If you had asked me that question a few months ago my answer would have been a resounding “heck no!” Like many of you, I have had my share of skin problems which started when I was in my early thirties, when I should have been fighting wrinkles, not pimples. That’s right…adult acne. Yikes! I have mentioned it before but a couple of years ago, my skin started going crazy.
I’m not entirely sure how it all began but I think it had a lot (everything?) to do with the many hormonal ups and downs my skin had to deal with starting about five years ago. I was first on then off birth control, pregnancy, back on birth control, nursing for nine months, weaning pretty abruptly, back off birth control, pregnancy again, nursing for seven months, weaning cold turkey again…all back-to-back within a couple of years. Added stress from being home with two young children and virtually no sleep for the better part of the next two years left my body depleted and my skin less than perfect. By that time, I had persistent outbreaks of mild to moderate acne on my forehead and along my jaw line which scarred and turned into dark spots after sun exposure. Even though I was told that, compared to many others who suffer from acne, mine was not “all that bad”, I became self conscious of my skin and thought that it was the first and only thing people would notice.
I tried a lot of topical prescription and over-the-counter remedies but ended up resorting to prescription drugs taken orally which did help but never cleared my skin 100%. In addition, the particular drug I was prescribed did not make my body feel very good. It gave me the jitters and made me extremely fatigued. Lowering the dose under the supervision of my doctor made my body feel better but my skin worse and vice versa. I was told repeatedly that the only thing to really clear my skin for good was to take hormones again and/or start a course of antibiotics both of which did not sound like a good option to me. That was right around the time I started taking a closer look at how I was nourishing my body (inside and out) so I committed to going the natural route as well when it came to fighting my skin imperfections. Clear skin without any added prescription drugs. Would that even be possible?
Fast forward to now, about a year later: After a lot of trial and error and even more research, I am happy to report that my skin has never looked better. I have been able to cut my prescription dose in half without any negative side effects and am planning on going off it entirely once I’m done with my current bottle of pills. Fingers crossed! I even got a compliment on having “beautiful skin” the other day. Me! Who wanted to cover up my “mild-to-moderately” blemished face just a few months before.
Since I am not a doctor, aesthetician or any other kind of medical or beauty expert, I don’t know exactly what helped my skin heal the most: More rest once my son finally became a better sleeper, a regular yoga routine to aide with my overall state of well-being, mostly organic whole foods, a minimal amount of processed foods or sugar, no hormone disruptors in my beauty products…It was perhaps a combination of all of those things.
And in addition to diet and lifestyle, becoming religious about my skin care regimen has made a huge difference in the appearance of my complexion, too. I have found several non-toxic skin care products along the way that are effective and relatively affordable but the key for me has been how they work so beautifully and synergistically with the below mentioned eco-friendly beauty tools. Like Batman and Robin, Yin and Yang – truly, the following are three matches made in (skin care) heaven! Drum roll, please…
Step 1: Remove your make-up
Coconut oil + Eve Lom Muslin Cloths.
I have talked about my love for coconut oil before…organic, unrefined coconut oil is the best thing to remove the most stubborn of make-up. It’s gentle on the skin, smells heavenly and has anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties leaving your skin well nourished and moisturized. Plus – and this sounds counter-intuitive – oil is a great weapon in fighting acne as it helps the skin regulate its sebum production.
I massage a little bit of coconut oil into my skin (including my eye area) until my whole face is covered and make-up and dirt are lifted. Next, I use an Eve Lom muslin cloth to gently take off the oil in small, circular motions. These specially woven muslin cloths are made from 100% cotton and provide the skin with a gentle exfoliation said to speed up skin cell regeneration and increase blood circulation. They leave the skin exceptionally soft, smooth and ideally prepared for the application of moisturizer. These muslin cloths come in a pack of three and are machine washable. The manufacturer recommends washing them on warm after every 2-3 uses.
Step 2: Wash your face
Foaming facial cleanser + One Love Organics Cleansing Sponge
Acne prone skin is very sensitive and I have found that a mild foaming cleanser that does not strip the skin of essential moisture which only irritates it further works best for me. I like the One Love Organics Easy Does It Cleanser which turns into a nice lather that gently cleans and softens the skin.
The One Love Organics Cleansing Sponge works flawlessly with any of these cleansers. Gentler than a wash cloth, way cheaper than a Clarisonic, and more thorough than just washing your face with your hands, it is made with 100% pure konjac plant fiber known for its ability to detoxify pores while softly smoothing the skin. You use it by dampening the sponge in warm water until it softens and expands to double its original size. Next, apply a little bit of the aforementioned cleanser onto your face or directly onto the sponge and carefully massage your skin in a circular motion before thoroughly rinsing your face with cool water. The manufacturer suggests cleaning your sponge after each use by rinsing it in clean warm water and hang to dry in a well-ventilated area. Do not squeeze or twist it too hard and your sponge will last you for up to three months.
Step 3: Tone your skin
Balancing Toner + S.W. Basics Eco Cotton Rounds
I am fairly new to using toners as they always seemed like a redundant step in skin care to me. But boy, was I wrong! Toners even out your skin tone and miraculously balance your skin’s pH so that the skin is less dry and less oily at the same time. Genius! I have been using and writing about a couple of different ones before but recently, I have been trying the S.W. Basics Toner that was recommended to me as the best option for acne prone skin. I love that while it has only five ingredients (water, apple cider vinegar, witch hazel, clary sage and sandalwood), it is very potent. It leaves every last pore feeling clear without over-drying my face. I’m obsessed!
The S.W. Basics Eco Cotton Rounds are an excellent tool for applying toner. Made in the USA from certified organic cotton, these rounds are baby soft. They come in a pack of eight and are machine washable in the little laundry bag they come with. And since with these rounds the toner does not get absorbed like it does with a disposable cotton ball or cotton round you need a lot less product saving you money and cutting back on waste all at the same time.
Following the cleansing and toning of my skin, I like to use the PotenShaa Skin Oil and additionally in the morning, a non-toxic sunscreen (more on that later). For the occasional breakout, I use the Indie Lee Blemish Stick. It just works!
Admittedly, the natural route to beautiful skin, not to mention the “inside out” approach to beauty in general (You are what you eat!) is slow compared to the relatively quick fix of chemical laden potions, harsh med-spa procedures, or prescription medication (which I understand may be necessary in some cases). It can be totally frustrating but if you want any sort of healthy, long lasting results, it takes time and dedication. Stay with it…oaks from acorns! Soon you will feel better on the inside and it will show on the outside.
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