by Dana Meltzer Zepeda
Summer is, without a doubt, my favorite time of year. The sun is shining, my kids are out of school and strict schedules go out the window. But, the downside to all that free time is that I have a tendency to take “low-maintenance” to a whole new level.
There are often entire weeks where I forgo make-up and blowouts, simply because my days revolve around baking, swimming or doing art projects with a 5 and an 8-year-old who could care less if I'm wearing MAC Lip-gloss or cherry-flavored Chapstick.
That said, this summer wreaked absolute havoc on my skin. We traveled more than ever, road tripping from L.A. to San Francisco, flying across the country to visit family and friends, then surprising my kids with a whirlwind weekend at Legoland and SeaWorld San Diego.
I don't regret a single moment of our fun-filled adventures but, now that school is back in session, my skin is in desperate need of some TLC. My laissez-faire attitude ultimately resulted in a trifecta of oily skin, adult acne and blackheads, which I couldn't seem to banish by myself.
So, when I was recently approached to try Sonya Dakar's Summer Skin Rehab program, I could barely get the words, “Yes, please!” out fast enough.
A box filled with Sonya Dakar skincare products, supplements and protein powder arrived in the mail yesterday. I felt like a giddy kid on Christmas morning and could barely wait to get started...until I learned that I would have to swear off all flour, refined sugar and dairy during this 14-day program. So I was a bit apprehensive after I woke up today, anxious to start the program but nervous about what I would eat without depriving myself for the next two weeks.
As I stood barefoot in the kitchen contemplating breakfast, I decided the easiest option would be to trade my usual toast and eggs for a healthy green smoothie. After throwing a few handfuls of frozen pineapple, bananas, spinach and coconut water into a blender, I was surprised by how tasty and filling the bright green concoction was for breakfast. Maybe this wouldn't be so tough after all...
Next up, I swallowed my prescribed Omega Glow and Acidophilus Flora supplements before heading upstairs to take a shower. After toweling off, I lined up all of the little glass bottles that had arrived on the bathroom counter, so I wouldn't forget the order of my new skincare regimen. After cleansing with Sonya's Detox Face Wash, I scrubbed my clogged pores with The Activator and Omega Polish before finishing up with a few drops of Omega Booster oil and Detox Daily Moisturizer.
Much to my surprise, I saw immediate results. Although my skin still had a long way to go, it looked visibly brighter, tighter and dewier than usual. That instant gratification combined with a compliment from my husband was all it took. I was sold!
My skin is already looking and feeling better but, truth be told, this week has not been easy. I've been tempted to cheat on my Detox diet multiple times over the past few days, thanks to a slew of back-to-school events filled with sugary treats like cake pops, waffles and chocolate cupcakes, all of which I obediently turned down.
But I miss chocolate, cheese and bread a lot. Thankfully, my Sonya Dakar chocolate protein powder has saved me from my intense sugar cravings. I don't know how I ever survived without this product. It is, without a doubt, the best-tasting protein powder I have ever tried. And I've tried a lot of them. In fact, it's so good that my kids have been begging me to make them “chocolate milk” every day. And my husband has been requesting chocolate smoothies before he leaves for work. Little do they know that they're actually drinking a plant-based blend of pea and rice protein infused with biotin, folate, B12 and B6. Score one for mom!
My favorite recipe so far is a blend of Trader Joe's frozen cherries, almond milk, bananas and protein powder. The smoothie actually tastes like a chocolate-covered cherry, minus the extra sugar, fat and calories.
One big difference I've noticed this week is how much more energy I have than I did before. Despite the fact that I've been skipping my morning caffeine fix, I still have just as much energy – if not more – than I did before I started the Summer Rehab program.
I've also noticed that my skin is becoming less oily. I still have a few small bumps dotting my forehead, but the T-zone I struggled with all summer long has pretty much vanished. I'm shocked since I've been using Omega Booster oil and Detox moisturizer on my face twice a day, but the fact remains that these products really are working. My skin no longer feels greasy and it actually glows! Hopefully this trend will continue during the upcoming week.
All I can say is, “Wow!” I honestly didn't expect to see a significant change. Yet, here I am, 14 days later with smoother, softer, more supple skin. My breakouts have almost completely cleared up and my skin is glowing the way it did when I was pregnant with both of my kids. Thankfully, though, this time I don't have to suffer through months of morning sickness, an epidural or weird food cravings.
To say that I am shocked by my results would be an understatement. As I mentioned earlier, I am pretty low-maintenance, so the very idea of taking supplements, making smoothies and using not one, not two, but five products twice a day was a bit daunting at first. And don't even get me started on the diet portion of the program.
That said, these past few weeks have turned me into a believer. I'm not sure if it was the prescribed diet, the supplements or the skincare products. Whatever it was, this program really is working for me. All I have to do is look in the mirror for all of the evidence I need.
Not only have I noticed a difference in my skin tone, but my belly looks less bloated than it did before, even after I eat a big meal. My nails are also becoming noticeably stronger. They usually break easily, especially since I live in California where flip-flops are a regular part of my wardrobe. Unfortunately, my two kids are almost always stepping on my feet, causing near constant breakage. But, despite the fact that my son stepped on me (again!) in soccer cleats yesterday, I don't have so much as a dent in my toenail!
Final thoughts: I honestly loved the Summer Rehab Program. It made me look and feel better than I have in years. And, it made me eat way healthier to boot! Although it may be tough to sustain the diet portion long-term, this program is a great way to jump start your beauty routine for fall. Think of it as your own personal version of “spring cleaning,” but for your skin instead of your closet. And, if it worked for me – somebody who rarely spends more than five minutes looking in the mirror – I know it can work for anyone!
Dana Meltzer Zepeda is a freelance health and wellness editor living in Los Angeles. Her travel, fitness and motherhood writing has been published on PopSugar, Livestrong.com, Runner’s World, Mommy Poppins, etc.