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This post has been updated.
This post is about my journey from breakout (left) to clarity (right). It’s what inspired me to write the Skintervention Guide and what keeps me grateful every day for this real food journey that made it possible.
I used whole, traditional foods and natural products. It’s a process, but a rewarding one. Read on for the details…
…but remember, above all, that the transformation isn’t just about topical strategies. No amount of oil cleansing can fix a nutritional deficiency, and nutritional deficiencies set the stage for acne, skin problems, hormonal imbalances, and – yes – stinky pits and bad hair. The quality and sources of our food – the only fuel we have – determines how well every single bodily process works.
True healing is about incorporating a good nutrition philosophy based on these ideas, and being patient as your body corrects its own imbalances.
My skin improved greatly a few years back on a Paleo-style diet with a little patience and the Oil Cleansing Method. I had gradually ditched all the dermatological acne medicines I’d been on – there were at least four, including one oral antibiotic I took long-term and another topical antibiotic (sorry, gut flora).
There was also a sulfur-based topical med, topical benzoyl peroxide, and a host of others over the last decade. (And yes, I tried Proactiv.) At the time, out of sheer vanity, I held on to my topical retinoid. (Wrinkles? Ew!)
I’ve been generally acne-free for awhile now due to good nutrition my natural cleansing routine. But suddenly, after a good run of clarity, a few blemishes started to creep back in. It began near my neck. A few weeks later, a few more. And then something went completely awry.
My jawline acne flared up again, and with a vengeance. I looked like I was harboring a fleet of angry ticks ready to pop on my jaw. I couldn’t shake it – it wouldn’t go away. It began to crawl up my cheeks and chin. Shamefully, I even tried using those antibiotics again. I dipped in to my bag of leftover, half-used prescription tricks. No luck.
So I started researching. I focused on the work of Weston A. Price, and the book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, which inspired my journey and helped guide my nutrition research (that’s why the original post was called, and the post’s permanent URL still is, “WAP me pretty,” which is, in retrospect, a confusing title – for which I apologize!)
In any case, I knew I wanted to maintain my “crap-free body care” commitment and keep it natural. I was floored to realize that despite a long history with Paleo eating, I still wasn’t incorporating the most nutrient-dense foods that contain the vitamins and minerals that help balance hormones and that feed the skin at the cellular level. Weston A. Price observed vibrant health in the cultures he studied, which he concluded was the result of a high intake of certain vitamins, minerals, and other health-promoting practices. With this information, I was on my way.
Interestingly, many of the meds and products I’d used in my quest for “decent skin through medicine” were based on sulfur, vitamin A, and antibiotics. While there’s nothing wrong with medicine – and I DO NOT advocate you give up your meds without the help of a doctor and a gradual approach – I realized that, perhaps, these meds were only masking the real problem: I needed dietary sulfur and vitamin A, and I needed good bacteria rather than no bacteria. Price’s research reflected the same ideas.
This led me to research other nutrients I might be missing, and, over time, I’ve incorporated other super-foods to nourish my skin. These are the ones I started with, that got me through this frustrating, seemingly unbeatable flare-up. To this day, years later, I haven’t had another!
I began incorporating:
- Sauerkraut, which is sulfur-rich and probiotic;
- Other fermented foods, like carrots and beets, which also help with digestion;
- Coconut oil, as well as other oils described in the Skintervention Guide, which I used topically for their anti-microbial properties (topical coconut oil isn’t right for everyone, but I’ve found that topical tallow balm is pretty much foolproof);
- Sunlight, through natural sun exposure, is a natural source of skin-improving vitamin D;
- A fermented cod liver oil/butter oil blend, which is rich in vitamins A, D, and K – all critical for healthy skin at the cellular level;
- Brewer’s yeast from Lewis Labs, which is the ONLY brewer’s yeast I recommend due to its production methods. (It’s the only Brewer’s Yeast derived not from wheat, but from non-GMO sugar beets.) It’s a rich source of chromium and its complementary B-vitamins, which is also helpful in balancing the skin. (Update: unfortunately, this is no longer being made and is difficult to find. If I discover something similar, I’ll let you know.)
I was finally ready to taper those last synthetic skin potions; to throw away the antibiotics I’d been saving “just in case;” and to continue, patiently and persistently, a targeted skin care routine using only good nutrition and natural approaches. I took 1 Tbs of Brewer’s Yeast with water in the morning. I took the suggested serving of the Cod Liver Oil/Butter Oil blend every day. I incorporated small amounts of fermented foods and made sure to enjoy a bit of sun whenever possible.
I ate as many nutrient-dense foods as I could. Seriously. I packed ‘em in.
In addition to my Oil Cleansing Method, I began massaging oil into my skin whenever I could – in the shower, pre-makeup, and after cleansing.
I also began adding traditional homemade broth and omega-3 rich seafood (I no longer recommend omega 3 supplements, as they do not provide the other critical skin-care nutrients in seafood).
Over time, I’ve built upon this routine and continued to see amazing results.
A few words on the Cod Liver Oil/Butter Oil blend: unlike fish oil, an isolated source of omega 3 EPA/DHA, the CLO/BO blend is NOT so much a supplement as a concentrated super-food. While it does have small, naturally-occuring amounts of omega 3, it is primarily a source of vitamins A, D and K2.
From my research, I believe you absolutely cannot skimp on your CLO brand. Most are so highly processed that the natural vitamin D is destroyed, and most don’t provide the added nutrient boost of butter oil. At one time I heard a member of the “Paleo” camp comment that the Vitamin D in CLO competitively inhibits the uptake of the Vitamin A. Not true – actually, the vitamin D content works with vitamin A, which has been misunderstood as competition when it is actually synergism. (Never mock synergy.)
Update: I write about the myths and truths about these nutrients and more, at length, in my book.
I had everything from large lesions (yes, I picked) to small, hard bumps and the Queen Mother of zits – underground mines – migrating down my neck. Several weeks and months later, the improvement was immense, and over time, nothing but a few pink remnants from healed blemishes remained. In addition, the scars from previous blemishes are now gone too. And I haven’t had a breakout since – several years later. I’ve never returned to the many prescriptions I ditched. And I’ve never looked back!
Astonishingly, during this time I seemed to overcome the pitfalls of being “loose” with my everyday food due to weddings and family gatherings, as well as the stress of lots of air travel, all of which usually hold the promise of a few new blemishes.
Of course, that doesn’t give me leave to be “loose” all the time. (I have standards, ya know.) What it does tell me is that focusing on nutrients, and the most nutrient-rich foods, may compensate for a little wine and a piece of gluten-free cake here and there. When I was more focused on Paleo Dieting (capital D) and eating Paleo-approved foods like chicken breast and spinach, which are healthy but not necessarily overflowing with nutrition or fat-soluble vitamins, I wasn’t so lucky. I believe that’s why this breakout assaulted me with such a vengeance.
This has been a transformative experience. I will forever sing the praises of Weston A. Price’s research and the fermented Cod Liver Oil/Butter Oil Blend from the top of my giant pile of money and rainbows (because that’s where I live). I’ll keep kraut in the rotation – because it’s delicious AND pro-biotic. My skin is soft and glowy from the oil cleansing, so that’s a definite keeper. I’ll stick with the Brewer’s Yeast because I appreciate its natural, broad range of synergistic nutrients. And I’ll continue to add to the Skintervention Guide as I continue to expand my body of knowledge!
What are your questions? Check out the comments, because you may find what you need there. I will always do my best to reply to your questions. You can stop by the facebook page and leave your questions too!