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Loving your Skin



Loving who you are inside is probably the hardest journey, but loving who you are on the outside is often the first hurdle to get over. After all, you stare at yourself every day. You are the first person you see every morning. So, you have to love what you see in order to have any sort of confidence to start the day right?


I currently suffer from hormonal cystic acne, or more specifically ovulation hormonal cystic acne. As someone who grew up not wanting to be that girl with a zillion steps to do every morning and before bed, acne has been the most annoying fight recently. This may seem like a superficial thing to address, and it absolutely is. But I feel it is still important from a health perspective, and it was most important for me to understand that I am not alone. Therefore this blog is a reminder that you are not alone if you too are fighting for clear, healthy skin.


Below is my journey, so that you know the history (everything I have tried and every professional who has helped me) and see if anything is relatable. And after I will share my current routine, in case you want to give it a try!



My 9-Year Journey of Dealing with Hormonal Cystic Acne


When I was 22, I went abroad internationally for the first time to Japan. It may have been the intense humidity and change of environment or just some sort of rapid change in my hormones, but I came back two weeks later to have lots of little bumps on my forehead. The doctor said it was acne. I had absolutely no experience with this whatsoever as I was lucky enough to avoid it as a teenager. So, I went to the first defense I knew of: Proactiv. This actually worked for about a year: it cleared up the bumps in a matter of weeks and I had no sign of breakouts after.


However, I could feel my skin was different now. Not only did breakouts occur if I stopped the 3-step treatment, but I could feel my skin getting more and more dry. For a few more years, I stayed with Proactiv and just mixed up my routine to address the new concerns. Eventually, I realized I was spending way too much money and not getting the results I wanted. I decided it was time to see a professional.



I had been going to Andrea Henderson for almost a decade for my eyebrows, and she does facials. I had always been worried about facials. What if my skin rejects the treatment? What if I keep having to go back and it getting too expensive? What if I end up in worse condition than when I started? Just seemed like a rabbit hole of terror. But, I was choice-less and I don't know enough about skin care to do my own assessment.


I started getting regular weekly to biweekly treatments (so yes, I did have to keep going but all for the better) and used a new line of care called PCA Skin. Andrea was the first to finally teach me some things about my skin and how to take care of it: using soft face cloths instead of my hands, importance of essential oils, dry versus oily skin, t-zone and what breakouts mean (diet, stress, hormones), never touching my face with my hands, and so much more.


This new routine was working out great! I finally stopped having so many breakouts and when I did they were dealt with immediately. However, about a year ago, I noticed my skin was still not to the best. All my friends around me had little to no breakouts and if they did, they were barely noticeable. I still had some breakouts that were big and cystic, and my skin was always tight and itchy. So I realized I must still not be doing exactly what is best for my skin. I asked around, and I kept getting the answer that my skin must be more sensitive than others and I need to remove all chemicals (go for an all-natural, organic approach). I had no idea how to do this, so Sylvia asked around on Facebook for professional recomendations on an esthetician specializing in acne and organic care.



That brought me to Sharōn at From Head to Toe LA. She said she has seen my skin condition and type many times and knows exactly what to do. But she warned me that this treatment would take an unknown amount of time, extreme dedication and persistence, and lots and lots of faith that it will all not be in vain. I have to admit, scary to hear but again I felt powerless against my skin and would do anything to get it in a good place. Also, I knew that I was leaving to move to the United Kingdom at the end of the year, so I kind of wanted to get things squared away and in a proper routine when I moved in with my boyfriend. Don't judge me; I had someone I wanted to look my best for so can you blame a girl? Haha!


Sharōn introduced me to Eminence, a completely organic line with huge success rate in treating acne of all skin types (online store). I started seeing her monthly to her recommendation. At first, the products were weird. The texture of everything was so different to what I am used to - stickier, thicker and felt like it stayed on my face forever throughout the day. I remember at first my hair kept sticking to my face with the slightest gust of wind, and I would get so annoyed because I would try so hard to remove it without touching my face too much (which if you remember was forbidden according to earlier learnings).



