10 Secrets to Having Clear Skin

A few of you have reached out to me at different times asking about my skincare routine and what products I use. While I've shared a few of these things in previous posts before, I haven't actually dedicated a specific post to it so I thought it was about time, now that spring is here and we're all looking for a fresh start to the season, to come out of winter hiding and put our best face forward.

Let me start off by saying that my skin is not as perfectly clear as it once was in my younger years, but I'm still thankful for what it is today as I can usually go sans makeup most of the time as it is typically pretty blemish-free. While I was in high school, while everyone was battling acne, I considered myself pretty lucky to only get a minor blemish here or there and remember having the best skin which continued on into my college years. However, as the years have passed, I've not only noticed fine lines appearing, but I've also noticed that I sometimes get hormonal acne along my chin area (it first appeared during pregnancy for a few months then subsided and reappeared about 1 year after I had my daughter, precisely during the time my monthly cycle returned). For the first time in my life I could relate to and empathize with teens and adults everywhere who suffer from acne, it truly does affect the way you feel about yourself and extends to other areas such as your social life.

At first, I felt so unfamiliar and frustrated with what to do to keep it in check, I mean, who thinks they're going to experience acne in their 30's? To be honest there were days that I just felt ugly and didn't want to leave the house (but thank God for makeup during that time!) Then all of a sudden it went from a day or two to trying to figure out how to cover up what resembled cystic acne (which sometimes left scars) for about a week straight when the flare-ups were at their worst. Given my background in health and wellness, knowing that putting a bunch of chemicals on my skin or getting a prescription from a dermatologist wasn't the answer (nor would I have gone that route as I was nursing Lily and continued to do so for many months after), I did what I always do when my health is compromised, I started looking at my best alternative natural options available which is what led me to change my diet. Fast forward to a month later when Exposed Skincare reached out to me and shared their nature-meets-science anti-acne products which I was eager to try.

My results after taking the Exposed Skincare Probiotics 
+ eliminating dairy from my diet for 60 days: consistently clearer skin.

Good skin is a result of two things in my opinion: proper skincare + good nutrition (along with adequate exercise). They go together, you can't have one without the other. What I realized was, while hormones likely played a part with what I was experiencing, there were other triggers (such as food) that caused my skin to become angry and irritated. Once I addressed those underlying causes, things improved dramatically for me. So, I'm sharing my tips with you all today in the hopes of not only answering your questions about skincare that I've received but also to reveal what I do in other areas of my life that are most beneficial to maintaining clear skin, that it may help you too.

1. Drink More Water We've all had it drilled into our heads a million times, we need to drink 8 glasses of water per day (more if we're exercising or in extreme heat or a dry climate outdoors). How many of us actually follow this guideline? I always thought I was doing pretty great in this department, but I realized after logging my water consumption for a few days that I simply wasn't drinking enough. Our body is 60% water and it relies on filtered clean water to function and detoxify-and lots of it! These days, instead of playing a guessing game, I fill a large pitcher (since I work from home) and add organic lemon slices, cucumbers or both to it and sip on it all day. When I'm in the car, out at the beach or when I travel for a road trip, I always carry this reusable glass container in turquoise so I can stay hydrated on the go. This is the single easiest thing we can do to not only get clearer skin but benefit our internal organs and brain also!

2. Get Sweaty- Whether saunas are your thing or you prefer to go running, one way or another, we need to sweat to open our pores and allow our skin to properly release toxins. Because I don't want to clog my pores and the whole idea is to perspire, I don't use an anti-perspirant but rather a deodorant (I also love these wipes post-gym + during plane travel, however a bit pricey. They work amazing and are perfect for new mamas too when you can't get that shower in-been there, done that). I realized while I was pregnant with Lily that while I did go for walk and would jog and do yoga during my 1st trimester, I pretty much stopped exercising after that. I think part of it was that I was afraid that I'd injure myself and I had the most amazing, healthy pregnancy so I didn't want to mess it up. ;) After I gave birth to her, I allowed my body the necessary rest, got cleared to begin working out after 6 weeks but apart from a few in-home yoga sessions, and taking her for walks in her stroller daily, never really made it back to the gym. Personally, I've always found that my skin has a glow to it when I work out regularly, when I don't it looks more dull and breaks out easily. So, that was the next thing on the list I needed to tackle. Oh, and purposely embracing the hot, humid Florida weather outdoors to get my sweat on.

