She Loves Natural was founded from my personal experiences and struggles to stay healthy in a modern world vying for convenience. Everyone has their own reason(s) and perhaps like you, your decision to switch to natural skin care starts with a skin condition. Mine, acne.
Acne is synonymous with coming-of-age high school kids. Nothing more than a phase and something you grow out of off once your hormones calm down. Maybe, if you’re lucky.
Acne Isn’t Just For Teens
Acne didn’t affect me until I was a young adult in my early twenties and lasted on & off till I was in my late twenties. Your twenties, that crucial decade when you’re figuring out who you are, having fun and taking on the world. Confidence is everything when you’re in your twenties.
My face, especially cheeks were covered; aggressive, red and sore. While my friends were out and about, I was trailing behind embarrassed and ashamed. Naturally introverted, acne made things feel impossible. Days where I didn’t want to leave my bedroom and weeks where I wouldn’t look in the mirror.
My skin care routine became a game of hide and seek. Stuck in a vicious cycle of trying to treat my acne with over-the-counter creams to medically prescribed drugs. And then trying to hide it with a colourfully toxic combination of concealers and foundations.
Nothing worked and after several failed attempts with antibiotics and contraceptive pills, my doctor decided there was only one path left: Roaccutane. I was made aware of the side effects but I didn’t realise just how dangerous Roaccutane was. I was at my lowest and willing to do anything to get rid of my acne so I went along with the weekly blood tests and pregnancy checks (read scientific studies carried out on Roaccutane here) After my first course on Roaccutane, my acne cleared and I was elated. I quickly forgot all about the side effects I’d experienced; feelings of extreme lows, despair and depression, having to moisturise excessively every day to alleviate dry and cracked skin and heightened sensitivity.
How I Cured Myself of Acne
I was finally acne free. Or so I thought.
A year after Roaccutane, the acne returned and persisted for another long twelve months. I watched all those skincare adverts promising to get rid of acne for good but for me nothing worked. Having gone through Roaccutane once before I wasn’t keen to do it again, even though it was an option.
Now older and a little bit wiser, I spent more time researching. I wanted to understand what caused acne and why it faired up seemingly suddenly. I pushed through the embarrassment and shame I used to feel and wasn’t in such a rush to hide my face. Quick fixes do not work – lesson learned.
There was a lot of online information about diet related skin conditions and how diary could be a potential trigger for acne. And so it began, I cut dairy completely out of my life, substituting it initially for soy and now nut milks. There was a marked improvement!
Step 1. Fix Your Diet
Let food be your medicine and let medicine be your food
-Hippocrates, founder of modern medicine
The relationship between diet and acne is still debated by some, science tells us bad skin is an indication of a poor diet, lacking essential vitamins and minerals. I truly believe improving my diet has been a significant factor to improving my skin and overall health.
Two weeks without dairy in my diet and everyone started to notice an improvement in my skin. My acne was less angry, less red and less inflammed. I was still prone to mild hormonal flare-ups (especially around TOM) so I decided to eliminate sugar. Having such a sweet tooth, this was tough but I stuck with it and by the end of the second month I noticed not only my skin had improved dramatically but I was also less moody, less bloated and my outbreaks had virtually stopped.
Just changing these two things made a huge difference to my skin. I now adopt an 80/20 approach to the way I eat (or if I’m honest, 60/40) 80% of the time I eat real, unprocessed, ‘clean’ food and 20% of my time I still reach for that slice of cake with my coffee.
Lotions and potions are a quick fix but if you want to sort your skin out for good consider a diet overhaul. With so many ‘diets’ to follow I would suggest any that encourage you to eat real food; no more refined sugar or processed food.
4 Acne Fighting Diet Tips
It seems obvious now but these four steps made a huge and noticeable difference;
- Lots of vegetables, especially dark leafy greens
- Lots of water to flush your system of toxins
- Eliminate dairy, especially milk
- Eliminate or significantly reduce your sugar intake
If you are looking for a new way of eating I can highly recommend Paleo/Primal (often referred to as the caveman diet), check out my go to blog Nom Nom Paleo for more information and recipes as a starting point.
Step 2. Live Clean
There is no magic pill.
Treating acne can be a complex, laborious task, different for everyone. But removing dairy and heavily reducing my sugar intake really made all the difference. Discovering the side effects a bad diet can have, I turned to other unnatural factors in my life; skin care.
It was an epiphany. All those empty promises and clever marketing campaigns are nothing more than overpriced water and skin irritating chemicals. Deciphering the labels on my products and a lot of research lead me to understand how certain ingredients commonly found in beauty products, were actually doing more harm than good. Sure changing my diet made a difference but that was only half the battle. I truly wanted to feel good about what I put in and on my body.
Improving your skin takes more than some miracle cream, no matter what the price tag, it’s a healthy combination of good diet and a clean environment. Eating better spurred me on to clean up what I was putting on my face and seek alternatives. I ended up making my own natural skin care products and quickly loved how easy it was to whip up a body butter in my own kitchen. Tailoring products that suited my needs perfectly.
Pamela’s 3 Things to Remember for Winning Skin
- Ditch the gunk and let your skin breathe. Acne isn’t forever but covering it up with makeup will slow down the healing process by clogging your pores and irritating sensitive skin.
- Make the switch to natural skin care. Learn to make your own products or for convenience swap your products for cleaner, more natural versions. Free from alcohol, parabens and fragrance. Once your diet is on track you skin care routine should only need to be minimal.
- Smile, you are beautiful. Stress and low self-esteem are the last things you need. Feeling stressed can be a potential trigger for many skin conditions and cause immediate and can trigger flare ups, making things worse. It took me a while to figure this out.
More than five years since my last acne outbreak and I am proud to say I am still acne free. There were moments when I gave up and started to accept I may always suffer from acne and other times the quick fix was all that mattered. From experience it has been the small and incremental changes that have really made the difference.
Going natural didn’t happen overnight but those small steps I made daily to improve my diet and lifestyle have meant my skin is in better condition than ever before.
Don’t give up, try a different approach. I hope my experience can help you too.