The Clean Hippie

Seeking the sustainable life in New York City

What promotes beautiful skin? March 31, 2010

Filed under: Beauty,Products,Tips — Alden @ 7:33 pm
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My skin is gorgeous today. Flawless. Beautiful. This is a rare occurrence for me, so I would like to figure out what I’m doing right and keep doing it. Unfortunately, there are a lot of variables that come into play:

The Clean Program: You may know that I am doing a cleanse, and have been doing it for three weeks. Members of the program report clearer skin, so I’m tempted to think all those supplements and shakes have successfully cleared out my system of toxins. After all, what we put in our bodies shows up on our skin all the time, either in pimples from stuffing ourselves with carbohydrates, alcohol, and sugar, or in glowing skin from nourishing ourselves with nutritious, whole foods.

My sister once told me about a home visit she made during Social Work school to a young woman with a mental disability and her mother. “She has the most beautiful, glowing skin I’ve ever seen.” Colby told me. She suspects it was a result of a lifetime of eating nothing but pure baby foods. That’s right, baby foods. No carbs, no refined sugars, no junk food or fast food. Just pureed fruits and veggies.

There’s only one problem with this theory: I haven’t been sticking to the cleanse very well. I had a pint of beer last night with chorizo for dinner with my friend Lindsay, and this weekend I drank a ton of Blue Moon at the bar, topping it off with a decadent dessert from my corner grocery store. I shouldn’t be having any of that! So either the cleanse is still working even though I’m being terrible about it, or it’s something else. Perhaps it’s that…

I go easy on cleaning my face: I used to be almost religious about cleaning my face morning and night, morning and night. Hot water, harsh facial cleanser that I would grind into my pores, lotions and astringents. I declared war on my face. ProActive helped somewhat, but it didn’t clear up my blemishes completely.

There are people out there who claim soap is the reason for all of our skin’s ills in the first place. While I’m not going to stop washing my hair anytime soon, it’s a compelling argument. Why would our skin evolve away from the ability to regulate itself? It’s only when we scrub away all the oil, that it kicks into overtime to produce more oil. The whole system gets thrown off balance and you are left with either dry skin, blemished skin, or oily skin, instead of skin the way it is supposed to be.

So I stopped washing my face twice a day. I take a shower every morning, but don’t use any products on my face. When I get home at night I wash with Pangea organic facewash to get all that New York city grit and grime off.

So is it this winning method? I can’t say. I’ve been doing this for more than a couple months now, and I didn’t really notice a difference up until today. It wasn’t worse or better. So maybe not. But perhaps it’s because…

I use rosehip seed oil instead of a fancy moisturizer. I scraped the last of my fancy moisturizer out of the pot a few days ago, and decided to break out the rosehip seed oil. It comes in a roll-on glass tube which I roll on my hands and then massage into my skin. You would think it would leave my face feeling…well, oily. But in fact my skin just feels lovely. I think the simpler your ingredients in your products, the better it is for your skin, health, and peace of mind. You don’t have to google every ingredient and see things like “Has been linked to cancer,” or “estrogen disruptor.” It’s just one, simple, delicious-smelling ingredient.

I’m betting it’s the roseship seed oil, but it could also be that…

Once a week I slather on a mud mask: Looks boring doesn’t it? Not like the beautiful products you see carefully arrayed in your local department store. Well, it may not cost $300 like La Mer, but I suspect it works just as well.

I first read about Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay here, and read some more reviews on Amazon. There were nothing but happy customers.

Every time I slather it on, I swear my face is much clearer for a few days afterward. It’s a completely natural and wonderful treatment that goes back thousands of years. Mud has lots of minerals and good stuff in it. Just as long as that comes from far, far away, not from the toxic pits around NYC!

So there you have it, all my theories about why my face is so freakin’ awesome today. Hopefully it stays that way!


