acne safe wedding – introduction

if i’m being fully honest, i will admit that while planning my wedding i became strangely obsessed with people telling me i was a laid-back bride. i’ll also admit there were times i felt stressed while planning my wedding (like when the photobooth company ghosted on us), but overall i am pretty proud with how i handled all the planning. this is partly due to meditation but mainly due to making a whole lot of little decisions with just this thought as the guiding factor: what is the low-stress option?

before we dive in, i want to fill you in on my skin “situation” so you know i’m legit and trust my advice. i’ve been a skinSALVATION client since 2014. my skin cleared up within a few months of strictly following the acne safe lifestyle. i got a little cocky after maintaining 95-98% clarity for 2 years. during this cocky period where i felt invincible, i stayed diligent with the acne safe products but ate pizza (dairy and potential soybean oil in dough = not acne safe), chinese (soy up the wazoo = definitely not acne safe), and an occasional slice of cheddar cheese off the block (precise + literal definition of not acne safe).

whew! that felt good to get all that off my chest. so, that aside, about 6 months before my wedding i got really serious about getting my skin to a state where i wouldn’t have to slather on concealer to get a smooth finish. so, i did everything skinSALVATION recommends: the acne safe diet, products, signature face treatments, peels, stress management, sleep, the whole shebang.

and…the day of my wedding i didn’t have to wear a full face of makeup!

now i’m going to be straightforward. adding the requirement “acne safe” to my wedding day definitely made things more complicated. while working reception at skinSALVATION i have had the pleasure of chatting with some of our clients who are getting married this year and realized i had some solid advice for planning a low stress, acne safe wedding. so, i have decided to be a good samaritan and share what i’ve learned. i’ve organized what i am going to share with you into sections so that it’s easier to navigate. we are going to separate them into 3 blog posts and will post one a week:

  • week one: straight up skincare routine and timeline for treatments
  • week two: makeup, planning ahead and day of (including advice from a makeup artist that’s also a skinSALVATION client and can do your makeup acne safe!)
  • week three: easy ways to keep stress low: flowers, table settings, food, cake, vows, and wedding favors

so, stay tuned for next week’s post on straight up skincare routine and timeline for treatments!

fragrance-free laundromats in the bay area

living in the bay area typically means living without common appliances like air conditioning, dishwashers, and washer & dryers. i’ve been lugging my laundry to laundromats for years now and always felt uneasy about the crusty grime in the detergent slots.

laundry detergent is a major factor in the acne-safe lifestyle. so while we all are making the effort to purchase acne-safe detergent, the cloggy residues from prior machine users can still be getting on our clothes. frustrating! (see our blog post about acne-safe laundry detergent.)

but, i have good news. there are 2 laundromats i discovered that offer fragrance-free machines 🙂

laundré

the new, hip, laundromat/cafe on the southeast corner of mission & 20th (the same block as sS!). this place is aesthetically pleasing, allows an area for work & refreshment, AND they offer free soap with every wash. and guess what? it’s ACNE-SAFE! 

they offer:

  • nellie’s unscented all natural powder detergent
  • nellie’s unscented all natural dryer balls
  • common good liquid soap ( i think for an additional charge)

temescal wash & dry

for my east bay folks. this place is located across the street from the temescal alley on telegraph & 49th. for the most part, their machines are not fragrance-free. but they do have 2 machines reserved for fragrance-free detergent only. while fragrance-free does not necessarily mean acne-safe, its still a step up.  there is a free parking lot and they offer free-drying on thursdays. oh, did i mention that curbside creamery is across the street? the ice-cream shop with cashew-based options :)!

let’s change our perspective and see chores as a form of self-love, not an inconvenience. every little refinement in our everyday adds up!

happy washing!

how to stop picking your skin!

image source: trich.org

ARE YOU A PICKER?

if you consciously or unconsciously pop, squeeze, poke, scratch, peel, extract, pinch, or rub at your skin – this blog post is for you! at skinSALVATION, if you do any of the above to your skin, we consider you a “picker”. i know, i know, it’s not the most lovely of titles. i wasn’t happy to learn i was a picker; i thought i was extracting my acne properly when i saw white stuff come out! but it comes down to this – it doesn’t matter how exactly you’re messing with your skin, if you are physically aggravating it with your hands or other tools, you are going to slow down the clearing process.

