team sS volunteering at dress for success – we are women, for women empowerment!

hey sS’ers, kim here.  long time since i’ve written a post – i’ve been busy with quite a few big game changing projects in the works!  more announcements about this about all that to come soon, but i wanted to share a little bit about something we’ve been doing at sS that i’m very excited about, and how will inspire you in some way. 🙂

many of you may know my story, that i founded sS after finding the regular ‘spa’ facial world boring. when i was part of the opening team at remede spa (within san francisco’s st. regis hotel) all the way back in 2005, i was at the highest end, 5-star luxury hotel spa in the city. it was beautiful, we had thorough training and regularly had high profile clients. i also had a great work/life flow: my workweek consisted of wednesday to sunday like this: i’d take bikram class at funky door yoga on new montgomery st. at 12noon, get into work by 2pm to have a leisurely homemade lunch, before starting my 3-9pm work shift.

however, i felt unfulfilled with my work.

after i found acne, and saw, with time, how well the work worked, i felt inspired, of service to my community, and finally, TRULY FULFILLED.. because what i was actually slanging now was empowerment to the people – not just short-lived relaxation, a feel good face rub or expensive diamond creams.

fast forward 12 years later (!), it’s now 2017 and i’ve had skinSALVATION for 9 years now. i know that our work is truly life changing and amazing, and i’m ready to layer on the next level of fulfillment, in service to our community.

in order to do that, i’ve committed to donating a portion of our clinic profits to legit, charitable organizations every month. in years past, my donations were random, but since this january, with the help of my team at sS SF, we’ve been making it a regular + structured thing.

we are also doing our best to create the time and space to physically volunteer individually or as a group, whenever we can.  check out the photo above, of team sS at dress for success just last friday!

so far this year, we’ve supported the following charities.  we’ll promise to write more in depth about why we’ve chosen these particular ones, and our personal connection to them.

EMPACT NORTHWEST (international medical crisis support – my best friend, tamara, used to run this org, and is still involved)

PLANNED PARENTHOOD (in honor of mike pence – duh)

ACLU (in honor of donald trump – duh)

DRESS FOR SUCCESS (the team volunteered there this friday, it was super fun!)

UNITED WAY OF GENESEE COUNTY (in support of the flint, michigan water crisis)




AIDS LIFECYCLE (in support of many friends doing the ride AS I TYPE, like RIGHT NOW!)

RIDE FOR A REASON (to support oakland’s public schools)

LA CASA DE LAS MADRES (a local + kick ass org that provides shelter, advocacy and support services to women, teens, and children exposed to and at risk of abuse and domestic violence)

DALY CITY YOUTH HEALTH CENTER (i grew up partly within the daly city school system, and have very good friends that have served as marriage + family therapists there)

with your continued support of my business – buying products, coming in for treatments, tipping your sS estheticians (to be closer in line with the hourly compensation rate they’d normally make at standard spas & salons), doing what we tell you to do to clear up and telling all your friends about us –  we can continue supporting our acne-prone community to be healthier and happier – and on a larger, more impactful humanitarian level – these charities, for years to come.


ok so you may have stumbled upon this blog piece from our instagram post, and want to know what’s up with these super pro looking bikers.  they are 3 friends of friends of sS that we’ve allocated our june donations to, to ride the grueling, uber challenging AIDS lifecycle for us, so we don’t have to train like crazy, haha. (if you don’t know about it, participants ride a bicycle from SF to LA over the course of a week to raise money for AIDS research + support). they are now on day 5 of 7, but it’s never too late to send some $$ love their way!

if anything, i’m happy to just raise awareness about this amazing cause, and shine the spotlight on some of the real-life brave riders i know that are doing it.  one of them is an sS’ers sibling, another is an sS’ers best friend, and the other a cool strong-legged friend of theirs!  feel free to support each one of them with this link here, here and here 😀

OUR (acne-safe) THANK YOU, TO YOU!
i like to think that our sS’ers are on the same wavelength as us on these kinds of things, so if you donate your time OR money to any of the charities we tell you about, show us your confirmation (even it’s just one hour, or $5!) and we’ll give you an sS gift as our (acne-safe) high-five to you!

