Hormonal Acne, Anyone?

Disclaimer: This post is like a journal entry, so if you’re not in the mood, don’t have hormonal acne, don’t know anyone with acne, etc. go ahead and press “delete”.  I won’t be offended.

This is the deal: I have hormonal acne, and it’s bad.  Yes, I had a pimple here or there in high school and college, but for the most part, I have had very good skin for my whole life (I feel comfortable bragging about that now because I will never again take good skin for granted).  It all started when I went off birth control almost three years ago.  My cycle became abnormal, I became pregnant, I miscarried, and my skin went CRAZY.

Between my knowledge of the harmful side effects of many prescription – and over the counter – solutions that dermatologists tend to suggest and knowing that I wanted my health to be absolutely optimal so that I could conceive and carry a child, I toughed it out.  Even my dermatologist said, “it’s hormonal and they’re [the pimples] just going to keep coming until you become pregnant and things [hormones] become more steady.”  After countless acupuncture sessions, strict Clean eating, and taking prescribed herbs, my cycle finally became regular and I got pregnant about ten months later.  I felt so blessed, but I held my breath waiting; this time the pregnancy stuck, thank God, but so did the acne.  I did what I could: I used all Clean, Green beauty products and I went to see my derm weekly for cortisone injections and chemical-free microdermabrasion.  It was annoying, but it was a small cost for the beautiful, healthy baby I delivered last November.

To be honest, what is most upsetting to me is that I know in my heart of hearts that this superficial condition is the face of something so much deeper.  Our skin is the window to our overall health.  The acne is a sign that something is out of whack somewhere in my body – my body that should be healthier than it ever has been, as I have never taken better care of myself than I have in the last four years.  Very frustrating.  I know that this is a small, superficial problem – no one dies of acne, eczema or psoriasis.  But it affects the self-esteem of millions of people, including me.

I don’t want to attack my skin with toxic chemicals; I want to find the root of the cause and I want to share it with you.  In the coming weeks, I will post about products that have helped me manage this condition and I will tell you about the food allergy tests and hormone panels that I’ve undergone in hopes of eliminating it.  I hope you will tell us your story and share your favorite Clean, acne-fighting products, too.

Sorry if I’m being a little dramatic, but this is a Clean beauty blog.  Welcome.  ;)

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Good For You Friday: Clean Taco Salad

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I love taco salads, but they usually don’t love me back.  Cheese?  Sour cream?  Corn?  Tortilla Strips?  That’s not Clean eating. Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to sacrifice flavor or time you don’t have to make a cleanse-friendly recipe.  I made this one up in ten seconds in my head and 20 minutes in my kitchen.  I bet you even have almost all of the ingredients in your house right now.  My only regret is that I forgot to photograph our meal tonight and I had to swipe a less beautiful pic from the World Wide Web…

|Clean Taco Salad| (serves 4)

  • (4) 6-oz boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • Whole Foods Tequila Lime Seasoning (or chili powder, garlic powder and 1 shot of tequila)
  • Juice of 1 1/2 limes
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 small containers red, orange and yellow cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 large seedless English cucumber, peeled and diced
  • (2) 15-oz cans black beans, rinsed
  • 1 bunch cilantro leaves, stems removed
  • 2 avocados, sliced lengthwise
  • Juice of 1 1/2 limes
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375*F. Rub each chicken breast with tequila lime seasoning and marinate in lime juice and olive oil in glass baking dish while you prepare the veggies.  Then, bake the chicken for 30 minutes, flipping half-way through.  Add cherry tomatoes, cucumber, black beans and cilantro leaves to a large salad bowl.  Add lime juice and olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper and toss well.  Spoon salad into serving bowls, top with chicken and avocado.  Enjoy!

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MJ’s Herbals: Nature’s Medicine Cabinet

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Have you tried MJ’s Herbals yet?  While these salves might not be the most glamorous thing you’ve come across during NYFW, they have become my secret weapon and our family medicine cabinet won’t ever be without them.  Never greasy, these creamy, silky salves melt into skin, delivering pure, natural, herbal relief.

The Calendula Salve is great for eczema and all other dry, inflamed or irritated skin conditions.  I’m not sure I’ve come across an herb that matches calendula’s calming, soothing, healing properties.  This salve is also great for baby care, as it is super-gentle, yet potent.  Cost: $12.99.  Purchase it here.

