MY HEALING JOURNEY WITH ACNE

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Acne completely changed the course of my life. What was once a huge curse would slowly unravel to be one of my greatest blessings. Of course back then, it did not seem that way at all.

 

When I turned 25, I developed full blown cystic acne. It was both physically and emotionally painful. In the months prior to developing acne, I realize now that I had been ignoring the signs my body had been trying to send me. Even when severe pain put me on bedrest for a month- it still wasn't enough to get my attention.  In hindsight, it was as though my body was screaming at me, desperately trying to communicate to me that something was wrong. I had been experiencing a lot of pain over the course of a few months- but I choose to ignore it and just work through it. It was only when my body began communicating with me through my skin that I began to listen. Cystic acne got my full attention. I could no longer ignore that something was off balance- because it was staring at me in the mirror every day. 

Laparoscopic surgery would later determine that I had endometriosis (I have since had two surgeries to remove endometriosis), and I had also been suffering through ovarian cyst ruptures over the course of a few months that caused a large buildup of scar tissue as well- completely blocking one of my folopian tubes, which overtime I would find would make it virtually impossible for me to naturally become pregnant. I managed to make it through one extremely painful procedure to try to 'flush' open my tubes in 2016 to no avail. In 2017, my husband and I underwent our first round of IVF in hopes to start of family. It was unsuccessful, but we have not given up hope (this is an entire different story for another time ❤︎).

The only option I was given to help ease the horrible pain I would suffer each month, was to have a full on hysterectomy at 25, which I didn't see as an option at all. So, I began on a journey to help heal my mind, body and soul. This led me to a holistic esthetician school on the island of Maui. My education and experience there changed my life- and changed the relationship I had with my skin.  I spent the next five+ years 100% dedicated to furthering my education and working on formulations that would help to heal my skin. I learned to listen, to tune in, to slow down, and to trust. The truth was, I had tried everything. All the chemicals, all the alternative remedies- I honestly tried it all. In the end, it was a combination of things that helped to clear my skin.

The thing with healing is that it takes time. Healing doesn’t happen overnight- it is a process. This is especially relevant when it comes to healing the skin. Your skin has a natural renewal cycle that occurs every 28-35 days. It is important to be mindful of this when implementing new products into your ritual, as it will take up to a month (the entire renewal cycle) to really see a difference in your skin when you implement any new changes. 

As a holistic trained esthetician, I recommend making changes in both your lifestyle and your skincare ritual to help achieve your best complexion ever. You will notice that all of these tips I am about to share with you will also help to nurture your main elimination organs: Your liver, kidneys, colon, lungs and skin. The more intention and love that we give to these organs, the healthier our skin will be and the healthier it will look. I encourage you to take the time to connect with yourself, and pay attention to the ways that your body is communicating with you. Having acne deepened my level of empathy, and it truly made me a better esthetician and formulator. There is a season that your skin goes through when you deal with severe acne, once your skin begins to clear, the healing begins. It took me about 2-3 years to manage my skin- to help calm inflammation and heal the scarring. If you personally are experiencing acne, I want you to reach out and take my hand. I see you, I feel you, I understand what you are going through. Be patient and envelop your sweet self with all the love you can during this season of your life, and tap in deep to listen to the messages your body is trying to send you. Here are my top tips to help heal and transform your skin:

 

 




Exercise is your skins BFF. Try to get in at least 30 minutes of heart pumping cardio 5x a week. When your heart is pumping, it helps to increase blood flow and gets the lymphatic system moving. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to the cells, and also helps to carry away waste products. Essentially, it helps to ‘flush’ cell debris out of the system. I recommend having a clean face when working out, clear of makeup and sunscreen. You want your skin to sweat and purge effortlessly. Jogging, running, hot yoga... whatever it is that makes you sweat, dive in and go for it. Bonus: exercise will help to boost serotonin and will make you feel amazing. The hardest part is starting, I promise. 


