AAAAAND, WE’RE BACK! (episode 3: kim’s deal)

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!

ok sorry guys for dropping off and lagging on this post.  we had some employee turnover that i had to handle, which left me little time, energy or motivation to completing and posting this post.  i am working on the mantra ‘done is better than perfect’!  here goes:

warning: this one is kind of long and boring (if you’re not into this stuff, and especially since it’s not about you! :)).  you can scroll to the bottom if you just want to skip the explanations of each test, and see a quick review of what my blood, spit and poop said, and dr. fig’s recommended plan of action for me.

so a month had gone by, and until i got my test results (which was around july 10, 2015)  been able to live like normal, more or less.  the impending doom of all the gluten i can’t eat and who knows what else is weighing on my mind, but i’m not that upset about it.  i just remember how shitty i feel and how awesome it’s going to be when i have more energy to be active, the much better mood i’ll be in, and how i’ll get to wear all my ‘skinny’ clothes again after losing 30 pounds – and i’m motivated.  when i see happy, healthy and fit and buff people out and about, it reminds me how these changes i’m making now will positively impact my longterm health and happiness, and that i can do it!

how does this not look amazing?!growing up chinese american, i never really ate much wheat.  we had bread in the house for my mom and grandparents (they’d have it soaked in their morning instant coffee) but i just never really got into it.  i suppose my body intuitively knew gluten wasn’t the best for me.  i was a rice girl.  my favorite comfort meals were (and still are) most always involve white rice at some capacity.  as i got older and started growing ‘healthier’, i switched to brown rice and quinoa – but relished eating white rice anytime i had it; what a treat.  rice bowls!  rice porridge! sushi rice and ribeye steak!  nigiri and sushi rolls!  rice crackers and rice noodles!  and of course, sake, which is distilled from rice.*

any leftovers got a fried egg on top; over easy so that yolk could sauce everything up.  especially with ones i get from local farmer to deliver free-range, organic eggs to me every other weekend**.   pastured eggs are one of our favorite, quick and nutritious forms of protein.  yum yum yum!

sure, i’d get bloated sometimes after eating rice, but it didn’t seem to happen so much (or cause pain) that it was a problem.  wheat and gluten, were on the same boat – but not only bloating, fatigue came along too.  sometimes i’d eat it and feel ok, and sometimes i’d eat it and yawn all day.  but upon discovering della fattoria’s delicious seeded wheat bread, i ate it more (and noticed feeling even more tired).  so i did my best to lay off the gluten – after all, after hearing so many tales of going gluten-free had changed lives, i suspected this would be a culprit for my body’s behavior right now.

sitting in dr. fig’s office, we go over the test results one by one.  she first started off with the adrenal test, which would have some questions the stool test could answer, which would have some questions the food allergy test could answer.  (happy to share the full reports to anyone that’s interested in seeing them, just ask! email


‘energy graph’
looking at the cortisol test, the first page had a graph.  the graph has a ‘normal range’ lime green stripe, which shows the average cortisol output of a healthy human.  my line, a dark blue solid line, showed that my levels were on the low, if not lower than normal, end of the norm.  it seemed that as soon as i woke up, my cortisol was already at the low end of normal, which persisted, until about 4pm when my energy was it’s lowest – pretty much at the rock bottom of the chart.  then, i had a tiny energy boost right around midnight before going to sleep.  (this totally made sense, as i often complained of being tired upon arising, getting REALLY tired around 4-5, but then somehow getting a bit of energy at night before sleep; i had always attributed this to just being distracted at home with ‘home stuff’ – cooking, cleaning, socializing or being on the computer’).

along with this ‘energy’ graph, a few other hormones were detected and their roles explained.

my DHEA was on the high end of what’s normal (10 out of a range of 3-10).  DHEA is a “hormone made in the adrenal glands and in the brain, and leads to the production of male and female sex hormones..  typically, those with high DHEA can have oily skin, acne, among other more serious side effects.”

