Skin care starts from the inside out

A lot of people mistake me for my daughter’s older sister. Most people don’t peg me for 40 unless they see me first thing in the morning (I’m definitely NOT a morning person). Although I do sport quite a deep liver line (in Chinese medicine we call the crease between the eyes the liver line – it’s an indicator of stress or eyestrain) the rest of my face is fairly wrinkle free.

I get a lot of compliments on my skin, but that wasn’t always the case. I had the chicken pox twice as a child, and the second time left me badly scarred on my forehead and nose. Severe acne runs in my family too, and I certainly wasn’t immune as a teen. And my fellow TCM students saw firsthand the severe case of rosacea plus melasma I dealt with during my last pregnancy / miscarriage. I battled that for two years before getting it under control (but not cured, it’s a chronic thing). So I’ve learned a lot about skin issues. And I’ve been on the wrong side of staring and rude comments too.

Like it or not, people do judge other people by their skin. But it’s not just about beauty – our skin is the biggest organ of protection we have, and we as a society tend to treat it like a measure of beauty only and not of health. It’s not vain to take care of your skin; it’s just as important as taking care of the rest of you.

If you want beautiful skin, you have to be willing to work on it everyday for the rest of your life. It’s not hard, but it does take a little discipline and some dietary adjustments.

Here are my DOs and DON’Ts for beautiful skin:

• DO drink water. There is no substitute for hydrating your skin. If you are low on water, your internal organs get first dibs and shorts your skin. The rule of thumb I use is drinking half my body weight in ounces each day. Mind you, I don’t always make that benchmark, but I see a huge difference when I do stay hydrated. I especially love Voss water from Norway. I also keep an AquaGear water filter pitcher in the office. Nix the crystal light packets or anything with artificial sugar; there are plenty of cleaner versions of flavor packets available now. You can deal, especially if you have a good tasting water. Add a slice of lemon or lime if you have to have a little flavor.

• DO see a professional. It’s your choice whether you see a dermatologist, esthetician, Chinese doctor, or any combination. My dad and sister see a doctor. I have an awesome skin care specialist Nadine Toriello who helped me get my skin back to healthy. There are quite a few Chinese herbal formulas to help acne and itchy skin too. I used one to help help with the itching. Whichever route you go, it’s important to not pay attention to other people’s well-meaning but perhaps not accurate advice. Everyone who took one look at the oozing, itchy red-butterfly shaped mess on my face had a fix for me. Most of it made my face worse, not better. (And no, I don’t have lupus. I was diagnosed with a severe form of rosacea, pyoderma faciale, by a doctor. I also had symptoms as a child but had no idea what it was back then). Even some professionals I saw recommended things I felt weren’t appropriate, and it turned out they weren’t. So listen to your inner voice, and if you don’t see good results or it aggravates your skin don’t be afraid to speak up.

• DO create a full beauty routine. Emu oil is my go-to topical product, which I use daily. I also have a corrective makeup pallet that I can use to cover whatever blemishes I have. There’s nothing wrong with making your skin look the best it can every day.

• DO wear sunscreen. Every day. It will make a difference.

• DO remember that your skin “eats.” If you wouldn’t put it in your mouth, don’t put it on your skin. I use all natural soaps and neem shampoo (especially important since your hair gets on your face all the time). What I do get is amazingly soft and not-dry skin with a clean feeling that no other soap matches. Even the stuff in health food stores can be full of junk like gluten, parabens, phthalates, petrolatum or sulfates. Read labels. Every time.

• DO get a good night’s sleep each night. Enough said.

• DON’T drink alcohol, coffee, black or red teas, chocolate or spicy foods; limit the dairy and red meat too. Inflammation starts from the inside, and most of it comes from our diet. A lifetime of poor diet choices will show up on your face. My skin looks so much better when I avoid these things. I can see a difference within hours if I eat something inappropriate for my skin. Yes, it hurts. This is the hardest change to make, I won’t lie, but it is worth it. And when you do indulge, make sure the situation is worth it. You may want to invest in a good anti-inflammation diet book if you are ready to go hard-core. I think Dr. Perricone has one.

