The Great Skin Care Experiment

I’m hatching a plan in my mind, are you ready for it? Of course you are, you have begun to expect my particular brand of crazy around here, right? We had The Whole 30, The Great Zone Experiment, last year’s Look Better Naked — I mean, You know I LOVE a good experiment! I start to get a little anxious if I am not challenging myself and it’s weird and I know it. We are all on the same page here. :)

What I’ve decided — and it’s been kind of a long time coming — is that it is time to get to the bottom of some of my skin issues. I have made some great strides with my diet and fitness over the last 2 years, dropped a ton of weight and improved my overall health; however, the skin situation is still hanging on to let me know that something still isn’t quite right. You skin is the largest organ in your body, right? So when stuff continually shows up there, it is my opinion that your body is talking to you. Mine seems to not want to shut up, so I’ve decided I’m going to listen.

Diptic
Naked picture of my face. OH MY.

One of the most awesome takeaways I had with the Whole 30 is that sometimes managing the little things makes such a big difference, so I’ve decided to let that inform my this experiment. I think it is a complex issue and for me I think it is a mix of gut issues from a lifetime of carrying extra weight, lifestyle/stress issues, and hormones. And for the record when I say “Hormones” I don’t mean it in that in a once a month, blanket type of way that we as women have a tendency to use the word “hormonal.” Hormones aren’t the enemy. They don’t exist in your body to make your skin look crappy and to give you mood swings that make your boyfriend crazy. They are a system in your body that has a function, and if it is not functioning right — hey, why not get to the bottom of it?

Seeing a functional medicine doctor 2 years ago, going Paleo because of it, and learning so much more than I ever wanted to know about hormones, neurotransmitters and gut health and how it all interacts with the food we eat has really given me so many ideas of why my skin is potentially still flaring up a bit, but at this point I’ve just made a bunch of lists of things I could potentially change and never really said “Hey I’m going to pay attention to all of these little things at once and see if they make a difference on my face.” I’ve decided to change that and do something about it.

My hypothesis: I think the little things will make a difference. And so I’m going to make some changes.

And I’m making these changes during the month of October so let’s just call October the month of The Great Skin Care Experiment. I’ve done A LOT of thinking about most of this, and some of it has to do with my own personal medical history and my skin care history, so this post may seem like a willy nilly oversimplification but I assure you it is the culmination of a lot of research. Also, please don’t think I’m telling YOU to do this. It’s a bit nutty and I’m okay with that, and don’t think my methods are for everyone. But since this will be on my plate for October I thought I’d let you know.

Today, specifically, I thought I’d outline the main changes that I’m easing into right now, but will be going full force with starting in October. Where I can, I’m providing links to what inspired them, but I imagine I will be talking more about them in the future. If there is anything you would like me to address in more detail, feel free to let me know. There are 11 changes, and most are internal things I’ll be addressing (diet/supplement/lifestyle changes) but there are also a few external things going on (physical changes I’ll be making with respect to skin.) Here’s the rundown, and after 30 days we will see if monitoring these 11 factors make a difference.

A QUICK NOTE ABOUT DIET: Since I do think it is the foundation of this experiment, I think it is worth noting I plan to keep to 90% Whole 30 Eating, which I have found mostly easy to maintain. That 10% will include some Paleo-ified staples like banana muffins on occasion and my beloved red wine if I feel like it. But still no gluten, no dairy, and just generally eating for nutrient density. I’m keeping the diet clean with intentions on adding in some of the strategies below.

Internal Actions


1. HOLY CRAP, I’m giving up coffee (and subsequently, caffeine)

I’m not even sure I can talk about this just yet, but you all I am taking the plunge. 30 days, no coffee. HOLD ME CLOSER, TONY DANZA.
The upside: I really love herbal tea. (Just keep telling yourself that Holly.) I worked in coffee & tea for years so I really do enjoy a good cup of tea, but no doubt this will be a huge adjustment for me and I’m not quite sure I will survive. But it’s time. The relationship between caffeine and your adrenal system (something that I really need to keep a close eye on) coupled with my PASSION for a good cup are not always a match made in heaven. Plus, I’m also veering into a liiiiiitttle bit of an unhealthy place with my coffee dependence and when I saw this the other day it spoke to me:

So. Let’s do this.


