My Acne Story

I wished I’d taken more pictures of myself when I had acne. Not just so I could share them here, or to prove to patients I had acne too but because it meant that I did not shy away from the camera because of my skin.

I see a LOT of acne patients and I think it’s because I went through the same situation. Not only do I know what works, not just homeopathically but products that help the case. I know what its like to feel that people are looking at you and thinking you are dirty, that you don’t take care of yourself or the feeling of being unclean. The itch, Oh My God, the itch! Scratch, scratch, scratch, until it bled!

I had the type of acne that appeared but hibernate under the skin, never coming to a head. It was extremely painful and non-acne sufferers don’t realise the pain – not just emotionally but physically, how hot, itchy, painful acne can be!

I was lucky in that I got good help, eventually!

It started I’d say when I was 14/15, typical teenage years, on my back and a bit on my chest. Then, suddenly it became worse, progressing onto my forehead. I can’t remember when it exactly appeared. It was a gradual result of one slow healing spot, to another, to another until I had a face of slow healing spots. I have a very proactive mum, so instantly, products were bought to calm the redness and hopefully to stop me scratching. I remember scratching my back so much it bled through my clothes.

Unfortunately, these products were the usual suspects of Clearasil and anything with Tea Trea (which was all the rage back in the day), a toner and cream. Thank God, I didn’t make the typcial mistake as many acne suffers can do and stop hydrating my skin!

The summer hit soon after and the inflammation got worse! My mum said, “let’s bring you to the doctor and see what they say”. Our doctor suggested the Pill but my mum was adamant NO, LOL! (Only for health reasons – well that’s what she said at the time!) So I was put on an antibiotic minocycline for 3 months.

I will admit on the meds, my skin was like a porcelain doll – clear, pale (Irish) and almost translucent. Th effect was almost instant, after 3 days but it never lasted. Within two weeks of finishing, the red, itchy painful bumps would appear, and then of course scarring.  So 3 months turned into 6 months, turned into 9 months turned into a year! At that time, I wasn’t even thinking about the long-term effects of repeated antibiotics, which did hit my system hard later. I was just fed up with my skin!

So this is when luck stepped in! During my acne treatment, I started to work part-time in a health food store, getting trained in nutrition, aromatherapy, homeopathy! It was just after my 4th round of antibiotics and again the spots/boils returned. I remember Catherine, a colleague, walked over to the shelves and put 2 products in my hand: Bach Flower Cream and New Era Homeopathic Tissue Salts for minor skin ailments. She said, “use these and you’ll see a huge difference in a month”. I had nothing to lose!

Around the same time, my mum discovered Decleor. Now, I know this is an organic blog and Decleor Is soooo far from organic but it wasnt paint stripper like the other cleansing products! It’s also based on aromatherapy and contains no mineral oils.  If you only take on thing away from this post, it’s this – be kind to your kind.  Usually, ance prone skin is far more sensitive and if there is too much oil, it’s there for a reason.  Our natural sebum is our protective mantle, so ask why your body needs to produce more? For me Decleor, was the more gentle of all products I used.

A month later…..
Gone. No spots, no itching and no redness. Yeah, it took longer than the antibiotic to take effect but the results lasted.  I was so impressed.  I remember being so nervous when I ran out of the homeopathy that I could not sleep. Terrified that if the acne returned what was I going to do next! It did not come back 🙂
It wasnt all happy endings though.  Just when you are so relieved that the acne has disappeared, the scarring is there to remind you.  I had scarring, not the worst case but scarring all the same.  At the time, I think I was more anxious about the marks left than I had been for the spots.  Scarring is for life, right? Thankfully Catherine, came back to the rescue. Vitamin E oil, burst the capsules and rub the oil on your skin every night and Zinc supplments, this time! I followed her instrucions to the letter of the law!

I think I have one time faint scar on the left hand side of my forehead – tiiiinnny.  No-one notices.  Im even told Im mad when I mention it to people and convince them its there. But yet again, the scars went, just like the spots.

Of course there have been times when I had a run of bad skin – like a few months before my wedding! Perfect timing 🙂 The other times were when I did some heavy-duty DIY.  All times probably have been linked to stress, which could have also been the reason I had acne in my adolescent years.  Both times during my adult “episodes”, (pre-green cosmetics), my mum found me more natural products to treat my skin! Again, I mention this – dump all the paint stripper cleansers!!!!!!

