Hormonal Acne: Health From Within (Part 3)

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Recently, I’ve been sharing my story, regarding hormonal acne. I’ve broken it down, into parts, because healing acne doesn’t just come from one area - it’s a process, that takes healing (and time), in multiple areas. Today, I’m discussing healing acne from within - the primary and secondary foods we feed ourselves, and why each is essential.

** Please note: I am not a medical professional, and am not recommending, or promoting any specific lifestyle, or diet. These opinions are my own. I follow the idea of bio-individuality, which means that everybody and every BODY is different. What works for me, might not work for you.


Healing from within is critical in managing your acne; it deals with the food we feed our bodies, as well as the thoughts we feed them. They both are essential.

Primary Foods

In a previous post, I discussed the importance of self-care, and focusing on Primary Foods. The Institute for Integrative Nutrition describes nutrition as a secondary source of energy (secondary food). Primary foods, nonfood sources of nourishment, are what really fuels us. These nurture us on a deeper level. The more we fuel ourselves with these primary foods, the less we begin to depend on secondary food. At the same time, the more we fill ourselves with secondary food, the less space we give ourselves for primary food. These primary foods include: Career, Relationships, Physical Activity and Spirituality.

Now, I’m sure you’re thinking, “How does something like my career affect my acne?” But the matter of the fact is that it does; each aspect of your mental health is JUST as essential in keeping your hormones balanced. Stress causes raised levels of cortisol, which can cause excess oil production, which then results in acne.

Last late-summer (when my acne flared up again), I was applying for a promotion at my job, and was really stressed about it. I was in countless, online interviews that (looking back on them now) were blown WAY out of proportion. It was during this time, my face started to flare up. I stressed myself out, and didn’t have an elimination plan for all of that cortisol.


My Q-Life “Essentials” - helping us find balance.

My Q-Life “Essentials” - helping us find balance.

Speaking of cortisol, circulation (and the flushing of it) is essential to glowing, gorgeous skin. This means that moving your body, as well as getting it on, is just as important for your face, as they are for your body.

The best way to give yourself a stress hormone detox is by having a burst of sweaty exercise, or even a really good orgasm!

** Check out My Q-Life’s “Essentials”, which, when met, can cause true balance, in the body.

Pathways of Elimination

Our skin is our biggest organ of elimination, working with the liver, lymphatic system, and large intestine. These organs all act as one unit. What you put into your body – the food you eat, the products you use on your skin and hair, the cleaning substances you handle – must be eliminated properly, if not, then these chemicals that mimic estrogen will stay in your body circulating around. If all of your elimination organs are not working optimally, then your skin will suffer. The leftover, circulating toxins will show up on your face as acne. A buildup of toxins will cause hormonal imbalance. The excess hormones (estrogen and testosterone) will also be prevented from leaving the body properly and cause you to have all the hormonal symptoms – from acne to PMS (Foods to Avoid If You Get Hormonal Acne).

So, how do we rid our bodies of these toxins, so they don’t have an effect on our skin (or other areas)? We focus on each organ of elimination.

Liver: Consume foods that naturally help the liver detoxify. These include: good-quality protein (amino acids supplementation if you’re vegan), glutathione (broccoli, spinach, apples), selenium (poultry, oats, brazil nuts) and cilantro!

Large Intestine: Consume plenty of fiber, which works to clear out your large intestine. Barley, nuts, lentils, beans, apples, etc. are great options!

Lymphatic System: Find ways, each day, to gently-massage your lymph, so the fluid can be pushed through your lymph nodes. Use a rebounder (small trampoline), wear underwear with a cotton liner, minimize use of shapewear, etc.)

Skin: Take trips to steam rooms, or saunas, or think about a hot yoga sesh. When taking a shower, alternate between warm and very cold water, to expand and contract skin cells. Exfoliate a few times a week.


Liver Health

I purchased the book, “Liver Rescue” by Anthony William (Medical Medium). His take on acne is that it is caused by strep, which has been fueled by antibiotic-use, which has a severe effect on the liver. The more weakened our immune systems get, the harder it is to drain our lymphatic system, so it turns to the skin. Thus, healing our livers is essential in healing our acne; (I’ll get to this later).


Foods To Avoid

Remember when I discuss “bio-individuality” at the beginning of this post? This section has a lot to do with that. While each food affects each person differently, there definitely are certain foods that aren’t great for hormonal acne:

Dairy: Dairy products are notorious for creating sluggish lymphatic systems, as well as including synthetic hormones. It’s a huge inflammatory agent, creating leaky gut.

Caffeine: Coffee, black and green teas can strip us of our B Vitamins, Magnesium, and Zinc (just like hormonal birth control), which disrupts our skin’s immune response.

