I know I have alluded to this post a billion and one times (slight exaggeration) but it was a hard one to write and took me awhile to put my words together. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to share all of these details at first but I am glad I am.
When I say I was not comfortable in my own skin, I literally was not comfortable in my own skin. Comfortable is too light of a term. The look of my skin and complexion has profound effects on my self esteem and confidence.
You guys might think I’m crazy because you’ve obviously seen pictures of me and I doubt you would think I have “problem” skin. Well I’m pretty good at covering it up and it’s not what it used to be.
Like most awkward 13 year olds with braces, I had acne. I knew this was “normal” but like most people: I hated it. It sucked. I hated breaking out before my period. I hated waking up to a newfound pimple in the middle of my forehead. I hated my greasy nose. To make matters worse I popped and picked. Yes I knew not to but I did.
I had acne on my face, back and chest. It affected me a lot. I never wore tank tops. I was attached to my concealer and cover-up. I sometimes didn’t go to school when I was in the midst of a breakout. It made me feel that bad. By the time I got into high school I started trying every method under the sun.
First, I lived in the drug store. I tried every face wash, toner, moisturizer, mud mask, spot treatment, nose strip, acne this, oil free that. You name the product and I bet I have tried it. I got facials, spa treatments… everything and nothing worked or gave me the results I wanted.
Next, I went the Proactiv route. Yeah the infomercials sucked me in. And that was a failure as well. Then I started seeing a billion dermatologists. They gave me bunch of topical spot treatments and offered advice: use towels to wipe sweat during basketball, change my pillowcase, whatever. That didn’t work. So I went on a birth control pill (Diane 35) in the hopes of clearing up my skin a bit. That started helping but I wanted quicker results so started Accutane (a powerful acne pill). I only completed half of a cycle because it dehydrated my body so badly that I experienced severe muscle cramping while playing sports resulting in many injuries so I stopped without running its full course. Not fun.
By the end of high school, my “bacne” (aka back acne) had cleared but I still was affected on my chest and face. Great. Now it was time for college. I was still on birth control and continued trying lots of different products. I took to using an Aveda line and Cetaphil cleanser daily. I got facials every once and awhile but my skin still wasn’t ideal.
Then I discovered the power of tanning beds. The terrible yet skin-changing power. I tanned often. Too often. But it worked. My skin looked so much better and I felt so much better about myself. But I also realized that this was a temporary fix and recognized the harmful effects of tanning beds.
This was around the same time that I began to “clean up” my diet and start trying to live healthier. My skin began to follow suit. Even though I was still eating junk in the forms of 100-calorie-packs, I have to think the extra fruits and leafy greens did my body good.
By my final two years of college, I was happy with my skin.
I thought I was in the clear (LOL) until I switched birth control pills this past summer. I got freaked out by a few studies surrounding some issues with my current pill (Diane 35) and switched to Allese. My skin hated that. It freaked out. And broke out: mostly on my jaw line, neck and chest – which many to believe to be hormonal breakouts. Hm, makes sense. The birth control pill “works” by injecting two hormones (estrogen and progestin) into your body, which stops the release of eggs and makes the lining of the uterus thinner [Source] Translation: messing with your hormones. I believe that changing pills and changing dosage contributed to these breakouts and causing my hormones to be all out of whack.
So I went back to the drawing board. In the fall, I worked with a naturopath and was tweaking a few things in my diet based on food sensitivity testing I had done. I was more strict about not eating dairy and gluten because it does not react well in my body and I believe that our outside (in this case my skin) can often be a reflection of our inside (in this case my digestion). I also started trying some mineral salts, weird drops and drinking nasty minerals.
My skin did not get better and I was frustrated. Don’t get me wrong: I am all for natural healing but whatever I was doing was not working. I decided I needed to start fresh and cleanse my system so after nearly 10 years on the pill (10 years!!!) I stopped taking it in October 2013. 10 years of putting hormones and other junk into my body was enough. I kept things as simple as possible: I washed my face twice a day with Cetaphil, got a facial every now and again and ate a mainly plant-based diet. Well I continued to breakout. If anything, it got worse – especially around my jaw line, mouth and neck. Coming off the pill messed with my hormones even more.
I went back to the naturopath in January 2014 and started trying other stuff. It didn’t help. My skin wasn’t getting any better. I then went to a dermatologist, checked all my hormones (they were fine) and all she could suggest was to put me back on the pill. Of course. Well I wasn’t having that so I committed to fixing this on my own. I decided to make my own changes and do it my way.
I started CrossFit-ing more regularly, which helped to change my idea of nutrition. I have focussed on nourishing my body better and adopted a more paleo-esque style of eating. (No, I will still not label my diet). I started eating meat again. And egg yolks. I ditched all my lotions and potions and splashed my face with warm water and moisturized with coconut oil – yes coconut oil! It terrified me at first. Oil = acne right? Just like calories = weight gain right? (Haha! I was testing you). I began to stalk Liz Wolfe and read all about natural skincare. I was fascinated by it all and have been determined to “fix” my skin.
Since, starting to focus on nourishing my body better, eating more real food and fully committing to the Whole 30, my skin has been amazing. I truly believe real food is the best kind of medicine out there. Sure we may need to supplement it but I want to do so naturally without any more chemical-filled lotions and potions. If I’m not putting it in my body, I don’t want to put it on my body. Sorry I’m going all hippie dippy on you…
Now, I splash warm water on my face in the morning and moisturize with this oil. I wash my face in the evening with a mixture of apple cider vinegar (about 2 tbsp.) and warm water using a washcloth followed by more oil. I eat real food and 90% grain, dairy, refined sugar, alcohol, beans/legume free (the 10% will be for peanut butter, beans and oatmeal post-Whole 30). I wear much less make-up and my skin has never felt or looked better. The best feeling is when someone compliments me that my skin looks incredible. That has never happened before.
Sure I get the occasional pimple or blemish (like after vodka) but I truly can sit here and say that I feel happy and confident in my own skin. Literally.
Just like kicking Franken-food to the curb, I am slowly but surely trying to rid my whole bathroom of “conventional products” filled with chemicals and trying my hand at the DIY and more “natural” way. Baking soda for shampoo, Moroccan/coconut oil for conditioner. So far it is saving me tons of money, my hair is greasy and my parents think I am crazy – but I will keep you posted. I didn’t realize how much crap is in all the stuff I was using. Make-up remover, creams, hair spray, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, face wipes, make-up… I am still using some of this stuff and learning more about it all. I haven’t found an option for deodorant yet (I don’t want to smell) and I doubt I will ever ditch my mascara, but I am loving life. And I am loving my skin.
Questions of the day…
Do you have any problems with your skin?
What does your skincare routine look like?
What are your thoughts on all the chemicals in beauty products, etc?
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