The Arnica Salve works wonders on bruises, sore muscles, and even sprains.  Arnica works from the outside in, bringing pain relief and increasing circulation.  I had a bad fall at our dock this past summer (don’t laugh; I wasn’t drunk) and I swear this stuff made my bruises disappear faster than normal.  Cost: $12.99.  Purchase it here.

The First Aid Salve is basically nature’s Neosporin and no home should be without it.  A powerful blend of antiseptic, antibacterial and wound-healing herbs speed the recovery of cuts, scrapes, blemished and burns without synthetics or pore-clogging petroleum jelly.  Cost: $12.99.  Purchase it here.

The Lavender Salve works wonders with its aromatherapy benefits.  Massage this salve into pressure points like wrists, temples and the back of your neck to alleviate stress and anxiety.  It also works wonders on dry hands and feet.  Cost: 12.99.  Purchase it here.

The Breast Balm is a must for pregnant and nursing girls.  I wish I had noticed it a year ago.  I haven’t tried this one personally, but women swear that it prevents/reduces stretch marks and restores firmness and elasticity.  Maybe it’s never too late?  Cost: $15.99.  Purchase it here.

The gift set includes one of each salve for $65.  Purchase it here.

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The 21-Day Metabolic Cleanse

For those of you who’ve followed Bare Beauty from the beginning, you know that I am eternally grateful to Dr. Sherri Jacobs at Health E|Coaching.  Dr. Sherri is a naturopath (a homeopathic doctor) who earned her degree at Bastyr University, which is basically the Harvard of natural medicine.  She’s not some kooky witch doctor and she is supportive of integrated care (a combination of homeopathic and western medicine).  No other doctor has ever treated me with the patience and respect that she has.  Where other (read: western medicine) doctors dismissed my symptoms and complaints, or simply wrote me a prescription instead of trying to find the root of the problem, she listened, and more, she was determined to help me find health – and peace.

Three years ago, I did her 21-Day Metabolic Cleanse and I am not being at all dramatic when I say that it changed my life.  In fact, her cleanse is responsible for this blog in many ways.  She taught me so much about environmental toxins and their impact on our health that I started to research the ingredients in my beauty and personal care products.  I fell down a rabbit hole and Bare Beauty was born.

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So, if you feel like crap all the time and you can’t figure out why, if you eat right and exercise and still can’t lose weight, if you are constantly exhausted, can’t sleep,  have GI issues, headaches, or other chronic health problems, if you are tired of taking prescription meds, this cleanse is for YOU.  Yes, for 21 days you will change the way you eat, but more importantly, you will learn so much about food and environmental toxins that you will be inspired to change the way you live.

The Fall Cleanse starts on Wednesday, September 10 for Charleston locals, and it sells out fast.  To attend, (there are three weekly meetings) you must register. 

Dr. Sherri also treats patients all over the world.  You can participate in the cleanse online anytime from anywhere.  (I’ve done it both ways; both are awesome.)

|SPECIAL OFFER|

  • For first-time cleansers: save $50 when you enter coupon code 21DMC50 at checkout.
  • For repeat cleansers: save $120 when you enter coupon code 21CLUB at checkout.

To learn more about Dr. Sherri’s 21-Day Metabolic Cleanse, read this.

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Good For You Friday: Broiled Tilapia with Mustard Chive Sauce

 

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Was I the only one trying to keep my head above water all week??  Four-day-weeks are like a bad dinner party: I should feel grateful to even be invited, but I just want it to be over.

When you are busy playing catch-up all week after the next holiday, make this tilapia dish, steam some broccoli, and you will have dinner on the table in twenty minutes, tops.

|Broiled Tilapia with Mustard Chive Sauce| (serves 4)

Fish:
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil to coat baking dish
4 (5 to 6-ounce) tilapia fillets
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Sauce:
1/4 cup plain, full-fat goat’s milk yogurt (or greek yogurt if you prefer cow’s milk)
2 teaspoons grade b maple syrup
2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup lemon juice (from 1 large lemon)
2 tablespoons chives, finely chopped

For the fish: Preheat a broiler. Brush a baking dish with olive oil. Set aside.
Drizzle the tilapia fillets on both sides with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the fillets in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and broil until cooked through and the flesh flakes easily with a fork, about 8 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.

For the sauce: In a small bowl, mix together the yogurt, maple syrup, and mustard until smooth. Whisk in the lemon juice and chives. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Transfer the tilapia to a serving platter and drizzle with the sauce.  Serve immediately and enjoy.

