May 06, 2022
Published May 6, 2022
What if I told you that healing your skin is not only possible but pleasurable?
What if I told you that healing your skin could change your life for the better? Leave you feeling nourished, loved, wild, free, expansive, empowered, connected… in love with yourself and in love with your life?
Maybe you’re saying “Yeah, right”, or “Girl, you must be crazy” or maybe even “That sounds great Rachel, but how the hell can I do that!?!”
Well… I'm telling you this because I’m doing it and I’m going to show you how.
I’ve spent my entire life struggling with sensitive and reactive skin. A decade ago I was fed up with products that either didn’t work or left my skin in worse condition, so I started formulating skincare myself.
This healing journey has changed my life.
Early on, I realized that inflammation and an impaired skin barrier are the 2 common denominators that almost all skin conditions share. If we tamp down inflammation and support barrier repair then our skin can heal.
I’ve been speaking about this cycle of inflammation causing skin barrier damage causing more inflammation for years. To this day I have never seen anyone else speak about this key underlying process that can be so detrimental to our skin health.
Over the years I’ve developed a natural holistic approach that leverages topical, nutritional, lifestyle and mind-body (emotional, mindset, spiritual) strategies to calm inflammation and support skin barrier so our skin can heal.
This approach is a distillation of a decade’s research, testing and lived experience and I’m sharing it here with you today. Why? Because nourishing skin and soul is my passion.
You’re going to learn actionable strategies you can implement now to heal your skin.
And guess what – they’re easy, pleasurable, fun and have the potential to change your life.
This is Part 4 of our 4-part series on the underlying causes of skin conditions and how to repair your skin naturally.
In Part 1, we learned about the vicious cycle of skin barrier break down and inflammation and how it occurs in just about all skin conditions. In Part 2, we learned about our skin barrier, what it does and what happens if it becomes damaged, impaired or compromised. In Part 3, we covered the good and the bad of inflammation and how it affects our skin.
As a brief recap, your skin barrier has 2 jobs: keeping water in and keeping damaging things (toxins, irritants and pathogens) out. An impaired skin barrier facilitates water loss and penetration of toxins and irritants which causes inflammation. Inflammation in turn causes further skin barrier damage which in turn causes more inflammation. It’s a vicious cycle and as skin becomes more sensitized, things that typically don’t bother us become irritants. To stop the cycle we need to remove irritants, calm inflammation and support barrier repair.
Today we’re going to cover a holistic approach to repair your skin barrier and lower inflammation. You’ll learn topical, nutritional, lifestyle and mind-body (emotional, mindset, spiritual) strategies to calm inflammation and support skin barrier so our skin can heal itself.
Happy skin (body and mind, too) ahead!
Seek THE WILDNESS!
Of course I think THE WILDNESS skincare is amazing for topically calming skin and supporting barrier repair, but this isn’t what I mean when I say “Seek THE WILDNESS”.
THE WILDNESS is a way of life… a reawakening of the inner wildness that is inside each of us… it is rediscovering ourselves… reconnecting with Nature’s beauty, bounty and medicine… the freedom of a life lived on our terms… living intentionally… experiencing fully… pouring our love into the people and things that matter most.
When we seek THE WILDNESS we live closer to Nature and our own intuition, intentional choosing the people, products, activities and experiences we welcome into our lives. It is reconnecting with Mother Nature and allowing her to be the muse, the physician, the healer, the medicine for body, mind and spirit.
When we approach life by embracing THE WILDNESS and adding (creating space for) even more of it, we are living on the frequency of more abundance.
Embracing THE WILDNESS is a practice. Sometimes it’s effortless and other times I stumble and fall back into old patterns and habits. If I don’t intentionally make space for THE WILDNESS in my day then it often doesn’t happen.
I’ve realized that it is much easier to lean into what I want rather than fighting or seeking to fix what I don’t. For me, intentionally creating space in my day for THE WILDNESS feels so much better than struggling against my old way of life. It is freeing and spacious and much less stressful.
And it is much more aligned with abundance, gratitude and long-term vision and dreams!
Seeking THE WILDNESS is the answer to just about everything we’re looking for in life. Whether it’s better skin, better health, more love, more fun, more adventure or experiences, better relationships, deeper connections, work-life balance, inner peace or more happiness and joy.