diabetes runs on the paternal side of my family, and after a borderline high blood sugar test a few years ago, i had been conscious of consuming sugar (both ‘sweet’ and refined grains kind of sugar) and making sure to have veggies with every meal.  exercising was on my mind, but lately i hadn’t had the energy to even go for a walk, let alone flat out work out.

i had tested just below borderline elevated (5 out of the borderline 6-25) so that was good; but not great.  the results explained that “insulin is tested because insulin activity is affected by the stress response.  chronic stress with cortisol elevation may counteract the effects of insulin, and may lead to functional insulin resistance.”

nothing to freak out about (right now), but something to keep watch of, and to be aware that my stress was a factor in this category.

total salivary SIgA
what is this thing?  the test says that “it’s the predominant antibody found on the mucosal membranes throughout the body.  one of it’s main functions is to bind to antigens and prevent their adherence/admittance into the body.  typically it moderates the mucosal inflammatory response…” and that it “may be associated with some autoimmune conditions, diabetes, gingivitis, ulcers, and inflammatory conditions.  in addition, acute physical or emotional stress can transiently raise values.”

and since i didn’t have any ofl the aforementioned autoimmune conditions,  here was another marker that my stress was an issue – so much that i tested abnormally high on this one – 39 mg/dl out of a normal 10-20, and borderline high of 21-25.

ok.  so “gladins are proteins found in wheat, rye, barley and other grains which may trigger an immune reaction in some individuals.  a positive response to gliadin may warrant further diagnostic workup and/or dietary elimination trial in some patients. lab results should be used in context of the entire clinical picture.”  (which is why the stool and food allergy testing was such a good idea – thanks dr. fig!).

in this test, i had scored again, very high.  i got myself a 32 out of a borderline 13-15, and positive result of 15+.


interested to see what else my guts were doing with the really high gliadin response, we now moved on to the stool test.  this test was divided up into sections for each enzyme, each with its own job.

i had some good bacteria (but lacked lactobacillus, interestingly enough.  maybe because i don’t consume fermented dairy, and my probiotic doesn’t have this in it?  could also be because my gut’s environment couldn’t sustain it) and had some not so good (but not really bad) bacteria.  dr. figoski explained that this ‘not great’ bacteria could have been from any source – be it from trips involving drinking water or iced drinks in foreign countries, to eating ‘regular’ domestic food at home.  no real way to tell, but just to work towards cleaning it out and replenishing good bacteria.  luckily though, no really bad (dysbiotic) bacteria or yeast was to be found.

digestion + absorption, and all my short chain fatty acids
were all good!  woo!

lysozymes are enzymes that are excreted at sites of inflammation in the GI tract.

under 600 is normal; i had 1140 (!).

another enzyme that has to do with mucosal tissues, “secretory IgA” is the “first line of defense of the GI mucosa and is central to the normal function of the GI tract as an immune barrier.  elevated levels have been associated with an unregulated immune response.”  this meant that my body’s immune system was working extra hard, all the time, to fight off ‘invaders’, which could explain my terrible seasonal allergies (as well as responses to things like dust and molds).

the normal range of this enzyme is 51-204, and i had tested 1240.

intestinal health markers
lastly, the pH of my poop would tell us about how the fermentation of fiber by the beneficial flora of the gut was doing.  it was a little low (5.6, normal range was 6-7.8).  but dr. fig wasn’t too worried about this – we had other bigger problems to deal with.

so, what foods are physically irritating my guts, and causing so much inflammation?!  now the finale – the food allergy test.

us biotek's general food panel
the quick and easy test dr. fig administered in my office the day of my testing consult a month ago is based on a scale of 0-6.  ideally, of course, the foods we eat have little to no reaction in our blood.  the idea is that if you are constantly exposing your body to allergens that rate 4-6, it’s natural that things 3 and below are probably going to be really irritating too.   when this happens, the body treats the offending foods like allergens, and manifests in the body in different ways: rashes, headaches, fatigue, even acne, in some.

so, dr. fig’s got me on a conservative plan – not only because these foods show up as irritants, but are also inflammatory (because they are irritating my guts, but also – like for example, sugar and corn – inherently are) – but also maybe she sees it in me to be 100% compliant?

