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Is Hot Water With Lemon The Key To Glowing Skin?

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Photographed by Erin Yamagata.
One of my favourite things to do is to read about other women's morning routines — from skin care to makeup to breakfast. There's something voyeuristic about it, and I'm a firm believer that you can tell a lot about a person by the things they do before 9 a.m. One thing I've seen repeated over and over again is that a lot of ladies sip hot water with lemon first thing in the morning. Emily Weiss does it. Miranda Kerr does it. And while experts are still divided as to the effectiveness of this cocktail, it's supposed to promote digestion, give you gorgeous skin, help you lose weight, and generally jump-start your body's processes. Basically, people claim this stuff is magic, which is why I was more than a little skeptical. I mean, celebrities will do some pretty crazy shit in the name of beauty.

But after months of doing some hard-core things for my skin (from giving up dairy to drinking a gallon of water a day), it was time for me to try something a little less intense. And the idea of waking up in the morning, squeezing half a lemon into some hot water, and sipping it while I did my skin care routine just felt extremely classy — especially since it runs completely counter to my typical morning, which includes slurping two cups of coffee.

Perhaps this one simple act would help me not only achieve glowing skin but also get me one step closer to being, as my best friend Justin says, "the woman I was meant to be." And that woman wakes up early, stretches, and drinks hot water with lemon, dammit.

So the night before my experiment, I went to Whole Foods and bought an entire bushel of lemons. But the next morning didn't go off without a hitch. Here's how my mornings tend to go: I wake up, get dressed, and usually go straight to the gym without eating first. (After I once almost puked after a particularly rough HIIT session, I don't like eating before I work out. Lesson learned.) But by the time I get home, I'm so famished, I immediately stuff my face with whatever is fastest to put together — either a smoothie or some kind of egg scramble. Because who can be bothered after an hour-long workout?

I eventually decided that I'd have to wake up about 15 minutes earlier in order to have my hot water before I went to the gym. This was pretty brutal at first — seeing as I already wake up at 6 a.m. every morning. (I know — I'm a masochistic monster.) But I actually came to enjoy my early-morning ritual. I'd wake up, put the hot water on, and put on my workout clothes. As I sipped my water, I'd tidy up my apartment and listen to a podcast. I was actually shocked — usually my mornings were a battle between my brain telling me to work out and my body refusing to get out of bed. This all actually saved me so much time, because when I'd come home from the gym, my bed was already made and my apartment was straightened; all I had to do was get myself and my lunch ready for the day. (A hard enough task on its own.)

But what about my skin? That's pretty hard to say. After a couple of weeks, I did start to notice some more radiance, but that could be related to just about anything. The hot water helped me set a routine and was a nice little addition to my regular skin care regimen. And I did notice that I'd make healthier food choices when I sipped my water in the morning. Instead of getting a burrito, I'd grab a salad — or better yet, make my own lunch. Who was I turning into?!

Getting through that mug was an easy milestone for me to hit to start my day off, which made me feel accomplished. And, like those daily orgasms, it was a moment to do something completely for myself — and honestly, I think that's the most important thing. Instead of starting my day off by immediately jumping on the bike or the treadmill, I took 15 minutes to myself to just be calm and sip. That put me in a really great state of mind, which set the tone for the rest of my day. Even my coworkers said they thought I seemed a bit more zen. And I'm a believer that that is the key to radiant skin.

Life is tough sometimes, and we don't really take a lot of time for ourselves. And while lying in bed and flipping through your phone may seem like a relaxing task, for me it was like starting work a few hours early. Squeezing some lemon into a mug of water is a way for you to say, "Okay, world. I'll get to you in a second. But for right now, I'm going to do something for myself." How revolutionary is that?

So, sure, Miranda Kerr's Disney princess skin is likely the result of expensive face oils, top-notch dermatologists, and regular yoga retreats in the hills of Malibu. But I'm not going to discount hot water with lemon. If it's something that allows you to slow down for a second in the morning and do something for yourself, it can't be that bad. And as this stressed-out New Yorker can tell you, I need all the help I can get in the morning — and that's why I'll keep on sippin'.
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