When our skin freaks out, breaks out or just isn't doing what we want, it's tempting to go for a quick fix. In moments of deep frustration, I've seen clients try just about anything to get their acne under control. The truth is that in most cases, a quick fix usually has undesirable — sometimes drastic — consequences, offering little to no actual healing. It's not unlike crash dieting in it's inability to be sustained.
A friend of mine recently reached out to me, distressed about a flare up of cystic acne. I tried to guide him toward a path that would actually heal the root internal cause and calm the inflammation. But in his panic, he opted for the quicker fix: an intense treatment with the dermatologist. "I know it's harsh," he texted me. "But I'm just over it you know?"
I do know. I get it. I've been there before. Until I knew better, I also thought that if a treatment or product was abrasive enough, it would make the skin problem go away. But as I've seen and learned as an esthetician, this just isn't true.
When people reach the end of their rope regarding "problem skin," the most common — and most worrying — behaviors I see are:
- Intense peels that remove the essential skin barrier.
- Ultra-harsh products or topicals that leave skin irritated and painfully dry.
- Self-extracting, popping and picking, causing bigger infections and scarring.
- Going on medications that are potentially harmful in the long term.
I regularly see skin that's dry and as thin as parchment because someone is over-treating. I also see clients with major gut imbalances due to long term antibiotic use to control breakouts. These attempts to "quick fix" may seem to alleviate the issue at first, but create even greater skin damage in the long run.
When skin is so deeply dried out from harsh chemicals, it loses it's juiciness ... blood circulation slows and thus, vital nutrients aren't making their way to the skin. Lymphatic circulation also slows, affecting the skin's ability to remove toxins efficiently. In this state, when the skin doesn't have it's natural resources, it's unable to self-heal inflammation, nor can it protect itself from the elements. This leaves your skin prone to irritation, vulnerable to next level wrinkling, sun damage and bacteria infection.
All those creams, tonics and gels you were slathering on your face in the hopes of banishing a few bumps are actually causing far more damage than you even realize.
So instead, choose a sustainable, holistic path that effectively clears and calms skin by giving health back to your skin rather than stripping it away. Here are some steps to get you started:
- Transition to using pure, natural, organic products that support the inherent vitality and natural functioning of skin.
- Adopt a "less is more" attitude with your facial routine. Give your skin room to heal and breathe by limiting cleansing to night time only. Simply water rinse in the morning. Exfoliate no more than a few times per week.
- Consider holistic, organic facial treatments that work with the natural healing mechanisms of your skin to calm and clear inflammation.
- Address the underlying internal causes of the skin problem. Stress, poor gut health, hormonal imbalance, food sensitivities, lifestyle and lack of sleep sleep are all potent inflammatory triggers. Consider enlisting the help of an acupuncturist, nutritionist, naturopath or other holistic practitioner to help you correct these issues.
- Cultivate a gentle and loving relationship with your skin and yourself. Commit to your healing process. Release any self judgement or self loathing when you're skin isn't perfect.
- Know that you are beauty and love, no matter what is happening in the mirror. Know that you are not alone.
- Avoid "quick fixes" and make treatment decisions from a centered and grounded place.
The silver lining in having problematic skin is that it can start you on a path of investigation and healing that reaches far beyond your skin. Though this path is not for the weak or faint of heart, the personal transformation it creates truly is the greatest reward of all.
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