Why your skin care routine is making your skin worse (and what to do instead)

Eczema, psoriasis, acne, cysts, blackheads, whiteheads, milia, keratosis, dandruff, ingrown hairs. If you experience any of these skin issues, I feel your pain.

Having unattractive skin can be really difficult. Your skin is how the world perceives you, and if it’s riddled with any of the above, it isn’t easy to feel attractive, or even presentable.

Over $175 BILLION is spent every year on skincare and makeup, yet more and more people experience these problems and turn to spending yet more cash on medicating themselves, in the desperate search for balance and beauty.

Why it’s all a dirty money-grabbing trick

Here’s some news for you friends:

1. Applying washes, scrubs, creams, serums and other potions to the surface of your skin will do very little to actually improve your skin quality.

2. Your skin has a natural oil balance, and products only serve to strip off that oil (rendering your skin effectively a dry desert) and then force us to replenish that moisture balance artificially with yet more products.

3. Cosmetics are not legally considered food, and therefore have very few regulations applied, despite the fact that something you apply to your skin can enter your blood stream in less than 30 seconds. When you apply all those lotions and potions, you might as well be EATING all those toxic yuckies. Would you eat your sudsy body wash? Your perfumey moisturizer? Well surprise, you ARE.

According to this article by save-the-planet guru David Suzuki:

Some of the ingredients in beauty products aren’t that pretty. U.S. researchers report that one in eight of the 82,000 ingredients used in personal care products are industrial chemicals, including carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins, and hormone disruptors. Many products include plasticizers (chemicals that keep concrete soft), degreasers (used to get grime off auto parts), and surfactants (they reduce surface tension in water, like in paint and inks). Imagine what that does to your skin, and to the environment.

We surveyed Canadians to see how many of the Dirty Dozen ingredients below appeared in their cosmetics, and our findings show that 80 per cent of entered products contained at least one of these toxic chemicals.

Your skin comes from the inside out. It’s a mirror of what’s going on inside your body. Literally your skin is a reflection of your digestive system; if your intestines are seething with crap food and gas and bacterial overgrowth, it’s likely your skin will look similarly junky. Whereas if your guts are glowing with wholesome real food and probiotics, your skin will glow and thrive in response.

You can’t out-product a bad diet

Have you ever heard the saying that you can’t out-exercise a bad diet? Well, you can’t out-skincare-product one either.

I can personally attest to this one. A few years ago, actually when I got my first full-time job after university, I was trying to figure out why I was getting sore lumps of cystic acne on my back.  I tried all sorts of treatments, and even resorted to spending lots of my hard-earned moolah on special medicated bodywashes to try to fix the painful lumps. I also used extra-strength acne-fighting wipes, which gave me huge patches of super painful eczema, which I then had to go get a prescription cream from the doctor for. Talk about backward, pointless, multi-level bandaid solutions!

I’ve since made the connection that it’s totally linked with diet and stress. Now that I live a clean lifestyle, I can see the effect very explicitly: Every time I’ve gone on holiday this year, if I’ve let things get a little lax in the diet and sleep department, I notice very soon after that I start getting a little cystic acne on my back.

There is no point in spending all that time in the aisle of the store reading bottles figuring out which product to spend another $20 on, and then doing some 5-stage regime every morning and evening to fix your skin. This is exactly what the marketers want you to do.

Even worse, there’s no point resorting to scary medications like accutane or even the pill to fix your skin. These only cause issues like poor mineral absorption, leaky gut and psychiatric problems. Seriously, and for years afterward.

A better approach for better skin

You can ride the merry-go-round of potions and drugs for years, or you can get a much more affordable, more permanent, and more body-loving solution by fixing the problem from the inside out.

When your car isn’t running right, do you give it a coat of wax and touch up the paint? Or do you open the hood and actually get the engine repaired? We should treat our bodies the same way, seeking out and addressing the root cause of these issues instead of just slapping on the commercial, slickly marketed, bandaid solution that comes in the shiny bottle.