After the first treatment and starting my new product line for a couple weeks, my skin started to feel nourished and healthy. However, I was getting a lot of breakouts (I mean, A LOT of breakouts that were ugly, big and extreme shades of red with plump white bumps) around my mouth, chin and forehead. Sharōn assured me this was part of the "detoxing" process she mentioned and was completely normal. She was very nice and always available when I emailed her with pictures or concerned questions. This helped a lot.


After our second treatment, I told Sharōn about how I will be leaving at the end of the year (about four months away) to move to the United Kingdom and thus why I was hoping for a point of stabilization by then. After sweetly congratulating me, she put a new rush and brought out all the ammo she could. The new routine was to see her biweekly now to rush the detoxification along and she gave me some stronger products to use at home.



This was the hardest time for me. I was living with cystic acne almost every day for months, all part of this "cleansing" that the program was doing to my skin. When you look at yourself every day, it is not only hard to notice change but hard to also see past any faults. So all I saw every day was acne. It was hard to keep a strong face through this part. However, it was going according to how Sharōn described it. She said it would show up all over because my skin is starting the process, then it would slowly detoxify from top (forehead/eyebrows) to bottom (mouth/chin). The bottom is the hardest as it is the hormonal area.


It was December 2017 now, and my face was actually looking much better. My skin felt more nourished than ever, it looked brighter and less pale, and pretty much just the chin area was left with small breakouts now. Sharon sent me off to the U.K. with enough ammo to carry on the program myself and told me contact her with any questions. But she did say my skin looks much better and should clear up very soon now!



I knew I still had to continue getting professional care, so I searched for Eminence professionals in the London area and found Mami at Chi Yu Wellness Centre through The Skin Smith (official distributor of Eminence products in the U.K.). Chi Yu is easy access to the tube and quick for me to get to from London King's Cross. Eminence is a really good company with great customer service, so feel free to call or email them and they will give you direct recommendations if you can't find one on their locator.


Mami is another godsend next to Sharōn in my journey. She has been through my exact acne issue, uses Eminence products herself, has been a professional for years and even incorporates her added knowledge of massage therapy, face mapping and acupuncture in her treatments. I have been seeing her since January now on a biweekly basis and couldn't be happier!



My 9-Year Journey: What I learned


I'll end my journey with this: my skin now is relatively happy but not perfect. It is brighter, thicker, full of moisture and I use the Eminence foundation line to ensure that it stays this way throughout the day (blends in with my skin beautifully and covers up relatively well).


On the bad side, I still get breakouts around my ovulation in my mouth/chin area that are cystic, but I know now how to address it early and when it happens. I am still working on it to see if I can improve, but I write this now because I feel I am finally at a place where I can talk about it.


I know now that I cannot eat or drink dairy products around my ovulation cycle or it will make the breakouts worse. Also my skin type is oily combination, so it will secrete oil regularly and especially if it senses dryness. I have to keep my skin moisturized as much as possible in order to avoid issues, so I carry toner and essential oils to use as necessary throughout the day. Now that I know when the problem occurs, I can address it beforehand by doing extra masks and detoxifications right before my ovulation cycle to keep my skin from overreacting with inflammation. My skin only likes organic now, so any make-up or products I use must be organic.


Finally, I do love my skin no matter what. It is a pain in the ass and now I have to spend 1-2 hours on it a day. But it is part of me and you have to love yourself, inside and out.



My Current Routine


Finally the fun part! So much money and time...

Please keep in mind any of this could change and I will update if it does!


MORNING ROUTINE

  1. Cleanser - Clear Skin Probiotic Cleanser - I use one full pump, slather it up between my fingers and gently rub in a circular motion. Then I used a face cloth (microfiber usually) to gently wash off.

  2. Toner - Stone Crop Hydrating Mist - I spray a couple times on my face, holding it about one foot away.

  3. Serum - Eight Greens Youth Serum - I use about half a tube, dot onto each of my fingers on one hand, dot those fingers around my face and very gently rub in.

  4. Acne Treatment - Clear Skin Targeted Treatment - Use very little here to rub into each active spot. Let dry.

  5. Sunscreen - Solar Defender SPF 30 - Use about a teaspoon and spread all over face and neck. This is not an Eminence product; Sharōn sells this directly at her salon.

