Happy Monday Guys! It is a bit of a monsoon here in Toronto, but lovely none the less. I still adore Mondays, and always will.

So this is a topic that I've wanted to discuss for awhile with you guys, but have shied away from, because one, it's not really a glamorous topic, and NOT that my blog is glamorous! I just thought this might be a bit odd to discuss, but I do think many people can relate. And second I was embarrassed. These two reasons though, are EXACTLY why I should write this. If I'm struggling with it, I know for a fact others are too. So what the heck is it?

Skin picking + popping pimples.

Ok, let me back up a little bit, and give you a bit of history. I've always been terribly lucky with my skin. I had the odd break outs in junior high, but for the most part my skin was clear. It wasn't until I had moved to New York, and my symptoms for Lymes Disease intensified (not yet knowing it was Lymes Disease and Hypothyroidism). Along with my hair starting to fall out in copious amounts, I developed cystic acne. This was due to crazy and out of control hormones. From what I know now, all of my sex hormones were non-existant, and second my estrogen was VERY low which usually is the impetus for break outs (which is why we break out the week leading up to our period). My body internally was chaos. Add on top of this, not knowing yet what was plaguing me.

When speaking of outward appearance (which I don't like to emphasize, but lets be real, we all want to present ourselves with our best foot forward) I was a MESS. Every time I would shower clumps of my hair would fall out, and every morning I would wake up with a new pimple. Add in this commencing with the heat and humidity of the NYC summer. Not the prettiest combo in the world. I tried maaaaaaaaany remedies, natural and not. I tried to tackle it for months and months on my own (benzoyl peroxide, tea tree, aplha H, DIY masks, cetaphil, sunscreens) you name it I tried it. It wasn't until I caved and went to go see a Dermatologist in NYC (which was luckily covered by my school health insurance at the time), that things started to get better. I was prescribed a retinol, and things started to sloooowly heal. At this time I was also eating super clean, and drinking juice, but that aside my hormones were still wacky. Crazy wacky. But with everything that I learned first and for most, LESS IS MORE! Second of all your internal gut health, hormones and eliminatory organs are the key to happy, healthy and glowing skin. 100% it's important what we put into our bodies, but sometimes our skin and hormones have another plan.

To make a very long story short, I've seen and been through it all when it comes to skincare and skin woes. I had to deal with scarring, hyperpigmentation, and LUCKILY I had no pit scarring or indented scars. Most of my troubles were red marks that were left over from pimples, popped or not!

Coming back to those red marks, pimples and popping. Sorry if this sounds unpleasant, but for many this is the everyday reality (and I will try to use the best words possible). I can fully empathize with you. Although my skin for the most part is almost back to 100%, I've had to work hard to get here!!! I've tried SOOOOO many natural products, and am still to this day trying to find my holy grails, although I am close.

BUT what I still do, and I believe it's HABIT from my old days, is pop and pick my skin! For the life of me, even though you read EVERYWHERE DO NOT pop pimples, when you have most of a pustule or 'whitehead' how can I not? I have to face the day with A CRAZY big pimple (maybe it's just me?). But even if it's not big or white I still find myself picking at something. Usually this is only around the time of the month, as that is when my hormones can still get a little bit crazy.

I tell myself ALL the time, DO NOT PICK, it will only make it worse. But to be honest, I still do it. Do I want to stop? Heck yes! I mean if is a necessity, and many derms do believe that there is a good way to do it, if you're going to do it, and it will minimize / eliminate scarring. Use your own discretion. At the end of the day, only you know your body and skin, and you are the one that has to deal with the aftermath, not the derms.

With all of that being said, here are some tips that I've personally learned along the way, and by reading further literature. Hopefully this helps you //

1. If you have to pop it make sure it is 'ready' to pop! Don't just go picking and popping aimlessly or you are in front of REALLY bright lightening and feel the need to get things out.

2. Do so at night, and only at night or you will be dealing with red, raised + inflammed skin for the whole day, and you can't treat it properly if so.

