Before You Indulge At The Holiday Table...

Holidays are a great opportunity for social and family gatherings, for fun and friendships. Unfortunately they can also be very "unfriendly" to our complexion especially if Acne and Rosacea are skin problems we are concern about.

Although diet is not the cause of skin problems like acne and rosacea it can clearly play an important role in their treatment and elimination as well as in worsening of the symptoms. The foods that we choose to eat can either support us or help balance our inner body environment or they can cause imbalance and disease.

According to the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) acne (also known as "heat sores") and Rosacea are due to an excess of heat and toxins in the body. In Traditional Chinese Medicine overeating sweet foods can create dampness and phlegm, which can increase the discharge of pus in acne therefore its important to eat sweet foods sparingly.

The foods to avoid for acne and rosacea are those that are "hot" and "damp" in nature. Hot and damp foods are excessively rich and fatty and often contribute to a poorly functioning digestive system. Try to avoid sugary cakes, cookies, sweets, alcohol, chocolate, fried and greasy food, dairy products and peanuts. Coconut products, fats and oils are also generally too greasy and difficult for the body to breakdown and should also be avoided. If eaten to excess some citrus fruits such as mandarin oranges and clementines will cause damp heat and encourage the formation of pimples and acne.

As rosacea feels hot or burning (facial flushing), foods that heat the blood should be eliminated, especially alcohol, coffee, lobster, prawns, and hot spicy foods. Many additives like artificial sweeteners, preservatives, food colouring and MSG can heat the blood and cause rashes to appear on the skin.

The way food is cooked can also affect the nature of individual foods and cause them to become either hotter or cooler in nature. For example, foods that are roasted, curried, barbecued, baked, smoked or deep-fried become much hotter in energy and create more heat in the body. The best cooking methods for acne sufferers are: steaming, quick boiling, blanching, poaching, braising, stewing or quick stir-frying using very little oil.

As far as possible a diet for acne and rosacea should be high in whole grains, legumes, pulses, seeds, nuts and plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit. Chicken and fish are preferable to the more heating red meats and tofu is an excellent form of protein, which has cooling qualities. Foods are better cooked rather than raw, because cooked food is easier to digest and less damp forming. Seaweed is also good for the skin and helps eliminate dampness.

One final tip, add a small amount of Job's tears (pearl barley) to rice when cooking and this will help to eliminate heat and damp and its delicious as well!

And before you depart for a "skin friendly" Holiday Party indulge yourself with a simple yet effective home facial:

Oatmeal Facial for Dry Skin

The following recipe makes a great nourishing and softening facial.

Mix together a tablespoon of oatmeal and almond meal (You can get all needed ingredients for this simple mask in any health store). Add one or two tablespoon of the rose water, elderflower water and nettle water, (enough to make a thick paste) and gently pat onto the face and neck. Allow drying for at least 15 minutes. Wash off with tepid water using cotton or a flannel cloth. The oatmeal creates a silken effect on the skin.

A Simple Herbal Steam Facial for Oily Skin

(use a day before the party)

Steaming is very good for oily skin as it diminishes the external grease and deeply cleanses the clogged pores. It also allows the black heads and whiteheads to be pushed out easily and therefore avoid pimples.

Boil a pint of water and pour over two tablespoons of any one of the following herbs: Chamomile, or Yarrow, or Lady's Mantle, or Nettle, or Fennel. Cover the bowl and your head with a towel, keeping your face about 15 inches away from hot water and allow the steam to penetrate into your skin for 10 minutes. Be careful not to put your face too close to the hot water so you do not burn yourself. If the steam is too hot raise the towel to allow a cool air in. At the end of the facial your pores should be wide open so circling them with clean cotton pad or tissue you can push out any blackheads. Do not touch the blackheads with your hands.

Herbal Astringent

Close your pores with the following astringent. (Use before party for fresher complexion)

There are many herbs with astringent qualities but chamomile is especially good as it has antiseptic qualities. If your face is oily you can add yarrow and chamomile combined. Another alternative for an astringent is sage, which is cooling and soothing to the skin.

To make a simple astringent, pour a pint of hot water over two tablespoons of herbs and allow standing for 15-20 minutes. Strain off the herbs, bottle and keep the infusion in the refrigerator. Use as your herbal astringent tonic after you clean your face each day. The infusion can last indefinitely under cold conditions.