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.

the official sS guide to constipation and acne

throughout my twenties, i was in a band that toured the country often. i had persistent acne that would not relent despite my efforts to “eat clean” and to pare down my skincare regimen. during this period of my life, i noticed that every time i left town to go on tour, my digestive functions would, without fail, shut down. i found myself going 6, 7, 8 days without…dropping the kids off at the pool. now several years later, i recognize this as extreme constipation in response to the stress of travel, alcohol consumption, disrupted sleep and altered dietary routines. at the time, i couldn’t make sense of it all. i mostly just laughed it off as a quirk, not fully comprehending the gravity of constipation as a health condition.

but what exactly is constipation and why am i talking about it on an acne blog? as we’ve discussed in previous blog posts, digestion plays a crucial role in skin health. if your digestive system is not functioning like a well-oiled machine, other organs, like the skin, usually take up the slack. for those with acne-prone skin, keeping things moving is an essential step on the skin-healing journey.

constipation affects 20% of the american adult population.1 it’s a condition that results in a person having “fewer than three bowel movements a week, or hard, dry and small bowel movements that are painful or difficult to pass.”2 though we should aim to eliminate 1 to 3 times each day, modern lifestyle factors like stress, poor fiber intake and dehydration can slow down our body processes. healthy bowel transit time should rest anywhere between 12 and 24 hours. an easy way to test for this is to swallow 2 tablespoons of whole white sesame seeds with a meal, record the time and observe when they appear in your stool afterwards.

have you ever taken a moment to really examine the stuff that ends up in the toilet? if not, you’re not alone! we are encouraged from an early age to avoid this taboo subject, to replace direct language with euphemisms and flat-out denials, to dance around the doo-doo. many of us are afraid to even admit that we undergo this natural and perfectly healthy daily routine altogether.

here at skinSALVATION, we are not afraid to get right to it. if you’re a client, you are probably already familiar with the digestion-acne connection. the main purpose of defecation is to swiftly remove toxins and excess estrogens from the body. when people suffer from constipation, these toxins and hormones get held up at the border and if they are stopped up for too long, they make their way back into the bloodstream. the body then finds alternate ways of pushing them out and the skin becomes the next exit point. the influx of estrogen back into the bloodstream has an additionally negative impact on hormonal balance, which in turn, can contribute to acne.

so how do you know where you stand on the poop spectrum? in the late 90s in bristol, england, some medical researchers generated a genius poo-determination tool called the bristol stool chart. while other healing modalities like chinese medicine and ayurveda had been examining poop characteristics as a means of determining illness in patients for centuries, the bristol stool chart was the first standardized poop test in the west and it has been important in the diagnosis of conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (ibs) and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (sibo).

how does your poop match up? if types 1 or 2 seem all too familiar, it might be time for a re-evaluation. here are some of our favorite tips to combat constipation:

drink more water. this is an easy one. aim to consume at least half your body weight in ounces each day. so if you weigh 160 lbs, try to get at least 80 ounces of water into that beautiful bod to hydrate your cells and to loosen up your stools. carry a large glass or stainless steel water bottle with you and sip from it all day. add tasty accessories to your water to make it more palatable – citrus, cucumber, spearmint and sage work wonders to spruce up some plain old water.

drink herbal tea (these can count toward your total water goal for the day). try drinking teas with digestive herbs after eating in order to lend a helping hand to your overworked digestive organs. look for teas with black pepper, licorice, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger and fennel, all of which beat the bloat while helping to move things along. if your constipation is dire, senna tea can be a temporary solution, but avoid relying on this herb, as it is more of a bandaid that doesn’t tackle the root of the problem.eat enough fiber – both soluble and insoluble. soluble fiber is the soft stuff that hastens our bowel movements – bananas, the inside of a sweet potato, and the fleshy parts of root vegetables. insoluble fiber consists of fruit and vegetable skins and stalks – all of the roughage that we don’t digest and which contributes bulk to our stools. we would be lost without both of these important types of fiber and we should all aim to consume 25-40 grams in total each day.

avoid processed food, dairy and fried foods. these foods can contribute to major backups and often have a dehydrating effect on the body.

take a magnesium supplement like natural calm before bed. not only does magnesium help you drift off into a blissful night’s sleep, it is also a crucial mineral for skin health and acts as a mild muscle relaxer. most americans are deficient in this mineral and it is not easily absorbed from food, so taking at least 400 mg each night is advised.3 taking an epsom salt bath is another great way to absorb this precious mineral through the skin. a quality cod liver oil supplement can also help move things along. we like nordic naturals.

