A lot of people forget that one of the skin’s most important functions is waste removal (in the form of perspiration). With toxins being expelled through your pores on a regular basis, it’s crucial to have healthy skin to maximize the efficiency of this process and avoid the buildup of pollutants in your body.
To give this largest-of-organs a boost, try a complete skin detox, using some of my favorite detoxifying agents. But remember, the skin is just one part of a complex detoxification system in your body, and it can’t be thought about in isolation. The other parts of this system include your liver, kidneys, lymphatic system, intestines and lungs.
Each one of these systems uniquely processes pollutants that enter the body through one of four ways: the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink, and harmful products that come into contact with our skin. Thus, when talking about a skin detox, the main focus may be topical, but it goes hand in hand with internal factors as well.
- Drink WATER!
The first step of any detox is to hydrate. As a rule, you should be drinking at least 8 cups of water every day, and even more during a detox to ease the expulsion of waste. This is especially true of a skin detox to dilute the toxins in your sweat so as not to clog your pores.
- Reduce Stress.
Having a clear head is critical to free up energy that the body can use in detoxifying the system. When all that mental energy is spent dealing with anxiety, you start to see real visible symptoms of stress on your skin, often in the form of breakouts and rashes.
Some stress-reducing suggestions? Try yoga and meditation. Focusing on your breath is a proven way to reduce stress, while deep breathing has the added benefit of powering two of the body’s main modes of detoxification: the respiratory and lymphatic systems. You can also try adding a relaxing bath to your evening routine. Add Epsom salts or other skin cleansing agents and a few drops of essential oil for some aromatherapy.
- Dry Brush.
First thing in the morning, three times a week, use a dry brush over your whole body before you shower. Dry brushing improves circulation, stimulates the lymphatic system, removes cellulite, improves muscle tone, removes dead skin, and encourages skin cell renewal.
Put a few drops of moringa oil on the brush, and starting with your feet, gently brush in small circles working towards the heart. Follow with a warm shower to remove sloughed off skin, and finish with a light body cream or oil to strengthen the newly exposed skin.
To really focus in on the skin, you’ll want to find gentle products that remove toxins from your pores while moisturizing and strengthening the skin at every layer.
Allure recommends five star ingredients: Sea salt to strengthen the skin’s moisture barrier; antioxidants to reduce the effects of free radicals; charcoal, which lifts dirt out of pores; clay which also draws toxins out of the skin, but is also moisturizing and more gentle on sensitive skin than charcoal; and algae, which stimulates blood flow for more radiant, glowing skin.
Other methods of detoxification include using citrus steam or natural acid peels from organic fruit skins. The most important thing to keep in mind is that the products must be natural with no chemical additives, and to pay attention to your skin’s reaction. The detox will have a strengthening effect in the long run, but the process can’t be rushed, and overdoing it can have harmful short term side effects.
- Alter your diet.
For the duration of your detox, there are certain items you’ll want to stock up on to support the elimination of toxins from your body, and other items you’ll want to cut out altogether.
Increase your intake of leafy greens, herbal tea, fermented foods, alkaline fruits and veggies, and foods that are blood cleansing, like celery and fennel. All these will help to balance the various forces at work in your digestive system, including the good and bad bacteria in your gut, and reduce pressure on the liver and kidneys.
You’re also gonna want to reduce your intake of harmful substances. Yes, say goodbye alcohol and caffeine (not to mention cigarettes…). Replace your morning cuppa with hot water and lemon to jumpstart your immune system first thing when you wake up. If you really need that jolt of caffeine, follow with some green tea, or for a cold option, a bottle of probiotic-rich kombucha.
Exercise is important to any healthy routine, and a little extra sweating will only move the toxins through your body faster. Try a hot yoga class or treat yourself to a spa day—just remember to shower thoroughly afterward so that those toxins don’t sit on your skin for too long.