I received a message last week by one of my blog’s readers and it contained just one question. “What is your number one beauty secret and what is the one beauty product you can’t live without?” And it got me thinking. With tons of beauty products I’ve used, tried and tested, do I really know which one worked best on me and does it really take just one product to achieve beauty?

In this day and age when beauty products, both local and foreign, are just a click away to be added to our cart, we tend to hoard too many tubes of lipsticks, pots of night creams, palettes of concealers… the list goes on! And if you’d rummage through most of my blog entries, they’re mostly reviews of countless beauty products as well!

So for a change, since my reader already got me into thinking about my beauty secret, let me share to you some of the things I do that, in my opinion, helps me achieve “beauty” sans the beauty products.

1. A Glass of Red Wine

There are countless debates as to whether wine does good or bad to our skin. Alcohol, in general, dehydrates skin. But what makes red wine the exception? A certain antioxidant called resveratrol. As we all know, antioxidants sop up damaging free radicals that play a role in aging and age-related diseases by restoring collagen and elastic fibers. And resveratrol, in particular, makes skin glowing after downing a glass the night before. Trust me on this, there is a difference. I’d note though that stress has something to do with it, too. Since wine relaxes the nerves, it helps me get better sleep and that attributes a lot to looking better the day after. But! You can't have too much of a good thing. Drinking more than recommended (1 glass a day for women, and 2 for men) can have the opposite effect on your appearance and health. And oh, champagne and white wine doesn't count (sorry me!). If you don’t believe me, then ponder on why red wine facials are gaining immense popularity in the spa industry today. 

2. A Good Workout

I noticed major skin improvement in 2010 when I started to exercise regularly. We tend to focus on the cardiovascular benefits of physical activity, and those are super important, yes. But also, anything that promotes healthy circulation helps keep skin healthy and vibrant. And I’m not just talking about that post-gym glow. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to working cells throughout the body, including the skin. And blood flow also helps carry away waste products, including free radicals, from working cells. Contrary to some claims though, exercise doesn't detoxify the skin. The job of neutralizing toxins belongs mostly to the liver. But by increasing blood flow, a bout of exercise helps flush cellular debris out of the system. You can think of it as cleansing your skin from the inside. And oh, don’t forget that strength training results in a toned body and that means less cellulite! 

3. Minutes of Meditation

When we meditate, even if for a few minutes a day, we are allowing our minds and bodies to enter a more relaxed state. This small act release chemicals that counter stress chemicals and hormones (which, I blame for all my untimely skin breakouts!). In addition, allowing calm breathing helps oxygenate our bodies and both the breathing and state of calm will help with toxin elimination. Meditation is even more beneficial to our skin when done in the form of yoga as it also stimulates blood and lymphatic flow throughout the entire body.

I have heard people who goes to the same yoga studio I go to tell me that they have noticed a reduction in fine lines and wrinkles, less acne and lighter dark circles and smaller bags under their eyes as well as a healthy glow to their skin from practicing meditation. 

In conclusion, stress is what I blame for all my beauty problems. Hormonal imbalance happens when we are stressed out. When you release all sorts of stress hormones, your blood vessels constrict, which can trigger your body to decide that skin circulation is not a priority and to channel blood away from the skin toward muscles and other organs in the body. Not only is the skin deprived of oxygen and nutrients, but it becomes so sensitive that pre-existing issues, such as acne and eczema, tend to flare up. Moreover, our muscles tense and skin loses that rosy glow and fine lines and wrinkles begin to form. Stress also causes hair loss! As the blood vessels begin to constrict, it deprives hair follicles of the oxygen, minerals and vitamins it needs for healthy hair growth. 

So those are my top three habits that I strongly believe keep my skin healthy. There should be more, like eating more vegetables and fruits, eliminating sugar and dairy, and prioritizing sleep. But those are habits I have yet to start on and keep. So these three would suffice for now as I firsthand know they work. 

I believe in good habits more than I do in products. And for someone who’s a bit lazy to religiously maintain a beauty regimen of applying creams and treatments (except sunscreen), I compensate by making sure I don’t skip these three.