SO MUCH GRATITUDE TO EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU for putting your faith into our process, and allowing us to do the important, life-changing and fulfilling work we love to do.  we very much appreciate the opportunity to make this our everyday, giving us purpose in life 🙂


celebrate skinSALVATION’s 9th birthday with us!

skinSALVATION is celebrating 9 years of helping empower people with the tools that they need to get, and keep, clear skin FOR LIFE. we would love for you to join us in our celebration on march 25th from 3pm – 6pm. we will have cocktails, an acne-safe and soy-free noodle bar from mau vietnamese restaurant, and hundreds of dollars of gifts from skinSALVATION, kabuki spa, mateo’s taqueria and more. come hang out with kim and the entire skinSALVATION crew and let’s have a great time!


part 5: kim’s adrenals – success! (so far – it’s a lifestyle thing)

quick disclaimer: all the stuff i write about in my adrenal blog posts are relative to my own personal experience and recommendations.  what was recommended to and worked for me may not work for you, so please proceed with caution and enlist the help of a naturopathic doctor in your area for the best + safest results!

after seeing dr. day for my consultation on 11/20/15, she ordered some tests – one of them, in particular, that would find out what kind (and levels) of brain chemicals were running in my body.  we thought for sure that i was low on dopamine and seratonin, which would make sense of my low moods and irritability.  but, when we got the results back late december 2015, we were both surprised.


it turned out that out of the 12 hormones that were tested, 2 were on the high end of normal, 2 were just over the high end of normal, and 5 were just about double what the high end of normal should be.  a total of 9 out of 12 hormones were high (or way higher) than what they should have been!

Screen Shot 2016-07-04 at 10.26.22 PM

my visit notes with dr. day said:

Overall I’m seeing that your nervous system is quite flared up, but is trying to compensate with high levels of Serotonin and GABA to calm things. Your adrenals/cortisol are overall high, but with a strange dip at 6pm that we’ll need to discuss. Assuming this was a Day 21, your sex hormones actually look quite good, and your melatonin is rocking so I hope you are sleeping well 🙂 

i also got some bloodwork testing done at kaiser, and the results showed:

Blood sugar improving but still high (stress plays a role, also diet/exercise), Ferritin (iron) high end – organ meats, oysters and cast iron are factors.  D and B12 levels ok but could be higher, cholesterol ok but keep up the good fats, thyroid is ok (primary focus is adrenals).
dr. day gave me some homework, with lots of supplements.  i straight up told her that my max was going to be 4 supplements a day, and she respected my boundary, but of course encouraged me to build upon my limit of 4, for best results.  🙂
supplements aside, she emphasized the lifestyle changes i needed to make were going to have the biggest impact on my success (read: stress management. sound familiar, sSer’s?).  she thought that the stress of the strict dietary restrictions was a bigger deal than i thought and surprisingly, also said that food reactions weren’t necessarily the first place she looked when addressing her patients imbalances – which was a great relief to me.
here is/was dr. day’s rx for me:
  • More vigorous exercise in the mornings – try this and see how it feels, may help to burn off the excess, and feel more calm and alert through the day.  (ps – for some who are super energy depleted, vigorous exercise may not be the best course of action – restorative yoga or walking may be a better choice; consult a professional for the best + safest results!)
    • done! i got a personal trainer because there was no way i was going to self-start exercise torture.. but am really enjoying the strong empowered feelings from sweating and breathing heavily after said torture 🙂
  • Calming, centering activities in the evening
    • still hard to get off the electronics, but doing the ny times crosswords (albeit on my phone) and putting on brainwave sleep music via youtube videos with the screen face down works wonders, and gets me snoozing in less than 10 minutes, every time)

