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How the Humidity Cleared my Cystic Acne

You know those summer days where the weather is hot, sticky, and feels like a wet blanket? Yeah. My face loves it. My skin has always been fickle, which has been both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, I can easily tell when my skin loves something, on the other hand, I can REALLY tell when my skin hates it (yeah, I’m talking to you, almond butter…).

During a recent trip to Florida, my pores got the ultimate spa day: constant warm, humid temperatures. I even stopped eating 100% paleo during my trip and still had the best skin of my life. (hello delicious Mexican fajitas, cocktails, and fried chicken wings..I’ve missed you!).

I was ready to keep this yummy food and clear skin train going!

My happy train skirted to a FULL stop, (more like derailed) the day after I returned home to Boston.

I wasn’t surprised to see one or two breakouts the next day, but the real shock came when my face was a  complete cystic war zone mid-week! Could it have been the food? No. I react very quickly to food I shouldn’t have eaten. Maybe I forgot to take some vitamins? Nope. If I forgot, I took them as soon as I remembered. Maybe I was just less stressed on my trip? Nah. I’m usually as cool as a cucumber!

The realization didn’t come until I noticed that my otherwise healthy nails were splitting and on the verge of breaking. This didn’t make much sense either since I hadn’t even bothered to do my nails during my trip and they were as strong as ever (even after being exposed to chlorinated pools all week!).

I started researching humid weather x acne and lo and behold:

Other people in the google world noticed this correlation, too! Of course, there’s plenty of people who’s skin despises the hot, humid temps, but I am not one of them!

Dry air affects that fabulous moisture-rich barrier our skin has in place. When my skin is dry, it becomes very irritated.

Ready to try anything to mimic that glorious Florida weather, I purchased a warm-mist humidifier. I woke up the next morning to a nice, cozy and warm bedroom. The eager beaver that I am, I ran to the nearest mirror and noticed my skin looked much calmer than the night before.

Humidity-1, Acne-0.

For the last week, I have been consistently running the humidifier each night, with the door cracked for fresh air. I have had zero painful, cystic acne breakouts! My nails are back to their strong, talon-like strength and I am no longer waking up with a dry throat.

Am I sold? Yes! I will continue to use the humidifier as long as we have our AC blasting cool dry air. I may not need it as much in the fall, but once the heat kicks on the Winter, I’ll have my trusty humidifier ready.

So come on Summer, bring on the 85% humidity days. I’m ready!

What Happened After I Quit Sugar

quit sugar

Okay so the title may sound a little overly dramatic, but about 2 months ago I decided that I wanted to quit sugar (added sugar to be exact) and simple carbs completely. Not that my diet consisted of massive amounts of sugary sweet treats, but on occasion I would enjoy frozen yogurt with WAY too many rainbow sprinkles from one of the 50 ice cream shops near my apartment. One night I was up way past my bedtime, doing nutritional research, finding ways to improve my diet even more and decided I needed to eliminate sugar, not because I wanted to play some twisted game of deprivation with myself, but because I wanted to take another step and improve myself for the better.

I’ve known for a while that sugar does absolutely no good for my skin. I was born with eczema and while most people that are born with it, grow out of it, I never did. I’m able to keep it at bay through a healthy diet, fish oil, and a probiotic supplement, but whenever I have sugar, it exacerbates my symptoms. So if it will make me break out in rashes, who knows what else it’s doing. I should also note that right before I decided to eliminate sugar, I was beginning to notice that I was suffering from an increase in breakouts after eating anything with added sugar.

What exactly did I cut out of my diet?

I removed any occasional dessert that I would eat. I also removed ketchup and sauces which almost always have added sugar. I never usually have simple carbs, but I reinforced my habit of avoiding breads, pastas, crackers, cereal, etc.

What am I eating?

My only real carbs right now consist of sweet potatoes, fruit, and plain (unsweetened) oatmeal. Now I am not saying this will always be the only carbs I’ll ever eat as I do like homemade popcorn while watching a great movie on a cozy rainy night 🙂 and even a nice warm cup of tea with honey, but for right now, I’m keeping it simple and clean to test the results on my skin. Let me just say that after 2 months I can’t believe I haven’t done this sooner.

Here’s everything I experienced after I quit sugar:

  • My body looks and feels great
  • My sugar-related breakouts are no more
  • I literally don’t bloat anymore (seriously…)
  • I crave sugar and carbs even LESS
  • I’m sleeping better
  • I feel clear headed
  • I’m more energized
  • I have better control over my eczema
  • My body feels balanced (you know that feeling where your body just feels off? Yea that went away)
  • My cravings for salty snacks have practically disappeared
quit sugar

Feeling good and my skin is looking great! (Photo = unedited!)

