Put your socks on, I’m about to knock them off with my kaleidescope of an acne battle.
So it all started in a gynacologists office way back when I was 16. I remember being handed a script for Yasmin to treat PCOS due to my irregular periods and being told it will help manage my acne (to some degree it helped). Little did I know then, that treating a symptom with prescribed dependence is like taking cocaine to cure a headache – it might lift you up in the short term, but wreak internal havoc in the rest of your body.
I can pinpoint now in retrospect how I got to that position and cause in the first place. At 16 I was studying hard to get into an Economics degree at The University of Sydney where the UAI was 94 – which to me was like being a dwarf at the Olympics racing against Usain Bolt (the odds were against me) considering the definition of success at my high school meant you would be offered a full time job at McDonalds (no, not in the head office). The stress, self prescribed chocolate medication had a profound impact unravelling the balance (homeostasis) within my body. I was offered my placement, but at the expense of my health.
Stress still impacts me today, as does sugar (I no longer eat chocolate) but at least now, I’m able to proactively control stress (meditation, tai chi, qi dong) before it controls me.
Like most 16 year olds I didn’t question the prescription and continued to take Yasmin for the following 12 years. It was only then that I realised how much adversity I was experiencing because of my prescribed dependence: mood fluctuations, love handles one week and a flat back the next, flare ups one month then manageable skin the next..the list goes on. It kept the worst side of acne at bay, but it didn’t really support healthy skin either. I had tried a lot by that stage – Dermatologica, La Roche (but my skin was like sandpaper after using it), over the counter acne skin washes. My girlfriends were working at L’Oreal at the time (not great for self esteem when your friends look like clear skinned super models!) and they provided me with access to the latest products and skincare lines from the L’Oreal range – as you already know, none of them worked, in fact they all made my skin much, much worse – I’d experience severe breakouts or extreme dryness. I was recommended ProActive by several people but Jessica Simpson wasn’t exactly what I’d call a role model so I couldn’t justify spending money on a brand that has warped values. The closest I came to the best skincare line was the oil range from Environ – it didn’t clear the acne itself but it did help improve the quality of my skin’s texture.
I had just moved back to Sydney after living in London for 5 years, and as you know the Australian summers wreak havoc with skin (especially after 5 years of ‘summer’ at whopping 20 degree maximums in the UK). My skin had flared out so much I couldn’t see my cheeks. I remember lying on the bed at my local beauticians’ bawling my eyes out whilst she performed 20 minutes of extraction work. It was painful yes, but that’s not why I was crying. I was then 28, and kept asking ‘why is this happening to me?’ ‘why does my face look this way?’ ‘how come I’m almost 30 and I’m still at the same place I was at when I was 16?’.
As my idol Tony Robbins says, it’s the decisions not the conditions that determine the quality of our lives.So I made a decision there and then that I was going to cure my acne, without relying on a prescription any longer. I was sick of asking myself self-loathing questions and asked instead ‘how can I control my acne, instead of letting it control me, without drugs’. I kicked the pill to the curb and embarked on a journey to understand the true cause of my acne (why I have cysts on my ovaries causing my acne in the first place), and if I can heal that cause, I’ll be smooth sailing rather than treat the symptom (the acne).
I went to 5 dermatologists. Each providing me with a script of Accutane telling me my skin was so bad there was no other way to cure it (which I understand, it was pretty bad). I remember the bemused looks they gave me when I said ‘that’s not good enough, I’m curing this without drugs, give me other options’. The deafening silence was enough to let me know I wasn’t getting my $200 worth that I’d saved up.
At the time, complete strangers were coming up to me to let me know they too, had acne problems and Accutane solved their skin issues. As politely offensive as that was, all it did was strengthen my resolve to beat the beast inside of me that was showing on my face. After selling clothes and shoes on a Buy Swap and Sell group, I mustered the final $300 I could (I had just started my own business at the time), to see one of Sydney’s best GP’s Kerryn Phelps with the hope that she could help me, and she did. We embarked on a 9 month journey to get me to clearer skin (at this stage, the acne cysts were so painful that pulling clothes over my head was a bit of an ordeal).
