Showing posts with label cosmetics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cosmetics. Show all posts

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Hi guys,

Long time no see! 

I apologize it's been some time since my last post. New York winter was unforgivingly brutal and kinda froze solid my creative flow. Thankfully I managed to escape on an amazing vacation to Tulum with the fiancé, then to Barbados to renew my visa, and now it's well and truly spring and I finally feel myself again and ready to write. 

I created The Paleo Model Blog because I'm passionate about nutrition, fitness and writing and because I genuinely enjoy sharing my knowledge and experience with you. I don't make any money from this blog and it takes a lot of time to create good content so sometimes it's difficult to find the motivation. The last few months being a case in point. 

But fear not! I'm back. And I hope you enjoy this post that has been percolating in my grey matter for some time. 


I often get complimented on my skin. "I hope this isn't creepy but you have the softest skin I've ever felt" is actually a variation on a phrase I've heard more times than any normal human should. 

FACT: A few years ago I was a shirtless greeter for Abercrombie & Fitch at the flagship London store. This involved getting my photo taken with hundreds of people a day... With my shirt off.  

Essentially a lot of people have touched my skin (in a non-creepy way... for the most part).

I'm half Italian and half Irish-descent Australian. Dad's side has thick, smooth, tanned olive skin. Mum's side has thinner, freckley, dry, pale skin (sounds worse than it is). My skin is a mix - a bit on the thin and freckley side but not dry and I do tan. 

Genetically I would say my skin is quite soft, clear and resilient, if not a little orange. I have mild carotenemia, a condition whereby my body doesn't properly excrete carotenoids from food so these natural pigments accumulate in the skin giving it an orange tinge, which makes me look like I always have bad fake tan on. I don't help the cause by eating several carrots every day! But all in all my skin is pretty good and I'm thankful for that. Yet, like all of us I'm still prone to sun damage, wrinkles and aging. 

While genetics clearly play a role in the expression of physical characteristics like having flawless skin or having acne, I still believe that your lifestyle and environment are the biggest determinants as to the health of your skin. 

And while we can't do anything directly about our genetics (yet), we can in fact indirectly impact the way our genetics are expressed by manipulating our lifestyle and environment. 

This ability to affect gene expression via lifestyle change is now being explored through the field of epigenetics, and it gives hope to all of us with a genetic disposition to obesity, heart disease or acne.

Now is probably a good time to stress the fact that I am not a dermatologist nor doctor and I am certainly no expert on skin care. 

I do, however, know a fair bit about nutrition and have read and listened to a bunch of dermatologists, doctors and health experts talk about the skin. I can also talk about my own experience, whatever that's worth. 

Firstly let me emphasize that even as a model I do not make much of an effort with my skincare routine. I do, however, pay close attention to my diet. Which brings me to my first point:

Good skin comes from the inside.

Your skin is a reflection of your internal health. Yes, genetics plays a role, as does your environment. If you work in a chemical factory in northern Norway and smoke two packets of cigarettes a day you're probably not going to have glowing skin no matter what you eat. But if you live in a reasonable environment, like most of us, and you take some measure to limit direct hazards to your skin - like the Australian sun - then you should be able to improve your skin by improving your diet. 

It's what you put in, not what you put on. 

L'Oreal doesn't want you to know this but you can't buy your way to good skin with cosmetics or hygiene products. 

My Nonna, at 87, has better skin than most Aussie women in their 50s and her idea of a skin care routine is soap, a damp face cloth and olive oil. I'm 99% sure she's never put anything on her skin that couldn't be added to a salad or baked in a cake. And unlike Mum she's certainly never spent $100 on 50mL of Estée Lauder Resilience Lift Cream. 

You see, if you've eaten minimally processed, whole, real foods for your entire life - much of which grown in your backyard and nearly all of which cooked in your own kitchen - your skin should reflect your healthy diet. 

Healthy fat is essential to healthy skin. I attribute Nonna's (and my) soft skin to the high quantity of healthy fats in our diet. For me this means daily slugs of extra virgin olive oil, spoonfuls of coconut oil and regular consumption of eggs, nuts, avocado, oily fish and butter. 

Healthy dietary fat is the foundation of good skin. Fatty acids and cholesterol are the building blocks of our hormones, our connective tissue and our skin. Restricting fat intake is one of the worse things you can do for your skin and overall health. Eat more fat!

On the other end of the spectrum certain processed foods are kryptonite for your skin. The two biggest enemies to your skin are sugar and dairy, with industrial vegetable and seed oils being a close third. 

All three of these modern dietary mainstays can contribute to inflammation - the insidious, nasty type of systemic inflammation that when in excess of what the body can tolerate manifests itself as skin irritation, breakouts, acne, rashes and itching. In more severe circumstances unchecked chronic inflammation can lead to (or at least correlate to) autoimmune and metabolic disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and heart disease. 

In particular, anything that tends to chronically elevate insulin - such as a high (refined) carbohydrate diet and/or dairy (I've spoken before about the insulinogenic effect of dairy) - will tend to worsen the health of your skin. 

It's a hormone thing. Anything that throws your endocrine (hormonal) system out of whack will result in funky stuff happening to your epidermis. 