Happy Weekend!

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Love Smells Like Pineapples

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This product hasn’t launched yet, but I was lucky enough to be included in the test group.  Let’s just say that if One Love Organics doesn’t go through with production, we will all be flakier, duller versions of ourselves.

One Love Organics Vitamin C Body Polish isn’t just sugar granules and body oil in a tub, people.  There is a lil’ science involved here.  Concentrated Vitamin C Ester, papaya enzymes, organic shea butter and organic sugar crystals are said to exfoliate, moisturize, and leave skin even-toned and baby-soft.

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The verdict: OLO’s body polish exfoliated my skin gently yet effectively and I didn’t need body lotion after my shower – but – I wasn’t an oily mess, either.  And it smells like pineapples, sooooo it’s pretty much perfect.

Readers, keep an eye out.  Ladies at One Love Organics, get hoppin’.  I think this one’s going to be a hit.  :)

In the meantime, you can shop other awesome OLO products here.

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Playing Favorites

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After a whole summer of applying and reapplying sunscreen to my face, Suntegrity 5-in-1 Natural Moisturizing Tinted Face Sunscreen SPF 30 is definitely my darling, and I’m not the only one playing favorites – it received a #1 Rating by the EWG/Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database and was featured in the “Best Sunscreens” category in the EWG’s 2013 & 2014 Sunscreen Guides.

The 5-in-1: This product does what it claims to do: treats, hydrates, protects, primes and covers.  Non-nano sized zinc-oxide  not only provides broad-spectrum UV protection, but it also soothes and calms the skin.  Zinc-oxide is known for its anti-inflammatory properties that often help skin conditions like rosacea, acne and melasma.  This BB cream is also loaded with both hydrating and non-comedogenic ingredients like organic aloe vera, jojoba, sunflower, pomegranate, cucumber and green tea as well as hyaluronic acid, astaxanthin, red algae.

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Suntegrity 5-in-1 is offered in five colors that are sheer enough that they seem to morph into your exact skin tone.  I wear “Golden Light”.

Performance:  Suntegrity 5-in-1 is definitely moisturizing, but it’s not greasy (with my normal to oily skin in a hot, humid climate, I am practically phobic of heavy, goopy sunscreens).  It is perfect for daily wear as well as time spent at the beach.  I also love the moderate coverage this BB cream provides: if I am wearing full makeup for a daytime event, it acts as a perfect primer; if I’m running a quick errand and going to work out, I feel like it evens out my skin tone and camouflages imperfections enough that I don’t feel “naked”.

Bottom Line: This stuff is a #barebeautyapproved must-have all year long!  Cost: $45 for 1.7 oz.  Purchase it here.

Ingredients: Active Ingredient: Zinc-Oxide 20%.  Inactive Ingredients: Aloe Barbadensis (Organic Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice, Capric Caprylic Triglycerides (Coconut Oil Extract), Water (Aqua), Sorbitan Stearate (Plant Derived), Glyceryl Stearate (Plant Derived), Polyglyceryl-4 Isostearate (Plant Derived), Hexyl Laurate (Plant Derived), Simmondsia Chinensis (Organic Jojoba) Seed Oil, Cetyl Dimethicone (Mineral Derived), Magnesium Sulfate (Epsom Salt), Helianthus Annuus (Organic Sunflower) Seed Oil, Cucumis Sativus (Organic Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Astaxanthin (Algae Source), Hyaluronic Acid (Plant Derived), Chlorella Emersonii (Red Algae) Extract, Camellia Sinensis (Organic Green Tea) Extract, Punica Granatum (Organic Pomegranate) Seed Oil, Polyaminopropyl Biguanide*, Ethylhexylglycerin*, Iron Oxide.  *paraben-free preservative

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Good For You Friday: Strawberry Basil Smoothie

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I’ve been experimenting with this recipe and it is so delicious!  Strawberries and tomatoes share a lot of the same flavor notes, so while the combination seems a bit unexpected, it is a natural winner.  The basil gives the berries somewhat of a floral accent and the coconut milk acts like a creamy mozzarella.  So basically, this smoothie is a caprese salad.  Alright, that sounds weird.  And gross.  Just trust me, you need to try this before strawberries go out out season!

| Strawberry Basil Smoothie | (serves 1)

  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 scoop of protein powder (this is my favorite)
  • 3/4 cup frozen strawberries
  • 5 fresh basil leaves
  • the juice from 1/2 a lime
  • 1 tablespoon dried goji berries
  • stevia or other natural sweetener to taste

Blend all the ingredients together in a powerful blender or Vitamix until smooth and enjoy immediately.