We firstly, started with my diet. Skin is our largest organ, so it’s only natural that it’s impacted by all of our other organs as we’re interconnected beings. So the gut was the first place to start. Going to a nutritionist saying ‘I think I eat pretty healthily’ is like a gambler telling the bank ‘I know how to curb my spending’ – you think you might be eating right, until they really track your eating to let you know that you really don’t (just because you don’t eat McDonald’s 24/7 isn’t a great benchmark for healthy eating evidently). So we curbed the gluten and dairy. But what ended up doing after that experience, was turbo charging my diet every 3 months from then on. So instead of sourdough, I’d swap it for spelt sourdough, and now it’s swapped out to a portobello mushroom as a replacement or sweet potato. For yoghurt, I started with greek yoghurt, then coconut yoghurt (be careful: there are sugars and cornflours added to some ‘healthy’ coconut yoghurts) to organic coconut milk with soaked chia seed. Sugar was the hardest to kick (but the most rewarding) – as the owner of the DMK skincare line I use – Danne says in one of his videos “Sugar is like rat poison to people with acne” – and it is. So I swapped milk chocolate for dark chocolate, then dark chocolate for raw chocolate (shout out to Panna Chocolate), then raw chocolate for one frozen banana blitzed with blueberries, coconut oil and cacao powder. So my diet now, is classified as ‘paleo’ – but everyone is different in terms of the type of eating pattern that will work for them. Eating protein, fats and no sugar has worked wonders for my body and skin. It’s not to say acne patients need to be paleo, but they do need to work out an nourishing plan that works for them, and not to stop enjoying food, but change what to enjoy. And at the very least it’s ok to have a bit of a splurge now again (that’s normal, hello Christmas parties!) but at least being able to do that knowing what the side effects will be.
Then we worked on stress. As a business owner, stress was permanent and I was experiencing similar symptoms I did when I was my 16 year old HSC self. It was also financially crippling sometimes especially when trying to muster money for appointments. So again, I decided I needed a more permanent income stream and got a part time role to reduce financial stress (my marketing experience finally kicking in!). But to manage emotional stress, I began my journey of meditation (just 5 minutes a day), journalling, tai chi and qi dong which I do every single day now to keep my stress and emotions under control. We can’t avoid stress, it is inevitable. But we can proactively manage it – especially so it doesn’t front up on the face.
Our environments are heavily determined by our relationships. Toxicity doesn’t just come from foods or products we ingest, but from the environments and relationships around us. It was very hard, but to get to the best optimal health it is critical to make these types of decisions and eradicate the toxic, negative relationships from the life of an acne sufferer. Definition of toxicity: anyone who pulls you off track to being the best version of you (think: negative, discouraging, constantly drowns you in their negative state). I exited a long term relationship and friendships.
Making those decisions were some of the hardest I’ve ever had to do. I am very lucky because my core relationship is with my family who provide such a warm, loving, supportive and caring environment for me and I have no idea where I’d be without them. Battling acne is very isolating – you feel alone, embarrassed, ashamed, low self esteem almost 100% of the time, and that’s with a loving supportive family. So if you have an acne patient on your hands, please know that if they are alone without anyone in their corner, you are it. You’re the only person they can turn to for help and a bit of support, and they just need some love.
The main time the body heals itself and rejuvenates is when we sleep. I made a date with my diary and make sure I’m getting my 8 hours (I need 8, some people just need 6) between 10pm and 6am. I make sure I don’t use technology at least an hour before bed, because the blue rays that emanate from our TV screens, mobiles and laptops spike our cortisol levels (our stress ‘flight or fight’ hormone) which subsequently suppresses our melatonin (sleep hormone). Cortisol is not bad for us, it peaks when we wake up in the morning and we need it to get going and out of bed (or more traditionally used to run from lions, literally). But in the evening our cortisol should be at an all time low, allowing melatonin to rise in order to let us rest – this is called our circadian rhythm where our bodies are in sync with the earth. Cortisol rises along with the sun and reduces with sunset and melatonin rises along with the moon and sets accordingly too. If cortisol is high when we sleep, we get poor quality sleep. It’s not the amount of time we’re asleep that matters so much, it’s the quality. The more quality sleep we have for our bodies to heal, the quicker we can move to optimum health.
I ditched the extra night out once a week and reinvested that $40 into a personal trainer. Getting stronger and healthier whilst eliminating toxins by exercise is one of the best investments I’ve ever made, not to mention it is completely affordable. My skin has thanked me for it.
