Skincare: Science and Art

For me, the world of skincare has always been confusing, not least because my sensitive skin reacts to products unpredictably. Unfortunately, none of these titles really make skincare less a less baffling arena, but they do give some fascinating scientific or professional perspectives on just what to try in order to have healthy, clear, happy skin.

First, for a radical scientific take, try Clean: the new science of skin by James Hamblin. Hamblin takes a deep dive into the microbes that affect our skin’s health and proposes some serious overhauls to the skincare industry and practice, including showering less to avoid over-washing skin. He reportedly didn’t shower for the entire duration of writing the book.

An Atlas of Natural Beauty by Victoire de Taillac falls more on the beauty side of skincare, with a detailed encyclopedia-type description of how a wide variety of botanicals and plants can be minimally processed into effective beauty and skincare aids. A fascinating and aesthetically appealing version of the topic.

The Clear Skin Diet by Nina and Randa Nelson is part-memoir, part health manual, drawn from the twin authors’ experiences fighting their acne growing up. After trying all the medical and chemical interventions, the sisters Nelson found success by making radical changes to their diet. Apparently they were inspired by cultures and communities around the world who have no acne.

Goop Clean Beauty is more of an instruction manual from the lifestyle website / newsletter created by Gwyneth Paltrow. It highlights the ways that beauty starts with health, beginning with clean eating and moving into makeup and skincare recommendations.

The Age Fix by Anthony Youn is the work of a plastic surgeon who’s spent years compiling advice from his colleagues in plastic surgery as well as cosmetologists, dermatologists, dieticians, and more, all to give the reader a one-stop shop for advice on keeping skin looking young. Like the Nelson sisters, he encourages people to think about their diet in order to affect the look and feel of their skin; he also reveals that expensive creams and surgeries are not necessarily the most effective solutions. A refreshing take, coming from someone in his profession, if you ask me.

Younger by Harold Lancer is, similarly, the advice of a Beverly Hills dermatologist attempting to cut through all the confusing and contradictory advice. Apparently he also recommends products at various price points to support different budgets, none of which are as complicated or expensive as you might think. His main focus is on stimulating the skin’s own natural healing power in order to maintain or restore youthful, healthy skin.

If you want to dive into the world of skincare and get some different perspectives, try any combination of these titles to get started – and then double-check with your doctor.

How to Hygge: The Nordic Secrets to a Happy Life by Signe Johansen

 

Spending more time in nature. Cuddling up on the couch with a good mystery. Taking breaks for cake and coffee. Lighting candles.Between fall weather finally approaching and the busy school year settling in, I’m trying to remind myself to make time for rest and comfort. How to Hygge, by Signe Johansen explains the Danish and Norwegian word hygge (pronounced hoo-guh) doesn’t have an exact translation in English, but it suggests coziness and slowing down to enjoy life. Johansen applies the lessons she learned growing up in Norway to her busy life in London, as well as how people from other cultures can adapt the philosophy of hygge to their lives.

The book doesn’t offer all of the answers to life’s problems, but a lot of little ways to be happier. The author offers her own stories balancing being a high achiever with hygge, such as her father making her take a break from studying for important high school exams to gather wild lilies of the valley. She didn’t think she had time to fit everything in, but after taking time to slow down, she was able to put her exams into perspective and resume her studies more focused and less stressed out.

The advice Johansen offers is easy to apply in small doses until they become habits. One I’ve taken to heart was to take time to exercise in nature. I took a (very slow) job along the Mississippi the next day, and came back with my mind clear and ready take on the rest of my day. To counteract some of that exercising, the book  includes over 90 pages of recipes for comfort food (I had to smile at a cocktail recipe that involved sparkling wine and gummi bears.) It’s heavy on home care and decorating suggestions, that tend to favor easy to clean, simple items.

However, as the book continues, it moves past cooking and decorating tips to sections about how connect more with the people we care about and prioritize the things that make us happy. In the end, the message is to focus on the little details that make your life warmer and cozier.

How to Hygge is available at all three branches of the library. If you are interested in learning about the concept from another point of view, we also have The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking.

Sage Living by Anne Sage

sage livingPerfectly named style maven and City Sage blogger Anne Sage knows a wise truth: decorating our living spaces for our goals is the first step in making them happen.

In Sage Living, she opens the door to covetable dwellings designed to boost the dreams of their occupants, from the sunny, open-air kitchen of a holistic nutritionist to the eclectic living room of a world traveler ready to put down roots.

With page after page of stunning interiors, engagingly written home stories, and hundreds of design tips for every room, Sage Living goes beneath the stylized surface to help readers decorate for the lives they truly want. (description from publisher)

From blog to book

Lifestyle blogs are the ‘thing’ right now.  Young House Love, Perfectly Imperfect, Smitten Kitchen, and Pioneer Woman are all written by bloggers who are getting famous simply for letting readers into their homes  (I like to think of them as still life reality stars.)  The best bloggers combine a sharp wit, unique voice, beautiful photos, a glimpse at the personal, and easy to follow how-tos.  Many of these bloggers have published books that you can check out from the Davenport Public Library, so stop by and check them out!

Young House Love by Sherry & John Petersik
Apartment Therapy Presents by Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan
The Sprouted Kitchen by Sara Forte
Joy the Baker Cookbook by Joy Wilson
The Perfectly Imperfect Home by Deborah Needleman
The Pioneer Woman Cooks by Ree Drummond
The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman
Design Sponge at Home by Grace Bonney