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What My Total Body Check Up Revealed About My Skin Health

olena beley, pop the pimple

I’m someone who’s super obsessed with health, wellness, and above all CLEAR SKIN. So I make a point to visit my doctor at least once a year for a total head-to-toe checkup.

I love knowing exactly what’s going on in my body so that I can behave accordingly. I don’t like to guess when it comes to deficiencies or imbalances. 

Sometimes I catch myself reading symptoms online and labelling myself with deficiencies that aren’t there. I have to check myself when I do this, and accept that I’m a healthy individual. 

But lately, I’ve been experiencing some annoying breakouts, and I was on a search to find the cause.

Pimples are really the only sign of dis-ease (not ease) in my body – and to be frank I was driven crazy by them. 

For all intents and purposes, I’m a healthy individual who takes EXTREMELY good care of herself.

And that’s the question I always ask myself. What else can I do? 

I’m really lucky to have an incredibly thorough doctor who really cares about real health. He doesn’t just treat symptoms, he tries to fully understand his patient from the inside out so that he can prescribe really GOOD advice to treat the CAUSE.

Note that the cause is different from the symptoms. The causes is the reason for the symptoms, so treating the symptoms alone, will not fix the real reason behind them.

The best part about my doctor is that he believes that ‘the best medicine is no medicine’. This kind of philosophy is unheard of in the world we live in. Normally, doctors are trigger happy when it comes to prescriptions, and are eager to prescribe any kind of meds.

Lately, I thought I was going through some hormonal changes, and was having some irregular – TMI WARNING! – bowel movements. So I decided to do my yearly total body checkup with my wonderful doctor.

Low and behold, I’m the picture of health. 


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My cholesterol has improved (since I’ve stopped eating refined carbs and grains), my iron levels are higher (since I supplement with 2x to 3x times the recommended daily allowance of iron), and everything else is on point.

My B12 levels are fantastic, I have enough zinc (good hair and nails). I still have to increase my red cell count (for my blood to be able to carry more oxygen to the brain and to improve my energy levels).

This can easily be done through eating more iron rich meat and veggies like liver (which tastes less gross than it sounds – recipe coming soon) and broccoli along with leafy greens.

I even checked my bowels for bacteria – and NOTHING. 

High testosterone in women is associated with easy muscle gain, easy weight-loss and increased metabolism, more energy, but also more pimples and body hair.

I thought for sure that my pimples had to be tied to higher than normal testosterone. 

The biggest surprise of all was that my testosterone levels have slightly decreased since last year, and that the rest of my fertility indicators are fantastic.

I was eagerly awaiting my doctor to tell me what I can do better for my hormones specifically, but he just told me to keep doing what I’m doing!

Hormonal indicators change in women quite a bit depending on the cycle, but even here my indicators were fantastic. 

I know what you’re thinking.

If I am so freaking healthy, what’s the problem? Why do I have pimples? 

This point has frustrated the crap out of me, but as always I have a theory.

The last skincare experiment I tried involved Jojoba Oil. I decided to give up Benzoyl Peroxide, a longtime trusted ingredient, and instead ventured into natural skincare.

Since everybody likens Jojoba Oil to the sebum naturally occurring on our own faces, I thought Jojoba Oil would be a great option to moisturize and balance my face.

You can read about my Jojoba Oil experience in greater detail here. 

The point is, I started breaking out in tiny surface pimples after about two weeks on Jojoba Oil, and these pimples kept multiplying until I couldn’t take it anymore and I stopped using it. 

Why does it make sense to add EXTRA sebum to your already sebum producing face? And yet..

After about a month of healing, I decided to try another face oil: Argan Oil.

After doing my research and finding that Argan Oil was non-comedogenic (a big sigh of relief) I decided to try it. 

My first few weeks on it were alright, in fact my skin was glowing, and I became excited about the prospect of just using Argan Oil on my face.

That’s the thing.. I wanted a miracle product, a natural miracle product, an oil. 

Well, I couldn’t will Argan Oil to work, because after three weeks my skin started getting intermittent deep pimples. 

I didn’t make the connection at first, so I thought that maybe I was unhealthy. 

Clearly my health had nothing to do with it. After a month of using Argan Oil, I was breaking out A LOT. 

The pimples were deep, red, sometimes really painful. With Jojoba Oil my skin broke out around my hairline and forehead, while with Argan Oil my skin broke out everywhere – my forehead, hairline, cheeks, chin.. 

The thought that Argan Oil may be wrong for me came to me out of nowhere on one of my runs. And I was shocked because I truly wanted Argan Oil to work. 

After my realization, I immediately stopped using Argan Oil. I switched back to my Now Hyarolonic Acid Serum for a little bit.. And then I decided to throw caution to the wind and give up all skincare products. 


I kinda got mad at the skin care industry.

We are told that we need to put stuff on our faces for our skin to get better – and when we do we break out! 

Then after we breakout because of the stupid host of chemicals in the products that we use, we buy MORE products to help us break out less – in an endless vicious cycle.

WTF is up with that?

I’m starting to understand that skin care is just another industry created to make money, and it has nothing to do with actually improving our skin. 

Sure, a cream feels nice when I put it on. But when I wash it off, nothing has changed. 

It doesn’t matter if the cream costs a thousand dollars per tiny jar, it still doesn’t make a lasting change.

Since people are now afraid of chemical skincare, natural skincare is a booming industry – a growing business. Skin oils are a popular trend in skincare at the moment because we want to believe that ONE ingredient is better than tens of them, and that one natural ingredient is safe and therefore good for your skin. 

