mask-ne and shelter in place 101

hey y’all, kim here currently in tokyo holed up in my tiny airbnb apartment safely sheltering in place. i hope you are holding it down, staying healthy and sane.

a couple of clients emailed to ask about how to deal with life as it is right now, and what to do about mask-ne (acne you’re getting from wearing masks!). here are the thoughts i jot down and sent them, and hope you find them helpful too.

basically everything we’ve ever taught you about living a low-inflammatory, acne-safe lifestyle are the same things that should bring stability and calm in your life during this stressful time. sleeping and eating at regular times, exercising daily, managing your stress in whatever ways work best for you, etc etc – no magic silver bullet, all the same shit. 🙂

i’ve been incorporating all of these while trying to practice extra compassion for myself which i think has been working – along with cooking all of my meals, i’ve finally gotten to a place where i’m razor-focused on (finally) finishing up the acne book! (i’m two weeks in, and i hope to have it all finished by the end of may. wish me luck!)

hoping these resources help you out, let me know if you have other ideas to share, want me to cover more areas or find more resources for you.

SHELTER IN PLACE LIFESTYLE

this is a big one. everything we’ve always taught our clients lifestyle-wise is to be integrated for exactly this particularly stressful time. most importantly, be gentle with yourself. it’s an incredibly unprecedented stressful time and judging yourself is not going help one bit. try to move towards a mindset of doing things that make you happy but also are good and healthy for you – in a way, just loving yourself as you are.
some IG accounts i love:
  • @lalahdelia – author of ‘vibrate higher daily’, a beautiful black woman author, spiritual writer and wellness educator
  • @the.holistic.psychologist – queer psychologist nicole lepera tells it like it is, speaks truths you didn’t even know you needed to disseminate and process; boundaries, trauma, addiction, ego, self-betrayal, all of it. really really deep work that i’m so grateful for her making so accessible and easy to understand.
  • @repairing_the_nervous_system – jessica macguire out of australia (i think?), she speaks specifically how to self-regulate the nervous system through trauma and the body
  • @kanpobliss – dr. jun negoro, an acupuncturist i have been following for years on IG and finally got to meet while in singapore earlier this year. she breaks down TCM into easy to understand (and cute!!) posts, and her app is impressively amazing and free!  a great tool to easily integrate some TCM knowledge and practice into your life.
some of my personal youtube playlists:
i’ll continue adding to these playlists as i discover new cool things i like.

2 ingredient sweet potato roti! the video is on my youtube playlist, but it’s pretty simple: mash together 1 part hot + steaming sweet potato with 1/2 to 1 part flour. once all is thoroughly mixed, form a log and cut into even pieces (1 whole potato +flour will make about 6 rotis). roll out onto a floured surface to 2mm thickness, then cook on a dry fry pan on medium heat, flipping every 30 seconds for about 2-3 mins. puffing up is ok, they’ll deflate naturally when you pull them off the pan. when done, tuck them into a cloth napkin/towel blanket to keep them warm and flexible. leftovers can be stored in an airtight bag to keep them soft, and gently warmed on the stove + will keep the next day or two, longer in the fridge. sooo good for avocado and/or whatever wraps. enjoy!

ALL THOSE MUNCHIES YOU ARE EATING

  • try eating only sweets that you make. this is how i’ve been getting through it (especially since i don’t want to go out, and food made by others you don’t know what’s in them, and refined sugar is high). michael pollan in one of his books wrote, it’s ok to eat junk food if you make it yourself; chances are you will just eat less of it, appreciate it more, and use better quality ingredients
  • try eating fruit as a sweet instead of something that has straight-up sugar in it
  • try using low glycemic sugars like coconut sugar, jaggery or treacle to replace regular cane sugar in your recipes. jaggery or treacle you can find at ethnic food markets so you’ll be supporting small local biz while avoiding crowded big box stores too 🙂 (ps, you can usually reduce sugar in recipes by half, and the finished thing will come out totally ok!)
  • i personally also make it a rule to eat savory food first and eat a sweet afterward (or as an isolated afternoon snack) as a treat, to keep my (usually high) blood sugar stable.

