Years ago, I had a horrific acne problem.  Luckily the breakouts have diminished over time.  But one lingering concern still persists.  Although my skin might appear clear, I'm still plagued with an issue that impacts my skin almost as much as a breakout.

My pores tend to get really congested.  Although my skin may look ok from afar, congested skin is lackluster and doesn't appear smooth.  Let's be real, blocked pores are ticking time bombs that can easily develop into breakouts at any given moment.  

I've implemented a few strategies to counteract that problem.  That's why I'm so addicted to my Clarisonic.  My skin needs the deep scrubbing action.  Although the Clarisonic does a decent job, it does not compare to my ultrasonic skin scrubber.  That thing really performs when it comes to removing gunk from my pores.  

Before the skin scrubber came into my life, I used a manual technique that was excellent at clearing out my pores.  The other day, I learned of another method that somewhat mirrored mine.   This technique is so effective that people are actually boasting about seeing their blackheads removed right before their very eyes.
This pore clearing method is discussed at length on Reddit.  It's a multi-step routine that promises to produce visible results.  People are actually sharing close up pics of their, now freed, white/blackheads  thanks to this deep cleansing process.  I've found that there are different variations that create similar results. 

Here's a breakdown of the essential steps:

1. Oil cleansing on dry skin.
2. Using a product or technique to bring "gunk" to the surface of the skin.

The good thing about this technique is that it can be adapted to fit your skin.  As I mentioned, there are multiple ways to do this.  I'll share a few examples so you can find the best method for you.

-Apply oil to dry skin and leave on for 5-10 minutes.
-Massage your skin with the oil. This will bring any gunk from the pores to the surface of the skin.  
-This technique is improved by the use of alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) throughout the week.  AHAs are said to "unglue" dead skin.  In essence, it helps to gently exfoliate without disturbing healthy skin cells.   I like mandelic acid but I've read where some people use a Stridex pad to loosen dirt.  

-Cleanse with oil (massage oil on dry skin)
-Apply a clay mask to draw impurities to the surface.
-Complete the process with another oil cleansing massage to remove any remaining gunk laying below the surface.

-Cleanse dry skin with oil
-Use a facial steamer simultaneously during oil massage. Steaming opens the pores to allow for easy removal of whiteheads/blackheads.
-If I carry out this technique for several days in a row, my skin becomes really smooth.

The good people of Reddit recommend the use of mineral oil because of its inability to be absorbed by the skin.   This will help prevent further of clogging of pores if your skin is sensitive to oil.  Another insider tip is regarding how you massage the skin.  Some of the more savvy individuals recommend that we massage against the grain.  Meaning instead massaging our face from the nose outward (like when applying skin products) we massage from the ear inwards.  This really helps to loosen dirt and oil from our pores.  

There it is.  If you're already into oil cleansing, adding a few simple steps could really transform your skin.  The key is incorporating a way to loosen up the clogged skin and, in my case steaming while oil cleansing works like a charm.

Check out the links below for detailed explanation of the process from Reddit's discussion boards.

I've been an avid consumer of collagen supplements for years.  When I learned about how rapidly collagen levels decline starting at the age of 21, I immediately added it to my routine.  Collagen supplements have really served me well.  Within the first 30 days of regular consumption I noticed a difference.

Since then, I've graduated from collagen supplements to introducing collagen peptides into the mix. Because collagen peptides have a low molecular structure, I figured that perhaps my body would better absorb it for even more benefits.  Although I'm not 100% sure, I feel as if taking collagen has helped speed up the results of my multiple micro needling treatments.

Things are going well. But then I wondered if there was anything I could do to make it even better.  Synergistically, I needed to pair my collagen with another supplement to maximize benefits.
All this time, I had been taking collagen and forgetting to combine it with its soul mate.  The moment I realized my error, I immediately placed an order.  But not before reading countless reviews of satisfied customers who purchased this supplement for joint pain only to experience the best skin of their life.

The supplement I speak of is hyaluronic acid.

Like collagen, hyaluronic acid (HA) is something that our bodies produce naturally.  And, like collagen, hyaluronic acid production declines over time.  HA is critical because it's our main source of internal hydration and lubrication because of its ability to hold up to 1000 times its weight in water.  This keeps our skin plump and bouncy.  If you are constantly battling dry skin, you may want to approach it from the inside out.

Here are a few examples of what people experienced after incorporating HA into their diet.

--I've been taking Low-Dose Accutane (20mg/week) for the past two years. My skin was slightly dry and my joints were stiff. Within 5 days of taking this product it eliminated both of those problems.

--However, I discovered there was a delightful side effect to taking this supplement... a huge improvement in the texture and appearance of my facial skin! (Actually all my skin, but I am more focused on my facial skin). While taking it for my joints, I noticed that my skin was becoming softer, smoother, more elastic and more youthful looking.