this is a big deal. being a picker will be an important factor in how fast we are able to clear up your skin; your journey to clear skin will be a slower, more frustrating one if you are unable to keep your hands off your face. sometimes, if the picking (or scratching, rubbing, etc) is bad enough, it will inhibit people from clearing up altogether.

unfortunately, it can be super difficult for people to keep their hands off, especially when they see a juicy white head that looks ready to extract! so, while i know how hard it is and have compassion for those struggling (especially since i have had trouble quitting the picking behavior myself), it is also my job to get clients to leave their skin alone, so don’t hate me when i ask you “how is the picking is going?”

so, we have an array of suggestions, some may be helpful for you and others may not be, but as i tell clients everyday at sS – some effort is better than no effort! it is worth a shot, and any decrease in the physical aggravation to your skin will increase the rate at which you clear up.

as a side note, even the estheticians here at skinSALVATION refrain from extracting our own skin. there’s so much that goes into a proper extraction – you need good light and a clear view of the pore opening so that you can ease the seed out with as little trauma to the skin as possible. you also need the right leverage to get the right angle to completely clear the seed out of the pore. too much pressure in the wrong spot can rupture the cell walls, which leads to bacteria spreading, new breakouts in pores nearby, and the textural scarring known as pock marks. after all – anyone can get a mirror and a pair of scissors to cut their own hair – but will it be as good a cut than if you let a professional do it for you?

IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER:

1. i remind my clients all the time, some progress is better than no progress, and all progress is worth giving yourself credit for! taking (small) steps everyday to self-care / self-love adds up overtime. try to think through the process of what happened the last time you picked. you probably ended up with a big mark that took forever to heal, and scarred, right?? cultivating this gentle mindset towards yourself is a HUGE way of giving yourself self-love.

 

2. be open to professional help. if stopping picking altogether was as easy as reading a blog post and taking a few suggestions, we’d all be cured! as you know by now, unfortunately, it can be a complicated behavior to stop. there are cognitive behaviorial therapists that specialize in BFRB (body-focused repetitive behavior). kristin southwick is a great one that has helped many of our clients with excessive picking of the skin – she’s no longer working within the bay area, but may be available for remote counseling (email us so we can send you her information). trich.org is a great resource to find help and community!

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO INSTEAD OF PICKING:

ice your face, #1 recommendation we make to clients of all time. it will help decrease inflammation = make acne less pickable. we have most of our clients using these ice pop makers. you can ice for up to 30 minutes, just remember to cleanse your face beforehand and keep the ice moving (to avoid frostbite) and don’t apply too much pressure (this can lead to more inflammation). icing works well to treat existing inflamed acne as well as prevent it, and it helps to drive your active products further into the skin. win win win!

squeeze a stress ball! this can be helpful for those who unconsciously pick their skin, for example while on the computer or watching tv. these are the isoflex stress balls we hand to our clients during our signature face treatments, to keep their hands busy 🙂 koosh balls, play dough, anything your hands can fiddle with will work.

meditation can be helpful to reduce stress levels, and if stress is one of your “picking triggers” this would be a more preventative approach. it could also help right in the moment too though! we recommend clients use the simple habitcalm or insight timer apps for guided meditations. youtube has super helpful videos too, and if you find that meditating is difficult because your mind starts going a mile a minute when you try to sit quietly (my experience), then body scan meditations are a great place to start! i like this one because it’s only four minutes. meditating is a practice of being aware, and noticing your mind wander off (and bringing it back to the meditation) is awareness in itself.

turn the lights down low. we suggest that you refrain from turning the bathroom light on when doing your regimen. instead, you can light candles (i find this makes it more of a self-care routine versus a self-critique session), set up a himalayan salt lamp, or just simply leave the door open so the hallway light can get in. overall, the idea is to have more flattering lighting. one of our esties, kayla, never turns the big light on when doing her regimen and this has helped her immensely.

 

here are a few gadgets that you can try out. this toy soybean is a keychain so you could use on the go! this keychain is supposed to be like bubble wrap. if you want to try something that literally looks like a pimple, you could try this, called the pop it pal.

