“Forget clothes or jewelry. Good skin is always a woman’s best accessory” ~ Mirelle Guiliano
What’s our biggest organ? Our skin! We don’t usually think of our skin as an organ. Often mistreated and neglected, our skin is a window into our overall health. It protects our bodies, regulates our temperature, and gives us the wonderful sense of touch. It also has its most apparent aesthetic appeal. We can’t do anything about certain genetic dispositions towards moles, skin tabs, eczema, or any number of other skin issues, but there is still much we do have control over with our skin. As we enter these colder months, it is most important to remember to treat our skin with extra care. Healthy skin isn’t about flawless skin; it’s about a vibrant, glowing appearance that comes from authentic health, not from Hollywood-style illusions.
My skin is dry and sensitive. In the summer I either have alabaster white or burned red skin, and in the winter, I have to moisturize constantly or the cracks and splits will creep in. When winter comes, I change my healthy skin routine. I have a thicker, silkier moisturizer that I like to use in the cool months but it feels too heavy in the summer. Most importantly, I make sure to lather my hands with moisturizer and cover them with little cotton gloves before bed. I use a simple 100% olive oil soap for cleansing combined with daily moisturizing and the occasional facial, and that’s it. I avoid over-complicated regimes and layering on all sorts of cosmetic products. In addition, diet and hydration play key year-round roles in the maintenance of healthy glowing skin. Skip that extra cup of coffee and sugar-coated confection, and reach instead for a tall glass of water and piece of fruit.
But, don’t take my word for it. Check out these books to read about how to have healthy skin and treat some of those skin ailments that challenge all of us:
Mirelle Guiliano provides us with the secrets of the French woman’s skin care in French Women Don’t Get Fat and French Women for All Seasons. She writes in the latter book, “[French women] know that it’s never too late to be beautiful and that being beautiful is nothing more than maintaining themselves physically and mentally at any given interval of life…The fashion industry would like to make us think that a 15-year old girl is the ideal of beauty. Subtext: After that, what’s the point?”. She calls this thinking absurd. Along with advice on generating the glow from within, she discusses the French woman’s guide to healthy skin care like drinking lots of water and getting plenty of sleep.
Often we don’t have the time or money to visit the spa as often as we would like. Face Creams, Hair Rinses and Body Lotions: Recipes for Natural Beauty by Gill Farrer-Halls, Natural Beauty: Pamper Yourself with Salon Secrets at Home by Laura DuPriest, and The Home Herbal Spa by Gret Breedlove are all excellent books with lots of simple natural spa products you can make at home, and they include good advice on how to give yourself that special deep cleansing and relaxing at-home spa experience.
Although Skin Type Solution: a Revolutionary Guide to Your Best Skin Ever by Laurie Baumann may not quite be revolutionary, it does offer ideas for people who may be struggling with a skin problem. The main premise here is that you first need to determine your own unique skin type. Then you can then learn how to treat your skin type selecting the products, care, diet, and other considerations that work specifically for you.
You, Being Beautiful: The Owner’s Manual to Inner and Outer Beauty by Drs. Michael Roizen and Mehmet Oz. This is a very thorough book that goes deeper into the concept of beauty by making distinctions between looking beautiful, feeling beautiful and being beautiful. Sometimes I think the book can be a little silly but if you are a person who likes brevity, then this is the book for you. The doctors provide concise advice on skin care including help with specific conditions like eczema, acne, and rosacea.
In the Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine by Michael Murray, N.D. and Joseph Pizzorno, N.D., the authors cover two common skin issues, cellulite and eczema, by providing a general overview, information on how to prevent their advent, and natural therapeutic treatments. Cellulite is a cosmetic condition and they say that women “are affected by cellulite at least nine times more often than men due to the structural differences just below the surface of the skin”. Lucky, us! But Murray and Pizzorno tell us that massage, exercise, and botanical treatments can all help tremendously. Eczema is skin that is characterized as very dry, red, and scaly. The naturopathic take on eczema is that the underlying cause is a food allergy so eliminating suspecting allergens plus nutritional and botanical supplements are the suggested treatments.
Forget the Facelift by Doris Day, M.D. The author believes that beautiful skin starts from the inside. In addition to giving us homemade recipes for masks and cleansers, Dr. Day provides menus and advice on what to eat, exercise tips, ways to lighten your spirit, what helps save the skin, and what are common skin saboteurs. Dr. Day tells us that laughter is the best medicine for everyone and especially for those seeking glowing skin.
The New Science of Perfect Skin: Understanding Skin Care Myths and Miracles for Radiant Skin at Any Age by Daniel Yarosh. One complaint about this book is that the author does have a set of beauty products that he sells as well as other brands that he has worked with, and these are prominently discussed in the book. That aside, there remains solid advice here about how to have healthy, beautiful skin and how not to be taken in by skin care myths.
“Your skin is the fingerprint of what is going on inside your body, and all skin conditions, from psoriasis to acne to aging, are the manifestations of your body’s internal needs, including its nutritional needs.” ~Dr. Georgiana Donadio, founder of the National Institute of Whole Health.
Ann Marie is the Library Director for the Oliver Wolcott Library.