How to fix 5 beauty woes
While persistent beauty issues such as acne, cellulite, grey hair and dark patches and circles may seem easier to cover up than resolve, these outward signs may simply be indicators of an internal health imbalance, and correcting them may just be a matter of getting back to nature and understanding why these signs are appearing.
“The skin is the final port of call for an imbalance in the body to show and it is seen to be a reflection of our digestive health and elimination potential,” says naturopath and herbalist Roberta Nelson.
“The skin is the final port of call for an imbalance in the body to show and it is seen to be a reflection of our digestive health and elimination potential,” says naturopath and herbalist Roberta Nelson of Melbourne’s Naturo Medico. “Toxins, when not metabolised and excreted properly, circulate in the blood, causing inflammation and immune reactions, leading to the physical signs of redness, rashes or acne on the skin’s surface.”
Nelson says the herbs pu-erh, schisandra berry, dandelion root and leaf, magnolia bark and mandarin peel, as well as rose petals, may together help cleanse and strengthen the body. This is a formula she blended after clients asked her for a DIY way to treat their acne and skin issues.
It’s an approach echoed by holistic health expert and coach Tyler Tolman, who runs in-demand detox and cleanse retreats in Bali, helping people to heal from lifestyle diseases such as cancer and diabetes.
“Your face is a reflex organ. This means that the reason you get pimples, age spots, lines, wrinkles, dry patches and rashes is in part because the internal organs are unhealthy,” he says. “The amazing thing is you don’t need plastic surgery or expensive creams. All you need to do is cleanse your internal organs and, when they clean up, guess what? The pimples, age spots, lines, wrinkles, dry patches and rashes all go away and you look younger.”
From a traditional Chinese medicine perspective, acne may be a result of excess heat in the body, says naturopath and herbalist Janella Purcell, who recommends cooling foods such as chlorella, leafy greens and some fruits such as cucumber and watermelon.
“Acne can be a sign that the liver is congested. The internal blood cleanser chlorella and other micro-green powders have the ability to detox the liver, thereby helping it to clear out more toxins,” Purcell says.
“Acne also has a strong relationship to the nervous system. Anxiety and depression are often present in those with acne. Chlorella, being such a great source of magnesium will treat both symptoms by delivering easy-to-digest nutrients that support the bowel, liver, skin and nervous system.”
It’s also what you take out of the diet that can help the body heal from conditions such as acne. Author of Get Well, Stay Well and principal naturopath at Brisbane Natural Health, Katherine Maslen, says cutting out milk and cheese, refined sugar, processed chocolate, as well as refined or rancid oils such as canola shortening, margarine, deep-fried food and roasted nuts, is essential to get on the path to optimal health and help heal acne naturally. Soft drinks, coffee and long-life juices are also off the list, she says.
Holistic health practitioners often recommend squeezing the juice of a whole lemon into warm water, to be taken on rising.
“I suggest adding in lots of leafy green vegies, avocado, raw nuts and seeds, extra-virgin olive oil, berries, onion, garlic and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts — these help to detox excess hormones, which can help with acne control.” Maslen also suggests adding organic green tea, lemons and apple cider vinegar.
Holistic health practitioners often recommend squeezing the juice of a whole lemon into warm water, to be taken on rising. This can cleanse the intestinal tract and adds in essential vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, which is said to help calm inflammation. Adding two teaspoons of alkalising apple cider vinegar (with “the mother”) to water and sipping at intervals throughout the day can also help return an acidic body to an alkaline state.
A summer nightmare for those who want to show some skin, cellulite most often appears on the thighs and bottom but can also show up on the stomach and anywhere there is excess fat and little tone. It also doesn’t discriminate: men are targets for dimples, too.
While miracle creams and specific exercises are advertised regularly as a potential fix, all they usually do is give false hope to those who suffer from the condition. According to Dr Karina Stewart, co-founder of Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary and Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner, cellulite doesn’t have just one cause.
“Cellulite occurs due to a variety of factors: the most common causes are either excess body fat and/or poor tone, particularly of the smaller, less commonly used muscles, as opposed to the major ones,” she says. “But the most svelte, and even athletes, can also have cellulite.”
Dr Stewart says it’s because cellulite can also be exacerbated by water retention, poor lymphatic function, hormonal imbalance, reduced circulation, stress, poor diet and overall body toxicity. “Combating cellulite therefore requires a holistic approach, which addresses the body as a whole,” she says.
Dr Stewart’s top tips for cellulite reduction
- Do regular Pilates and personal training with a focus on deeper and core muscles. Low-impact fat-burning exercise is recommended, such as cycling, hiking and walking.
- Far infrared saunas aid removal of wastes directly from fat stores, increase circulation and burn calories.
- Lymphatic drainage treatments mobilise lymphatic flow, ensuring optimum fluid balance, and reduce lymphatic stagnation, which can increase the appearance of cellulite.
- Dry skin-brushing has similar effects to lymphatic drainage and can be performed at home. Always use a specialised skin brush made with natural bristles and rub the arms and legs gently in a circular motion, always towards the heart. Perform 3–4 times a week before showering.
- Massage with diluted essential oils of lemon, cypress, cedar and grapefruit to stimulate lymph and blood circulation.
- Avoid synthetic, petrochemical or toxic skincare products. Use natural oil such as coconut for moisturising. Mix coconut oil with some coffee grounds for a skin tightening body scrub.
- Keep energy for exercise and motivation high by making sleep a priority. Rest is just as important as activity.