keep your stress in check. is there any physical ailment that does not include stress management as a treatment? no! as i parlayed in my story above, the gut-brain connection has a huge impact on our bodily functions. our digestive systems shut down during times of stress as the body funnels its energy to our fight or flight response. eating in a calm environment and practicing stress management techniques daily is essential for keeping constipation at bay. the better we manage stress, the more energy our bodies have to devote to digesting and eliminating our food.

consume prebiotics, probiotics and enzymes. prebiotics are particular foods (artichoke, asparagus, green bananas and plantains, onions, garlic) that are consumed and digested by our good gut flora, while probiotics re-populate our guts with new bacteria. since our stools mostly consist of bacteria, having balanced gut flora is essential. additionally, taking an enzyme before each meal can help our bodies break down proteins, carbohydrates and fats, allowing us to absorb more nutrients from our food. for those suffering from sibo or ibs, be careful with pre and probiotics and talk to your doctor for recommendations.

get into proper squat position when you’re ready to release. using a squatty potty or a footstool can make all the difference. it’s important to create good bathroom habits – don’t rush, always try to relax and try to eliminate at the same times each day.

express yourself. get those emotions out, either by going to therapy, talking to friends or by starting a daily journaling practice. your body’s physical need to hold onto matter within its walls often reflects a psychological need to hold onto habits or emotions that no longer serve you. instead of bottling up your emotions, let them out in positive and healthy ways. this release can be illuminating in more ways than one!

move and stretch. yoga and gentle exercise are fantastic ways to get things moving downtown. try wind-relieving pose, child’s pose, downward dog, supine twist and forward fold – these twisty yoga poses can all help relieve constipation and encourage movement.

constipation is a serious issue. it means that something is out of balance internally, either with digestion, stress or hormones. so if you find yourself unable to eliminate for several days in a row, seek professional medical advice.

footnotes

1. pinto sanchez, m.i., bercik, p. (2011) epidemiology and burden of chronic constipation. canadian journal of gastroenterology. v.25(suppl b).
2. national institute of diabetes and digestive and kidney diseases
3. kresser, c. (2011) 9 steps to perfect health – #4: supplement wisely. posted february 2011.

wild night? tips for overcoming a hangover the acne-safe way

have too much to drink last night? we’ve all been there. while we recommend drinking in moderation, leading an acne-safe lifestyle doesn’t mean that you have to skimp on socialising and forego the nightlife altogether. and while we definitely do not aim to encourage an overzealous participation in nightlife until 6am every weekend, we know that we all stumble upon a wild night from time to time…and with a wild night often comes the dreaded hangover – the headaches, fatigue, nausea, poor sleep, disturbed digestion1 and the total inability to be around other humans.

unfortunately, the hangover is your body’s way of letting you know that you took it a bit too far last night and that it needs some recovery time. the positive sides of eating a well balanced and acne-safe diet far outweigh the one negative, which is that you might end up feeling a bit more sensitive to alcohol’s effects than you did when you were loading up on mac & cheese, frozen pizza and cheeseburgers before you realized that the standard american diet was actually hindering your journey towards clear skin. generally, the “cleaner” our bodies are, the more sensitive they can be to stimulation. but they are also much more capable of handling stress, fighting infection and keeping us well. so here are some acne-safe tips for helping keep the hangover in check, and better yet, for preventing it in the first place!

hydrate
we’ve all heard this one before: drink plenty of water before, during and after your big night out. alcohol’s diuretic effects take an extraordinarily dehydrating toll on the body as we flush essential electrolytes out via our urine. ever wake up with a splitting headache that makes you want to spend the day on the couch with the real housewives of new jersey? or do you wake up completely lacking the energy to even move from the bed to the couch? or are you afraid to leave the toilet’s side because of that gnarly nausea? these are signs that your electrolytes have left the building, so boosting and replenishing their stores throughout the night and the next morning are huge steps in the fight against the hangover. not only should you drink AT LEAST one (large) glass of water for every 1oz of alcohol, we also recommend sipping on beverages with naturally-occurring electrolytes like coconut water (no added sugar) and mineral water (with magnesium, potassium, sodium, etc). drink these luscious libations all throughout the night between your cocktails – you won’t even remember that they’re alcohol-free and you’ll be doing your head a favor.

be beverage-smart
what about alcohol? what should you drink to stay acne-safe and to avoid a debilitating hangover the next day? well, white russians are out for obvious reasons. we are huge advocates of any low-sugar clear liquor and recommend avoiding anything with added sweeteners, colors or strange chemicals. wine and cider are okay, but they are full of natural (and sometimes added) sugars, so be careful about ingesting too many of these. if you really gotta have your apples, there are more and more low and sugar-free ciders on the market these days, like the probiotic ones by 101 cider house.

