By Trina Otero
Yes, this is yet another post about skin issues in the vast existence of the World Wide Web, but I have to share my experience because my story just might help at least one more person. I have had skin issues, on and off, for about two years. I am not going to mention high school days, because that is normal for many teenagers. I started having issues with adult acne in college, but I was able to take care of it with Proactiv. I will say it’s a clever product, but not 100% natural, nor does it target the root cause of problematic skin. I was fine for quite a few years until 2009. I was under a lot of stress from school and some other things. [During my whole college career I was a full-time student and juggling 2-3 jobs.] The adult acne was not a big deal at all in 2009, it was like the minor breakouts one sees in high school, one pimple here maybe another there. That’s it. But later in the year, the issue worsened. I don’t think it helped that I stopped working out and began eating fast food more often. I bought Proactiv again later that year and it cleared up my skin for the most part. But in 2010 it came back with a vengeance and I have been trying to find a solution ever since then. From 2009-2010 my diet was horrible, which was not normal for me since I became interested in alternative medicine and organic foods in 2007. I also had stress. These factors [bad diet & stress] DEFINITELY affect the body and skin. My diet changed during the summer of 2010 and I did a lot of walking [was without a car] and lost a drastic amount of weight and got into great shape. This slightly helped my skin issue, but I still needed better foods.
Towards the end of 2010 I did research on how to clear up my skin, and I was going to attempt a body cleanse once I had the means to fork out the money to purchase all the herbs and ingredients to do it. I still plan on doing it [it’s quite extensive but sounds well worth it]. But before I could get to the cleansing, something happened to me last year — August was very stressful for me, I stayed up long into the night and slept only 2-3 hours while I worked on a public relations campaign for the launch of Forus Athletics, and my diet was horrible when I traveled to Indianapolis for the launch. Afterwards, my skin was pissed at me – red, irritated, and I had large cyst-like breakouts.
I knew these angry breakouts were a result of not sleeping well and eating fast food for a week. When I traveled back home I swore off fast food. Then one day I tried to eat grilled chicken at work and I couldn’t even bite it – I felt nauseous when I tried to eat a piece. The smell grossed me out too. I thought I was sick. Over the next few days I realized my body was REJECTING all kinds of meat. I already don’t eat red meats, I haven’t since 2008. Now my body was rejecting chicken and even turkey. [Makes sense – hormones are pumped into poor animals so that they grow faster to keep up with mass production. These hormones were affecting my body.] So my body forced me to become a vegetarian in August. I am glad I listened to my body because my skin began to clear up within a week. The large cyst-like breakouts began to disappear. My digestion [and bowel movements] were becoming regular again. All around I felt a lot better. [Let me add here that I also began drinking more water. Water is very important for the body – it hydrates as well as flushes out toxins from the body.]After my diet change, I did have breakouts here and there, but nothing like the large cyst-like acne I had in the past. I was left with scarring though, and this bothered me because I remember how smooth and radiant my skin used to be.
I am sure you have heard other people say they never wore face makeup before their acne issues, and I am going to join the club and reiterate that! But because of the scarring and hyperpigmentation I wear face powder. [Finding a good one that doesn’t irritate my skin is a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT story I should cover later!]
So I found myself going to the natural health food store and I bought a natural facial cleanser that would be gentle on my sensitive skin – Desert Essence Thoroughly Clean Face Wash. I loved the description. The company uses plants and nutrients from the desert, all of which are amazing for the skin! I also bought a bottle of aloe vera gel [to heal the scars] since I couldn’t find a live plant at any of the stores in my area. For months I began to use the cleanser and apply the aloe vera gel to my face every morning and night. This did help keep my face clean and heal the scarring, but this wasn’t doing the trick completely so I knew I was missing something.