on a scale of 0-6:
0 – no reaction
1 – very low
2 – low
3 – moderate
4 – high
5 – very high
6 – extremely high.

the basic food test i took has a panel of 100 foods, and these are the only ones that showed up as irritating, and therefore are the foods i am to avoid for at least 2 months:

casein (3)
cottage cheese (3)
mozzarella cheese
milk (3)
whey (4.5)

chicken egg whites (5.5)
chicken egg yolks (5)
duck whole eggs (3)

banana (2.5)
cranberry (2)
pineapple (3)

sugar cane (3.5)


corn (4)
wheat gliadin (3)
wheat gluten (3)
oat (3)
write rice (3)
spelt (3)
whole wheat (3.5)


these restrictions sort of make up a diet close to the candida cleanse, except that i can’t have eggs.  and it’s also sort of like a gluten-free diet, but i can’t have rice or corn.  my beloved eggs and rice!  and no tortilla chips!  this makes it pretty challenging, since a lot of paleo recipes use a lot of eggs, and gluten-free alternatives are often based on rice or corn.

all the more diligent i must be, to 1. cook my own food, 2. and source responsibly.  i’ve got to read my labels even more, and have an even more watchful eye on not only cane sugar but also brown rice sugar/syrup – which is in almost everything that’s packaged.

with a bit of pinterest-ing, i found that this diet more or less makes up what’s called an “auto-immune paleo” diet – one that’s meant to be eaten for a short while (1-3 months) to allow the body to “reset and heal”, before reintroducing foods one at a time to see how my body reacts (if at all).

in many ways, it’s a mirror image journey of the clearing process at sS – allowing the 3-6 months of acne purging, while abstaining from the potentially acne-causing aggravators, before getting to a clean slate (clear skin!) and reintroducing possible triggers to see what substance causes acne-formation, if any.

on the bright side, it’s very cool that we are in this together 🙂

my adrenal test said that i indeed was low on energy, and had certain hormones that get excreted when the body is (in my case) under a lot of chronic stress-related inflammation (i tested 39, when normal is 10-20), and exposed to gliadins (proteins found in gluten – i tested 32 and 15+ is considered reactive).  my blood sugar was also borderline high, but is probably attributed to the chronic stress.

my stool test revealed that enzymes excreted when inflammation in the GI is present and when the immune system is working at capacity at long intervals were abnormally high (one was double and other was 6 times the norm) – again probably due to the chronic stress and foods that were irritating my guts.

finally, the food allergy test showed the foods that my blood reacted negatively to; which probably were directly responsible for inflaming my gut so bad, and causing my immune system to work triple-time, which stresses the body out (and inflames it).

all in all, it’s a cycle of stress (mental and physical) causing irritation that’s causing inflammation, and it’s manifesting in my body via fatigue, depression, and frequent headaches, along with allergies.

basically, i need to take a ton of supplements to restore much needed nutrients that my body needs to run efficiently and heal itself, avoid the foods that are aggravating my guts (literally), and manage my stress (probably the hardest part of the plan).

pills pills and more pillz

this picture shows the different pills dr. fig has me taking, but doesn’t include the inflammation controlling glutamine powder, or adrenal support tinctures that are also part of the mix.  my daily supplement schedule is as follows:

AM (breakfast)
2 – active vitamin b pills
1 – vitamin c capsule
1 – omega 3 capsule
1 – hydrochloric acid (stomach acid to help digest food and prevent bloating, gas, etc)
1 – squirt of adrenal support tincture
1 – scoop of inflammation controlling glutamine powder, in water

1 – hydrochloric acid pill
1 – vitamin c capsule
1 – omega 3 capsule
1 – squirt of adrenal support tincture

2 – zyflamend (taken away from food so it can work better at managing inflammation vs. digesting your food)

PM (dinner)
1 – hydrochloric acid pill
1 – omega 3 pill
1 – vitamin c pill
2 – neurocalm (or relaxed sleep herbs) – this is so that i can get restful sleep, because i have had active, stress- and dream-filled dreams for weeks which makes for even more fatigue in the morning.