Drink water! This is key. I suggest drinking fresh water with a squeeze of lemon and a tiny pinch of Himalayan sea salt. This will not only help to keep you hydrated, it will also help with digestion and elimination (also KEY to healthy skin). Not a fan of water? Mix it up! Experiment by making herbal iced teas . Peppermint iced tea is so yummy during the hot months of summer, add a splash of fruit juice to your herbal tea to sweeten it up.


It is important to note that each and every body is different. I have helped hundreds of clients over the years- and the conclusion I have come to is that when it comes to diet and the skin- every single person is unique and will resonate differently with food and digestion. Exercise will help facilitate healthy elimination, but it is also important to be mindful of making sure you are eating foods that your body can process easily- ie: you don’t want to be constipated. When your body is constipated, it will re-introduce toxic matter back into the system. Your skin is the largest organ in your body- and it is also one of your main elimination organs. Be mindful of how the foods you are eating make you feel. If certain food tends to sit heavily inside your belly long after your meal, unable to digest and eliminate easily- try cutting back on eating those specific items. For me, I have to be very careful with super dense foods such as rice and breads, they tend to sit inside of me like a rock. I personally have no issue with dairy, but many people do find that dairy can cause a lot of congestion in their body. Keeping a food journal for a month, notating how you feel after each meal, will help you to begin narrow down which specific food items may be irritating to your digestion. I encourage you to introduce fermented foods into your diet to help your body to digest, absorb, and get the best use of the foods you are putting into it. Fermented foods that I personally love are:

  • Miso
  • Yogurt
  • Kimchee

Some people find that a good probiotic helps too, experiment with it and see which works best for you.

 


This is not something that you have to do, but your skin will love you for it. This will help to boost energy, stimulate the lymphatic system, cleanse the pores and exfoliate the skin. Essentially, you are gently brushing your entire body with a dry, natural fiber brush. The key to dry skin brushing is to use long, sweeping strokes towards your heart. Start at the bottoms of your feet and go from there. I recommend dry brushing as often as you wish before stepping into the shower.

 

 

 

 

 


I make sure to wash my pillow cases at least 1x a week, and I am always mindful to not press my phone against my face when talking. This helps to keep the skin clear from extra bacteria that may aggravate breakouts. 


This is a tough one, because honestly- there is no instant cure for stress relief. Learning how to manage stress takes practice and time. I feel like we get too wrapped up in thinking about the traditional things we should try to help relax the mind and de-stress. Not everyone finds peace from meditating. Erase all of that from your mind and think about something that makes you joyful-something that makes you forget about everything else in your life when you are doing. For some it may be reading, painting, going on a walk, dancing.... Implement more of the feel good things into your life. Instead of saying 'I don't have time to do this', MAKE the time. Joy is medicine for the soul, and when you are stressed, you need this medicine more then ever.

Massage and facials: We are programmed to think of massage and facials as 'luxury treatments'. The truth is, these are some of the most beneficial, preventative treatments that you can give to yourself. Before you begin to tell yourself that you cannot afford these, and before you begin to tell yourself that you are not worthy of spending money on yourself in this way- stop. You are SO worthy, and I promise you- you can find a way to budget for it. A great way to start is to look around for local massage and esthetician schools in your area- a lot of time, these students need people to practice on, and the cost is little to nothing. If it is in your budget,  I encourage you to do your homework, ask around and seek a holistic trained esthetician and massage therapist. Regular facials are great maintenance, not only can they be extremely relaxing, they can also make a huge difference to your complexion. I cannot stress how important facial massage is- which is why my facials were composed of about 70% massage- get one from a pro and get ready to melt into the moment in a way you never have before. There is a reason it is called 'massage therapy'. Regular massage changed my life, and allowed me to heal from past traumas in ways that I never knew was possible. If you ever are on Kaua'i, be sure to connect with Lana. She will help to heal your mind, body and spirit. 


