How Jessica Cleared
Her Acne Naturally
Jessica's experience with acne began around age 18. At that time, she overreacted to some normal breakouts, seeking out harsh three-step skin treatment systems marketed to people with acne. Over time, her skin condition deteriorated, becoming red and itchy with scaly patches, in addition to increasingly inflamed acne lesions. She sought help from a dermatologist after a couple years of trying harsh, drying products.
Unfortunately her doctor prescribed birth control pills, topical antibiotics and retinoids. After fits and starts with the retinoids, which caused intense skin irritation, Jessica committed to sticking to the retinoids alongside a basic skincare routine, which included drugstore cleanser and an SPF moisturizer. This routine kept Jessica's acne at bay for a few years, but the skin irritation was unrelenting.
Jessica eventually wanted to be free of birth control pills, and after stopping, she began experiencing acne again. She ended up turning to accutane because it was the only tool she knew of that promised to clear her skin. Jessica took one course of accutane and stopped. With clear skin, although still irritated and uncomfortable, she carried on with a basic skincare routine and began building a family.
After nursing her third child, Jessica noticed her skin shifting and comedones forming once again.Jessica again overreacted to the presence of comedones and entered into a two-year experiment with what she calls "kitchen skincare." Determined to avoid harsh prescription treatment and unsure about the seriousness of chemical exposures from skincare products, she turned to using single-ingredient products and kitchen goods on her skin. She tried masks, scrubs, and serums made from all kinds of foods, manuka honey, essential oils, and lots of squalane oil. A couple years in, no skin improvement to be had, Jessica decided to drop everything she thought she knew and start over.
Having done years of diet work already, Jessica found an inspiring way of eating taught by Karen Hurd, which is essentially a whole foods diet with a focus on the soluble fiber found in beans and legumes as a way to detoxify the body on a daily basis. Jessica adopted this way of eating in hopes it would clear her skin. She noticed a reduction in inflammation (and many other health benefits) after several months of eating this way, but the acne kept forming. Jessica began to accept that her skin might never clear up.
Then Jessica found Skin Discovery on Instagram and my profile resonated with her. She reached out for help.
Jessica has a sensitivity to aloe and using natural products is a strong value of hers. She prefers a minimalist skin care routine that is both simple and effective.
vWhen I started working with Jessica in January, she was experiencing breakouts on all areas of her face. Her skin was overproducing oil and was often pink and sensitive to the touch.
She was using Bioessance 100% Squalane Oil as a cleanser, Zongle Therapeutics Organic Witch Hazel as a toner, Be Natural Organics Hyaluronic Serum and a homemade blend of hemp seed and black cumin seed oils to moisturize her skin.
She was also using a 3:1 water baking soda solution 1-3 times daily on inflamed breakouts. Jessica was also experimenting with the Indee Lee Blemish Lotion as a spot treatment when needed.
I educated Jessica on why these products were not working for her. For instance, baking soda was increasing the pH of her skin, thereby allowing acne bacteria to thrive. The Blemish Lotion was an issue as well in that it contained isopropyl alcohol, which is like throwing salt on a wound, far too harsh and drying for a healing breakout.
STARTING HER CLEAR SKIN JOURNEY
This time around, her journey looked much different than the one she was on in her past. The first thing I addressed with Jessica was our focus on repairing her skin barrier. Our first goal was to get her skin comfortable again using well formulated topicals to calm inflammation, effectively hydrate and soothe her unique skin.
1. We swamped her oil cleanser for the Zyderma FAT9 Cleansing Bar and she started using it in tandem with the Konjac Facial Sponge a few times a week in the evening to ensure thorough cleansing
2. We ditched her hyaluronic serum for the Consonant HydrExtreme to better hydrate her skin and regulate her oil production
3. We introduced the Zyderma Clarifying Cream to balance her skin’s microbiome under the AM Replenish SPF 40 during the day and over the HydrExtreme in the evening
Jessica received samples in the mail of all these products a week after her initial Skin Care Review appointment. In this one hour virtual video call, I focused on educating Jessica on how to use each product, how to sync her skin care with her menstrual cycle to prevent hormonal flare-ups and how to shift her mindset in the mirror.