if you find yourself at a swank cocktail bar, you might be lured in by their infused simple syrups, but if you have the option, try to go for natural fruit sweeteners instead. tequila packs a natural sweetness so it can be enjoyed with a simple combination of tonic water and lime. add citrus, add bitters (and ease your digestion in the process), and get creative! order a gin and tonic and add a splash of coconut water or an herbal elixir of elderberry that you had the foresight to stash in your bag before leaving the house. the bottom lineKISS (keep it simple, stupid!)

slow down
no need to pound 5 drinks over the course of one happy hour. pace yourself and take a break between drinks by going for a walk around the block, walking to grab a bite or a coconut water, or just by getting outside for a breath of fresh air. plus, the more slowly you drink, the less money you will spend and the better you will feel in the morning, both physically and financially.

eat all the food
because we absorb alcohol through our stomachs, and because alcohol can upset both the stomach lining and gut microbiome, eating a substantial dinner before running out to the bar is essential. get your vitamin b6 from a dinner featuring poultry or beef and stock up on vitamin c in the form of bell peppers, citrus, dark green vegetables, and tomatoes. these vitamins can help detox the alcohol from your body, so try to plan your meals throughout the night and the next day around these star nutrients. if you really don’t have time to eat a full meal, pack some snacks, preferably ones with tons of fat and/or protein to balance out your blood sugar and to prevent your insulin from running haywire – things like epic jerky bars, justin’s packets of almond butter, an avocado, or even a handful of trail mix. drinking caffeine the next morning can also help to reduce the size of those pumping blood vessels in your brain and can bring your headache down. but stay away from the coffee! the bottom line: don’t skip meals when you know you will be drinking. eating well-balanced meals for dinner and breakfast the next day will help prevent and ease any signs of a hangover.

address your inflammation
at some point during the night, take a zyflammend to keep your inflammation in check. alcohol has an acidifying effect on the body as it zaps hydration from our cells, causes our hormones to fluctuate and generally stresses the body out. if you’ve ever woken up from a night of drinking with no appetite or with an inability to recall your conversation with that fly bartender, your inflammatory response was most likely on red alert. do what you can to mitigate these inflammatory effects by eating alkalizing foods like green vegetables and avocado, and by calming your body’s stress response with some soothing herbal tea before bed (if you remember, that is). the bottom line: alcohol is highly inflammatory – take this into consideration if you deal with inflamed acne and either avoid alcohol for a while or cut back.

never leave the house without charcoal
while drinking alcohol, pop 1-2 activated charcoal pills. charcoal is a powerful tool for detoxing the body and can be a great sidekick to the liver, which already has to work double time in the presence of alcohol. charcoal binds to toxins in the stomach and helps remove them from the body before we have a chance to absorb them through our blood streams.2 in previous posts, we’ve discussed the importance of detoxing excess hormones, like estrogen, from the body, but this task becomes herculean when alcohol is involved. just one drink of alcohol can elevate estrogen levels in women by 10-15%, which puts an extra strain on the liver as it frantically attempts to process and detox the extra hormones.3 so give your liver a break by drinking slowly over the course of the night and by consuming some charcoal alongside your alcohol. it will bind to both the alcohol and to any other nasty ingredients that may have crept into your cocktail, and it will help flush them out of your system. bonus: charcoal is great at expelling gas and decreasing the bloating that can often accompany a night of drinking. just don’t consume charcoal within an hour of any other supplements or nutritious foods.

take magnesium
we love this potent miracle mineral! magnesium is an essential electrolyte that is involved in over 300 bodily processes, so it’s extra important to stock up when you’ve had a night of raging at the bar. you can either take it before bed in supplement-form to help you get to sleep (it’s also a muscle-relaxant), or you can eat tons of magnesium-rich foods throughout the night and for breakfast the next day. if you didn’t already run to the store and buy a grip of coconut water after tip #1, do it now! and then make a breakfast with a huge bunch of leafy greens, a handful of almonds and pumpkin seeds, a banana, some avocado and…dark chocolate (watch out for added soy lecithin, of course).4

magnesium is also important to take after a night of drinking because it helps synthesize tryptophan into serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that elevates our moods and staves off depression. alcohol can cause temporary boosts in serotonin but ultimately has a dampening effect on the neurotransmitter, causing it to drop to a level lower than before drinking.5 so taking magnesium at the end of a party night can help protect against those hangover blues. bonus: magnesium aids in digestion by activating the enzymes that help break down food and it sends you into a deep, tranquil sleep.6