• DON’T touch or scratch your face. Wash your hands before and after if you must touch  your face. My rosacea itched and flaked so bad! It was nasty, and it was hard not to mess with it. That’s one reason why it’s so important to get a good serum for your face – if your skin isn’t itchy, you won’t touch it, and it will heal faster.

• DON’T let stress get to you – it will show up on your face! Massage, aromatherapy and acupuncture treat stress well.

• DON’T use those fancy microderm abrasion cloths unless your skin care professional tells you to. Learned that one the hard way too.

And here is the most important tip to remember:

• DO tell yourself you are beautiful, every time you look in the mirror. It doesn’t matter how scarred or acne-ridden or itchy your face is. It doesn’t matter what other people think or say about it either. You are beautiful, exactly the way you are. OWN IT! You deserve to feel beautiful everyday of your life.

Nicole Noles Collins is a licensed acupuncture physician and massage therapist at Vitalichi Acupuncture in Port Charlotte, Florida. Nicole has two bachelor’s degrees – Alternative Medicine and Professional Health Sciences – as well as a master’s degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine. She has a passion for both writing and natural health. Please visit her website at www.pcacupuncture.abmp.com and like her Facebook page at Vitalichi Acupuncture. For more information, call 941-979-9793.

Classical Homeopathy – the interview of a lifetime

Homeopathic bottles and PillsMany people go to the health food store or online to get homeopathic remedies for their issues. These people are generally picking a remedy based on their acute or chronic physical issues, maybe even an emotional issue now and then. Homeopathy can work well for those kinds of issues. I’ve seen it happen in my own family. But there is a different side of homeopathy that many people may not realize exists – the constitutional side of prescribing homeopathics. This is where the skills of a trained and licensed homeopath really shine.

Constitutional prescribing in homeopathy treats the whole person – body, mind and spirit, much as Traditional Chinese Medicine does, but on an even deeper and more profound level. The theory is that each person, as a unique individual, expresses disharmony as a unique set of symptoms and disease. This disharmony also manifests as unusual dreams, likes or dislikes, delusions or themes. So when a homeopath interviews a person for a constitutional remedy, he or she will ask a broad range of questions including physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects. This process usually takes at least an hour, and is essential in determining the essence of a person, and therefore, prescribing an accurate remedy. A homeopathic interview is a much more skilled and demanding art than most people realize, requiring knowledge not only of the remedies, but also the skill of gentle but persistent questioning that will create an accurate picture of the individual and their issues.

Homeopathy does not promise to fix all your physical or emotional problems, but it can help reduce them, resolve them or help you find new ways to cope with them. Think of it as unlocking your DNA. Like your brain, most of our DNA is not actually in daily use. There is a lot of information there just waiting to be accessed. One of the emerging theories is that homeopathy can unwind unused parts of your DNA so your body has new information to work with to keep you in homeostatic balance on a physical, emotional and spiritual level. Everything you already need to know to heal yourself is already inside you, and homeopathy can help you find it. It’s a more efficient (some might say even evolved) version of you that’s waiting to be expressed. At its most basic, what homeopathy does is instigate change, like the Tao. Our perspective of self is that we never change, but the reality is we are changing every second. We remodel bone, create new cells, digest new things (physically and mentally) and constantly evolve our personality. Our very existence is a constant dance of change – and homeopathy can play a vital part in easing those changes or helping create positive ones.

Nicole Noles Collins is a licensed acupuncture physician and massage therapist at Vitalichi Acupuncture in Port Charlotte, Florida. Nicole has two bachelor’s degrees – Alternative Medicine and Professional Health Sciences – as well as a master’s degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine. She has a passion for both writing and natural health. Please visit her website at www.pcacupuncture.abmp.com and like her Facebook page at Vitalichi Acupuncture. For more information, call 941-979-9793.