HellaWella Reads: Skin Cleanse, by Adina Grigore


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“Breakouts. Dryness. Redness. Oiliness.” Words emblazoned on the inside flap of the book Skin Cleanse by Adina Grigore? Yes, but also an apt description of my crazy, thirtysomething skin. I’ve been reading beauty magazines for years. I know all about the T-zone and ginormous pores, and I’ve heard of every potion from the classic Oil of Olay my mother used to massage into her skin every night to Charlotte Tilbury’s Magic Cream. I try to moisturize daily, and I wash my face with various cleansers. Isn’t that enough?

Unfortunately, it is not. Grigore, a holistic nutritionist and founder of the wildly popular S.W. Basics skincare line, shares the illuminating truths of holistic skincare. You could slather your skin with the priciest cream or scrub your face with the fanciest cleanser every day, but products alone do not a skincare regimen make. We’ve been duped by marketing terms like “hypoallergenic,” and what we refer to as “skin types” are actually symptoms of issues within the body. In fact, knowing your family history and keeping tabs on stress and diet are far more important than having an arsenal of anti-aging or anti-acne potions. These are just some of revelations contained in Grigore’s fascinating book, which aims to empower readers to take control of their skin by focusing on the body as a whole. In fact, the author shares her own struggles with problem skin, fostering a sense of camaraderie with readers.

Grigore is thorough with her refresher course on the layers of skin and how powerful or damaging a certain food or product can be to your body, but this book is not boring or dry by any means. The book’s tone is conversational, punctuated by witty illustrations. I was engaged by her expertise as well as bits such as this explanation of letting a food back into your life after an elimination diet: “…if you reintroduce the food and the same symptoms come back, then the breakup needs to be permanent. It’s like if you try to get back together with that crappy ex and suddenly think, What am I doing?!

You are not going to get a one-size-fits-all prescription from Skin Cleanse. Instead, you will gain the knowledge that will allow you to create your own natural skincare routine. You will become more in tune with your body thanks to activities such as keeping a food journal for a short amount of time. Perhaps you, like me, will identify strongly with one of the two sample journals from Grigore’s clients, and you will have a lightbulb moment concerning your own food choices.

Grigore may seem firm about the elimination diet, but ultimately she trusts readers to make choices about what they put into their bodies, such as alcohol: “To me, alcohol is the ultimate you-are-an-adult food. Don’t lie to yourself about it or find excuses. Face the facts about it not being great for you, and then indulge when you want to (just remember to keep sipping that water, too!).” Also, no matter how good a certain food or ingredient is supposed to be for you, the most important lesson Grigore teaches is to be aware of how your body responds to it.

One of the most shocking moments in Skin Cleanse is when Grigore divulges just how unregulated cosmetics are. Going through with the actual skin cleanse, which means cutting back or forsaking everything you typically put on your skin — yes, even soap — for a day, may seem scary, but realizing how much grossness you put on your face and body makes it a lot easier to take a break from your usual routine. Grigore has created levels of detox for the cleanse, so you don’t have to go cold turkey, and the book is there to guide you through the process.

Skin Cleanse is full of simple recipes for natural skin care that you can whip up in your kitchen. There are also quick methods and recipes for preparing food Grigore declares good for the skin, such as the outrageously delicious Homemade Caesar Dressing (healthy fats for the win!), making it easy to get started.

I am in the midst of my own skin cleanse, and it is amazing how much you can discover about your skin and body just by paying attention. Grigore’s suggestions have been so helpful. I am discovering what works for my body and what factors could be triggering my skin issues. Washing my face only with water using the method Grigore describes in Skin Cleanse has been so effective that I have backed away from the cleansers I once used. The knowledge I’ve gained from reading Skin Cleanse is encouraging me to practice healthier habits overall, from choosing better food to dealing with stress in a positive manner. That’s the genius of Skin Cleanse: it inspires readers to listen to their bodies to obtain better skin and better health.