MOVE YA BODY

  • man this is tough for me too, always has been. but, i have been doing 20-30 minute workouts (here’s my youtube list) and on @popsugarfitness ‘ IGTV, because when you think about it, 20-30 minutes really isn’t that much time. you can do anything for 20 mins. or maybe even 10! anything to start, you’ll likely keep going once you get started and get over the hump. with that in mind, i’m more motivated to get a short but effective workout in before i eat breakfast. it also helps me concentrate better, and be in a much better and healthier mood. (tip: you can watch IG TV on your desktop, just go to their profile and click the IGTV icon underneath their highlights; makes for much easier viewing while following along)
  • try to exercise without thinking about it. just do it first thing when you wake up and put your workout clothes on. the 30 mins you’d take waffling back and forth about it will be over and you’d have already been done with your workout!
  • if you can get outside while social distancing safely, getting out into nature or just outside for a walk in fresh air (with a mask) counts too. now (or ever) is not the time to guilt yourself for not training for a crazy marathon. just getting out of the house (even just sitting on your stoop or on the roof) for some direct exposure to natural weather elements definitely counts for something.
  • keeping a daily schedule is helpful just so there is some structured flow in your day. this can include showering first thing in the am, putting on an “outside” outfit even if working from home, and then changing back into pj’s after a nice nighttime bath to prepare for bed.

GENERAL PHYSICAL HEALTH STUFF:

  • eating enough at regular times is really important. there’s a huge tendency to snack all day and that can mess with the digestion, not giving the stomach enough time in between digesting meals to create more of the digestive juices needed for your guts to break down and assimilate the food we eat. finding an activity or hobby to keep you occupied will help boredom munchies 😉
  • keeping a regular bedtime is also super important; i get into bed at 10, read a book and aim to sleep by 11 latest.
  • ok so a client emailed about drinking “several matcha teas a day” – maybe you can relate to caffeine consumption or any other excessive thing you’re doing now that you don’t do “normally”. and so i wrote: hopefully you are making them and not drinking bottled sugary/dairy stuff. can you think about what you are compensating for in drinking so much caffeine? is it just something you’re doing without thinking about it, or are you super tired because your sleep schedule is wonky? in any case, these are things to think about, evaluate and adjust. personally,i alternate between matcha, golden milk, ginger and chocolate drinks i make myself with water, nut milks and a tiny bit of coconut sugar.
  • it’s a great time to google recipes to try! i’ve bookmarked a ton of recipes i always wanted to try and never got to do them til now, like a 2 ingredient sweet potato roti, 2 ingredient paleo banana pancake, banana oatmeal cookies and savory recipes from all over the world – think of your favorite dishes to order when you go to eat thai or chinese for example.
  • or support your local small businesses for new food ideas – think bodegas, ethnic grocery stores, or restaurants that are offering pickup. there are tons of gems out there if you take the time to try out a new spice mix or tamale joint.

GENERAL GET YOUR MIND RIGHT MENTAL HEALTH STUFF:

  • you all know by now that i love using the‘simple habit’ meditation app; there are soooo many well-curated gems in there and this app has helped me so much through my last several stressful years. the link will give you 2 weeks for free.
  • journaling / writing things down / lists help me get my thoughts, frustrations, fears, dreams and ideas out of my head, which helps my mind settle for bedtime / be generally less stressed out throughout the day
  • make sure to get some laughs in your day; @thedailyshow and @sarahcpr on IG have been keeping me informed but in a way that emits laughs. oh man. classic stand-up shows are also really good.
  • keep in touch with folks, staying in touch with your community and those you love can make or break your day. this is a PERFECT opportunity to catch up with people you’ve been meaning to get to know better, or spend more time with, like elders in your neighborhood
  • i’ve personally been very triggered by the current events in the us (political, racial violence), so i try to limit my exposure/reading of that stressful media AND do what i can to act on the cause; to me this means raising awareness and writing emails to government offices, signing petitions. seeing the shit and not doing anything about it makes me feel powerless and defeated, so doing even one small thing helps me feel more empowered and less depressed about the world.
  • it helps to get friends on board, or at least know what you’re up to. if you have roommates you can let them know that you want to work in healthier habits and maybe they can join in with you, or at least morally support you.