The taboo of bad skin can be awful and the mental scars of acne can sometimes be worse that the physical ones! This post is not here to give all the answers for acne treatments, but for people who have never had acne to understand the journey it takes you on and for suffers to know, and realise, they are never alone.

This is what I learnt, on my journey:

  • Don’t beat yourself up over it ( I know, easier said than done).  Look at your acne from this point of view – it’s your body telling you, something is not right and so this is an opportunity to sort yourself out.
  • Ance comes from the inside, not the outside.  When looking at a treatment – start there first!
  • Find management products – creams that relieve the itch.  Scratching will aggravate the skin and can worsen the scarring.
  • Use gentle and natural products to nourish the skin while sorting out the inside. That includes you boys, ok!! Items like oils (the OCM for example), rosewater, honey, aloe vera gel.  All are inexpensive and are far more effective than harsh chemicals.  These not only dry your skin, resulting in even more oils be produced, but also release toxic chemicals into your system.

Homemade Healthy “Nutella”

I’m posting here, what seems to be the most popular post from my Facebook page! I want to add that I am not a chef (although I do come from a cooking family), but I like to eat healthy food and so this means, a lot of home cooking! Luckily I have a lovely kitchen to work from!

Nutella, who doesn’t know about this product, either from recent news or your childhood when it was wrapped in a pancake, gorgeous! But, I hate to say it , rightly so, has gotten some desperate bad press recently! Although looking at the ingredients in Nutella, I can’t believe the palm oil is the only item making headlines! Sugar, although not stated what source, vegetable oil and if that’s Palm oil, then I’m imagining that the sugar source is not much better! Soy lecithin, more than likely GMO and milk, which if you have a dairy intolerance, is a no-no.

Screen Shot 2013-07-03 at 10.44.59 PM

After making it myself, I can’t see how Néstle got it so wrong! It’s so easy to make it at home, no sugar and no dairy!

There are LOADS of healthy alternative on the net. I never saw these before I came up with mine, but have a look and find a recipe that suits you!

THE GOODIES

So what are we getting that is so good from this recipe! Well Hazelnuts, and a lot of them! The protein and fat from the nuts, help stabilise blood sugar levels, making it good for diabetics and pre-diabetics alike. The oleic acid in these nuts make it great for cholesterol control and calcium and magnesium are great for our nerves! Further magnesium is found in the loverly dark chocolate and finally the coconut oil and cream, wonder foods! They are, (deep breath) anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, reduces stress on the pancreas, improves digestion meaning we absorb nutrients better, helps release energy more efficiently, promotes healthy cholesterol and taste good!

Heres the Recipe, let me know how you get on!

RECIPE:

1 jar of Hazelnut butter

2/3 tablespoons vegan butter or coconut oil

3/4 block of dark chocolate (I used 85%)

2 tbspns Coconut milk

Vanilla essence

Pinch of salt

Try and use products that are room temperature. Melt and mix together gently the coconut milk, butter or coconut oil, dark chocolate until very well melted. In a bowl or the jar you are going to store the “nutella”, add the hazelnut butter and chocolate mixture together, add a few drops of vanilla extract and a pinch of salt! Mix all well together!

Perfect for kids or teenagers or even adults, who say they haven’t got time for brekkie on wholemeal toast!

20130703-230131.jpg

My journey with the Oil Cleansing Method

There are loads of articles online describing the Oil Cleansing Method (OCM), so I’m not going to re-invent the wheel, just give you another person’s experience with it!  Also after getting the hang of it, I have a few tricks up my sleeve to help guys and gals with the transition!  From a ex-acne sufferer, I really do believe this method of cleansing is the cat’s meow! If only I know about in it my acne days, instead of those cleansers that felt like paint stripper!

I stopped using any soap or foam based cleanser a good few years back, I’d say maybe 6 years ago.  I took a workshop with the amazing Alexandra Soveral, and I mean that! Alexandra and her story of organic skincare and family history is inspiring.  During her workshop, she explained to me for the first how cleansers work against our skin by removing oils that are produced naturally and reminded me that our skin is an organ vital to our bodies function.  The oils they produce are there for a reason.  So treat it right, with care, nourishment and respect! It was also through this workshop I discovered the use of facials oils instead of cream to moisturise the skin.