 Step 1: Support your Liver

Another word for supporting your liver is ‘detoxing’. It’s a pretty flashy marketing term these days that is surrounded with all sorts of products and programs, but it basically just means supporting the liver with clean foods and smart supplements.

Your liver is responsible for trucking out all those nasty toxins that can come from food, the environment, plastics, products etc. If it can’t truck ’em out properly in your poop, your body tries to seep them out in other ways, such as through your skin. Hello acne!

These same detox foods will also help get rid of extra estrogen (in men and women both), which can be a contributing factor to acne and skin issues.

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It can be really overwhelming to try and find good supplements that are worth your hard-earned dollars. My partner and I spend a lot of time researching this stuff, and here are the best we’ve found for B vitamins and a superfood greens powder that contains algae.

Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw B-Complex – a highly absorbable real food-based B vitamin complex. There is no point taking cheap low-quality supplements that your body can’t absorb, therefore real food-based supplements are a lot more worthwhile.

Mighty Maca Greens Superfood Powder – a tasty mixture of South American maca (awesome health-promoting herb in like one million ways) and super greens, which you can get in little single-serve packets to bring along to work etc. I really like it mixed with a little lemon juice and then shaken in a big bottle of water to sip throughout the day.

Step 2: Supplement Wisely

Once you’ve taken care of the detox pathway, you can add in nutrient-dense foods and supplements which will literally help your body build better skin. These are some of the building blocks of healthy skin which are often missing from our modern diets.

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Zinc: Personally I’ve found that if I eat pumpkin seeds or take a zinc supplement, the dry skin under my feet goes away (so key for summer!). I’ve heard it also helps hair grow thicker; I’m currently experimenting with that! Go for whole foods, or here is a great source for a supplement: Garden Of Life Vitamin Code Raw Zinc

Magnesium supports hundreds of important things going on in your body, and due to industrial agriculture our diet has become very magnesium-depleted. I prefer using Natural Calm Magnesium Liquid and either just mixing with some coconut oil and smearing it on, or making a simple DIY moisturizer that I use once or twice a day. You can find local stores to buy from, or here’s a place to buy online: Liquid Magnesium. You can also use their naturally flavoured tasty magnesium drink, although I find it a little sweet (depends on your taste).

Another option for magnesium is a simple epsom salt bath, which is also very effective. Dissolve 2 cups of salt into a bath and you only need 7-12 minutes for it to absorb. Grab some epsom salt here.

Collagen and gelatin are so key for soft, youthful, healthy skin. Make bone broth with organic bones at home, or take a good quality supplement like Great Lakes: Collagen Hydrolysate 

Vitamin A: The animal form of Vitamin A is crucial for healthy skin. Keratosis pilaris is the official name for the little bumps that can form on the backs of your arms and elsewhere. These are easily treated with Vitamin A. Here is where to get the best cod liver oil supplement with highly bio-available Vitamin A: Blue Ice Fermented Cod Liver Oil

Step 3: Stop Abusing Your Skin

This step is a little counter-intuitive. Marketing would have us believe that if our skin is oily and acne-ridden, we just have to cleanse it more often and with stronger stuff. We are also told to use several different steps of skin care products at different times of day.

In reality, your skin maintains its own balance quite nicely, when it’s not constantly interfered with. It maintains a healthy pH and moisture level, as well as exfoliates itself consistently. People weren’t ugly ragged beasts in the days before they had 6-stage facial care product systems. We don’t need these things to survive and in fact our skin can be much more balanced and beautiful without them.

The skin has a delicate layer called the ‘acid mantle’ which gets destroyed by commercial cleansers and exfoliators. Basically the skin turns into a dry desert, and then we have to use serums and lotions and creams to artificially re-hydrate what we just removed. Totally pointless, and way confusing for the skin. That’s why we often find we get super oily too fast, because the skin is freaking out trying to re-hydrate itself after being stripped dry.