MASK-NE: if you’re breaking out from wearing all these damn masks

  • ice as per usual, maybe even more. it’s definitely meditative so will do double duty in calming your nerves by taking your mind off everything else except the freezing cold
  • consider taking the supplements optizinc or zyflamend for systemic inflammatory support; a nurse client has done this for years and it’s helped (we stopped selling them but you can easily find them online)
  • if you can wear a new clean fabric mask that you switch out every day vs those paper n95 type / breath-restricting kinds every day that would be better for breathability and skin friction but if you can’t there’s not much room to work with 🙁 i ordered a mask and matching headwrap from this lovely nigerian-born-in-italy-scientist-turned-designer iffy of olive ankara i met in singapore that allows you to tuck a surgical mask inside the washable cloth mask, so finding or making something like this could be good. those clear plastic face shields are good too, but aren’t to replace masks. (ALSO scroll down to see sS’er marissa making masks by hand in the bay for donations or free!)
  • try to stay inside safe spaces where you don’t need to wear masks as much as you can ie at home and when alone in your car
  • wash your face and ice as soon as you get home and if you can, tolerate toner / exfoliate
  • manage other inflammatory factors as much as possible incorporating stress management, emotional support, self-compassion, low glycemic diet, regular sleep habits, hydration etc etc. all the healthy things we teach you is to keep inflammation down
  • at this point it is what it is and this all we can do. stay strong and rest in the fact you know what your acne is from and know what to do to get rid of it as soon as you’re able (to stop wearing the masks!)
  • come for treatment when the clinic opens back up, but know that repeated wearing of the masks will still pose the same irritations

ice ya face! image source: healthline.com

IF YOU’RE BREAKING OUT IN GENERAL

maybe you’ve been eating stuff or experimenting with products and are breaking out. or are just maintaining your already clear skin! either case, stick with your BASIC regimen twice a day. do this for at least 2-3 weeks before trying to work any of the other stuff (including serums) back in, if you even need them at that point:
  • cleanse
  • ice
  • tone – probably 5% if you can tolerate that twice a day. if not, then 2.5% once then twice til you run out then 5%
  • hydrating gel or rejuvenation serum if you have/need it
  • spf in the day and hydrating cream at night
this will address pretty much any and all skin concerns (breaking out, inflammation, anti-aging), and keeping inflammation down is paramount to keeping the purge as painless as possible.
again, stick with the basics and check-in with us in a few weeks to see how we can bump it up, if you even need to.
rejuvenation serum is safe to use anytime, after toning and before moisturizing preferably day to protect against sun damage, but nighttime works too because it feels and smells good, which will help lift your spirits (and offer moisture/antioxidant support to your skin).

SHAMELESS sS’er PLUGS:

a couple of our fab clients are doing great things for the community and i want to share them with you! check these ladies out and give them a shout. and please let me know if you’re doing something awesome you’d like me to share too 🙂

sS’er marissa (@marissadpoulin) has been getting crafty and is making masks for donations (and for free if you can’t donate). she’s got several fabrics to choose from – check her out on IG if you are interested 🙂

lovely sS’er berlin-based acupuncturist rachel root made some super cute videos: “three morning routines for a better day” and “couples acupressure massage“.

AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST, KERRY’S NEW INSTAGRAM!

since she is now operating independently as a licensee of skinSALVATION, we thought it’d be a good idea for her to start a new IG page to communicate to her SF clients directly about clinic-related updates. you can keep up with what she’s up to on her daily walks, and updates as they come. give her a follow here 🙂

remember to breathe deeply (and safely), be patient, be kind.
we’re all going through it, together.
take good care of you and each other.
xo
kim

how emily handles stress

emily is a long-time client of sS, turned front desk associate and now, esthetician in training! she’s gone through quite a few growth spurts this year (changed careers, got licensed as an esthetician, started 2 new jobs – reception and esthetics at skinSALVATION, and got married!) and thus, has had her fair share of busy- and sometimes stressful times. it’s been years since i’ve tried to coax her to joining sS, and we are super lucky + happy to have her as part of our team! -kim

if i don’t put a real effort into managing stress, my default mode is to be a stress case. i put a lot of effort into managing it so that i can be the best version of myself, for myself and the people i love and interact with everyday. here’s a glimpse into my stress management toolbox:

meditation is the cornerstone of my approach to handling stress. i especially like body scan meditations to get me back in my body/reality. you can search “body scan meditation” on youtube and find a plethora. i also like this one for when i really need a reset and a reminder that everything is ok. if i don’t even have five minutes to spare, i follow the steps below. i got this technique from here.