8/3/2015 – 3 weeks in
i definitely felt some detoxing in the immediate 2 weeks after starting the diet (headaches, muscle tension, light-headedness after eating, and changes in bodily fluids).  after an hour or two of serious road rage while in the ovulating days of my hormonal cycle, i could slowly feel i had a mild boost of energy and a generally more positive outlook.  managing stress though, is still a struggle – and i think it will continue to be.  but in the days following, i was in high enough spirits to buy a new bicycle, and motivated enough to ride it around on errands (ok, maybe one so far).

a couple of hours’ of shopping at sf’s beloved rainbow grocery co-op and carefully reading labels, coupled with lots of pinterest-ing and google-ing, motivated me further to keep on the food part of the plan.  food has always been a big part of my life, and it sucks that i can’t go out and eat sushi, have chips and salsa, eat chinese or just a burger so easily (for now), i look at these diet restrictions as a new way to get creative with eating even more healthily.  and luckily, i’ve found some delicious recipes along the way!  in the coming weeks i’ll be posting what i’ve been cooking and eating on our blog, facebook, pinterest and instagram.

meal prep monday: the candida cleanse

some of you have heard us talk about the candida cleanse before and how it can positively impact your skin if you have a candida overgrowth. we’ve written blog posts about what candida is and how to treat it. you can read those popular posts here and here.


the most important aspects of the cleanse are taking your supplement to wipe out the candida (we recommend cansol) and strictly following the candida free diet. just because there are things that you can’t eat doesn’t mean that this diet has to be boring! here’s a meal plan to get your through the first week of candida cleanse. prep all of this food on your day off and keep it in the fridge throughout the week.



  1. cauliflower tortillas are a super yummy candida safe alternative to corn or flour tortillas. wrap scrambled eggs in them for breakfast, meat to make tacos, or use as a “mini pizza crust.” find the recipe here.
  2. toasted pumpkin seed guacamole to eat with raw veggies or later on tacos! we left out the serano from this recipe.
  3. barbacoa from this chipotle copycat recipe for tacos or on top of salad.
  4. nappa cabbage, almond & chicken salad sub soy sauce for coconut aminos in this recipe
  5. marinated zucchini with mint sub the white wine vinegar for apple cider vinegar to keep this recipe candida free.
  6. roasted fennel & artichoke salad find the recipe here



  • breakfast: 2 scrambled eggs with green onions and a cauliflower tortilla
  • snack: toasted pumpkin seed guacamole with celery stalks
  • lunch: nappa cabbage, almond & chicken salad
  • dinner: barbacoa and marinated zucchini with mint over arugula


  1. start your roast in the crockpot and bake your chicken breasts for the salad.
  2. make the cauliflower tortillas
  3. cook the zucchini
  4. roast the fennel
  5. combine remaining salad ingredients
  6. make nappa cabbage salad
  7. make guacamole
  8. enjoy! 



  • 3 avocados
  • 1 cups organic raw pumpkin seeds
  • organic cold pressed sunflower seed oil
  • sesame oil
  • 1 cup raw almonds


  • 2 dozen free range organic eggs
  • 4 lb chuck roast
  • 1/2 lb organic free range chicken breast


  • 1 head organic cauliflower
  • 1 napa cabbage
  • 1 small sweet onion
  • 3 organic zucchini
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1 can whole artichoke hearts in water
  • 1 bag organic spinach or arugula
  • 1 bunch organic celery


  • 2 limes
  • 2 lemons


  • celtic sea salt
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro
  • 1 bunch fresh mint
  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley
  • 1 head garlic
  • bay leaves
  • oregano
  • cloves
  • fresh ginger
  • green onions


  • bragg’s raw apple cider vinegar with mother
  • coconut aminos
  • organic chicken broth (best to make it yourself or purchase handmade frozen from your local butcher. packaged broth often contains sugar and lacks the essential vitamins that homemade contains)

microneedling for textural scarring

skinSALVATION specializes in clearing your skin of active acne and teaching you how to maintain a clear beautiful complexion. many people (myself included) who have fought the acne battle know that some acne can cause scarring and hyper pigmentation. the work that we do at sS does more to PREVENT textural scarring, however we can definitely correct any hyper pigmentation that can come with acne, sun damage, aging and hormones.


