Beautiful, radiant skin naturally: It's possible!
A few years ago, my face broke out like crazy. And not just some pimples here & there, I'm talking cystic acne...it's super painful. My skin was so irritated & red, and wherever I wasn't breaking out, there were bumps under the surface. My poor skin! I had never had major skin trouble in my teens other than some breakouts here & there, so I had absolutely NO clue what to do. What made it even more difficult was every doctor I went to wanted me to go back on birth control, take Accutane or use some chemical topical treatment, but I wanted to heal my skin naturally.
Even though I didn't know exactly what to do to heal my skin, I inherently knew that if my skin was breaking out so badly, there was an internal reason. Our skin is the largest organ of our body, (second largest is the liver) and if the surface of my skin was so aggravated, it had to mean my detoxifying organs were also aggravated. The skin is the last source of detoxification, which means if the liver & kidneys are overtaxed with toxins, the only other way out is through the skin.
I'm so happy to say that 2 years later, after various holistic healing methods, my skin is almost entirely healed from the scarring & the cystic acne is a thing of the past! My skin isn't totally breakout free YET, but I'm hoping that this post can help those of you who are struggling or know someone who is struggling with acne & breakouts.
Before I share with all of you what I did to heal my skin, I'm going to share photos of my face from a few years ago so you have a gauge of what my skin looked like before I jumped into natural healing methods.
Oh man, is this hard to put out there into the world! During the time when my skin looked like this, I tried EVERYTHING to hide my skin, even avoiding going out with friends or any situation where I would meet new people...I felt so ugly & so self conscious and I feared that people would judge me for how bad my skin looked. I felt like I was a fraud too, because here I was advocating eating healthy & overall well-being, yet I didn't look the part at all (or feel healthy because my skin looked so UNhealthy)
Here I am today:
No inflammation, no redness, no cysts, some breakouts here & there but NOTHING in comparison to a few years ago as pictured above. Yes, it took a lot of patience & determination to stick with doing things the natural way, but it's been worth it! So how did I do it? Here are my tips:
1. stop wearing loads of makeup: this was THE hardest part hands down. At the time when my skin broke out, I was working at a retail boutique & not only were there mirrors everywhere I turned, but there were also beautiful women coming in with amazing skin that I continuously compared myself to. I had this crazy internal dialogue that had to stop: "Why is her skin flawless & mine isn't? I eat so pure & healthy, I bet she doesn't, yet she is beautiful & confident. WHAT THE F#$! this is so unfair. I feel so ugly. I can't go...everyone will look better than I do." I had to do a lot of internal work to release my consistently harsh self-judgment & learn what it meant to truly love myself inside & out, despite how my skin looked. By not wearing makeup, I allowed my mind to heal, but I also gave my skin time to breathe & heal without soaking up whatever chemicals were in my makeup. Uninhibited exposure to the air & sun is extremely important for skin to heal from acne.
2. water with lemon in the AM: lemon water helps detox & cleanse the body. Making this the first thing you drink upon waking is SO beneficial for all of your detoxifying organs–the liver, kidneys & digestive system. My tip with this step is to prepare a huge glass (I use a 32 oz mason jar) the night before with the juice of half a lemon & set it next to your bed. I also throw the lemon half into the jar because I love how the flavor of the water intensifies as it sits overnight. I like to keep mine simple most of the time with just lemon but you can also add in fresh mint, strawberries, cucumber, orange slices...anything you want! By cleansing out your detox organs with lots of water in the morning, your skin (the largest detox organ of the body) will not have to push toxins out of your skin as a last resort.
3. pure aloe vera: you can use pure aloe vera gel bought at a natural health store or use the leaves of an aloe vera plant, which I prefer! Aloe soothes sunburns & if you think about it, when your skin is breaking out, whether in cysts or not, it's inflammed. Aloe vera is used topically & taken internally to cool the body; you can actually make your own aloe vera juice by scooping out the inner part of the leaves & blending with water, which is a great way to heal your skin from the inside. You can add it to smoothies or drink it plain! For topical use, I cut a leaf from my aloe plant and rub the gel from the inside of the leaf all over my face & neck.
4. sunshine! Most people these days are Vitamin D deficient. The sun is not only great for killing germs (yes, the big, beautiful sun is a natural anti-bacterial. Gotta love nature!) but it is also the best & purest source of vitamin D. Only 10 minutes of sun time a day will give you the vitamin D you need. Make sure you don't burn yourself please!! If you do, use pure aloe vera to cool the burn.
5. no chemical products: if you wouldn't eat it, do not put it on your skin. What we use on our skin–lotion, deodorant, face wash, makeup, soap, perfume/cologne, even detergent & fabric softener–goes directly into our bloodstream. Switching over to homemade deodorant, lotion & face wash gives me peace of mind knowing exactly what I'm putting on my skin & making everything myself is fun & makes me feel super accomplished! (I'll include my recipes below)
6. tea tree oil, apple cider vinegar toner & baking soda: When I do get a break out or notice a place where my skin is not so happy, I'll dab some tea tree essential oil on the spot or spots. It's an anti-bacterial & it really helps draw whatever gunk that's there out & begins the healing process too. If my skin is feeling clogged & icky, I'll use apple cider toner (equal parts ACV + water) because it balances the pH of the skin. To exfoliate my skin, I use a baking soda mask daily. All you do is take about 1 tsp of baking soda, add enough water to make a paste & massage onto your skin! Leave it on for 10-15 minutes. It may tingle a bit, but that's totally normal because that means it's killing germs. Baking soda is gentle enough to not scratch your delicate skin, much unlike the plastic beads in most store-bought facial scrubs, but still exfoliates so it'll leave your face super smooth like a baby's butt :)
7. skin brushing: I know it may sound strange, but skin brushing is SO amazing for your skin, your lymphatic system & your energy! You don't even need to buy a brush if you don't want to, but if you do, make sure it's all natural & not synthetic as it's rough on the skin. Instead of a brush you can use a basic hand towel. The idea is to start "brushing" the skin in an upward motion towards your heart, starting from your feet & working all the way up to your face. It's best to do this in the morning but I've done it before bed too & it's actually very calming!
8. acupuncture: I've been doing acupuncture for the past few months & going every week. I didn't start going for the purpose of healing my skin, but since acupuncture helps the entire body, my skin has improved as a side effect! My acupuncturist is absolutely stellar so after I told her about my frustration with my skin, she has made it a point to use hormonal points during my treatments the past handful of times. I wholeheartedly recommend acupuncture to anyone with skin problems!
9. epsom salt baths: When I got some blood work done recently, I discovered that I was very magnesium deficient. Low levels of magnesium can cause a bunch of different issues, one of which is acne! WHO KNEW! Magnesium is extremely hard to supplement as it doesn't pass through the digestive system, but it is the first mineral to leave the body when we sweat. The best way to absorb magnesium is through the skin so it totally bypasses the digestive system & directly goes into the blood–epsom salt baths to the rescue! Just make sure the epsom salts don't have any added fragrance or colorings :)
10. green smoothies & lots of fresh produce: I couldn't write a blog post about skin health without talking about food! What we eat becomes us so if we want to have beautiful, radiant skin, we must eat beautiful & pure foods. The best foods for healthy skin are greens: kale, spinach, arugula, dandelion greens, spirulina, chlorella, celery...and of course fresh, organic produce. Greens detoxify the blood & support the liver & kidneys, so make those green smoothies & salads, stock up on fresh produce from the farmers market & eat as close to nature as you can to support a healthy body inside & out!