The story of my skin crisis starts in September of 2014.
To set the scene, let me rattle off a list of the shenanigans that went on in a period of 7 weeks for us.
- Week 1: My husband quit his job. PS…I’m 9ish months pregnant.
- Week 2: We moved from San Francisco to Utah.
- Week 3: We’re temporarily homeless, and moved into my in laws basement.
- Week 4: My oldest daughter started all day school for the first time and was having an extremely difficult time adjusting.
- Week 5: I gave birth to my third baby, Ozzy.
- Week 6: My husband tore his meniscus on a trampoline doing awesome tricks.
- Week 7: We threw the worlds largest lantern festival to date in the Mojave Desert called, Rise.
So, it was a lot. And I was stressed. Like really, really stressed-and sleep deprived. SO freaking sleep deprived.
I was a brand new mom of 3, struggling with post partum hormonal hell, who didn’t know where she would be living in the next few weeks, and felt like I just hosted a party for 11,000 people. We didn’t have a day where something somewhat catastrophic or life changing wasn’t happening—and my body started to break under all the pressure.
I was coming down with strange symptoms like:
- Tongue swelling
- Facial puffiness
- Muscle weakness
- Crippling anxiety
- Brain fog
- The worst case of acne I’ve ever had
- Insomnia followed by not being able to stay awake at all.
- Crying spells
- Dry and oily skin everywhere
- Keratosis pilaris (those Little bumps on the back of your arms)
Ugh, the works. These symptoms kept piling on top of each other one by one until the doozy hit…. Perioral dermatitis
Perioral dramatis was the straw that broke my camels back. If you haven’t heard of it, well, this is what it looks like.
(images via google)
These little itchy, red pustules gather around your nose, chin and lips, and sometimes go up to your eyes. Picture it like acne on fire…that’s what it feels and looks like. It is the most uncomfortable, painful and ugly rash that is known to hang around for months on end. There is no miracle pill or cream to get rid of it—only topical steroids that actually make the condition quite worse when you stop using them.
I had pictures similar to the ones above, but never in a million years thought I would show anyone. When my PD was at its worst it was all around my nose, down my chin and even gathering up on my forehead. I bought full coverage makeup for the first time in my life, and I caked that crap on like liquid gold if I had to see anyone. It gave me intense anxiety looking in the mirror, and even worse anxiety looking at the photos I took of my PD and acne when it was at its height, so I deleted all of them. I’m kicking myself over deleting the real good bad photos of my skin now! I did, however, save a few pictures of me ‘making great progress’…you can see them down below, but yes, I was actually extremely happy with how my skin was clearing up in those ‘progress pics’.
Anyway, it was clear that the prolonged amounts of intense stress that I was under is what brought on the Perioral Dermatitis for me, and then ironically, having PD caused even more added stress. This all lead to me becoming extremely reclusive and embarrassed of the way I looked …then the embarrassment would lead to shame, and the shame would lead to guilt. I was turning into my worst self, and the whole thing was like this horrible snowball effect…Getting bigger and bigger with each passing day that I had to live feeling sick on the inside and ugly on the outside.
I went to doctors and they were little help. Neither were dermatologists or fellow estheticians. I finally got somewhere when a physician took my blood and told me I was dangerously deficient in vitamin D (my level was an 8), hypoglycemic, and was teetering on the cusp of hypothyroidism. He also had a hunch that my bad case of PD might be due to and overgrowth of Candida in my lower digestive tract, so I probably had that, too. He didn’t know how to treat the PD without intense steroids, and his only other solution was to push anti-depressants because he thought I might be suffering from post partum depression.
I felt like his treatment solutions weren’t actually solutions at all…but more like temporary fixes— a band-aid to cover the symptoms of what was really going on inside my body. I knew I was sick and unhealthy on the inside…I just knew it, and I wanted to be well, not ‘fixed’ temporarily.
Sooooo, (Welcome to my information over load phase.)
I declined the anti depressants and steroids, and I decided to try to heal my skin and body by myself.
I started studying whenever I had a free moment. I would be mom all day, and the minute the kids went to bed is when I really went to work.