there are two types of textural scarring which we call raised or depressed – or peaks and valleys.  raised peaks are scars that feel like bumps on the skin (examples include keloids & hypertrophic scars).  valleys are depressed indents in the skin (like ice pick, or pitted scarring).  both types of scarring can occur when pus (which comes with inflamed acne) sits in the skin for too long, causing it’s white blood cells to eat away at previously healthy follicle walls, or from improperly picking the skin and breaking follicle walls with pressure from your fingers, nails and extraction tools.  this is why keeping inflammation under control, as well as getting regular precise, professional extraction treatments are necessary to prevent textural scarring from forming.
acne and pigmentation have cleared but textural scarring remains.

acne and pigmentation have cleared but textural scarring remains.


the chemical peels that we perform in-clinic, as well as the exfoliating toners and serums that you use at home, all help lift pigmentation that already exists, and helps prevent future pigmentation from occurring. however, these tactics won’t make a huge difference in repairing textural scarring. according to dr. fulton, the best way to get rid of existing acne scars is to undergo the intense medical procedure, dermabrasion. not to be confused with microdermabrasion, which can be performed by an esthetician, dermabrasion is a surgery that must be performed by a dermatologist or cosmetic plastic surgeon. the procedure usually requires anesthetic sedation, and uses a surgical instrument with a diamond disk that rotates around 80,000 rpms. in essence, this disk planes the skin down below the scar tissue allowing the skin to grow back smooth and even. unfortunately, one possible complication of dermabrasion is a flare in acne breakouts, because the pores are being disturbed and over stimulated.  other risks include infection, hyperpigmentation, and not-very-drastic-improvements.

over the last twenty years, skincare professionals have been working on developing less invasive procedures for resurfacing scarred of these techniques is called micro needling; it uses a small cylindrical roller with fine needles to create controlled punctures in the skin, which stimulate the production of new collagen and elastin (theoretically filling up those depressed acne scarred spots), along with dramatically increasing active product penetration.


kim and i recently attended a class about micro needling during the bay area’s annual face & body skincare conference withnumerous companies from around the world exhibiting and educating skincare professionals. 
according to sonia boghosian, owner of biojouvance, for optimal results, patients with acne scars should treat their entire face with thebiojouvance titanium dermal roller (along with a collagen boosting ampoule serum) once per week for six weeks. the needling aspect of the treatment allowed the ampoules to deliver the nutrients directly into the punctured skin.  she confidently promised significant and positive results in textural scarring at the end of the six weektreatment series. after that, you’d maintain the results by coming in for monthly treatments, and can repeat the entire treatment again after six months to one year.  the results however, are:

1. slow going.  remodeling can continue to take effect 9 months after the treatment series

2. are not permanent – you can expect the improved skin texture effects to last about 9 months, before having to repeat the series again.

it’s important to note that the biojouvance treatment protocol was very clear in that the technique, as effective as it is, is NOT in any way supposed to be intense or invasive at all – meaning, no bleeding or bruising should be involved, and that one treatment a week, for 6 weeks, would suffice.  we’ve had clients try this at home with a heavy hand, and ended up with scabs that needed time to heal before they could continue using their clearing regimen, let alone rolling again.
in any case, it’s extremely important that the active acne is under control, so as not to undo the effects of the scarring treatments (both textural and hyperpigmentation).  continual active acne can create more inflammation, which would induce more scarring.



although we have not tried micro needling ourselves, we think that it is a promising solution for those of us who suffer from acne scars. in the state of california, micro needling must be performed by a nurse or doctor in a medical facility. here at skinSALVATION, we are estheticians and therefore cannot include it as a treatment option. however, we do have a client who has (somewhat) successfully performed the technique on himself at home.