Some other benefits that you might see when eliminating added sugars and simple carbs are:

  • Weight loss
  • Improvement of some autoimmune disease symptoms
  • Decreased risk of cancer
  • Decreased occurrence of common colds and infections
  • A healthier heart
  • Decreased risk of diabetes
  • Decreased irritability and better moods

I truly think it’s worthwhile to give sugar elimination a shot. I vouch for the results 100%. I’m not saying it is going to be easy, especially if you are someone who has a carb-heavy diet or regularly eats sweets. Our brains become addicted to sugar much like a drug so the more you consume, the harder it will be to give up. My diet was not carb or sugar heavy so eliminating added sugar and simple carbs wasn’t too difficult of an adjustment.

If you want to give it a shot, you can most definitely go cold turkey (more power to you!), but for anyone else, try making weekly adjustments. One week try swapping your bagel or sugary yogurt in the morning for fruit and protein. The next week, try swapping your soda at lunch for ice-cold water (yum ☺). In another week, skip the sandwich at lunch and go for a salad loaded with protein and veggies or use giant lettuce leaves in place of your lunch wraps.

Would you ever give up sugar and simple carbs or have you already tried it? I would love to hear your thoughts! xx

~ Letisha


Skincare Guide

10 Dairy Milk Alternatives for Those Giving Milk the Boot

10 Dairy Milk Alternatives for Those Giving Milk the Boot

As a lover of all things dairy, transitioning to a dairy-free lifestyle has been tough. I am a sucker for everything related to cheese and ice-cream. It doesn’t help that I live across the street from a froyo joint and countless restaurants with cheesy goodness.

My love passion for dairy took a backseat, however, when I began experiencing extreme stomach discomfort after an innocent bowl of coconut flavored frozen yogurt. I knew immediately that something wasn’t right. Could it be that my beloved dairy was causing me harm? No, it couldn’t be! Could it?

It wasn’t long before I realized that my body just couldn’t comfortably process dairy. I tried everything from cheesy pizza, frosted cakes and those fancy Starbucks drinks. Like clockwork, I would be doubled over with sharp pains and an upset stomach. This is not ANY way to live, even if you once loved dairy. 🙁

After quitting dairy, I have experienced zero stomach discomfort. My cystic acne has also subsided. Before giving dairy the boot, I refused to admit that it was making my acneic skin worse. If you do suffer from acne, I highly suggest eliminating dairy to see if it is negatively affecting your skin.

The transition to a dairy-free life has certainly not been an easy one. For the first few weeks I craved froyo like nobody’s business. I wanted ALL the froyos. Once the cravings subsided I began experimenting with different dairy alternatives.  Some have an acquired taste, but I found that all of them were very comparable to cow’s milk.

If you’re intrigued by the idea of going dairy-free, check out these 10 dairy milk alternatives for those giving milk the boot:

Rice Milk

Rice milk holds a special place in my heart. Currently my favorite dairy-free alternative, rice milk is mild in taste and easy to digest. Rice Dream, my brand of choice, is fortified and contains 30% daily value of Calcium and 25% daily value of Vitamin D and B12. This lovely alternative to cow’s milk has a delicious nutty flavor that goes well in cereals and smoothies.

Almond Milk

For those without a nut allergy, almond milk is a great dairy-free, soy-free and lactose-free option. Made by straining almonds and water, most almond milks are primarily water with other thickening agents. Fortunately, unsweetened almond milk is full of healthy fats!

Cashew Milk

Similar to almond milk, cashew milk is a blend of cashews and water. If you prefer the taste of cashews this creamy milk is for you. If you looking to obtain more nutrients from your milk, try making your cashew milk at home.

Hazelnut Milk

Like most dairy-free alternatives, hazelnut milk doesn’t contain much protein but is full of nutrients that our body needs. This low calorie alternative is also a great source of vitamin D and E, calcium, and riboflavin, which is naturally occurring in hazelnuts.

Coconut Milk

If you’re someone who loves the taste of coconut and enjoys milk with a thicker consistency, coconut milk is a great alternative. Consisting of good fats (medium chain fatty acids), coconut milk is highly nutritious. Our favorite brand (So Delicious Coconut Milk) is fortified with essential vitamins and nutrients — we’re talking vitamin A, B, B12, C, and D, calcium, zinc, iron, folate, magnesium, and selenium. Not to mention, it’s dairy-free!