 

find (and use) resources online. check out our pinterest board on skin picking for more strategies to keep your hands off your face, as well as for ideas on how to live the acne-safe lifestyle to avoid the formation of acne in the first place!

free your mind with EFT! try using the emotional freedom technique (EFT). if you haven’t heard of it, do not worry, i did some research and included my findings below. i based most of the information on what gary craig, the founder of eft, says on his website and youtube videos. i think it has potential to help people stop picking their skin – it seems a little woo-woo but is worth a shot!

SOME BACKGROUND ON EFT:

according to gary craig, “the cause of all negative emotions is a disruption in the body’s energy system”. if that statement is true, based on that basic idea, energy disruptions are the reason for any emotional issue, whether it be actual emotions like grief or other issues that have emotional roots like stage fright. once you identify the energy disruption, you can use the tapping process to correct them. the eft tapping basic recipe is described in detail in this blog post so that you can simply read along and apply it to whatever personal issue you want to improve upon/release.

here’s another explanation of this technique given by holistic doctor mercola:

eft is a form of psychological acupressure, based on the same energy meridians used in traditional acupuncture to treat physical and emotional ailments for over 5,000 years, but without the invasiveness of needles. instead, simple tapping with the fingertips is used to input kinetic energy onto specific meridians on the head and chest while you think about your specific problem — whether it is a traumatic event, an addiction, pain, etc. — and voice positive affirmations.

this combination of tapping the energy meridians and voicing positive affirmation works to clear the “short-circuit” — the emotional block — from your body’s bioenergy system, thus restoring your mind and body’s balance, which is essential for optimal health and the healing of physical disease.

and yet another anecdote: after suffering from allergies for years, our founder + ceo finally found drug-free + long-term relief with advanced allergy clinic, whose work is very similar to EFT, as dr. mercola has described (except without the verbal affirmations). feel free to email kim@skinsalvationsf.com to find out more about her experience!

we are going to use the example problem of having the “urge to pick skin”. before reading on, if you want to watch an introductory video with some clips of people who have changed their lives using eft you can click here.

the points used are based on the pathways (meridians and vessels) that acupuncturists use. they are either on/near the end-points of the energy pathways or at points along these pathways that are close to the body’s surface. the theory is that the tapping stimulates the energy pathways thereby balancing the disruptions.

BASIC RECIPE FOR EFT:

one important thing to keep in mind: language used always aims at negative because it’s the negative that creates energy disruptions (and the eft goal is to neutralize them).

also, if you’re a visual learner, it might be helpful to watch the video i based the notes below on.

1st step: identify issue and make assessment on current intensity of problem, how bad on scale of 0-10.

  • example phrase: urge to pick at skin, level of 8.

2nd step: setup. tap the karate chop (KC) point with two or more fingers (fleshy part of outside of hand) while saying setup phrase in the format of “even though i have this ____, i deeply and completely accept myself.”

  • example phrase: even though i have this urge to pick my skin, i deeply and completely accept myself

3rd step: sequence. while tapping each point about five times, say a reminder phrase that includes a brief statement to remind our system what we’re working on. each point is marked on the diagram below.

  • example phrase: “this urge to pick my skin”

1st point: top of head (TOH). tap with your finger tips while saying reminder phrase.

2nd point: beginning of eyebrow point (EB). tap with 2 finger tips while saying reminder phrase.

3rd point: side of eye on corner of orbital bone (SE). tap with 2 finger tips while saying reminder phrase.

4th point: under eye on orbital bone (UE). tap with 2 finger tips while saying reminder phrase.

5th point: under the nose (UN). tap with 2 finger tips while saying reminder phrase.

6th point: chin point midway between bottom of lip and chin (CH). tap with 2 fingers while saying reminder phrase.

7th point: collarbone (CB). take fist and thump in area somebody would tie their tye while saying reminder phrase.

8th point: under armpit/on rib cage (UA). take finger and put right on hollow part of armpit, then go down straight 4 inches. tap with 4 fingers while saying reminder phrase.

4th step: reassess issue on scale of 0-10.

  • example: urge to pick at skin, level of 4.

