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August 9, 2011 at 2:27 PMComments: 4 Faves: 1

My hair and skin are rebelling - say it ain't soy!

By Laura Hogg More Blogs by This Author

First, a disclaimer: I've never really had any major problems with acne. Oh, sure, as a teen (and still as an adult) I would get the occasional zit or three...but in general, I've prided myself on my healthy, clear skin.

So it's because of that very fact that I am at a bit of a loss. Over the past week and half or so, my skin has been the worst it has ever been in my life. Granted, my "worst" isn't nearly as bad as it could be, as I'll be the first to admit. But as someone for whom breakouts have been the exception rather than the rule, I've found it rather disconcerting to wake up in the morning and find out that my skin has been invaded by the dreaded acne monster.

Also during this time, my hair has suddenly stopped responding to my conditioner. My hair tends to be on the dry side, so I was so happy to have found a nice conditioner that made my hair feel soft and healthy. I was willing to shell out a few extra dollars for that. But as my skin has gotten worse, my hair has become even drier than normal and much more prone to frizz. And with this August humidity...well, let's not even go there.

With both my hair and skin suddenly staging an unpleasant revolution at the same time, I suspect that the cause of this is something in my diet. But here's the kicker: I've been eating healthier than ever before. I've been snacking on healthy foods like fruit and nuts (okay, I could be doing a little better in the veggie department) and I've been eating almost no dairy (just one Greek yogurt 4-5 times per week).

So what gives?

Well, there's one change in my diet I didn't mention. And I really, really hope it's not the cause - though it doesn't look good.

If you've read my other blog entries, you probably know that I eat a mostly vegetarian diet (no red meat or poultry, milk occasionally, seafood only rarely) - so, like many vegetarians, I often eat a lot of soy products. But I typically don't eat as much soy as other vegetarians perhaps do. My preferred substitute for cow's milk is almond milk, and to be honest, I really don't eat tofu very often. So my soy intake is usually fairly moderate.

Except for the past week and a half.

We ran out of almond milk last week, and there was a sale on soy milk, so we got a 3-pack. Then we bought three huge packages of TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein - a delicious and versatile meat substitute made from soy), so that's been sneaking into my diet.

I never would have considered soy as the culprit behind my angry skin...except for the fact that my boyfriend has a slight soy allergy that manifests itself through - you guessed it - breakouts.

As a semi-vegetarian, a soy allergy - however slight - would be devastating to me. So far, I haven't looked up the facts on how soy affects skin and hair health; I want to see for myself. So starting today, I'm going to go back to my regular soy intake: no soy milk and no TVP. I have to say, I have mixed feelings about what I want the results of this little experiment to be...

Have any of you out there ever experienced something similar? Was it soy, or something else? Weigh in, and help me with my soy woes!

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  • Could it be you're not getting enough protein and iron with your veggie diet? Both skin and hair are cells are heavily comprised of protein. Too little fat could also be making your hair dry.

    I found this article that has some good information on the subject:

    Personally, I know my hair is dry from all the dying and heating a subject it too. :/ I use a deep conditioner to combat the dryness and leave-in condition to help smooth my frizzy ends.
    Skin - can't help you there. -.- I've had skin problems since middle school and it seems to be a hormonal and stress issue for me.

  • Protein shouldn't be an issue. I've been much more careful about my protein intake lately, eating lots of beans, nuts, yogurt, and such. That's actually another reason why I'm so puzzled - for the first time in my life, I'm actually being vigilant about protein! Iron could definitely be a possibility, so I'll look into that. I've just started taking a multivitamin; maybe that will help. I also just discovered that we have ground flaxseed at home, so I'll be making use of that. Thanks for the link!

    I dye my hair as well - usually every few months, because I'm lazy about keeping it up, haha. I use good conditioner and an olive oil serum, but for some reason that hasn't been helping as much lately, so I've been attacking it with leave-in conditioner when it's damp. I never use a hairdryer, so I'm a bit at a loss as to why it's so dry.

  • If you've moved recently, you could consider your new water source. Our move four years ago put us with our own well. The water is very hard and dries both our skin and hair.

  • Six months ago I started using a product called WEN will really it a knock off called Hair One that you can get at Sally's Beauty Supply Store. It is not a "shampoo" so it doesn't contain any harmful chemicals. I don't even need to use a conditioner but they do have one you can purchase.

    Just a suggestion.

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