Skin Deep

By: Gabriela Yareliz

I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the past. I am doing this thinking it might help someone because it’s slightly mortifying for me. I really believe that when God blesses you, you should pass it on, and share the blessing with others. So, I thought I would share a bit of my skin journey. I hope this will be short. I am not a doctor or dermatologist. I just wanted to share what healed my face. I am so grateful every day for the things I discovered and learned that helped me.

My first breakouts in life were in middle school. As any average kid that age, I had breakouts. Eventually, I found Proactiv, and my problems went away. In high school, I had normal skin; not too problematic, but at times there were some breakouts. My weight changed a lot during that time–you know, normal high school stuff. In college, my skin cleared up completely, and I had issue-free skin basically.

When I moved to NYC for professional school, everything changed. I figured it was due to the water, maybe the polluted air, school stress–it had to be something. My skin was terrible. I had acne running down my cheeks, on my chin–it was a mess. I think my skin was the protagonist of many of my conversations with my mother. Thanks to my terrible breakouts, I began experimenting with concealers of all types, which would leave my skin dry, flaky and scary. There was a time when I kind of gave up on covering anything up. Then, if and when things would clear-up, it would leave a shadow or scar behind. So even if that particular breakout had healed, I still had something on my face. I was a mess (maybe emotionally more than in actuality).

I changed all of my makeup, my brushes (and kept them super clean), and I started using only natural products. Nothing happened. I went to Sephora and bought face kits from many major and expensive skincare brands, starting with natural stuff and then going into salicylic acid and more powerful chemicals and minerals. Even the Peter Thomas Roth products would leave my face burning and red, but no results. I disliked events and special times when most people looked fabulous, and I felt like a mess and gross because of my skin situation. Not my best times.

I didn’t understand why I was breaking out so much. I was vegan, exercising, and I didn’t feel abnormally stressed. Also, I was an adult. Why was my skin regressing? Turns out that in adulthood, we keep changing.

Below, you can see my face in 2013 (and this was on a mild day with makeup).

July 2013

July 2013

August 2013 Makeup free and at Manhattan Beach.

August 2013 Makeup free and at Manhattan Beach.

Everything changed when I went home December of 2013. At this point, I was angry and resigned all at once. I was just trying to master the art of makeup and do the best I could with what I had. My mother told me that a friend of ours at church had great skin, and my mother asked her for her secret. Turns out, she juices a lot. Then, we started doing some research. I watched a video that talked about gluten and wheat. The video encouraged a 30-day, gluten-free challenge. I decided to do it and see how I felt, even though I was skeptical (what was I going to eat? I was already vegan!).

My mother bought me a juicer for Christmas (yay!), and the journey began in 2014. My New Year’s resolution was to juice and be gluten free. The worse that could happen was my face would continue to be a mess, and I would have more nutrients in my system. I couldn’t lose anything. Of course, my life became an eternal lent. I am pretty sure Gandhi ate more things than I do. But that’s ok; he needed it. He was waaaay skinnier than I will ever be. 🙂

Being gluten free was harder than juicing. My first juices were disgusting, but things got better. With the blender, when I would try to juice, it turned into a vomit-looking substance. With the juicer, it was juice. Kale juice, but juice. As I was gluten free, I started doing more research about the difference between having celiac and simply having a wheat allergy. Turns out wheat allergies cause serious skin and acne problems and even eczema.

After a month, I was already seeing a difference. I ordered some Proactiv and added it to the mix (if it worked once, why wouldn’t it work again?) My skin continued to clear. Eventually, even most of my scars faded. I have been mocked and been called a fad-dieter; there are times I have been hungry because I couldn’t eat what was around; I learned to bring my own food to events–but it has been worth it.

I also met people who were really understanding and would help me hunt for gluten-free food (my colleague this summer was great about that). The point is– it worked. I think the biggest factor in my situation was the wheat. When I cut out the wheat, things changed DRAMATICALLY.

So, if you are having skin issues, or know someone who is having acne or skin problems… all hope is not lost. Turns out there are natural ways to reverse the skin damage. This will not work for everyone. Obviously, every person is different. Some need to go to a dermatologist and get a prescription. But, if you have a mild or new and random skin situation, and you are trying things out, why not give the gluten-free thing a try?

There are times when I catch a glimpse of my face, and I remember the way it used to be. It was horrible. I definitely learned about how our appearances and the absence of things that are often taken for granted (like good skin) can affect how we feel in dramatic ways. It was not an easy road; it still isn’t. Some people say they would never give up eating something to look or feel better.

We all make choices. Some choices mean sacrifice and inconvenience. I made my choice though, and it works for me. So, I’ll be stickin’ to it.

“I see health as a journey, not a destination. It’s ever-changing because if you’re not growing you’re dying–in every area of your life. My goal is to always move toward being better.” Maria Menounos for Shape Magazine, October 2014.

See for yourself:

May 2014

May 2014

July 2014

July 2014

Three words: Praise the Lord.

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2 thoughts on “Skin Deep

  1. Wow! The transformation is absolutely remarkable! I too have been struggling with acne in the similar spots of my face and honestly it’s been a struggle to try to pile on makeup and pretend everything was okay. Many people say to just start taking the pill but I personally believe that that isn’t a true solution–just a temporary and-aid.
    I’ve had experiences with being vegan for a bit and one of the reasons why I quit was because of social issues. I never realized that many of the things we do socially revolve around food and I just couldnt handle being the girl who could never eat anything.
    Going gluten free means I’ll have to go back to those social situations and I don’t know I’m ready for that. But I really really want to resolve my skin issues for good. I’ve been praying and praying for the best possible solution for me though, so I must keep an open mind about all methods. I guess if I do need to go gluten free, it’ll spark up more of these past issues I’ll need to work through lol.
    Anyways, you’re skin looks amazing! Thank you so much for sharing your story. I am so grateful to be able to see other people heal their acne in a natural way so that one day I can too. 🙂

    • Hi! Thank you for reading my story. It is really hard to deal with skin issues. I understand. I was vegan until I went gluten free. I had to pick one or the other because it was really hard to eat out at all. While it’s difficult, it is definitely worth it. And steering clear from dairy is always a good idea when it comes to trying to heal acne. While I am not strictly vegan anymore, I still avoid dairy.
      One thing I have learned is that our skin is constantly changing, and I am still making adjustments and experimenting with certain things.
      I truly hope you are able to find something that works for you. In the end, all good things take work and sacrifice. We just have to figure out what we are willing to do for what we want. I believe our diets are the root of a lot of ailments. Our skin is our biggest organ and it requires a lot of care. Everyone is different! Wishing you a healthy holiday season!!

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