I’ve struggled with spotty skin most of my adult life.
It came about suddenly during my modelling career—which devastated me—and continued to plague me for years while rapidly deteriorating my self-esteem. There were many reasons for my skin issues, and perhaps many more reasons they were so adamant about staying.
These last few years have been both a struggle and a journey towards clear skin and, more importantly, finding room to love myself in whatever form I take.
I’d like to share what I’ve learned about my skin over the course of five years and hopefully this translates into helping others currently struggling with skin issues. That said, we are not one-size-fits-all humans. I can’t say that what’s worked for me will work for everyone, but the goal is to be of benefit and provide new avenues of healing for those who may have lost hope.
Tip #1: Look Inside
Although acne/blemishes surface superficially, it’s very much an internal message that something is off in our body. Begin treatment from the inside, both on a physical and spiritual level.
Looking back I realize I did everything I could physically do to clear my skin. The issue though, was that I neglected to do any sort of emotional work, which I now believe was so integral to my healing process. Learning how to love and accept my physical body laid the groundwork. It opened me up to receiving the benefits of all the work I’d put towards a blemish-free complexion.
Tip #2: Stress Less
Stress is not good for our health and especially our skin. For those of us with skin issues, stressing about our skin only exacerbates the problem. I know it can be difficult, but keep your mind focused on things that make you feel good.
Go outside, be physical and hang out with your friends. I promise they won’t give a shit what you look like, unless of course they’re vapid and soulless—in which case you need new friends!
Tip #3: Unprocessed Food
Tip #4: Cleansing The Skin (Read this one carefully. It’s about to get scientific.)
You’ve heard it a million times—be gentle with your skin. Don’t use products that strip your skin bare. Dry skin creates inflammation and therefore more acne.
This is important for me, since I already have Vata-like, dry skin. According to Ayurveda there are three doshas that make up our mind-body type. Individuals are made up of all three doshas (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha) but one typically dominates. Each dosha is said to embody specific characteristics and Vata’s veer towards dry and cold. I learned that I need to keep my skin moisturized without clogging my pores.
It’s my humble opinion that nature has provided us with everything we need to live healthy and sustainable lives. Therefore, I advise a natural approach to skincare.
But just because it’s natural, doesn’t mean it’s right for all skin types. Like many, I’ve tried just about everything in hopes of stumbling upon that elusive magic combination. When I came across the oil cleansing method I had high hopes but was initially disappointed. I thought perhaps I was missing something, but kept on doing it because I knew it was good for my skin.
After much research and consultations with Naturopathic Doctors and students, I came across some insightful information. Here’s the breakdown:
Our skin sebum has several different fatty acid compounds, two of which include Oleic and Linoleic acid. Many studies have shown a link between acne-prone skin and high amounts of Oleic acid present in skin sebum. Oleic acid is thick and viscous therefore more likely to cause blockages in the pores. What we want is to balance out the fatty acid profile in our skin by getting more Linoleic acid in our sebum.
How might we do this?
Simply applying oils high in Linoleic acid directly to the skin is said to balance out this ratio of fatty acids and has certainly proven very beneficial in my case. It’s easy to look up which oils have the highest ratio of Linoleic to Oleic acid and try them out for yourself. My personal favorites are Hemp Seed oil and Grapeseed oil. Also make sure to read product labels and avoid, whenever possible, products containing ingredients high in Oleic acid.
Tip #5: Supplements and herbal tinctures (What I take and why.)
I take an herbal tincture of turmeric, for daily detoxification/purification of the blood, and Ashwaganda, to keep my stress levels down and my Vata energy grounded.
Even though I live in sunny San Diego California, I take Vitamin D3 because my Naturopath tells me I should and I’d like to think she’s at least mildly intelligent. Oh yes and it’s supposed to play a role in hormone regulation and mood elevation.
I also take Vitamin A because it contains beta-carotene known for improving skin, hair, nails and vision.
In order to calm down redness and irritation in my skin, I take Vitamin E which is known for its antioxidant properties to fight off free radicals and help the skin retain moisture. I’ve also started to apply this as a moisturizer. The only other ingredients in this are typically sunflower and/or safflower oil, both of which are high in Linoleic acid. Remember to check labels for filler ingredients.
*Note* I take my vitamins in liquid form—not capsules—unless of course they’re liquid capsules. I think they absorb better, but it’s a personal preference.
Like I said earlier, my best advice to anyone battling their skin or self-esteem is to first do some emotional work. Just think about it: how can we expect our bodies to change for the better if all we ever do is shame and berate them? I’d surely hesitate doing something nice for someone who has treated me unkindly.
This same logic applies to the body. It’s not going to do us any favors until we’ve acknowledged its worth.
Start thinking of your body as less of an object and more of a being in and of itself. Consider it a lifelong friend and partner. Our bodies want to be healthy and happy, but this transformation only occurs when we choose it for ourselves.
Author: Danica Taylor
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Image: Khashayar Elyassi/Flickr