A Weekend Away with Friends Stopped my Acne – How is this Possible?

I recently got an email from a reader who told me that she had been concentrating on doing the paleo diet for a while now, and it didn’t seem to be working the way she hoped.

She seemed anxious, so I told her to give it some more time and try not to get too worked up during the process, as it will only hinder improvement.

She later emailed me and said that she had been away for the past weekend with friends, and sent all dietary caution to the wind. She ate deep fried food, sugar, refined grains – you know, all the real bad stuff. It sounded as if she had been breaking out every day prior to this… and lo and behold… no breakouts at all while she was away. Imagine that.

This phenomenon is something I experience frequently, and I’ve heard this same story from others many times. You look forward to your big weekend out, but you fear that a weekend away from your usual skin care routine, alongside some serious dietary misnomers are surely going to result in horrid breakouts.

Funny thing, it never seems to really happen that way. I find that I rarely, if ever, break out during a weekend away, even if I’m committing health crimes galore.

In fact, the same thing happened to me this weekend. I have been breaking out a little bit lately, but I spent my last weekend of summer camping at an outdoor party on Cortes Island. I can’t say it was the healthiest weekend, food or otherwise, but the trick is that I didn’t think about my skin, I didn’t look in a mirror once, and I didn’t wash my face. I even came home with my face absolutely covered in dirt because of how dusty it was there. No breakouts!

Okay, so I actually did get one spot, but whatever. With the amount of fear we tend conjure up about it, you’d think it would be a lot more, right?

So How Is This Possible?

It seems pretty obvious to me that the attention we give our acne is heavily contributing to the problem.

When we are home by ourselves, we have endless time to sit and think about our skin, worry over it, and stare at it in the mirror. Our brains are on acne alert at all times. Since we all hate acne and it makes us feel sad, our brains are constantly sending out electrical signals that trigger negative chemical reactions in our bodies and skin. This leads to more acne!

But when you are out with your friends, not worrying about it, having fun, and connecting with those around you in a meaningful way… well, your brain is sending out AWESOME signals which trigger positive chemical reactions that lead to LESS acne.

I’m sure this effect is more pronounced in some people than others, and for my reader who sent me these emails, it became obvious for her that emotional health was a big factor for her acne. She decided to eat well, but not worry about following a specific diet down to a T, and also spend less time thinking about and researching acne. Instead, she wanted to spend more time with her friends and doing things that make her happy.

To be honest, I never heard the follow up, but I hope that her skin is doing well, and most importantly, that she is less anxious about it.

Three things you can do to break the endless acne attention cycle:

  1. Cut down or completely eliminate the amount of time you spend staring at your acne in the mirror. You cannot forget your acne when it’s glaring back at you 24/7
  2. Cut down on the amount of time you spend researching acne related things on the internet and do something else instead. Has acne become a hobby for you?
  3. Don’t hide away because of acne. The more quality time you spend with others, the less time you will think about your skin. You will also realize that no one gives a care or notices if you have acne or not and they all love you anyway.

Good luck my lovelies. Now go have fun with your friends!!

Are You Suffering from “Diet Envy”?


This is a guest post from a really awesome reader named Hanna. Hanna believes that eating well shouldn’t be stressful and blogs at A Chai Kind of Day about easy recipes, healthy living, and learning to make food choices that make you feel good.

Hanna is going to be doing semi-regular guest posts for The Love Vitamin from now on, so please welcome her.

So, this is very candid- there are two things that I have had quite a complex about for a long time now.

  1. People with beautiful skin and hair who eat whatever they want, who aren’t constantly researching food and obsessed with finding the perfect diet.
  2. People with beautiful skin and hair who are gluten-free, vegan, or raw.

I don’t really fall in either category; my skin is in progress mode. I was a lacto-ovo vegetarian for years, but I ate pretty mindlessly. I’ve eaten far more than my share of fast food grilled cheese sandwiches, fries, and frozen cheese pizzas. The only reason I started scouring the internet and books for information on the diet-skin connection was because, at some point, the clear skin I once had was not so perfect anymore.

