Pregnancy Diary: Dealing with Hormonal Breakouts

Pregnancy Diary: Hormonal Acne Pregnancy glow is not a reality for all women . . .

I’m part of the unfortunately group of women whose pregnancy “symptoms” include hormonal breakouts. These breakouts have predominately remained on my the chin (usually cysts, which are classic indicators of hormonal imbalance), but I’ve also had smaller breakouts (not cysts) on my upper lips and forehead.

Dealing with my skin during pregnancy has been a big challenge since I’m hesitant to use some of my regular go-to products because of safety issues, such as some essential oils and anything with willow bark (the natural derivative of salicylic acid should be avoided during pregnancy).

For long term results, all hormonal-related skin issues need to be addressed internally. But, obviously I can’t do that right now since those hormones are keeping my baby safe and sound! All I can do is treat the symptoms as best I can. I’ve outlined my main strategies below.

Hormonal Breakout Treatment Plan: 

1. Wash and moisturize with jojoba oil

When all hell breaks loose on the battle field (aka my face), I go back to the basics and keep my routine as simple as possible. Jojoba oil is a good neutral oil that is tolerated well by most skin types. I normally never recommend only using an oil for a moisturizer (you need to feed your skin with water -soluble ingredients as well!), honestly though this is the first time in my life where my skin has been so oily that I really do not need it. It’s also the middle of summer here in Toronto and humidity levels have been through the roof! To cleanse, I rub a small amount of oil onto damp skin and wipe off using gentle circular motions with a warm wash cloth. I follow up by applying more oil as a moisturizer afterward. I use an organic, cold pressed oil from Leven Rose.

2. Apply Lactic Acid 2-3 x per week

Alpha Hydroxy Acids are perfectly safe to use during pregnancy and are life saviours when it comes to shrinking big ugly cysts, keeping pores clear, and helping to lighten red marks left by old breakouts. My favourite one to use is Pure + Simple’s Lactic Acid.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids for acne during pregnancy | 3. Use Raw Honey Masks 1-2x per week

Raw Honey is naturally antibacterial and anti-inflammatory (two necessary qualities required in an effective treatment against breakouts). 1-2 times per week, I will massage raw honey onto freshly cleansed skin and let it sit for up to 30 minutes. This helps reduce redness and clear pores.

Raw Honey Face Mask for Acne | 4. Stop touching your face!

This can be so difficult to do, but honestly, my skin is the clearest when I’m not constantly at the mirror obsessing over every little spot. Touching and picking only introduces more bacteria onto the skin and increases inflammation.

5. Wear foundation

I’m not always a advocate of wearing a bunch of makeup just to cover up a problem, but since this problem is one that I’m stuck with for the next few months, I need to look and feel my best. You may find that the foundation you always wear is actually making your skin worse. It’s important to find a natural, lightweight foundation that won’t aggravate breakouts, or clog pores. Currently, my skin tolerates Sappho Organics Foundation extremely well. It’s a bit light on the coverage, but does the job (and doesn’t contain coconut oil, like most natural makeup!).

Are you dealing with hormonal breakouts? What have you been using that helps?

Probiotic skin care for acne and inflammation

Honey and Kefir Probiotics for your gut and skin

You may already be taking probiotics for your gut health, but what about for your complexion? Probiotic skin care is trending in the beauty world as a go-to topical treatment for many skin conditions.

The idea behind probiotic skin care is essentially the same as probiotics for the gut. Feed the skin good bacteria and it will “conquer” the bad bacteria. The most common example of bad bacteria on the skin is propionibacterium acnes (or P.acnes). It’s one of the evil puzzle pieces that contribute to acne and consequently causes severe inflammation on the skin ( aka angry red pimples).

The goal of applying “GOOD bacteria” onto the skin is to balance the bacteria ecosystem. This reduces the effects caused by excessive “bad bacteria” like acne and other inflammatory conditions. There are many product lines out there that you can check out like The Beauty Chef’s Probiotic Skin Refiner, or Eminence Organics Clear Skin Probiotic Cleanser and Moisturizer.

You can also whip up your own very simple D-I-Y probiotic face mask with yogurt, or better yet, kefir. The lactic acid from the dairy alsos act as an amazing exfoliant because it’s an alpha hydroxy acid.

Skin Probiotics Anti-Inflammatory Probiotic Face Mask*

1 TBS of organic full fat greek yogurt (optionally, this will help thicken the mixture)
1 TBS of organic full fat kefir
1 TBS of raw honey

Mix all ingredients together (this might be a bit runny) and apply onto freshly cleansed skin with hands or a cosmetic brush. Let sit for up to 30 minutes. (This can also be used as a spot treatment). Rinse off with cool water and follow up with your serum, and or moisturizer. (Black cumin seed oil applied as a spot treatment on pimples, or on the entire face after this treatment does wonders).

*apply ongoing twice a week to help heal acne breakouts and calm inflammation.
*not recommended if you have rashes, or overly sensitive skin

Feed Your Skin with Graydon’s Face Food


Graydon Face Food Mineral Mist review | Graydon’s Face Food Mineral Mist is a unique facial toner that uses the power of minerals to reduce inflammation, stimulate collagen, and boost hydration –sounds good, right? 

Just like a daily supplement, adding minerals to your routine can boost the overall health of your skin.

We often overlook the fact that we need to feed our skin nutrients just like we feed the rest of our body. You can’t expect to have healthy glowing skin if you’re feeding it ’empty calories’ like mineral oil and synthetic preservatives. You need to be feeding your skin ‘whole foods’ like pure plant oils, botanicals, and of course vitamins and minerals!