--I take Hyaluronic Acid for cell repair, but I was shocked when a lady actually complimented me on my skin, something that has NEVER happened in my life. I immediately attributed it to good nutrition generally and the H.A. in particular.

I've been using this product for three years now. I take it everyday and my skin stays hydrated. I used to have a problem with my skin always being dry, and I always had a problem finding a moisturizer to alleviate the dryness. But since I started taking this. my skin stays hydrated and I rarely even need to lotion my hands or other parts of my body as frequently.

--I had been taking this last year for stiff joints, especially my wrists when working out. When I ran out, I didn't think anything of it since I felt better and thought it would last, but after about 60 days, my face gained about 5 years, deeper wrinkles, larger pores, a feeling of just aging badly. Nothing else had changed. I reordered it a month ago and I am pleased to report my skin is back to its dewey complexion with less wrinkles and refined pores. Even the skin on my legs is better, not so dry or ashy.

Those are just a few testimonials that convinced me that I needed hyaluronic acid in my life.   I should also mention that several reviewers spoke highly about how HA also benefited their hair as well.  Many noticed a reduction in hair loss.  Some even boasted of experiencing a faster growth rate.  This may have to do with how HA impacts the scalp.  The deeper layers of the skin and scalp are hydrated by the presence of hyaluronic acid.    When the scalp is healthy & moisturized, our hair benefits directly.

I've been taking HA for a few days and, maybe the it's the placebo effect, but I feel like I'm already experiencing a slight increase in intrernal hydration.  I feel like my lips feel a tab bit plumper and moist. If what I'm experiencing are real benefits, I'm really looking forward to a full month's worth of results.

I'm grateful for all the contributions that NASA has made to the health & beauty industry.  Some notable examples that come to mind include vibration plates and mini trampolines.  Both help rebuild bone and muscle mass because space exploration really does a number on the body.  Once astronauts return home, their bodies are ravaged by the effects of their zero gravity environment. That's when their scientists get to work on discovering ways to rehabilitate and prevent long term damage.

Obviously,  preventing the negative physical effects to the body is a top priority. Which is why rebounding and vibration plates were discovered so long ago.  But recently, NASA has also come to realize another huge issue that needs to be addressed.  Not only were there astronauts dealing with bone and muscle loss, they realized that an antigravity environment also accelerates skin aging.
During space travel, there are notable changes that occur in the skin.  They noticed a decrease in skin density & elasticity.  There was obvious thinning of the top layer of the skin and a huge decline hydration levels.  Essentially, the longer the astronauts remained in space, the faster they aged.

NASA researchers decided to combat this undesirable side effect by addressing the one area where they have the most control -- skin hydration.

They wondered if protecting the skin's level of hydration could help curb some one of the adverse effects.  They realized that treating the skin with an emulsion made a huge impact on the hydration levels of the outermost layer of the skin's surface.  An emulsion is another term for a liquidy moisturizing product.  Typical skin lotions are not considered to be emulsions because of their thick, creamy consistency.

Basically, they discoved that prepping the skin with adequate hydration made a difference a huge difference even in the most hostile conditions (outer space).

I have to be honest.  Facial skin hydration has never been a priority of mine.  For most of my life, I've battled with oily skin.  Most of the time, I'm slathering on mattefying products to help address it. I'm my mind, oily skin did not need the help of thick, creamy moisturizers.  I'm willing to admit that my thinking was highly flawed.  My skin was probably producing all that oil as a means of self-hydrating.

Once I realized the error in my ways, I took a completely different approach.  Instead of bypassing the moisturizing step in my facial routine, I fully embraced it.  I collected all of the facial moisturizers I owned and found the one that was most hydrating.  One of my favorites so far is Youth Preserve Facial Cream by Fresh.  It's light, super hydrating and seems to sink deep into my skin rather than sit on the surface.  I've paired this moisturizer with other products on in my arsenal to saturate my skin with moisture.

The results were pretty astonishing.  My skin looks and behaves so much differently when it's well hydrated.  Everything plumps up. But what's most exciting is how my skin naturally reflects light when it's super moisturized.  Not in a "greasy" way. But in a dewy, glowy, natural way.

This changed everything.

 The only thing I focused on was what I could do to elevate and maintain skin moisture levels.  Every time I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, I smiled at how great my skin looked.  At the same time, I wondered why I allowed myself to forget how well my skin behaved back when I religiously followed the Korean skin multistep routine.  Why did I let the change of season deter me from focusing on hydrated skin as a main priority?

All that matters is that I'm back on track.  And it only took the help of NASA researchers to remind me of what's most important.

You may have seen a video floating around of Gabrielle Union, sitting poolside looking like an image of perfection.  When I envision the vibe I want to have this summer, this is what I picture in my mind.

Skin looking so flawless that it outshines the swimsuit.
Body, toned.
Hair blowing in the wind.
Face reflecting the light that hits it.