I was going through all my old Esthetic text books, my instructor manuals, health books, diet books, web md, medical websites, physician theories, blog after blog, forum after forum of personal accounts…. Then I started studying medications and topicals…. then plants… then diets…. ugh it was endless! You name it, and I went there.
Until one day it all started to click.
I was finally absorbing more and more information, and really starting to truly understand the balance of the human bodies ‘ecosystem’ and how delicate it is.
And then all of a sudden I had it. My plan… and it was simple.
My plan was to create homeostasis (balance) in my body by:
- Eliminating excess toxins that had slowly built up over time
- Ridding myself of the candida overgrowth
- And creating hormonal balance
The whole time I was searching for a cure and the cure itself was in my own body. My body knew what to do and how to do it…. all I needed to do was to aid it along, and stop filling it with crap food, chemicals, topicals, and stress.
So it begun!
I learned that 70% of our bodies immune system is in our gut…and that our skin is just a mirror of what’s going on inside our gut. So that, to me, seemed like the place to start. Heal the gut and you heal the skin!
Enter My 4 tricks to Glowing skin (shortened version here)
Eliminating toxins was priority one.
By the way , I have to say right off the bat that I’m anti the juice cleanse type of detoxes, or tea detoxes. I don’t like detoxes where you eliminate whole food groups entirely. To me, it is not sustainable or healthy. I believe it can create a yo-yo dieting mindset where binge-eating habits can develop, and it just reeks of a negative relationship with food and body image. So, because of all that, I am adamantly opposed.
Anyway, I researched and researched, and found these healthy detox solutions that are sustainable for prolonged amounts of time while still eating abundantly. They are:
A) taking natural supplements that aid in detoxing daily, like:
- Vitamin c with rose hip
- Milk thistle
B) Drinking 90 ounces of water a day
C) Administering coffee enemas once a day for 7 days, then once a week, or as needed after that.
Right now youre like, “What the $^$#? What did she just say?! Ew!’, and I know, I know. I get it. I was there right with you once, too. But just trust me…coffee enemas are like little liver detox bombs, and make you feel soooo amazinzg, soooo quickly! They speed up this whole detox process quite efficiently.
I really have so much more to say on these, but I will save it for another time ,simply because coffee enemas deserves their own post.
D) Clean your mind.
This detox step for me also meant detoxing my mind of negative thinking, feelings, and ideas and that were not bringing any joy into my life. Feelings like: jealousy, anger, suspicion, resentment, fear, and anxiety…. I had get to the root of those emotions, then let them all go in daily meditation.
I started eating meals of fruits, vegetables and protein, with nuts, legumes, gluten free grains, and some cheeses—And nothing else. Guys. Nothing freaking else.
This was killer for me. Anyone who knows me knows that I love food. Like it’s my happy place. Like I go to Disneyland with that corndog stand on the right hand side of the princess castle, right after Main Street in mind—not the rides.
So, this was tough—I won’t sugar coat it. But it was necessary for me to stop eating processed junk, simple carbohydrates, excess sugar and gluten to balance out my candida and my thyroid.
Plus, did you guys know that the chemicals you’re eating in your food not only mess with your guts, but with your hormones, too? I didn’t fully understand this before I dove head first into my research. Things like preservatives, dyes, casein and gluten (even if your not gluten intolerant or sensitive) can mess with your thyroid and adrenal glands and throw off your hormonal balance pretty severely.
Its kinda scary and actually a really big deal, so I added these supplements for healthy hormonal balance and thyroid support, too.
- Evening primrose oil
- And a goooood probiotic, too, to introduce healthy bacteria back into my gut.
I did this diet strictly (I want to say for 4 weeks straight) until I saw a major improvement in my skin and overall wellbeing, then only when I felt balanced and healthy again did I slowly start to ease up on the strict diet.