But why would our face require MORE oil than it naturally produces? What about our skin’s own natural balance?

Our bodies have been created to be healthy without needing to slather them in anything.

We have been created to have clear skin without using ANYTHING. 

We have been created to be healthy without taking pills and medicine. 

Our bodies are so intelligent that they do everything without our intervention. In fact, they’d be better off if we didn’t intervene with added toxins, fake food, bad thoughts, and all the products that we slather our bodies in. 

The Reason We Put Chemicals On Our Faces

So why do we put random crap on our faces? Because we have been convinced that we need to look BETTER. 

Did you know that you and I aren’t pretty enough? 

We can’t walk around with unprimed, un-madeup faces and have our pores or, God forbid, under-eye circles out there for the world to see!

We, as women, are expected to be perfect – to put our best face forward, to look like airbrushed models from the magazines. 

We even filter OUR OWN FACES on Instagram to look better. No matter how pretty a picture of my face is without a filter, it always looks better with a filter..

So we live life through a freaking filter. Real life doesn’t measure up to the flawlessness that surrounds us online. So we strive for that unattainable flawlessness. 

I grew up with the philosophy that if I leave the house, I have to look my absolute best because I will be making first impressions everywhere I go, and that those first impressions have to be perfect.

I grew up needing to be perfect. I thought I was doing the world around me a favour by showing up looking my best. 

And that’s what caused my pimples today – my never-ending, misguided, and unrealistic quest for perfection. 

Perfectionism is my least healthy habit. 

I always strive for it in my health, food choices, work, relationships, clothing, skincare.. Always asking, what else can I do? How else can I loathe myself and improve on what’s here?

It ends now. 

I’m no longer going to put a bunch of silicones on my face just for it to feel smoother. I’m not longer going to put a bunch of estrogen mimicking chemicals on my face just to protect it from the sun (Avobenzone in sunscreen). 

I’m no longer going to resist nature. 

My face wants to breathe. My skin just wants to be left alone. It’s tired of being smothered with my attention and ‘care’. I used to apply 4 different products to my face TWICE a day, every day – FIVE if you count sunscreen, and many more than that if you count makeup. 

What did that do? It sensitized my face to products, and desensitized it to real life, and to working things out on it’s own. 

My skin became lazy to the point that even products aren’t enough anymore. In fact, products cause more damage than good. 

The Missing Link

When you’re a perfectly healthy individual, with balanced hormones, and good digestion but you still have pimples, then the last two things to consider are your mindset and your habits.

Since my mindset is on the up and up, then my (skin care) habits must be to blame. 

So how am I to function in this perfectionist, Instagram filtered, beauty-obsessed world?

By being my natural self. By breaking the cycle.

My Latest Experiment

I started washing my face with water, and I stopped moisturizing afterward.

Hot damn!

I was afraid that this would make my face freak out, but it’s okay! It’s actually OKAY to wash your face with WATER!

I also feel a bit rebellious that I’m not using an arsenal of products anymore.. But I feel that my cause is justified. 

So how do I leave the house without product?

Well, my conditioning runs deep. I still believe in protecting my skin from the sun, but haven’t found a sunscreen cream that doesn’t ruin, or add to the ruination of my skin.

So I use water to wash my face, and if I leave the house then I apply a light dusting of my Jane Iredale Pure Pressed Powder Base (one of the remaining products I still believe in). 

This powder only has about 10 ingredients, but most importantly it is talc-free and has SPF 20, and it’s light and isn’t absorbed like a normal sunscreen.  I’m on the hunt for an even more natural alternative though.

Jane Iredale’s Powder allows me to look slightly more polished than I would without it, and if I really wanted to I could spot treat some of my pimples with it. However I don’t do that, because I don’t want to be a PERFECTIONIST anymore.

I wear a little bit of eyeshadow and mascara too, and when I do then I use my trusty Sensible H20 Micelle Solution to remove everything before bed. 

I still want to be clean, but not stripped of moisture. 

It’s one product I still trust, and don’t mind using. It’s as close to water as a product can get – but it removes impurities and pollution. 

But I don’t moisturize anymore. My skin can do that on it’s own. I trust it to work itself out with my MINIMAL interference.

I counted that I used to use 5 products BEFORE applying makeup – cleanser, toner, pimple cream, moisturizer, sunscreen then foundation, concealer, mineral powder, and blush. 

Now I use 2 products on my face including makeup – 3 if I decide to use blush. Sounds like an improvement to me.. 

A New Perspective 

I’ve also noticed that nobody’s skin is perfect. Sounds obvious, but when you’re wrapped up in your own flaws you don’t notice everyone else’s flaws.

That’s right, other people have flaws too! 

I see bumps, pimples, and discolouration everywhere I go. I also see layers of foundation everywhere I go. Let me tell you.. full-coverage foundation is great at covering everything up but I’ve never seen it look natural. 

I’m all about natural right now, and I’m putting way less pressure on myself to hide my flaws. I feel lighter, happier, more chilled out. 

I love noticing that nobody is perfect, because it makes me feel better about not trying so hard.

I’ve stopped drying my hair too, and just let it air dry with it’s natural waves. I’m starting to look a tad like a hippie.. 

Final Thoughts

As someone who LOVED skincare products, spent a ton of money on them, and really believed in them for over a decade, I’m now trying the path of least resistance – the path of less is more. 

I resisted this path for too long. Why was I so against giving up my chemically-laden products?

I think I really believed that they would help me look better. I saw them as part of the solution, not part of the problem. 

I’ll let you know how water works out for me. In the meantime, let me know what you are using on your skin. How many products do you use? Do they work, or are you willing them to work?



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