Acne-safe Guide to Natural Skin Care Trends

– by kerry watson
with all the natural skin care trends that fill up our social media feeds each day how do we know which ones are safe for our acne-prone skin. here’s a quick list of do’s and don’t’s to help you navigate the world of fad fabulous DIY natural skin care.
DON’T
“natural” trends to avoid:
100% apple cider vinegar (ACV) or 100% lemon juice: these are both very acidic and can cause burning of sensitive acne-prone skin. there are safe natural ways to hydrate and tone the skin that won’t cause burning or breakouts and these are not them.
the oil cleansing method (OCM): unfortunately, most of the oils used in the OCM are cloggy. coconut oil is a super popular example. it happens to be highly comedogenic (pore clogging) so stay away.
essential oils on the skin: most essential oils have not been tested for comedogenicity (rate of clogging the pores, producing acne) so we suggest avoiding using these directly on areas that tend to breakout. also, essential oils are too concentrated to use neat or without diluting first and most of the oils used to dilute essential oils happen to be cloggy. safflower or sunflower oils are the only acne-safe ones that we have come across. so if you are using essential oils on your skin, dilute them first and only apply them to areas that don’t get acne. the one exception is tea tree oil which can be used undiluted as a careful spot treatment for inflamed acne breakouts. all you need is apply one drop on a q-tip and then dab the inflamed spot gently.
clay masks: these sound like a good idea for acne; they are drying, detoxifying and natural. unfortunately, they are way too drying and can cause too much blood flow to rush to the surface of the skin. this can increase inflammation and can damage the fragile capillaries that lay just beneath the skin’s surface. no clay mask until your skin is all cleared up and then only keep them on the skin for a couple minutes, never allowing the clay to completely dry out on the skin.
facial steams: another good sounding thing for acne-prone skin: opening up the pores, hydrating, detoxifying – nope, don’t do it! especially if you tend to suffer from inflamed acne breakouts. the heat from the steam will make the inflammation worse. think of putting a heating pad on a sprained ankle. it’s just going to make everything swell up. your esthetician might use steam during your professional acne treatment but only if your skin clearly indicates that it would be beneficial. nine times out of ten it’s not.
manual scrubs and brushes: when it comes to acne-prone skin, exfoliation is key but not all types of exfoliation are the same or even recommended for acneic skin. chemical exfoliation in the form of peel, active toners and serums can work wonders on acne prone skin. physical exfoliation in the form of scrubs and brushes, though fine for some, are not always a good idea for all. scrubbing sensitive inflamed skin with active inflamed breakouts is going to make the inflammation worse and can cause lesions to burst open spreading bacteria to other parts of the face.
not washing your face: if you are working on managing your acenic skin, you are going to have to use a mild acne-safe cleanser twice a day. not washing your face will allow dirt, sweat and oils to sit on your skin which may not cause issues for some folks but if you are acne prone you need a more attentive skin care regimen which will most definitely include cleansing.
DO:
“natural” trends that are safe:
manuka honey:  manuka honey or any nice raw honey is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. you can use it as a mask all over or just apply it to inflamed breakouts. leave it on or up to 30 minutes and then rinse off with warm water.
collagen powder: it’s a great daily food supplement for the skin. we wrote a whole post on it. check it out here.
rosewater: looking for a gentle hydrating toner for your sensitive acne prone skin? try rosewater or rose hydrosol. it smells delicious and it’s great for any skin type because it’s hydrating, calming and slightly astringent. if you are struggling to control or manage your acne you may need an active toner with exfoliating ingredients. rosewater is a safe bet for cleared up acne prone skin but it may not be the best choice for active acneic conditions.
icing: icing is the best way to control inflammation topically. just as we would ice a sprained ankled or broken arm, we can ice the face to bring down inflammation. inflamed acne can quickly be reduced by icing at least twice a day for up to 30 minutes at a time. in addition to it’s anti-inflammatory action, icing the skin creates micro fissures in the skin, that allow the active ingredients in skin care products to penetrate deeper into the pore where acne starts to form.

relax and unwind!

