Our oldest bridged into the teen years last year, with the next two following close behind. I’ve found myself in a whole new world as a parent, reading books on the teen brain and hormones (this one and this one have been my recent favorites), learning to adjust my parenting a bit, coming alongside them more often with questions rather than directives. Somedays it feels tricky and confusing, filled with emotion and challenging conversations, but I’m truly loving this new season for our family. For all the uncertainty and new terrain, there is so much adventure, laughter, and wonderful depth right now, too. I wrote an article for Wild+Free this month on how we are currently shifting our homeschool with teens, and you can find that here, if you’re interested to read more. But today, I want to talk about skincare and personal hygiene, a common topic around our home these days with all the growing and changing bodies. ;)
My mother has often said, “we’ll sometimes do for others what we won’t do for ourselves.” Isn’t that often the mantra of parenthood? I’ve butted into this truth so many times on this journey, and I was recently reminded in The Soul of Discipline, “Kids pay attention to our actions much more than they do what we say.” This is true about most things in parenting, and as our conversations about self-care and skin begin to deepen, I’m mindful to reflect again on my own personal care. Our children are always watching us––how we handle stress, the foods and drinks we consume, the boundaries we create for myself––all of it. As a parent, I’m learning, this isn’t about being perfect, or only showing them what I want them to see. They need to see my humanity and struggle, too. They need to see how I adapt to unexpected happenings and even the times I make exceptions or bend the rules. Still, I am mindful that as a parent, if I want my children to follow a certain habit, it’s always easier if they notice me cultivating that habit, too.
Like many parents, Mark and I have always encouraged healthy self-care practices in our children: regular bathing, teeth brushing, early bedtimes, limited sugar and screen-time, plenty of water, and so on. But as they have grown older, they naturally have more questions about these boundaries, often challenging us with the ubiquitous why? As a result, our conversations about wellness are deepening, extensions of the same topics, shifting in purpose. As skin breakouts and hormones are becoming a more relevant topic in our home, so are these other conversations. How do we take care of our skin? And what are the factors that affect our skin?
Hydrate / Water. Water. Water. Our skin is our largest organ, made up of cells composed mostly of––you guessed it––water! When our bodies dehydrate, not only does it affect our digestion, circulation, and brain function, but it also negatively impacts our skin, preventing the toxin elimination and even leading to dry, flaky skin and premature skin aging. Proper hydration helps our brain to function more clearly, too, improving cognitive function in children and adults, too. According to the University of Wisconsin Health Center, our skin is the last organ to receive water, so it’s imperative to add water to the skin topically (through baths/showers) and moisturize skin within a few minutes to retain hydration, whether on our face or body. This may seem irrelevant to teens, whose skin quickly rejuvenates collagen, but again, we’re trying to build lifetime habits now!
Protect / While at the beach last week, my sister and I were laughing how we used to fry our skin in our teen years, thinking that was the way to golden, luminous skin. How silly! Baking light skin in the sun for long periods will only lead to sunburn and skin damage. I love this video taken with a UV camera for understanding the importance of sun screen daily (it’s crazy!).
Nourish / Your skin can sometimes tell you something about the inside of your body, too. Inflamed or irritated skin may be provoked by food sensitivities or diets too high in saturated fats and sugars. Skin breakouts in our home have welcomed deeper conversations about the foods we eat and how it is connected to our health. Oodles of books and blog posts have been written on this, and while the details sometimes vary, some basic tenants we return to are: limit sugar, eat whole foods and plenty of veggies, make it ourselves, and drink water. These practices of course affect more than our skin, and I hope they forge habits in my children than continue long after the finicking teen skin years have passed.
I’ve written a bit here before about Beautycounter and their never list, their commitment to never use over 1500 harmful or potentially harmful chemicals in their products. This has become a larger conversation in our home in recent months as my children have more and more questions about their skin, whether it’s why my daughter’s skin breaks out in a rash when she uses over the counter lip glosses marketed to children, or a more mature conversation about the effects of heavy metals and certain chemicals stored up in our body over time. While the choices to clean our home of toxins by making our own home cleaning products, filtering our water, and purchasing safer products may seem arbitrary to my young adults, they are not. Again, the point is not to cultivate perfection or fear, but to educate them in a natural way that what they do matters. I love the way essential oils and Beautycounter products have naturally opened these conversations within our home.
Because teen skin can be ask fickle as the hormones beneath it, I love Beautycounter’s charcoal products for purifying and restoring balance to uneven or oily skin.
Charcoal Bar / This little bar contains activated charcoal, coconut oil, and green tea, and can be used on the body or the face. It’s perfect for teens (or adults) who struggle with regular breakouts, or who tend to have oily skin. To stretch it a little bit or to share with more than one child, I put the bar in the microwave for 3-4 seconds and, using a sharp knife, chop the bar into 4-5 smaller rectangular bars (the reason my current bar is a little short). ;)
Charcoal Mask / Masks seem so exotic and special, and they should be a regular part of your own weekly routine, too, mamas. But here’s one you’ll want to share with your teens, although they may be a harder sell for your teen boys. Wink. With a blend of activated charcoal, kaolin clay, and peppermint, this mask also exfoliates, leaving skin feeling cleaner and clearer. You can use it as a spot treatment, too, to help remedy a pimple quicker, or to help the tube stretch a bit farther. Start yourself or your teen at one mask per week, watching how you skin responds.
Nourishing Night Cream or Day Cream / Moisturizing sometimes seems ridiculous to young adults worried about breaking out. I remember thinking moisturizers would cause more breakouts, but our skin needs the topical hydration and moisture retention. The Nourishing moisturizers are lightweight, non-greasy moist
Nourishing Cream Exfoliator / I love this exfoliator and use it myself 2-3 mornings a week, in lieu of my morning cleanser. I encourage my older kids to use it once a week, too. This exfoliator is so creamy and gentle, using jojoba beads instead of harsh abrasives. This is a wonderful option in addition to or in lieu of the charcoal mask, especially for teens with drier skin.
We haven’t yet bridged into makeup with our girls yet, although they sometimes ask for a bit of lip gloss or blush when we’re at home. But for those of you with older daughters, I highly recommend this book, as it gives a more in depth picture of the cosmetics industry and the businesses and organizations who are working to establish stricter legislation in the US. I love the way Beautycounter is working to create change in our laws for everyone, not just their business. They are also highly selective about their ingredient list and honor their commitment to the never list. Their makeup colors are very natural and fresh looking, opposed to heavy concentrated color, an ideal way to introduce your teen daughters to makeup palettes that are safe to use and also complement their youth.
To help your parenting dollars stretch a bit, here are a few ideas to consider beginning with:
Cream Blusher / The cream blush in the Hibiscus color can be used on cheeks and lips , in the Caramel color can double on the cheeks and eye lids.
Sheer Lipstick / This lipstick can also double on the lips or cheeks, too and has a large variety of concentration. One product, two uses. High-fives.
Mascara / Made with shea butter and beeswax, this mascara goes on light and easy (perfect for younger teens) and builds really well for women who want more definition.