A few weeks ago I met a wonderful woman named Ritu, who is trained as an Ayurvedic health practitioner and an esthetician. Once I found out her credentials I began asking her for advice, and she gave me the following suggestions:
- Make sure I cleanse [2x a day]
- Use a toner [2x a day]
- Use spot treatment as needed
- Moisturize [2x a day]
- She also advised to exfoliate twice a week [for sensitive skin, but if not sensitive three times a week]
- Use a facial mask once a week
- Drink adequate amounts of water [8 glasses of 8oz a day]
- Cut back on sugars
- Cut back on caffeine
I have also found in my individual research that one should:
- Cut back on dairy products
- Cut back on fats and oils [unhealthy ones, especially hydrogenated oils. You might freak when you find out what it really is]
- Try not to stress [causes hormonal imbalance]
- Get enough sleep
- Do a cleanse/detox to rid the body of toxins that cause skin issues
This sounded like too much work for someone like me, since I am very simple and low-maintenance now, but she assured me that the combination of all this would rid the skin of old, dead cells, regenerate skin cells, heal, and bring back healthy, radiant skin. Ritu also suggested I take Neem capsules or Turmeric capsules [this herb and spice cleanse the liver, which affects the skin]. She suggested I try Dandelion Root tea as well, which also cleanses the liver. So the first night I did the following:
- Cleansed my face with Desert Essence Thoroughly Clean Face Wash – Original. It’s all natural and so gentle on the skin, which I love since I have very sensitive skin. My face feels so clean when I use this.
- I found a natural toner in my toiletry stash and I used it – Thayers Lavender Witch Hazel. It is also very gentle on the skin, especially with the lavender. The next day I did go and buy a new bottle, this time it was Thayers Rose Petal Witch Hazel toner [Ritu suggested a rose water toner]. I love this one too and use it every day.
- Applied aloe vera gel all over my face, which is what I usually do after I cleanse. I choose to use aloe in addition to the moisturizer because of the amazing healing properties in the gel of the plant.
- Scooped a decent amount of coconut oil and rubbed between my hands until it melted and gently patted it all over my face and neck. This is my natural moisturizer, and I’ve used it on and off for about a year. I used to be so scared that it was too rich to use on my face every day, but I love coconut oil for its rich skin healing properties. Ritu told me not to be scared to use moisturizer on my face, especially coconut oil. So, I wasn’t shy – I smothered it all over my face. Now, I didn’t go crazy but I made sure I wasn’t being scanty. I looked like a shiny grease ball, but my skin quickly absorbed it and when I woke up the next day my face felt very clean and fresh. I immediately felt a difference.
On the third day I ran to the natural health food store and bought:
- Rose water toner [which I mentioned above]
- Tea tree oil [as a spot treatment]
- Neem capsules [to cleanse my liver]
- A bentonite clay mask
- I called Whole Foods Market and ordered a gentle skin exfoliator – Andalou Naturals Grapefruit + C Exfoliating Peel [which is now packaged as Kombucha Enzyme Exfoliating Peel]. Ritu suggested this product to me since I have sensitive skin AND since abrasive exfoliators are like the worst kind of exfoliators for acne-prone skin [yeah, sorry to burst your bubble but that apricot scrub you’re using is horrible for your skin!]
My skin care line is complete! Yesterday was my 7th night doing this regimen, and the first time using the exfoliator, and my skin feels soooo clean, fresh, and moisturized.
I have to say that within one day I noticed a difference. My face felt cleaner, less irritated, well moisturized, and softer. Within a few days I noticed my skin was smoother, some of the hyperpigmentation in my skin was not as noticeable, and my pores were smaller. Because of hormonal changes [yes, that’s code for menstrual cycle] I did have a very minor breakout, but that allowed me to bust out the tea tree oil and see if that baby worked, and work it does! The tea tree oil, along with the rest of the products I use, sped up the cleansing and healing process of the breakouts and my skin is left with less discoloration. [I’m used to getting dark or red spots because my skin is so sensitive.]
I plan on using the bentonite clay mask today. I will definitely let you know how that goes!
P.S. Check out My Skin Healing Journey Pt. II to see my results after two months!
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All works by Trina Otero is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.