by kerry watson

after a long stressful day at work or at home with the kids, making evening “me time” can be a challenge but it’s well worth the effort! prioritizing healthy downtime each night counteracts the negative effects of a stressful busy life, which otherwise takes it’s toll over time. so instead of flopping on the couch and turning on the tv, give your nervous system a much needed break each night by incorporating some of our favorite evening and bedtime rituals

if you enjoy doing yoga but have had trouble finding the time to take a class, try down dog. it’s a totally awesome free yoga app that provides you with your own private yoga class anytime and anywhere. use it at home or in a hotel room or even in your office at work. to have some fun, set little challenges for yourself like 20 minutes of yoga for 20 days. your entire body will thank you!

if you haven’t given meditation a fair try, there’s no better time than the present! especially now that there are so many great free apps available that make it super easy and fun! checkout headspace or calm or my absolute favorite one – insighttimer. i have a fear of public speaking but have had to do it many times over the course of my professional life. meditating for 5-20 minutes before a speaking event has absolutely saved me every time. the guided meditations on insighttimer are wonderful. you can search for a specific topic and length and each meditation is rated by other users so you never end up with a dud. my favorite topics to search for include – manifestation, letting go, sleep and anxiety. it works every time! and kim likes insighttimer for a quick am mediation t wake up verses snooze!

instead of looking at your phone, computer or tablet in bed, reach for a good old fashioned paperback book 1-2 hours before turning in. looking at the light from electronic devices can raise cortisol, a stimulating hormone that tells the body that it’s time to wake up. not exactly, the best thing to do when it’s bedtime. right now, i’m reading all the poldark books by winston graham. if anyone wants them after i’m done just say the word! also, if you have trouble falling asleep, kim likes to listen to brainwave sleep tracks on youtube with the display turned off to keep the room dark. it helps her slip off to dreamland in no time!

whenever i’ve had a particularly trying day, i light a yummy candle, turn down the lights and fill up the tub for a much needed evening soak or acne-safe bubble bath. what better way to let go of the trials and tribulations of a tough day?

and of course, last but not least, don’t forget to cleanse, ice, tone and apply your moisturizer. sweet dreams!

new probiotics!

hey sSers! just a quick post to let everyone know about our switch to a new line of probiotics. for the past several months, we had been selling probiotics and digestive enzymes by kyo-dophilus. while we still love this brand, we wanted to introduce a more powerful probiotic into the clinic for our clients. our new probiotics are called jarro-dophilus by jarrow and they contain 25 billion viable cells per capsule, as opposed to 3 billion in kyo-dophilus. the new probiotic also contain 8 different strains versus kyo’s 3. these shelf-stable probiotics are enteric-coated, which means that they can survive stomach acid and reach the small intestine intact, increasing the spread of beneficial gut bacteria. these probiotics are more potent meaning that some clients may need to slowly work up to the suggested dosage.

jarrow probiotics (legally has to) list dairy and soy in trace amounts as some of their ingredients. this is because some strains of the jarrow high potency formula were grown on growth media that includes dairy and soy. but, after the growth period the strains are filtered off and washed away from the culture medium. this leaves little to no trace of dairy and soy remaining. the strains are then added to a carrier, like potato starch, and subsequently encapsulated. bottom line – the minuscule amount of dairy and soy content of these probiotics should not pose a problem for those who are prone to acne. we chose to carry this brand because:

  1. we believe in the importance of digestive health for clear skin,
  2. this brand has been proved by third party researchers to be shelf stable, and are enteric coated and
  3. jarrow is one of the leading probiotic brands in intestinal and immune health that you can easily find anywhere.

we will be reviewing other brands of probiotics and perhaps will start carrying these other brands to survey the best of what’s available on the market.

our favorite acne-safe restaurants in san francisco + the surrounding bay area

at skinSALVATION, we love to eat.

we love to grocery shop, cook meals at home and enjoy meals that are prepared for us by loved ones. we love to go to the neighborhood restaurants where they know us by name, and join year-long waitlists to have fine dining experiences. we love eating food that fuels our bodies and teaching our clients how to choose foods that will fuel theirs.

we consider cooking at home to be the most acne-safe option because it means that you have complete control of what goes into your food. often times when you eat out, there is hidden dairy, soy and cloggy cooking oils in dishes that you wouldn’t expect.

however, we recognize that we live in a mecca of some of the world’s most wonderful restaurants, so we’ve begun a list of some of our personal favorite places to eat acne-safe food. this list will be updated as we remember gems that we’ve experienced before and as we explore new restaurants.

note: not everything on these restaurant’s menus is acne-safe. make informed eating decisions by asking your server if dishes contain dairy or soy. they are happy to tell you and may be able to make substitutions to accommodate you.

pro tip: when a friend or a date asks you out to dinner, offer to cook for them or suggest a restaurant from this list where you know you’ll be able to find something to eat that fits your dietary restrictions. you can check out the menus online ahead of time and even call to ask about ingredients so that you already know what you’re going to order before you get there.