sleep it off
ever wonder why you wake up so painfully early after a night of drinking, when you need the extra sleep the most? alcohol can be extremely disruptive of sleep, especially rem, which is the deep, dreamy restorative sleep cycle, as well as, the later stages of sleep.7 this is known as the rebound effect and it occurs because the sedative qualities of alcohol wear off as the alcohol becomes metabolized by the liver.8 because of this, for every drink you consume, you should wait that number of hours before trying to fall asleep. so if you have three drinks by 8pm, you would (in a perfect world) wait until 11pm to get to bed in order to give your body a chance to adjust and re-balance itself.9

move your body
if a wild night of drinking left you feeling out of sorts, lethargic and totally bummed out, get up and move your body. i know it’s so tempting to lie around in bed all day, nursing your hangover with self-pity and pedialyte, but your endorphins are begging to be activated after being depressed by hours of alcohol consumption. endorphins, like serotonin, help us feel good. they are released after physical activity – but don’t take it too far. a simple 20-minute yoga session or a brisk walk around the neighborhood can do the trick. just remember to hydrate!

what about going out if you don’t drink alcohol? you can still party with the best of us! just reach for a sparkling water or kombucha, or better yet, find a bar in your area that serves kombucha on tap. sip on some tonic water with lime and bitters or bring your own herbal syrup to make a luxurious alcohol-free cocktail that will tempt even the most hardline mixologists. we love bringing our local bay area syrups by taproot to the bar and pouring a couple spoonfuls into a glass of seltzer. so refreshing and healing!

if you do have a wild night out, have fun and don’t stress. worrying about how much you are drinking while you are drinking will only increase your cortisol and lead to elevated systemic inflammation. so have a good time, drink wisely and in moderation, and take care of yourself the next day!

what are your favorite hangover cures?

footnotes

1. mayo foundation for medical education and research. diseases and conditions: hangovers. accessed august 2017.
2. hultén, b.a., et al. (1986) does alcohol absorb to activated charcoal? human toxicology. 1986 may; 5(3):211-2.
3. balanced bites podcast (2017) self-love & adrenals, stress & alcohol, hormones & birth control with dr. jolene brighten. episode #302; june 29, 2017.
4. dr. axe. (2017) top 10 magnesium-rich foods plus proven benefits.
accessed august 2017.

5. pietraszek, m.h., et al. (1991) alcohol-induced depression: involvement of serotonin. alcohol and alcoholism. 1991; 26(2):155-9.
6. abassi, b., et al. (2012) the effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. journal of research in medical sciences. 2012 dec; 17(12):1161-9.
7. roehrs, t. and roth, t. sleep, sleepiness and alcohol use. national institute on alcohol abuse and alcoholism. accessed august 2017.
8. mann, j. (2017) 8 ways that booze messes with your sleep. sleep junkies. accessed august 2017.
9. wolf, r. (2017) wired to eat: turn off cravings, rewire your appetite for weight loss, and determine the foods that work for you. harmony: new york.

i had an epiphany to give back!

when asked if there was a specific charity i know of and want to support, two places immediately came to mind: epiphany center and friendship house. many of my loved ones and close friends have recovered from an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol. i know how hard it is to get sober! there have been times where i felt that without the support of my community, i would not have been able to start my walk on the path towards success. for example, i am not sure if i could have left my previous career to start the journey toward being an esthetician if i didn’t have my loved ones cheering for me along the way!

change is scary and deciding to address an addiction is not only making a commitment to change but also relearning how to interact in this world. for this reason, getting clean is much more than just putting down the alcohol or drugs – and these two programs focus on the human as a whole, versus solely the addiction.

epiphany center provides holistic care to those who are struggling by focusing on multiple types of growth: physical, social-emotional, intellectual and spiritual! they have a residential recovery program for women and their young children that provides everything from vocational training groups to auricular acupuncture. their goals, in their words, are simply: “to keep children safe, to strengthen parent-child relationships and to keep families together by reducing risk factors.” in doing so, they impact the future of our community.

 

friendship house association of american indians is “dedicated to stopping the cycle of dysfunction that has been passed down from one generation to the next”. they don’t see their clients as simply clients, but instead as family. they have an 80-bed residential facility that people can stay in for up to 6 months. during this time, they work to empower themselves through resume development, computer training, job training and housing assistance.

whether or not you or a loved one has struggled with addiction, it is evident that the goals these two companies have are commendable! the goal is to help treat the addiction to empower the human. interestingly enough, skinSALVATION has the same idea – help treat the skin to empower the human. a donation to these organizations expands their programs to reach a greater population in need.

if you would like to help, you can donate directly to the epiphany center or friendship house.