Winter, I am so over you. Between the artifical heat (I'm thankful that I'm not cold, but man, does it do a number on my sinuses and skin) and the copious amounts of caffeine (to warm and wake up) and wine (does wine count as hygge?), at around the mid-February mark it was official: My skin looked sad. No amount of moisturizing, exfoliating or masking could counter-act the dry, lackluster texture, red patches and general blah-ness I was seeing staring back at me in the mirror.
Ten years ago, I would have thrown a bunch of money at this problem in the form of products—more moisturizers, pretty highlighters, and cheek shades that faked health but didn't address the root of the problem, which was my utter lack of hydration and crappy environmental situation. As an older, wiser soul, I knew I had to address the problem from the inside out, à la Amanda Chantal Bacon, the radiant founder of Moon Juice, whose Beauty Dust had been sitting, forlorn and neglected, on my kitchen counter for months. Chock full of beautifying agents like pearl, schisandra berry (a medicinal plant that's been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine), and antioxidant-dense goji berries, the powdery potion promised to make my skin glow, hair shine, and eyes twinkle. As someone who's covered beauty and fitness for several years, I've seen lots products tagged with magical claims, but something about the fact that this elixir had pearl in it inspired me with a magical optimism: maybe I'd adapt a unicorn's shimmery sheen from swirling some of the stuff into my chamomile tea. My first step toward adjusting my personal beauty factor from the inside out involved lots of water and dosing myself with Beauty Dust daily—baby steps.
In my quest to improve my skin's appearance, I also began taking Lumity, a vitamin supplement created to offer anti-aging effects. At 35, I'm not obsessed with looking younger (though that would be nice), but I figured that all of the oft-repeated woes of aging (dull, dry skin, loss of elasticity) were also sort of part of my conundrum, so it might not be the worst idea to add it to my regimen. The biggest draw for me with Lumity was its two-step approach: you take three pills formulated to boost energy, collagen production, and repair cell oxidation in the morning, and then take three at night. The nighttime pills were exciting to me because they were supposed to promote great sleep—something that any mom with young kids is always desperately seeking. The nightime cocktail description said that the evening pills "reinforce the antioxidant and anti-glycation action of the morning softgels and naturally stimulate the release of Human Growth Hormone, important to building muscle, healthy tissue and bone density." The HGH thing kind of raised my eyebrows, but upon tearing open the package after UPS delivered it, I popped open the pretty clear tube, took three of the vanilla-hued capsules, and hopped into bed. What followed was a night of such deep, restorative sleep that I woke up in awe—and rested as hell, which kind of always makes you feel more beautiful. This moment, dear reader, is when this quest really kicked into high gear.
Feeling good made me want to keep feeling good, and to feel good, I knew I had to take care of myself. Chatting with a friend about my skin struggles and self-prescribed solutions, she commented that I seemed to be excelling in self care. Hmm. I was, as a byproduct of trying to get better skin, doing a better job of taking care of my whole body. I continued taking Lumity daily (the pair of bottles are sold in one-month supply, but the skin effects can take up to three months to be evident), and using the Moon Juice Beauty Dust daily. It definitely felt like my skin had started to feel smoother and look less red—if still insanely dry. A friend mentioned that she'd been using hyularonic acid, a mega-moisturizing agent that's pretty hot right now on the beauty scene, in pill form, which piqued my interest, especially since dryness was such a huge part of my skin troubles. I'd been using a topical hyaluronic acid serum (this one from Sonage is silky and lovely-feeling), but taking it internally, which was purported to enter the bloodstream much quicker, thereby imparting faster results, was worth a whirl.
I called Dara Kennedy, founder of San Fransico's Ayla Beauty, to get a recommendation, and see what she thought about my inside-out approach. "These (ingestible) products contain ingredients that our bodies already use, but simply need more of, and they deliver real results", Kennedy said, and then tipped me off to Biocyte Hyaluronic Forte tablets, which "seem to work differently on everyone,—honing in on areas where they’re needed most, whether it's eczema, fine lines, dehydration, or acne scars". Sold. A week ago I added the pretty pink tablets, which are the go-to form of ingestible beauty in France, to my beauty roundup. They also need to be taken for at least a month to see a return on your investment ($48), so I'm patiently awaiting signs of plump, dewy skin with eager anticipation.
Antiodiant-rich sea buckthorn leaves drying out after hand-harvesting.
The end to this story is really that there's no ending just yet—I have seen improvements in my skin, but since I'm trying so many different paths to get my skin in better shape, it's nearly impossible to know what's working and what's not. The Lumity supplements are absolutely working, as my sleep is sublime, which means my body has a better chance at repairing itself overnight—skin included, and I wake up looking fresh and rested. The fact that I'm now a person who settles down in the evening with a cup of herbal tea (lately my go-to is this hand-harvested sea buckthorn tea called Happy Tea, which is supercharged with antioxidants and natural anti-inflammatory agents, thus boosting my skin-enhancing mission) before taking my supplements, treating my face to some divine serums and heading off to bed is a wholesale change from my usual glass-of-wine-before-nodding-off routine. I'm confident that in a few weeks my skin is going to look amazing, but for now the fact that I feel really great, which totally changes how I feel when I look in the mirror, is more than enough (for now).