Happy Labor Day Weekend!  I hope you enjoy this last gasp of summer :)

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Tata Harper’s Open Lab

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Have you checked out Tata Harper’s Open Lab program yet?  It is by far one of the most intriguing interactive website features I’ve ever come across!  You definitely need to take a look, especially if you ever find yourself asking, “So, what makes a Green skincare product so much better for me than a conventional one?”  The open lab and traceability program offers absolute transparency and lets the consumer take a peek into the sourcing and production process at Tata Harper Skincare.  You can even look at a bottle of something you already own and trace it on their website to see when it was made and which team member made it, as they batch all their own formulas in-house.  This is the kind of nerdy Green beauty stuff that gets me excited :)

You all know that I love Tata Harper products, so I thought I would share with you my three cannot-live-without-all-time-favorites.

687a7729935e8ecce4c405ea556113c2From left to right:

  • Aromatic Bedtime Treatment – I basically huff this gorgeous essential oil blend every night to help myself doze off.  It totally works and it smells sooooo good.  Cost: $60 for 5 ml.  Purchase it here.
  • Resurfacing Mask – I think I’ve probably blogged about this product one hundred times.  It is, hands down, the best mask I’ve ever used.  I can see a visible difference in my skin when I rinse it off.  I even sleep in it once or twice a week; it works wonders on blemishes.  Cost: $55 for 30ml.  Purchase it here.
  • Regenerating Cleanser – This is the only exfoliating cleanser I’ve ever used that doesn’t irritate my skin or make matters worse.  It is extremely gentle, yet detoxifying, and the fresh grapefruit scent wakes me up every morning.  Cost: $75 for 125 ml.  Purchase it here.

What are your favorite Tata Harper products?

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My Dirty Little Secret

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I have a confession to make: one of the “un-Clean” products that I still use on occasion is dry shampoo.  The aerosol kind.  I know.  It’s really bad.  I hate using it, but sometimes there just isn’t time in the day to wash my hair and I don’t prefer to look like a greasy street urchin, soooo…..

Just why is aerosol dry shampoo so bad for you?  I knew you would ask me that.  For one, it always contains synthetic fragrance, which contains phthalates, which are known endocrine-disruptors and suspected carcinogens.  (They are especially dangerous to fetuses.)  Remember, everything that contains “perfume”, “parfum” or “fragrance” that is not 100% naturally derived most likely contains phthalates.  Conventional dry shampoo spray contains Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, which is essentially an Aluminum Salt.  This is also found in antiperspirants.  While it soaks up oil, sweat and odor very efficiently, this nonessential metal is terrible for you.  Aluminum is a neurotoxin and our scalp is some of  the most porous skin on our entire body.  Do the math there.  Aerosol dry shampoos also contain butane, propane – yes, what lights your grill in the backyard – and isobutane.  And, lastly, when we spray this junk, we are inhaling it, even if we kid ourselves by holding our breath.

So now what do we do?  Luckily, I finally found an awesome Green alternative that works. (!!!!!)

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One Love Organics Healthy Locks Dry Shampoo Powder is the best thing that’s happened to dry shampoo since dry shampoo happened.  First of all, I know this sounds weird, but it is not as messy as many other dry shampoo powders and a little goes a long way.  OLO’s unique kaoline clay-hyalaronic acid-bamboo formula absorbs excess moisture without drying out my hair or making it feel brittle or chalky.  Every time I’ve used it, my hair feels clean and soft and it smells great.  (Full disclosure: the girls from OLO gave me a canister of Healthy Locks to try at A Night for Green Beauty and it’s a damn good thing they did.  I boarded my plane with unwashed hair the next day and I didn’t get home until almost 24 hours later.  If it weren’t for this magical powder, I could have fried a chicken in my hair that night.)  Cost: about $12 for 0.8 oz.  Purchase it here.

Ingredients: oryza sativa (rice) starch, organic zea mays (corn) starch, kaolin, sodium bicarbonate, tapioca starch, bambusa (bamboo) arundinacea stem extract, silica (and) sodium hyaluronate, proprietary natural and organic fragrance compounds

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