The other thing we hear often is to drink “lots and lots (and lots)” of water if we want nice skin. It’s true the average person probably doesn’t drink enough water. However it’s easy for this advice to go too far.

When you drink too much, the vital minerals in your blood become too diluted and you pee out too much valuable nutrition. Your kidneys can only process an absolute maximum of 1 L per hour at their highest capacity.

You should only be drinking around 2 to 3 L of water per day (depending on your size and activity level) – enough that your urine is not clear, but rather still pale yellow (perhaps a lemonade-like colour). Your skin will certainly benefit from being properly hydrated, but it’s a delicate balance.

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Another great tip would be to purchase a filter for your shower head. This will remove much of the chlorine and prevent your skin from drying out so much.

This is the one we currently have and I’ve found it to be perfectly effective. It was pretty affordable, very easy to install and should fit any wall-mounted shower head. Sprite High Output HO2 with matching Chrome Showerhead

If I were buying one now, I would probably order this one online: Culligan Level 2 Wall-Mount Showerhead. It has really good reviews, plus massage settings :)

Step 4: Care for Your Skin Gently

There are so many wonderful ways you can nurture and care for your skin gently, rather than abusing it with chemical cleansers and smothering it with petrochemical-laden potions.

Exfoliating: Use a soft natural-bristle dry brush or natural sea sponge to gently disengage old skin. This helps circulation and lymph fluid flow as well.

Clean and Nourish: Apply coconut oil to the skin before washing or showering. Coconut oil is gently antibacterial and very nourishing, plus it is slightly acidic which matches the skin’s natural pH. Then, use filtered warm water (not too hot – it scalds and strips the skin). When you get out, you’ll find the perfect amount of moisture is left and the skin feels heavenly!

Balance: If you feel the need to tone or tighten the skin, a 1:10 mixture of raw apple cider vinegar to filtered water is a gentle, natural way to do that. If your tap water is very mineral-rich (and has a strongly basic pH, you’ll know if you get white build-up on your kettle) then the vinegar rinse may be a good idea.

Detox and Repair: Sweating every day is so important – it’s the skin’s natural cleansing system and it’s so easy. Just google “quick interval workout” or similar on youtube, and you’ll find any number of ways to get a quick sweat on in less than 10 minutes. No excuses!

The other absolute vital factor is sleep. This is when your skin repairs itself and becomes its naturally gorgeous glowing youthful self. Your hormones (your body’s messengers and signalers) also need sleep to stay balanced and effective. You’ll know how shitty and haggard your face looks after an all-nighter or a long flight or what have you. Sleep is sooo important. Sleeeeeep.

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 The Skintervention Guide

This is a good overall good-skin approach, however if you have a particular condition or concern, and want a detailed protocol (aka user-friendly, hand-holding, day-by-day action plan) to fix your skin, I have a GREAT recommendation.

Instead of spending another $10, $30, $50 plus dollars on another hit-or-miss product that is advertised by air-brushed models, I would highly recommend checking out Liz Wolfe’s Purely Primal Skintervention Guide.

This guide is a deep dive into what exactly is going on underneath each specific skin condition. What imbalances might be happening or what might be setting it off, and exactly what to avoid, what to eat, and what to adjust in your lifestyle to bring things back to normal. In fact not only to normal, but even better than your skin has ever been.

The author, Liz Wolfe, is an absolute POWERHOUSE of awesome actionable info. Her style is friendly and practical so it’s easy to read. Useful and empowering, not boring or overwhelming.

Don’t smear on another cream and hope for the best – rebuild healthy skin from the inside out instead, using a proven system from an established expert. The image below will take you straight there for more info…

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Do you have any tips or success stories to share on how you’ve overcome skin concerns? Or any good books, supplements, protocols to recommend? Share & help others below!

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