Skin • The Journey to Healing

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You may have had a bit of an insight into my skin journey over the past year and a half if you follow my Mondays with Lila on IG stories. I went from very few and far between pimples to cheeks and forehead covered in them, cystic to black head and everything in between. I've also had dry flaky patches show up on my hairline and in my eyebrows. Now, I'm not trying to be overdramatic about my skin blemishes as I know the severity of it is not so extreme. But for me, a change in my skin, my health and my body has me transforming into super sleuth, Nancy Drew.  I'm certainly no expert, and my journey has been mostly trial and error with lots of googling plus some advice from friends and strangers (thanks to all of YOU who message me suggestions!).

I'm still sailing along, but I'm hoping what I can share from my process may be of help to some of you.

The first step to solving this skin mystery is going back to the "scene of the crime," or when it allllll began. If you've had it since puberty it could most definitely be tied to your hormones and/or your diet. This might be a separate journey than mine as I'm going to focus on changes in skin that happen later on, tied to some sort of change in your lifestyle, environment, etc.

My skin began to change, become oily and break out like craaazaay around the same time I.....

1. Got the Mirena IUD

2. Moved to LA.

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Yes, I know. "Stop right there," you'll say. The IUD! That must be it. Could it be?! This I'm starting to ponder more and more. Do I really need it? What is it actually doing to my body? As I ask more and more holistic health practitioners and consult with friends and family it appears the solution may just be remove the damn thing. OUCH. But, truthfully, I'm hesitant. It's stopped the misery of my v. heavy periods and debilitating PMS without the havoc birth control pills wreaked on my mental health. Many doctors have told me that my skin is environmental. If it's not the IUD, then I've ripped it out for no good reason! (Although, I suppose it's best to not have anything foreign inside one's body). Yet, since the IUD is an unconfirmed cause...I've decided to leave that to last resort. Let's focus on the second "Scene of the crime" (can there be 2 scenes?).

We all know LA to be pollution HEAVY. That murky fog lurking over the Hollywood Hills....how noticeably clear the sky is after rain...the air we breathe and exist in is full of toxins and the tap water here isn't too great either. Brittas can't filter out the chlorine and the water we wash our faces with is rarely filtered at all. Are we screwed? Maybe. 

Part of my detective Googling has been staring endlessly at Face Maps for acne. The majority of my acne populates my cheeks and forehead. These are not primarily hormonal zones (Google: Face Maps Acne to follow yours). In fact, the cheeks are connected to your lungs and the forehead is connected to the digestive system. HA! Take that, IUD haters (just kidding - the hormonal imbalance from the IUD could make these areas more susceptible to clogged pores). Anywho...now I had discovered my first clues and set off to explore them further.

1. Lungs • So this could be where the pollution comes into play. It's also where I noticed the biggest difference when I traveled back to my family home in Upstate New York (the only pollution up there is the sweet smell of cow manure). Not a single cystic pimple appeared on my cheeks. Now, guess what - I'm in LA and BAM she's back. 

2. Digestive System • Yes, yes food obviously has a huge impact on our skin as it affects the toxins in our blood (or skin is an excretory organ) and messes with our hormone levels. But, a healthy diet on a poor digestive system can have negative effects on your skin as well. As for me - I have plenty of digestive misfortunes.

So, how do we address these causes?

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i. Support your body's natural blood detoxifying system: the liver & kidneys • For this, I've been including lots of chlorella, cruciferous veggies (like broccoli, kale and Brussel sprouts) and milk thistle to my diet. LOTS of filtered water and detox teas. 

ii. Try air purifying plants or in-house air filters • I haven't tried out this method, as I spend lots of time outside of my house. But, worth a shot. Any of you have any luck with this?

iii. Digestive enzymes! • These babies will help your body break down the food you're eating (especially all those fibrous veggies), so your body can best absorb the nutrients. 

iv. A gentle cleanser * For me, a harsh acne wash or daily exfoliating scrub only made my skin worse. When I opted for African Black soap, an oil cleanser from Heart of Gold, or simply water and a warm washcloth...well my skin thanked me for my gentleness with WAY less redness. 

v. Reduce the products • Cut down on all the products you use on your face - make up, serums, lotions....who needs all that. Find one face oil or lotion for moisture at night, one with SPF for the day and keep makeup off as much as you can. Embrace your inner beauty!

vi. Steam • Face steams with tea tree oil have helped my skin immensely! The steam opens up your pores and hydrates the skin while the tea tree oil helps to cleanse. Just boil some water, drop some oil into it, hold your head over the steam (once it cools slightly) and drape a towel over your head to keep the steam in. Super easy, mini at-home facial.

vii. Sweat! • Exercising can help your skin by encouraging your body to sweat. Sweating opens up your pores, and pushes toxins OUT. Just make sure to wash your face soon afterwards so it doesn't get all sucked back in. Ew. 

viii. What other products are you using? • Toxins in your laundry detergent, shampoos, toothpaste, non-organic foods can produce a buildup of toxins and hormones in your body. Try eliminating as much as you can, opting for natural-based products instead.

What I'm trying next?

i. Sulfur! • Lacy suggested I try incorporating sulfur into my beauty routine. My home in Upstate NY runs on well water, naturally filled with sulfur. Since my skin greatly improved while there, perhaps this is worth of experimentation!

ii. The Therapeutic Skin Coach • Skin blemishes can be caused by a plethora of stuff. And it could be mental. I've embarked on The Therapeutic Skin Coach's online workshop to see if that helps. Stay tuned!

Stay tuned to Mondays with Lila for updates on my journey! I'd love to hear any suggestions you might have. Comment below!

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