What is a skin detox?
January is here and with many of you taking on the mantra ‘new year, new you’ niche diets and exercise regimes are all the rage, as are detoxes! While most people detox to help support their liver function and digestion, or to rebalance their bodies after overindulging in December, one type of detox that we don’t do enough of is a skin detox.
Why should you detox your skin? Well, your skin is considered to be an organ of elimination which means that, if your liver comes under too much stress, your skin may take over the job of eliminating toxins from your body via perspiration.
It’s also closely linked to your lymphatic system, a part of your circulatory system that deals with transporting toxins and waste. Unfortunately, this system can become sluggish due to inactivity, excess toxins or nutritional deficiencies which can result in a number of symptoms, including poor skin health!
As I mentioned, December was likely a time of excesses – the chances are you were rushed off your feet and overindulged in sugary foods and alcoholic drinks that you wouldn’t normally look twice at. This overindulgence may have come back to haunt you in the form of dull, lacklustre skin as your lymphatic system and liver may be struggling to cope with this spell of unhealthy eating.
A skin detox can help to put this right and get your skin back on track for 2018!
1 – Cleanse, cleanse, cleanse
Did you wake up on New Year’s Day with last year’s make up still stuck to your face? Cleansing is an important part of any skincare routine, but, regrettably, all too often you can forget, sometimes falling asleep before remembering to remove any leftover make-up. However, even if you do remember to cleanse your skin every morning and every evening, you could be using the wrong products.
Unfortunately, many high-street skincare products are loaded with artificial colours, fragrances and other chemical nasties which can strip your skin of its essential oil, making it drier and more prone to breakouts. Why not make it a New Year’s resolution to clean out your skincare products and instead opt for more natural alternatives? There are plenty of organic, cruelty-free brands out there with a whole host of cleansers to suit every skin type.
One of my particular favourites is Sukin, which you can find with our friends over at Jan de Vries!
2 – Steam things up a bit
Exposing your skin to steam can help to draw out the impurities whilst allowing all the natural ingredients from your skincare products to penetrate your skin. Steaming your skin should be done carefully, though, after-all, you are handling boiling hot water! Not to mention that those who suffer from skin conditions where their skin is broken or irritated, like eczema or acne, may want to give this treatment a miss!
I would fill a kettle and then transfer the boiling water to a bowl. Make sure the steam isn’t scalding and then, hovering your face above the bowl, drape a towel over your head so the steam is concentrated around your facial pores. I sometimes add a couple of drops of citrus oil to the bowl of water, or if you’re feeling a bit congested, Po-Ho oil might be a better choice, but the important thing is that you don’t expose your skin for too long – anything between a couple of minutes and 5 minutes should do the trick.
Alternatively, if you’re not too sure about the boiling water part, you could try submerging a few towels in hot (not boiling) water and then wring them out and apply them to your face. This should have a similar effect and will also help to enhance your circulation.
3 – Dry skin brushing
Dry skin brushing has been used as a means of exfoliation in Ayuverda for centuries and it’s excellent for removing toxins, dead skin cells and even stimulating the lymphatic system. However, using the right brush is key so make sure you look for a stiff-bristled brush with natural fibres – synthetic fibres can irritate delicate, sensitive skin!
Start with your feet and begin by moving up your legs, brushing towards the heart. Don’t scrub or brush too vigorously! Instead, use long, sweeping motions in upwards strokes. Progress up to your stomach use counter-clockwise movements and then move on to your arms, chest and hands. Avoid delicate areas such as your face.
Once you’ve dry brushed your skin, you could try having a shower to help get rid of those dead skin cells. I would recommend dry skin brushing just before your morning shower for best results!
4 – Moisturise
Once you’ve exfoliated your skin it’s extremely important that you moisturise properly. Not only will this help to lock in moisture and keep your skin hydrated, moisturising can also help to encourage your skin to renew and repair and protect against the damage caused by cold and hot dry air.
As with cleansers, try to keep things natural when it comes to your moisturiser and avoid harsh parabens and chemical nasties. However, if you’re feeling more adventurous, you could try experimenting with some ultra-nourishing ingredients to create your own hydrating face mask – for more details please check out my article on natural moisturisers for dry skin.
If you’re at the other end of the spectrum, though, don’t worry! I’ve got you covered with my top 7 home remedies for oily skin!
5 – Exercise
Keeping fit is important when it comes to your cardiovascular health and it has been known to have a positive impact on mood and sleep too! I’m sure plenty of you are already taking part in the usual exercise regimes that are popular at this time of year, however, as an added incentive, exercise can also help to support your circulation, increasing the flow of nutrients to your skin.
When you build up a sweat it also helps to remove impurities, which is just an added bonus. Even with exercise, though, moderation is important. Too much exercise can irritate skin conditions such as eczema and rosacea so sometimes preparation really is everything. Remember to moisturise and keep a cool towel nearby.
Avoid tight fitting gym attire that may cause chaffing and instead opt for loose fitting clothing that will enable your skin to breathe. Also, although it should go without saying, don’t work out with a full face of make-up on!
6 – Drink plenty of fluids
It’s a vital part of many detoxes but the value of drinking enough fluids cannot be understated. Dehydration can be linked to so many different issues, from fatigue to mood swings, to skin problems. If you’re not giving your body enough water, you will definitely know about it, which is why I always recommend drinking plenty of plain water throughout the day.
It might also help to cut back on other beverages such as fizzy drinks, alcohol, tea and coffee to help your skin during this period. Fizzy drinks don’t actually help you to hydrate and are usually teeming with sugars and sweeteners which can contribute towards skin problems such as spots.
Instead, you could try drinking herbal teas such as our Golden Rod blend during this time as they can be very cleansing, helping to remove impurities. We also stock a range of Biotta Juices which form the backbone of our nutritionist Emma’s 7 Day Juice Boost Detox Plan. Biotta Carrot Juice, in particular, is thought to be rich in antioxidants to help support your skin.
7 – Clean up your diet
Been overindulging in crisps, chocolate and all things sugar? Your skin acts as a mirror for what is going on inside your body and a poor diet will definitely leave its mark, with refined sugars and processed carbs both contributing towards skin conditions such as acne or even eczema. If you’re serious about detoxing your skin you need to be willing to clean up your diet.
Ditch the sugary snacks and processed meats and instead focus on nutrient-rich foods that may even help to promote your lymphatic system. These could include things such as garlic, nuts, dark leafy greens, low sugar fruits, chaise seeds and avocados. Fatigue fighting energy balls are perfect snacks while I tend to use up all my leftover fruit and veg in smoothies and soups.
As I detail in my blog, ‘Do dairy products really cause acne,’ sometimes too much dairy can cause problems so it might be worth swapping some of your dairy products for non-dairy alternatives such as almond milk or coconut milk – for more information please take a look at ‘Our guide to dairy-free milk.’
A few of my favourite recipes…
Salted Caramel Bliss Balls
Healthy Oreo Cookies
Spiced Chickpea and Tahini Sweet Potato JSHealth Bowl