How I’m Healing My Skin
This post contains affiliate links. Learn what that means here.
I haven’t talked much about my skin here on the blog. Mostly because there are still so many other things to focus on (gut issues, hashimoto’s, heavy metals, chicken poppers, you know…) but also because I still don’t have it figured out. Part of me wanted to hold back because I didn’t have all of the answers, but here’s the thing… I’ll never have all of the answers. I’ve struggled with my skin I was 10 years old, and though I don’t have it all figured out, I wanted to use my platform to share encouragement, and what’s working for me.
Skin problems are really hard. It’s so hard to get to the bottom of, and pretty impossible to completely ignore. Our skin is one of the last things to heal in our body, so it takes tons of time to effectively heal it. I am titling this blog post “How I’m Healing” rather than “How I Healed”, because I’m still not there. However, I have made a fair amount of change as of late I wanted to share.
This before and during photo still isn’t easy to share… there’s risk in vulnerability. My skin is still far from perfect. But my health is a journey that is far from over. So here it goes… my before and during on healing my skin…
On the left, you’ll see a particularly bad flare from summer 2017. I was stressed, I was eating too much sugar, and I was trying tons of skincare that was only making my skin worse. It didn’t look like this every day… but it did look like this many times throughout my life. On the right, you’ll see my skin now, in March 2018.
Still not perfect, still healing, but so much improvement! My face is less inflamed, my breakouts have calmed down, and the redness has gone down as well. Oh, and I started getting my eye brows done professionally again rather than kidding myself that I knew how to do them 😉
Before I get into what I did to see these results, let’s start with the basics of acne and my own history…
What Can Contribute to Acne?
Food intolerances and gut issues
You had to know that I was bring it back to the gut, right? Our body is made up of what we eat, and if we have an unhealthy diet and an unhealthy gut, that is directly reflected in our skin.
Common foods that can contribute to acne and skin issues more than others are dairy, gluten, poor quality fats, and sugar… just to name a few.
Hormonal shifts are one of the most common causes of adult acne. It can cause the pores to get larger, excess oil production, clogged skin, and overall inflammation.
Hormonal imbalance that can contribute to skin issues includes (but isn’t limited to)…
- Hashimoto’s and other thyroid issues
- Estrogen dominance
- General imbalanced hormones
Stress is related to all of the above and more. Stress of all kinds (emotional, mental, physical) throws off everything in the body and can easily cause excess acne.
Improper Skin Care
How we care for our skin is so important! Not washing off your makeup, or neglecting strategies to clean up clogged pores and control excess oil can really be counterproductive.
My acne and skin issues started at about 10-11 years old. That’s almost 17 years that I’ve struggled. I hit puberty fairly early, and my skin flared immediately. I always had acne on my forehead, and it slowly started to migrate down to my cheeks, nose, and eventually my chin.
I tried everything from Proactive, to prescription acne pills, to prescription creams, to just doing nothing at all. No matter what I did, it would still come back. Even now as an adult who eats a good diet, I still struggle from time to time.
It’s isolating, it’s physically painful, and it can really kill your confidence. Clearly, there is so much more to confidence and self-worth than your physical appearance. However, inflammation on the outside is a reflection that something isn’t right on the inside… and more than anything, that bothered me so much.
What I’m Doing
Continuing with a Diet
If you read my blog regularly and follow me on social media, you’ll know that I eat a mostly Paleo and AIP template to keep myself feeling great with Hashimoto’s. Diet is the first step and so necessary for a health body inside and out.
Here are a few of the most important foods that I focus on…
- Leafy green vegetables
- Pastured proteins
- Wild caught fish
- Healthy fats
- Bone broth
- Fruits and starchy vegetables in moderation
Limiting Excess Sugar
This is a new development that I was denying for the longest time, but knew was necessary. I was correlating excess sugar with more acne… there was no question about it. I went though a Whole30 in February/ March and noticed a huge difference in my hormonal breakouts. It was one of my first cycles in years that I hadn’t broken out!
When I say excess sugar, I mean things like refined sugar, maple syrup, honey, and excess fruit and starchy carbs. I still eat sweet potato here and there, and enjoy fruit in moderation. Everyone is different here and it takes a lot of work to find your sugar threshold, but I’m still learning!
Working on hormone balance
This is an area that I’m still working on with my doctor. I have dealt with estrogen dominance and low progesterone and am slowly working to bring it back into balance. I haven’t retested my levels recently, but I’ve felt improvements for sure. You can read about what I’ve done here.
Cutting down on stress
This is probably my weakest point. Guys… I’m a workaholic. I loveeeeeee what I do, but I can do too much sometimes. I have to force myself to shut off and step away from work or I will truly work 7 days a week, until 10 PM. I grew up in a family where this was the norm, and I fully admit that I am harming myself when I do this. However, it is so crucial to having a healthy mind and body.
Here’s what I’ve been doing to cut down on stress more…
- I take more walks.
- I have cuddle sessions with my cat (seriously, pets relax me a ton)
- I hired a contractor to help with some Unbound Wellness work! Well, a podcast editor, but it saves me so much stress!! Our editor rocks.
- I pray outloud. Conversations with God help so much.
Cleaning up my skin care
I’ll admit it… I’ve never been great about skincare. The problem is that so many products only made me worse! My skin was better off sometimes without cleansers and oil control solutions from the drug store that just made me break out more.
It hasn’t been until fairly recently when I decided to get serious about finding products that are safer, and don’t make my skin worse! Here are my current favorites…
Cleansing oil from primally pure. I use this every morning and it really starts my day off on the right foot! It controls the amount of oil on my face and leaves it feeling soft and clean. At night I use the Beautycounter cleansing balm that also helps remove makeup, but I love both of these so much!
BeautyCounter Charcoal Mask. I’ve been using this mask for years, and it really helps! I’ve gotten more serious about using it 1-2x a week, and I’m seeing the difference. Charcoal helps remove impurities and this mask is also great for spot treatment. I use this as an overnight treatment.
BeautyCounter Balancing Facial Oil. This stuff is a game-changer. It’s not cheap, but it’s worth it. It’s amazing for oily skin and moisturizes without adding excess oil. It’s made for those struggling with balancing their skin, and it does such an amazing job. I love how my skin looks when I use this!! I apply 3-4 drops in the morning and night after applying the toner.
Clay masks. I use the charcoal mask more often than this, but this is also a great option to clean out clogged pores!
Collagen peptides. I’ve been using this for a while, but I do really feel like it helps my skin! I take it a few times a week… not daily, but everyone is different.
Healing my skin is a journey that I’m still on. Like I said, the skin is the last thing to heal and it can be extremely volatile. Regardless, I’m so happy with my recent results, and I look forward to sharing more tips!