My Skin Story – Part 3
In the last two posts, I shared my journey of having severely cystic acne, to clear skin. Today I’m sharing what I know helped heal my skin:
- Cleaning up my diet and avoiding any food I’m sensitive to. Food sensitivities can be caused by an imbalance in gut bacteria, so you don’t need to cut them out forever, but if they are causing inflammation in your gut, your body can respond with acne. Cutting out these triggers while I healed my gut was crucial to clearing my skin. Research suggests there may be a correlation between acne and dairy, so it’s not a bad idea to go dairy-free for about 30 days to see if it helps calm down acne. Gluten can also cause an inflammatory response in the body so cutting out gluten can also calm down acne. In the past, I had cut out both at separate times, but removing gluten and dairy both made a big difference in my skin. And although eliminating foods helped, it wasn’t just about cutting out food, it was also about replacing those foods with nutrient-dense alternatives. Nowadays it’s easy to go gluten-free and rely on completely processed foods, but the focus should be replacing the carbs you get from gluten with whole food sources like sweet potatoes, squash, quinoa, rice, etc. If going dairy-free, watch out for soy, hydrogenated, and vegetable-oil containing substitutes as well as some of the fillers and gums added to diary-free cheeses. I didn’t do a lot of substitutions for dairy, instead, I learned to cook without it.
- Stress is another huge trigger for acne. Chronic stress causes our cortisol to spike. A spike in cortisol can cause an inflammatory response in the body and as we discussed earlier, acne can be a result of inflammation. Stress also affects our sleep, hormones, appetite, and more. Incorporating destressers like spending time in nature, journaling, face masks, good books, going to therapy, and spending time with loved ones all helped me manage stress better. I also focused on gentle movement instead of high-intensity exercise which also adds to stress. I used to force myself to run because I thought it was better for my health, but now I love my daily walks. Not only are they a great way to get in exercise, but they also help lower cortisol. I also do a lot more strength training including weight lifting and pilates. And I listen to my body, if I feel exhausted I let myself rest, and instead of something intense, I take a walk and focus on mobility with some stretches and gentle movement.
- As far as specific skincare and what products I used, the most important thing that changed was my mindset around acne, and how that played a role in my approach. As I grew up, I saw ads all the time from companies on how to treat and clear acne. It was marketed as something to fight with harsh products. I started researching skincare more and began to hear a different narrative about skin, a focus from treating to healing and calming the skin. I cut out harsh acne products and simplified my skincare routine. I researched every product I bought to make sure it was non-cosmogenic (won’t clog pores) and non-toxic. I started by using facewash, toner, and moisturizer (or a face oil). I then added in a couple of active ingredients, a couple of times a week. Instead of harsh physical exfoliants, I switched to gentle chemical exfoliants. I found what ingredients can help heal acne, and used them in the combination of skin calming ingredients. Leave me a comment below if you want me to write a post about what specific ingredients and products I love. You can also get my guide on my top clean beauty product recommendations here.
In summary, moving in a way that made me feel good, increasing my nutrient intake, and changing my mindset around skincare is what made the biggest difference for me in finally clearing my skin.