5th step: repeat until goes down to zero or plateaus. if it plateaus, then according to gary, you need to get to the root of the issue more. you can read more about how to do that here.

KEEP US INFORMED:

if you use any of the suggestions mentioned in this post, let us know about your results so that we can better help other people! email emily@skinsalvationsf.com or frontdesk@skinsalvationsf.com

emily’s acne journey

2018 – clear skinned, happy and fulfilled!

i had perfect skin until around 2012 when i was 25 years old.

when i went off the birth control pill i had been taking for over ten years and started getting painful, inflamed breakouts in the lower half of my face, my self-esteem plummeted. my way of interacting with the world changed. i began wearing tons of makeup everyday and spending more time in the mirror. i avoided places that were well lit so that i could hide. i chose how i faced people based on where the worst inflammation was on my face. in other words, my acne was always on my mind.

i immediately started buying “non-comedogenic” and “acne-safe” (or rather, marketed-towards-acne) products at the drugstore. i would use a new product for a few weeks and when my skin didn’t clear up i would go back to the drugstore and buy a new cleanser and moisturizer. i didn’t know much about skincare and was overwhelmed whenever i tried to figure out what was best for me. after a few months of trying tons of different products with no real progress, i went to a dermatologist.

this photo exemplifies how overwhelmed i felt whenever i went shopping for something to “cure” my acne

side note: i now know that when products claim they are good for acne, non-comedogenic, or free of cloggy ingredients it does not mean much. i would estimate that 95% of the products clients bring in during the initial consult appointment are actually not acne-safe and are actually exacerbating their existing acne and/or creating new seeds – even though they are advertised as such! 

the dermatologist i went to prescribed two topical products right off the bat: retin-a and clindamycin.

  • retin-a is a medication with the active ingredient of vitamin a, which is acne-fighting and beneficial for many people struggling with their skin BUT the formula i was using was in a base with isopropyl myristate which is a 5 on the 0-5 comedogenic scale = as cloggy as it gets! you can read more about comedogenic ingredients and our vetting process here. so while the active ingredient may have been helping, i was getting a dose of super cloggy ingredients simultaneously. retin-a also makes you more photosensitive, but because i was scared that sunscreen would break me out i wasn’t wearing it. i got sunburned and gained a few more freckles during this time.
  • clindamycin is in a class of medications called lincomycin antibiotics. it works by slowing or stopping the growth of bacteria that cause acne and by decreasing swelling1. since i started this active product at the same time as retin-a i am not sure how it affected my skin, but side effects include dry skin, red skin, peeling skin, increased sensitivity, and even breakouts!

overall my skin became more sensitive, red, dry, and most importantly did not clear up during the use of these two products. so my dermatologist decided to try a more aggressive approach: oral antibiotics. i was prescribed doxycycline and instructed to take it twice daily for 3 months straight, which i did religiously. my skin didn’t clear up during this time, and the only changes i observed were negative:

  • my digestion became problematic = my gut health declined. there’s a link between your gut health and skin health, you can read more about that here.
  • my hair started falling out. my dermatologist and primary care physician assured me that it was not caused by the doxycycline but my hair started growing back after i stopped the medication and that was the only change, so i am pretty certain that was the cause. unfortunately my hair has not fully gone back to the way it was before taking this drug.

after 3 months of doxycycline i had a follow-up appointment with my dermatologist. she didn’t seem surprised that my skin hadn’t cleared up, and decided to “take the next step”. i got a prescription for benzoyl peroxide (aka bp). so now i was using 3 topical prescription products and had stopped taking the antibiotic. the bp i got was extremely drying so my skin starting cracking around my mouth and felt raw all the time. i continued using it though, because i thought it was my only hope.

over the next year i used those three products daily, but kept getting inflamed acne in the lower half of my face. it would itch in these areas, feel sore to the touch, and never seem to fully come to the surface. if i had an especially painful cyst i would go to another dermatologist about 45 minutes from my house to get a cortisone injection. these injections were expensive, painful, and sometimes caused some little textured scars – and i realize now, didn’t remove the actual acne seed. because the seed remained in my skin, the discoloration also remained and many times the cyst would become inflamed again.