Every increasingly restrictive diet I began to research required an incrementally higher level of discipline. But that only made each one possess an allure greater than the last. If anorexics are envious of those who have more discipline, restrict more calories, and are “rewarded” with the most extreme thinness- the reward I wanted to attain through diet discipline was healthy, clear skin and thicker hair.

This mindset sets you up to feel terrible when your willpower “fails” and you eat something “bad,” instantly fearing that it will cause your skin to get worse.

First, I read up on being gluten-free. Then, a beautiful girl who works at Whole Foods told me she doesn’t eat any grains or processed food and gets meat from a local farm, I would start to think that must be the secret to feeling and looking good.

Then I thought that being gluten-free and vegan had to be the key to a penultimate level of health and beauty. I had fallen into not just envy of those with perfect skin, but diet envy, too. Why couldn’t I just get that so-called “raw glow” instantaneously? If diet envy isn’t a quintessential phenomenon exclusive to health foodies, I don’t know what is.

I had begun to feel that being vegetarian wasn’t “good enough.” If it was good enough, why wouldn’t I have a great complexion?

However, I actually can’t classify my diet consistently as anything but pesco-vegetarian, though on many full days I actually eat vegan. Mostly gluten-free, salmon occasionally, eggs occasionally, and no dairy except what might slip in, for example, via some non-vegan chocolate. But my diet status might change at some point.

Here’s what I think you can do to prevent food from becoming an obsession, whether you are trying to realize clearer skin, weight loss, or generally improved health. These suggestions are easier said than done, but serve as a reminder for myself as much as anyone else!

1. Remember that your identity is not inextricably linked with your diet.

I think this may be an issue only for those of us who are very conscious about what we eat. If you feel that your identity in a social context has everything to do with your diet, cooking, and moral positions on food, ask yourself: would you know who you are if you weren’t a veg*n, etc.?

2. Remember that there are no prizes for being on the [label] diet the longest.

I can’t deny that I got some kind of pride in telling people that I had been a vegetarian for 10 years before I tried meat over a period of a few months last year. Then how could I classify myself? Vegetarian for 10 years with a short break? Are there even “breaks?” But this kind of thinking is neurotic!

-No one cares about keeping you accountable and loyal to a diet label more than YOU! Likewise, no one cares about how you would “defend” your dietary position more than YOU!

3. If your diet is creating more stress than you think it should be relieving (by experiencing increased energy, clear skin, etc.), ease up on certain “rules” you’ve set.

Your mind is powerful, which means that stress is powerful on its own. The body can produce effects congruent with a placebo that one believes is real medication, so imagine what else the mind can do.

-For example, if you don’t have the time or budget to make a green smoothie every day (as I have realized), don’t! Get your greens elsewhere.

4. Stop striving for perfection.

If you decide to alleviate feelings of deprivation and eat something you don’t normally have, at least give yourself permission to really enjoy it. Sometimes, the payoff of a small indulgence is greater than ignoring a craving and binging later on something you refused to allow yourself.

And last,

5. If there’s something you really miss that’s not part of your chosen diet, you must find a replacement.

This means get in the kitchen! We can’t deny that food has strong emotional attachments. -For one, I’m going to miss my soy chai from Starbucks, so I’m working on perfecting my own chai recipe (and gluten-free baked goods/pizza, so on).

When you read a handful of similar health/foodie blogs, those who may be, in reality, part of a fringe community can start to seem like they have all the answers.

If you take one thing from this article, remember that if the personal answers you find don’t fit yourself neatly into a specific diet box, it’s okay!

I don’t know about you guys, but I personally like the idea of having contributions from other people on this blog. Everyone has different challenges in their journey to better health, clear skin, and happiness – and I’m only one person with one set of experiences. I believe that having fresh perspectives is very helpful! Let me know what you think.

photo by Samuel Stocker

Is Coconut Oil an Acne Menace or an Acne Miracle?