I am a strong advocate of getting a blood test to check your hormone levels. This will be super insightful to know what is going on inside you. Birth control has helped many women with their skin- but it wasn't for me. The side effects were horrible, and made it so I could not function. I chose to seek alternative therapy. I dove in and tried everything- acupuncture, Chinese medicine, supplements. I found them all to be extremely helpful- and I encourage you to be open and to try whatever you feel comfortable with. With Eastern medicine and healing- the intention lies in finding the root of the issue and ailment- and not just look for a 'quick fix' or band-aid solution. For me personally, all of the above tips were help enough to get my body back on track. One of the most beneficial supplements I tried was taking Evening Primrose Oil daily- this helped with inflammation and gently helped to naturally balance my menstrual cycle. Once you have a better understanding of what is going on with your hormones, then you can begin to take the steps that best resonate with you to help to get them back on track. 

Learning how often my skin needs exfoliation was a total game changer, and made the most noticeable difference in helping to clear my complexion. I encourage you to connect with your skin and let it help guide you to learn how often you should be exfoliating. Here's a tip: With a clean and dry face, and clean hands, gently place your fingertips on your face. Glide them around your skin, and pay attention to any areas that feel congested, bumpy or flakey. If you can feel congestion, that this is a good indicator that your skin could use exfoliating. Daily cleansing with Pamplemousse will gently exfoliate the skin- helping to keep the skin bright and clean. I recommend using the Honey Love Exfoliator 2x a week (as a manual exfoliator) to start, and then let your skin guide you from there. Exfoliating the skin regularly will help to remove buildup, increase cellular turnover, smooth the skin and stimulate blood flow. It will also allow for better absorption of all other products that you apply to your skin. 

You know that saying ‘don’t touch your face’? I say the opposite, touch your face often- let your fingers connect with your sweet skin. But make sure that when you do touch your face, that you have clean hands and a clean face, and never pick or scratch. Picking, popping and scratching will help to spread bacteria and irritate the skin. Instead, massage your skin with your fingertips. This will help to stimulate circulation.  

Equally important to the above, is finding a skincare ritual that will help to balance the skin and facilitate healing. It is important to note that this will also be different for everyone, each and every skin type is unique. There are also many different variations of acne. Acne doesn't discriminate- it can affect dry skin types, oily skin types, and any age.

I formulated Leahlani to help heal my skin. The common thread that intertwines between all of our products is balance. Every single skin type desires to be balanced. This is why we have the consult form on our website; the oil content, water content, color and texture of your skin all help to tell a story. Below is my recommended ritual to help clear your complexion, there will be a few variations that are important to note to help you get the best results possible. 

Morning:

Do a gentle cleanse with Pamplemousse Cleansing Oil to nourish and gently clean the skin. She will cleanse the skin beautifully, leaving your skin soft and supple, and not over stripped. Over stripping the skin will throw your complexion off balance quickly, which may cause your skin to overproduce oil. Ditching conventional foaming cleansers and transitioning into cleansing with oils and honey made the most significant changes in my complexion. 

Tone and hydrate your skin with one of our toning mists. If your skin has more redness and is  sensitive to the touch, I recommend Bohemian Ruby to hydrate, balance and soothe. If your skin tends to be more oily, and has more of a dull tone, I recommend Citrus and Citrine to hydrate, brighten and purify. Both mists contain a pure aloe water base, which will help to both moisturize and facilitate healing. 

While your skin is damp from toning, this is when you treat and moisturize. Aloha Ambrosia Elixir works beautiful on acne prone skin, her light weight texture absorbs beautifully- helping to gently moisturize without sitting heavy on the skin. She will also help to even the skin tone and brighten the complexion. Start with ½ pump gently massaged into the skin.

Evening:

First cleanse with Pamplemousse Cleansing Oil. She will melt away makeup and daily debris, while her active fruit enzymes help brighten the skin while breaking down proteins that can cause buildup. Follow with a second cleanse with Kalima Cleansing Powder. Why double cleanse? Double cleansing is super important, and I had never heard of this concept until I went to esthetician school. The first cleanse will remove makeup and daily debris from the skin, and the second cleanse will do the deep cleaning. Activate Kalima with water and apply her evenly to the skin. Sit pretty for 2-3 mins to allow the water activated vitamin c work its magic to brighten the skin while the softening clays help to pull oils and impurities from deep within the skin. Rinse well with warm water.