Peanuts: Many people are allergic to peanuts, and this can have effects on the skin, as well.

Soy: the phytoestrogens in soy can create estrogen overload in the body.

Canola, Safflower, Sunflower, Vegetable Oils: these cooking oils have more omega-6 than omega-3 and produces inflammation.

Gluten: Gluten (similar to dairy) can create inflammation in the body, causing leaky gut.

Am I telling you to eliminate all of these foods from your diet? Not exactly. However, if you suffer from hormonal acne, and DO consume these on a frequent basis, I’d absolutely consider taking them out of your diet, for a while. It’s amazing the havoc certain foods can have on our bodies.

Elimination Diet

And speaking of elimination, sometimes the only way in figuring out which certain foods affect us, negatively, is to go without them, for a period of time, and then gradually incorporate them back in (one at a time). It only lasts 5–6 weeks and may alleviate symptoms like bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation and nausea.

Once you have successfully identified a food your body can't tolerate well, you can remove it from your diet to prevent any uncomfortable symptoms in the future.


Supplements

Supplements are a tricky topic, for a few different reasons: 1. There literally are thousands of them and 2. They all work differently, for everyone. Do I believe supplements help acne? Yes. Do I believe we should focus on getting them from our food, primarily? Absolutely!

Magnesium. Magnesium is an important nutrient for fighting inflammation (acne is inflammatory). Calcium is part of the body’s tissue matrix—comprising bones, cells, and skin—and is important for skin cell renewal. Taking magnesium with calcium combined in supplement form can reduce inflammation and acne.

Omega-3s. Getting enough omega-3 fatty acids from fish or flax oil can improve skin significantly. . With fish oil, many women see clearer, softer, smoother skin (as well as stronger hair and nails)in just a few days.

Zinc. Zinc deficiency is a common issue for many women. When we’re deficient in zinc, our pores become easily irritated by bacteria and show redness. Research has shown that zinc supplementation can be  very effective in easing acne even when compared to commonly prescribed antibiotics.

Probiotics. We need probiotics for a healthy gut. A common symptom of a damaged and depleted microbiome is acne and other skin issues like rosacea. It’s particularly important with hormonal acne as your microbiome assists your body in processing and eliminating excess estrogen. If you’ve been on the pill or antibiotics for any length of time, probiotics could be key to getting your skin back on track.

B Vitamins. Your skin needs B-vitamins to regenerate and renew as they provide the energy all of your cells need for fuel. Taking a good B-complex every day that includes a high level of B6 will target hormonal or premenstrual acne. B6 prevents skin inflammation and overproduction of sebum (the oil your skin produces that can create acne issues). (Banish Hormonal Acne…)


My Experience

Good, non-processed food.

Good, non-processed food.

Now, again, please keep the idea of “bio-individuality” in mind here; I’m just sharing MY experiences, as a reminder of how important trial and error is.

TRUTH: Eating wholesome, non-processed foods is one of the best things you can do for your body (and your skin). And by “non-processed”, I mean NON-PROCESSED. Apples, spinach, blueberries, celery, coconut, squash, sweet potatoes, etc. The best way you can heal your body is by feeding it fruits and veggies.

I have been “gluten and dairy free” for years, and that did make me feel fantastic, however, I was eating a large amount of processed “gluten and dairy free” foods. These were continuing to cause inflammation in my body.

I recently realized that my favorite dairy-free, oat milk (Oatly), contained canola oil, called “Rapeseed Oil” on the carton. Before making this realization, I was consuming Oatly on a daily basis, and contributing to the continuous inflammation in my body. See? Just because something is “healthy”, “dairy-free”, “vegan”, “whatever”, doesn’t mean it’s HEALTHY, or NATURAL!

The same goes for meats. I don’t go by any labels, when it comes to meat. Sometimes I eat it, sometimes I don’t. What I HAVE tried to make a very conscious effort about, recently, is consuming ORGANIC, HIGH-QUALITY MEAT. Again, the helps with the amount of inflammation in the body, and I’ve noticed a difference in my skin.

Now, let’s talk about healthy foods that don’t always react well in your body: For me, they’re bananas. Bananas are wonderful for your liver; they help soothe the intestinal tract, are anti-yeast, antibacterial and anti-fungal. Bananas are wonderful, yet for me, they can contribute to my acne. This is only a conclusion I have come to from my own trial and error. Do I still eat them? On occasion, but I remain cautious now, knowing what I know.