  6. Moisturizer - Eight Greens Whip Moisturizer - Put about half a teaspoon in your hand, spray the toner once and lather it together to make a spreadable consistency. Then gently rub on face.

  7. Foundation - Sun Defense Minerals: Peaches & Cream - This comes in a brush, but I can't use it well so I put it into an empty powder case and use my own brush. This foundation is lightweight, blends in well, water-resistant, hypoallergenic, SPF 30 and even helps against inflammation. I love that I can reapply this foundation as much as I want and it will not hurt my skin.


NIGHT ROUTINE #1

  1. Cleanser - Clear Skin Probiotic Cleanser - I use one full pump, slather it up between my fingers and gently rub in a circular motion. Then I used a face cloth (microfiber usually) to gently wash off.

  2. Toner - Stone Crop Hydrating Mist - I spray a couple times on my face, holding it about one foot away.

  3. Serum - Eight Greens Youth Serum - I use about half a tube, dot onto each of my fingers on one hand, dot those fingers around my face and very gently rub in.

  4. Acne Treatment - Clear Skin Targeted Treatment - Use very little here to rub into each active spot. Let dry.

  5. Moisturizer - Eight Greens Whip Moisturizer - Put about half a teaspoon in your hand, spray the toner once and lather it together to make a spreadable consistency. Then gently rub on face.

  6. Overnight Spot Treatment - Zinc & Sulphur Masque - I dip a cotton swab, dot on my active spots or anywhere that is inflamed, and leave on overnight. This is not an Eminence product; Sharōn sells this directly at her salon.


NIGHT ROUTINE #2

(2-3 nights per week)

  1. Cleanser - Clear Skin Probiotic Cleanser - I use one full pump, slather it up between my fingers and gently rub in a circular motion. Then I used a face cloth (microfiber usually) to gently wash off.

  2. Mask #1 - Bioelements Kerafole - This mask is meant to exfoliate, so you should feel a little heat or activation when you have it on. I cover my face in a thin layer, leave for 10 minutes or longer (wait until you feel it cool down all the way), and gently rub off using a face cloth. This is not an Eminence product; Sharōn sells this directly at her salon.

  3. Mask #2 - Eminence Hungarian Herbal Mud Treatment - This mask is meant to detoxify now that your pores are open, so you should feel a lot of heat and spiciness on your skin with this one and your skin will be a bit red afterward. I put a couple teaspoons in my hand and rinse in a few drops of water. Then gently cover my face in a thin layer, leave on for about 5-10 minutes (until it dries), and gently rub off with a face cloth.

  4. Mask #3 - Zinc & Sulphur Masque - This mask is a clay mask, so it will feel cold and dry as it brings down the inflammation after the previous treatments. I spread a thin layer over my face, leave on for 5-10 minutes (until it dries), and gently rub off with a face cloth. This is not an Eminence product; Sharōn sells this directly at her salon.

  5. Toner - Stone Crop Hydrating Mist - I spray a couple times on my face, holding it about one foot away.

  6. Serum - Eight Greens Youth Serum - I use about half a tube, dot onto each of my fingers on one hand, dot those fingers around my face and very gently rub in.

  7. Acne Treatment - Clear Skin Targeted Treatment - Use very little here to rub into each active spot. Let dry.

  8. Moisturizer - Eight Greens Whip Moisturizer - Put about half a teaspoon in your hand, spray the toner once and lather it together to make a spreadable consistency. Then gently rub on face.

  9. Overnight Spot Treatment - Zinc & Sulphur Masque - I dip a cotton swab, dot on my active spots or anywhere that is inflamed, and leave on overnight.



Other Skincare Routines


I also take regular baths in milk to keep my skin moisturized. I love baths, they are so relaxing and my skin feels so happy afterwards.

I also currently suffer from eczema and have to use moisturizer daily for that.

I use scrubs in the shower every other day to exfoliate my skin.

Your lips are skin too! Keep them hydrated.

When I go out, I often put on eyeliner and some light shadow. To remove this outside of the face wash, I'll put some remover on cotton swabs and gently rub my eyes.



Sorry for the long read! There is a lot of information here, and I hope some small part of it can help others!


#selflove #jennybalesphoto

© 2018 by Boaz Albert

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Jenny Bales Photography