived and it’s time to sink into this ghastly season with a few acne-safe survival tricks up your sleeve.

first, let’s talk halloween makeup. the costumes we choose, as the acne-afflicted, are often contingent upon the amount of makeup, goo and guache we are willing to cake onto our faces. if you’ve ever thought, “dang, i can’t be a zombie…there’s no acne-safe makeup out there for me,” you are not alone. but you’ve got more options than you think for making up a horrifically ghoulish acne-safe face.

  • makeup tip number one: your eyes and lips are your greatest assets. find a way to accentuate your eyes in interesting ways that compliment your costume so that you don’t have to go overboard with caking makeup onto the precious pores of your cheekbones. go with dramatic lip colors that make a spooky statement and fangs or creepy teeth!
  • makeup tip number two: work with what you’ve got. if you know that a particular brand’s foundation doesn’t cause breakouts for your skin, stick with it and find lighter and darker shades for contouring a coveted pale zombie look. use deep blushes and bronzers, pinks and browns to define a hair-raising style. we love youngblood foundation and alima blushes for these purposes, as we have tested them in house to be completely acne-safe.
  • makeup tip number three: choose your products wisely. cross-check your ingredients with our comedogenic ratings list, and if you have any questions about specific products, ask your esthetician for advice. most conventional halloween makeup is meant to stay on your skin through a night of running around and sweating beneath layers of costume, which means it is perfect for clogging your pores. right now we are digging fat and the moon’s lip paint and eye coals as face makeups for halloween. they are made with a sunflower oil base, so they may require touch-ups throughout the night or at least a good setting with some primer beforehand and youngblood mineral rice setting powder afterwards. you can paint your face the rainbow with their green, brown, black, blue, and red face makeups.
  • makeup tip number four: no matter how much you have to drink at your neighbor’s halloween party, remember to thoroughly remove your makeup before hitting the hay. use a couple rounds of your charcoal cleanser in order to ensure that all of your makeup has been extricated from your pores. you can even use some microfiber towels to really dig deep and remove any makeup that’s been hiding away for the night.

is candy gonna cause a breakout? we all know that sugar can be a major contributing factor to acne, as it causes blood sugar imbalances and stimulates a systemic inflammatory response. does that mean you can’t trick or treat yourself to a couple of orange-colored candies on all hallow’s eve? of course not! but we do recommend exercising some self control before diving into your kid’s trick-or-treating bounty after they go to sleep.

if you are concerned about your body’s potential inflammatory response to the sweetness of the holiday, take some omega 3-rich cod liver oil or some zyflamend for the week leading up to and following halloween (these are great supplements to take regularly, too). consuming anti-inflammatory food and drink can help your body adapt more readily to the onslaught of sugary toxins. so up your dose of greens: eat more kale and drink green tea, especially matcha, which is made from ground green tea leaves and contains more antioxidant properties to combat the sugar. always try to eat protein or fat with your sweets in order to curb blood sugar spikes.

 

if you do choose to indulge in halloween’s grand feast, certain candy is off-limits: anything smothered in peanut butter or dairy (the reese’s family, take five bars, any milk chocolates, peanut chews, candy bars with peanut chunks like snickers, butterfinger, etc). if you go the conventional candy route, opt for dark chocolate (preferably without soy products added) or fruit-flavored treats. better yet, choose organic candy like yum earth pops, equal exchange chocolates, unreal almond butter cups or annie’s fruit snacks.

looking for a candy-alternative to hand out to trick-or-treaters (so you don’t have the extra candy in the house)? try fake tattoos (always a hit), odd-shaped ugly fruit from imperfect produce, stickers, bubbles, snap bracelets or other small toys. it can be quite refreshing for kids to receive fun doo-dads instead of candy bar after candy bar after candy bar.

what about the highly anticipated pumpkin spice latte? even though this is a seasonal treat that many people dream about all year long, we recommend steering clear of conventional PSLs – it’s not worth derailing all of your hard work and skin journey progress just for a taste of spicy nutmeg atop a mountain of milky foam. plus, there are many alternatives out there to choose from. you can make your own at home – it just can’t contain coffee or dairy!

