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April 1, 2016

When people ask me what inspired me to make skin care my life, I have one word for them: eczema. I’ve been struggling with itchy, painful, inflamed skin my entire life. For those of you lucky ones who don’t suffer from this skin condition, here’s the quick lowdown: Eczema is an inflammatory skin disorder that causes rough, red patches of itchy skin that develop blisters. I’ve tried it all—monthly visits to an allergist, nightly skin icing, and countless doses of intense steroids. I’ve even been hospitalized with Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus (MRSA) infections caused by my eczema.

As an L.A. aesthetician, I have helped so many patients with painful conditions like cystic acne. But no matter what I tried, I simply couldn’t calm my own eczema, which left me frustrated and feeling like my skin care knowledge was failing me!

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While all my treatments and solutions provided temporary relief, I never experienced a total decrease in symptoms until I started to see a naturopath and take on a holistic approach instead.

Before I began seeing Dr. McAllister, I didn’t understand what was happening to my body. I had become entrenched in a cycle of treating my symptoms without understanding the actual cause of my skin woes. According to Dr. McAllister, food sensitivities are often a leading culprit in inflammatory skin conditions. As he explains:

“Modern medicine has long recognized the connection between skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis and diet. When a person has accurate food sensitivity testing and faithfully removes offending foods from their diet, skin conditions often dramatically improve. I've seen dietary changes provide great results in treating difficult skin issues like acne, rashes, and rough or bumpy skin.”

Even as a skin care professional, it took me decades to find an effective therapy for my eczema.

The first step of my holistic healing process was assessing my body’s sensitivities. I’d long been told that I was allergic to everything from environmental pollutants and mold to a slew of foods. I’d cut out everything I could but to no avail. My initial tests with Dr. McAllister showed that my sensitivities are way more far-reaching than I’d ever known. After a blood test and stool test, I learned that the years of antibiotics and steroids I’d subjected my body to had left me with virtually no healthy bacteria in my gut. Without good bacteria to keep pathogens in check, I’d developed a severe candida overgrowth. With no natural bacterial immune system left, my body had resorted to its last line of defense—inflammation.

With my naturopath’s help, I’m now on the mend. I’m on a series of supplements to kill the candida and eating a very clean, sugar- and yeast-free diet to keep my inflammation low. I’ve been loading up on fresh veggie bowls with quinoa, fish, and avocado. I’m sipping on hot camomile tea to break myself of the coffee and red wine habits that were contributing to my gut imbalance. I’ve even discovered how to make a nourishing smoothie with raspberries, almond milk, and coconut to satisfy my sweet tooth while most fruits are still off limits to me.

Believe me, the relief wasn’t immediate. My body had to undergo a serious candida purging process that left me itchy and exhausted. Now that the candida is nearly gone, I feel my energy returning and see my skin noticeably improving. For the first time in years, I don’t have to take sleeping pills to get through the nightly eczema itch. I’m less irritable and more focused. My skin is softening, and once chronic bumps are nearly gone. I’ve even noticed that my skin care seems to be working better—without all the inflammation blocking up my body, I’ve started to see faster results from my topical products.

If this experience has taught me one thing, it’s that this knowledge needs to be shared. Even as a skin care professional, it took me decades to find an effective therapy for my eczema. Now, I can’t talk to my clients about my experience enough. My acne clients are especially interested, since acne, like eczema, has significant internal connections. I’m now recommending that all my patients suffering from inflammatory skin concerns get a full food-sensitivity screening to find out what’s going on in their gut. I want to share my knowledge and learn more about the internal skin link so that I can begin helping my patients with their skin not only on a topical level but in a holistic way that will lead to lasting relief.

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Kerry Benjamin
Kerry Benjamin

Kerry Benjamin is an esthetician and skincare expert based in Los Angeles who is renowned for transforming troubled skin. After spending 7 years at Microsoft, Kerry realized that she wanted to pursue her own dreams and went from Silicon Valley to Silicon Beach to launch her company, Kerry Benjamin Skincare in 2011. Kerry’s advanced techniques allow herto develop individually tailored skincare regimens for her clients. She is also known for her signature treatment called Stacked Skincare, which she performs exclusively at her private oasis, Spa Benjamin, in Santa Monica, California. The Stacked Skincare treatment includesstacking 4 advanced procedures, and a special formulation of serums personalized to clients’ needs all in one session. Kerry holds advancedcertifications from PCA skin, Envy Medical and Mesoesthetics as well as the International Dermal Institute. Having struggled with eczema her entire life, Kerry donates a percentage of profits each year to support research and awareness about skin conditions.