24 March 2015

Free Your Skin: How I'm Healing Adult Acne

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healing adult acne

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.


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.

healing adult acne

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

Cold Showers

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.

Hormone Health

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

I stayed at my mum's a few months ago and forgot to take my products along with me, so I borrowed her cleanser in the shower. No biggie. Shit happens sometimes and I'm certainly not a purist.   However, I absolutely couldn't believe how dry and awful my face felt afterwards. And to think, I used to put that type of stuff on my face all the time!
Mukti Organics is nourishing and moisturising and it smells so beautifully and naturally divine. 
free your skin
I love using Mukti products because they're certified organic, gentle, and decadent. I use the cleanser, the hydrating mist, the aloe vera moisturiser on hotter days, the hydrating moisturiser at night and the tinted moisturiser with SPF if I'm heading outdoors or if I need the slightest big of coverage. They're a local Australian brand with a gorgeous message and I am delighted to support them.

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.

T xo

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.

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    • 24 March 2015

      Love this. As someone who struggled with their skin for a long time (and who tried every lotion, potion, and crazy-strong medication under the sun) I definitely know the shame and frustration that can come with acne. These days I feel blessed to hardly even have to think about my skin -- something I would never have thought possible 5 years ago!

      When I want to be extra glowy, I drink water + apple cider vinegar (through a straw), and load up on raw sauerkraut and bone broth... Yum!

      Also: I'm intrigued (though slightly scared!) of the idea of cold showers in the morning... Might have to work up to that one!


    • Lisa
      24 March 2015

      Thanks Tara,
      My skin isn't terrible but it's certainly not clear and I'm always looking for new ways to approach healing and there are some great ideas here that I'm excited to try out!
      Love x

    • 24 March 2015

      I love this post Tara - since I went off the pill about 18 months ago I've had adult acne and I totally relate to your feeling of despair! Hormone balancing and gut healing (through diet, lifestye and chinese herbs) have been amazing and my skin has improved so much from when I first started breaking out.

      I also love Frankie and Tea Tree doTERRA oils for my skin - I make up a serum with rosehip oil and it is magical! My skin has improved so much since I started using it! I shared the recipe in a blog post a while ago and I've heard from so many ladies since who have found essential oils amazing for skin healing as well.

      Thanks for sharing your experience and wisdom and giving me some more ideas to try - consistent cold showers and maybe some lovely Mukti goodies ;)

      Lots of love xxx

    • Laura
      24 March 2015

      Thank you for this! A relief to know I'm not the only one.

      After many years on medication for my skin I am finally on my way to better skin after flipping my world upside down. Dry brushing - I am still working into a habit, but I have diluted ACV in a spray bottle which I use on my face and back after every shower and only use natural skincare now. The day I can walk out my door and not have any shame about red spots will be the most freeing and amazing day!

    • Lise
      24 March 2015

      as someone who suffered chronic cystic acne as a teen then pimples in adult life . I finally found what works for me. Zinc and magnesium, Ella Bache Intex no 5 ( the only pimple cream that heals and works ) I've tried them all and Cetaphil cleanser about $10 from supermarket. Saltwater , always saltwater.

    • Amy Southorn
      24 March 2015

      Wonderful Tara! I am so glad you are seeing results with your amazing and dedicated regime/lifestyle change. i found results with a very similar approach. it has taken the last 5 years and a lot of work to heal my skin also. It really picked up when i treated parasite infections I did not realise I had too. Perioral Dermatitis and stubborn little pimples that just hung around my mouth area finally went away! Worth a shot for anyone who has not gone down this track.

      • Dannii
        4 April 2015

        Hey Amy (and Tara),
        I am interested in the parasite side of things honey. I found out I had parasites accidentally recently, so was wondering what you did to get rid of them?
        give me a buzz on danielle.orawiec@gmail.com if you want to message further :)

    • lauta
      24 March 2015

      amazing post Tara! As always, wish I was living in Australia to take dips in the ocean too!!! Beautifully written and gives me hope for my acne. thanks for being such a beacon of light, as always XO

    • 25 March 2015

      I literally could have written the first part of this article. I have shared many of those emotions with my husband while trying to explain why I do the things I do and how my aduly acne makes me feel. Thank you for sharing, and for the advice.

