Something a little bit different today; a post that has been long promised.
Skin stuff - oh, boy.
I remember being fifteen and looking at my reflection in the mirror with tears in my eyes as I scanned all the lumps and redness and inflammation that inhabited my face. Everyone around me told me: 'You'll grow out of it soon, don't worry.'
At twenty-five, I was still looking in the mirror, sometimes with tears... Sometimes with rage.
THEY SAID I WOULD GROW OUT OF THIS. WHY IS THIS STILL HAPPENING?!?!
There are bigger problems in the world than having congested skin, I've always known that. But for anyone who's ever really struggled with adult acne, you'll know how tough it is to practice self-love and acceptance when your very face is the part of you that's revealing how stressed your hormonal system/ immune system / digestive system is.
Over the years, each time I found myself looking into the dewy, crystal-clear, porcelain skin of other women, mostly, I would just feel despair, because I have experienced running years at a time where I couldn't -- for the life of me -- even imagine what it might feel like sweep my hands over my skin and not feel frustrated or insecure or gross. Smooth skin has always been such a foreign and far away and separated-from-me concept, until relatively recently.
So, it's with those memories that I come before you today with a skin message of conviction: Anything is possible.
It's a miracle for me that there's rarely a time I wear makeup anymore - it's usually just some organic tinted moisturiser, a quick slick of mascara and some cherry Hurraw. It's a miracle that I no longer stand in front of the mirror scrutinising and cursing myself. And it's an absolute miracle that some time ago, it finally landed that my skin is the mirror of my life. When I sat with that and accepted that that might be a real possibility, I was able to make choices from a place of gentleness and care, rather than attack.
Healing our skin is an holistic process, and I've found incredible results from hitting it from all angles: nutrition, lifestyle changes, supplements, external care and energy work and I'm excited to share more about my journey and what's worked for me with you below. I'm certainly not qualified to give skin advice, but I am the expert of my skin, and through mindfulness practices such as yoga and meditation, we begin to be able to observe ourselves more keenly; noticing the cause and the subsequent effect of our choices. My observations are as follows.
Oh, and bin your Proactiv. It's poison. (Seriously - it bleaches your pillowcases!)
How I'm Healing Adult Acne
Get Out Into The World
Sunshine : Saltwater : Mountain air.
It doesn't seem to matter all too much what season it is, my skin thrives on the company of Mother Nature; particularly, I've noticed, ocean swims. They're so healing, and after a couple of days of consecutive beach dips, I notice that my skin lights up significantly.
This isn't reserved for summer, though. I notice the same thing when I'm snowboarding in -15 degree temperatures in Japan. My body – and that includes my skin – loves to have the world upon it, rather than too much computer screen, or inside air, or make up.
Lifestyle / Yogic Habits
After my alarm wakes me quite early in the morning, I head into the bathroom, dry body brush (including gently on my face), and then cover my body in cold-pressed sesame oil before jumping in a cold shower and massaging myself briskly for about 2 minutes. This is a yogic practice, and it's not a cleansing shower, but rather, what we would call in the west: hydrotherapy. The cold water opens up the capillaries so blood can rush to the surface, resulting in vitality, energy and longevity, but also, youthfulness. The colder the water, the more fortunate you are! I've come to really enjoy my cold morning showers and I know they make a difference to not only my skin but to my alertness and ability to function and thrive throughout the day.
Kundalini Yoga & Meditation
Kundalini Yoga is significantly different to other forms of the practice. While Hatha, Iyengar, Ashtanga, etc, focus on the bones and the muscles, Kundalini focuses on strengthening the nerves and the glands. It's often called the Yoga Of Our Times and with so many people struggling with adrenal fatigue, thyroid problems, overwhelm and feelings of isolation and loneliness, clearly it's our nervous and glandular systems that need attention. I've found such inner strength and resilience through this practice, for so many reasons, but I'm certain it's also helped my skin heal and glow and totally transform.
- Sweat is crucial for glowing skin.
- Sweat caused by pranayama (breath control) alone is super purifying for the body, and in Kundalini Yoga the body often reaches a sweat through pranayama such as Breath Of Fire and breath retention.