TRUTH: The more supplements you take, won’t necessarily help your acne go away. For months, I spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars on supplements, and couldn’t figure out which ones were helping, and which ones weren’t doing a bit of good. Trust me. Supplement, primarily, from healthy foods, and focus on the “essentials”, when it comes to supplements - the ones shared earlier, in this post.

TRUTH: Stress is everywhere, and can wreak havoc on your body! For me, it’s all about not letting it get to me. Remembering to breathe, practice gratitude and not take anything too seriously has helped, significantly.

TRUTH: Celery juice has made my skin clearer, but by no means am I suggesting everyone drop everything they’re doing, and buy their grocery store out of organic celery. Celery juice is supposed to heal the liver, due to the celery’s sodium cluster, breaking down pathogens’ cell membranes, and eventually destroying them. Whether you decide to start your morning with celery juice, or not, I would recommend a solid hydration morning routine. Warm lemon water, water, in general. Hydration, first thing in the morning, is a great way to kickstart your liver!


Acne is frustrating, and there are so many different recommendations out there. Before you try one, or get frustrated when something isn’t working, take a look at your Primary and Secondary Foods, and reach out. Remember, you’re never alone!

xoxo,

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Hormonal Acne: Products & Services (Part 2)

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Last week, I began my story on hormonal acne; sharing the years (and experiences) I’ve struggled with, since having acne. Today, I’m talking all things products & services: what I’ve tried, how it’s worked and what my opinion is, when it comes to skincare and acne.

** Please note: I am not a medical professional, and am not recommending, or promoting any specific lifestyle, product, or diet. These opinions are my own. I follow the idea of bio-individuality, which means that everybody and every BODY is different. What works for me, might not work for you.

Products

Ingredients

Products For Acne

As previously-mentioned in Part One, for years, I would use skincare marketed to consumers with “acne-prone skin”. In my early-years, I didn’t pay much attention to ingredients. I believed that the only reason my acne was there was due to an overproduction of oil (which yes, that’s why acne forms), but wasn’t concerned about WHY the overproduction of oil was happening.

Most products marketed for acne contain ingredients that dry the skin out and “control oil”. But drying the skin won’t help the underlying issue; it’ll literally just dry your skin out. It’s meant to kill the acne, on the surface, which can then cause other dry-skin symptoms. Dry skin can be even more susceptible to bacteria, and cause early-aging. Aside from drying out the skin, the ingredients used to dry the skin out were ones that weren’t good for my skin, or body, either.


What’s in your products

Harmful Ingredients

Back in the day, I paid no attention to the ingredient list, on my products (and honestly, I paid no attention to the ingredient list on anything). I believed that if something was marketed to aid in a particular aspect, it must. And I also believed that if a product was sold somewhere, it must be safe. Forewarning: it’s not!

Do you know what’s in the products you use? Remember, just because the product “goes on the surface”, your skin absorbs everything.

  • Formaldehyde is a great preservative, which is important for products sitting on shelves; without some type of preservative, the product will only last a few weeks, or months. Formaldehyde is also a known carcinogen – a substance that exacerbates cancer growth.These ingredients either contain, or release formaldehyde: DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, quaternium 15, bronopol, 5-bromo-5-nitro-1,3 dioxane, and hydroxymethylglycinate.

  • Parabens are endocrine (hormone) disruptors, that have been linked to numerous cancers, and reproductive troubles. It increases estrogen in the body, by mimicking estrogen, by binding to estrogen receptor cells. These ingredients can be found as: Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Ethylparaben, Butylparaben, and Isobutylparaben.

  • Paraffin is derived from petroleum (the gas you put in your car, or kerosene, or diesel fuel).

Numerous ingredients are tied to cancer, liver damage, hormonal disruption, skin irritation, eye irritation, breast cancer and birth defects. It’s important to do your research, and be educated about the products you’re putting on your skin. EWG’s Skin Deep Database is a wonderful resource, to check-up on your products!

“Natural Skincare”

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After reading about all of the harmful ingredients, in so many skincare products, I understand how easy it is to want to take the “natural route”; that’s what I did, a few years ago. However, there’s a definite difference between “all natural” and “professional-grade”, and in how it aids your skin.

Back when I first went off of birth control, I was cleansing my face with oil, because as strange as it sounds, not all oil clogs pores. At first, my skin looked amazing, so bright and hydrated, but once I began to develop acne, the oil was not helpful! I had no idea about the comedogenic scale (or which oils were higher than others). The scale is a ranking, mentioning how likely it is that any specific ingredients, such as oils and butters used in cosmetic product formulation, will clog pores. Anyone who is susceptible to acne breakouts and blackheads should avoid highly comedogenic oils, as they are likely to cause recurring acne problems. However, people with drier skin might prefer a more emollient oil toward the middle of the scale.