This means that stress is a huge factor for your skin. You need to manage your stress. Likewise, good sleep, adequate (but not excessive) exercise and sun exposure, and avoiding things like the contraceptive pill and excessive alcohol consumption will all help optimize your hormones and thus get your skin as healthy as possible. 

Ultimately, healthy skin comes from the inside. Optimizing your nutrition and other lifestyle factors is the only tried and true method to achieving healthy, glowing skin. 

On the flip side, you do also need to pay attention to what you're putting on your skin. All those creams and lotions might be doing more harm than good. 

I don't like to fear-monger but cosmetics and personal hygiene products are full of nasty junk. Industrial chemicals, skin-drying alcohols, endocrine-disrupting parabens and cell-breaching nanoparticles of metal oxides are pervasive in all but the most natural of skincare products. 

Just go and pick up your shampoo or moisturizer and read the list of ingredients. It's terrifying. 

A good general rule (which my Nonna unintentionally lives by) is not to put anything on your skin that you couldn't eat. 

It may seem silly to think of drinking Vaseline shooters but we absorb substances transdermally (through the skin) just as we absorb substances via digestion (through the gut) so those chemicals listed on your volumizing shampoo are entering your body one way or another. 

Now I'm not telling you to go and throw out your entire bathroom cupboard and start concocting your own deodorant out of apple prednisone cider vinegar, baking soda and coconut oil (although that would be pretty bad-ass). And I'm not saying you can never use a cleanser or moisturizer again. But it would be wise to reconsider which products you're putting on your skin and whether you can find a safer more natural alternative. 

For example, it is becoming increasingly evident that most sunscreens could be quite harmful. A 2014 study by The Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that 75% of the 2000 sunscreens they tested contained potentially toxic and carcinogenic compounds such as oxybenzone, which has been linked to cancer (Kunisue, 2014). I suggest downloading the EWG app and only choosing sunscreens that get a safety rating of four or below. 

To conclude, I'm going to leave you with some actionable bites of advice... 

The Paleo Model's skincare tips:

1. Minimize your consumption of sugar and dairy. Specifically, avoid prednisone added sugar (soda, sweets, treats, packaged foods), refined carbohydrates (grain/potato/cereal products), high fructose foods (dried fruit, agave, "natural" sweeteners) and dairy sugars (lactose) and dairy protein (whey and casein). Pure dairy fat in the form of butter of ghee is fine.

Note - Not everyone needs to avoid dairy or restrict sugar to have good skin but for most people with bad skin dairy and sugar are the main culprits. 

If you have acne I strongly suggest you completely eliminate dairy for 30 days and limit sugar/carbohydrates to only vegetables sources and less than three pieces of fruit per day. After 30 days slowly reintroduce to discover what your trigger foods are. 

2. Minimize your consumption of processed modern foods, particularly industrial vegetable and seed oils, refined grains and other non-Paleo crap. If you don't understand what I mean by this read some of my other articles. 

3. Eat more fat. Replace those refined carbs with healthy sources of whole food fats such as oily fish, eggs, nuts, coconut oil, olive oil, butter, cacao, avocado, etc. 

4. Don't put anything on your skin that you wouldn't eat. Try olive oil and/or coconut oil as moisturizer. Substitute natural, organic or even home-made products for commercial chemical ones. 

5. Optimize your hormones by improving lifestyle factors such as sleep, stress management, exercise, supplementation and by limiting exposure to environmental toxins and things that can disrupt hormonal balance like excessive alcohol, phytoestrogens, the contraceptive pill or overtraining. 

6. Drink plenty of good quality water. Coffee and some alcohol should be fine as long as you stay hydrated. 

7. Get some sun exposure, not too much, and use a safe sunscreen. Don't get burnt.

8. Leave your skin alone. If you have oily skin then using drying (foaming) cleansers, acne treatments or harsh medications, or simply by over-cleansing, scrubbing and moisturizing your skin can actually make matters worse by disrupting the natural balance of good and bad bacteria on your skin, causing more breakouts.  

If you optimize your nutrition and lifestyle you can mostly leave your skin alone except for some basic cleansing and moisturizing once or twice a day and it will sort itself out. 

Less is more. 

And ladies, don't wear too much makeup! Truth be told most of us lads don't like a face full of makeup. Natural beauty is far more attractive than a mask of makeup. Basically if we can tell you're wearing makeup you're probably wearing too much. Also, powder mineral makeups should be avoided as there is some evidence that the metal oxide particles can lodge in your lungs and potentially cause nizagara harm down the road.

If you follow these basic guidelines there is no reason why you can't walk around with glowing, blemish-free skin your whole life like my Nonna! Who knows? Maybe one day someone may also say to you, "wow, I don't mean to be creepy but your skin is incredibly soft". 


PS - Thanks for reading and if you liked this post please share it with a friend. Every extra person I reach makes writing these that little bit more worthwhile. And follow me on Instagram @davidsciola for shameless selfies and travel pics. 


Kunisue T, Chen Z, Buck Louis GM, Sundaram R, Hediger ML, Sun L, Kannan K. Urinary Concentrations of Benzophenone-type UV Filters in U.S. Women and Their Association with Endometriosis.  Environ Sci Tech 2012 Apr 17;46(8):4624-32. Epub 2012 Mar 29.