    • 25 March 2015

      Thank you for such an open and honest post. Adult acne is so much more common than we think. As a nutritional therapist I've seen a lot of it and if I don't love my liver, you bet it shows on my face. And as a nutritional therapist I have to be kind to myself when I have less than perfect skin. It's so easy to tell myself I can't be very good at my job if I get spots! I love your 'whole-istic' approach. I often thought in your videos that you skin looks amazing xx

    • 25 March 2015

      Amen lovely. After battling (and I mean battling - it was WAR) with acne for almost 50% of my life (!!!) it truly feels like a miracle to have figured out what works for me. Literally, life changing. And of course - minus the liver-destroying antibiotics and violent creams! Ahhhhh. Beautiful post babe x

    • Michelle
      25 March 2015

      Tara, thank you for sharing this about yourself and for the advice. This post has come at the perfect time as my skin is worse than ever right now (I've battled this for years) and I need some serious TLC. It's good to know that there is hope! xxx

    • 25 March 2015

      Wow, Tara, this was such a beautiful post, thank you. It is so refreshing to read a holistic approach to beauty. A favorite writer of mine, Glennon Melton says that in order to be beautiful, you must be full of beauty. And I have to say, that over the last few years I have sought to fill myself with beauty, through meditation, deep breaths in nature, lots of beach and mountain time and connecting with beautiful souls. My friends comment on my clear skin (which, is weird for me as I have always had 'bad skin'), and I realize that I haven't bought skin products in years, rarely wear makeup, and use water, coconut oil and the occasional lavender mist. The difference I have really made is taking care of myself from the inside, filling myself with the beauty of this life so I may express it to others. May you continue your beauty-full journey and thank you for your inspiration. Satnam.

    • 26 March 2015

      After a few months of hibernation I am back into reading my (fav) blogs, this post is fantastic. I too still suffer acne at 28 years old. It totally sucks to be honest. Like you, I found the ocean is a beautiful skin treatment, I often do an exfoliation with sand on my legs too. Makeup makes my acne worse, I got stuck in this rut when I was working at an office, I broke out so badly that I had to keep wearing it, it was a viscous cycle!

      Actually the one thing that makes my skin glow is pregnancy (from the 2nd trimester).

      Your tips about kundalini yoga & the cold showers really intrigued me, I have a lump on my thyroid and have been quite mindful of it and what might have caused it, plus I now have Pulmonary Embolism. My body needs some love.

    • Michaela
      26 March 2015

      I never cease to be truly amazed at how synchronous all your posts are with my life, Tara. Absolutely freakin' beautiful! Bless.

      I've lately started feeling the pull towards letting my natural face show. I, too, suffered from acne and adult acne up until the age of 24 and now that I'm free of it (at 27) I've noticed I feel less pressure to cover my face up. I used to love makeup, playing around with it, and I'll still let myself do this if I truly feel the need but honestly, this practice has really lost its momentum in my life lately. I feel completely beautiful and OK to pop on some tinted moisturiser and mascara, and be done with it. It's so freeing and humbling, and my intuition tells me there is more at stake here - I'm starting to show my real 'face' to the world. It's magic.

      Thanks for sharing your insights, they were interesting to read and I'll see which ones resonate with me to take into my practice! Much love x

    • Jess
      27 March 2015

      Love, love, love! Exactly what I needed to read in this moment! Thank you Tara xx

    • nadine lee
      27 March 2015

      I totally hear you. I also suffered adult acne.
      the thing that helped me was completely accepting it... deep lessons in self acceptance; and non resistance.


    • Bronwen
      29 March 2015

      Love it! A wonderful focus on holistic health. I've switched to organic skincare products, and only feel good if I'm eating meat and good fats. The sesame oil and skin brushing techniques sound wonderful - I'll be trying that tomorrow morning! Ever since I was a little kid I loved the sensation of cold showers or jumping into a cold river. It always makes me feel so alive, and brighter internally somehow. Thank you for reminding me that yoga and meditation are important parts of skincare and general self-care. x

    • Kate
      30 March 2015

      Hey Tara

      Just a quickie.............. Why sesame oil???? Is it for the magnesium???? Cheers x

      • 4 April 2015

        Hey Kate. It's quite warming and takes the sting out of the cold water. When you massage your body vigorously under the cold water, it eventually feels like the water become warm xo

      • kate
        21 April 2015

        Awesome Ill give it a shot! Thank you xx

    • 21 April 2015

      Great post Tara. I'm intrigued by the cold shower thing. I'm going to give it a try. Thanks for sharing x x

    • Sukhmeet Kaur
      18 May 2015

      Hi Tara, nice to hear some sober sensible advice and experience on acne for a change. I have had similar struggles which started in the last four years (I am now 41). After trying anti-biotics, chinese herbs and extremely miserable diets with limited results, I have come to the conclusion that it really really is an inside job...not just addressing my insides on a physical level but also on a thinking level. Like you, I am also really into kundalini yoga and recently discovered bound lotus kriya. This is really helping me to surrender.

    • Gen
      16 June 2015

      Hi Tara, fantastic post. I too have struggled with acne as a teenager and adult.

      I did the Whole 30 for another health issue and found that my skin cleared up. When I reintroduced dairy my skin was a mess again. I would highly recommend anyone with acne to try removing dairy for a bit to see if it helps. I no longer get break outs except for the odd one which is linked to feeling stressed about something. I haven't needed spot concealer for ages - I feel so happy!!

    • 8 September 2016

      Thanks so much for sharing. I've been searching for aussie organic products to use for a little while now. Can't wait to try all of the above :)

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