I keep watching the video over and over again.  My favorite part of the whole thing is her incredible confidence. She knows she's flawless.  This level of perfection did not happen on its own.  Gabby appears effortless, but we know that she maintains certain habits & rituals to enhance her results.

Let's discuss.
But first, check her out in motion.
I'm absolutely mesmerized by her carefree glow.  Her skin is absolutely everything.

So what do we need to do to get to her level?

We need to be reminded of the actions she does day in and day out that create such results.  First and foremost, we need to always remember that her number #1 beauty secret is the amount of water she guzzles down on a daily basis.  She's a loyal member of the gallon of water a day club and has been so for many years.  I've known this for the longest but it wasn't until social media became popular that we got a see a glimpse of it for ourselves.  I've seen a few selfies of Gabby featuring a half full gallon of water.  The few lemon wedges floating in the water don't go unnoticed.

Can you imagine the long-term benefits of consuming that much "detox water" on a regular basis?  Maybe a gallon of water a day is a bit much for most people, but you can at least try to drink more than you do now.  You will notice a difference. Trust me.

Besides, the internal hydration, I read somewhere that Gabby uses a body scrub that her nail tech whips up at home.  Hopefully, I've drilled it into everyone's head about the life-changing power of scrubbing your body daily.  It's something that you must do every day.  My body is very even toned and I gladly give the credit to my sugar scrub, Italy towel, and Salux cloth.  Without them, I am nothing.

Another huge contributor to her overall glow is Gabby's intense workout routine.  Months back, she started working closely with her personal trainer and documented her workouts on Snapchat.  That man showed her no mercy.  All of that intense sweating is so good for her skin.  Not to mention the incredible muscle tone she sports proudly.  There's absolutely no back fat to be found.  Let's remember to sweat regularly + exfoliate liberally.  This, my friend, is the recipe for soft skin.

In 2014, Gabrielle mentioned enjoying a fresh concoction of beet, carrot, kale juice every other day.  Back then, she also opted to eliminate soy, gluten, & dairy from her diet.  Thanks to her sacrifice, Gabby claims that she noticed a difference in her hair, nails and the "quality and vibrancy of her skin."  

Lastly, Gabby's favorite skin ritual that she deemed as a game changer is her trusty bottle of camellia seed oil that she applies to her face each and every single day.  Going to bed greasy is what Gabby labeled as her one skin secret in past SnapChat video.  Actually, I think she actually applies a little oil to her skin daily as well (after moisturizing).  She attributes camellia seed for helping her skin control its natural oil production.  Oil does an amazing job of sealing in moisture and skin that's hydrated looks illuminated.  And that's exactly what we're seeing in this short video.  Let us all remember to stay consistent with the fundamentals of healthy skin so we too can glow in the summer sun.

The warmer it gets the more I start thinking about the full manifestation of summer.  I've already begun rummaging through my drawers in search of summer gear.  The only thing going through my mind is how I can nurture a head to toe glow.  On my hit list is to one day finally experience a Korean body scrubbing but until then, I'll focus on the next best alternative.
This other option will clear out your pores in a major way.  And, when done regularly, can give you such an awesome glow.   Today,  I stumbled on an interview of former Victoria's Secret model Grace Mahary.  Grace has also strutted down the runways of major fashion houses like Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, and Giorgio Armani.

Maintaining flawless skin has got to be her top priority.  I was on the edge of my seat as I read the details of Grace's beauty routine.  But, surprisingly, she doesn't really have a complicated routine like imagined.  Aside from adding a little Bio-Oil (great for scars + stretch marks) after cleansing and moisturizing Dior Hydra Life Moisturizer, she doesn't really do much else.

But Grace made sure to mention her absolute obsession which she claims is what made the difference in her pores is the reason for her glow.  Her obsession is sauna and steam treatments has paid off in a major way.
@gracemahary enjoying a relaxing infrared sauna experience

It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of sauna treatments.  I've written about it countless times.  There was even the time that we discussed creating a full on sauna beauty routine thanks to some inspiration from Karrueche Tran.  Opening your pores so you can sweat is so powerful that when I do it before cleansing, my skin turns around.   Grace experienced so many benefits from steaming that she doesn't have to rely much on intricate skin routine.  When our pores are clear most of our skin worries go away.  Since our skin is such a major means of detox, we have to sweat to ensure that it's doing its job.

If you can't remember that last time you broke a sweat, you're already doing yourself a disservice.  You could be enjoying softer skin and a natural glow that comes from deep within.  I enjoy these little reminders because I sometimes forget to incorporate sweating as a regular part of a self-care routine. Yes, the external skin benefits are worth it, but there are some documented health benefits to enjoying infrared saunas including factors that directly impact our longevity.

At the very least, you should at least schedule a few sessions before your next getaway to and see if your skin likes it.  Check out Grace's full interview here.