3. Limit Caffeine, Alcohol, Sugar & Dairy- So, you may not be lactose intolerant (like I am) but based on what I've learned in my many years of research and education in wellness, is that certain foods are triggers for a large majority of people and dairy is one of them. When our body doesn't break it down properly, in can react in different ways, one being acne. My cousin Kim is one of those people who noticed a dramatic difference in her skin when she became vegan after discovering the casein in dairy was wreaking havoc on her body. You can check out her blog for her story. While I get so tempted and often indulge in an ice cream cone with Lily during the weekend, a slice of cheese pizza or even a healthy bowl of greek yogurt + fruit, I tend to pay for it later in how my skin reacts so I've also found the same thing if I overdo it on the sweets. When it comes to dairy and sugar, I've come to the conclusion that a few mins of pleasure is not worth the pain that inevitable follows. Caffeine dehydrates, as does alcohol, which can cause skin to become dry, flaky, itchy and overproduce oil to compensate, causing blemishes not to mention it junks up our liver which causes toxins to be released often with the same result: acne. If you are someone who consumes these 4 things and have skin you're unhappy with, this could be why. For others, grains like wheat are a source of issues, so testing out a gluten-free diet may be just what you need. It's a process of trial and error to learn what our body needs.

4. Eat Clean- If you're anything like me, your days are busy and you're always looking for ways to make them run smoother, sometimes nourishing ourselves with what our body needs gets trumped by what we're craving in the moment (which for me is almost always chocolate!) or if I'm feeling a bit lazy, an organic frozen grocery store Margherita pizza or a stop at Chipotle for some healthy-ish takeout. Having said that, we eat almost entirely organic at our house and focus on eating a ton of raw fruits + veggies throughout the day and animal products are always hormone-free, antibiotic-free and free-range/grass-fed/cage-free and organic. This is something I won't compromise on because we don't eat a lot of meats to begin with, it's worth it to buy quality over quantity and I just can't bear the thought of consuming unwanted pesticides daily + genetically modified ingredients which have both proven to cause cancer and other diseases. My days usually begin with a fresh fruit smoothie + greens (either fresh spinach or kale) or I add hemp protein powder and whip it all up in my Vitamix blender. If you follow along on Instagram, you've seen a few of my concoctions like this recent tropical smoothie recipe). I also LOVE avocados and add them for a creamier consistency of smoothie but I'm also kind of obsessed with avocado toast with cucumbers. I eat half to one full avocado daily and I swear it has kept my skin from being dry during winter and it feels great on your skin too. Throughout the day I like to have fruit on hand (especially berries and melon) but during lunch and dinner try to focus in on a variety of veggies either raw, steamed or oven roasted. I have always eaten quite healthy but have made small tweaks over the years, one being to not use a microwave at all. Another is to up my raw intake by trying new recipes like raw lettuce wraps filled with veggies or simply by adding a variety to my salads vs. mixed greens with tomatoes and cucumbers for example, it also makes eating a lot more fun especially when there are a variety of colors. I encourage you to give it a try!

5. Supplement with Probiotics- A staple in my supplement cabinet (or in this case-my fridge) has always been probiotics. Our gut regulates our entire body-everything from immune system and how often we get sick to our mood on a particular day as well as our digestion. Probiotics are friendly, healthy bacteria that are essential for good health (and clear skin!). Most of us don't get enough from diet alone (think yogurt, fermented foods like kefir, cold refrigerated pickles, kimchi (fermented cabbage), sauerkraut, etc.) I'm kind of obsessed with GT's Kombucha and these Kevita drinks, I have one nearly every morning (the Lime Mint Coconut Mojita is my favorite!) Probiotics are especially needed to restore our body after we've taken antibiotics for an infection or illness, antibiotics can't differentiate between what is good or bad bacteria, so it wipes out everything! It can take  years to build these levels back up-this is just one reason why I stay away from prescription medications especially those for acne. When Lily was a newborn I got so busy taking care of here that I started to forget to take certain supplements and ran out of others forgetting to reorder online, basically I wasn't taking care of myself the same way. A few months ago, Exposed Skincare reached out to me, interested to collaborate (their timing couldn't have been more perfect!) I looked at their website and saw the array of acne-fighting products they offered. Given that I was still nursing, I combed through every ingredient (their philosophy is the best of nature + science to create the perfect anti-acne skincare for the best of both worlds. They sent me a body wash which my husband used on his body and it helped some bumps he had on his arms along with their probiotic complex (it's a 60 day supply). Once I added the capsules to my routine, and was taking them daily, I noticed an improvement in my skin, especially when I also stayed away from one of my skin triggers-dairy! The photo above was taken in February. Doing that alone was helping but not as much as with their product. I love that they combined their probiotics with other liver detoxifying ingredients such as milk thistle which I've taken before in the past. I didn't use the 6-piece acne kit they offered me (which is currently on sale for 50% off!) as I was still nursing Lily in the mornings + evenings at the time after she turned 2 and didn't want to use anything that could potentially get to her by way of milk but now I'm so curious to try their complete set and see how their facial cleanser and acne treatment serum helps too as they have a money-back guarantee that you'll have clear skin in 30 days! You can visit their website here to learn more.