as for non-dairy pumpkin spice creamers, they are usually packed with sugars and gums and ingredients we don’t love, but two companies are doing it right. nutpods makes a delightful pumpkin spice creamer in addition to their original, vanilla and hazelnut flavors. because of their popularity, they can be difficult to find, but they are worth the search! vital proteins also has a brand new gingerbread spice powdered collagen creamer, which is fantastic in matcha lattes and morning black teas.

acne-safe pumpkin spice latte recipe
if you want to brave the kitchen and make your own, here is a recipe that we love. it’s creamy and delicious and will satisfy all of your naughty PSL cravings throughout the season!

ingredients
1 cup brewed base (strong dandelion root tea, roasted chaga tea, dandy blend, black/chai tea, matcha)
1/2 cup dairy-free milk (we like to do half coconut, half almond but you can use any nut, hemp or oat milk)
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 T maple syrup to taste
1/2 t vanilla extract
1 T pumpkin pie spice (or 1/2 t cinnamon, 1/4 t ground ginger, 1/8 t nutmeg, 1/8 t ground cloves)

method
– whisk together all ingredients except for the base in a sauce pan over medium heat. once combined, pour milk mixture and brewed base into a blender and blend for one minute.
– if you’d rather use this recipe as a creamer to keep in the fridge, skip the heating step and blend all ingredients except for the base in a blender until creamy.

let us know what you think and happy halloween from the skinSALVATION crew!

sS tips for a better commute

as we learned from steve martin and john candy in planes, trains and automobiles, commuting can be a major pain in the tuchus. with the growing number of cars on city streets (thanks, uber!) and with omnipresent train and bus malfunctions, commuting can at times seem like your worst nightmare. you are either stuck in your car and moving an inch a minute or you’re pressed up against ten other sweaty commuters in a train car whose windows are glued shut. not to mention the never-ending mass of bicycle commuters down market street at rush hour, their skin soaking up the grit and grime of the city. HOWEVER, commuting doesn’t have to be that bad! at skinSALVATION we like to think of our commuting hours as a time to refresh and reconnect with ourselves before or after a long day. so let’s dive into some commuting real-talk!

by car
if you are one of the ninety percent of americans who drive to work,1 you’ve got plenty of great opportunities to practice stress management techniques while stimulating your mind. having moved to the bay area from new york, i know all about head-splitting traffic jams and our high-strung responses to them. we can so easily lose sight of the bigger picture when faced with major road blocks to our work day. keeping things in perspective is essential for a calm commute. if you are the type of person who stresses easily in high traffic situations, take a minute to remember that you are doing everything you can to get where you need to be and that the traffic jam is completely out of your control. once you acknowledge this, you can focus your energy on an uplifting podcast or on the melodies of your favorite musical artist. you can even take the time to reconnect with relatives or friends by calling them on speaker phone. we like to keep a bottle of rosewater toner in the glove compartment for spritzing and enlivening the automobile atmosphere on hot mornings. your commute will move much more swiftly once you accept that you can’t control the vast majority of it, so sit back and enjoy the drive!

by bus or train
one of the main concerns our clients have about commuting via bus, bart or muni train is the spread of germs across the many surfaces we come in contact with. we like to carry a few toner pads and a 2oz bottle of sS sterilizing toner, using it as a hand sanitizer in a pinch. this is a great way to combat the spread of comedogenic germs and bacteria. you never know if the person who held onto the bus railing before you used coconut oil to moisturize, leaving a comedogenic oil slick in their wake. we always recommend keeping your hands away from your face, but this is especially important when riding public transportation. we know it may be tempting to rest your head against the window to catch a few extra z’s in the morning but beware of the residue that may have been left by your fellow narcoleptic commuters. the last thing you want on your forehead is a breakout from someone’s cloggy hair products!

once you’ve gotten into the groove of popping out the sterilizing toner when needed, it’s time to relax and enjoy your commute. riding the bus or the train is the perfect time to queue up your favorite podcast, zone into a meditation app or to catch up on a good book or magazine. sometimes we like to use commute time to take care of small tasks like catching up on emails, paying bills online or spending a few minutes with social media. the possibilities for fun and productivity are endless!