This session together was a powerful one. It surfaced the negative thoughts that Jessica was telling herself in the mirror every day. We collaborated over email to reframe these thoughts and rewrite the story she was telling herself about her acne.
This small but mighty shift allowed Jessica’s mindset to get out of the way so that her body could heal. Since the mind controls everything, it’s critical we get our mind on board with the journey and to believe that clearing acne is possible. With her new mindset and topical recommendations, Jessica was excited to get started.
THREE MONTHS IN
When I asked Jessica in her follow-up appointment what improvements she noticed in the last 3 months, she said “my skin is the most comfortable it’s ever been”. She was surprised at how quickly our protocol was working because after only one week into her new skin care routine, she noticed results. Only three months later, redness was gone, inflammation on breakouts was diminished with fewer breakouts on her skin overall.
It was time for protocol 2.0 which involved targeting skin texture. The reason we didn’t start here, as most estheticians do, is because we needed to ensure her skin barrier was healthy and strong before introducing any exfoliating acids. I did not want Jessica to experience purging or inflammation as a result of not caring for her skin barrier first.
We decided on a one-two-punch strategy to tackle Jessica’s texture and acne breakouts. We kept her morning skin care routine consistent, and added two additional evening skin care routines. We introduced these slowly into her skin care routine to adjust her skin to these new additions.
NIGHT 1 AHA
NIGHT 2 RETINOL
NIGHT 3 + 4 BARRIER REPAIR
SIX MONTHS IN
At her second follow-up appointment, I couldn’t believe my eyes! Jessica’s forehead was completely clear and she had far fewer breakouts on the lower half of her face. I was delighted to hear when Jessica said “my skin has never been healthier. I'm so glad I found you". Her skin was transforming but so was the relationship she was building with herself. Her confidence was soaring and it was a pleasure to witness this powerful transformation.
We wanted to clear the final breakouts on the lower half of her face so we made a slight adjustment. With it being June, we decided to park her retinol and reintroduce it in the fall to see if we could get her clear by increasing the use Pro 5 Liquid Exfoliant to melt away comedones beneath the surface of her skin in tandem with increased usage of her Konjac Facial Sponge. Since Jessica was diligent with reapplying her sunscreen throughout the day, I was not concerned about her skin’s photosensitivity during the summer months.
NINE MONTHS IN
At her third follow-up appointment, I asked Jessica to share what improvements she was noticing since we last met. She revealed she only had one breakout on her forehead and no others in the last 3 months! With her skin being comfortable, even in tone and only ONE breakout, her skin is clear and healthy.
We discussed a few changes to her fall skin care routine, including re-introducing her retinol and moving towards a heavier moisturizer (from NeoGenesis Light Moisturizer to NeoGenesis Barrier Renewal Cream) as well as a heavier weight sunscreen (TIZO AM Replenish SPF 40 to TIZO Ultra Zinc SPF 40). These adjustments will protect her skin’s moisture levels as we move into cooler months and ensure that her barrier is strong and healthy for winter.
Jessica’s story is inspiring in many ways. Her courage to try natural alternatives to clear her skin, her willingness to observe her thoughts and practice better ones to staying the course through her clear skin journey, Jessica shows us that with the right mindset, skin care routines and guidance, achieving calm, clear skin is absolutely possible.
In Jessica's words:
“Christine proved to me that restoring the skin's barrier allows the skin to return to its NORMAL state - clear and comfortable. I'm enjoying clear and comfortable skin now, as well as a more supportive mindset. I'm thankful to have experienced acne - it pushed me to look at all facets of my health and make beautiful lifestyle changes. And I'm equally as grateful to let go of acne and the preoccupation with clearing my skin. Christine has been a godsend and bright light in my life. She shared her knowledge, experience, and intuition generously, and her guidance nudged me into healing. It's obvious on my skin, but her approach goes deeper than that”
If you relate to Jessica's story and would like to get started on your journey to calm, clear skin, book your advanced Skin Analysis appointment today.