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Saturday, August 10, 2013

how to have young skin

I'm 28. Well, 29 next month. I look my age. More importantly, I look my age without makeup on, because most days I don't wear a stitch of coverup on my face. Okay, sometimes lipgloss. About once a week I wear Bare Minerals foundation and doll up my eyes a bit. It's fun. Why not? But without makeup, I don't look older than I am.

Not that I have the perfect face. Heck, no. I've had years' worth of acne treatments by prescription, including several types of oral medication and topical creams and ointments, and then was finally put on birth control for two years. It didn't cure it. I'm not entirely sure what did. You see, I didn't have acne as a teenager. I didn't really even get PMS pimples until suddenly I was approaching 20 years old and I had a thin, rash-like smattering of small red spots all over my face and decolletage.

It was miserable. I didn't know how to deal with it. So I applied foundation. I could not longer dream of going out in public, barely out of my dorm room, without something on my face. This wasn't about enhancement. This was about coverup. I even used a weird green cream that L'oreal (I think) had on the market for a time, to tone down the redness, with thick liquid foundation and setting powder carefully applied over the top. I hated that even through three layers of gunk I could still see spots.

I didn't have it as bad as some. Oh, no. One girl on my course at university suffered an awful case of acne. She was a pale redhead, too, which just made the discoloring appear worse. I've known other people who have had to deal with oozing pustules on their skin. Painful, infection-prone, confidence-defeating. Before you even walk into a room full of people, you already feel defeated on some level because they might not see you, just the sores. They might even judge you for not caring for yourself properly, "or it wouldn't be that bad". Humph. They have no clue.

Well, I've had the wringer of ups and downs with hormones since then. I'm not sure if that's what eventually got rid of the acne, or age, or that I purified my skin regime. I don't know. I do know that the pills did a number on my body. I had to come off that particular brand after two years -- a heart health caution with that particular med -- and was put on something else. I spent six months on two other brands of birth control pills, breakthrough bleeding at all the wrong times of the month until I had a twenty-eight day period and put my foot down. It was gross. The next month I got pregnant. Surprise! My skin flared up all over again, plus on my upper back, but I was pregnant and couldn't use any treatments. Three months later I had my first miscarriage. Less than four months after that I miscarried again. By this time, I was already reviewing lifestyle and habits, trying to find the cause of my baby-loss, and very deliberately not using any prescription medications or even over the counter cures, such as the salicylic acid that is common in many OTC anti-acne face washes these days. My hormones were a bit mad for a while, and I spent twelve months not pregnant, not miscarrying, and moving more and more to natural body and house cleaning products. My skin settled down. Amazing. I got pregnant with my son, Asher, in the thirteenth month after losing Baby Number Two and somehow did not have any recurrence of acne as I'd had before. No skin problems while pregnant. Huh. So it can't have been hormonal only, nor that the prescriptions had worked all by themselves because they'd been out of the picture over a year and a half by that time.

What worked?

There is a book I would like to recommend to you. Two, actually. The first is Organic Body Care Recipes, by Stephanie Tourles. If you want to have healthier, clearer, more beautiful skin, there are ways to achieve it.

In the first chapter, Stephanie opens with these words:
"In order to care properly for your skin, hair, and nails, it's important that you understand something about their structure and purpose. Knowing how, why, and when to care for them and identifying the best formulas for their needs will help them remain healthy and beautiful regardless of the climate you live in or your chronological age.

Think of your skin as a beautiful, satin robe that you wear night and day. It presents your external beauty and health to the world and at the same time protects your inner being. The skin, or integumentary system, is an actual living system that also comprises the hair and nails, various glands, and several specialized receptors..."
 She continues on to concisely explain this how, why, and when of proper caring for beautiful results. Her 175 recipes are all made using natural products: butters, oils, essential oils, herbs, raw foods, and natural soaps, and most of these in quite affordable if not even cheaper formulas than ready-made commercial products which are filled with undesirable chemicals.

There are really only two big rules to remember when caring for skin naturally. One, increase toxins out. Two, limit toxins in. 

The skin, as the largest organ of the body plus one of the ways we excrete toxins, is susceptible to overload which appears as dullness, acneic appearance, sebum imbalances causing drought or oiliness, and inability to heal when we clog it up with toxins. So, toxins out is very important. Make sure that lots of clean water and fiber taken in helps to flush toxins out in the most regular form we know -- bladder and bowels. The more yuck that is expelled via kidneys and then urine, liver and then stool, the less problem-causing yuck will appear on the face.

Limiting toxins in is just as important. However, this job is a bit bigger. For some, it may require a lifestyle change. Every chemical product with which your skin comes into contact, whether directly or by airborne vapors, increases the toxin in count. Cosmetics, deodorants, fragrances, lotions, sunscreens, soaps, detergents. Mani-pedi products. Your window cleaner, your toilet bleach. Your car exhaust. Food colorings like red lot 40, chemicals in non-organic produce. Some things we cannot avoid in this day and age. Some things we can.

Here is where my second book recommendation comes in handy. The Naturally Clean Home, by Karyn Siegel-Maier, is an inexpensive, quite small book, but totally jam packed with 150 recipes for cleaning and revitalizing the entire house, in and out, plus the car, along with full information on the natural ingredients used, the properties of each herb and essential oil (whether antiviral, antibiotic, antifungal or antibacterial, or a combination thereof), and a list of resources for reliable purchase of high quality natural products and ingredients. Do you know the number of chemicals to which you expose yourself and your family just in using bleach, glass cleaner, and Soft Scrub to clean your bathroom? Wouldn't it be nice to be able to properly and thoroughly disinfect your bathroom while still having the assurance that nothing you have used is detrimental to your health or the vitality of your complexion?

These two books are ones I believe every household should own and use often. The recipes are invaluable. To get you started while you wait for your books order to arrive in the mail, have a look at the links and recipes below. Exchanging just one yucky product for one clean product will reduce the toxin load that your skin has to handle, and increase your overall health and therefore appearance.

Herbal Cleaning Spray
Hand Sanitizer
Medication Alternative Headache Relief
Homemade Deodorant
Bath Salts and Scrubs
Milk Wash
The Oil Cleansing Method
Whipped Body Butter
Shampoo Alternative -- "no poo" ACV and baking soda
Blender Cream Cleanser
Homemade Wen
Activated Charcoal for Teeth Whitening

Bulk Herb Store -- reliable and affordable resource for bulk herbs, bentonite clay powder, beeswax pastilles, and various other items

Mountain Rose Herbs

Native American Nutritionals -- good quality essential oils

Bramble Berry Supplies -- for soap making, plus the most gorgeous natural butters

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