JPEG image-79C126880C8D-1


  • Probiotics approx 20 billion, away from meals, shelf stable for travel
    • i was already doing this first thing in the AM on on empty stomach so no big deal; but the amount of probiotic bacteria is much higher than what i was taking, a blog post about this should be up soon!  i got these from jarrow.  the kyodophilus that sS carries is shelf-stable, but only has 1-2 billion count bacteria; the jarrow ones i picked up have 25 billion each capsule, plus an enteric coating which helps make sure the bacteria get into the small intestine where it needs to get to to be effective, vs dying the stomach’s acids.)
  • Adrenal ADAPTOGEN for day time, try one of the following:
    • Herbs like Ashwaganda, Holy Basil, Maca, Eleuthero (Rhodiola good option, but caution if too stimulating)
    • Adaptogen Blends sent in Healthwave (dr. day’s online herbal dispensary): HPA Adapt or Gaia Adrenal Support (Caution milky oats allergy) – take 2 AM and another 2 between noon-2pm.
    • L-Theanine – test this out as a single ingredient supplement, start with 100mg – take up to 400mg spread out over the day (200mg twice per day for example)
      • i ended up getting new chapter’s holy basil and took this for the month of january – seemed to work well as i was less stressed and felt more centered, but i was also on vacation for three weeks at the same time so, hard to tell what really did it.  i’ve since run out and bought a tincture instead, but am having trouble keeping up with it.
  • Adrenal CALMING for bedtime:
    • Cortisol Manager – take 1, 30-60min before bed (aka “Sleep Tonight!” over the counter)
      • this i take on and off – i hate waking in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, but dr. day said i could take it 1-2 hours before bed.  for some reason though, i feel like this gives me more active dreams (thus not as restful sleep) when i take it, versus when i don’t.  still experimenting with it.
AND WITH MEALS, for GI SUPPORT – continue (And notice what it takes to maintain the relief from the swelling that was happening before)
  • Pure Encapsulations Digestive Enzymes with HCl – 2 or more as needed, with each meal
    • taking this is definitely helpful in my digesting of foods = less bloating, but what really helps the most is if i just avoid the inflammatory foods (for me, it’s wheat, corn, rice, dairy.. eggs i still avoid, but am not sure if they bloat me up; i tested highly negatively to all these foods with dr. fig so dr. day thought it best to keep avoiding, especially since i could feel the negative effects from eating them)
After you get back from Japan, add these as a foundational routine…
  • Vit D – 5,000iu total (2 in multi, 1 in fish oil so take 2 drops of the liquid), take it with a meal that contains fat/oil – retest at Kaiser in about 3 months
  • The Big One Plus – 1 per day, WITH food – contains 2,000iu of Vit D
  • B complex – 1 per day, WITH food – more B12 to help with stress/energy
  • ProOmegaD (caps) – 2 per day WITH food (we didn’t discuss this but please add along with the multi and B complex as a foundational supplement for you… source of good fats and anti-inflammatory and helps calm the adrenals – plus many other long term health benefits.)
    • i was in japan for a few weeks in january and i have to admit, i have not added these yet.  i know, i know!  but will be more accountable since i am back on writing out my experience for the world to hold me accountable!
  • Stop using the cast iron pots and retest ferritin in 3 months
  • Stay off caffeine
  • Continue to avoid/minimize any known/suspected allergens
  • Turn computer screens (and brain) off in the evenings, allow 2 hours (or at least 1 hour) of peaceful and calm time before bed.
    • for the most part, all this was no prob.  i switched out my cast iron for stainless, and an enamel coated aluminum one i got at rainbow grocery. (apparently the enamel makes it safe, since the aluminum is never in direct contact with food).
    • i’m great at avoiding caffeine, except for the VERY rare almond-milk tea tapioca drink from boba guys!  i’ve never been a coffee drinker so this is was easy.
    • allergies have actually been non-existent this year, even with an accidental eye-rubbing-after-a-cat-hair-covered-sofa exposure.  2015 was the worst allergy season i could remember in all my life (likely because my body was already so stressed out, physically and mentally).  i got a series or two of treatments at advanced allergy clinics in hayes valley.  yes, it was super expensive, and the technology + science is really out there, but i had tried everything else over the years, and this totally worked for me.  
    • the reactive foods for the most part i am doing ok with, and am occasionally cheating with a bite of the BF’s morning buttered toast, or a few corn chips at lunch.  😉  and when i do cheat, i definitely feel bloated, and sometimes i’ll even get a headache – so after feeling shitty, that i’m good for a week or two until my next time of weakness.  sigh.  it’s a work in progress.
    • a little bit of crossword and finding my sleep track on my phone, but am trying to catch up on my new yorker + afar magazine back issues more and staying off the blue screens.  i also tried using f.lux for a while, an app designed to eliminate the blue-rays from electronic screens.  i’m not sure if it helped, but it did let me know when it was getting close to bedtime, and drained my battery, which i suppose both help to support the cause?


i have to say that since switching over to working with dr. day, i have been feeling much better, and stress has been easier for me to deal with.  stress management was and still is the biggest part of my wellness plan.

i accredit many things to the stress relief i’ve gotten since the first meeting with dr. day.  she opened up my eyes to the possibility of making some drastic moves, in search of greatly improving my quality of life:

