my acne journey

allyson is one of our most senior estheticians, who also trains our future skincare therapists. she is a perfect example of someone who’s suffered with adult acne, and eventually found her way to long-term clarity with personal experience, professional insight and growth at sS! –kim

clear skinned and feelin’ myself in mexico, 2017.

i just wanted to take some time and share my personal struggle with acne. although everyone’s struggle is different, clients always seem surprised when i tell them that i currently have acne. here is a little bit about my journey which i’m sure many of you can relate to!

my personal struggle with acne has led me down the same road that many of you have traveled. when i see the myriad of products that clients show me during consultations, it sparks memories (even very recent) of that desperate search for a miracle product that would make my skin normal again. i have tried everything, and I mean everything, on the market. folks who follow my instagram can vouch for my insanely stocked bathroom. yes, i am a bit of a junkie, but the search for the perfect products was just an attempt to control some aspect of what was happening to my face. my breakouts were a reflection of deeper things simmering beneath my epidermis, however it took years for me to truly understand what exactly was causing these eruptions on my face.

admittedly, i was blessed throughout my teens and early twenties. the typical around-my-cycle pimple would appear, and then vanish from whence it came. i even did horrible things like sleep in my makeup on regular occasions, but still my skin appeared healthy and balanced. in 2011 when i was 25, i moved quite spontaneously to the bay area from my native pennsylvania. after a few months in my new home, i began to experience some changes.

large painful pimples appeared all over my chin, nothing like i had ever experienced. this was very confusing and awkward for me, and my new boyfriend at the time was less than supportive, attributing my breakouts to the the junk (makeup) that i smeared on my face on a daily basis. this sparked my endless battle with topical skin obsessions, and i began trying different makeup such as bare minerals, which claimed to be safe and “non-comedogenic.” after it was clear that i needed to change more than just my makeup, i began seeking out products such as proactiv (which worked for a little bit, but then as soon as i stopped using it, the acne came flooding back), and even natural brands that claimed they were gentle yet effective at treating acne.

years later, still navigating through the ebbs and flows of clearing up and breaking out, i received my first facial. my sister, who is an herbalist, for many years suggested that my skin problems seemed to be connected to my liver or my colon based on the areas that i was breaking out. she introduced me to a fellow herbalist and esthetician. after having my first session with her, i was so astonished when she suggested some hormone regulating herbs for me to take. i had never thought about the fact that perhaps my body had become out of whack, starting with a huge move to a new and very different location, and a seemingly non-stop on the go lifestyle, compounded with tons of adrenal depleting coffee and other not so healthy foods and substances!

8236019397_f34be6be8f_o

chinese face mapping, linking breakout sites to internal imbalances 

the experience with my first facial and drawing parallels with my body and my skin was what led me to go to school to be an esthetician. i was so drawn to learn more about the skin, and the industry. i also began to note my personal triggers for acne. acne is genetic, so being that i do have the genetic propensity to break out, i am extremely sensitive to the foods i eat, stress, and products i am using. i noticed that while my friends could drink coffee all day and be unaffected, it would cause my acne to become inflamed and breakout. i decided to cut coffee and noticed a huge improvement in my skin. i also noticed a connection with my sugar consumption and my breakouts, another area that i decided to closely monitor and limit! the last piece that i could tell affected my skin (before the vast knowledge that i obtained working at sS) was stress. i would get flare ups in conjunction with stressful occasions, and reflecting back now with the knowledge i have of physical and sleep stress, i can see clearly that my on-the-go work and life schedule, as well as my lack of quality sleep (lots of late nights), could not have been good for my inflammation and skin!

now that i have the education and tools that are essential to get and remain clear, thanks to working at sS and self exploration, i am so grateful to have some kind of control over my body! the acne-safe lifestyle is so much more than  a key to getting clear skin, it’s a recipe for a healthy and happy body as well. so be good to yourselves and trust in the process! hopefully my little reflection sparks some connection, and know that you are not alone!

above: instagram photo proof of what a product junkie i was! 

