BOY OH BOY do I have a heckuva lot to say on this topic after the past year, loads of clarity and Oprah-esque nuggets to share in world beauty. Where to start? Maybe with one of the biggies if not the biggest … a takeaway of takeaways …
Pre-pandemic, when, as Social Columnist for our leading English daily, The Montreal Gazette (aka the mothership) and publisher of a luxury lifestyle social scene magazine, my life was a constant cacophony of events and blur of arrivals, interviews and face-to-face meet and greets, putting your best face forward wasn’t just important, it was basically do or die, for, on that beat, I was dealing in HIGH stakes HIGH glam, one where appearances were if not everything, pretty darned close, as was capturing them on every social media platform known to humanity.
Accordingly, I was not just “concerned” about the quality of the skin on the face (and bod) that I was offering up as snap & selfie prey, I was obsessed with it, a situation made all the more ALL-consuming because of a breakout tendency that I’d been dealing with since adolescence that refused to say “buh-bye grown up Jenn!” and instead kept making recurring cameos in my life at the most inopportune times, like yes, when the biggest events of the year – often of my career – came knocking … !
To add to the fun, I wasn’t “sweet sixteen” anymore (to quote my soul sis Johanne) and wasn’t British neither (boasting some of those solid peaches and cream genes) nor was I a smarty gal who had avoided the sun and worn an armor of SPF like those completely annoying “told you so” frenemies who did make nice with SPF 50 + like the designer docs and fashion mags told them to.
And so, given the far-from-perfect state of my largest organ, I was every purveyor of beauty fixes, elixirs and procedures dream consumer. If an announcer, pharmacist, influencer, derm, friend, frenemy, or random person crossing the street so much as peeped about a product or procedure’s collagen stimulating, wrinkle reducing, glow inducing, spot and/or sag sinking potential, I was ALL OVER IT. My beauty hauls from a weekly visit to a pharmacy looked more prolific than our early in the pandemic hauls of toilet paper. It got to a point where there wasn’t even any shelf space left to hold the loot. I would even stock up on multiples, forgetting I’d bought the originals. Marie Kondo, The Minimalists and Montreal’s own organizing wonders The Kokoway would need a year to assess the situation, let alone organize it.
Yet despite all the beauty ammo accumulated (we didn’t even touch on makeup, which I also bought in bulk, to camouflage the blemishes and imperfections and, of course, contour, shade and extend everything else, G-d forbid my pout not resemble a trending snout and lashes not routinely sweep into my brows), I was still ever chasing that creamy skin, fighting the latest hormonal blemish, still so reluctant for a cam to catch a close up. (The only thing that did work were the biannual baby Botox injections which did miraculously paralyze the 11 lines and keep creepy crow’s feet at bay, but even that magic medical potion so ingeniously injected by my plastic surgeon of choice, the inimitable Dr. Karl Schwarz of Clinique K fame, couldn’t halt the pesky breakouts and restore the glow of my seemingly too tired to radiate skin).
It was a battle I just couldn’t seem to win …
And then the pandemic pause happened, and though the horrors and loss it brought with it are still surreal and unimaginable, one small silver lining in my personal case was the breather it finally gave to my overprocessed, over made-up confused skin and the gift of time it gave me to do some much-needed clean living, not to mention research into what might truly make a difference on the skin front.
What I discovered was not only complexion altering but life altering too.
You see, I was so consumed with the outer beauty, the superficial layers, and treating the problems from the outside-in (a logical byproduct of our surface-addicted society compounded by the information overload spewing forth from so many screens), I failed to realize that the human machine is a very complex and delicate one requiring meticulous attentions from multifarious angles, especially the inside out.
I had been going about this whole skin beauty thing all wrong.
While there’s no question that taking good care of our skin with effective products boasting the right scientifically sound ingredients does make a difference (and, as it turns out, despite the overzealous purchases, I wasn’t doing that either, conversely slathering on way too many different concoctions culminating in more harm than good), the absolute key to clear glowing healthy skin, at least in my humble, starts with good nutrition and the right way of living. Turns out mom – and grand mom – were spot on. We are what we eat …
In my case, despite adhering to all kinds of eating regimens (I was a solid consumer on the trending diet book front too), I had failed to adapt the right eating style for my body and truth be told, had often cheated so much on other regimens, the positive benefits were often outweighed by the sneaky cheats, easy when champagne flows at several events a week and you’re eventing for a living ….
What ultimately saved my skin, and overall health (and sanity!) on the food front was a slightly modified version of Dr. John McDougall’s high carb, low to no oil, sugar and salt plant-based vegan lifestyle, which, it turns out, seems to have a particularly potent effect on stemming breakouts. Thanks to his sacred tomes and recipes (definitely check out ?) and the masterful videos and shares of some of his best disciples including High Carb Hannah and Plantiful Kiki (two of my faves who literally transformed their bodies living his regimen), I was able to come up with a tasty lifestyle that was not only delicious and enjoyable but also does wonders for the complexion.
The icing on the beauty pie? The glow I’d been going for was finally here to stay too. How I love you fruits and veggies, let me count the ways …
That said, there was more to my skin clearing, beauty enhancing story than the right sources of nutrients, paramount though they are. Turns out mum and grand-mum were also right about other lifestyle essentials like movement, downtime and mindset The more I worked out, meditated, spent time in nature, and doing things I loved – reveling in the moments and simple pleasures – the more that inner glow and beauty made its way to the surface … A happy face is a beautiful one, indeed ….
And so, in closing, after a lifetime of spending countless hours and endless salary on the external, I’ve learned that the truest beauty, cliché as it might be, does – largely – emanate from within …
** For those who caught the largely in bold italics, do tune into the next post, coming soon, detailing my fave beauty products that, when paired with the right nutrition and lifestyle, go the distance.
** For those looking for more lessons in the series, search Covid Clarity here and peruse the companion material on social media especially Insta.