- Hormonal balance is important. If you are female and suffer from any hormonal symptoms, such as PMT, mood swings or painful periods, or you have a medical condition such as polycystic ovaries, a visit to a naturopath to support your specific hormonal balance is recommended.
Food & supplements
- Healthy eating, particularly monitoring salt intake and reducing or eliminating processed sugar altogether, as well as getting adequate, high-quality protein. Enjoy small portions of quality protein during the day and use only small amounts of sea or Celtic salt when necessary. Ensure vegetables constitute most of lunch and dinner.
- Stay well hydrated. Drink 2–3 litres of clean filtered water a day, adding lemon or a bit of fresh vegetable juice for better absorption.
- Avoid alcohol, refined sugars and deep-fried foods.
- Supplementing with the tissue salts of calc fluor, silica and calc phos (6X potency) can increase cell adherence and reduce water retention.
- Herbs that support circulation and collagen formation may be useful, such as gotu kola, ginger and horse chestnut
- Essential fatty acids are important for cell strength and are anti-inflammatory. Increase fish, avocados, nuts and seeds and supplement with high-quality algal or fish omega-3 from a sustainable, clean source.
While many men and women wear grey hair gracefully, there may be just as many who prefer to hide it under hair dye. Often considered hereditary, silvers can also be the result of diet deficiency and stress.
“Stress plays a huge role in the health and condition of our hair, as it creates acid in our bodies,” says Purcell. “Hair condition reflects the health of the kidneys to some degree and the emotions stored in this organ are anxiety and fear. So if you’re inclined to run on adrenalin and live in a state of ‘OMG something bad is going to happen at any minute’, this needs to change. We need our bodies in an alkaline state most of the time. We need to feel calm, happy, peaceful and in control of our lives.”
Living foods advocate Ann Wigmore, who once suffered from colon problems such as colitis, turned her health around — including the colour of her hair — thanks to detoxification, healthy eating and exercise.
“At 50 years of age I was ready for an early retirement. Out of desperation I turned to nature for relief. In wheatgrass, raw foods, and exercise, I found what I feel is as close to the fountain of youth as we are going to get,” Wigmore wrote in her book Why You Do Not Need to Grow Old.
“Twenty-five years after my discovery, my hair has turned fully naturally brown again. My weight has been a stable 119 [pounds] — the same as it was in my youth — and my energy level is limitless. I haven’t needed the services of a physician in years. My work has taken me all over the world on many demanding lecture tours, sometimes for months at a time. Yet, I have more energy than I can ever remember having as a child — and I am no child at 76.”
Undertaking a detox program, reducing stress, eating a clean wholefood diet, hydrating with spring water and doing regular exercise can all work towards reversing grey hair — if it’s not hereditary.
Hormones during pregnancy can be one factor resulting in dark patches on the skin; however, its cause can vary from person to person. “For some it may be a telltale sign of a liver that’s not functioning well and for others it could be simply toxins being purged from within and sitting on top of the skin,” says Tolman.
Melasma is a common skin condition that causes brown patches to appear on the cheeks, bridge of the nose, forehead, chin and upper lip. While some natural health practitioners point the finger at the Pill as a possible cause, dermatological experts generally put the blame squarely on the sun, offering sun protection as the only prevention. However, Tolman says this does little to get to the root cause of why the dark patches are appearing.
Healthy eating, particularly monitoring salt intake and reducing or eliminating processed sugar altogether, as well as getting adequate, high-quality protein.
“When it comes to dark spots on the skin, a great remedy is skin cleaning such as dry brushing or guasha (a form of exfoliation using baking soda and triple distilled vodka). Then you can clear these dark patches by putting lemon juice directly onto the dark patch and lying in the sun — you need to do this multiple times in conjunction with skin cleaning.”
While whipping out a concealer to hide telltale dark circles might be a quick Beauty fix, it doesn’t correct the associated health issues that caused it in the first place. While late nights can exacerbate the condition, wellness consultant Dr Rebecca Harwin says these common grey shadows can be a sign of allergies.
“A professional, safe and complete detox can really help,” she says. “Cut out the alcohol and smokes, gluten, dairy and sugar for a few weeks; load up on fresh fruit and vegetables and see your natural health professional to guide you on tailored supplements.”
Katherine Maslen agrees that dark circles should be treated from the “inside out”. “They are a result of adrenal exhaustion, which can happen if you’ve been stressed for too long, or an allergy, which is often food related,” she says. “To help out your adrenals you need to get more rest, get your full eight hours of sleep, skip the coffee as this wears them out and eat a diet high in essential nutrients and low in sugars and processed carbs.”
Yet one of beauty’s most common complaints can also be a “clear sign” that the kidneys are toxic and damaged, explains Tyler Tolman. “Many times, this is from years of consuming excess protein, which acidifies the blood and leads to the darkness or bags under the eyes,” he says.
Dr Shura Ford of Ford Wellness Group in Melbourne says a kidney imbalance may be caused by overwork, overstress or excessive adrenalin or cortisol release, with a darker or intense colour possibly illustrating a more severe imbalance.
“The Chinese medicine treatment for dark circles isn’t a quick fix, but it is long lasting because it addresses the cause, not just the symptoms,” Ford says. “A registered acupuncturist herbalist would assess the underlying cause of the disharmony and rebalance points on the kidney channel or use herbal tonics such as shan yao, shan zhu yu or wu wei zi.”