This post is written by our Director of Operations, Sarah. Sarah has had an incredible skincare journey that led her from cystic acne in her early 20's to educate herself and practice new long-lasting habits to lead her to the radiant glow that she now proudly wears.
This Skin Story follows the format of our Face Mapping 2.0 educational PDF that will be available for download via the footer of this blog!
My Skin Type
When my skin is in an optimal state... I have a combination skin type, with a more oily T-zone and normal-dry cheeks. Teenage me hated having a shiny complexion... but as I've gotten older, I have embraced my oily skin and the dewy glow that it gives!
When my skin is out of balance... the pores on my nose appear larger, I break out on my forehead and chin, and my overall complexion looks dull. I was lucky to have relatively clear skin throughout my teens, but in my early 20s, I started to develop painful cystic acne that popped up more and more frequently. Late onset food allergies were most likely the main culprit behind this, and I'll talk more about that below.
Face Mapping was a hugely useful tool for me! My skin is the perfect poster child for face mapping! My breakouts reoccur almost exclusively on my chin, forehead and in between my eyebrows.
Some research has shown a connection between dairy products and an increase in the risk of acne and stimulation of sebum production. Food allergies and other inflammatory foods can also play a role in exhausting the liver and digestive systems.
In my case, the vast majority of my food allergies had no digestive issues or symptoms, they only came through as inflammation in my skin. Besides dairy, I thought I wouldn't have any other sensitivities since I had eaten gluten, wheat and eggs for years without any tummy troubles. So it was really surprising for me to learn that certain foods can trigger inflammation markers in the body without causing digestive problems.
During the week of, and the week before, I either develop cystic acne or small little pimples (comedonal acne) on my chin. While I don't have much control over that, I can control the hormones I put into my body, which is where eliminating dairy came into my life.
The lack of sun and Vitamin D during the fall and winter causes my skin to break out more. Vitamin D boosts the immune system and helps to combat acne-causing bacteria (think how UV light is used to purify water) and can decrease insulin levels, which reduces oil production.
Plan of Action & Suggestions
I got tested for food allergies in 2018 and made some big changes to my diet as a result; eliminating dairy, gluten, eggs, pork and high-sugar foods. Within a couple of months, I started to see a noticeable difference in the severity and the frequency of my acne.
Learning what foods and alcohol cause inflammation in my body (and eventually lead to new acne) allowed me to gain more control over my skin's health. Finding a healthy balance is key, as I'm not one for fully restricting myself... I do still like my wine around the holidays!
One tip: DON'T TOUCH OR PICK! I have a bad habit of touching my pimples to see how far they're progressed... which almost always leads to them getting worse or new ones popping. A customer of ours gave a great piece of advice: I now have a sticky note attached to my computer to remind me not to touch my face, something I often mindlessly do at work.
When I was younger, I used any moisturizers that promised to "mattify" or "control oil". I didn't realize that they were really drying out my skin, which led it to produce more oil... it became a bad cycle! Introducing a face oil into my daily routine actually helped to balance my skin's oil production and has made it less oily over time.
I follow a simple routine and make sure I only wash my face with lukewarm or cool water. Hot water can cause thermal shock to the skin, which can throw my skin out of balance.
The Apple Toner is my #1 product! I spray it all over my face twice a day and use it to spot treat my pimples as well! I keep a bottle in my gym bag to spray my face and neck after a workout to help kill acne-causing bacteria. This is really useful if I'm not able to wash my face right away.
I also use the Charcoal Konjac Sponge 1-2x per week but I am careful not to use it on any active breakouts to avoid aggravating them further.