skin deep series #1 – face time
I feel so bad for Misty. Itchy skin is not fun – I can definitely relate to how he is feeling.
Pretty much my whole life, I have had skin problems – the usual suspect being ezcema. If any of you have ever experienced it, you know it is uncomfortable, frustrating and also embarrassing.
My skin is so sensitive, and I admit, I haven’t worked in the best jobs for somebody that suffers from this. Working with food: hands being constantly wet, then dry, then wet, using harsh antibacterial soaps, and latex gloves (which I’m allergic to). Not good, not good.
My hands were always covered in a horrible red, itchy rash, which when you are preparing food for others, looks pretty disgusting. I would always get the look followed by, ‘what’s up with your hands?’ Uncomfortable, yes. Frustrating, yes. Embarrassing, yes.
Diet has had such a great effect on my skin. I don’t have any obvious allergies, but too much dairy (cows milk and cheese) definitely doesn’t help the skin situation. I am fine with yoghurt, but too much of the other cow-based goodies, and I’ll be scratching the night away. Making sure I get enough EFAs (essential fatty acids) and zinc is crucial. Fine by me: salmon, flaxseed, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, tuna, anchovies, sesame seeds, oysters, wheat germ, dark chocolate, peanuts, pine nuts, olive oil – I’m like a kid in a candy store. Who knew healing my skin could be so tasty?
Avoiding refined foods, particularly sugar is also really important – not only does it help my skin, overall I feel healthier. If I have a little white sugar party, I feel and see the effects straight away: ( I love a good 3 day sugar hangover) patches of my skin usually around my eyes, and on the inside of my elbows and thighs begin to dry out, become red, flaky and itchy.
For years I used steroid based creams to keep it under control – constant trips to doctors and dermatologists who would just dole out the same toxic potions which would address the symptoms, but not even begin to question the cause. I stress about the effects these creams have had on my body (one major side effect is the actual thinning of your skin, ew) so these days, I try my darndest to control it naturally.
I can’t use soap, washing powder or shampoo. Over the years, I’ve played around with using herbs and pantry-products to help my skin; my theory being (I said ‘theory being,’ to a friend once, and she thought I was calling her a hairy bean. True story.) if good food can have an effect from the inside out, how about topically as well? I mean, how long has Chinese herbal medicine been around? It sure out-dates steroid creams. Again, this has been a long and frustrating journey, with many tears and horrible breakouts. My skin needed to detox the years of steroid build-up, and got worse before it got better.
I find the best routine for me, is using the ideas below on rotation – keeping my skin guessing. If I use one remedy all the time, my skin starts to over/under produce oil – crusty or greasy Lou, neither one appeals. I have found a store bought brand that my skin seems to like – I have worked out that avoiding sodium lauryl sulfate in the ingredients list is crucial – and try to go for paraben free options. I get my Mum to send this over from New Zealand; it’s just a simple grocery store brand, but if you find something that gets good results and is a natural as possible, I say go for it! I use this (cleanser and moisturiser) 3-4 days of the weeks, and interchange with different herbal concoctions.
These days, we are so hung up on reading ingredient labels on the food that we EAT. Get into the habit of doing the same for what goes ON your body too (it’s quite frightening what is included in a lot of products these days).
First and foremost. Keep it simple. Drink lots of water. Eat well (including lots of EFAs and zinc). Smoking is probably not that beneficial to the skin – common sense ya know?
Scrub: Organic raw sugar and water (like a polish for your face, and delicious if you get any in your mouth). Oatmeal mixed with water is also another good option (don’t we all love oats?!) Combine enough of each to make a paste.
Cleanse/refresh: 1/2 a small Lebanese cucumber, peeled and whizzed up in a food processor with some fresh mint leaves. Combine with 2T plain yogurt, and 1t oil of choice (I switch between olive, jojoba and sweet almond. Apparently lactic acid helps clean and tone the skin.
Mask #1: 2t ground flax seeds mixed with 1T water, and left to gel. Once it has formed a paste, mix in a drop of neroli oil. Aply to face, let it dry and wash off.
Mask #2: Awesome for dry skin (for HEAB! Love the brewers yeast) 1t crushed fennel seeds, 1/2C water, 1T brewers yeast. Simmer fennel seeds in water for 10 minutes, then strain (reserve a tiny splash of the water to make it spreadable) Allow to cool to room temperature, mix in brewers yeast. Spread over face and neck, leave for 10 minutes or so, rinse off.
Soother/Moisturiser: Organic raw honey – tie your hair back, or use a headband/scarf – smear honey all over your face, avoiding eyes (duh) keep it on for as long as you can handle the stickiness. Try not to lick your face too much (mmm, delicious). Wash off and be blown away by the smoothness, you will have baby soft skin. Honey is also a mild antiseptic, so helps with healing up acne and spots.
Toner: Diluted apple cider vinegar (1/4t in 1/2C water) or a chammomile tea infusion. (Make a strong cup of chammomile tea using dry herbs, and dab over with a cotton ball).
Pimple zapper: Tea tree oil (is antibacterial, kills the bugs and drys them out quick smart).
Moisturising: Unrefined virgin coconut oil. Aloe Vera gel.
Take from it what you will, this system works for me – similar to diet experimentation what works for one, may not for another.
Feel free to share ideas/experiences – I would love to hear your opinions!