Product. Well, was I in for the learning curve of a lifetime! It was the first time I had even heard of DMK and this thing called ‘enzyme therapy’. I remember my first treatment and boy was it different to the others (not only because it actually worked) but having active ingredients meant that my skin felt the process rather than layers of product that didn’t react or do much when they were placed onto my face.
I had never heard of DMK before, but from what I researched I could see the enzyme therapy was the jewel in the crown. Here are a couple of pics of my enzyme treatments:
The enzyme mask is a thick heavy paste that sits on for about 40 minutes.
Over the course of the enzyme, it will harden up (which means it’s working) as it flushes oxygen from the lungs right to the surface of the skin, giving P.Bacteria a good kicking (most of us with acne will have a nefarious strain of P.Bacteria causing the deep and painful cysts).
As the enzyme works to flush oxygen to the surface and get our lymphatic system circulating, you can see the roadmap of my capillaries going up my neck and into my facial tissues (it’s meant to look that way).
After about 6 months of work, I had noticed a marked improvement and reached out to the DMK team to let them know I thought their products are incredible. It was around this time I could leave the house with confidence compared to 6 months before when I’d come home crying, or not even leave the house at all because I was too ashamed (I went for 14 days without leaving at one stage). Debbie and the team were very kind and had a look at my skin and although it had improved, we turbocharged it. I’ve been working with the team at the Crows Nest clinic to get my skin to its optimum health and even the before and afters of that experience are phenomenal. We started with gentle treatments and moved onto the Alkaline, Red Vein, Lunchtime peel, Quick peel therapies.
After a treatment I feel like my skin has been laced with gold! My skin feels like it has been ‘flushed’ and then replenished with nourishing sources to nurse it back to optimum health. I feel so differently about the DMK treatments compared to other brands not only because they are effective, but because I can actually feel them working; the active ingredients for me means that the product reacts with my skin (like it’s meant to) and it’s so different to other treatments I’ve had with other brands because it always felt like layers of product were being applied like a cake, but without any positive side effects.
This is how my skin has progressed with the DMK team.
My favourite treatment is the Alkaline. It’s definitely the most intensive and works to really, really push the skin but the week after an Alkaline my skin is phenomenal. This is the treatment that has worked wonders with my cysts in the main not to mention controlling the acne and now the scarring. The improvement is so noticeable and I am a stickler for taking pictures to show the progress. I’m also loving the EFAs – my whole family takes these now. We’ve seen at the clinic the healthy flow of the oil in my skin that was previously really very waxy when I started with DMK. The EFA’s have worked hard to get my sebaceous glands a good kicking to start working how they are supposed to, not to mention the amazing glowy ‘halo’ effect it has on my skin.
I’m Miss One Million Questions with the team because I am finding out more about DMK products, Danne and Debbie each time I’m in the salon. I’ve watched Danne’s videos to find out more and more about the product and Monique answers all of my questions about what is in the product, how it works and why DMK’s products are so different. I’ve since, been reading all the research I can on skin (mainly p.bacteria) and enrolled in a free MOOC (open university course) on human organ biology and skin to understand it further. If I can understand the body and how it’s related to skin, maybe I can help empower those who suffer to help them get in control of their skin, rather than let it take control of them. The first step is to understand, then treat, not treat without understanding (the mistake I made).
I’ve been tracking the results since I transformed my life in combination of diet, exercise, stress management and product. I’ve tracked a 300% uplift in my confidence level. In terms of my skin, the texture, colour and oil flow has had a marked improvement since working with DMK. The cysts are gone, and the pimples are gone. The only time it flares up is when I’ve had a particularly stressful week, have had any type of white wine (sugar shout out – it ends up on your face!) or coffee (I swap coffee for bone broth now). So the acne in and of itself, is gone – it’s incredible to walk around without makeup and feel like a million bucks. I don’t even care that I’ve got scars, I still feel 100%. We are now working on scar revision as that’s the next step to get the skin to optimal health. But even with scarring, my skin glows and has a plumpness akin to that of a baby’s bottom that I’ve never, ever, felt before.