valentine’s day: navigating acne, sex and dating

image source: pinterest

winter is in full swing, which means that many of us are on the hunt for a special someone to cuddle up with on cold nights and to romance through the coming valentine season. but dating new people can be intimidating, especially while attempting to take care of ourselves and our skin with an involved skincare regimen. here at skinSALVATION, we are all about empowerment and asserting our needs while also striving to have fun and connect with new people. dating can be a healthy and nourishing part of life – it provides necessary social connection and physical touch, which has been shown to increase serotonin levels while lowering cortisol – great news for those with acne-prone skin!1 we also love the excitement of getting to know new people and the opportunity to reinvent ourselves along the way with each new partner.

so in the spirit of st. valentine, we have compiled some practical tips for staying clear while your sex life heats up.

plan ahead. if you’re going out on the town and have an inkling that you might spend the night in a lover’s embrace, pack a travel-size getting started kit, or at least cleanser and moisturizer. if all of that won’t fit in your purse, wet some toner pads with hydrating toner and pop ‘em in a tiny ziplock bag for the night. we strongly recommend trying to at least rinse and moisturize (but preferably cleanse, tone and hydrate) your skin after a night out in order to clear away any makeup and bacteria-breeding sweat.

we also suggest getting into the habit of bringing your own pillowcase if you know you’ll be out for the night – one that you know will be clean and free of cloggy personal care products. if you forget your own pillowcase, turn your shirt inside out and pop it over a pillow for a quick fix. later on down the line in your relationship, ask to stash your skin products in your partner’s bathroom for convenience.

be a gracious host. if you’re concerned about spending the night in a new date’s possibly cloggy bed, try inviting them over to your house for the night instead. you’ll have more control over food and drink, and you can more easily slip away to the bathroom to do your nightly skin regimen. plus, you won’t have to worry about any linens carrying cloggy ingredients. speaking of linens, ditch the sexy satin and stick with cotton – its breathability is much less likely to contribute to body and face acne.

practice your cooking skills. nervous about going out to eat with a new date because of your new aversion to dairy and soy? everyone likes to be wined and dined, so hone those acne-safe cooking skills and invite your date over for a lady and the tramp-style feast (you can even kiss mid-bite because you won’t have to worry about coconut oil residue on your partner’s lips!) plus, cooking at home is perfect if you’re on a budget and you’ll know exactly what’s going into your body. check out our pinterest and blog for acne safe recipes that will wow your foodie date.

or just eat out and be prepared. if you can get a heads up as to what restaurant you’ll be dining, you can take a look at their menu in advance to find out what their acne-safe choices will be. if you’re not sure, a quick call or email to the restaurant should help inform you further!

in any case, avoiding dairy and tofu are totally common dietary restrictions, and it’s the job of the restaurant staff to cater to your needs. so let them!

don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. if you miss your skin regimen the first few nights with a new date, don’t stress. building trust and comfort with a new person doesn’t happen overnight, so we certainly don’t expect everyone to bust out their mandelic toner and bp gel on the first night of a fling. if it’s just too soon to let your tinder date in on the secrets to clear skin, skip your regimen – or just give your face a splash of water + moisturizer (a swipe of toner would be great!) and call it a night. even we estheticians struggle with sticking to our healthy habits the first few nights of a new relationship – kim religiously wears her mouthguard to bed each night, EXCEPT when she is just getting to know someone new! 😉

image source: avert.org

let’s talk about sex. having sex with a new partner who doesn’t know the ins and outs of the acne-safe lifestyle can be tricky, but we have a few tips to get through it like a champ. first, we love the idea of showering before (as foreplay AND to rinse off your partner’s cloggy products) and after sex. if this seems like too much of a commitment to cleanliness, even a splash of water or a hot towel on the face and body after the act will do the trick. we recommend rinsing off afterwards so that you aren’t stuck in a cloggy embrace for the rest of the night. you’ll be in the bathroom anyway for your post-coital pee, so you might as well use some toner or rinse off with a fresh wash cloth. second, change your sheets (or at least your pillowcases) after each romp to prevent breakouts from sweat, body fluids and bacteria. you could also lay down some towels, though we know this is less realistic given the heat of the moment. when you finally decide to sink into sleep while blissed in an embrace, try your best to keep your face away from your partner’s sweaty body parts, especially after doing your skin regimen.