The scale uses a numbering system of 0 to 5. Here’s how the numbers rank on the scale:

0 - won’t clog pores at all

1 - very low likelihood of clogging pores

2 - moderately low likelihood

3 - moderate likelihood

4 - fairly high likelihood

5 - high likelihood of clogging pores

After talking with a good friend of mine, who is also an esthetician, she made it make more sense: all “natural products” are safe, yes, but they also are much less-likely to give you results (especially if you’re really struggling with a problem). When I was struggling with acne, adding nothing but “natural” ingredients wasn’t going to help it improve, or in the time I wanted it to. I needed to find “safe, but active ingredients”.

favorite “safe, but active ingredients”

Mandelic Acid: An alpha-hydroxy acid, derived from bitter almonds. It helps in treating common skin problems like irregular-pigmentation, acne and photo-aging. Basically, it accelerates the skin’s peeling process (in a very gentle way), helping with cell-turnover. Unlike glycolic acid, it takes longer to penetrate the skin’s surface, so it’s much less irritating and convenient for at-home use (DermaFix).

Arcona’s Magic Black Ice contains Mandelic Acid.

Hyaluronic Acid: A wonderful, skin-hydrator! Just a single gram of Hyaluronic Acid has the impressive ability to hold up to six (yep, six) liters of water (Elle). Our bodies naturally-produce Hyaluronic Acid, however, environmental stressors, and aging, can take a toll on our skin, which causes our body to have issues naturally-producing it.

Arcona’s Magic White Ice contains Hyaluronic Acid.

Salicylic Acid: A plant-based acid, harvested from botanical sources, such as the white willow tree. It helps reduce inflammation, fades scars and red marks, shrinks large pores and prevents future breakouts from happening. Glycolic acid has most of the same benefits as Salicylic Acid, but it also comes with more harsh side effects. Benzoyl peroxide has similar acne-fighting properties, but it is less effective than Salicylic Acid and more irritating (think “acne-targeted products”) (Beauty Munsta).

Arcona’s Raspberry Clarifying Pads contain Salicylic Acid.


I’ve had experience using a few professional skincare lines:

In my opinion, having a professional skincare line is important, but having an esthetician who knows about the product (and you, specifically), is essential! It’s easy to purchase products that “sound good”, but it’s even better when someone we can trust KNOWS they’ll work!

MLM Platforms

I get it. We all need to make a living, maybe a little extra income, “work from home”, etc., but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t struggle with most MLM companies, especially ones that sell “health products” - internal and external products. This is for a couple of reasons, based on the same factor: education. Chances are, that person that’s selling you a specific skincare product does care about you, and the product, but chances also are that they don’t have significant education, or background, in skincare, or health. This is a VERY slippery slope.

Take me, for example: Acne. For someone with little education, or background, it’d be simple: recommend products designed to fight acne (like I mentioned earlier). But that’s the thing; for a lot of people (adult-woman, for instance), acne is caused by something internal, so most acne products are just going to upset your skin more, or cover-up the underlying issue.

  • If you do sell any type of “health product” - one that’s ingested, or applied, PLEASE take caution. Yes, I do believe you are passionate about that product; that is HAS produced results (for some). But please, be cautious of recommending. What works for someone won’t necessarily work for someone else. Bodies are unique and precious and delicate. Even if your ingredients are “natural”, it works the same. Keep doing you, though! This is, by no means, a bashing - I support you.

It’s for this reason, however, that I consult with those who DO have education, and significant background; individuals that know MY STORY.

Makeup

Skincare is more important than makeup: fact! In my opinion, when you have healthy skin, you won’t necessarily feel like you have to wear as much makeup. However, the same rules apply for makeup: ditch the unhealthy, cancer/inflammation-causing ingredients, and find something that’s safe.

Again, I find that purchasing a professional-grade product is best. It might be a little more expensive, yes, but it really does well!

To be quite honest, I haven’t tried as many makeup lines, just because I’ve used one that I love, for so long. Youngblood was created, by an esthetician, who wanted a product that was safe enough to use right after skin procedures, like peels and lasers.

Debbie, at Cloud 9, in Humboldt, IA introduced me to Youngblood years ago, and, I haven’t found a brand I love more. A few years back, I tried Root Makeup, made locally, in Iowa. It was a great line, and I loved being able to support an “all natural”, local product, however, with my acne, it wasn’t doing the job I needed. I went back to using my Youngblood products, and have kept with that regiment, to this day.


My Routine

Currently, most of my products are Arcona. I have a super-wonderful friend (and esthetician) who checks in with me regularly, to see if we should tweak any of the products. Depending on the time of year, I might change hydrators, but for the most part, creating a skincare routine is important!