The concept of a ‘mineral toner’ was new to me. I have always promote floral hydrosols as toner for the skin, which help decrease inflammation, redness, and hydrate, but the Face Food has absolutely no floral ingredients. It’s an unscented ‘mega’ mineral-boosted water.

It only contains: purified water, zinc, copper, magnesium, and silver. Crazy, right?

  • Zinc helps heal and repair skin. It’s especially great for treating inflammatory conditions like acne and eczema.
  • Copper helps promote the production of collagen and elastin, which gives skin its strength and ‘youthfulness’.
  • Magnesium helps to combat skin allergies and irritations.
  • Silver is naturally anti-microbial, can fight infections and is great for preventing breakouts.

My clients LOVE when I use the Face Food in my facial treatments, especially when I do a little finger tapping ‘dance’ to help it absorb into the skin.

Applying Face Food

DO mist your face immediately after cleansing. It’s a great boost for the skin, calms redness or irritation, and is a perfect prep to help skin absorb active serums and moisturizers. Just be sure to apply your serum or moisturizer while your skin is still damp. You can also spray the Face Food on throughout the day to feel refreshed. Be sure to ‘tap’ the mist into your skin (kind of like playing a piano!) so that it fully absorbs.

DON’T let the Face Food dry on your skin without adding a moisturizing product afterward. When water evaporates on the skin it can draw moisture with it, leaving your skin feeling even drier than before. This also holds true when cleansing the face, especially if using tap water that is chlorinated and exceptionally drying.

I love the entire line of Graydon products and actually use them in all of my holistic facial treatments!

Have you tried Graydon’s Face Food? What do you think?

Product Review: Holistic Vanity Acne Care Line

Holistic Vanity Acne Care Last week I wrote about 3 amazing acne fighting ingredients to look for in skincare . . .  which was motivated by my recent trial of the new Holistic Vanity Acne Care line.

A couple of months ago when the fantastic folk at Pure + Simple sent me their newest products from their sister line, Holistic Vanity, I was super excited at the prospect of finding an acne care line that actually works!

I was skeptical though on HOW well these products would work, because acne is such a finicky thing. That’s why I have spent the last two months testing the goods.

In perfect timing, I happened to have a stress-induced breakout (mainly cysts on my chin). I also  happened to have a small bottle of exfoliating gel (a mix of glycolic, salicylic, and kojic acid) from my recent days training in medical esthetics. All of this set up the perfect acne-busting experiment.

I first spent some time using the acid on my breakouts (don’t try this at home!!). At night I would apply this potent acid cocktail on each pimple. Each morning I could see that the angry red bumps had slightly decreased in size and were less red. But I also noticed that the skin around my breakouts looked dry and a bit blotchy. It certainly did not look ‘healthy and clear’.

After a week or so of using the acid, I saw some improvement with the breakouts, but my skin had turned from dry and blotchy, to red and slightly raw (as I said, don’t do this at home!!).

What I learned: This cocktail of acids may temporarily reduce breakouts and pigmentation, but will damage your skin in the long term.

Next, I turned to the Holistic Vanity products. “Lucky” for me I had another bout of stress induced acne . . . I know, I’m working on it . . . anyhow it gave me the perfect canvas to test the products. I used the Pine Mint Tonic and Black Mud Turmeric Lotion during the day, and all four products (including the Black Mud Cleanser and Black Cumin Oil) in the evening. Each morning, just like with the acid, I found that my pimples were less red and slightly smaller. But my skin also felt super moisturized and actually glowed! (Despite the red spots still being there).

Cystic acne does not go away over night and so I did not expect this miracle, however the products helped significantly reduce redness, and slowly reduced the size of the cysts without drying or flaking.

Purifying Black Mud Cleanser, 100 ml $28

Purifying Black Mud Cleanser, 100 ml $28

Balancing Black Mud Tumeric Lotion, 100ml $50

Balancing Black Mud Turmeric Lotion, 100ml $50

The superstars for me are the Pine Mint Tonic and Black Cumin Oil. The tonic feels so clarifying and refreshing (especially if your breakouts cause pain, like mine), but is not drying. I would not recommend the Tonic for all skin types though, especially if you tend to be very dry. In this case, just dab the tonic directly onto the pimples.

Amti-Bac Pine Mint Skin Tonic, 100ml $26 & Clarifying Black Cumin Oil, 100ml $43

Anti-Bac Pine Mint Skin Tonic, 100ml $26 – Clarifying Black Cumin Oil, 100ml $43

The Black Cumin Oil is incredibly nourishing, anti-inflammatory (and yes smells faintly of cumin), but does not clog pores. At first I found that the oil to be quite stimulating (in other words may cause temporary redness), but I’m also quite quite religious about facial massage and spend a lot of time massaging it in. By the morning though, any redness was gone and my skin felt so plump and supple.

Black cumin oil can cause photo-sensitivity (although this one is mixed with Babassu oil to reduce the risk) but it’s best used at night. And always wear sunscreen during the day (which you should be doing anyway!!).

For anyone who has been struggling to find a skincare line that combats breakouts, but is not drying (in fact hydrates and makes skin glow!), then I highly recommend this product line. If you are only going to buy 1 or 2 products, I recommend the Pine Mint Tonic and Black Cumin Oil.

If you do try it out, let me know what you think! I always love hearing your comments!