Why I Switched To — And Stuck With — Natural Beauty Products

I wish I could tell you that I use natural, environmentally-friendly beauty products because I’m a good person, but that would be a lie. While I do try to prioritize the environment and my health, I’m really using them because they’re the solution for my sensitive, cystic-acne-prone skin.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told someone about my skin struggles only to hear “but you don’t have acne.” True, my face isn’t pocked with blemishes, but the blemishes I do get are the throbbing, face-distorting, scar-creating kind. These were not just blemishes, they were full-on skin infections that gave me swollen glands and sometimes even fevers. They made me feel embarrassed and depressed as I tried everything from chemical peels to lifestyle changes to make them go away.

It just didn’t make sense; I’d never suffered from acne as a teenager. Why was I suddenly getting these horrible cysts in my late twenties?

Ten years, multiple dermatologists, and thousands of dollars in failed treatments later, I was told that a short course of Accutane was the only answer. This made me deeply uncomfortable. I read the clinical trials and understood that the risks were limited, but to me they were still unacceptable even if it meant clear skin. I felt there had to be a holistic solution.

In desperation, I turned to a local med spa that did free consultations with nurse practitioners, hoping for a fresh perspective. That’s exactly what I got. The NP took one look at me and asked “Has anyone told you that you have a very mild case of Rosacea?” She pointed to a few broken capillaries on my cheeks and around my nose and lips. I told her that one dermatologist had pointed this out, but said it wasn’t worth treating.

“I disagree. I actually have the same problem and find that treating the acne like it’s rosacea really helped. Because I could tell you to do this peel and that blue light treatment, but let’s be honest: none of that will help unless you’re treating the underlying problem.”

This was what I had been looking for! She went on to tell me how simple lifestyle changes – like limiting tomatoes and red wine and avoiding steam rooms and hot yoga might improve my skin if I also used the gentlest possible product regimen. I followed her advice exactly and immediately saw a reduction in both breakouts and severity.

Fast forward another two years, and my breakouts were reduced to one monster zit every few months. Liveable, but still not ideal. I’d been reading about how the lack of chemical irritants in green beauty products could soothe sensitive skin, and this made sense to me. I also noticed a huge improvement in the quality and affordability within that product class over a few short years. It seemed that every time I asked someone with great skin what they were using, the answer was “Juice Beauty.” When I saw their $50 Stem Cellular Starter Kit, I took the plunge, figuring it wasn’t a huge financial risk if I didn’t like the products.

Within two weeks, my skin was glowing. The red patches were gone. And after six months of use, I hadn’t had any cystic breakouts. FINALLY!!!!

I wish I could tell you that I haven’t had a cyst since, but sometimes I really want to have a glass of wine and a giant plate of spaghetti with red sauce…while I’m also on my period. And that combination generally results in a breakout. But the breakouts I do get are less severe, less frequent, and shorter in duration than ever before.

As long as I stick with gentle, natural beauty products, my skin is happy. The second I deviate, the red blotches return and with them, the lurking soreness of a cyst about to surface. I do find my skin benefits from a change in regimen every six months or so, which means I’m full of product recs. My current roster — which I’m very happy with — includes Neal’s Yard Wild Rose Beauty Balm, Tata Harper Rejuvenating Serum, Beautycounter Countermatch Eye Rescue Cream, GREEN APPLE Brightening SPF 15 Moisturizer, and STEM CELLULAR Anti-Wrinkle Overnight Cream.

I know how depressing it can be to struggle with skin problems and I hope these recommendations help!

 

Photo Credit: lacbuocsg Flickr via Compfight cc

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