“These days, people have changed their way of life. They drink wine as though it were water, indulge excessively in destructive activities, drain their jing – the body’s essence that is stored in the Kidneys – and deplete their qi. They do not know the secret of conserving their energy and vitality. Seeking emotional excitement and momentary pleasures, people disregard the natural rhythm of the universe. They fail to regulate their lifestyle and diet, and sleep improperly. So it is not surprising that they look old at fifty and die soon after.” – Yellow Emperor Classic Of Medicine
Song Hye Kyo photo credit: Kiyoung Kim
Like most girls, I like to look good. But I don’t like all the work that’s involved in. I read the 10-steps Korean beauty regiment on WSJ with dread and thought to myself that if having glowing skin like Song Hye-Kyo means spending hours infront of the mirror and slathering product after product on my face, I would rather not.
Thankfully, piling cosmetic on our face is not the key to good skin and youthful looks. Instead, leading a healthy lifestyle is. I’m glad I’m not the only one who supports that. Check out ‘Stop Aging, Start Living’ by Jeanette Graf, a well-known dermatologist in America. These are things you can do to have beautiful skin and to look young naturally:
When I get enough sleep, I don’t need much makeup.
1. Get enough sleep, preferably by 11 pm
Our body repairs itself when we sleep. If we don’t get enough, our body release more cortisol, a stress hormone that break down skin collagen. Lack of sleep causes skin to look sallow, fine lines to appear and dark circle to appear under out eyes. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the best time to sleep is by 11 pm. I always feel that sleeping early gives me extra energy and a natural glow. On those days, I don’t need much makeup.
How? Getting enough sleep is hard. That is why we need to make sleeping a priority. Have a night time routine, and even better a bedtime ritual. I set an alarm at 10.30 pm to remind myself to get ready for bed. While it does not always work, at least I’ll be reminded that it’s time to finish whatever I’m doing as soon as I can and prepare to go to bed. When I don’t prioritise sleep, I realise I will stay up till late. The next day, my energy will dip and my face pale.
Further reading: Check out how to create a luxurious nighttime ritual. Check out Arianna Huffington’s book The Sleep Revolution. You can read how and an interview about why and how she prioritise sleep.
Indulge in a bedtime ritual
2. Drink 8 cups of water daily
Our body is about 70% water by weight. Water transport nutrient and oxygen to cells, remove waste products and provides lubrication for our tissues (skin) amongst other things. If you don’t get enough water, you’ll have a host of problems including dry and itchy skin. To have good skin, one of the first step is to drink enough water.
How? Make it a habit to drink pure water. You may want to train yourself with a DIY water bottle marked with time. When you graduate from that, an easier way is just filling up two bottles of 1L bottle, and finish it by night. If you have a desk-job, place it on your work space. If you need to move around, have it in your bag or your car. Thankfully this habit is instilled in my since young, I find it very easy to fulfill this requirement.
3. Eat real and unprocessed food
Our skin need specific nutrients to function and look its best. It’s best to eat real and unprocessed food. Think of food that your grandparents use to eat e.g brown rice, vegetables, fish, fruits and nuts. Try to eat food that will go bad and cannot be stored for long. Avoid fast food, junk food and sugary snacks; they give you the calories without the nutrients.
How? In a long term, the best way is to eat out less and learn to prepare your own food. When you take charge of buying food and cooking for yourself, that is when you realise that unless you are willing pay a lot, its not possible to buy the best food for your body. That is why I make it a priority to cook.
Make simple food at home
4. Improve you gut health and digestion
Even if we eat well, our body (intestines) need to be able to absorb them from our food. A low-fibre diet and imbalance gut flora can cause sluggish digestion. How we eat also affects digestion – e.g eating quickly without chewing our food.
How? Include more high-fibre food such as vegetables, whole grain and beans in your diet. It’s also important to include some fermented food in your diet such as kimchi.
Further reading: Read: 5 ways to improve your digestion naturally. If you want to learn more, check out GUT by Giulia Enders. I’ve wrote about How your gut bacteria might be making you fat and how to improve your gut flora
5. Consider supplements that works for you
While we try as much as possible to eat nutrient-rich food, sometimes we fail. That is when supplements comes in. Consider supplements that suits your needs. It could be spirulina or fish oil.
How? I am still working on it and prefer to look for more natural supplements. My doctor recommended fish oil and vitamin C.
6. Exercise regularly
“Exercise improve blood circulation, which allows skin cell to receive nutrients and releases wastes more easily. Perspiration during exercise helps you to balance body pH by pushing toxins and acids to the skin surface where they evaporate. This directly translates into a youthful, glowing skin” – Jeannette Graf M.D
How? When I was at my busiest, that it’s when my body need exercise most. Because of your busy schedule, try to develop an exercise routine that works for you. Check out the secrets to a sustainable exercise plan for a busy person.
Nowadays, I spend my weekends doing outdoor activities with family and friends. Why not ask people around you to go for a hike on a Saturday morning? Then treat yourself to a delicious brunch after that.
Hiking with my sister
7. Wear hats and sunglasses
UV rays is the main cause of premature aging. “Although the causes of premature aging are not always clear, unprotected exposure to harmful UV rays break down the collagen and elastin fibers in healthy young skin, and cause wrinkles and loosened folds. Frequent sunburns or hours spent tanning can result in a permanent darkening of the skin, dark spots, and a leathery texture.” – source: FDA
How: When you go out for long hours, put on a hat and sun glasses to protect your face. Plan outdoors activities early in the morning and evening, not when the sun is at its hottest. Put on sunblock and bring an umbrella. Though some people will avoid the sun altogether by staying indoors, I don’t believe in sacrificing life for vanity.
8. Drink slow-boiled collagen soup
‘Broth feeds the epidermis, dermis, and underlying connective tissue layers of the skin from the inside out with the collagen, elastin and other nutrients it needs to plump out’ skin (source: Nourishing Broth, Sally Fallon Morell and Kaayla T. Daniel).
How: Get into the habit of making your own broth often. What I like to do is make a huge batch of quality bone broth and freeze them in separate containers. I use them in everything I make – whatever calls for water can normally be replaced with bone broth e.g imitation sharkfin soup, stew, stir-fry vegetables, congee, etc. Try this recipe: collagen-rich chicken bone broth and find out how bone broth keeps you looking young.
Homemade bone broth
9. Change your pillow sheets and wipe your phone clean
How? Wipe your phone and change your pillow sheet frequently. Or you can use the speaker or the headphone.
10. Manage stress and remain positive
Audrey Hepburn said, “Happy girls are the prettiest”. There is scientific backing in those wise words. Do you know that nerves and chemicals called neuropeptides link your skin to your brain? Stress affects our skin, and happy emotion make your skin glow.
How? Find the source of your stress and find ways to deal with it. Life is not always smooth sailing, so it’s very important to always remain positive. Be kind to yourself. Make time for simple activities that you enjoy doing. Most importantly, surround yourself with people who loves you and lift you up. Read: How to have a good quality mind?
Gardening, a simple activity that makes me happy
The above is just a guide to a healthy lifestyle. Good skin is just the side effect of it. So take care of your body and your happiness, and the rest will follow.
Good luck to good skin!