  • i (drastically) simplified my work day before it had even started.  i moved from oakland back to san francisco, and traded in my SUPER stressful + ridiculous 1 hour commute (each way, during non-rush hours mind you) to 10 minutes, to work each day.  those traffic days had me arriving to work furious and annoyed, which was not a healthy nor productive way to be, especially as a leader for an awesome team!
  • i asked for, and received, awesome help + support.  liesse really stepped up into her clinic manager role, which has immensely helped unload a lot of the day to day things that kept me from working on the higher-level projects – ones that i was always frustrated about never being able to complete.  and now that lacey is on our management team, she’s been able to help liesse with her duties so that we can all work together to tackle larger projects.  my partner, family and friends also know that i am keeping it low-key and am avoiding certain foods, and support me through the process.  prioritizing relationships that matter the most to me has helped as well; i didn’t want to years to fly by without my seeing my closest girlfriends and their babies grow up!  so i am more, now than ever, putting more effort into keeping in touch with my peeps.  being more active in my professional colleague networks also is great; i can let off steam and share stories of tough times and questionable sanity with a community i can relate to, learn from and laugh with!
  • i started working out.  i bit the bullet and hired a personal trainer.  an accountability buddy would work too, or a strong STRONG sense of willpower.  i needed to get my body moving (aside from walking to the car, and walking from the car to work) and needed someone to motivate me and hold me accountable.  nyrene garces of n-training has been great, supportive, and inspiring.  she comes directly to my house, so i have no excuse to not work out.  it’s a luxury, but hopefully i’ll get myself to a point where i will self-motivate everyday (fingers crossed!).  PLUS, my physical and mental health is not something i can put a price on.  now, when i leave town, i do my best to work out because 1. i miss feeling that positive-attitude and empowered-strength-high from working out, 2. i would like to be buff, fit and fly at some point in my life and 3. i don’t want to eat it hard when i get back into town – nyrene kicks my butt with her action-packed 45-minute exercise routines!
  • i took time off alone to rest, rejuvenate.. and work.  i was fortunate enough to score a black friday deal on those tickets to japan, so i took advantage and went for three weeks, on my own.  with liesse at the helm, i could relax in knowing sS would be ok without me physically being in the office.  being in a space where i didn’t have the distractions of my day to day life at work and home (laundry!  cooking!  cleaning!  social life!) helped me regain some energy and motivation to take care of myself.  i was able to get more fresh air and sunshine, be alone with myself, take my supplements, eat well..  and since i felt much better overall, i was able to get down to the nitty gritty of some WAY overdue projects i had been putting off, along with keeping up on emails without getting stressed out (or distracted by) the day-to-day happenings in the clinic.  when taking that much time away or finances don’t allow for that long a getaway, going camping, heading to kabuki hot springs or imperial spa for an afternoon, and/or getting massages or taking walk listening to spa music are also great + accessible ways to do you.

i have to honestly say, that i am feeling the best i ever have in the last handful of years, and am doing, thinking, and feeling positively about the future.  the stress of the last several years had definitely turned me down the path of thinking all would be better if i just shut sS down and sold donuts at the mall.  but with all the support and work i am doing on/for myself everyday, i am back on the train to growing sS’s reach, and achieving total world domination 🙂

i’lll check back after i’ve started taking the recommended supplements and retest to see if my blood work and hormone levels have changed at all, and any other tricks and tips i’ve picked up along the way to help and inspire those who may be affected the same way i was before i got better!

part 4: kim’s adrenal journey (with a new naturopath)

quick disclaimer: all the stuff i write about in my adrenal blog posts are relative to my own personal experience and recommendations.  what was recommended to and worked for me may not work for you, so please proceed with caution and enlist the help of a naturopathic doctor in your area for the best + safest results!

