As I’ve moved my life towards cleaner living, one of the the things I hoped would improve would be my skin. It’s not terrible or anything, but I’ve had cystic acne on my face since I was in my mid 20s or so, and I’ve always had large pores and oily skin. It’s also very sensitive as well. I’ve tried several treatments, including Proactiv and Pronexin, Neutrogena, Clean and Clear, etc etc. Proactive worked for about 2 years, but then ceased to be effective. Many other things I would try would just make my breakouts worse. I couldn’t believe I was in my 30s and still dealing with acne. I guess the upside is it made me look younger!
I had read several testimonials about how giving up dairy had cleared up people’s skin. So when I started to be dairy-free, I kind of thought this was gonna be it, there would go my cysts! Not so much. It seemed to improve some, but not as much as I was hoping. Back to the drawing board.
Then I read a blog post on the site Collective Evolution that talked about oil cleansing. This was the first I’d ever heard of the idea. Putting oil all over my face?! That just sounded terrible! I had been specifically looking for “oil-free” moisturizers for years, and now I hear I’m supposed to be putting more oil on my face? Yikes! But then I read the method, and it was something like, rub the oil in for 5 min, then steam for 2-5 min, then wipe it off, then repeat 1–2 more times. I did it once, and I was like, there is no way I can do this every day. It was like a 15 min process, and just too much of a hassle! I settled for making an oil and salt scrub that I used every once in while, as well as regular exfoliating.
I still hadn’t figured out what kind of cleanser I should be buying, and I just sort of used whatever I had on hand, with my skin getting no better. Then a friend of mine who said she had the same issues told me she swears by rose hip seed oil. She said she stopped using cleansers, washed her face only with water, and put on the oil morning and night. I went out and bought some the next day.
When I rubbed it into my skin, I expected greasiness. Not at all. As soon as it was absorbed my skin felt smooth and normal. Smoother than it ever had in fact. I never looked back. For the past several months I have not “washed” my face, but only used rose hip seed oil and exfoliation with a cellulose sponge once or twice a week, and my skin texture has gotten better and better.
While the texture has improved, the cysts hadn’t gone away. So recently I did a little more Googling and I found this blog post: 7 Secrets that Cured my Acne without Chemicals, which then lead me to this post: The Oil Cleansing Method. First of all, the method that the little video tutorial shows is way more doable than the 15 min that the other post recommended. I thought, I can do that. Then I saw the oil combinations for different types of skin, and there was a specific one for acne: borage seed oil, hemp seed oil, hazelnut oil and grape seed oil. I didn’t have most of those, so I initially made a mix of castor oil, sesame oil and olive oil. I did the method for the last few days and I’m seeing more of an improvement. I actually have some color in my face, which is unheard of for me, especially in the winter. I have never had rosy cheeks. Blush has been my staple make-up. But I’m starting to have a little bit of a glow! And as of this moment, I have the grape seed and hazelnut oils, and am about to order the other two from Raw Gaia. (I may order this kit especially for acne). I can’t wait to try the new recipe and see if it gets rid of the cysts once and for all. The borage seed oil is supposed to combat the hormonal issues that cause the cysts, so my fingers are crossed!
It appears that this method is good for almost any skin type, depending on the oil. You can help dry skin, oily, combination, eczema, etc. I’m almost positive it would also reduce the look of wrinkles, as the oil will sort of plump your face up. I urge all of you to try this if you have issues with your skin. Good luck! Oh, I also have started toning with apple cider vinegar. It works really well, but it’s a bit smelly, so I’ve stuck to doing that only at night.
Fighting Poor Circulation
Another issue I’ve had since I’ve become an adult is that my hands and feet are really, really cold, all the time. My mom has the same issue. My usual remedy is to bury my extremities somewhere on my husbands body, because he is a furnace. But my hands and feet were so cold that he started calling it “dead wife syndrome.” How sexy, right? Hey honey, here are my ice paws, all over your tummy! He was such a good sport about it tho because he is awesome. I went to the doctors to get my thyroid checked (it was fine), and I asked doctors what I could do. They said nothing really, that I just had poor circulation and had nothing to recommend.