Can I go a month without sugar? March 2, 2010

Filed under: experiment,Food — Alden @ 4:30 pm
Tags: , , ,

Oh man did I binge on sugar this weekend. Scott had promised me a big bag of Reese’s, which are my weakness. I can walk down a candy aisle with no problem, ignoring all the brightly colored packaged happiness, until I see an orange and brown wrapper. Then I’m a goner. He had bought a huge bag of Reese’s eggs, and since I know he doesn’t eat them often, I really thought it would be a shame to see all those delicious peanut butter and chocolate goodies go to waste! I must have eaten… 15 of them in two days. Ok, honestly? At least 20.

And the week leading up to this weekend I spent baking cupcakes and trying to dispatch  all the extra icing I made for it. You know, butter, confectioners sugar and vanilla? All in my belly.

So now I’m paying penance. I’m going to try and go one month without having any sugar. That’s right. No sugar.

That doesn’t just mean candy bars. That means no soda (which I never drink anyway. Please.), no ketchup, no sweet salad dressing or creamer in my coffee, no flavored organic yogurts or Smart Start cereal, no granola bars or yummy things from the bakery. Sugar hides in all of these things in the form of “corn syrup”, “malt powder”, and “dextrose.” Yup, it’s all sugar. Or, they just tell you right on the label it’s sugar, and you never think to look because it’s organic yogurt! Why look at the label on organic yogurt?? Because sugar is everywheeeeere.

So why am I going through all this trouble? Check out some facts from an article by Dr. Carolyn Dean, M.D:

  • Sugar constitutes about 25 to 35 per cent of the American diet.
  • Some brands of ketchup have more sugar per ounce than ice cream.
  • Sugar makes you fat. It weakens the enzymes of essential fatty acid metabolism.
  • Sugar has no vitamins or minerals to offer in its digestion.
  • Common knowledge on the scientific evidence concerning food is largely influenced by the industry.
  • Sugar makes you dumber. A study by Schoenthaler that studied one million school children from 800 New York schools over a seven year period when sugar intake was eliminated, found a 15.7 per cent increase in learning ability compared with other schools. Of 124,000 children who were unable to learn grammar and math, 75,000 could perform these skills after dietary changes alone were introduced. In another study, 68 juvenile criminals’ anti-social acts diminished by 80 per cent within seven months. In a follow-up study with 276 children, one group stayed on the junk food diet while the other group received healthy foods. And the difference in anti-social acts between the two groups was almost 50 per cent.
  • People addicted to substances like alcohol react similarly to sugar, even experiencing withdrawal effects when taken away from sugar. Researchers have found that there is a strong correlation between alcohol or other addictive drugs and a strong craving for sugar.
  • Diabetes is absent in primitive communities, but after 20 years of eating sugar, North American Indians, Eskimos, and populations in India and Africa have started developing instances of diabetes.

And from another article from with an interview with dermatologist Nicholas Perricone:

I believe that inflammation is at the basis of aging in all organ systems, including the skin. One of the reasons inflammation occurs is from a rapid rise in blood sugar, which causes biochemical changes in the cell that result in accelerated aging.

Of the internal causes of inflammation, one of the big ones is diet. In addition to biochemical changes, sugar causes damage to the skin in another way: When blood sugar goes up rapidly, sugar can attach itself to collagen in a process called “glycation,” making the skin stiff and inflexible. Losing this elastic resilience of young skin will give you deep wrinkles and make you look old.

The best thing a sugar addict can do to deal with their cravings is to very carefully control their blood sugar and insulin by staying away from the bad carbohydrates and eating more protein for just a few days. At the same time their skin is becoming firm, their blood sugar will stabilize and their cravings will go away. They’re free! Then they might have a piece of chocolate once in awhile, but it’s based on their free will instead of “I have to have it.

So if being healthier isn’t enough to convince you, having beautiful skin should!

Will I make it through the full 30 days? Will I resist the siren call of Reese’s? Will I power through 3:00 slumps using just green tea? Or will I come slinking back here to write of my terrible will power while the taste of high fructose corn syrup lingers on my tongue?

So far, 1 day without sugar.