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?

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!

fragrance: a clogger by any other name…

more news on the sneaky, sneaky pore-cloggers front:

at sS, we warn clients to look out for fragrances in products because “fragrance” is an umbrella term that masks a host of ingredients, some which are pore-clogging.

these mystery “fragrance” ingredients can appear in all kinds of products that come in contact with your skin: from perfumes to makeup, from cleansers and moisturizers to clothing detergents and fabric softeners. and just think of all the sunscreens and serums with delicious aromas too!

you may be wondering how many ingredients are hidden under the term “fragrance”? well we just found a list of 3,059 ingredients! yowzer!

and much to our dismay, just as suspected, there are tons of insidious, comedogenic (pore-clogging) ingredients on this list.

right off the bat we spotted isopropyl myristate and corn oil, and further perusal revealed 43 additional cloggy ingredients masquerading as fragrance. the full list of comedogenic ingredients (that we know of) that can simply be labeled as “fragrance” includes:

  • Acetylated Lanolin
  • Acetylated Lanolin Alcohol
  • Avocado Oil
  • Black Kelp
  • Butyl Stearate
  • Cetyl Acetate
  • Coconut Butter
  • Coconut Oil
  • Corn Oil
  • Cotton Seed Oil
  • Ethoxylated Lanolin
  • Fucus vesiculousus
  • Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil
  • Irish Moss
  • Isopropyl Myristate
  • Isopropyl Palmitate
  • Kelp
  • Knotted Kelp
  • Lamimaria ochroleuca extract
  • Laminaria digitata
  • Laminaria longicruris
  • Laminaria saccharine
  • Lanolic Acid
  • Lanolin
  • Lanolin Alcohol
  • Lauric Acid
  • Lauryl Alcohol
  • Linseed Oil
  • Mineral Oil
  • Myristic Acid
  • Octyldodecanol
  • Oleic Acid
  • Olive Oil
  • Peanut Oil
  • PEG 16 Lanolin
  • Petroleum
  • Propylene Glycol Monostearate
  • Seaweed
  • Sesame Oil
  • Soybean Oil
  • Stearic Acid TEA
  • Tocopherol
  • Xylene

so what’s an acne sufferer to do? well, apart from avoiding all delightfully-smelling products, your best bet is to either stick to sS-vetted products or contact the manufacturer of any product you are interested in, and get a complete list of the ingredients used in the product’s fragrance and run it against skinSALVATION’s complete list of known comedogenic ingredients.  another alternative, if you choose to take it, is to carefully test one suspicious product at a time (while being acne-safe with everything else!) to be able to isolate any new breakouts to the new ‘fragranced’ product you are using.

at sS, you know we’ve tested our products long term for ensure they aren’t pore-clogging, so no need to worry about your tried and true sS favorites!

new clogger alert: argan oil

Arganbad news, sSers, vivant labs has confirmed that argan oil (sometimes called argania spinosa in ingredients lists) is a certified pore-clogger. argan oil has gained popularity in cosmetics over the past couple of years — especially in some of the higher-end brands — so make sure you check your labels.

we’ve updated the comedogenic list to include both argan oil and argania spinosa, so if you keep a copy of the list on your phone or in your purse, it’s time to trade up for the new one. as always, keep in mind that it’s an evolving list. we do our best to include the latest research, but since new ingredients are invented everyday it will never be fully complete.

so, do your due diligence and check those labels, but also make sure you’re listening to your skin. if you start using a new product and start breaking out, stop using it (even if the ingredients look safe). there a plenty of acne-safe products out there, but sometimes it just takes a little effort to separate the wheat from the chaff.