below is his detailed regimen that he gave us permission to share with you. please note that this is based on his own individual experience and personal research. the class that kim and i attended gave different directions on how to do the rolling (technique, pressure, products used and timelines). our instructor, sonia, also emphasized the importance of using a good quality roller made from titanium. many inexpensive rollers are made of aluminum which is porous and can harbor bacteria. in addition, needles made from soft materials can break off of the roller inside of the skin – causing even more complications than you bargained for!



hey kim,

Ok, so here are the details of my dermarolling & dermastamping routine:

total time rolling and stamping: 6 weeks (started on May 1 but I was very sick for 2 weeks and did not do any face care during that time)

tools: i ordered the following (with prices from –

2 mm OWNDOC dermaroller  – $19.00
2 mm DERMASTAMP (35 needles) – $15.00
Suction pump for tethered scars and acne scars – $13.00
Sterilizing agent Chloramine-T (20 g / 0.7 oz) – $4.00
Copper peptide + Hyaluronic acid serum 30 ml / 1 fl. oz. – $19.00
Vitamin C (20 g / 0.7 oz) – $3.00
Vitamin C serum bottle (empty) – $6.00
0.5 mm DERMASTAMP (35 needles) – $15.00
The copper peptide + hyaluronic acid is optional, but I figured I’d order everything to try it out.

routine: i begin my routine after showering and then proceed with the following –
1) wipe entire face with 70% ethyl rubbing alcohol
2) using the 2mm dermastamp i stamp each “section” of my face 12 times.  i look at my face and divide areas of my face so that I can put more attention to areas with more scarring, thus creating “sections”.
3) using the 2mm dermaroller i roll 12 times in each direction for every section ( )
4) rinse face with lukewarm water and let air dry
5) use the suction device on your face starting one day from treatment (i do this everyday for 1 week)
6) once face is dry i apply retin-a (your skin will burn for a short amount of time)

*the above routine is performed once every 5 weeks.  i also dermastamp using the 0.5mm dermastamp twice a week.  i use the same routine as listed above with the exception of item #3.

** apply retin-a and vitamin c on alternating days and copper peptides once a day if you can remember

to disinfect roller:

1) let roller/stamp soak in warm water and liquid detergent for 30 minutes, and then soak in 70% ethyl alcohol for 1 hour

what else i’m going to start incorporating into my routine:
1) salicylic peel
2) tca peel

please note, that retin-a is cloggy, and can be very sensitizing.  so, we recommended to him that he use either an acne-safe version of retinol (check against the cloggy list), vivant’s retinols or skinSALVATION’s a1, a2 or a3 clearing serums (also retinol based).

we also recommended that he could try using barbicide, the universal disinfecting solution used in the industry for cleaning the implements post-rolling and stamping, which you can get at sally beauty supply, and disinfects in 15 minutes.

we will keep you updated with more information about micro needling as we learn and hopefully have some first hand experience. if you have ever received this treatment from a professional or performed it on yourself, please share your experience with us by emailing

spiced golden milk

hey team sS and whole30 challengers! yesterday kerry brought an amazing treat into the office for us. it is a recipe that was shared with her by her lovely sister in law. spiced golden milk has gained popularity over the last few years among the paleo and juicing communities as a power packed beverage that can be enjoyed warm, over ice, or even mixed into a smoothie. it’s delicious blend of fresh turmeric and ginger are great for controlling inflammation and promoting healthy digestion.

we adapted this recipe from reboot with joe to use dates instead of honey to keep it whole30 complaint.

golden milk


  • 1 cup (250 ml) coconut milk
  • 1 cup (250 ml) water
  • 2-3 tsp honey
  • 1 tbsp fresh turmeric, grated
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
  • pinch of freshly ground black pepper


  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of ground cardamom
  • pinch of clove, ground or 2 cloves
  • pinch of cayenne pepper


  1. Blend all the ingredients in a blender (this is only optional – if you don’t want to grate turmeric and ginger) or simply mix together in a saucepan.
  2. Simmer ingredients on the stove gently for 10 minutes. (kerry made it in her vitamix which heated it gently)
  3. Strain and drink!