Consistency is important! For a while, especially while I was struggling with bad acne, I kept changing products, thinking there would be a “magic product”. Halt here! There is no such thing as a “magic product”, and in Part 3, I’ll be discussing why skincare is always second to good primary and secondary foods.

Please, know that this is MY story, and MY opinion. I’m not recommending you go out and buy professional products, only; or that you stop supporting your friend, selling an internal/external product. I’m just sharing what I’ve found helpful, and reminding you to be cautious, before purchasing anything!


Services

Products aside, I also paid for my fair-share of facial services. Some worked better than others, but it’s important to remember: no product or service is going to magically fix your acne! Regardless of if I knew this, or not, I’d come to each service hopeful that maybe this time would be different.

Peels: I do believe in peels - they help the exfoliation-process, ridding your face of dead, surface cells. There are many different kinds of peels, however, and it’s important, again, to find a practitioner that understands your story, and you. For a while, I’d frequent Skin Artisans, in Edina, which was hooked onto the plastic surgery wing. There, I’d get “Micropeel Plus” treatments, that supported the exfoliation of dead cells, while including glycolic acid, in order to help “heal and speed up” acne. They did their job, however, each time I’d go, I found that my own, personal needs weren’t. There, it seemed that acne was an “outside issue”, and they were only focused on doing whatever was possible to rid the “outer issue”. This included many products, and chemicals I didn’t feel 100% comfortable with.

I found to feel much more comfortable getting something like the “Arcona Enzyme Peel”, at Spot Spa (with my esthetician, Laurel). During this peel, safer enzymes were used, to help break down dead layers of skin, and get a kickstart on accelerating regeneration of new cells.

Photo-rejuvenation (BBL): Broadband light therapy uses a series of light pulses, lightly applied over the skin. The light penetrates the sub-skin layers and is absorbed by the blood vessels or by pigmentation (brown spots). The heat impairs the vessel or lesion and the body begins the natural healing and clearing process. I got this done, once, at Skin Artisans, a few years ago. It cost $400, and significantly-lessened my acne scars. It also hurt like hell, and was something I could only swing, financially, that one-time (I put it on my credit card). Now, after my most-recent bout with acne, I have red-scarring again, and am trying to lessen the redness using safe and active ingredients, only. I don’t have $400 to spend.

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My Skin Buddy: This home-product uses red, blue and green LED light-therapy, along with ultrasonic vibrations to focus on giving a clearer complexion, brighter and more even skin tone. I like it because it’s convenient to use, and become part of your beauty-routine. I received mine as a Christmas gift, from my mom, who bought it at Cloud 9, in Humboldt (My Skin Buddy).

Facial Cupping: I enjoy cupping on other areas of my body, releasing stagnant blood/tension, and facial cupping is similar. It improves facial circulation, for glowing, firmer skin and decreased puffiness. Facial cupping may also help relieve jaw tension, sinus congestion, tension headaches, soften scars, and assist lymphatic drainage. I’ve had it done twice, at Spot Spa, with Rhea, and have noticed a difference in my skin - looking brighter and firmer. I do think it helps with acne scarring.

Vodder-Method Lymphatic Drainage: This is a simple, non-invasive therapy that stimulates the lymphatic system, to boost your skins natural detoxifying and regenerative capabilities. Your lymphatic system needs constant exercise to function properly (and drain). The treatment focuses directly on the lymph stimulation with massaging motion. I’ve gotten this done frequently, recently, with Laurel, at Spot Spa, and love it! I definitely noticed results. Lymphatic drainage is so important, everywhere in our bodies, including our face!


Next, in Part 3, I’ll be focusing on “Health From Within”, which, in my opinion, is most important when it comes to treating acne. I’ll be focusing on supplements, nutrition and lifestyle - it all plays a part.

In closing, I want to remind you that ridding acne is a process. There are so many lovely products out there, however, they can only do so much. This week, I challenge you to take a look at what’s in your facial products, and stay tuned to Part 3!

xoxo,

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Hormonal Acne: My Journey (Part 1)

I remember I thought this outfit was so cute, that I wanted a photo with it on; and then I never posted it, after noticing how badly-broken out my face was.

I remember I thought this outfit was so cute, that I wanted a photo with it on; and then I never posted it, after noticing how badly-broken out my face was.

This blog post is something I’ve wanted to write for a while now; and actually something I wanted to start writing around this time, last year. Instead, I was graced with another (pretty terrible) bout of hormonal acne; and at the age of 28, I realized just how emotional of a topic this can be. From the ridiculous amount of money spent, to the glances in the mirror that bring you to tears, today, I’m sharing my personal experience, dealing with hormonal acne, that’s been constant, since I was young. This post will be broken down into parts: My Journey, Products & Services, Health From Within and Moving Forward. This is Part 1.

