Acne: The Holistic Esthetician’s Approach
Updated: May 20
Most everyone experiences acne at some point in their lives and the severity varies from person to person. Whether experiencing a severe or mild case of acne, all can leave emotional as well as physical scarring. Teenagers tend to experience acne to the extreme. It can be a traumatic experience and lead to low self-esteem and confidence. While a person is embarrassed about their face, their self-worth is at stake and can lead to poor body image or even depression.
It is important to understand acne and how to work with the body, mind and spirit for healing. By only focusing on the symptoms, this hinders addressing the root cause. If focused on the symptom of acne, chances of battling it later in life are higher, as well as harming other organs. It is important to take a whole body approach to acne and make sure the three pillars of holistic healing are addressed.
The mainstream approach is to treat the symptom, which is the philosophy of modern medicine. It is not the approach I take because I know there is a reason for the issues but you have to take the time to look for it. With my holistic and herbal background, as well as mind/body training I have learned to look beyond the surface and go to the root of the source. I give clients the tools to unlock their own healing abilities and teach them where to look for answers. My membership gives the key to resources that will help uncover deep healing benefits.
So what is acne? There are different severities and grades to acne. Do you fit into any of these categories?
· Grade 1: Mild acne consisting of open and closed comedones scattered over less than half of the areas of the face and back.
· Grade 2: Moderate acne that has an increased number of open and closed comedones as well as an occasional papule and pustule.
· Grade 3: Moderately severe acne that is characterized by numerous open and close comedones, papules, pustules and occasional cysts that can be frequently red and inflamed. Some acne scarring can start especially with the cystic lesions or acne lesions that have been picked.
· Grade 4: Severe acne consists of numerous papules and pustules as well as a large number of cysts on the face, chest, and/or back. Large cystic lesions leave deep scarring. The acne can occur over 50% or more on the face.
Papule: is a small elevation of the skin, usually inflammatory, that doesn’t contain pus. If they progress they can become pustules.
Pustule: is a small inflamed elevation, the next step in the progression from a papule, filled with bacterial fluid and pus. These appear red and cloudy or white.
Puberty is when we see increased levels of acne in teenagers because of the higher levels of androgen hormones. This hormone produces more sebum and can cause follicles to become clogged. Also, younger skin cells turn over quicker than adults and the shedding of the dead skin can also be contributor to clogging pores. For the past half of a century doctors thought acne was clogged follicles, developing into an over growth of acne and causing inflammation in the skin, but now it’s been shown the inflammation is the fault.
Now, here comes the reason for cause for acne…well, actually there is not one reason. If your dermatologist tells you it is unknown, well that’s because there are many factors outside their scope of practice. A dermatologist may even refer you to another specialized physician if they have an understanding of the cause but most likely they will prescribe a medication for the symptom of the acne. One thing we do know is how it develops and works at skin level, but it’s going to take more than cleansing your face twice a day to clear it up. Identifying the root cause will help the chronic issues; and good hygiene and topical products will alleviate the symptom.
Below are possible contributing factors for the cause of acne:
· Heredity: If your parent had acne growing up there’s a good chance it will be passed down.
· Diet: Processed and aggravating foods
· Hormonal imbalances
· Premenstrual: High progesterone hormones can cause someone to breakout before their menstrual cycle.
· Nervous system disorders
· Allergies: Foods, molds, cosmetics, chemicals.
· Candida: Yeast overgrowth or other bacterial overgrowths
· Digestion, liver function, thyroid and adrenal disorders: These should be checked and consulted with a Doctor.
Conventional Treatments have been shown highly effective yet, there can be side effects that range from minimal to very serious. Being a trained and licensed esthetician, I use some of these methods in the spa, but only after discussing the holistic options with my client. I’m thrilled to offer services to help with the chronic skin issues once I know they are safely exploring the root cause. Some conventional methods I use in the spa include peels, benzoyl peroxide, and vitamin A derivatives.
Other concentrated and more serious side effects used by physicians can include oral antibiotics such as erythromycin, minocycline and tetracycline. These have shown to help reduce acne temporarily, but side effects lower immune function by killing good bacteria in the body, also a can promote yeast overgrowth, increases susceptibly to sun-damage, decreases absorption of vitamins and minerals, increases risks of cancer, allergies and digestive issues. Another oral conventional method is Accutane which has high birth defect risks as well as depression, psychosis, headaches, dry skin and nose bleeds. Birth control can be affective as it balances hormones that contribute to the male androgen hormone, but there are several risks with birth control that include blood clots, increase risk of breast cancer, heart attacks and stroke.
Holistic treatments for acne are safe and effective because treatments focus on the person as a whole. There are many factors both internal and external for a person to fully understand the chronic issue and start the healing process. I work closely with Functional Doctor Felicity Keough and encourage clients to see how she can work with individuals with acne issues. Another holistic treatment that can be helpful is Reiki, an energy modality. Reiki can help balance the mind and body connection to uncover blocks that are affecting someone’s ability to heal on their own. Another service I recommend for chronic skin issues is an Intuitive Guidance session with Shauna Rupp at Lavender House Intuitive. Emotional blocks can be buried deep in the subconscious and Shauna works with clients to help uncover that.
Hormonal factors are what I see the most in my spa. I have teenagers all the way up to women in their 30s with chronic acne. Hormones rely on a well-functioning liver and the endocrine system. The liver needs to be functioning properly for healthy and clear skin. The liver removes toxins and balances hormones. Being an herbalist I work with herbs that cleanse and strengthen the liver such as burdock root & seed and dandelion root. Nettle leaf is another important herb that is packed with essential vitamins and minerals. Tumeric, when used regularly, also protects the liver due to its rich anti-oxidant properties. It’s always advised to check with your doctor before consuming an herbal supplement due to contraindications with certain medications.
Diet is an important factor even though I was taught in my western esthetic schooling that diet isn’t a factor of acne (insert eye roll). Food allergies and sensitivities can greatly contribute to acne. Dairy and sugar are two popular acne culprits, but that isn’t the same for everyone. An elimination diet can rule out the food culprit if any. Before Dermatologist used antibiotics for acne well over 40 years ago, there were more doctors that worked with patients on what foods to avoid.
Eating a clean and well-rounded diet such as a Mediterranean diet has shown to have a lower risk of acne. Studies have also suggested omega-3 rich diets can have protective effects from acne. Having a balanced diet of raw and cooked whole organic foods with little to no processed foods are beneficial. Some say to add foods rich in vitamin A carotene such as dark green leafy vegetables, yellow-orange vegetables and fruits. Seaweed is also great for someone with acne as it is beneficial because they are high in minerals and nourishing for the endocrine system. I often teach clients to discover their body constitution (your body’s personal blueprint) as well because everyone is NOT one size fits all when it comes to what foods work with your body type or fad diets. Talk with your professional Functional Doctor or certified nutritionist to come up with the right foods and supplements for your body.
Now that we have covered the internal methods for clearing up acne, let’s talk about how to care from your skin! Gently cleanse the skin twice a day with warm water and pat dry with a clean towel. Avoid physical exfoliators and scrubbing too hard to prevent the acne to scar and worsen. Don’t dry out the skin with over washing and use of high pH cleansers. If the skin’s pH is off and it is dry that can result in the over production of sebum to counter act the dehydration on the face. I consult with all of my clients at their services on proper skin care regimens and help them understand key ingredients and what products to use and avoid. If you or a loved one has acne signup for Signature Facial or Enhanced Signature Facial and we will explore all options and set up a series of treatments that will best fit the individual. My membership includes savings on services and skin care products, as well as services outside of the spa to assist with the chronic skin issue. Book your appointment today!