3. At night / put a warm cloth on it for a few minutes and try to pop ONCE, and only once. If nothing comes out, it is not ready! I've learned this the hard way.

4. Do Not Pop AT ALL! This is where I want to get to. I still sometimes feel the 'NEED' to pop it, but I do believe that leaving it alone is best. AGAIN this is through many, many, MANY trials and errors and figuring out what is best for my skin, as we all have different skin. My skin tends to hyperpigment REALLY easily. Even if I leave a pimple sometimes it will leave a red mark. BUT a red mark that will fade is better than a scab or scar.

5. LIKE Food, we sometimes just want instant gratification (enter in chocolate cake + dessert) but if we continue to think like that the long term consequences get clouded by the right now! Which is the same for our Skin. We think that popping the skin now (instant gratification) will make it OK, that it won't add up or make it worse. But usually as the case with lots of refined sugars, things will add up, and you will be left with lots of scars, and worse skin than if you had just left it alone.

6. Find a Blemish Solution that works for you! For some it is pure tea tree oil, others lavender oil (dilute with a carrier oil), I've heard Mario Badescu has a good one, as does OSMIA Organics. I think THIS Osmia one will be my next purchase, as everyone has raved about it in the natural beauty world. I will report back with my findings!

7. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate with water. I know this is usually the # 1 tip for clearer skin, Why? Because it works!!! I drink anywhere from 3-5 liters of water a day, and can see the difference when I'm not drinking enough.

8. Find a Fish Oil that works for you. I've had great success with Cod Liver Oil, or just a plain old Omega 3 - this helps with internal inflammation.

9. PROBIOTIC - Our skin is a huge indication of how healthy our gut is! Usually when I see my skin flare up is when I've eaten one of my food sensitivities (especially almonds!! I sometimes choose to ignore my extreme sensitivity to them, and drink raw almond milk or have a few nuts...EVERYTIME I see a pimple or two after) almost immediately. This is my gut saying, no thank you! And because our skin is an eliminatory organ, we will see it there first. Be mindful of your allergens and sensitivities. IF you've never gotten a IGG Allergy test done, and you break out often, I HIGHLY suggest it. It can give you an insight into why your skin breaks out after you consume certain foods.

10. TRY, I know it's hard, to not stress about it, because with my experience it only makes it worse. THIS is sometimes the hardest part because as our skin acts out we tend to get a bit more stressed, anxious because no one feels confident with lots of spots on their skin, but ultimately that stress is raising your cortisol levels which causes flare ups and break outs. What helps me most are my epsom salt baths, a good book, a clay mask, and a nice oil after. I'm de-stressing, along with giving a mini self-love facial to my skin.

11. Be patient. It took me months, years to figure out my skin. And no one is perfect!!! Yes I still get blemishes, I do pick them, and am working on stopping this. But everything is a journey, and we have to go through peaks and valleys to figure things up. Sometimes skin will get worse before it gets better, and other times it is a slow recovery process. My hormones are still healing, so I know my blemishes are just an outward sign, that my beautiful hormones need a little bit more love.

My plan of action: Get a good spot treatment (Hello Osmia!), DO NOT pick or pop ( accountability partners guys?), clay mask twice a week, continue my almost daily baths, finding a gentle + all-natural skincare regime that suits my skin type (oily / normal / combo + prone to hyperpigmentation) using the least amount of products that I can. I'm usually one that if I find something that I love, I stick with. If it aint broke don't fix it. I believe we are bombared with WAY too many new skin care discoveries, technologies, products that it is too much and we end up freaking ourselves + skin out.

So there you have it! I hope that this helps some of you out. Know that you are not alone in this! I've finally come to a place where I lovingly and openly accept my skin and all that comes with it. I'm very lucky to have resilient skin that bounces back, and 1000000% my water intake, daily green juices and high intake of plant based foods contributes to this. What we put in, is what we get out.

Happy Monday Everyone.