Guest Article - Skin and Hormone Health
YOUR SKIN IS YOUR GUARDIAN ANGEL
One of the most important things our skin does to protect us is send messages when something is out of balance (yup….. our skin talks to us)
Breakouts, brown spots, redness, rashes, itchiness, excessive oiliness, dry flaky patches are all your skin’s way of trying to tell you something.
One of the biggest problems with the conventional approach to treating skin conditions is that it focuses on just silencing these messages (symptoms) and never looks deeper for the answers to why you are experiencing these symptoms in the first place (root causes).
The main reason I became an esthetician is because I suffered from cystic acne for over 15 years and remember vividly how it wreaked havoc on my self esteem.
Over the years I saw countless dermatologists and was put on every harsh topical and medication you can imagine…...the usual suspects:
✔ Retin A
✔ Roaccutane (more than once *cringe*)
✔ Different contraception pills
✔ Different Antibiotics
I was obsessed with getting rid of my acne and some of my own ‘answers’ included:
✔ Countless OTC acne products
✔ Alcohol based astringents
✔ Clays masks mixed with vinegar
✔ Tea tree oil
Some of the things mentioned above worked TEMPORARILY but always with uncomfortable and sometimes painful side effects.
I remember on one my rounds of accutane my lips were so dry I cut the skin off with nail scissors … *eek*!!!!
Sorry if this grosses you out but I wanted to try and convey just how bad my relationship with my well being was. I actually cut the skin off my lips. with. nail. scissors!
While some of these things I mentioned worked temporarily my “cockroach acne” always came back…..even after more than a couple of rounds of roaccutane.
Never once did professional ask me about my diet, my digestion, my sleeping habits, my stress levels, do any testing or even ask me about the skincare products and makeup I was using.
It was just a vicious cycle of a very brief (and expensive) doctors visit, a quick look at my skin and then a prescription of something. Rinse and repeat.
What’s chilling to me is fast forward 30 years later and now as a holistic acne specialist my clients come in with exactly the same back stories as me …..nothing has changed!
When I try to think why things have not changed the cynic in me immediately thinks about the saying “a patient cured is a customer lost”.
There is no money to be made in true healing.
The cash cow in my industry is to *barely* suppress people’s symptoms and keep them chained to lifelong prescriptions.
Here’s the thing…..
As I mentioned earlier acne (and all other skin issues actually) is NOT the problem - it is merely a symptom.
It is a clear message our skin is sending us that something is out of balance.
The number one question I get asked all the time is what finally cleared my skin.
I have no doubt that it began when I stopped fighting my skin, treating it like crap and started to dig deeper and look at what might be causing the breakouts in the first place.
I went from “battle mode” to nurturing my skin and educating myself.
The next time you are seeking help for your skin (and anything really) and your doctor wants to prescribe something, make it a habit to ask:
- What you are being given.
- Why it is being prescribed.
- What are the risks.
- How long you will be on the medication.
- What else you can be doing to help your skin heal.
- What you can expect when you go off the medication (I treat so many people whose skin has gone haywire after going off the medication that has suppressed their acne)
If you struggle with breakouts it’s helpful to start with what I call the A B C of healing acne:
- Alleviating Stress
- Balancing Hormones
- Calming Digestive Distress
STRESS is one of the leading causes of adult acne and whilst we are built to handle some stress it becomes problematic when we are under too much stress too often.
Stress breakouts tend to show up around the mouth and chin, skin can appear to be dull and/or dehydrated and can be very easily irritated and reactive.
We cannot always change the source of our stress but we can learn ways that work for us to manage and/or alleviate it.
If you suspect stress is a major issue you can get your cortisol (stress hormone) checked and research ways to reduce stress and try things that resonate with you (I struggle with meditation but I love gratitude journaling and reishi mushroom drinks).
HORMONAL IMBALANCE I wrote an instagram post a while back with the title “WHY 27?” because of the large number of females in their late 20’ and early 30’s who come to me for help with raging acne.
One of the first things I tell my clients to do if they are struggling with on-going acne problems is to get their hormone levels checked to see if something is out of balance.
