My sad skin saga (or, why I have ditched soap)
I don't know how to say this without sounding like I'm bragging. So if you'll just bear with me, I'll go ahead and say it: I've never had to deal with skin problems. Of course, like all teens, I had my fair share of embarrassing body issues--it just so happened that acne wasn't one of them. (I've documented this before.) So I've been pretty bewildered these past few months.
I get out of the shower, scrubbed clean and feeling delightfully refreshed. I turn to the sink, getting ready to splash some cool water on my surely-glowing face--only to look in the mirror and see my cheeks covered in angry red bumps. My right cheek is the biggest offender: it's covered from top to bottom, side to side, even creeping over to my chin--leaving me to moan, "Why acne? Why NOW??"
When this first started happening, as you may recall, I latched onto soy as a possible culprit. My boyfriend has a soy sensitivity that makes him break out; I'm a vegetarian, so I eat a decent amount of soy. It made sense. It was easy. Done deal. Right?
If you said "Nope," you're a very astute reader. (Also, I am not very good at setting up suspense.) As you can imagine, my skin didn't get any better when I reduced my soy intake. The bumps would calm slightly for a few days, and then they would get worse than before. At a total loss, I vented my woes to someone who would understand: my sister. After struggling with acne through her teenage years, her skin is now dewy and radiant. So I had her look at my face.
"Yeah, that's definitely a rash," she said.
Relief and confusion flooded through me. Relief because it wasn't acne, and confusion because--a rash? I had been eating better than ever before, hadn't changed anything in my skin care routine, and hadn't rubbed any poison ivy on my face lately or anything.
Turns out, that doesn't matter. My skin, once so welcoming and hospitable to the soap and moisturizer I used daily for years, had suddenly turned hostile.
Apparently, this is actually not an uncommon phenomenon. The average household is full of substances that you can develop a sensitivity to seemingly out of the blue--even if you've used them for years. WebMD has compiled a list of the worst offenders--what they call the "Dirty Dozen"--and it includes such common things as household cleaners, dryer sheets, clothing, and yes, moisturizers and soaps. (Geez--is anything safe?!)
My plan of attack
After learning that my skin's rebellion might be somewhat under my control, I did what any sensible rash-ridden 21st-century person would do: I turned to the Internet to formulate a plan. So here's what I'm going to do:
No more soap. After doing some research, I stopped using soap, moisturizer, and makeup on my cheeks, nose, forehead, and chin. I still use a bit of eye makeup and a tiny lather of soap on my eyelids to clean it off, but other than that, my face is product-free for now. I was hesitant to do this at first--I'm quite attached to my moisturizer--but I can't argue with the results so far. After about a week, the redness has reduced significantly.
Nourish from the inside out. Cliche but true: you are what you eat. Taking that old adage to heart, during this little experiment I'm going to make sure to drink lots of water and load up on foods that are known to support healthy skin: antioxidant-rich fruits and green tea, and essential-fatty-acid-rich olive oil, avocado, seeds, and nuts.
Try a mini detox. Now, this is one I've never tried before. But I figure that since I usually drink at least one cup of tea a day, why not drink one that's supposed to be good for your skin? So I'm going to try the Skin Detox tea from Yogi Tea. I was kind of skeptical--could drinking a special tea really make any difference in my skin?--but then I read the reviews, which are as glowing as these people claim their skin now is. Yes, I know that reviews aren't everything...but the tea is safe, natural, and organic, and I drink Yogi tea anyway, so it can't hurt to try.
I plan to keep you posted with my results, but I want to know--have any of you ever experienced something similar? What worked for you? I'm going to be in the market for a natural and gentle moisturizer and soap pretty soon, so if you have any recommendations, let me know in the comments!
[You may also like: Got acne? Ditch dairy! | My hair and skin are rebelling - say it ain't soy!]