Seeking THE WILDNESS can improve any aspect of your life. For example, let’s say you’re looking to get healthy and fit. How can we do this by seeking THE WILDNESS?
For starters, ditch the calorie counting, restrictive diets and beating yourself up when you binge on pizza and cake or skip the gym. That shit is not needed!
Now start creating more space for THE WILDNESS every day. Get closer to nature by adding more real food. Be grateful and present in the moment as you prepare and eat it. (and by real food I mean fresh or frozen produce, fish, meats not processed, prepared Frankenfood)
Add more movement to your day doing things you enjoy. It doesn’t need to be working out at the gym (unless that’s your vibe) – think about dancing, walking or hiking, biking, yoga, hell even sex. Include a variety to keep it fun and get your butt outside as often as possible.
Add more pleasure and enjoyable experiences to your day. Listen to your body - get enough sleep and rest when you need to. Nourish yourself and don’t forget to add some self-love and compassion my friend.😉
Doesn’t this sound like a much more enjoyable way to create change? And you get to enjoy your life in the process!
Today we’re focusing on adding more of THE WILDNESS to improve our skin heath. When you implement the ideas here I think you’ll quickly find you’re improving yourself body and soul!
As a scientist and epidemiologist, I believe holistic and traditional medicine both have their place. I also strongly believe that when we reconnect to ourselves and our intuition, spend more time outside, eat real foods and nourish our bodies, minds and souls we live happier, more fulfilled lives. We’re a heck of a lot healthier and there is much less need for interventional medical treatment. This holistic approach gets to the root causes vs the symptom treatment approach found in traditional medicine.
So by now you’ve probably heard that our skin is a reflection of our physical health. The mind-body connection is important too. Our emotional health, including our thoughts and beliefs, can have a huge impact on our physical health. There’s so much we are learning about how intertwined our physical and emotional health is.
A holistic and natural approach to healing skin is so much more effective because our skin is a reflection of our overall wellbeing.
I’ve compiled my favorite holistic tips to heal skin naturally by seeking THE WILDNESS. Because we are addressing mind, body and spirit here don’t be surprised when you start feeling better all over!
Deepening our connection to nature is woven throughout as it is vital for improving all aspects of our physical, emotional and spiritual health – from spending time outside to nourishing our bodies to harnessing the healing power of bioactive plants.
Start with one or two strategies from each section below to add more WILDNESS to your life. We are all unique, so I encourage you to pick a strategy and try it on. It's OK if it’s not a fit. You’ve still learned something (i.e., what doesn’t work for you) and you’re making progress! 😊
Trust your intuition. We often know exactly what to do - we just need to listen to that little inner voice. When we’re drawn to something or it keeps popping up in our daily life - it’s like the Universe/God/Mother Nature is trying to get our attention. If we follow that hit of intuition it’s usually spot on!
Our diet plays a major role in the health of our skin. Here are my favorite nutritional recommendations that are anti-inflammatory and support barrier repair. Remember that we’re all different and there’s no one-size-fits-all recommendation for foods. Something that works wonders for you might be something I’m sensitive to.
Real food, straight from nature is the best. Processed foods and excess sugar can both cause inflammation.
For me, intentional meal and snack planning is really helpful. If you’re anything like me, I get engrossed in things and suddenly realize I’m starving. Having healthy, easy options on hand means I’m less likely to eat junk when the hunger monster strikes.
Buy organic when possible. The Environmental Working Group publishes the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 every year. The Dirty Dozen ranks produce with the highest levels of pesticides. In 2022, strawberries, spinach, kale, collard and mustard greens topped the list for the most heavily laden with pesticides. If you want to avoid pesticides and save some cash buy organic for produce listed in the Dirty Dozen and buy conventional produce listed in the Clean 15.
It can also be helpful to identify food allergies, sensitivities and intolerances. Food allergies and sensitivities cause an immune response (inflammation). Intolerance is a functional response, but may lead to inflammation as well. As your body heals, you may find that you can add some of these foods back into your diet.
