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A holistic approach to clear skin

In an effort to control my milia and closed comedones (white heads) I have always tried to control 2 things – what goes in and what goes on. Essentially, I try to approach my skin care from a holistic perspective. This is something I took a long time to learn, and I will by no means say I have perfected my holistic skin care routine – just read my last blog “What are those little white bumps on my face…?”. However, I do have a much more educated idea of what to do to control my skin and to try to regain a little confidence. As I often talk about what to put on your skin, I thought I’d devote this blog to what goes in…  
I grew up in South Africa between the cities of Johannesburg and Durban, and the rural farm areas of Krugersdorp and northern Kwa-Zulu Natal. I was a typical child that would put just about anything in my mouth – I ate sand, I followed ants and then licked them, I sucked on the juicy stalks of the tall African grasses, I even remember licking my cat at one point.  I was also exposed to interesting and tasty foods. I remember eating many things on my grandparents Krugersdorp farm: prickly pears (a kind of cactus pear), fresh milk (have you ever had truly fresh milk?) and making mince, sausages and biltong (South African jerky) from the occasional antelope (deer) that my grandfather brought home. The best part was that I was encouraged to try these things for myself. I am sure I owe my health and lack of allergies to this childhood in Africa.  
It’s this exposure that has meant I’ve always had an open mind when it comes to food. I’ve tried so many diets, trendy foods, and a few weird things (think of the barnacles you find on the bottom of a boat – yup, they’re a delicacy in Portugal) that I will pretty much try anything if it will help my skin. So this January, I embarked on a “Clean and Lean Diet” ala Elle McPherson’s favourite trainer James Duigan.( )   I’ll spare you the details, but essentially this diet advocates:
  • Only eating fresh vegetables and lean meats combined with an exercise routine (anything really, but you just have to do something)
  • Nothing processed
  • No dairy
  • No carbohydrates or sugars (including natural sugars like honey or fruit)
  • No caffeine
  • No alcohol
  • For 2 weeks…
After that you can add in some fruit and high quality carbohydrates (quinoa, pumpkin, corn, beans) – and yes, if you want you can go back to caffeine.  
In everyday life I tend to eat lots of veggies and meat anyway so that part of the diet wasn’t hard. I would start with eggs in the morning (and by the end my eggs became very creative!), a big salad for lunch, and then some veggies and chicken/ fish/ lamb/ mince for dinner with some nuts, hummus, avocado, cherry tomatoes, and sliced red capsicum for snacks in between. When I was out I would often eat just the meat with a side order salad or veg. No brown rice, no quinoa, no wheat free pasta. No carbs at all except those I was getting from my veggies. Giving up caffeine was hard – I actually don’t drink more than 2-3 cups of coffee a week – my vice is English breakfast tea. And of course saying goodbye to my evening glass of wine made me pretty sad and a bit of a social hermit… sometimes after a long day all you want is that one glass of wine. You even tell yourself you deserve it... Giving up dairy wasn’t hard when the tea was gone. I also went back to the studio I love and took up hot yoga again for the first time in a year. Of course there were days that I wasn’t 100% perfect, but that’s ok I’m only human.  
And after having done this diet for 2 weeks, and then for the last few weeks bringing back my fruit in the morning (2 slices of papaya) and some quinoa, I look and feel much better. My stomach is flatter. I’ve lost 2.5kgs. I’ve gained some muscle. But most importantly - my skin is much clearer. The bags under my eyes have reduced and the darkness has subsided. My skin looks smooth – I may even dare to say that my closed comedones seem to have calmed down…! I always know when something has worked when I feel confident to go out wearing just a tinted moisturiser, under eye primer (no concealer) and mascara. It’s such a freeing feeling – and I’ve gained an extra 5-10 minutes in the morning!  
The only side note I should make is that since I’ve been eating this way, I have noticed that whenever I do eat gluten or dairy again I truly feel ill the next day. I don’t sleep well, I feel down and tired the next day, and my skin looks sallow. Yes it tastes great at the time (that’s the sugar high for you!), but the result is that it takes 2-3 days to get back to looking and feeling how I was before I indulged…  
So this means I think I have a good handle on my “what goes in” and I feel much more in control. I would definitely encourage you to read this book or something similar (think paleo) and give it a try for yourself. And always remember – what works for other people may not work for you. Take the time to think about what’s right – do you feel a bit queasy after eating cheese? Are you tired the day after eating pizza? Are you moody when you eat carbohydrates or sugars (even too much fruit)?  
Good luck on your inner skin care journey!  
Naturally yours,
The LUXE Botanics Team

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