There are two types of women: the cleansing bar, SPF and moisturizer kind and the 10-step beauty routine type. I tend to fall in the latter category, slathering on masks weekly, scouring the internet boards to find the latest, innovative products, and researching new ingredients to try.

I come from an Eastern European background, so the concept of natural beauty isn’t lost on me. My mom taught me the benefits of yogurt and honey masks from an early age. We’re also very keen on beauty foods and superfoods, despite having a tradition diet consisting mainly of meat, potatoes, and LOTS of bread. I’m from Ukraine, and we’re called the breadbasket of Europe for a reason.

Battle of Chemical-Grade v. Natural Beauty

While I’m enamored by natural beauty, I’m ashamed to say that I’m not almost solely surviving on chemical formulas when it comes to skincare. So, when I heard that beauty nutritionist and biochemist, Paula Simpson, released a book called “Good Bacteria for Healthy Skin,” my ears perked up. Paula’s aims to empower the beauty glow by taking care of your body’s natural bacteria biome.

She’s also a woman after my own heart. When asked about her MUST-HAVE item, she advises to “keep plain Greek yogurt in the kitchen. [It’s] a good source of protein and probiotic cultures that nurture the gut microflora, indirectly promoting skin health. It also works great for DIY masks to calm, nourish, and hydrate the skin.”

And while I still love my DIY yogurt masks, I had to ask whether women like me, those who tend to gravitate toward fancy chemical formulas, need a skincare reboot.

“With a society that weighs heavily on outer appearance and the plethora of beauty brands we’re exposed to,” says Paula, “I think our skincare regimens have become over-complicated with the number of products we apply to our skin.”

“The overuse of antibiotics, skincare products, soaps, and disinfectants, as well as certain fragrances and chemicals, can shift skin pH, destroy or change the activity of microbes that normally protect the skin from harmful pathogens or environmental stressors.”

That means that over time, your skin weakens and becomes imbalanced, leading to unhealthy and chronic skin conditions! Paula’s words hit home. Several years ago, I was in tears, running from the office mid-day with a face covered in red welts. I thought it might have been an allergic reaction. Turns out, all the products I was applying set off Perioral Dermatitis.

“Overall, it’s the accumulation and combination of ingredients and lifestyle factors that collectively break down the skin microbiome from what we apply and expose our skin to, along with what we consume through diet.”

That sounds about right in my case. I wasn’t eating particularly healthy, and I was testing way too many beauty products. And while I learned my lesson the hard way, many women (and men) out there are still overworking their skin and not paying attention to their natural skin’s balance.

The Natural Change

If you’re inspired to make the change, I asked Paula how long it takes to see results if you tackle your diet first.

“When you change your nutrition or diet for skin health, most people start to notice a difference after the first month (typically along with skin cell renewal cycles,) with continued improvement over time.” Of course, that varies based on age and other lifestyle factors. “Unlike topicals you apply to the skin, you’re nourishing the body from within, which will support overall health that includes the health and appearance of the skin.”

And if you feel like you’ve gone too far and you’re not sure whether your skincare is appropriate for you? Paula’s advice is, “allow your skin to rest and reset; try a skin detox for a week to show you how well your skin reacts to the multiple steps and products.”

Grab Paula’s new book here.