  1. get comfortable. adjust your posture (whether sitting, standing, laying down) so that you are in the most comfortable position possible
  2. do a quick scan from head to toe, relaxing each muscle as you move down from head to toe. you can imagine a warm golden glow moving down your body if that helps. this can be done in as little as 5 seconds if you are in a rush, but ideally it would take about 30 seconds-1 minute
  3. smile inwardly and remind yourself that holding onto stress and resentments is silly
  4. take 4 slow, deep breaths and feel the relaxation moving down your body with each out breath. slowly open your eyes after the fourth breath

if other people are stressing me out and i find myself easily annoyed, i try to do a quick spot check inventory to put a stop to the downward spiral of resentments. i’ve included some questions that really help put a hex on unhealthy thoughts – but just a warning, they aren’t always fun to answer. give them a shot next time you’re feeling super stressed at a person or circumstance, i promise it will at minimum change your perspective on the situation.

  • why am I angry?
  • what are my expectations?
  • what am I failing to accept? (accepting opinions of others doesn’t mean I agree with them)
  • do I need to be right instead of happy?
  • what have I done in the past to set this ball rolling? (trains of circumstances)
  • am I being loving and tolerant?
  • where have I been selfish or inconsiderate?
  • where have I been dishonest?
  • where have I been self-seeking?
  • where have I been frightened?
  • where was I to blame?
  • what should I have done instead?

basic miscellaneous tips:

  1. i try not to let myself get too hungry because when my blood sugar gets low my mood gets crazy. eating breakfast helps me avoid getting too hungry throughout the day. if you’re like me and don’t always feel hungry in the morning, i have found that smoothies and oatmeal are an easy way to get some calories quick, and i can drink/eat them fast on my way out the door. 
  2. having two dogs forces me to focus on something other than myself. i start out each day walking my dogs for at least twenty minutes. i get fresh air, exercise, and connection to my community just by walking around the ‘hood. it helps me more than my pups even know!
  3. to get settled at night i drink this and this, plus take 3 of these. i try to stay off my phone and not watch anything too scary on tv before bed so that i don’t get all riled up.

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.

question of the month: how do you manage stress?

if you’ve been in sS in the last couple of months you probably saw (and hopefully contributed an answer to!) our question of the month. this month, we wanted to know the different ways sSers managed their stress. as we all know, stress raises cortisol levels which can trigger breakouts, so managing your stress is important for maintaining glowing, clear skin.

so how do sSers manage their stress? unsurprisingly, in pretty diverse ways. some of our favorites were:

“wine and classical music in the morning and before going to bed :)”
(we think they meant wine before bed, and classical music in the morning)

“i ice my face!”
that’s what we like to hear!

“candy crush.”
sometimes all you need is something simple to distract yourself from whatever is stressing you out for a few minutes.


“i turn off all my electronics 30 minutes before bed.”
… so no candy crushing late into the night

“i pet my cat.”

“treat myself to a soak, steam, scrub at kabuki spa —  yoga always helps, too”
don’t forget to take care of yourself, in whatever way you need. a spa day can be refreshing and rejuvenating – but even if the spa isn’t your thing, try and find things you can do just for yourself.

we hope everyone is taking time for themselves, and managing their stress, and that some of these ideas are helpful ideas. the full list of responses is below – let us know if you have any other suggestions!

“watch the mindy project.”

“i take long walks!”

“i commune with the Divine (aka, i drop into my heart and listen.)”

“hot bat with epsom salts and lavender – bliss!”

“RARRAR rock and roll rock and roll”

“i chant my buddhist mantra: nam myo-ho renge kyo! over and over until that sound vibration raises all my vibrations.”

“run away with a cowboy in austin!”

“star trek.”

“whiskey.”

and last but not least…

“make sure to get my sS appointment in and vent to all you lovely sSers!”