i started trying to find my own solution to acne. i did tons of internet research and read blogs written by people who struggled with their skin. i used coconut oil to remove makeup (super cloggy and made my inflammation worse). i would pour boiling water on washcloths and place them on my face, then try to pop the deep cysts i had (which always made them bigger and darker in color). i stopped eating dairy altogether and that helped clear up most of the acne in my forehead, but i would still get breakouts in my chin.

one day, one of my close friends told me her roommate worked at a place that specialized in adult acne. i looked up skinSALVATION and told myself i would make an appointment if my skin didn’t clear up within 6 months of being dairy free. 6 months later i called and scheduled my initial consultation.

the first time i stepped foot in skinSALVATION in 2014, i felt relief. it was liberating to be able to go over my whole skin history with somebody who knew what they were talking about. i learned what lifestyle changes i needed to make to clear up my skin. i changed all the products i was using because they all had pore clogging ingredients. i started coming in for treatments (extractions + dermalogical grade peel) every 3-4 weeks.

at skinSALVATION we rate the skin’s clarity using a percentage, with 100% meaning fully clear and with no acne. if half the pores on someone’s face had acne, we would rate the skin at 50% clarity. since i had cut out dairy 6 months before coming in for my consultation, my skin was fairly clear except for the inflammation in my chin. kerry, my esthetician, rated my skin at 80% clear.

this is how my chin looked at my consultation on 11/2014

a summary of my progress over the first year and a half after becoming a client is below. as you can see, my clarity would go up and down depending on how strict i was with the lifestyle changes the estheticians recommended. despite dropping the ball a few times, my skin never got as broken out as when i first started, because i continued using the acne-safe topical products in my home-care regimen and came in for treatments.

  • 11/2014 – consultation – clarity: 80%
  • 12/2014 – 1st treatment – clarity: 85% i was worried because i didn’t peel very much after the treatment, but then learned that the skin doesn’t need to literally peel to get the benefits – there is cell turnover happening on a microscopic level
  • 1/2015 – 2nd treatment – clarity: 90%
  • 3/2015 – 3rd treatment – clarity: 85% skin went down in clarity most likely because it was purging the soy i had in my diet before becoming a client. i also went a little too long between my 2nd and 3rd treatments so this may have slowed my progress
  • 4/2015 – 4th treatment – clarity: 90% inflammation had gone down altogether by this time
  • 5/2015 – 5th treatment – clarity: 95%
  • 6/2015 – 6th treatment – clarity: 97%
  • 7/2015 – peel-only – clarity: 97% got just a peel, not a full treatment with extractions since they weren’t needed
  • 9/2015 – peel-only – clarity: 97% i got a little cocky around this time and started eating soy again
  • 10/2015 – peel-only – clarity: 95% the soy started catching up with me and i had some inflammation again
  • 1/2016 – 7th treatment – clarity: 85% the soy i ate had officially started purging. i had to learn this lesson the hard way!
  • 2/2016 – 8th treatment – clarity: 85-90%
  • 3/2016 – 9th treatment – clarity: 90% was better with acne-safe diet but still eating some refined sugar
  • 4/2016 – 10th treatment – clarity: 95%

i’ve learned over time that my skin is the most clear when i implement all the suggestions my sS estheticians make (what a surprise!). i’m the type of person who has to learn lessons on my own though, so despite the knowledgeable advice i received here at sS, i had to connect the dots myself to truly make a change in my eating habits. i can see now when i look through the notes the estheticians took each time i came in that when i ate dairy, soy, or refined sugar, i would abstain and my skin would break out a few months afterwards from purging, then my clarity would go back up a few months after that.

 

this is me now, clear skin, no makeup and with my daughter wilma!

 

now that i am working as an esthetician here at skinSALVATION, i have extra motivation to stay compliant to the acne-safe lifestyle. it would be hard for me to teach people what changes to make if i weren’t living by those guidelines myself, right?! so these days my skin has been hovering around 90-95% clarity. i suspect i’m not 100% clear due to some hormonal changes (went off the IUD and some supplements i was taking) – and the acne-safe lifestyle is a daily practice, not perfection.

due to my personal struggle with acne, being in a position now where i can help people clear their skin means a lot. in some strange way, i feel like i struggled with acne so i could find this path to being an esthetician. it is so fulfilling to be able to relate to my clients and say “don’t worry, i’ve been there, i have an answer for you”. it seems everything happens for a reason!

1. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a609005.html

blake’s acne journey

march 2018, loving the skin i’m in.

 

i don’t remember a time when i didn’t have acne. not once in 22 years can i remember having clear, smooth, beautiful skin. what i do remember is staring at my mother’s skin and wondering when mine would finally be like hers. and guess what- i’m not there yet. i’m still working on it, each and every day. before i dive into my journey, it’s important to understand my background when it comes to my family values and views of health, as i grew up with an amazing and unique outlook on my body and a respect for how it works.

 

i was born in boise, idaho, to two badass humans. my mom and dad opened a wildly successful chiropractic office that served hundreds of people every day and built the house of our dreams just a short drive away. i am one of three sisters (i’m the middle child) and my parents consciously chose to raise us holistically, taking an inside-out approach to health (not outside-in) and instilling within us an understanding and consciousness of what goes in our body and how the nervous system works.

 

my mom gave birth to all three of us at home, 100% naturally, with my dad right there by her side. my dad adjusted our spines two minutes after we entered the world and has continued to do so ever since. my sisters and i have never been vaccinated, taken prescription drugs, or have been hospitalized. i was taught that “the power that made the body heals the body”, and so i was never handed advil when i had a headache, or cough syrup when i had a cold. i took care of myself, stayed healthy, and whenever i did come down with something, i allowed my body to do what it does best – heal!

 

as i developed, so did my acne. my incredible mom, being the holistic warrior that she is, tried and tried and tried to help clear my skin. we acknowledged that being a teenager, my hormones were playing a huge part but that ended up being only one small piece of an enormous puzzle when it came to my acne. i tried dozens of natural products, made half assed-attempts to cut dairy (…failed instantly and repeatedly) and we eventually found ourselves bouncing from dermatologist to dermatologist in search of answers. 

my non-inflamed acne was, in a word, severe.

my face was extremely congested and i lost all confidence. i shied away from my love of volleyball and quit the team. i became a homebody and dreaded going to my work as a restaurant hostess in fear that a co-worker or worse – a customer – would mention it.

 

i finally gave up on my skin and fell into a state of depression, accepting that the only way to fix my skin was to go against our values of health. at 15, my mother and i accepted the derm’s recommendation to start birth control. my mom was SUPER against it, but i had come to a crossroad of choosing my beliefs or my happiness, and i chose the latter.

 

fast forward a year or so and i graduated high school, took a few photos and disappeared without saying goodbye to anyone because of my skin. right before i moved to san francisco for college, my acne worsened – something that, with my skin already being so bad, i didn’t think was possible. after hours of research, my mom found the “best derm in san diego” and said we should try them out. before writing this post, i called and had them send me a summary of my visits in order to remember all the notes and prescriptions about my skin, and they sent a 41 PAGE PDF.

ashamed of my skin (hard to see in this pic) and disregarding my own graduation.

on 6/5/13, we met with the derm and went over my challenges and goals. i stated that i had tried epiduo and differin for 6 months, minocycline for 2 months, the birth control pill for two years and a 10% glycolic cleanser…she definitely had her work cut out for her. she prescribed me 20-40mg of zenatane and saw me back in a month. she then prescribed me 100 mg of minocycline and 100 mg of spironolactone. i then returned twice in two months for salicylic acid peels.

 

my acne didn’t change and i was ready to give up. the final “solution” was her recommending isotretinoin (accutane) in november of 2013 when i was already living in sf and in my freshman year of college. to put this into perspective – in her over 20 years of practice i was the FOURTH person she had ever prescribed accutane to. fed up and having reached my breaking point, i did it. i signed up for the iPledge program (a requirement for those going on the drug), acknowledged the side effects, and was pregnancy tested through both urine and blood.