Tone and hydrate your skin with your toning mist. 

Moisturize: For sensitive skin prone to redness and inflammation, I recommend the Champagne Serum to help balance oil, soothe and calm inflammation. If your skin tends to be more oily and has more of a dull tone, I recommend the Siren Serum to help boost circulation, gently moisturize and help to brighten and liven the complexion. Start with 1/2 pump gently massaged into damp skin. 

2x a week, skip Kalima as a second cleanse and use the Honey Love Exfoliator. She is my holy grail for a clear, unbelievably soft and vibrant complexion. Stir her well to activate the crystals at the bottom of the jar, scoop a dollop into your fingertips and massage very gently into damp skin for a good 30 seconds to one minute, focusing on the areas with the most congestion (T-Zone). If you have the time, let her sit for a minute or so on your skin before rinsing well with warm water- this will help to deeply moisturize and help to reduce redness and irritation after exfoliating.

Masking: If your skin tends to be more oily, treat your skin to the Kokoleka Ritual Dessert Mask 1x a week to purify, reset, and detoxify the skin. If your skin is more on the dry side, treat your skin to the Mermaid Mask 2-3x a week to moisturize, gently purify and help boost circulation.

You can shop all of the above products that are suited for acne prone skin HERE 

 

Be patient with your sweet skin, and when you touch your face- do so with tenderness and love. Sending you lots of love on your skin healing journey.

XOXO
Leah

 

 

 

4 comments

  • Justine: June 18, 2018

    YES!!! I have been waiting for you to share this story, and I am so glad that you did. I have just sent this to a few friends who I know will appreciate reading. You are amazing, and I applaud you for opening up and sharing this story- it is going to help SO MANY people!

  • Beth Daniels: June 18, 2018

    I loved this blog so very much! Very rarely do I come across a person with such a similar story to my own. I battled adult acne starting at the age of 32. I’m now 34. The onslaught was truly a horrific experience. I quite honestly have never seen anything like what happened almost overnight to my face. It affected my entire being even though I had this beautiful son to care for and a wonderful husband. I started staying inside and avoiding people all together. My journey took a year to heal my acne. I tried EVERYTHING. Literally. Finally a dr did an ultra sound and discovered I had polycystic ovary syndrome. I started reading a lot and realized I needed to heal my body from the inside out. I had already tried birth control, spironolactone, anti-fungal medication, acid on my face, and pretty much every other medicated thing in and on my body. Really in the end I had to learn about sugar (which greatly affects polycystic ovary syndrome), and had to switch to putting gentle and natural ingrediants on my face. The acne is now gone but I’m still recovering from the scarring, some of which will now be with me forever. But I, like you think that it has made a me a better and stronger person to have went through that experience. I love your products and what they stand for. And thank you so much for sharing your story. I too struggled with infertility. It took us 2 years to have our son (he is now 5) and we tried after he was born to no avail. I personally know how challenging, heartbreaking, and difficult that experience can be. Never give up that dream. It WILL happen for you one way or another and it will also make you the BEST mother and the best version of yourself. Much love to you!! XOXOXOXOXOxo Beth

  • Danielle: June 18, 2018

    Dear Leah,

    Thank you for this heart warming and inspiring story. When I started reading this it struck a cord with me because like you I have suffered most of my life with acne, since I was a teenager until now(I’m in my early thirties). And I also was diagnosed with endometriosis two years ago and had surgery because of it.

    So thank you for sharing and thank you for the advice.

    Much light your way!

    Danielle

  • Chelsey Nelson: June 18, 2018

    What a treasure trove of advice, Leah! Thank you for sharing your experience and solutions. There are so many takeaways.

    Chelsey
    www.chelseynelson.com

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