So from that day forward I cut out foaming cleansers and used a Micellar Cleansing Water to remove dirt and make-up and eventually a cream based cleanser.   Fast forward to 2011 and my journey into non-toxic cosmetics took off.  It was through one of my usually late night research stints that I came across the Oil Cleansing Method.  My knowledge of organic products at the time was very limited, so I wasn’t aware of Micellar Water from organic brands such as So’Bio or Edenens.  I haven’t tried either of these, so would be interested to hear from people who have! From what I learned at the Alexandra Soveral workshop and remembering a random comment from my history classes, an age ago, that the Romans used oils to cleanse their bodies, the Oil Cleansing Method clicked with me!

I can’t remember how exactly I found the OCM or which website I discovered it from but two websites, here & here,  have really helped me since! So after reading about it and after running out of my usual cleanser I decided to give it a go! Yep, that’s how it happened! So I grabbed my bottle of olive oil and thought, “Ah sure, here we go”!

Now, I’m going to say that I am unfortunate, yes unfortunate, that my skin and hair LOVE Olive Oil.  A many of you may know this oil is not known for its enticing floral scent! But, surprisingly I don’t go to bed smelling like salad (unless I’ve have to do a ACV rinse on my hair!).

I used about a good tablespoon of olive oil and warmed it in my hands and went straight to work on my face.  I had read that a good massage with this method really opens the pores and helps to clear out all the dirt.  I focused on my nose area as, my issue now is no longer acne but large pores (linked to my sweetish tooth). Pretty much straight away I saw it dissolved my make-up.  This was pre-organic make-up days so you can imagine the staying power of the products I was wearing! I then took a muslin cloth and as hot water I could stand, cleaned my face! One swipe thats all it took and all the make-up was taken off. I wanted to make sure my skin was deep cleaned so repeated the process until no make-up/dirt came off, about three times.

In the beginning of my oil cleansing days  I just stuck with Olive Oil, like I said my skin and hair love it! I used this method every night to remove make-up and even on my make-up free days.  I was lucky enough not to go through the transition phase, which can last up to 28 days,  but I wonder is that due to the fact that I have removed sulphates a few years before already?  I never felt I needed to moisturise after the cleanse but after a few weeks and through discovering new oils, decided to add Rosehip Oil after the water stage.  Hands down every time I demonstrate this method to someone, or if a guest was staying with me, it is commented how my skin glows once cleaned.  I never got his before!

In the beginning, Id be lying if I said that my skin didn’t feel oily! It never felt greasy but I could feel I had put a product on my skin.  However, this lasted only a few weeks and so now, literally a few minutes after, any trace of oil is absorbed, leaving a smooth non-greasy feel.  I never now have to exfoliate my skin to get a youthful glow and only get spots when I do DIY.  So I am convinced they are stress induced 🙂

ADVICE FOR OCM BEGINNERS

For those who are apprehensive about the OCM or who found that it wasn’t right for your skin, this is what I think and have found when recommending it to women.

Silicone Products: If you use a lot of silicone based products, like primers, certain moisturisers, make-ups, the “oily” feeling I described in the beginning lasts longer and some women have found that their skin did not absorb the oil at all, until they changed these products.  Whether it is the silicone or the petrochemicals in general that prevent the skin absorbing oils, I’m not sure and would love to hear from those in the know!

Transition Product: Try a transition product.  If you have used harsh cleansers containing sulphates, 9 times out of 10 you skin will have been producing to much sebum to compensate.  So the transition period could be a bit hairy.  Why not try the Micellar Water Cleanser? Or a a cream to water based Cleanser? A good friend of mine went to Content Beauty in London where she was advised to use OSIKA PERFECT CLEANSER and she loves it! I’ll get her to do a little review for the blog!

REASONS I STICK WITH OCM

  1. Olive Oil is cheap, even organic cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, is more reasonable than more harsh branded cleansers.  Recently however, on further reading,  adding a few drops of castor oil is recommended for more effective cleansing! So, I’ll add this to my cleansing blend!
  2. The logic behind the OCM – like cleans like (just like homeopaty, like cures like), oil will disolve oil, makes sense! Most make-ups are oil based as well! Respects ours skins natural oil balance.
  3. Appearance of my skin! My skin have never been so good! The next morning my complexion is clear and skin tone even, small wrinkles that had started to appear, have now disappeared.

I’d love to hear from people who have used this method! Has it worked for you? If not, what happended?