Screen Shot 2016-07-04 at 5.50.23 PM

whoa!  the last journal entry i wrote was last august (but posted in october 2015).  time flies.  this blog series is something that has been hanging over my head, and thanks to the amazing management team at sS (shout out to liesse + lacey!), i’ve finally found the time and space to type all this out, and am dedicated to finishing it!

after doing the vitamin and diet regimen as recommended by dr. figoski for 3+ months, i felt less bloated (which is a great thing, don’t get me wrong), but for the most part, didn’t feel any better.  i adhered to the diet very strictly, took all my supplements, yadda yadda yadda and still didn’t feel as great as i should have, for all the work i was putting in – still cranky, not able to handle stress well at all, feeling tired and uninspired to work out – i decided to try working with another naturopath.

dr. amy day is a naturopathic doctor based out of berkeley, and i first had heard of her in 2013, from our lovely sS’er CS who was referred to us by dr. day.  not sure exactly how dr. day found out about us, but over the years, we’ve referred clients to each other based on reputation and testimonials from our mutual clients.  CS had some complicated hormonal issues that dr. day was able to help solve (when no other conventional or alternative doctor could).  when i looked up dr. day’s credentials on her website, i was particularly impressed to find out that she was the 4th naturopathic doctor to be licensed in california (!) and that she had personally gone through, cured herself of and specialized in women’s adrenal fatigue + health.

after more poking around, i found her (free) guide called “the busy woman’s 2-week recharge“, read it and liked what i saw.  i particularly enjoyed the straight-forward approach with which she wrote, truly tailored towards the busy woman.  in the few follow-up emails sent after downloading the guide, at the top of each email read a line that said “if you’re too busy, just read the text in bold, and read the rest when you have time!”.  i loved that!

so after doing some preliminary research, out of desperation and frustration (mostly frustration), i scheduled a phone chat with her to see if she could help me.  i very frankly expressed to her that given all the ‘natural healthy hippy stuff’ i had been doing specifically for the adrenal fatigue in the several months prior with no results, i would be pissed if she made me do the same things.  i was super honest and told her that i really wasn’t that motivated to work with another ND, and i DID NOT want to do the same exact stuff i had already been doing, because of the lack of results i felt with the last round of work with doctor fig.

during our phone chat, i described my daily lifestyle, everything i had been doing as per dr. fig – and since i had written the blog posts about my journey, she actually hopped online to read through all the content and asked me questions while i was on the phone with her.  she said that if i hadn’t already done all the baseline stuff i had did (food elimination + supplements), she probably would have started me off there – which was fair.  but since i had already been through that “first stage” of care, she thought she’d be able to come at my imbalances with a different approach, and decided that working together may be fruitful after all.

she sent me some paperwork and access to her secure online appointment scheduling and communication system.  (for the record as of october 2015, the cost for the first 3 visits – 90 minute consult + 2 follow-ups – came to about $1k).  it came with a money-back guarantee: if after the consult i didn’t feel like it was going to be a good fit, she’d pro-rate the package and refund me the portion of the $1k i hadn’t used up – something SUPER rare in the alternative health industry, if existent at all.

at the in-person consult, we sat, chatted, and she decided to run some different kinds of tests to try and get to the root of the problem.  what really interested me though, was the approach she took: she decided to test my body to would find out what was going on with my brain chemicals.  GENIUS!  it made sense that since i was still feeling super stressed, depressed and anxious even with all the dietary- and vitamin-supplement things i was doing, maybe it was a brain chemical thing.  that along with another hormonal-spit test (and i think a couple others) started the road to discovery.. and hopefully healing.


sS’s founder kimberly tan in SELF magazine!


ICYDK, i was interviewed last year, to be a part of an article featured in SELF magazine’s march 2016 issue called “the clear skin diet”.  to be honest, i wasn’t quite sure what the work was going to lead to (if anything at all), so i didn’t make a big fuss out of it.  but now that we are officially published, we can now fuss a big fuss about it!


alexandra engler, the journalist who wrote the piece, was on a quest to find some ways to clear up by way of her diet.  through several hours of over the phone and in-person discussion (when i went to NY last fall?  yes, this is what that trip was for), i was able to share with her the tenets of sS living.  as all you sS’ers know, diet alone is just one component of the acne-safe lifestyle we strive to teach our clients.  there are so many factors involved: internal, systemic and topical..

at the end of the day, only just a couple of kim’s soundbites made it through to the actual printed article.  BUT, it’s still pretty cool to see our name in national magazine print.  🙂

find us in this issue right hereplease feel free to go to your local newsstands and get a copy of this issue, or keep scrolling to see the scanned copy of the article, and share with your friends and loved ones who may benefit from some acne-safe lifestyle knowledge!

self magazine march 2016 issue page 1

self magazine march 2016 issue page 2

self magazine march 2016 issue page 3

self magazine march 2016 issue page 4