Load up on Omega-3 fatty acids to lower inflammation and help support your skin barrier. There are a variety of great animal and plant sources. Some of my favorites are fermented skate liver oil, cod liver oil, krill oil and hemp seeds or hemp seed oil. Psst, Omegas are going to show up in my topical skincare recommendations as well.
Antioxidants neutralize the damaging effects of free radicals, reduce inflammation and are found in colorful fruits and veggies. Common antioxidants include vitamins A, C and E, carotenoids, copper, zinc and selenium.
Many of these vitamins have skin repairing properties in addition to their antioxidant benefits. Vitamin A helps to repair and restore collagen, vitamin C is crucial for pre-collagen synthesis and copper and zinc are necessary for collagen synthesis.
Here are some antioxidant-rich foods:
Boost collagen production via your diet. In addition to collagen supplements, the following foods help boost collagen production:
Drink plenty of water.
Drinking plenty of water and still feel thirsty or have dry or dehydrated skin? This could indicate an electrolyte imbalance. Oral Rehydration Solution or Salt (ORS) may be helpful. ORS contains a balance of electrolytes (minerals like sodium, chloride and potassium) that your body needs to maintain hydration and fluid balance.
We know that our skin is a reflection of our overall wellbeing and we touched on the importance of the mind-body connection and harnessing nature to improve our skin and physical health. To improve our overall wellbeing we must practice self-care.
Self-care is simply how we take care of ourselves – mind, body and soul. In addition to our physical health, it encompasses our lifestyle, mindset, resilience and our emotional and spiritual wellbeing.
This can be a huge topic so I’ll try to keep it brief. First and foremost, I like to approach this from the nourishing and healing mindset of seeking THE WILDNESS as opposed to an “I’m broken and need to fix myself” mindset. This approach is so much more expansive and allows us to have a loving, compassionate framework that brings more joy, peace and pleasure into our lives. As you’ve probably realized by now - mindset is huge for me.
Though our emotional wellbeing might not be something we often think about, things like healing trauma, learning to process emotions, developing emotional intelligence and overcoming limiting beliefs (beliefs about ourselves or the world that block or restrict us e.g., “I’m not good enough”, “I don’t have enough time”, “I have bad skin”) can have a huge impact on our skin and overall wellness.
Here are 20 self-care strategies to add more of THE WILDNESS to your life. See what you are drawn to, what resonates, and make it happen!
Topical strategies can be quick and effective because they are targeted to the area of concern. You benefit from higher bioavailability and a localized, targeted effect. Topical strategies are especially effective when combined with strategies to address the root causes of chronic inflammation.
As we learned in Parts 1-3 of the Healthy Skin Guide, we need to do 3 things to stop the cycle of inflammation and skin barrier damage so our skin can heal itself:
This is soo important, especially when we’re trying to heal our skin!
Sensitive skin and aging skin have a thinner barrier so they function more like a compromised barrier. Extra care is required because they are naturally more permeable to irritants and more susceptible to water loss.
In Part 2 of the Healthy Skin Guide, we learned that our skin barrier is the gatekeeper. It regulates what passes in and out of our body through our skin. Imagine our skin barrier as a brick wall. The skin cells are the bricks. The lipid matrix is the mortar that holds (glues) those bricks together in a tight structure. The lipid matrix is composed of fatty acids, ceramides and cholesterol.
Being gentle with our skin keeps our lipid matrix (the mortar) intact.
Being gentle also means we are mindful of irritants that cause inflammation and/or skin barrier disruption. I like to focus on adding more of THE WILDNESS, but there are a few items to be careful of to love on our skin.
Less is more when dealing with inflamed skin and an impaired barrier.
Being mindful when we cleanse our face, body and hair is one of the easiest ways to keep our lipid matrix intact!
Gentle cleansing with lukewarm water is best. Cleansers (facial cleansers, hand and body cleansers/soaps, shampoo and dish soap) bind to the lipids and wash them away.
Use lukewarm water when bathing or washing. Hot water melts the lipid layer making it easier to wash away. You can also finish with a cool or cold water rinse which is great for your skin, hair cuticle and even your nervous system!
For facial cleansing, I usually recommend using an oil cleanser or a gentle pH-balanced cleanser (pH of 4.5-6.5 to maintain the acid mantle of your skin) at night and just rinsing with water in the morning.
