acne-causing heavy metals in protein powders – how a client’s own detective research cleared him up!

the team at skinSALVATION does a lot of investigating in order to find the safest and best quality foods and products to recommend to our clients to keep their skin clear long term. we absolutely love it when our clients become detectives in their own right and bring our attention to potential acne triggers that we haven’t discovered yet. yay for teamwork!!
recently, one of our savvy male clients, TB, came across this super interesting report on protein powders put out by an organization called, “the clean label project”. they “use data and science to reveal the true contents of america’s best selling consumer products. products are tested in an accredited analytical chemistry laboratory for 130 harmful environmental and industrial contaminants and toxins, and their results are published as product ratings.” the clean label project currently tests baby food, pet foods, and protein powders. there are some people out there that weren’t as impressed with the clean label project as we were and in an effort to provide all perspectives and information available. we want to share this link where the writer talks about some of the clean label project’s shortcomings and issues with it’s research.
TB, a very active vegan athlete looked up protein powders, and unearthed information on the one he had been taking – which looked acne-safe (meaning, it didn’t contain soy or whey or other acne-causing foods we look for). through this report, he found out more about its’ nutritional value, heavy metals, pesticides and mycotoxins and we were shocked by the findings.
CASE STUDY
TB came to us in september of 2017 with over-exfoliated, inflamed and picked-at skin. his clarity at the time was about 60% and 95% of the acne lesions that he did have were inflamed. being a gluten-free vegan, his protein options dramatically decreased after learning that he’d need to stop eating acne-causing soy in order to clear up his skin. on top of this, we discovered that he was likely suffering from a systemic candida imbalance after he scored high on this candida questionnaire. he decided to embark on a vegan candida cleanse but because the diet was so restrictive he only lasted on it for about 3 weeks. (generally, folks stay on this whole + natural foods diet for 2-3 months to clear up the candida. candida can cause sS-resistant acne, among other more serious long-term conditions).  he also started taking this anti-fungal candida control tincture which is the other necessary component to getting candida successfully and fully under control. (ideally, you need to avoid all sugars in your diet to starve the yeast, and supplement by taking anti-fungals to clean out and purge the excess yeast. there are many other components to this; check out our other posts on candida). he continued to work hard to avoid soy, sugar, gluten and eat as close to the candida diet as he could and we started to see his inflammation calm down and his clarity improve.
in addition to the dietary changes and supplement regimen, he was coming in for regular treatments and using our targeted skinSALVATION home care products. unlike most clients we see, his acne was really not extractable (he was too inflamed), so instead of focusing on extractions during his treatments we opted for chemical peels, high frequency (a machine that kills acne bacteria, reduces inflammation and speeds up healing) and 20 minutes under our LED panel to further heal the skin and combat inflammation at a deeper level.  we continued to do extractions where we could. by his 4th treatment on november 26, 2017 he was 80% clear and showing vast improvement in terms of inflammation and overall skin health. by january 21, 2018, he was 95% clear. check out his amazing transformation below!
THE PROTEIN POWDER DISCOVERY
after moving away from the bay area, TB reached out to us, letting us know about the clean label project study. he had been taking vega protein powder every day, even several times a day for about 6 months before seeing us. his skin had got really bad, super inflamed with very deep cysts in april-aug 2017, around the time he starting taking the vega protein powder.
at his consultation appointment in 9/2017, his clarity was 60% and most of that was the inflamed and cystic type of acne. he was baffled as to why his skin had gotten so bad over the last few months when really nothing had changed. looking back we both really think that this protein powder is the main reason it got so bad. another major factor was probably physical stress from all the intense working out he was doing at that time – he himself said his body looked it’s best but his skin looked it’s worst!
we didn’t think of the protein powder to be a major acne-causing factor for him at the time because the ingredients seemed acne safe (no soy or dairy/whey) – and he was eating so much soy up until we told him how much soy breaks all of our other clients out. shortly after his first treatment at the end of 9/2017, he started the candida cleanse, had two colonics and backed off the protein powder because he wasn’t working out as much anymore. we started to see a big improvement in his skin towards the end of november, 2017 at his 4th treatment and it quickly improved from there. by january 2018 (3 months after first starting with us) he was 95% clear and has been able to maintain that after moving away from the bay area.
through the clean label project’s research, vega was found to be one of the worst rated, containing high levels of toxic heavy metals (!!!). after sharing his story of clarity working with sS on social media, several folks on social media contacted him regarding vega protein powder, citing similar acne experiences while consuming the same thing!
here are some interesting facts from the study to note:
  • organic protein powders had on average 2x the heavy metals than conventional ones
  • egg protein was the cleanest with the least heavy metals/toxins
  • plant-based powders were on average, the most toxic
  • 75% of plant-based tested most positive for lead (they are doing more research on how and why toxins get into these foods so stay tuned for another post once this research comes out)
after reviewing the study findings, we are no longer recommending vega protein powder to our clients and we are currently looking into safer options. so far we have found the following to be acne-safe and clean-project-label-clear on paper, but have yet to actually see clients through using these powders for an extended period of time:
protein source: hemp protein
EAT REAL FOOD
it’s also important to keep in mind that protein powder is a dietary supplement which may be helpful in a pinch, but is not going to be the best option to replace actual real whole natural food meals humans should be eating every day. remember, these are SUPPLEMENTS and NOT everyday meal replacements! instead of making a protein powder shake your daily go-to breakfast, try some of these quick + easy, make-ahead options instead:
steel-cut, gluten-free oatmeal topped with hemp seeds and fresh berries (you can easily no-cook this by soaking them them overnight in the fridge, they’ll be ready in the am)
sprouted grain toast and eggs
hardboiled eggs, fermented veggies (like saurekraut or kimchi) and avocado (super easy to get ready the night before)
avocado toast with kite hill “cream cheese”
avocado and sugar-free lox
low sugar granola and unsweetened almond milk (kim loves this over cut up papaya)
TAKEAWAY