what if you wake up in the middle of the night feeling frisky and you and your partner decide to have some fun? no need to do your entire regimen again afterwards – just a swipe of some hydrating toner or a hot towel will help prevent future breakouts. if you find that your lip or chin area is sensitive to your partner’s stubble, avoid toning and exfoliating the area until redness and irritation dissipate. continue to cleanse and moisturize, but avoid exfoliating serums and any other products with active ingredients that can exacerbate the irritation.

lube lube lube. if you use lube, try to steer clear of silicone-based lubes, as they can be detrimental to our health and to the environment. we like probe lubes (available at rainbow and online) because their ingredient lists are short and acne-safe. you can also experiment with using acne-safe oils like sunflower and safflower as lubes. if you are unsure about the clogginess of the lube you prefer, you and your partner can always use gloves to apply it (black latex gloves are usually a big hit!)

last, but not least – have fun! dating shouldn’t be yet another source of stress in our lives, but we know it can be difficult to stay in the moment while making out with someone for the first time who uses cloggy lip balm, face products or beard oil. it’s far more important to relax and have a good time than to stress yourself out, which may ultimately lead to an increase in systemic inflammation (and more acne). so when you’re vibing with a new cutie, feel free to relax about your skin and just enjoy the present moment!

we wanna know: how do you navigate sexual relationships and nights out on the town while maintaining your skin regimen? let us know your tips below!

footnotes
1. konnikova, m (2015) “the power of touch” in the new yorker. mar 4, 2015.

how kayla handles stress

Processed with VSCO with q5 preset

kayla joined the skinsalvation team in january 2016, after a whole lifetime of battling acne. she found her calling and has been able to combine her love of self-care and acne-awareness taking care of her clients here, and not only creates but prioritizes time in her life for her other loves – art, her dogs and her partner!  clients love  her straightforward approach, quick (and as painless as possible) treatments, and as she’s been through the acne journey herself, embodies everything she preaches. she’s also an artist of all mediums, and is an astrology lover!
stress can be an all-consuming monster that convinces us that we’re the problem. i can look back on my acne journey and now see that i was chronically stressed out, even though at the time i thought it was normal and i was totally fine. i thought this was how hard life had to be and i was being weak if i felt overwhelmed.
i believe this is a huge issue right now in society, especially in the bay area. we have become conditioned to be work horses and spread ourselves too thin, and call it “life”. then there becomes a common notion that we have no control over our day, our sleep schedule, the food we eat, or the stress we bear.
everything changed for me when i started to prioritize my self-care. my favorite saying is, you cannot pour from an empty cup. we must put our health and wellness first in order to thrive, not just survive. setting boundaries and rituals for yourself is the first step. taking control back is the next.
this is how i take control:
– sleep: i always guard my sleep hours with my life. i will get 9 hours of sleep every night and nothing and no one is going to interfere with that.
 breaks: every day, i honor my lunch breaks instead of working through them. i read, go for a walk, etc. it is my legal, unpaid, uninterrupted break and i ensure that i treat it that way.
 bedtime rituals: each night i stay away from screens (phone, tv, computer) 2 hours before bedtime and i do my nightly ritual (shower, burn sage or palo santo, and read a paperback book). doing the same thing each night trains my body know when it time to go to sleep.
– slow down: i used to try to fit too many things into my schedule; appointments, dates, trips, etc.. i realized that this causes me serious stress and tardiness. so i try to be realistic with my self.
will i REALLY be able to run that errand before work? 
will i REALLY want to land at the airport at 11pm and work the next morning? 
will i really want to go to the dentist at 8am after working the night before and then to yoga and then to lunch with jenni? 
can i really get off work at 7:30 and be at the airport by 8:30?
i used to say YES to all of these. i was trying to do way too much. the simple solution was just to slow down and give myself more downtime by planning for more downtime.
– wellness days: I plan for 1 day each week to meal prep, clean, binge watch netflix, and sleep-in. the meal prepping is especially important because this relieves me of the stress of having to find acne-safe meals last minute. the cleaning, binging, alone time, and sleeping-in just make me happy. (and go along with that whole “planning for downtime” bit.)
 being early: as for the tardiness, now I always give myself plenty of time to get to work (or appointments, flights, etc.) so i don’t start my day already stressed out. once again, i’m just realistic with myself. technically i could leave at 9:48 and be there by 10, but if I just leave at 9:30, I can enjoy the ride and be there early, have a snack, walk slow, and just overall feel more prepared. and less stressed 😉
it also helps not to plan too many things back to back. i can definitely try to squeeze a yoga class & hair appointment in my day and still be on time for my dad’s birthday dinner, but that leaves no room for error or traffic, and the slightest thing that can make me late to everything. so instead, i’ll just do yoga and give myself a few hours of downtime (there’s that word again).
– emotional therapy: when dealing with emotional stress, i have always found art to be very calming and meditative. so i try to make time to draw, paint, sing, take photos, etc. to keep my spirit alive and well-nourished. this has helped me reconnect with my self-expression and significantly decrease my stress.
to summarize, i take it easy on myself and give myself plenty of time to enjoy life 🙂
-kayla, esthetician