by bicycle
biking to work can be stressful as you dodge flinging car doors, swerving automobiles, potholes from crumbling infrastructure and unruly pedestrians. despite these potential setbacks, biking to work can also be one of the best ways to relieve the stress of the workday. you can pedal your worries away as your body releases endorphins in response to the physical activity. biking to and from work is also a great way to get your daily movement in, especially if you have a desk job that involves sitting still for most of the day. you can soak up some sun while toning those quads and taking in the scenery.

but what about the dust, dirt and sweat that sink deeper into your pores with every city bike ride? how can you care for your skin when you arrive at work with sweat pouring from your brow? similar to carrying a travel-size bag of skin and hair products to the gym, we advise keeping the products from your sS regimen in a small container at the office, too. if you anticipate having a grueling commute under the hot sun, skip the morning makeup routine and leave a bit earlier. when you arrive at the office, wash your face or splash it with water and follow that up with the sS sterilizing toner and some moisture. then go to town painting your face. you’ll feel like a million bucks all day, safe in the knowledge that the sweat has been eradicated. if you don’t wear makeup, simply splash your face with some water and give it a swipe with our sterilizing toner when you get to work. this will prevent bacteria from forming from any lingering sweat.

if you live in drier and/or colder climates, be sure to apply extra moisture as part of your morning skin regimen and after your commute if you need it. skinSALVATION hydrating gel is always a nice light option to apply throughout the day if your skin is craving a quench. and don’t forget the sunscreen!

whether you bike, bus or bart to work each day, you have the power to transform your commute into a positive and acne-safe experience. we are just here to help you along the way! talk to your esthetician about how to keep your skincare regimen on track during your commute all week long.

footnotes

  1. dews, f. (2013) ninety percent of americans drive to work. brookings institute. 28 october, 2013.

clear skin: back to school edition

september is right around the corner and we all know what that means. at the first signs of brisk mornings and fallen leaves crunching beneath our feet, we know it’s time to pick up some last-minute supplies and head off to school once again. we have a ton of clients who attend high school or college, or who take night classes here in the bay area as a step towards a new career. whatever your educational status, we’ve got some tips for staying acne-safe while hitting the books. 

first things first: schedule your face treatments. if you are moving away for the school year, get yourself into the clinic for a treatment asap! our estheticians are popular and their schedules book up fast, so try to make your appointment for a face treatment sooner rather than later. if you’re sticking around the bay area, but you know it’s going to be increasingly difficult to make the trek to the clinic because of rigorous school deadlines, try to book your appointments in advance and away from more hectic times like finals and midterms. coming home for the holidays? think ahead and make an appointment as soon as you buy your plane ticket. that a way, you don’t have to worry about booking an appointment at the last minute when you’re already in town. 

okay, what about caffeine? caffeine is okay in moderation, but our number one rule is: no coffee. not only can the particular acids in coffee (including decaf) contribute to acne, coffee causes cortisol spikes that can throw your hormonal and adrenal functions off kilter. i know it’s tempting to chug some fortified espresso beverage just to push through that 3am essay-writing frenzy, but there are so many other caffeinated options out there! matcha is nearly ubiquitous these days, so try to find a cafe that offers this delicious brain booster. chai tea lattes with almond milk are another great option. i know that it can be difficult to abstain from coffee while studying to be the world’s next best lawyer/philosopher/doctor, but you can do it! i stopped drinking coffee cold turkey smack dab in the middle of my graduate program, and it wasn’t easy at first. but after the adjustment phase, i found that my energy sustained much more evenly throughout the day while consuming only green tea. after a while, i didn’t need any stimulants and i could focus on my work much more intently. try it out!

if you don’t have a hot plate for boiling water, invest in an inexpensive electric kettle. make your morning matcha, stow it away in a hydro flask and skip to class with boundless energy! in the evening, sip on some tea with calming herbs like lemon balm and chamomile to bring your cortisol levels down.

