Published December 7, 2021 As you may (or may not) know, I’m someone who struggled for years with skin health – acne, blemishes, irritation… face, back, chin, neck – you name it. The only thing more difficult than my skin issues were my digestive issues, which always seemed to be connected to my breakouts. The pieces of the puzzle finally made sense when I discovered the connection between my gut health and my complexion: a concept called the “gut-skin axis“. How I Cleared My Acne (Cystic, Hormonal & Digestive Causes) In fact, this is what led me to become an herbalist in the first place. I was at such a dead end when it came to conventional solutions in terms of my worsening digestion and skin. Everything that I was prescribed for both my IBS and my acne would work for a week or so, then I’d have my worst flare yet or had to deal with side effects that simply weren’t worth the temporary solutions. Nothing topical worked for me, so I wanted to get to the root — and this led me to the clear skin I have today thanks to a lot of hard work supporting, modulating, and rebalancing my microbiome! Today, my digestion and skin are healthier and more stable than ever, and I’d love to share with you the formulas I created based on what worked for my own stubborn skin issues (plus my years of experience, research, and testing). Glowing skin starts from the inside out, and is achieved by taking a true whole body, holistic approach. That means supporting the 3 pillars that matter most for clear skin: your gut microbiome, your hormones and your skin’s immune functions. Here’s a breakdown of the formulas I created to tackle all three of these “pillars” or factors, and why they’re so effective for restoring true homeostasis within your skin. My philosophy: acne is multi-factorial. Acne and blemishes stem from a whole body, systemic imbalance. There’s more than one single factor involved, which is why topicals or a round of antibiotics either don’t do the trick, or don’t help for very long. Instead of throwing a silver bullet at one piece of the puzzle, it’s important to support your microbiome, digestion, stress levels, sleep quality, hormones (this is KEY), and especially your elimination pathways (which help all of the above function more smoothly and seamlessly!) Factor #1: Gut Inflammation + Microbiome Imbalance Did you know that microbiome imbalances in the gut can translate to microbiome issues and an unhealthy inflammatory response within the skin?! An imbalance in your body’s production of “cytokines” (which can stem from opportunistic gut overgrowths of less-than-helpful bacteria) can irritate and inflame your skin, making you more prone to breakouts. Thus, my foundational formula for happy skin is a blend that supports a happy gut: my probiotic. Formula: 3-in-1 Probiotic When formulating my probiotic, I had the gut-skin axis at the top of my mind. I carefully selected science-backed strains that have been shown to support not only gut health and integrity, but healthy skin too. A majority of our probiotic strains come from the Lactobacillus genus, which means they are lactic-acid producing bacteria (yes, the same lactic acid found in expensive peels and serums). This acid is necessary to maintain proper pH of the skin, which is normally around 4.7. A low pH ensures a healthy protective barrier that aids occasional blemishes and mild concerns. When your microbiome contains healthy levels of Lactobacillus, they naturally increase lactic acid levels from the inside out thanks to the gut-skin connection. If take a look through the reviews, you’ll see that many people have seen positive results with just our probiotic alone, but for those who need extra support (especially with chin and cheek spots), let’s move onto hormone health! Factor #2: Hormone Balance Again, this part is extremely key for blemishes that pop up along the cheeks, chin, and jaw line, as these are the hormonal hot zones! In terms of acne, your body (specifically your liver’s phase I & II detoxification pathways) must be able to efficiently metabolize and excrete excess serum hormones like estrogen and androgens, so that your skin can display a healthy inflammatory response all month long despite hormone fluctuations — especially around your cycle. Certain herbs can support and help regulate the above pathways, especially those related to hormone metabolism. This is why my second go-to formula for happy, healthy skin is my detoxification support blend, Liver Juice. Formula: Liver Juice Also — did you know that certain gut overgrowths can actually cause you to recirculate excess hormones like estrogen that your gut is trying to get rid of through your stool?! If you’re not going to the bathroom frequently enough, or have specific microbiome imbalances, estrogen can become recirculated over and over again through the gut wall. So no matter what, it always go back to gut health, which is why our probiotic comes first. However, Liver Juice does have a few gut-modulating herbs along with its kidney and liver-supporting superstars. Factor #3: The Skin’s Localized Immune Functions Your skin has its very own immune strategies that it uses to fend off topical microbial imbalances, however, the body needs adequate levels of specific nutrients in order to fuel these processes. The most important nutrient related to these functions is zinc, a true skin superstar. Studies show that zinc deficiency may be involved on a causal level in the development and occurrence of acne, plus, Zinc is crucial for the transport and utilization of Vitamin A, another key skin clarifying nutrient! Formula: ZincPlus+ Zinc is one of the greatest tools I’ve ever used for my own skin issues, and it’s something I still take to this day for maintenance and immune health (especially when I’m traveling or stressed). I wanted to create my own zinc blend that combined the mineral I love so much, with some of the plant flavonoids I used to take separately for gut modulation and optimal zinc absorption on a cellular level. Thus, ZincPlus+ was born; a blend that also contains quercetin, EGCG (from green tea) and orange peel so that you get the most out of this skin and immune powerhouse. My Current Routine At this point in my life, I’m finally in the maintenance stage with my acne. Yes, I have to watch my sleep and stress; yes I’m extremely particular about my diet in order to keep up all the progress from the “weeding and feeding” I’ve done with targeted herbs to reduce unfavorable species and rebalance favorable, probiotic bugs. It takes work, but I lean on my now solidified healthy habits, along with the three formulas above to keep my skin the happiest it’s ever been. I don’t go a day without our Probiotic, I utilize Liver Juice 8-10 days before my period to nip any hormonal breakouts in the bud, and I take ZincPlus+ a few times a week to keep my zinc levels at an optimal level and support my immune system. This is the approach that has helped me and so many others, and I look forward to these herbal allies hopefully becoming a part of your skin healing routine, too!