pets and acne

pets & acne

we love our pets as if they’re our own children. they teach us was what unconditional love & loyalty looks like. unfortunately they can have effects on our acne, so before you go snuggle your fur-baby, take some precautions to help keep your skin clear.

my pups have been under the impression many times that my bed is their bed, my pillow is their pillow. and while i hate to disappoint them, i make sure they don’t touch my pillow or the top half of my bed. (i do let them on the foot of the bed, i’m weak!) 

the reason it’s important to keep your pets away from your face & bedding is due to the oils, residues, and flea medications that coat their furs (as well as the random dirt + dust they get from roaming around in their day to day). often times the ingredients in their shampoo is not acne-safe and the residue can transfer. also, most flea medications keep your pups safe from fleas by coating their hair follicle in chemicals. not to mention the other grime on their fur just from being dogs/cats 😉

while I’m out out of the house, one of my dogs likes to break the rules and sleep on my pillows and even started digging and burrowing, i would end up coming home to a disheveled bed and dog hair everywhere. so I started taking precautions to prevent her from being able to get in the bed by tucking the bedding and putting extra layers on. this has been successful for about 2 years now! read on to see my step by step in action.

in a nutshell, you make your bed first, then lay a big bedspread over it to keep it contained, and lay a smaller snuggle blanket on top for the dogs to burrow in.

here is a time lapse of my routine:

here is a step by step

  • pull the sheet up to cover my pillow(s) and tuck in:

 

  • pull the comforter up to cover the sheets, and place display pillows/shams over the top:

 

  • pull a blanket up over the pillows/shams and tuck in at the top:

  • put a bed cover over the entire bed and tuck in at the top. it’s important to get this tucked securely, as this is the protective layer that will keep the dogs out of your sheets safely tucked underneath!:

whew! it sounds like a lot but it’s super fast. she got the picture quickly and she’s pretty happy just laying at the foot of my bed. I even got her her own dog bed & blanket to burrow in. and as a treat, i let her under my covers and all up in my bed on sunday mornings – which is when i do laundry & change the bedding.

this goes the same for snuggles, kisses, and clothing. I keep scarves & shower towels, and face towels away from my pups. and as evil as it sounds, i don’t let them kiss my face or touch my face in general. they can snuggle my head, my chest, my arms… just not my face.

BUT were all human right? and we may end up letting our pets touch our face & bedding despite our best efforts to avoid it. I’ve been using earthbath shampoo on my dogs and the ingredients seem somewhat safe. although the ‘coconut-based cleansers’ is questionable (coconut oil?) and the orange oil is most likely not safe. a better option would be their hypo-allergenic shampoo. but none have been tested or proven to be safe.

my fellow sS esthetician, emily, bathes her dogs in her shikai body wash, so that’s definitely another option!

so while we all may wish to use our pet as a pillow, we just have to be mindful and make adjustments. like maybe while you’re laying your head on your pet, make sure it’s just the back of your head, or put a clean blanket over her :)! And if your pet wants to come up to the top of your bed, have her lay on her own special blanket, etc.. they will still feel the love and so will your skin!