2. Taking a Fermented Cod Liver Oil/Butter Blend supplement Supplement

If you spend any time listening to the Balanced Bites Podcast, Diane and Liz make a great case for this supplement. For your skin, and for your life. Ooooh, didn’t that make it sound extra dramatic? :) Anyway, I’m trying it.

3. Incorporating Brewer’s Yeast into my routine
The inspiration genesis of Brewer’s Yeast (as well as the Fermented Cod Liver Oil Supplement) came mostly from this Cave Girl Eats skincare post. I mean, hello, results. So. Let’s add that into the mix as well since we’re shaking things up.

4. Exploring (eek!) Organ Meats
Is pastured liver the cure all for everything? I don’t know, lots of people make great cases for the nutrient density of organ meats so I am going to work to find some ways to incorporate them into my diet. I don’t know whether to cringe and crawl in a hole, or get excited for the culinary challenge. I’ll get back to you on that. :)

5. Regularly Eat Fermented Foods
I started this during the Whole 30 with sauerkraut, but I’m thinking about doing a little more exploring. This was a great podcast on kombucha (organ meats too! YIKES) so I may explore that a bit just for fun. Allison (who is a wonderful resource you should all be reading) sent me an email full of information (Thanks, lady!) and I’ve gotten some amazing links from readers of things to explore on this topic, so again – more on this possibly in the future.

6. Adding in Some Bone Broth
Do you drink bone broth? Have you heard of all of it’s wonderful properties? Why inject collagen when you can drink it, eh? I don’t even know what I’m saying right now, so forget that, but bone broth. I’m exploring that. I made a huge batch this weekend. I’m uh…too scared to use it so far, but baby steps.


7. Potentially focusing on some particular nutrients

Chris Kresser has been putting out some amazing resources for addressing skin issues with diet. His 3 part Nutrition for Healthy Skin series(Part One, Part Two and Part Three) has been really enlightening as well as his podcast about gut health and acne. He makes some great recommendations I’m considering.

External Actions

1. Purchase a Clarisonic — Yep I took the plunge. And I’m excited to see if it is as life changing as everyone claims. Since it is made by the same folks who make my Sonicare toothbrush (which DID change my life!) I have high hopes.

2. Use only Non-Toxic Skin, Makeup + Body Care Products

I’ll talk about this in another post, but basically if it has Parabens, Pthalates or other crap that isn’t doing my body good, I’m swapping it for something else. I’m not gunning to be the world’s best hippie or save the environment on this one. What I’m doing is trying to keep things as natural and non-toxic as possible during this period of time. (Bye bye super awesome wrinkle creams. Let’s just see what happens, eh?) I know I keep saying skin is our largest organ so I best be treating it right everywhere. I figure if I’m going to be complaining about how the skin on my face is acting, I better at least make an effort to treat my skin EVERYWHERE pretty well.

Makeup, lotion, skin care, deodorant. We’re going full on Au Natural. This actually wasn’t too big of a change for me, but to be honest I had never paid too much attention. Come October, the labels on my beauty products are going to be short.


3. Dry Brushing

I just think this sounds fun! And since it is supposed to promote skin and organ health, why not use this month to get in the habit? Fun times.

4. Give Oil Cleansing Another Try

I had a very…um, not great experience with Oil Cleansing the first time around. I experimented with many different formulas and all of them (even the 10% castor oil one) made me feel like I was washing and moisturizing my face with battery acid. But you know, I’m a glutton for punishment, so I may try again. And instead of using jojoba for the moisturizing element (my skin is SUPER dry) maybe I’ll roll with coconut. We’ll see.

*********

And that’s the plan man. It’s kind of nutty right? But as with everything nutty I do, I always seem to learn something. I don’t imagine this will be any different.

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