- Throughout the kriya (the series of movement, mudras and chants designed to give a specific outcome), you're elevating your energy and often directing the Kundalini into your pituitary gland (sixth chakra), which communicates with the pineal gland. These glands start to secrete which in turn opens our tenth gate (or our eighth chakra) to the Divine. When we feel connected to the Divine – to our Higher Self – we feel at peace. When we feel at peace, thanks to our parasympathetic nervous system, we're in a state rest and repair, rather than adrenal reactivity (the state in which most of us live our lives). When we're in rest and repair mode - guess what we allow our skin to do? Yup, repair. Heal. Glow.
- Drinking yogi tea is fantastic for liver detoxification and circulation.
This is one of those bullet-pointed suggestions that we tend to regularly skim over, but seriously ladies, hydration is KEY. If I'm even slightly dehydrated, I feel it in my skin, first. And then in my digestive system (constipation). Keep the water flowing. I love to put a few drops of certified pure therapeutic grade essential oils in my water: either Slim and Sassy, or Lemon, or DigestZen.
I'm so blessed to have an incredible, wise, intuitive naturopath in Tanya Goldie. A few years ago, when we started working together, our focus was plain and simple: HEAL THE LIVER. Years of alcohol and drug abuse left my poor old liver in a less that lovely state, so I focused on eating an alkalising diet, taking supplements and doing coffee enemas.
When my liver was looking in better shape, we then shifted focus to hormone health and fertility. Also, my diet has changed significantly - I eat more meat and saturated fat than I probably ever have (slow cooked and respectfully sourced, of course), and I've noticed the difference this makes to my energy levels, my ability to concentrate throughout the day and the quality of my skin. All this fat I am eating (organic butter, coconut milk and cream, animal fat, olive oils) undoubtedly makes it more supple.
I've also found Sobriety invaluable to my quality of my skin. One glass of wine of an evening and I would wake puffy and dry-faced. Not these days.
Spoiling my skin
doTERRA Essential Oils
Here's where I supercharge my skincare routine!
I add one drop of Tea Tree oil to my cleanser.
I dab Frankincense oil under my eyes - on fine lines and little sun spots.
And I add one drop of Lavender to my moisturiser.
If I have a little pimple, honestly, normally I will squeeze it and then apply a little Tea Tree or Frank, and that gets rid of it quick smart!
So, let me deliver this all to you another way. If I want nice pimply congested puffy skin (um!) here's what I know I need to do:
- Stop drinking an adequate amount of water.
- Sit in front of my computer all day instead of moving my body and enjoying the outdoors.
- Eat lots of cheese.
- Eat lots of raw chocolate and too much fruit.
- Drink alcohol.
- Abandon my meditation practice.
- Wear makeup all day long
These are the things that I've observed that have worked for me over the course about about eighteen months. It's important that I mention that - these things do require the buffer of time so that deep and lasting change can take place. Please don't feel like you have to take all of this on board because that's absolutely not my intention, I'm simply sharing my journey, and if something I've suggested here resonates with you, give it a crack and observe what unravels.
It's also important to poin out that what I've mentioned above are not specific to good skin health. They're lifestyle choices. My cold showers may make my skin glow, but they also give me the courage to face my day ;) Kundalini helps to purify my entire body, including my skin, but it also makes me strong and flexible and resilient. You get the idea.
Every time we set about making changes in our lives, we benefit from approaching it with a loving, holistic approach, rather than so much of a targeted one. Meditate because you want to improve the quality of your life, not solely because you've got a goal to stop getting pimples. Drink plenty of water because you want your cells to be bathed in oxygen, not solely so your skin can glow.
May we tread gently with ourselves as we understand that our skin is our closest ally, always communicating to us when a little more balance or nourishment or calm is required in our lives.
Feel free to share this post with your natural-beauty-loving tribes, too.
PS: Keen to get your hand on those beautiful essential oils I mentioned? Buy them directly from my online shop, or alternatively, create a wholesale account so you can save 25% on your orders. More information on that right here.