 

DINING OUT FOR DINNER IN SAN FRANCISCO

bar agricole has a seasonally based menu chock full of locally grown produce and sustainable meat options. all of their dishes can be made dairy + soy free and the “farm-to-table” restaurant just received another 3-star rating from michael bauer (esteemed food and drink writer for the sf chronicle for over 28 years!). be sure to try a handcrafted cocktail and the $1 pork sausages, served with gut-loving sauerkraut, during their daily happy hour from 5pm to 6pm.

trou normand is the sister restaurant of bar agricole and their made-in-house charcuterie selections are among the best the city has to offer! the protein-heavy menu favors us carnivores, but the citrus salad around this time of year is delicious and vegan, dairy + soy-free.

minas brazilian hosted the skinSALVATION team for our new years dinner and we pretty much ordered one of everything on the menu. they were very accommodating about making dishes dairy, soy and gluten-free for us.

llimon rotisserie has amazing roast chicken, sides + ceviche that are dairy + soy-free. they do have a few dishes on the menu that include soy sauce as indicated on their menu.

tin is a family-run restaurant that serves traditional vietnamese fare. we love to start with the fresh spring rolls, sans peanut dipping sauce, and follow it up with a steaming bowl of phō. perfect for these gloomy san francisco days we’ve been having!

turtle tower speaking of phō, turtle tower is know for this broth based soup, boasting some of the best freshly-made noodles. be sure to ask if they add soy sauce to any of the dishes that you order and if so, ask them to hold it.

*tip: bring your own bottle of coconut aminos in your bag when you dine at asian restaurants. you can add your own instead of soy sauce!

 

DINE IN OR TAKE OUT FOR LUNCH + DINNER IN SAN FRANCISCO

la taza has a huge menu including many great salads, which you can order without cheese. the kale con quinoa with steak is a staff favorite!

mateo’s taqueria is an upscale taqueria located downstairs from skinSALVATION. we love that they use organic ingredients and will make anything without cheese or crema, just ask for, “no dairy.”

staff favorites: guacamole (ask for no cheese!) + horchata made with almond milk. although horchata is a sweet cinnamon rice milk, it’s often mixed with dairy milk to make it creamy.

mau has delicious + nourishing broth as the base of many of their dishes. their staff is very knowledgable and can tell you if any of the dishes contain soy (a hard feat in many asian restaurants).

gracias madre takes a vegan approach to traditional mexican dishes. we LOVE that they use cashew cheese in their dishes, making them dairy AND soy-free.

burma love is a great burmese restaurant in the mission. some of their dishes contain soy so be sure to ask before ordering. staff favorite is their tea leaf salad (ask them to hold the peanuts to keep it acne-safe).

 

EAT IN THE EAST BAY

teni east kitchen makes an amazing burmese chickpea tofu for those of you who are missing the traditional soy dish.

burma superstar is the east bay mama restaurant of burma love. same rules apply.

mission heirloom is a beautiful paleo restaurant for meals and treats. their brazilian waffles (with cheddar cheese) and their coffee drinks are the only items on the menu to steer clear of. many of their dishes contain coconut oil, which can be problematic for many of us who are acne-prone but is okay in small amounts.

enssaro ethiopian is gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free and you get to eat it with your hands! the meat sampler and veggies sampler are both amazing.

