An 8 Step Anti-Inflammatory Skincare Routine For Environmentally Stressed Skin

First off, inflammation is a completely normal and natural stress response. It promotes healing and provides protection when we get injured or have an infection. However, when left to it’s own devices, inflammation can actually can do more harm than good. Especially when it come’s to aging. We’ve tapped our wellness editor for her secret to the ultimate at-home anti-inflammatory skincare routine.

anti-inflammatory skincare routine

The Role of Inflammation in Aging

The extent of such harm and the exact role that inflammation plays in the aging process is still unknown. However, the National Institute on Aging, has concluded that:

“Inflammatory processes, particularly those resulting in chronic inflammation, have been implicated in a number of chronic diseases and conditions of aging, including cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, insulin resistance and diabetes, muscle wasting, and frailty.”

National Institute on Aging

That said, we like to take a pro-active approach when it comes to curbing chronic inflammation.

Adopting Anti-Inflammatory Habits

Whether it’s eating more anti-inflammatory foods, staying away from foods that are known to cause inflammation, removing sources of inflammation from our environment, or taking steps to treat inflammation after a rigorous workout – we like to create habits in our everyday life that help to reduce inflammation.

One way to do this is to create anti-inflammatory rituals.  So we tapped our jet-setting wellness editor for her go-to anti-inflammatory skincare routine.

Anti-Inflammatory Skincare Routine

I’m always on the road, on a plane, or in front of a screen – with multiple deadlines. So my day to day involves a fair amount of psychological and environmental stress. Not to mention my deep fondness for a great glass of Grenache.

anti-inflammatory skincare routine

So to say an anti-inflammatory regime is key to keeping my skin healthy -is a gross understatement. My morning routine helps me to de-puff, hydrate, protect, and nourish my skin.

I like to do this anti-inflammatory skincare routine as soon as I wake up in the morning so I don’t feel rushed or feel tempted to skip it. Whether I’m traveling, or at home, I’ll try to set my alarm for an hour earlier than usual. This way I can feel relaxed and avoid feeling rushed during my routine. After all, the point is to relieve my skin of stress induced inflammation (not add to it).

First Step: Light a candle

There are so many great candles these days, why wouldn’t you want to light one up before you get started on your morning routine? Certain scents help me feel an overall sense of relaxation and ease – so before I dive into my routine, I light up one of my favorite candles, like this one.

The warmth of the candlelight, even when dwarfed by the artificial light on my vanity mirror, feels sexy. It helps turn my routine into a ritual – for my skin, and my soul.

Second Step: Drink a Glass of Water

I always make sure to drink a glass of water right when I wake up. This helps me to rehydrate and gives my metabolism a slight boost before I have my morning cup of coffee. I use my electric kettle to warm it to 70 degrees (not too hot, not too cold….a.k.a my personal Goldilocks temp) and then pour it into my favorite mug. Now I have something warm to sip on while I do my routine in the chilly bathroom. Some days I will add a squeeze of lemon for some citrusy tang– and which may also help protect cells from oxidative stress[1].

health benefits of lemon water anti-inflammation

Third Step: Give Yourself A Mini Ice Facial

My favorite part, and in my humble opinion -the most underrated anti-inflammatory treatment currently existing- is giving myself a mini ice facial. A.k.a. cold therapy.

The use of ice, ice baths, and other forms of cold therapy, have been around forever. But the role of cold therapy in promoting longevity is only just starting to be understood.

Long term benefits and clinical studies aside, I’ve noticed that doing a quick ice-massage with my handy ice roller, (or an ice cube wrapped in a thin cotton cloth), can do wonders to reduce puffiness and redness. It also helps my skin feel more fresh, tightened, and awake.

Fourth Step: Apply A Soothing Toner

Since I have extremely dry and sensitive skin, (I grew up largely without sunscreen in the harsh Hawaiian Sun), I like to use a hydrating toner that’s formulated to comfort sensitive skin and elevate hydration levels in dry skin.

My favorite one to use is the Moisture Infusion Toner from Renee Rouleau.  This toner is like a serum and toner in one. I especially love that it’s made with natural botanicals and contains all sorts of nourishing stuff -like essential vitamins and omegas 3, 6 and 9.

I feel like this toner instantly calms any inflammation or redness my skin is experiencing when I wake up and leaves it feeling soothed and protected.  

Fifth Step: Apply An Anti-Inflammatory Eye Cream

My favorite eye cream for de-puffing the area under my eyes and increasing moisture is the Premier Grand Cru Eye Cream from Caudalie. It contains caffeine and peptides to fight inflammation and soothe puffiness.

I also love that this product contains Vine Resveratrol and Micro Hyaluronic Acid Complex to re-energize your skin. These ingredients are meant to prevent wrinkles while also creating a silky smooth surface for applying makeup or sunscreen.

Sixth Step: Apply A Serum That Contains Resveratrol

After applying eye cream, I go in with a anti-oxidant rich serum that contains resveratrol. Resveratrol is one of the best anti-inflammatory’s money can buy. That’s why I prefer it to a Vitamin C serum when my goal is to combat inflammation.

My favorite serum at the moment, (that contains resveratrol), is the Affirm serum from clean skincare line Cosmedix. Not only does it contain resveratrol, it’s also formulated with biopeptides, which help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Seventh Step: Apply Anti-Inflammatory Moisturizer

After applying a hydrating serum, I like to apply a small amount of creamy anti-aging moisturizer. One of the best cream formulations to combat inflammation is by none other than the queen of anti-inflammation, herself, Dr. Barbara Sturm.

Dr. Sturm’s philosophy on anti-aging relies heavily on avoiding inflammatory stress caused by inflammatory foods, environmental pollution, light pollution, and sun damage. So it’s no surprise that her ultra-rich face cream is the perfect anti-dote to dry and inflamed skin. The Face Cream contains Dr. Sturm’s hero ingredient, purslane – which stimulates the body and supports skin health and rejuvenation. The Cream also contains Skullcap, which supports the body’s natural skin renewal function.

Eighth and Final Step: NuFACE Micro-Current Facial

Once my skin is hydrated and moisturized, I complete the final step in my anti-inflammatory routine: a quick and easy micro-current facial. There are a few micro-current devices on the market, but I’ve had the best luck with the Trinity Device from NuFACE.

While not marketed as an anti-inflammatory, the micro-current energy helps to stimulate facial muscles, promoting energy flow and de-puffing the face. But besides the lifting and contouring effects, I actually enjoy the ritual of the micro-current massage. For me, it’s a soothing and relaxing way to end my morning anti-inflammatory routine.


[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12551749

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