6. Cleanse Religiously- Not all facial cleansers are created equally. Bar soap isn't really intended for our face and can dry out our skin, and many are filled with a lot of chemical ingredients that only add to our body's toxic chemical burden. With so many natural and organic skincare products available, it's never been easy to find something that will truly be a treat for our skin. From the time I began high school my mom always encouraged me to wash my face with cleanser day and night and I'm so thankful that I took her advice. As I got a bit older and experimented with makeup, she stressed the importance of never falling asleep with makeup on at night. Not only does it not allow our skin to breathe as it clogs pores, but it can cause our skin to age. Even when I've been dead tired after a cross-country flight or a long day, that is one thing I've always done which is why I believe I've had pretty great skin nearly all of my life. I also make sure to wash my face right after working out at the gym or even working in the yard all day. Right now I'm using this vitamin c. cleanser when my skin is very clear and I use this purifying one when my skin is more sensitive and crazy to keep things clear and I love that both can easily be found in most drugstores. In addition, I like to use a mask every couple weeks, and just began using this natural purifying mask. If you can afford the time and money, regular facials are a great way to keep skin looking and feeling its best, but you can always hover your face over a sink of hot water with a towel over your head to trap in the steam and open up your pores before cleansing and exfoliating. I used to do this weekly and realized it's been far too long since the my last session.

7. Use a Skin Cleansing Brush- To get clear, radiant skin, it's essential to remove dead skin cells for fresh cell turnover by exfoliating. What I've found is that many exfoliating cleansers are actually irritating, scratchy and make my skin appear red after and often are the cause of  more skin issues and capillary damage. However, because it's essential, after trying numerous gels, creams, scrubs and using a wash cloth (which helps), I finally discovered the Clarisonic skincare brush for my face a few years ago. My husband gifted it to me and bought himself the larger one as well which does the entire body. It's safe enough for daily cleansing and is said to remove 6x what washing with water and cleanser alone does. It takes me 2-3 mins, I wet it, add a bit of my favorite cleanser and I don't press it into my skin, rather let it spin and glide across in a circular motion. You can really see your pores opened up afterward and skin not only looks clean but feels so incredibly soft too! I've actually tried washing half my face with just cleanser and using my Clarisonic on the other half and it feels so much softer on the brushed side. The bottom line-it works and tons of other women give it 5 star reviews too! It's a bit of an investment but their least expensive version (the Mia) which comes with one brush head and a tube of cleanser is under $100, which can easily replace the cost of 2 facials, plus you can do it anytime in your own home, take it with you when you travel and takes far less time! I use mine 2-3x per week and the weeks where I get so busy and somehow forget, I really notice my skin looks more dull which is when I'm reminded to pull it back out again.

