A Skin Care Journey – Part 2

A few days ago I wrote an introductory post about my skin and the irritations and reactions I’ve been experiencing in recent years. I’ve been researching and reading books in hopes of finding a remedy. Most have been diet related. Recently though I read Beyond Soap: The Real Truth About What You Are Doing to Your Skin and How to Fix It for a Beautiful, Healthy Glow by Dr. Sandy Skotnicki (a dermatologist with over 20 years of professional experience) and it has me adding a new tool to my clear, smooth and radiant skin toolbox.

Our skin’s appearance is due to a mix of genetics (about 60%) and lifestyle choices (40%). Lifestyle includes things like exercise, diet, sun exposure, and smoking. I’m doing OK on the first three (room for more consistency, but OK) and I’ve never smoked. Upon reading Beyond Soap I think I’ve found the missing piece of the puzzle for my problem skin — I have irritation from using too many skin care products as well as sensitivity to some ingredients in my skincare products (quite likely some of the amazing smelling botanicals). However, I won’t know for sure until I do a product reboot.

Before I get into that, here is a little book review.

This book is a throughly well-researched and accessible read. It addresses how allergies, irritation and sensitive skin are on the rise. It begins with a combination history, anthropology and science lesson on hygiene, cleanliness, and the truth behind ingredients. The marketing of body care products and the lack of their regulation is astounding and depressing.

In recent decades Dr. Skotnicki (and many others) say we have been over cleaning our skin, stripping away our healthy oils ,and breaking down our protective layers. When issues arise we pile on more cleansers, exfoliants, creams and serums (plus shampoos and conditioners). Instead of helping this makes things worse. 

Beyond Soap provides excellent information and easy-to-follow suggestions so you can be empowered with good science (and not hearsay ) and take a step back from excessive cleaning, hidden ingredients, marketing fears, and bottomline – take better care of your skin.

The Product Elimination Diet

Have you ever heard of an elimination diet? You remove foods that are common allergens or cause disruptive digestion or other unpleasant symptoms and then one by one slowly re-introduce them to your diet.  It’s a useful way of identifying triggers to your symptoms so you can avoid them in the future. The skin version works in much the same way. You stick to a very simple allergen and irritant free regime of products an then after 2 weeks you introduce products one by one, each week or every few days. You monitor your skin to see if and what causes a reaction.

Since Sunday I’ve stopped using all of my skincare products as well as hair styling products. I’ve stopped diffusing essential oils, got rid of fabric sheets that I used to keep my shoes from stinking up the closet. I carry a little bit of hand cleanser bar with me for public washroom use.

What I’m Using

Organic virgin coconut oil
No name petroleum jelly
Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Cleansing Water and Makeup Remover Solution for Face and Eyes – 16.7 fl. oz. *
Vichy 24H Deodorant Sensitive Skin Aluminum-Free Stick
Eau Thermale Avène Tolérance Extrême Cream, 1.69 fl. oz. *
Aveeno Moisturizing Bar 3.5 Oz (Pack of 6) *

* Affiliate Links – Thank you for supporting me and the blog.

A Skin Care Journey – Part 1

I’m not sure where or when this recently published book – Beyond Soap: The Real Truth About What You Are Doing to Your Skin and How to Fix It for a Beautiful, Healthy Glow by Dr. Sandy Skotnicki – came on to my radar, but I know it did because when I saw it displayed during a recent bookshop trip I recognized it immediately as something that I had heard about and was a must-read for me.

I’ve always been a bit skin obsessed and doing what I can so that my skin is blemish free, smooth and bouncy. The more I learn the more I realize that most of my efforts (but not all) were misguided. It’s taken me more than two decades to truly understand that when it comes to the skin less is more.

As a teen I started with the compulsive habit of over cleaning (thank you Noxema ) and over exfoliating (thank you St Ives apricot pit scrubs). Later I spent so much money on awesome smelling and feeling products that unfortunately had unremarkable results. I layered product onto product in hopes that the effects of lotion 1 might be remedied by lotion 2 (or 3 or 4 or 5). Through out the years there have been breakouts (and picking), redness, stinging, itchiness and most recently extreme dryness, hives, swelling and rashes.

A few years back this started to happen

I was put on prednisone, had patch testing done (results all negative), took prescription anti-histamines whenever I felt the swelling start (it began with a tingle and an itch), and walked around with an epi-pen for a year. I tried to figure out what was trigging it and my best guess was alcohol (I was drinking pretty heavily back then). I was using all natural products without parabens and pegs in them so I assumed my skincare wasn’t at fault. I can’t know for sure. What I do know is that my life was a bit of a mess and had been since 2010. I had my last drink December 27th, 2012 and worked on sobriety big time. I haven’t had a reaction like that since then.

What I have had is very dry skin and redness

And weird breakouts

Now, this may be due to aging. I’m perimenopausal after all. Last summer I was diagnosed with fibroids, endometrial hyperplasia and severe anemia. I got treated (as well as an IUD for the progesterone) and those conditions have greatly improved. I’m also sleeping through the night for the first time in 4 years and have fewer night sweats. Lots has improved, but, my goodness, is my face ever really, really dry and still breaking out.

It’s not clear in this pic, but there were close to 100 pustules on my forehead. Yes, I counted. This blogger likes her data. ;-)

Now onto the book Beyond Soap and what it’s inspired me to do

Stay tuned for part 2 of this entry!