Wear gloves if you’re washing dishes by hand or using household cleansers. Even non-toxic options use detergents that can be harsh on skin.
If you’re having barrier or inflammation issues on your scalp, face, hands or back your shampoo could be part of the issue. Sulfates, such as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and ammonium lauryl sulfate, are commonly found in shampoo, but can also be found in face wash and toothpaste. They are anionic surfactants (cleansers or detergents) found in personal care and household cleaning products. Not only do they strip skin of natural lipids (the mortar between your skin cells) but they can also be irritating and cause inflammation.
If you’re having skin issues in areas that are typically covered by clothes your clothing, laundry detergent or fabric softener could be the culprit. Choose clothing made from natural, non-abrasive fibers. When it comes to laundry you might consider switching to a free and clear or natural laundry detergent and fabric softener.
Exfoliating too frequently or using too high of a concentration is one of the most common causes of an impaired skin barrier and irritated, sensitized skin.
Exfoliating removes dead skin cells and debris from the outer layer of skin. Physical exfoliators (scrubs) do this manually while chemical exfoliation utilizes enzymes or acids to break the bonds between dead skin cells so they can be sloughed away. Common chemical exfoliants include:
The same thing can happen with stronger actives such as retinoids and high concentration Vitamin C serums, particularly formulas that use ascorbic acid.
Bottom line - if your skin’s irritated or your barrier is compromised skip the exfoliation and stronger actives so that your skin can heal.
Be mindful using topical corticosteroids such as hydrocortisone, fluticasone and betamethasone. Steroids are sometimes needed for treating certain skin conditions, but they need to be used with caution.
If you need to use a steroid, use the lowest dosage for the shortest possible duration.
Steroids can cause numerous skin issues when used for too long...thinning skin (i.e., compromised barrier), skin color changes, worsening of other skin conditions and rebound reactions and inflammation when you stop using them.
Next we’ll learn topical strategies to calm and support our barrier so it can heal. The tips below will help you nourish, support and love on your skin.
Skin-healing properties of plants:
Mother Nature has gifted us with plant butters, oils and extracts that are chock-full of beneficial skin-loving goodies (phytoactive compounds or phytonutrients). They have evidence-based skin maintenance, barrier repair, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
A whole volume of books could be written on this topic, so I’ll try to keep it brief.
Here are some of the major skin benefits provided by plants:
Omega fatty acids are one of my favorite groups of phytonutrients (plant nutrients) to talk about. Fatty acids are an integral component of the lipid-rich membranes surrounding each cell in our bodies. Omega fatty acids are an important component of our stratum corneum/skin barrier. The most common omega fatty acids are omega-3, omega-5, omega-6, omega-7 and omega-9.
If you’re curious or enjoy organic chemistry, the numbers in the names of these different omega fatty acids refers to the location of the double bond closest to the methyl end of the molecule.
Omega-3 and-6 are usually considered essential because we cannot make them and must obtain them from food sources.
Here are a few examples of omega fatty acids and the plants that are rich in them:
Skin-loving compounds found in plants are not limited to Omega fatty acids. Here are some other phytonutrients and their beneficial roles in skin health:
Nature’s medicine for healing skin: the best natural ingredients and topical strategies for healthy skin:
When choosing plant oils, butters and extracts for skin care there are a few important considerations.
Look for unrefined, cold-pressed or minimally processed plant extracts as these extraction methods retain phytonutrients important for calming and repairing skin.
It’s also important to seek organic or wildcraft cultivation methods at this decreases your risk of pesticide exposure. This is especially important for highly concentrated plant extracts and oils like essential oils. If pesticides are used on these plants, then these pesticides can also become highly concentrated in the plant extract.
Some great oils and butters for acne-prone skin are hemp seed oil, mango butter, shea butter, kokum butter, jojoba oil, avocado oil and pumpkin seed oil.
If you’re acne-prone, be careful with highly comedogenic oils and butters and be sure to patch test before using them on your face. Coconut oil and cocoa butter are great for barrier repair and hydration. For some of us, they work wonders on the body but can lead to cystic acne when used on the face.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that can boost collagen, brighten complexion and reverse environmental damage. Some vitamin C esters are gentle on sensitive skin (tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate found in Rehab CBD Serum, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate). Ascorbic acid has the most research behind it and is usually considered the powerhouse, but irritation and stability issues can make it harder to use. My advice is to start with a lower concentration and work your way up. The new Calibrate C+ Powder-to-Liquid Serum allows you to find your perfect dose.