 

DELIVERY

darn good food

mealmade delivers delicious paleo meals for lunch and dinner in san francisco. a staff favorite is their orange chicken with cauliflower rice.

methodology is a subscription based paleo meal delivery service. their delicious + healthy meals are perfect for people who don’t have time to meal prep acne-safe food for the week. use promo code SKINSALVATION to get 10% off of your first week.

sprig lists all of their ingredients and nutrition information on the website + app so you can check if dishes contain dairy or soy before ordering.

munchery allows you to add filters for things like dairy, gluten and eggs. you have to double check ingredient listings to be sure that there’s no soy added.

good eggs delivers organic groceries, prepared meals and snacks from stores across the bay area.

instacart delivers groceries, prepared meals and snacks from stores in your area like whole foods, bi-rite, and rainbow grocery.

postmates delivers food from a TON of restaurants in the bay area. some of our favs are:

  • roam artisan burgers, which can be ordered without dairy, and even without a bun!
  • pica pica maize kitchen, which makes gluten-free peruvian style arepas. be sure to ask for yours without cheese!
  • project juice, which has a ton of great soy-free and dairy-free prepared meals. their coconut crepes with cashew cheese + blueberries are a staff fav!

 

SWEETS + TREATS 

wholesome bakery makes cookies + cupcakes free from the top allergens including: dairy, soy, gluten, and eggs. their thin mint cookie sandwiches are a staff fav!

dandelion chocolate makes beautiful dairy-free and soy-free chocolate.

sidewalk juice makes great veggie juices + smoothies. some of their smoothies contain dairy, soy milk or sherbet (super high in sugar!) but they will gladly sub almond milk for you! staff favs are the green energy juice (ask for it without apple + add extra lemon if you’re on candida cleanse!) and the blueberry almond smoothie (ask them to leave out the fro-yo).

boba guys will make any of their delicious boba drinks with almond milk instead of dairy!

 

 

 

 

this article was written for you by liesse + chelsee.

holiday travel essentials for clear skin

 

airplane travel and acne

snacks

airport and road trip food is often filled with dairy, soy and lots of salt. this article from BBC says that airplane food is heavily salted because lack of humidity and low pressure in the cabin decreases our ability to taste salt + sweet by 30%. not only can this heightened salt intake increase water retention making your body feel puffy, it can also irritate acne. forego the airport food and bring these snacks with you instead:

  • justin’s single serving almond butter with apple chips (i’ve found these at most metropolitan airports lately)
  • fresh fruit
  • a sandwich

keep leftover snacks from the trip with you in case you’re in a situation where you didn’t get much to eat at a meal that was dairy or soy heavy.

hydration

moskvitch also writes in her article, why does food taste different on planes? that, “at about 30,000 feet, humidity is less than 12% – drier than most deserts.” this can wreck havoc on your body and skin causing intense dehydration. add a cocktail in the mix and you’re guaranteed to wake up from your in-plane snooze with a headache. this article from the atlantic recommends that you drink one liter of water for every 5 hours of air travel.

topically, i like to add an extra layer of hydrating gel under my regular daytime moisturizer and bring a small bottle of rose water with me to regularly spritz my face during the trip.

hydration and acne

if you’re traveling to a warm climate

  • your regimen! you may want to opt for a lighter moisturizer like hydrating gel instead of hydrating cream if you’re traveling to a hot + humid climate. also, lay off of harsh exfoliants like vitamin a on days that you’re spending in the sun to reduce your chance of hyper-pigmentation.

if you’re traveling to a cold climate

linens

it’s essential to bring your own washcloths and pillowcases with you so that you don’t have to use host’s or hotel’s that are washed in cloggy laundry detergent and fabric softener. in addition, it can be embarrassing to bleach a host’s linens with benzoyl peroxide!

bring one washcloth per day of travel. you can use the same one morning and night, but not into the next day. bring 1 pillow case for every 3-5 days of travel. use one side of the pillowcase only to avoid the transfer of cloggy detergent or fabric softener from the sheets to your face or benzoyl peroxide residue from your face to their sheets.

acne-safe pillowcase

to prevent travel induced inflammation

  • ice! bring your ice pop maker if you’ll be at a host’s house or in a hotel with a freezer. if you don’t have access to a freezer, you can ask the hotel bar or concierge to bring you a glass of ice or get a few cubes from the ice machine.
  • take zyflamend each night to help reduce and prevent inflammation.
  • stick to the acne-safe diet by avoiding dairy, soy and coffee completely and limiting your sugar and alcohol intake.
  • keep your sleep consistent. try to go to bed at the same time as you would if you were at home and be sure to get 8-9 hours of quality sleep each night.
  • if you take a birth control pill, take it every 24 hours. that may a different time of day than at home because of a time change.
  • have fun, breathe deeply, relax your mind an body, enjoy time spent with loved ones or for yourself.