Hormonal breakouts tend to be ‘cyclic’ and co-relate to your menstrual cycle.
Hormonal breakouts tend to be more predominant on the jawline and sometimes on the cheeks in a “beard-like” pattern.
Hormonal breakouts are usually deep, inflamed and are often painful cysts.
When breakouts are deep, red and painful they should NOT be picked and you don’t want to use anything that is harsh or creates more of an inflammatory response (no scrubs, drying lotions and potions).
I tell my clients to wrap a piece of ice in tissue and very gently run this over their hormonal breakouts to reduce swelling, bring down inflammation and take the heat out of their skin.
Blue and Red LED Light therapy is my go to in the treatment room for treating hormonal and cystic acne (I have not tried any of the at home devices but have heard good things about Light Stim and Baby Quasar hand helds)
Important tip if testing hormone levels: Hormonal acne isn’t always caused by elevated Estradiol or Testosterone. Make sure your DHT and Androstenedione levels are tested (they are far more likely to stimulate acne).
If your hormones are out of whack one easy thing you can start today is to ensure your diet is full of foods rich in Omega 3 (think fatty fish like salmon and sardines, avocados, chia seeds and walnuts).
Drinking spearmint tea (1-2 cups a day) has also been proven to help hormonal breakouts because it is highly anti inflammatory and anti-androgenic.
There are also plenty of natural herbs and supplementation that can help balance out hormones if you do not want to go (or stay) on the contraceptive pill or take prescription medication like spironolactone.
DIGESTIVE DISTRESS Bloating, gassiness, constipation and diarrhea are all tell tale signs that your system is struggling and this will no doubt show in your skin.
In 10 years of working as an esthetician I have never met someone who suffered from chronic digestive distress who did not have some sort of chronic skin condition eg. acne, rosacea, eczema.
Amongst other things your skin is an elimination organ so if other elimination organs are “sluggish” your skin will work overtime to help get rid of the toxicity and this can end up irritating your pores (hello acne, hello rosacea, hello eczema and psoriasis).
This is why gut health is so crucial to healing any skin conditions.
Do you know the top 3 things that affect our gut health?
- Antibiotics (commonly used to ‘treat’ acne - can you see the vicious cycle?)
My top 5 tips to improve your gut health immediately:
- Eat real food (especially plant based and nutrient dense)
- Eat prebiotic and probiotic rich foods ( I love kimchi, raw raut, natto, garlic, onions and dandelion greens)
- Stay hydrated
- Prioritize sleep
- Find ways to reduce stress levels
We are programmed by society to fixate on our flaws and with the rise in social media never has there been a time where the pressure to look good has been this intense.
When it comes to healing any skin condition there is no “one size fits all”.
Make sure you are getting trustworthy advice that addresses your skin’s unique needs.
Most of all make peace with your skin.
Put down the “battle weapons”.
Changing negative self talk is crucial for healing your skin.
Afterall the relationship you have with your skin is just a reflection of the relationship you have with yourself.
MY OFFERING TO MILLIE'S FOLLOWERS
If anyone with acne, rosacea or any hypersensitive skin issues would like a virtual consultation which includes:
- A comprehensive skin health intake
- A professional analysis of current products and skincare routine
- A customized holistic treatment plan covering skincare products, nutritional recommendations and lifestyle tweaks
Normally $97 but mention @findingmilliee and receive 25% off
CONTACT FOR NICHOLA
Nichola Weir is a licensed esthetician and owner of Pacific Touch NYC Skincare. She specializes in treating acne and is best known for her non-invasive and holistic approach to skin healing and rejuvenation.
As an ex-acne sufferer herself, Nichola works with people to uncover the root cause of their skin conditions and clear their skin holistically using customized treatments without having to rely on medications or harsh prescription topicals.
Nichola has been on The Rachael Ray Show and was also featured in XO Jane, Huffington Post, SHK Magazine, and Refinery29. She has also written skincare articles for the Elephant Journal and regularly gives expert skincare advice to mindbodygreen.