Fierce. Brave. Confident. Sexy. Capable.
Two years ago, I proudly wore these descriptors like I was the very personification. I grew up with the normal insecurities of any modern day girl: Are my clothes trendy? How is my weight? Do I smell nice? Do I say important things? As I got older and older, I fell into my own rhythm, my own comforts. I didn’t need outside validation. I was cool and I’d be damned if anyone questioned it.
Then 26 happened. Like kryptonite or a full moon, I was transformed. What once was, was no more, and I was left dealing with the unexpected: acne.
I felt like a naive child as I walked the aisles of the supermarket looking for the most aesthetically pleasing bottle promising to halt my newfound disfigurements. Over the course of the first few weeks, I spent over $500 on empty promises and glass bottles that ended up making my vanity look prettier than they ever did my face. It took me almost 6 months to realize the concoctions I was putting on my face were making my poor, acneic skin so much worse. (I will always preach the hazards of an alcohol astringent now.)
My lowest point was a straightforward affair. I was bored and scrolling through the photos on my phone when I came across a beach trip from a year previous. Nothing. Not a blemish. Not a spot. Not a red dot. Save for sunkissed freckles, my skin had a glow that betrayed my hard, unhealthy lifestyle at the time. What had changed?
Detective Sherlock has nothing on an insecure woman trying to figure out where she went wrong.
What had I deduced? What had triggered the apocalypse on my face? Stress and bad skincare. I had major moves, relationship losses, and childcare to contend with and the only way I was taking care of myself was via bowls of noodles, bottles of wine, and too much coffee. It was clear I was not managing my stress in healthy or effective ways and my body was revolting. I already had a diagnosed hormonal disorder and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, and it was clear to me stress was exacerbating my problems. In an attempt to diminish the cosmetic impact my stress mismanagement was causing, I started throwing whatever anyone recommended onto my face. See, I had never washed my face with anything. I barely got my face wet. Through my teens and twenties, this strategy worked perfect for my complexion. So why was I trying to go against what I knew worked?
In March of 2018, I had come full circle. I was tired of making bad choices, the bad choices having repercussions (physically and emotionally), and me making bad choices again to console myself from said repercussions. A sad Mobius Strip that I was ready to break apart. The single most important decision I made for my health? Knowledge. There is so much information ripe and ready to be picked. It may not be the Holy Grail, but knowledge always pulls one out from the quick sand and onto a different path.
I spent hours researching food, exercise, skincare, supplements, and self care strategies. I waded through research papers and anecdotal testimonies. I came to realize that all of my ailments were causing inflammatory responses in my body and were they in turn were caused by inflammatory substances. I turned myself into a guinea pig. When I was done researching and felt confident enough to start my trial, I embarked on a journey that completely changed everything about my life:
I changed to a moderate carbs/moderate fat, whole foods plantbased diet with no glutinous grains and only fermented soy.
I allowed 3 animal based exceptions: bone broth, ghee, and 1-2 servings of wild caught seafood a week.
I drink at least 2L of water a day and several cups of herbal tea that help liver function and reduce adrenal stress.
Probiotics in the form of supplements and fermented foods and beverages
Reduced caffeine and alcohol significantly. I only have 1 cup of coffee and 1 glass of red wine a week.
I implement intermittent fasting for half of the month
I take key vitamins and minerals. Chromium, zinc, selenium, and magnesium, Vitamins C, E, A, and D3, and niacin.
I began seeing an acupuncturist for my anxiety and that is supplemented with Traditional Chinese herbs.
I’ve found self care strategies that are not destructive. Salt baths, essential oils, watching ASMR, and writing.
Sleep has become one of my top priorities. I figured out how much sleep I need to function optimally and make that a goal every single day.
Lastly, I stopped all skincare. For my skin, it has been a relief. I use bottled water and round cotton pads to wipe my face clean 1-2x a day.
I am passionate and certain about the fact that our bodies are capable of rebalancing themselves if we take the time to use our innate intuition and listen. That doesn’t mean that it’s an easy road. I still cry. I still get disheartened. I still want to throw in the towel some days. Yet, as time has progressed, I look in the mirror and I get to say to myself, “Look what YOU have done! Look what YOU have accomplished!”, a kind of pride that isn’t burdened by narcissism but a pride full of self love.
My acne isn’t gone. In 3 months, I’ve seen around 60% clearance. I can’t wait to see where I’ll be in another 3 months. I have become inspired by all the glorious and powerful women who have gone through the mental health wrecking reality of acne and hormonal imbalance; I will be pursuing a certification in holistic health coaching. Which leads me to my next chapter:
What has acne given me?
Humility. Drive. Purpose. Empathy. Self Love.
If you want to know more about Alexa you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on IG: @plantbased.alexa