How I Healed My Skin and My Safer Skin Care Routine
Throughout high school, much of college and to be fully honest, well into my late 20’s and early 30’s, I always struggled with my skin. Chronic hormonal acne, cystic acne, zit beards, backne (if you don’t know, this is short for back acne and it’s totally fun), unexplained breakouts that weren’t exactly pimples and weren’t allergic rashes – ya know, all the usual suspects. I never had a full face of explosive cystic acne that would create an absolutely epic “before” photo for a blog post like this. I generally just wouldn’t allow photos to be taken of me when it was at it’s worst. But, I also cannot really recall a time that I ever had fully “clear” skin. There was always something. I got pretty good at mastering the art of coverup, I tried what seemed like every over-the-counter and prescription creams and gels, took several rounds antibiotics, absolutely terrifying pharmaceuticals (see also: Accutane), I spent money on mineral-based cosmetics and nicer brands. None of it helped.
My skin has come a very long way. These days, I am happy to share that I have super clear skin, very few, if any breakouts ever, little to no scarring or residual marks from the years acne and an even, smooth skin tone. I have skin that actually glows. I never thought I’d see the day!
A rare makeup-free selfie. No filters. No editing.
Full disclosure: Great lighting. Filled in brows and I have eyelash extensions.
No makeup on my skin, just washed and pat-dried skin with moisturizer and facial oil.
I know many of you want me to tell you about the one single thing I did to clear my skin. The one magical product that helped my hormonal breakouts. The one way to get rid of cystic acne. Phew, I wish it were that easy. You guys, it’s not. It’s just not quite that simple. But, in this multi-layered approach to healing my skin, each piece is important and likely dependent on the others, but none of it is overly complicated. It’s about being informed and making choices that work for you on a foundational level, so you can be on your way to clearer, more beautiful skin! For good.
Eating a clean and balanced nutrient-sense, properly-prepared, whole foods based diet, that includes healthy fats and proteins, as well as unrefined, complex carbs and a conscious removal of refined sugars from my diet – this probably was what brought the most drastic improvements on my quest to heal my skin. Beyond that initial shift, I would say addressing my digestion on a foundational level, healing my gut and dealing with underlying dysfunction and dysbiosis, this was equally as, if not more, important to the equation. Finally, getting rid of toxic, skincare products and cosmetics, this was the last piece to the puzzle, to allow my skin to truly shine and glow, to reduce uneven skin tones, acne scars and blemish marks, dark spots and reducing the fine lines that come with age. I cannot emphasize enough that what you put ON your body is just as important as what you put IN your body.
It Starts in the Gut
Why Our Gut Affects Our Skin
When our digestive system is working properly, and our guts are in peak working condition, we give our bodies the chance to actually absorb, assimilate and utilize all of the important nutrients from the nutrient-rich, whole foods we consume. All those nutrients are distributed to different areas in our bodies, to the various systems and organs, of these important recipients is the largest organ in the body – our skin.
By now you have probably heard from myself and other bloggers about collagen and gelatin and of course, the fanfare around bone broth, etc. Some of you may already know the many benefits of collagen, but even I didn’t know it’s full potential until earlier this year. Collagen is vital for our body and is the basic building block of skin, hair, nails, bones and joints and it plays a very important role in gut healing protocols.
Our ancestors utilized sustainable whole animal nutrition, which provided an abundant amount of collagen. Over the past century however, modern food processing has removed this natural and healthy protein from our diets.
This superfood supplement has provided much healing for me over this last year as it has become part of my daily gut healing protocol, so I am excited to share with you some of the research surrounding it. Beyond finding healing for my gut, the marked benefits in my skin, hair and nails have been the wonderful icing on the cake!
What is Collagen?
Collagen is an important structural protein that makes up one third of the protein in the body and up to 70% of the protein that makes up skin. Collagen is the basic matrix of the connective tissues, skin, cartilage and bone where it comes together to form scaffolding to provide strength and structure.
As a protein, collagen contains significant amounts of amino acids proline and glycine, which are harder to find in other protein sources and serve as a protector of your gut.
The Benefits of Collagen
Something that has been very important for my body during this 7-Day Spring Cleanse, but has also been a part of my daily routine for a few months now, is drinking warm lemon water. I have started (almost) every day with a glass of warm lemon water and it has made a huge differences for me. Warm lemon water in the morning helps kickstart the digestion process for the day. According to Ayurvedic philosophy, choices that you make regarding your daily routine either build up resistance to disease or tear it down. Ayurveda invites us to get a jump-start on the day by focusing on morning rituals that work to align the body with nature’s rhythms, balance the doshas and foster self-esteem alongside self-discipline.
There are many health benefits of lemons that have been known for centuries. The two biggest are lemons’ strong antibacterial, antiviral, and immune-boosting powers and their use as a weight loss aid because lemon juice is a digestive aid and liver cleanser. Lemons contain many substances–notably citric acid, calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, bioflavonoids, pectin, and limonene–that promote immunity and fight infection.