I love the supplements I added in, and have noticed such a positive change that I never want to be without them-so I probably wont. Ill take them until I die. I still try to keep as close to the diet as possible so that I can maintain my current state of health, but I’m not all agro about it. I go to carnivals and eat fried banana splits and Navajo tacos just like any other red blooded American still…. I’m much better at reeling it in afterwards, though, and keeping things healthier and more chemical/preservative free throughout the rest of the week.
3) Skincare Regimen
As an esthetician I know the importance of skincare, but I was so afraid of putting anything on my face after my whole PD ordeal. I was finally making some headway with my health, and my skin was getting better slowly over time. It had been 6 months of hell with PD all over my face that always seemed to be worsening, so I was thrilled to finally be making some progress by changing the way I ate…. but the PD was stubborn and not going away entirely with diet changes alone.
So I hesitantly tried out this skincare line called Soothe by Rodan + Fields (the Dermatologist team who created ProActive), and it rid the remnants of my PD entirely within 5 days. And guys, I cried tears of joy. No joke. It was like the cherry on top of my lifestyle change, and really pushed my skin into the healing phase.
Not only did it clear my skin, but my skin was glowing….the marks left, color improved, the texture was smooth, my complexion seemed brighter–everything. It was incredible to see both as a person benefiting from it, and as a skincare specialists, too. I’ve been obsessed with the entire line of Rodan + Fields ever since, and you can read more on what I tried on my skin before I found R+F (and my skepticism on them), here.
But my advice on skincare is this;
It’s your skin. You only get one. You wear it all day, everyday, and its seen by everyone you come in contact with. And more importantly, you! You get to see yourself everyday, and its vital for your overall physical, mental and spiritual health to like what you see staring back at you in the reflection.
So, splurge on your skincare. Invest in it more than you invest on your shoes or latest fashion trends.
And just remember that at the end of the day, aging occurs. No matter what–it doesn’t discriminate. It’s actually a really a beautiful thing, in fact. I respect the aging process a lot and believe there is graceful way to do it by living a healthy lifestyle, maintaining a skin care regimen, and using preventative measures like wearing sunscreen.
If you’re lost with skincare choices, click here. You can get a good idea of what your individualized skincare regimen should look like.
& Last but not least,
This one is solely about upkeep. I know that in the beginning of anything new there is always a lot to process—-and I fully understand that change is hard, but there is power in getting past that initial beginners point, and creating a lasting habit.
And that’s all that this is…a good habit to create.
Get detoxed, drink water, make healthy food choices, and get on a great skincare regimen.
It works. Your body has been designed to run efficiantly, and your job is help it along the way, not hinder it.
Make a few changes, and keep with them! Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results after the first two days, too. Remember to have patience and trust in the process.
The photo on the right is the only one I have. I avoided cameras for obvious reasons, and got rid of most all of the evidence of ever looking like I did…But I do have this one, at least. I took it right when the PD totally cleared all around my nose/chin after 6 months–and I was about 2 weeks into my detox regimen, and one week into using R+F. I remember being so happy with this photo, guys—which is nuts, right!? I look at it now and am like, “Ewwwwww!’ But at the time, it was a big improvement and I was really proud of the progress. I took the photo on the left another 3 weeks after the one on the right. My face is so much less swollen! I never even realized how puffy and sick looking I was until I was no longer puffy and sick. My tongue was really swollen during those 6 months, too, and that also went back to normal. Along with my insomnia, anxiety, and depression–totally gone. And the crazy acne I was getting on my forehead and cheeks disappeared, as well. I remember being so worried that the bigger cystic acne marks would scar or leave dark marks, but any sign that they were ever there before are non existant now…I didn’t even realize how bad it was until I see after photos. I’m cringing!
SO why am I sharing all this? Because it sucked being in this confusing, ugly spot I was in for so long. I wanted help, and somebody to relate to, and quite honestly, I felt so alone and pretty insecure. It might seem vain to some, but it was affecting my whole life. I lost myself in this skin and health crisis…my kids didn’t have their best mom, and my husband had a shell of his wife. I was really sad.
I know that these 4 tricks work. I’m proof! If one person is feeling like I was feeling back then and finds this to be a little helpful, then that’s all I want. If you have more questions, feel free to comment—or email!