a mantra from kreation organic juicery in the LA area – you are what you eat. don’t be cheap, fast, fake or easy!

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

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!

 

 

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

the official sS guide to constipation and acne

throughout my twenties, i was in a band that toured the country often. i had persistent acne that would not relent despite my efforts to “eat clean” and to pare down my skincare regimen. during this period of my life, i noticed that every time i left town to go on tour, my digestive functions would, without fail, shut down. i found myself going 6, 7, 8 days without…dropping the kids off at the pool. now several years later, i recognize this as extreme constipation in response to the stress of travel, alcohol consumption, disrupted sleep and altered dietary routines. at the time, i couldn’t make sense of it all. i mostly just laughed it off as a quirk, not fully comprehending the gravity of constipation as a health condition.

but what exactly is constipation and why am i talking about it on an acne blog? as we’ve discussed in previous blog posts, digestion plays a crucial role in skin health. if your digestive system is not functioning like a well-oiled machine, other organs, like the skin, usually take up the slack. for those with acne-prone skin, keeping things moving is an essential step on the skin-healing journey.

constipation affects 20% of the american adult population.1 it’s a condition that results in a person having “fewer than three bowel movements a week, or hard, dry and small bowel movements that are painful or difficult to pass.”2 though we should aim to eliminate 1 to 3 times each day, modern lifestyle factors like stress, poor fiber intake and dehydration can slow down our body processes. healthy bowel transit time should rest anywhere between 12 and 24 hours. an easy way to test for this is to swallow 2 tablespoons of whole white sesame seeds with a meal, record the time and observe when they appear in your stool afterwards.

have you ever taken a moment to really examine the stuff that ends up in the toilet? if not, you’re not alone! we are encouraged from an early age to avoid this taboo subject, to replace direct language with euphemisms and flat-out denials, to dance around the doo-doo. many of us are afraid to even admit that we undergo this natural and perfectly healthy daily routine altogether.

here at skinSALVATION, we are not afraid to get right to it. if you’re a client, you are probably already familiar with the digestion-acne connection. the main purpose of defecation is to swiftly remove toxins and excess estrogens from the body. when people suffer from constipation, these toxins and hormones get held up at the border and if they are stopped up for too long, they make their way back into the bloodstream. the body then finds alternate ways of pushing them out and the skin becomes the next exit point. the influx of estrogen back into the bloodstream has an additionally negative impact on hormonal balance, which in turn, can contribute to acne.