8. Moisturize- More than just an anti-aging tip or to relieve dry, flaky, skin, moisturizer keeps skin balanced and well hydrated so that our body doesn't feel the need to overproduce oils to supply the skin with it (which can cause breakouts). A quality moisturizer should absorb quickly, but leave the skin feeling soft and hydrated. I've tried many that feel greasy or too thick and my skin never thanks me for it later. ;) Right now, I've been using this peace rose calm + soften sensitive skin moisturizer because we were traveling from our humid climate of Florida to dry Nevada, California and back home again which always changes my skin's texture. I bought this right before we left on a whim at Target as I love the entire Shea Moisture body care line as well as their hair care (but had never tried their facial skincare) and have been pleasantly surprised. They days my skin is red or blotchy fresh out of the shower or aggravated for whatever reason, about an hour after I apply this, things subside and I'm good to go! My go-to moisturizer has been this skin-balancing one for the past year because it's light, absorbs quickly and isn't greasy. For the winter months (and in my 'after' photo above) I was using the intense hydration lotion at the time, but it's far too thick for my normal skin type during spring/summer. Also the Mineral Fusion toner that I apply before my moisturizer is amazing, these days I love anything with hyaluronic acid to help plump up fine lines! Some people like to skip a step and wear a moisturizer with sunscreen (I typically do not, opting to keep them separate), but I do make an exception for duos with this 100% organic tinted moisturizer with SPF 15 in 'natural to tan', which I wear over top of my daily moisturizer as a foundation to cover any blemishes. I also use this all-natural Devita SPF 30 solar protective moisturizer specifically for days I'll be outdoors quite a bit and it's the best I've found at being toxin-free plus doesn't irritate my skin. The entire Devita line is incredible. I use it all over Lily's face too and save our organic thick pasty sunscreens for the body only.

9. Spot Treat Sparingly- I'm sure I'm not alone in that when I have a blemish, the first thing I want to do is hide it (but also treat it so it goes away). This is when I think the Exposed Skincare treatment will come in handy for the odd break out here or there. I've tried a few things over time (mostly natural products containing tea tree oil, white willow bark extract, lavender, chamomile, etc. which are all skin soothing). I have found that they 'sort of' work. When I really need to get rid of a blemish fast when I'm going to be in a wedding party, on stage for a speaking engagement or scheduled to get family photos, I'm not going to lie, I use this go-to drugstore spot treatment that I used in my 20's when I'd get the odd pimple before a date. It contains salicylic acid at a low strength but it works for me I just don't like to use products with chemicals on an ongoing basis, unless it's an emergency because from what I've read they can create that need for your skin to produce more oils as they dry skin out and it's not beneficial long term.

10. Avoid Contact with Your Face- Sometimes we don't think about what touches our face such as our germy smartphones, icky office handset, unclean hands that have touched everywhere or even the pillowcase that we sleep on. It's important to wipe down phones and handsets frequently (I just use baby wipes since they're always with me-sometimes with a squirt of natural lavender hand sanitizer) but most importantly I change my pillowcases often (every 3 days), even if it's not a day I wash my sheets. Products from our hair along with oils can seep into the pillowcases even after a few days and become what your face lays on while you sleep causing bacterial breakouts or product-reactions from hair spray, etc. For the best results, keep a few extra clean pillowcases on hand and switch them out every few days. While we're on the subject, the best pillowcases I've found are these 100% natural silk ones (which you may remember me mentioning in a previous post I wrote about 'How to Get a Better Night's Sleep')- I just wash them on delicate cycle with a bit of gentle, natural detergent and hang them to dry. The side bonus is silk doesn't create those unsightly creases on our face that we sometimes get after a good night's sleep and prevents wrinkles plus my hair has been smoother and less tangled as it glides instead of being dragged on cotton pillowcases. I've found that they are better to my skin and I'm all for anything that prevents aging too!


Hopefully you're still awake after this extra L-O-N-G post. As many of you know, brevity is not my strong suit, I'm a details kind of girl. ;) So, these are my 10 essential secrets for having clearer skin! To make things easy, you can click on any image in the scroll bar above to find all of my favorite products linked in this post. While these tips might seem like a lot of new things to try, making a few changes isn't as daunting as it may seem. Adding more water, eating healthier, these are all things we need to do anyway. Popping a probiotic capsule with my multi-vitamin at breakfast is super easy. If you already do a few of these things, maybe add in one new thing each week or month and see if that helps you achieve the clearer skin you're dreaming of. I'd love to hear how it goes for you!

Also, this is a sharing community, so I'm all ears and would love to hear from you! Do you have any must-have products or tricks that keep your skin clear that you recommend? I'd love to know about them, please share in the comments below.


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*In partnership with Exposed Skincare.  I received complementary product to try in exchange for my honest feedback. All opinions + thoughts expressed are my own.