** Please note: I am not a medical professional, and am not recommending, or promoting any specific lifestyle, or diet. These opinions are my own. I follow the idea of bio-individuality, which means that everybody and every BODY is different. What works for me, might not work for you.

Growing Up

Nutrition:Anything and everything. Lots of processed foods. Not much water.

Skincare: Nothing, at first. Then Proactiv, and other over-the-counter acne products

Lifestyle: sedentary.

I was graced with my first period, a week before my 10th birthday. Ironically, a couple of months before, when I was at the doctor, he had mentioned to my mom that it might be happening soon. Nine years old (and let’s be honest, ten, too) is way too young to add “becoming a woman” to your kid-like agenda. But my body was ready, even if I wasn’t, so I spent the rest of my 4th Grade year, running to the nurse’s office, to change my pad, every month, during lunch.

Fifth Grade Photo.

Fifth Grade Photo.

Acne didn’t start up at first, but I remember an almost-permanent zit (above my lip) that seemed to appear in every school photo from Fifth Grade on. In Junior High, I remember it getting bad, but it was something most girls were starting to go through, as well, so it seemed more routine. I started going to the dermatologist, who upon looking at my acne, prescribed an antibiotic, and then for a nurse to perform “extractions”. Now, I know a lot of you reading this can relate; there’s absolutely nothing worse than being a teenager, getting your zits popped by a nurse saying, “Ooh, that was a big one”. It’s no wonder teenagers struggle!

Around that same time, I went on hormonal birth control (yeah, doctors prescribed it THAT early), to help my acne and menstrual cramps go away. When you’re a kid (or the parent of a kid, struggling with acne), you don’t usually ask questions, when a doctor prescribes something that’s supposed to bring your self-esteem back; you take it, and run to get it filled.

This was also during the age of “Proactiv” - an acne-system, marketed toward teenagers, struggling with facial acne. Out of kindness, I remember my dad buying me a starter kit, and when it came, I ran upstairs (to my bathroom), and spent 30 minutes cleansing my face, hoping the more I used the “magical” cleanser, the clearer my face would get.

But what teenagers don’t understand, is that all these products are meant to do is be a temporary band-aid for the actual issue - a cover-up. And instead of focusing on the issues, I continued to dry out my face with harsh products, and deplete my gut bacteria. Again, as a teenager, you don’t know and you don’t ask questions. Your self-esteem is most important.

I still remember a comment, one of my friend’s sisters made, many years ago: “What are all of those bumps on your face?” Kids being kids, but hurtful, nonetheless. Comments like these are ones you always remember…

Leveling Out

Nutrition:Anything and everything. Lots of processed foods. Not much water.

Skincare: Estee Lauder, and then sanitas skincare

Lifestyle: sedentary, for the most part

High school was good, for the most part. I continued to stay on birth control, and while my acne wasn’t an issue, my immunity was. I was sick SO much, during high school. Exhaustion, digestive issues, headaches, brain fog, depression, you name it. Now, I’d be able to scream it from the rooftops, but in high school, pigging out on pizzas, pop-tarts and puppy chow was essential to being a teenager; nutrition meant nothing to me.

College was stressful; I didn’t know what I was doing with my life, didn’t know what I was doing in my relationship and continued to deal with it over piping hot bowls of Annie’s Mac and Cheese (hey, it was organic), and now, super-sugary alcoholic beverages. While on birth control (I was now on the Nuva Ring), my acne was non-existent, for the most part, but period cramps were bad. I was taking opioids, each month, to deal with the pain, and began to become so constipated. Still, I filled my body with whatever tasted good (and comforted me, emotionally); paying no attention to the weight I was gaining, or the sluggishness I felt.

The Tide is turning

Nutrition:No gluten and dairy. Lots of processed, gluten free products

Skincare: Sanitas

Lifestyle: Sedentary, until joining a yoga studio. Then, yoga every. damn. day. Kind of.

After I graduated college, I moved home and began to research going “gluten free”. It was just starting to become a “trend”, and I really believed that, perhaps, what I was feeling had something to do with eating gluten. I started to cut it out, noticed a little bit of a change, but continued enjoying glutenous options, often.

I went to the doctor, and was tested for Celiac Disease; it came back negative.