so how do you know where you stand on the poop spectrum? in the late 90s in bristol, england, some medical researchers generated a genius poo-determination tool called the bristol stool chart. while other healing modalities like chinese medicine and ayurveda had been examining poop characteristics as a means of determining illness in patients for centuries, the bristol stool chart was the first standardized poop test in the west and it has been important in the diagnosis of conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (ibs) and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (sibo).

how does your poop match up? if types 1 or 2 seem all too familiar, it might be time for a re-evaluation. here are some of our favorite tips to combat constipation:

drink more water. this is an easy one. aim to consume at least half your body weight in ounces each day. so if you weigh 160 lbs, try to get at least 80 ounces of water into that beautiful bod to hydrate your cells and to loosen up your stools. carry a large glass or stainless steel water bottle with you and sip from it all day. add tasty accessories to your water to make it more palatable – citrus, cucumber, spearmint and sage work wonders to spruce up some plain old water.

drink herbal tea (these can count toward your total water goal for the day). try drinking teas with digestive herbs after eating in order to lend a helping hand to your overworked digestive organs. look for teas with black pepper, licorice, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger and fennel, all of which beat the bloat while helping to move things along. if your constipation is dire, senna tea can be a temporary solution, but avoid relying on this herb, as it is more of a bandaid that doesn’t tackle the root of the problem.eat enough fiber – both soluble and insoluble. soluble fiber is the soft stuff that hastens our bowel movements – bananas, the inside of a sweet potato, and the fleshy parts of root vegetables. insoluble fiber consists of fruit and vegetable skins and stalks – all of the roughage that we don’t digest and which contributes bulk to our stools. we would be lost without both of these important types of fiber and we should all aim to consume 25-40 grams in total each day.

avoid processed food, dairy and fried foods. these foods can contribute to major backups and often have a dehydrating effect on the body.

take a magnesium supplement like natural calm before bed. not only does magnesium help you drift off into a blissful night’s sleep, it is also a crucial mineral for skin health and acts as a mild muscle relaxer. most americans are deficient in this mineral and it is not easily absorbed from food, so taking at least 400 mg each night is advised.3 taking an epsom salt bath is another great way to absorb this precious mineral through the skin. a quality cod liver oil supplement can also help move things along. we like nordic naturals.

keep your stress in check. is there any physical ailment that does not include stress management as a treatment? no! as i parlayed in my story above, the gut-brain connection has a huge impact on our bodily functions. our digestive systems shut down during times of stress as the body funnels its energy to our fight or flight response. eating in a calm environment and practicing stress management techniques daily is essential for keeping constipation at bay. the better we manage stress, the more energy our bodies have to devote to digesting and eliminating our food.

consume prebiotics, probiotics and enzymes. prebiotics are particular foods (artichoke, asparagus, green bananas and plantains, onions, garlic) that are consumed and digested by our good gut flora, while probiotics re-populate our guts with new bacteria. since our stools mostly consist of bacteria, having balanced gut flora is essential. additionally, taking an enzyme before each meal can help our bodies break down proteins, carbohydrates and fats, allowing us to absorb more nutrients from our food. for those suffering from sibo or ibs, be careful with pre and probiotics and talk to your doctor for recommendations.

get into proper squat position when you’re ready to release. using a squatty potty or a footstool can make all the difference. it’s important to create good bathroom habits – don’t rush, always try to relax and try to eliminate at the same times each day.

express yourself. get those emotions out, either by going to therapy, talking to friends or by starting a daily journaling practice. your body’s physical need to hold onto matter within its walls often reflects a psychological need to hold onto habits or emotions that no longer serve you. instead of bottling up your emotions, let them out in positive and healthy ways. this release can be illuminating in more ways than one!

move and stretch. yoga and gentle exercise are fantastic ways to get things moving downtown. try wind-relieving pose, child’s pose, downward dog, supine twist and forward fold – these twisty yoga poses can all help relieve constipation and encourage movement.

constipation is a serious issue. it means that something is out of balance internally, either with digestion, stress or hormones. so if you find yourself unable to eliminate for several days in a row, seek professional medical advice.

footnotes

1. pinto sanchez, m.i., bercik, p. (2011) epidemiology and burden of chronic constipation. canadian journal of gastroenterology. v.25(suppl b).
2. national institute of diabetes and digestive and kidney diseases
3. kresser, c. (2011) 9 steps to perfect health – #4: supplement wisely. posted february 2011.