Fast forward to last summer, when I got my permaculture design certification from Whole Systems Design. One of our instructors was a naturopath doctor, and she led several workshops on herbal medicines, tinctures, and natural health. One of the things she mentioned was hydrotherapy, for better circulation and general good health. I had heard of doing alternating cold water plunges and sauna or steam, but I don’t have access to those kinds of facilities. She said you could just do it in the shower! The instructions were to turn the water to cool/cold at the end of your shower and let the water run over each armpit, chest, tummy, groin, then down your back and butt, behind each knee and on the soles of your feet, for a total of 30 seconds. And she said to always end with cold when you do hydrotherapy. I was concerned that I would just be totally freezing if I ended with cold, so I asked her about it. She said for three months to do the cold and then do 30 seconds of hot, and that by the end of three months I wouldn’t have to do the hot anymore. You know what? She was right. I was so skeptical, but I pushed through the initial torture of the cold water and followed it with hot for three months. On the first day of the fourth month I was nervous to end with the cold. But I did. And I did again. And I still am, because I am pretty much cured of my cold hands and feet! I am not kidding. My husband actually said he’s a little sad that he’s not needed as my heater anymore!
The way it works is that you basically create a pumping action with your blood when you alternate from cold to hot. When it’s hot, your blood goes to your extremities and to the surface of your body. When it’s cold, it pulls into your internal organs. By alternating, you create this back and forth flow, and it improves your circulation. Not to mention, about 70% of your immune cells live your gut and when you stimulate the blood pumping action, it sends more of your immune cells around your body to combat sickness. Therefore hydrotherapy is especially recommended if you are sick.
Another Cold Feet Helper
I have been doing a lot more meditation, and I have come to be a big believer in the power of the mind. I watched a video of these monks that were meditating, and they could get themselves to a point where freezing cold towels would be placed on them and the towels would warm up rapidly, to the point where they felt boiling hot to the touch and were giving off steam, because of the temperature of the monks bodies. I also noticed that when I meditated, my belly would be come very warm. I started wondering….could I think my feet warm? I’ve actually never been a big believer in hypnotherapy. It never seemed to work on me. But I saw this one hypnotherapist working on people in, of all places, an ice hotel in Iceland (I think). These people were all bundled up, and he hypnotized them into believing they were super hot, that they no longer need their jackets. They stripped a bunch of their clothes off, and still felt warm. So, I decided to give it a try a couple months ago. While the hydrotherapy has helped in general, I still have an issue with my feet when I sit at my desk at home. We have terrible insulation, and I work from home all day at my desk, right next to the wall, in chilly northern Vermont. So, I concentrated on my feet. I imagined them over a raging fire, and I said to myself over and over, “My feet are sooo hot! They are melting! I can’t believe how hot they are. I’m going to have to take my socks and shoes off because I just can’t take it! They’re sweating!” I did this in earnest for about 3–4 minutes, not concentrating on anything else. And…to my surprise…they started thawing out! I could feel my legs start to get warmer, and the warmth spread to my feet. So I concentrated harder and really just made myself feel that fire, really believe it was there and that my feet were ragingly hot. Well, it worked. It freaking worked. I couldn’t believe it! Then I did it again the next day, and the next, and it worked every time. Now I’m at the point that I can warm them up in just a minute or two of concentrating. And now I tend to picture them in a hot tub. Ha! That’s like my favorite place to be in the winter, and it works really well as a visualization. I realize this sounds a tad cray-cray, but I invite you to come and feel my feet before and after, and you will see that it works. Or better yet, try it yourself! You have to really visualize it and stick to it, but I’m sure it can work for you too.
I am so in love with the natural remedies and treatments I’ve learned about thus far. It just strengthens my resolve that our bodies are meant to be well, we just need to give them the proper nutrition and care. So many people are sick right now in the Western world, and we all run to our medical doctors and hope for a pill to fix it. But there are fixes right under our noses, if we just look squarely at nature and try to understand how we fit in.