It was around this time I started to read about gluten “sensitivities”, which are very similar to gluten allergies; just because a test doesn’t come back positive, doesn’t mean your body isn’t sensitive to a particular ingredient. If you feel better cutting it out, chances are, you’re sensitive, and it’s causing an issue on your body. During this research, I also read that your chances for being dairy sensitive were higher, if you suffered from a gluten sensitivity. I made the decision to eliminate gluten and dairy, right then and there.

A couple of months after this decision, I accepted my first full-time job, as an event coordinator, in Minneapolis. I’ll spare you the long, drawn-out story; it was awful. I was sick, depressed and depleted. Between eliminating gluten and dairy, and being so stressed, I lost 30 pounds in two months.

My skin and period cramps, throughout all of this (since I was still on birth control), were okay; everything else was a mess. My life continued, in this pattern, for the next year.

Again, sparing you the long, drawn-out story, I finally realized that if I wanted to live the best life possible, I needed to make a lot of changes; and those changes needed to be both physical and mental. I needed to take control of my life, and needed to take a look from within.

Taking the leap

Nutrition:no gluten, dairy, or meat. Lots of water, veggies, adaptogens, vitamins. You name it!

Skincare: sanitas, rhonda allison

Lifestyle: Active, but giving my body sufficient rest

In an attempt to take control of my life, I enrolled in the health coaching program, with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. After lots of discussions with alumni, my parents and myself, I realized that taking control of my life meant doing what I was most passionate about - healing myself. If I could heal myself, through holistic remedies, I wanted to help others realize the same.

My life took a complete “180”, as I started to focus on my primary foods, as well as diet and exercise. I moved home, started my studies, worked part-time, stopped eating meat and ended my toxic-relationship. I felt AMAZING! My skin became clearer than it ever had been; literally, clearer than ever before. I felt on top of the world, and as if I could accomplish anything.

My skin at its best (and with no makeup). I remember feeling so confident, taking this photo.

My skin at its best (and with no makeup). I remember feeling so confident, taking this photo.

It was during this time, I realized just how harmful antibiotics and birth control are - depleting your body of essentials vitamins, as well as good-for-you gut bacteria. I wanted to get off of hormonal birth control ASAP.

*WHEN YOU ARE READY TO GO OFF OF BIRTH CONTROL, DON’T DO IT COLD TURKEY. I REPEAT: DO NOT DO IT COLD TURKEY.

January 2016, I made the decision to stop. One month, I just didn’t put in my new Nuvaring. At first, I felt fantastic. My skin became EVEN clearer, and my body suddenly felt so open to feelings I hadn’t experienced in so long. I felt sexy, and sexual and realized just how suppressed my sexuality had been while on birth control.

Gosh, this was easy… so I thought.

Falling Flat on your Face

Nutrition:no gluten, dairy, or meat. Lots of water, veggies, adaptogens, vitamins. You name it!

Skincare: sanitas, rhonda allison

Lifestyle: Active, but giving my body sufficient rest

I loved selfies, but edited them so much, when I had acne.

I loved selfies, but edited them so much, when I had acne.

In April, I began noticing allergy-like bumps on my chin. Thinking it was due to a new, all-natural makeup I had started, I discontinued use, and began to take more supplements to support skin health: MSM, Omegas, adaptogen powders, mushroom elixirs, and continued my basically-vegan lifestyle. Instead of improving, my acne started getting worse - very worse.

Around this time, I was talking with a guy who had offered to fly me out to LA, to visit him. Excited, I panicked. I had just started to feel like the sexy being I was supposed to be, but I now had quickly-erupting, red, cystic acne; the furthest thing from “sexy” you could get.

Worried, I made many appointments with my good friend, Debbie, at Cloud 9 Massage Therapy and Skincare. Debbie did all she could: peels, facials, light therapy, and while my skin was being treated with the very best products you could get, it didn’t improve. I went to LA, face caked in Youngblood makeup (powder and liquid foundation). *Products & Services will be in Part 2.

Unfortunately, my acne didn’t improve there. That way May, and by July, my face was more broken out than it had ever been, even as a teenager (I felt). I was devastated. Newly single, and in a situation where I should have felt on top of the world, I felt extremely self-conscious. It was almost impossible to go up and talk to men; I felt like my face was all they could stare at (and not in the way you should).

I remember, numerous instances, when someone said to me, “Oh Kate, what’s wrong with your face? Gosh, that’s really bad.” Again, comments like these are ones you always remember…

Where Now?

Nutrition:no gluten or dairy, beginning to incorporate meat, again. Lots of water, and less carbs and sugars. No caffeine.

Skincare: Arcona

Lifestyle: Active, but giving my body sufficient rest

When I moved to Minnesota, a few years ago, I was desperate. I had starting dating Ryan, and would go to bed with makeup on (when I stayed over at his place), or turned off the lights as soon as I walked into the bedroom; I was so, extremely self-conscious.