HOW TO DO IT:
You should be using purified water and it should be lukewarm not scalding hot. You want to avoid ice cold water, since that can be a lot for your body to process and it takes more energy to process ice cold water than the warm. Always use fresh lemons, organic if possible, never bottled lemon juice. I squeeze 1/2 a lemon with each glass and I drink it down first thing before I eat a single thing, or workout, etc.
BONUS: try adding freshly grated ginger or a little cayenne for a boost.
10 Benefits to Drinking Warm Lemon Water Every Morning
1) Aids Digestion. Lemon juice flushes out unwanted materials and toxins from the body. It’s atomic composition is similar to saliva and the hydrochloric acid of digestive juices. It encourages the liver to produce bile which is an acid that is required for digestion. Lemons are also high in minerals and vitamins and help loosen ama, or toxins, in the digestive tract. The digestive qualities of lemon juice help to relieve symptoms of indigestion, such as heartburn, belching and bloating. The American Cancer Society actually recommends offering warm lemon water to cancer sufferers to help stimulate bowel movements.
2) Cleanses Your System / is a Diuretic. Lemon juice helps flush out unwanted materials in part because lemons increase the rate of urination in the body. Therefore toxins are released at a faster rate which helps keep your urinary tract healthy. The citric acid in lemons helps maximize enzyme function, which stimulates the liver and aids in detoxification.
3) Boosts Your Immune System. Lemons are high in vitamin C, which is great for fighting colds. They’re high in potassium, which stimulates brain and nerve function. Potassium also helps control blood pressure. Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) found in lemons demonstrates anti-inflammatory effects, and is used as complementary support for asthma and other respiratory symptoms plus it enhances iron absorption in the body; iron plays an important role in immune function. Lemons also contain saponins, which show antimicrobial properties that may help keep cold and flu at bay. Lemons also reduce the amount of phlegm produced by the body.
4) Balances pH Levels. Lemons are one of the most alkalizing foods for the body. Sure, they are acidic on their own, but inside our bodies they’re alkaline (the citric acid does not create acidity in the body once metabolized). Lemons contain both citric and ascorbic acid, weak acids easily metabolized from the body allowing the mineral content of lemons to help alkalize the blood. Disease states only occur when the body pH is acidic. Drinking lemon water regularly can help to remove overall acidity in the body, including uric acid in the joints, which is one of the primary causes of pain and inflammation.
5) Clears Skin. The vitamin C component as well as other antioxidants helps decrease wrinkles and blemishes and it helps to combat free radical damage. Vitamin C is vital for healthy glowing skin while its alkaline nature kills some types of bacteria known to cause acne. It can actually be applied directly to scars or age spots to help reduce their appearance. Since lemon water purges toxins from your blood, it would also be helping to keep your skin clear of blemishes from the inside out. The vitamin C contained in the lemon rejuvenates the skin from within your body.
6) Energizes You and Enhances Your Mood. The energy a human receives from food comes from the atoms and molecules in your food. A reaction occurs when the positive charged ions from food enter the digestive tract and interact with the negative charged enzymes. Lemon is one of the few foods that contain more negative charged ions, providing your body with more energy when it enters the digestive tract. The scent of lemon also has mood enhancing and energizing properties. The smell of lemon juice can brighten your mood and help clear your mind. Lemon can also help reduce anxiety and depression.
7) Promotes Healing. Ascorbic acid (vitamin C), found in abundance in lemons, promotes wound healing, and is an essential nutrient in the maintenance of healthy bones, connective tissue, and cartilage. As noted previously, vitamin C also displays anti-inflammatory properties. Combined, vitamin C is an essential nutrient in the maintenance of good health and recovery from stress and injury.
8) Freshens Breath. Besides fresher breath, lemons have been known to help relieve tooth pain and gingivitis. Be aware that citric acid can erode tooth enamel, so you should be mindful of this. No not brush your teeth just after drinking your lemon water. It is best to brush your teeth first, then drink your lemon water, or wait a significant amount of time after to brush your teeth. Additionally, you can rinse your mouth with purified water after you finish your lemon water.
9) Hydrates Your Lymph System. Warm water and lemon juice supports the immune system by hydrating and replacing fluids lost by your body. When your body is deprived of water, you can definitely feel the side effects, which include: feeling tired, sluggish, decreased immune function, constipation, lack of energy, low/high blood pressure, lack of sleep, lack of mental clarity and feeling stressed, just to name a few.
10) Aids in Weight Loss. Lemons are high in pectin fiber, which helps fight hunger cravings. Studies have shown people who maintain a more alkaline diet, do in fact lose weight faster. I personally find myself making better choices throughout the day, if I start my day off right, by making a health conscious choice to drink warm lemon water first thing every morning.
Do you drink warm lemon water every morning? What are your favorite benefits?
I always zest my lemons before I juice them for my daily warm lemon water. I keep a container in the freezer and I just keep adding to it. It’s great to toss into pasta dishes, in salad dressings, etc.