How to Get Fabulous Skin for Your Portrait Session
3 Steps to Get Better Looking Skin in Just a Few Short Weeks
So you've booked a portrait session and now you're face is breaking out. Figures. I've been at constant war with my skin for about 20 years and because of that, I've learned a few tricks that really help. I can tell you that at age 33, I now have the best skin of my life. Well, at least since the age of 13(ish). That's me in the image above, and of course the image is retouched, but very minimally. Honestly, I had to fix a wonky eyebrow because I missed a spot with the eyebrow pencil. Now you know too much.
If your goal is to have better looking skin for portraits or dating or just so you don't cry when you see yourself without makeup, there are a few things you need to consider to keep acne spots and uneven texture under control. Stress, skincare, and diet are the three main factors that can either help or hurt your goals.
Let's talk about stress. You've heard the phrase, "stress will make you sick," right? Stress can wreak havoc in some pretty devilish ways. High blood pressure, fatigue, mood swings, insomnia, and even acne! How rude! Most of us have very little control over the amount of stress in our lives. It's easy to say, "if your job is too stressful, then get a new one." Well who doesn't have a stressful job? And how can you guarantee that your new job won't be stressful? Starting a new job is stressful! That's not a practical solution, unless your job really is astoundingly bad. You be the judge.
My point is, we all have a lot of stress in our lives, most of which is pretty much out of our hands. The only thing we can do is try to manage the stress better. Managing stress is probably the hardest of these three steps to help your skin, but don't rule it out.
Try meditation if you find your daily life overwhelming you emotionally. It really helps to calm yourself and sit alone and relaxed. It takes practice, but you'll begin to think and feel a little more rationally about the things that bug you from day to day. Adequate sleep is also very important. It's been proven that without enough rest, your body can not physically deal with the hormone fluctuations you experience when stressed. That's not touchy-feely girly stuff, that's just science. Lack of sleep can lead to increased anxiety, depression and - you guessed it - acne. Try to set a regular sleep schedule. Scattered sleep patterns can really mess with the quality of rest you're getting.
You Are What You Eat
Let's face it, bad skin is just heartbreaking for everyone. Stress and diet go hand-in-hand. When you're stressed or exhausted from not sleeping well, your diet tends to go downhill. I know mine does. You're so beat when you come home from work that you just can't bring yourself to cook dinner. So you eat out or just make whatever is easiest. Well, just like lack of sleep, a poor diet can actually affect the way your body deals with stress. So it's best if you can get both in check as soon as possible.
I have a really long story about how I discovered that dairy was the main cause of my acne. A really long story. I'll give you the short version here. Maybe I'll blog the long version another time. When I was 21, I had my first migraine. Over about 10 years they got worse and worse. One day, I read an article about dairy being a major trigger for some people. I thought about how much dairy I consumed and it was quite a bit. So I decided to cut all dairy out of my diet for a week and see what happened. I was at a point where my migraines were coming at the rate of 2 to 3 a week. They were horrible and debilitating.
For that entire week that I went without dairy, I didn't have a single migraine. I thought that was the most promising discovery I had made yet, so I decided to give it another week. Week 2: still no migraine. WOW!
Now, over 2 years later, I'm almost completely dairy-free and my headaches only happen when I have a slip-up with my diet. Occasionally I'll try something new and won't realize until it's too late that it's made with milk. It's in some pretty unexpected places sometimes so I have to read ingredients on everything. And I mean everything. I bought a probiotic supplement in capsule form once and didn't realize until a few days later that it had powdered milk in it. Ugh. I would never have suspected milk to be in a pill. You live, you learn.
Giving up dairy wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. It's a much better alternative than going back to a life with that hideous and near-constant pain. There are lots of dairy alternatives now, so it's really not so bad. I am so thankful that I can live a migraine-free life now.
One little happy discovery after going dairy-free, was that my skin started to improve! I can't say for sure exactly how long it took to start seeing a difference, but it was pretty darn fast. Now, if I have chocolate or candy made with milk, or even a tiny bit of cheese (and even if I don't get a migraine from it), I will see little whiteheads or full blown pimples the very next morning, without fail. Even if I don't get a headache, I always know if I accidentally consumed dairy because my skin lets me know.
Sugar is another little booger. Hey, that rhymes. Really though, I don't have time to list all the things that sugar does to your body. I'm going to keep it short. Read ingredients, avoid processed food and skip the sweets. It's that simple.
Eating whole, fresh foods is the best way to fuel your body. When you get the nutrients you need, without all the crud your body can't tolerate, you will feel better and that inner balance will shine on your beautiful face.
More Than Washing Your Face
Now that we've covered taking care of your body from the inside, let's talk about the products you use and your routines. Skin care is a tricky subject. Everyone is different. What works for me might not work for you. So how can I advise you? I'm not a dermatologist or skincare expert, so all I can do is share my own experience and knowledge, cross my fingers, and hope it leads you down the right path.
It's important to use quality products. Fortunately, quality doesn't always equal expensive. Beautypedia is a great resource to find affordable products that meet your needs, without harsh and damaging chemicals. Personally, the best skin care products I've ever used are made by Paula's Choice. I'm not affiliated with them in any way and they certainly aren't giving me any money for saying nice things about them. I've tried so many different brands and more products than I could even remember to try to improve my acne. While going dairy-free cleared up my acne, I have found that Paula's Choice really did wonders for the overall texture and behavior (if that makes sense) of my skin. It's smoother, more even-toned and doesn't get as oily as it used to.
Paula Begoun, the founder of Paula's Choice is a world-renowned skincare expert. Her passion in life is to study ingredients in skincare products. She wrote a book called Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me. I keep meaning to read that. PC products are pretty affordable compared to many high-end brands, but they are a little more expensive than some over-the-counter products. I've used a lot of high-end brands and none of them have been as effective as PC has been for me. Beautypedia was actually created by the Paula's Choice team. So if you don't want to buy their products, they'll help you find alternatives that are Paula-approved.
Keep your skincare routine simple. Don't overdo it on products. Wash your face gently and always moisturize, even if you have oily skin! Don't sleep in your makeup. I need to take my own advice on that, but I don't even wear much makeup anymore. Seriously, YAY.
That's it! Manage your stress, fuel your body with clean, nutritious food, and develop a solid beauty routine (and stick to it). I really hope this helps some of you manage the issues you have with your skin. Acne can be pretty depressing and if you have an important event coming up, like a portrait session or even your own wedding, acne is a major problem!
Please leave me a comment and let me know what you think, or tell me if you'd like me to cover anything in particular in a future post.
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Disclaimer: I am not a healthcare professional. Nothing in this blog should be taken as medical advice. Please consult your healthcare provider with questions or concerns.