I had found a spa that offered professional skincare products, that weren’t filled with harmful chemicals (stay tuned to Part 2, where I discuss topical options), and an esthetician who was kind, and full of knowledge. I, also, started seeing a naturopath, and went through extensive testing of my urine, blood, saliva and stool - looking for allergies, overgrowth and inflammation. This all cost me a ton of money, and fortunately, I was still 25 (and used my parents’ HSA for a lot of the costs). For the rest, I would continue to put more and more on my credit card, but was positive I was going to find answers.

And I suppose I did find some answers, and got an idea of supplements I could try. I severely cut back on grains, sugars and caffeine, and began to limit my diet even more. Coming up in Part 3, I’ll share the importance of food and supplements.

It took a long, long time, but after focusing on nutrition, stress, sticking with a good skincare routine, and going to appointments for laser treatments, my skin was finally starting to look good again!

Here we go again

Nutrition:no gluten or dairy, no caffeine. Lots of water, and less carbs and white sugars. More fruits

Skincare: Arcona

Lifestyle: Active, but giving my body sufficient rest. pilates.

I had a couple years of really good skin. I was able to go without makeup often, which rocked (especially when you work so darn early in the AM). I was feeling great!

It’s funny when they say that your skin reflects what’s going on inside your body. It makes sense, when you binge on something really greasy, or drink alcohol often; but what about when you, legitimately, feel like you’re healthy?! That was my experience, this past go-around…

Toward the end of the summer of last year, I was feeling good! Exercising often, drinking kombucha, and getting enough rest; I was doing “everything right”… right?

So. Much. Editing. I constantly felt like all of my photos had to be severely-edited, in order to post them.

So. Much. Editing. I constantly felt like all of my photos had to be severely-edited, in order to post them.

I had created a favorite “banana nice cream” and would eat it for breakfast, often: cauliflower, bananas, yogurt, etc. Around this time, I was interviewing for a promotion at my job; nothing that should have been “too nerve-wrecking”, but the interview process was very drawn out - lasting a month. I remember getting very nervous before the interviews; there’s something about virtual interviewing that is way more intimidating than in person.

I had been going to an acupuncturist every week, for cupping. And had started a couple of different herbal medicines, to help with my period cramps (that were still bothersome, but not as bad). I had just recently changed herbs, and started taking one to help release heat.

Either way, it was during this time my face started to break out, again. AGAIN! After I thought I had done everything right, figured out a plan and would never, ever, ever, EVER have to deal with acne again. Aside from the acne, I started to grow peach fuzz on my face, for the first time ever. My periods remained the same, constant and coming on the day I was planning them to.

“WHAT THE HELL?!” - My actual thought, as I would bring myself to tears, each morning, washing my face.

The acne didn’t get as bad as it did, after going off of BC, but it wasn’t good either. I needed to start wearing more makeup, and began to become so self-conscious, once again.

This time was different. This time I wasn’t really sure how to take care of it. As a health coach, there’s nothing more troubling than being unable to help yourself; thinking you should have all of the answers. I didn’t want to spend more money on tests (since I continue to try to pay off the debt I had originally racked up, during the last bout). I didn’t want to go to an herbalist, or an acupuncturist, or anyone. Part of me felt betrayed by everyone (including myself). *I’ll mention this more in Part 4.

So, I tried to focus on what I could control: my reactions to stressors, my physical activity, my sleep and my nutrition. Having acne is like going on a scavenger hunt; but unlike other scavenger hunts, this one sucks (with every ounce of your being), and depletes you, in every way.

HEre and now

Today (at this very moment), I’m happy to write that my acne is, again, healing. I’ve got about four breakouts, currently, and a bunch of other red scars, that I’m working to lighten. *If you’re reading this, and sell a product that you “think might help me”, spare yourself the time; I’m not interested, and I’ll explain this more in Part 2.

For now, I’m going through the motions. Continuing to have to remind myself, multiple times per day, that lifestyle affects your body so much, in literally every way possible.


This post is an opportunity for me to tell you all that I’ve been through it; and continue to go through it. That’s the thing about living; nothing is ever “perfect”, or will stay the same, and I want you to remember that.

In the next parts of this story, I’ll be sharing more about what you all probably want to read: products, services, lifestyle, nutrition… the “good stuff”. But our stories are just as “good”, and if you read through this entire post, chances are, you have a story of your own. I know it sucks, and I know it can be incredibly devastating, but remember: this, too, shall pass… your story makes you stronger, and will give you the opportunity to share and help others.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

xoxo,

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