Leah’s Story: How Healing my Acne Changed My Life (And How Changing My Life Healed My Acne)

Leah’s Story: How Healing my Acne Changed My Life (And How Changing My Life Healed My Acne)

How the process of healing her cystic acne transformed founder Leah’s relationship with her skin and her body – PLUS Leah shares the skincare and lifestyle tips that helped balance her skin!

When I turned 25, I developed severe cystic acne. Fancy skincare, harsh chemicals, alternative remedies – I threw everything I could think of at the problem, but the acne wouldn’t budge. It was both physically painful and emotionally distressing, especially because this huge change to my skin seemed to come out of nowhere.

In hindsight, I realize I’d been ignoring many other signs that something was off balance. I’d been experiencing ovarian pain for months before the acne showed up, and even when that pain put me on bedrest, it still wasn't enough to get my attention. It was only when my body began communicating with me through my skin that I began to listen. The problem was literally staring me in the face.

Laparoscopic surgery would later determine that I had endometriosis, and more surgeries would follow to remove the cysts and try and correct the damage they’d done. My doctor told me that my only option to ease the horrible pain I experienced each month was to get a hysterectomy, which I didn’t see as much of an option at 25. So, I began on a journey to help heal my mind, body and soul. 

This journey led me to a holistic esthetician school on the island of Maui, where I spent five life-changing years furthering my education and creating the formulas that would change my skin. I learned to listen, to tune in, to slow down, and to trust the signals my body was giving me. In the end, it was a combination of habit changes and mental shifts that cleared my skin and changed my life. The first major lesson I learned?

Be Patient with the Process - Healing Takes Time.

Healing your skin doesn’t happen overnight – it’s a process that takes time to unfold. The skin’s natural renewal process occurs every 28-35 days, which means that the effects of the product or lifestyle changes you introduce can take at least month to register. Don’t give up! 

It took me about 2-3 years to clear my acne, calm inflammation and help heal the scarring my acne had left behind. If you’re personally struggling with 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.

Change your habits to change your skin.

As a holistic-trained esthetician, I recommend making changes in both your lifestyle and your skincare ritual to help achieve your best complexion ever. The changes I recommend focus on nurturing the body’s main elimination organs – the liver, kidneys, colon, lungs and skin. The more intention and love that we give to these organs, the healthier our skin will become.

Here are my top tips to help heal and transform your skin:

Exercise is Major

Cardio is your skin’s BFF. When you get your heart pumping, the increased blood flow helps carry oxygen and nutrients to your cells while helping flush waste and cellular debris from your system. I recommend working out with a clean face so your skin can sweat and purge effortlessly. Jogging, running, hot yoga... whatever it is that makes you sweat – go for it. The hardest part is starting, I promise. 

Drink water!

No surprises here – adequate hydration is absolutely essential for healthy skin. To kick your water-drinking game up a notch, I recommend adding a squeeze of lemon and a tiny pinch of Himalayan sea salt to your glass. This will not only help to keep you hydrated, it will also help with digestion and elimination (also CRUCIAL to healthy skin). Not a fan of water? Mix it up! Experiment by making herbal iced teas - you can even add a splash of fruit juice to sweeten the deal.

Relieve Stress Your Way

Unfortunately, there’s no instant - or universal - cure for stress. Stress management takes practice and time, and “traditional” relaxation methods like meditating and yoga don’t work for everyone! Find the best stress-relief technique for you by pursuing the activities that fill you with joy. For some it may be reading, painting, going on a walk, dancing.... Make time for the feel-good things into your life! Joy is medicine for the soul, and when you are stressed, you need this medicine more than ever.

Massages and Facials Matter

We are programmed to think of massage and facials as pure indulgence, but the truth is that 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, there are practitioners for every budget.

Look around for local massage and esthetician schools in your area – a lot of the 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 seek a holistic trained esthetician and massage therapist. If you ever are on Kaua'i, be sure to connect with Lana. She will help to heal your mind, body and spirit. 

Eat For Digestion

Every body is different. That’s why it’s so important to be mindful about the way your body is responding to your diet and how the food you’re eating makes you feel. It’s important to make sure you’re eating foods that your body can easily process, because when your body is constipated, it starts reintroducing toxic matter back into your system. Because it’s one of your body’s main elimination organs, that buildup of toxins will inevitably register on your skin. 

If certain foods tend to sit heavily inside your belly long after your meal – try cutting back on them. Keeping a food journal for a month will also help you narrow down the specific food items that are irritating your digestion. I also encourage you to introduce probiotics or fermented foods like miso, yogurt and kimchee into your diet to help your body to digest, absorb, and make the best use of the foods you’re putting into it.

Pillow Case + Phone Protocol

Bacteria aggravates breakouts, so make sure to wash pillowcases once a week and try to avoid pressing your phone against your face while you’re on a call. For the same reason, make sure to regularly clean your makeup brushes!

Touch your face, but don’t pick!

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. Massaging your face with your fingertips stimulates circulation and feels heavenly – just make sure your hands and face are clean! However, picking, popping and scratching is definitely a no-no. Picking at pimples may be tempting, but it spreads bacteria and irritates the skin.

Don’t Forget To Exfoliate

Every skin type needs exfoliation, but it’s an absolutely essential for acne-prone skin. 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. 

Let your skin tell you how often it needs exfoliation. 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’s a good indicator that your skin could use some exfoliation.

Finally – find the right skincare ritual and stick with it. 

Of course, finding a skincare ritual that will balance your skin and facilitate healing is just as important as making changes to your habits and lifestyle. The perfect skincare ritual will be different for everyone because every skin type is unique. There are also many different variations of acne – it can affect dry skin types, oily skin types, and any age.

I formulated Leahlani to heal my skin, and I’m confident these skincare treasures can help bring healing balance to yours as well. Click through to Part 2 to learn my ultimate complexion-clearing skincare ritual, with variations and suggestions to help you adapt it your skin’s unique needs. 

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In Hawaii, we call the time spent causally chatting with dear friends Talk Story. Sharing what’s new and being there for the things that matter most. We invite you to join the Leahlani community as we explore skincare and much more.