 

the next seven visits were spaced out over the course of 7 months. each month i went and had my blood taken at LabCorp (terrifying for a kid that had never even set foot in a doctors office) and flew down to san diego for my derm appointment, which included a urine pregnancy test as a second confirmation (it’s extremely harmful to become pregnant while on this drug) and then a skin analysis. by visit #7 i had developed eczema on my arms, my lips cracked and bled open. i had the driest, most uncomfortable skin and couldn’t wear makeup because of how my face physically felt. i also couldn’t go in the sun at all, for risk of sunburn (with my already fair skin). by visit #9 my skin worsened and was i prescribed acanya gel. i was mortified when i looked in the mirror and was so freaking frustrated. 

*fun fact: i had my wisdom teeth removed recently and when the surgeon showed me my teeth, the roots were BROWN. naturally i asked why and he said it was from taking accutane and all the other oral acne prescriptions. i was horrified to say the least. case in point: it’s disturbing to know that i put something in my body that made the roots turn brown, but i was a young girl desperate to feel comfortable in her own skin who, like thousands of others, was misinformed by the marketing around the acne and cosmetic industry.

it’s important to note that this was my first year of college, a time that you’re supposed to be out meeting people and having fun. i couldn’t drink with friends being on accutane and i was mortified about my skin. i felt horrible at my job and avoided going out as much as possible, leading me to hide in my dorm and become depressed. it was high school all over again. by my last visit, visit #12 (6/25/14) she noted that i had “some improvement” (ugh!) i had reached the max dosage of 80mg of accutane and i was sent on my way. my skin had improved slightly but nothing like i believed and hoped it would. i had watched transformation stories on Youtube and was convinced my skin would clear up just like theirs. i created an unrealistic expectation in my head and was devastated when it wasn’t fulfilled by this drug.

over the next few years, i cleared up a little bit but not by much. i was back on birth control and ignored my mom’s encouraging words of “stop eating dairy, drink more water, etc.”. every time i returned home for a family visit i was getting hydrafacials from an esthetician my mom and sisters knew. it helped to extract a bit of my non-inflamed acne but the acne always immediately returned. during my junior year of college, i studied abroad in vienna, austria. my acne got worse due to my diet of cheese and alcohol. i was traveling around europe three times a month and drinking very frequently, while the stress of school and loneliness of living in a foreign country continued to wreak havoc on my skin (and mental + emotional health).

 

in sep 2016, i found skinSALVATION on yelp. i started researching and bookmarked the website under the “important” tab on my phone. as a broke college kid, i saved up my tips and booked an initial consultation for feb 2017. i was in a lot of debt from going abroad and promised myself i would afford my treatments and products with the tips from my serving job. i literally came home after every shift and put them in an envelope titled “for a rainy day”, A.K.A the freaking cure for my skin!

 

at my consultation, my esthetician determined that i was 40% clear. this number was daunting. it stuck in my head and made me feel defeated but was important to track my progress. my partner came to my consultation and was shocked at seeing my non-inflamed acne under the light during the skin analysis. he was sweet and supportive, but never truly understood what i dealt with until that moment.

 

after the consultation, i rushed home with all the knowledge and tools i learned, printed my homework email and taped it to the inside of my medicine cabinet and purged my apartment of anything that contained dairy and soy. i said my tearful goodbyes with cheese, my favorite food, and haven’t had it since! i’ve never drank coffee so i thankfully didn’t have that hurdle to jump over. as months passed, my skin improved to 80%. i graduated college and got married in the same week (…just a LITTLE bit stressful!) and icing helped keep my skin calm during quite possibly the most stressful seven days of my life! i became so interested in skinSALVATION and passionate about what my esthetician, kayla, was teaching me that i ended up applying to be the full-time front desk gal.

feeling incredible!

surrounding myself with incredible, intelligent and supportive women makes the diet and lifestyle feel simple. my skin has fluctuated between 70-80% clear due to finally ditching the birth control pill which has made my skin go through a purging phase while my hormones regulate themselves. i’m aware that i have a systemic imbalance due to my love of sugar and am looking into working alongside a naturopath and will eventually embark on the candida cleanse to help clear that last 20%.

 

my journey isn’t done yet, but you know what? i’m happy and feel comfortable in my own skin. i feel beautiful and love taking care of my body. i’m grateful to not obsess over percentages anymore and accept my progress. skinSALVATION has given me more than clear, manageable skin – it’s given me the confidence and positive mindset that i was searching for all along.

my rockstar mom who supported me through many years of skin struggles. i love you!