The improvement in my skin has been so noticeable that my sister now uses the range (her skin is gorgeous and clear) but even with clear and healthy skin to begin with, her skin now glows and is so, so soft compared to before. My whole family uses the amazing sunsceen range which has kept us safe over the sweltering summer. Two of my friends now use DMK and people at work ask me ‘how come you have that ‘glow’ now?’ I just interpret that as ‘what have you done to get such a change in your skin?’. My university friends have seen my battle with skin and are so supportive and happy to see such a positive transformation, they shower me with healthy cookbooks and follow DMK as they are so impressed by how much a product has improved my life (especially the L’Oreal workers!). I’ve found I never really need to ‘tell’ people about DMK (although I talk about it as much as I can), they generally proactively ask me ‘what have you being doing?!’.
I can’t leave the house or go to bed without applying DMK first.
- Wash face with a small drop of Aku-Klenz
- Apply a generous amount of Beta Gel
- Apply a small drop of Acu-Klear
- Placement of small dots of Acu-crème around my face, spray Herbs & Mineral Mist around the face and rub both products in
- Squirt a small squirt of DMK SPF 50+ UVA UVB Soleil Defense into my palms and spread over face and neck
- If I’m wearing makeup, I only use the DMK foundation, Chanel mascara and Chanel lipstick – as the DMK foundation is antibacterial, you can use the same sponge as it doesn’t spread bacteria over your face when applying the makeup
- I take 2 EFA’s with my breakfast:
- One portion meat (bacon, paleo sausage, grass fed mince)
- One portion vegetable (kale, bok choy, spinach)
- One portion protein: egg
- One portion carbohydrate: sweet potato (optional mushrooms)
- One portion gut healthy supplement: saueurkraut
- One portion skin rejuvenation: one cup bone broth
- One portion caffeine: one cup strong english breakfast tea no milk
- Only oils I cook with are coconut oil (extra virgin, cold pressed) and avocado oil
- I alternate each day between applying a small amount of Retosin or Red Vein then alterna(but not after an Alkaline or Quick Peel treatment, I use the morning routine in the evening after these treatments)
- I take 2 EFA’s with my dinner:
- One portion meat (grass fed steak, fish)
- One portion vegetable (tuscan cabbage, chinese broccoli)
- One portion salad: green leaf, beetroot
- One portion gut healthy supplement: saueurkraut
- One portion sleep remedy: one cup strong camomile tea
Post exercise regime
After a pump class or session with my personal trainer, I always spray some Acu-Mist over my face to protect my skin from bacterial infection.
For anyone going through the crummy acne experience, or maybe you have been through it before I want to let you know, you are not alone. It is an isolating and embarrassing condition I know, but you are not alone.
The physical and emotional pain may still be there when you look in the mirror as an acne survivor (I used to cry every time I stood in front of the mirror). But you don’t have to suffer. You can choose not to suffer. You can make the decision and choose, to control your acne and manage it in the long term.
I know you don’t want to hear it, but there is no quick fix. There are of course treatments, drugs and products that do work yes of course in the short term or ‘overnight’, but at the expense of another part of your health in the long run. Remember: fixing skin overnight is like taking cocaine for a headache, it’ll work in the short term whilst wreaking havoc in the long term.
The skin as our largest organ, is part of our body. One part will effect another – it’s really, really important to understand this. Trying to fix the facial skin independently of the rest of the body, is not the intelligent way to go. You need to look at yourself as a whole being, because that’s what we are – whole beings. So we need to look at why the skin organ is acting out, because chances are is that it’s because of a dysfunction of something else in our bodies (like gut dysbiosis). We need to understand that cause first, before treating the symptom.
You don’t have to dress in hemp grow long hair and live in Nimbin to appreciate the alternative ways to treat acne. In fact what is the opposite of natural medicine? Unnatural medicine. There’s a place for medicines of course in our ecosystem, but that should be option Z, not option A. And if you give yourself permission and a bit of love to give your body a chance to heal, get curious and start to explore options that will let you, and your skin thrive as the best version of you, your body will pay you back ten fold. It’s a (sometimes painful) journey, but a gift because your body is letting you know ‘hey, you’re not being the best version of yourself you can possibly can be, sort yourself out and start crushing life’.
This isn’t about vanity, being beautiful or striving to look like Claudia Schiffer (unless you really want to). This is about getting one of the largest organs (our skin) back to its optimum thriving health, and if the side effect is that you walk around looking like Claudia Schiffer, then good on you! And everyone deserves to feel the self love to walk around at least feeling like Claudia Schiffer – it should be on the bill of human rights that the confidence that comes with clear skin is available to everyone (and look, I’ve worked with models before and they are gorgeous too, but even they have flaws and imperfections!).