Hemp Milk

Made from hemp seeds and water, hemp milk has somewhat of a nutty flavor. Full of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, hemp milk provides our bodies with a burst of vitamins and nutrients. Much like other dairy-free alternatives, hemp milk contains vitamins A, B12, D, and E, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, riboflavin, and zinc.

Soy Milk

Produced from soybeans and water, soy milk is the most widely consumed dairy alternative. Unlike its alternatives, soy milk is actually a common allergen. My sister and I no longer consume soy milk due to an adverse reaction (itching of the mouth and hives). This is not to say that soy milk won’t work for you. It’s best to find the healthiest option for your body.

Flax Milk

This low calorie option, much like its competitors, is filled with essential vitamins and nutrients (vitamins B12 and D, as well as calcium). If you’re someone looking for more protein in your diet, flax milk can also be infused with protein (5g to be exact). The taste is a bit unique and may take some getting used to, but it’s worth a try!

Sunflower Milk

Made from sunflower seeds and water, sunflower milk is a unique way to enjoy the pleasures that come with drinking cow’s milk without actually consuming it (such as enjoying a bowl of cereal or milk and cookies). Sunflower milk can be easily made at home or purchased at natural health food stores.

Oat Milk

An easy and inexpensive dairy alternative to make at home, oat milk is great for our skin and hair. Those with gluten allergies should avoid oat milk unless it is specifically a gluten-free version. Oat milk is naturally high in sugar though so be sure to limit your intake! You can also use a homemade version topically for added skin benefits!

What is your favorite dairy-free alternative? Have you given cow’s milk the boot?

-Zeena

Facial Steaming: The Key to Flawless Skin

Facial steaming comes with a plethora of benefits, and like most facials, when done correctly steam is the perfect addition to any beauty regimen.

Clogged pores? Gone. Dry skin? See yah! Blackheads? Blackheads, who? 

Transform your skin in just 5 minutes with a bowl of steamy water and a towel. Beautiful skin is that easy, people! 🙂 Now, let’s talk benefits.

Benefits of Facial Steaming:

Unclog Pores

Steam softens the dead skin cells and gunk from your pores making it easier to remove. After steaming, apply a mask to gently exfoliate softened debris. Be careful not to force open a pore that doesn’t want to be messed with. It won’t be pretty, trust me.

Increase Blood Flow

Steam increases the blood flow to the skin, which brings with it plenty of oxygen and nutrients improving the overall appearance of your skin.

Increase Perspiration

Simply put, steaming will make your face sweat. This increase of perspiration from your pores brings out the dirt and oil. Once on the surface of your skin, this can be easily washed or exfoliated away.

Remove Dry Skin

Removing dry skin is even easier when it is softened by steam. Somedays it seems no matter how much I scrub my skin, dry spots remain. Steam makes removing dry skin 100x easier. Halle-luh-yer.

Relaxation

Okay, this is a bonus benefit however relaxation speaks volumes when it comes to the appearance of your skin. When I’m stressed, my acne flares, causing the overall appearance of my skin to look not-so-good. Steam facials can be very relaxing, especially when you add calming essential oils like lavender or chamomile to the water.

Ready to get started? Here are the steps:

Begin by boiling a pot of water. Make sure there is enough water to fill a good size bowl without overflowing. Once the water begins to boil, carefully pour the water into the bowl. Add essential oils or dried flowers for added relaxation benefits. Place a towel over your head and the bowl, preventing the steam from escaping. Allow the steam to penetrate your skin for about 3-5 minutes or less depending on how your skin reacts to steam or heat. Be careful not to steam too long to avoid damaging your skin. After steaming, cleanse your skin or exfoliate, depending on your preference. Everyone’s skin is different! Then, mask, tone and/or moisturize. Wallah!

**Like most treatments, too much of anything is never good. Avoid oversteaming your face. Make sure you keep your face a safe distance from the steam to avoid burns (about 12-18 inches away). Steam is very dangerous. Wear oven mitts while handling the hot bowl and pot.  Be careful!

How do you steam?

XOXO

You’re Invited!

Brown & Coconut is proud to be participating in the first ever Mall Street Market, an indoor market featuring a local collection of New England sourced makers, artisans, and foodies!

Come stop by The Mall Street Market to say hello and check out our brand spankin’ new line of all natural skincare! After years of preparation, we are so excited to finally share this exciting time with you! You can find us every Sunday this May from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Natick Mall in Natick, Massachusetts (just outside of Boston).

Click here for more event details.

Can’t wait to see you there! xoxo

~ Letisha & Zeena