One of my favorite recommendations to share is Dead Sea Salt. It’s so soothing, balancing and hydrating and is especially helpful for eczema and red, irritated skin. Unlike regular salt which contains mostly sodium chloride, Dead Sea salt contains minerals like magnesium, calcium and potassium. We talked about electrolytes earlier and how important they are to maintain hydration and fluid balance. The minerals in Dead Sea salt, especially magnesium, are also great for hydration, relaxation, detox and proper absorption of other minerals.
Here are 2 DIY Dead Sea salt recipes you can use at home:
Dead Sea Salt bath: Add 1/2 – 1 cup of Dead Sea salts to bath (helpful for soothing irritation, reducing redness, hydrating skin, detoxing, muscle relaxation).
Dead Sea Salt Face and Body Mist: Add 1/4 tsp Dead Sea salts to 1 oz distilled water in a mister bottle and shake to dissolve. The ratio of Dead Sea salts to water can be scaled up or down to suit your needs: 1/8 tsp salt in ½ oz water or 1 tsp salt in 4 oz water. Spritz on face or body as needed. Great for soothing, hydrating and reducing redness. You can also spray it on your hair if you’re looking for beach waves.
Here are some more of my favorite nourishing, anti-inflammatory ingredients for skin care:
I’d be doing us all a disservice if I didn’t share the magic that is THE WILDNESS skincare.
My journey to seek THE WILDNESS began nearly a decade ago with a desire to lead a healthier, less toxic life. When every natural product I tried left me with redness, irritation, acne or allergic reactions, I decided to put my skills as a scientist to use and do it myself. I set off on a journey to create formulas that helped my skin heal instead of making it angry. If you’re curious you can read more here.
THE WILDNESS is a beautiful synergy of ancestral plant medicine and scientific research. Each creation designed to nourish skin – tamping down inflammation and supporting barrier repair so that our skin can heal. Every formula beta tested by real people, with real sensitive skin. Organic and wildcraft cultivation and gentle processing methods prioritized for purity and phytonutrient retention. Ecofriendly packaging and shipping materials. So much love and intention poured into each small batch crafted and order shipped.
I’ve been honored to help others heal their skin. Summoning the courage to try something new when so many previous attempts have been a disappointment or a setback. This was my story too many times to count. But I also understand the pure joy and excitement when you discover something your skin loves. Hearing about your experiences is one of my all-time favorite things. It’s why I do what I do. If you haven’t experienced THE WILDNESS yourself, I invite you to explore real customer experiences (some of them quite transformational) here.
If you’re curious to learn which products would work best for your skin, I have some general recommendations here.
A mini or deluxe Best Skin Ever Discovery Set is a fun and easy way to experience some of our favorites and discover what your skin loves best.
I’m also happy to provide a free consult via email. Simply use the contact form at the bottom of the home page or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with info about your skin and skin goals. I’d love to help!
My journey to seek THE WILDNESS began with a desire to find natural skincare products that helped my skin heal instead of pissing it off. It has expanded to soo much more, encompassing all areas of my life. By seeking THE WILDNESS I am taking responsibility, co-creating my life and becoming a better person. I am learning who I am, what nourishes me and lights me up, learning to trust myself, finding gratitude for all I have and discovering the freedom of doing life on my terms.
One of my greatest lessons has been that our choices determine our lives. Being intentional in our thoughts and actions makes all the difference. Consciously deciding how we want to spend our time, what we welcome into our lives and prioritizing the things that matter.
Seeking THE WILDNESS can improve our skin and our lives and create lasting, positive change.
Seriously… what could be better than transforming our lives by adding more of the good stuff – the things we love, that bring us happiness and joy!?!
I know in my heart this information has the potential to help so many. If you’ve found this series useful and inspiring, please us the buttons below to share it widely.
I’d love to hear how you are creating more space for THE WILDNESS in your life.
Sending so much love,
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