I know one thing for sure – that coconut oil is fantastic to ingest internally to help with your acne and overall health.

Coconut oil contains lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, which have antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, and antibacterial properties. It can help to kill yeast and parasites which improves digestion, and it can also boost your immune system to fight infections.

Eating Coconut Oil is So Good For You!

My favourite way to use coconut oil is in my cooking. Instead of olive oil, canola oil, or any other random oil, it’s best to use coconut oil – not just because of the health properties, but because it has a very high smoke point.

Many oils (including olive oil) mutate and turn toxic when they are heated to medium or high heats. You don’t want that – damaged, toxic oils can have a very adverse affect on your skin. However, coconut oil is more stable and can withstand higher heat, leaving you with a much healthier meal.

Okay, great. But what about using it directly on the skin?

Using Coconut Oil on the Face

I’ve been getting a nutty amount of questions lately in regard to using coconut oil on the face. This is because there are many a review out there on the internet RAVING about how awesome coconut oil is for their skin. It helps to clear acne, heal wounds, and moisturize their skin to a silky state.

So people want to know from me… is it legit? Should they use it?

To be honest… I don’t know. I would definitely have no problem using it as a moisturizer for my body, but I’ve never used it on my face. Frankly, it’s because I’m too scared to try it.

While many people love using coconut oil topically, I’ve also heard many a time that it’s very comedogenic (meaning that it clogs your pores). One of the most concrete reasons I’m too freaked out to give it a try is because of some articles that Fran from High on Health posted a while ago about her experiences with coconut oil.

She wrote a post telling people that she was using coconut oil on her face and that it was going well, and that she LOVED IT! But then she later does a follow up post in which she says it triggered quite a breakout, all her pores became clogged, and it took her skin months to recover. She even calls it a ‘nightmare’.

Everyone Is Different, So….

But, then again, she is only one person, and I do find that no matter what the product or ingredient (or food for that matter), some will love it, and there will always be people out who happened to have had the worst experience of their life with it. However, she does have a lot of comments on those posts of hers from people saying that coconut oil broke them out as well.

If you are a braver soul than I and would like to give it a try, absolutely make sure that you are using unrefined, organic, virgin coconut oil. Then if it clogs your pores and breaks you out, you will know it wasn’t the cheap quality or pesticides causing you issues!

What do you think? Have you tried coconut oil on your face? Did you love it? Hate it? If not, would you try it? Or have I freaked you out enough to not touch it?

Want to Balance Your Brain? Try Alternate Nostril Breathing

Okay, so we’ve learned a proper breathing technique for deep relaxation. We’ve also learned a quick panting breath for those times when you want a quick pick-me-up!

Today we’re going to learn a breathing technique that you can use to stay alert, detoxify your body, ease your anxiety, bring everything in balance, and get you ready for a productive day!

Did you know that your nose has direct oxygen routes to your brain? And that at any given time, you are actually favouring one nostril over the other? That’s why this alternate nostril breathe works to balance you… you are suddenly getting ample amounts of oxygen to both sides of the brain!

Watch the video to find out how to do it!

Note: Please don’t actually hold your breath for five minutes. That was a slip of the tongue ;)

I hope you’re not sick of breathing videos yet. Don’t worry – we’re moving on. Next up…. should you use coconut oil on your face??

Try this Breath Technique for a Stimulating Pick-Me-Up That’s Better Than Coffee!

Last video, I told you all about how to breathe properly – deep and slow, into your belly! Totally relaxing… but what if you’re falling asleep at your desk and can’t resist reaching for that tempting cup of coffee?

Instead, try the stimulating breath that I show you in this video, and you’ll be bopping around in no time!

Next video, I show you how to balance your brain with alternate nostril breathing