Time for a little skin update!
As you may or may not recall, in December I wrote about my skin crisis after coming off the pill a few months prior. Ever since this revelation, and my hormone balancing series, I have been getting tons of emails and messages asking for more tips and, of course, if I have been able to get my own skin back to normal. The answer is: yes and no.
No in that I haven’t been able to rebalance my hormones. Rebalancing hormones is a tricky quest, very individual, and takes time. I cannot stress this enough. It takes patience, research, and in most cases, help from a professional. Note: I am not a professional in this respect! I am just a girl on a quest to figue out what works, and what doesn’t, and share that with you.
Yes in that I have found some good products that are really helpful in alleviating the severity of outbreaks, whilst working on the root cause of the problem. Those tips I would like to share with you today.
Here are some photos to show you my improvements (all unedited and without make-up, of course).
Topical Acne Treatments (Skin Care Routine)
MSM is an organic form of sulphur and used as a dietary supplement. I only recently discovered the many health benefits of MSM, though I had heard the name many times before. I will do a comprehensive post on MSM soon but for now I will tell you MSM is used by many cells in our bodies, namely the cells in our skin, hair and nails. Most people get in way too little MSM via our diets. So, supplementation with this organic compound will make for healthier and stronger skin, hair and nails. I, however, found that MSM also makes for a wonderful facial scrub/peeling! Because MSM powder is very cristalline, it is really effective at scrubbing away dead skin cells and leaving your skin feeling smoother than ever. Getting rid of dead skin cells is imperative for better, clearer skin because that way your pores are less prone to getting clogged. I don’t think there is a more natural and more effective skin peeling out there.
Scrub with MSM once daily, preferably in the evening, and determine for yourself if your skin is sensitive or not and adjust your applied pressure to that. You can mix MSM with raw, organic honey (preferably Manuka honey) to make it more gentle on your face, and you can leave the honey/MSM mix on your face as a mask.
Black Sesame Oil & Tea Tree Oil
After scrubbing my face with MSM I apply black sesame oil and tea tree oil. Black sesame oil is a wonderful moisturizer that balances out the harshness of tea tree oil. Tea tree oil has a mild antibacterial effect which helps reducing the amount of bacteria that can be responsible for outbreaks. Black sesame oil is also rich in vitamin E, which helps with scar recovery.
Black sesame oil can be purchased here (UK site, they are also located in the US and Canada). You can also replace black sesame with another carrier oil, like avocado, coconut, or almond oil, which may be easier to obtain in local shops.
Oral Acne Treatments (Supplements)
Although technically Dong Quai falls more in the hormone balancing/curing acne department, it is taken as a supplement so I will include it here too. Dong Quai is actually what has helped me the most with my skin so far, and with getting my cycle more regular again. Note to self: I need to get a refill!
Dong Quai is a Chinese herb that has been used for centuries for female health and hormonal balance. Other than helping with acne, it is also great for PMS symptoms, menopause, irregular cycles and healthy hormone levels. I prefer this particular herb over some other herbs for hormone balancing I have come across since most tend to work to increase or decrease one specific hormone, and for that you really need to know what you are doing, and be tested for hormone irregularities!
When taken orally, MSM has a strong detoxifying effect and will also help with scar healing. MSM tastes gross (I warned you!) but the powdered form is more potent than the capsule form (plus, this way you can use it as a facial peeling too). Because of the strong detoxifying effects, MSM dosage needs to be increased slowly and gradually. Start with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon a day. Max is 4 teaspoons a day. Detox symptoms may occur in the beginning (I did not experience these) such as headaches and fatigue. If so, lower the dosage.
MSM also does wonders for your overall health, and your hair and nails (the latter two may take 2 months before you will see improvement, though).
Burdock (Arctium Lappa)
A friend tipped me this herb in capsule form for better skin. Burdock is another one of those herbs thats has been used for centuries and is often used in traditional chinese medicine. Burdock is a blood purifier, helping your body get rid of toxins, and regulates your skins sebum (talg) production. Your skin will be less oily and shiny and thus less prone to breaking out. Interestingly enough, this seems to help with greasy scalp too.
For my Dutch friends: the Dutch name for Burdock is ‘grote klis’ or ‘grote klit’ and is available at De Tuinen.
Zinc (mineral) plays an important role in acne for two reasons. First, zinc deficiency can trigger acne. Second, zinc has anti-inflammatory properties which are not only helpful for clearing acne but also good for overall health. It is suspected many people are zinc deficient which can be causes by a host of things, like an excess of copper in the body (through diet, hormones, copper IUD), a lack of zinc in the diet, malabsorption, being on ‘the pill’, too much coffee consumption and other dietary choices (even healthy ones!).
Zinc should always be taken with food or it will cause nausea. The best form of zinc to take is zinc monomethionine since this is the most bio-available form. In this form, 15-30 mg daily should work great (always start out with the lowest dosage). Other good forms are zinc acetate and zinc zinc picolinate. Zinc gluconate is ok, and zinc sulfate is the least bio-available form. I would advice to not exceed 50 mg/day and take breaks every now and then. Too much zinc will interfere with copper absorption, though too much copper is a bigger problem than a copper deficiency for most people.
As with MSM, zinc supplementation can help with the prevention and healing of scars. Zinc also supports a healthy immune system and healthy hair and nails.
There are some great reviews on zinc supplementation for acne on acne.org, make sure to check it out!
As with Dong Quai, maca can help with rebalancing hormones. Maca powder is extremely good at balancing your hormones, it is an adaptogen, which means it will work on the body according to needs, age and gender of the person taking it. Maca is not specifically for balancing female/reproductive hormones but all hormones, including stress-related hormones. Maca has the ability to affect key hormones in both women and men without containing hormones itself.
Maca also enhances your mood, energy, vitality and, um, sex drive…. so take at your own risk
General notes on taking supplements:
* Always start with the lowest dosage option, increase when you feel your body responds well or you see no changes, positive or negative
* Don’t take too many things at once. Choose one supplement, preferably, and see if it works for you (finish the whole treatment). If it doesn’t, try another one. Taking too many things at once may upset your body and you will never be able to tell which product works and which didn’t. Some supplements may have the similar properties (like MSM and Burdock) and should not be taken at the same time.
* Supplementation may take a few weeks before showing results, some have faster results than others.It is always recommended to at least finish ‘one round’. I’d say, try one supplement for 2 months to see if it works for you!
* Take breaks in between treatments, even if a particular supplement is working for you
Please note these are tips for treating your acne on a superficial level, not a cure for the root problem (except Dong Quai and which may help tackling the root cause).
Phew, that is quite some information! I’ll be back soon with even more tips to get and keep your skin clear and glowing, naturally (think: diet and lifestyle tips).