liesse’s journey to clear skin

close your eyes and think back to the first time you came to skinSALVATION. you sat in a comfy art deco chair for two hours and listened to us teach you about the sS protocol. we asked about your diet and lifestyle, the products that you were using and educated you about the treatments. at some point during that initial consultation you probably asked how long it would take for you to get clear (if you didn’t ask, you were probably at least thinking it.) the answer is that it’s different for everyone. for many people who are religious about their lifestyle and regimen they can see clear skin in 3 to 6 months.

as an esthetician and clear skin educator, i am dedicated to the acne safe lifestyle 100%. that means that i don’t eat dairy, soy, cloggy cooking oils, high androgen foods or coffee and limit my sugar intake. in addition, i don’t eat grains and am currently cutting eggs and nuts out of my diet to manage my inflammation and oil production. i take dairy free probiotics and 4 zyflamend per day. i do stress relieving activities like riding my bike to work (and wash my face of sweat when i get here), meditate and do yoga. i am religious about my regimen and ice twice per day. i don’t have a single cloggy product in my house (even my boyfriend uses safe body wash and lip balm.) i get regular treatments from the other estheticians at sS, including our most intense chemical peel – dr. fulton’s pro peel. all in all i am an ideal client.

it has been 3 months since i started receiving treatments here at sS. i was 55-60% clear when i started which means that nearly half of my face was congested with deep inflamed acne. in the first couple of weeks my clarity increased quickly to 70% and i was 80% clear a month later. 80% is the most clear i have been since i started breaking out with acne when i was a young teen. needless to say, i was really excited to see my skin clearing and anticipated that i would be 100% clear in no time at all. it has been 2 months since then and i am still hovering between 80% and 85% clarity. what gives?

3 month progress pic. the active acne is mostly gone but i have a lot of post inflammatory pigmentation remaining. this redness will lift over time with chemical peels and home care products.

i discovered that i had an allergy to gluten and most grains five years ago. some research shows that with developed allergies (in my case i ate grain with no problem throughout my childhood and late teens) you can take them out of your diet for a period of time and then successfully reintroduce them. a few months ago i decided to try gluten free oats, which i had been sensitive to in the past. turns out i can eat them now with no digestive or reactive problem at all! i was so pumped that i decided to wait a few months and then try the next safest thing – rice. when i had built up the confidence, i went to the best sushi restaurant in my neighborhood and ordered a simple roll. that night i felt fine and thought that i had conquered another food group! unfortunately, by the next morning i was sick to my stomach, lethargic and had a splitting headache. i believe that this weakened by immune system so much that i was extra sensitive to other foods. the combination of these reactions lasted for nearly a month! the inflammation in my digestive tract influenced my skin and the acne seeds that were deep in my skin and hadn’t been extracted yet (remember it takes 1-3 months for an acne lesion to form and show up on the surface of the skin) became inflamed and painful again. one delicious little sushi roll ended up being a month long set back on my clearing process.

since then, i have introduced gut healing bone broth and fermented foods to help get my digestion and skin back on track. i am beginning to get regular acupuncture and am taking a closer look at what’s going on inside of my body. i’ve had one pro peel and a handful of extractions and mandelic acid peels and i can happily say that my skin is back on track towards that ultimate goal of being 100% clear.

one of the most rewarding aspects of my job here as sS has been walking on the path to clarity along side my clients. i am sharing my story because it’s so important to understand that what is happening inside can manifest as acne on the surface. for me that was eating something that my body couldn’t process which will not be the case for all of you (most of our clients can eat grains without a problem.) getting clear is so multifaceted and it takes a lot of patience to figure out your perfect combination of diet, lifestyle and products. for any of you out there who are feeling anxious about how quickly you are clearing up i encourage you to take a moment to think about how far you’ve come. next time you’re in for a treatment ask us to see the photos that we took during your initial consultation and ask what percentage of clarity you were when you first came to see us. when you see progress happen in tiny amounts each day it’s hard to calculate the sum of your accomplishment.

be proud of how far you have come and have faith in yourself that clear skin is closer to your grasp than ever before.

with love (and a few stubborn acne seeds),