how about food? i bet you are wondering how to cook an acne-safe meal in your dorm room when you only have a microwave, maybe a hot plate. this is where trader joe’s comes in. if you lack the space and tools to prep veggies, grab a pack of tj’s mini carrots, some pre-spiralized sweet potato or zucchini, saute them in some ghee or pop them in the microwave with some tj’s chicken thighs and you’ve got yourself an acne-safe meal in minutes. grab a handful of trail mix to snack on throughout the day or become a cheese-less sandwich master. if you have a freezer in your dorm room, stock up on their inexpensive organic frozen vegetables. pair their frozen riced cauliflower with a dairy-free vegetable curry or steam some frozen spinach in the microwave to serve over brown rice pasta with tomato sauce. get creative! their packaged frozen meals can be helpful in a pinch, but watch out for hidden dairy and soy in the ingredients. you can also save some extra cash by heading to your local natural grocer and hitting the bulk bin section. stock up on snacks, granola for breakfast (with almond milk, of course), rice, dried fruit, etc. 

just remember: when you live in a dorm, canned food is your friend. if you’ve got the space, keep some essentials on hand for when you are too busy to cook a huge meal. if you have access to a dining hall, use it! most colleges offer fresh vegetables and grilled meat, tacos, even dairy-free pizza – tons of acne-safe options if you look for ’em! but if you prefer to cook for yourself, you might need a couple of gadgets to get the job done. scour amazon for a magic bullet if you are a smoothie person, invest in a hot plate if you prefer sautéing your veggies to microwaving, or better yet, get an instant pot, which allows you to do everything from sauté to steam to slow cook!

but school is stressful! yes, school can be a deeply stressful environment. it’s quite romantic to dream of the academic atmosphere steeped in late nights, bottomless espresso drinks and strict deadlines. but this high-strung lifestyle is anything but acne-safe. managing your time and practicing self-care are essential for maintaining both your sanity and your calm. why is stress management so important? because stress, like coffee, causes our adrenals to churn out more cortisol than we need floating around our bloodstreams. this creates an inflammatory state in the body while elevating male sex hormones, like dht, which contributes to oily skin and acne. so check your stress at the dorm door! if you are getting ready to endure a particularly stressful time, take some zyflamend (the herbal supplement we love that combats systemic inflammation). find the time to take up a relaxation practice – look into free or sliding-scale yoga and meditation classes on campus and try to get rid of those nasty procrastination habits. waiting until the last minute to complete papers and to study for exams can lead to unhealthy behaviors that are not great for the skin, like skimping on sleep, relying on caffeine to stay awake and eating foods with dairy. schedule extra time for essays and projects so that you don’t run into these stressors. 

exercise and community are also important for stress-reduction. join a club or a sports team to get some extra social time in if you are feeling overwhelmed. combining socializing and movement in one go can be a huge time-saver – take a yoga class with a friend or go on a hike with some classmates to talk about midterms. and if you go to the gym, remember to pack travel sizes of your sS products for your gym bag so you can rinse off after working out. school is stressful, so always contact student mental health services to chat with a counselor for some help wading through the difficulties of student life. check out this post for more stress-relief tips!

 

how do i take care of my skin? stocking up on skin products before you leave for school is always a good idea. but if you forget, or if you just don’t have time to make it into the clinic, remember that you can always order products online through our website and have us ship them to you. so easy! if you are moving to a colder, drier climate for school, stock up on extra moisture – hydrating cream and safeguard spf40 will do wonders to keep your skin glowing throughout the darkest months. and if you’re lucky enough to be heading to a warm place with lots of sun, try a lighter sunscreen like tizo2 or tizo3 – these products will help soak up any extra moisture on your skin leftover from hot and humid climates.

questions while you’re away? if you find that you need some extra help from your esthetician while you’re gone, never hesitate to email her – we are always happy to answer skin questions and troubleshoot issues from afar. we love the virtual popzit appointment! and remember to always check back on our blog and instagram for new info related to clear skin and tips for leading an acne-safe lifestyle. it’s a great resource – if you’ve got a question about acne, chances are, we’ve written about it! 

stay healthy, stay clear and enjoy the school year!