My Journey with Autoimmune Disorders: Embracing the Power of Natural Skincare
As we try to gracefully age, our skin requires extra care, especially for people with autoimmune disorders like me. The impact of these conditions can manifest on the skin, causing dryness, sensitivity, and inflammation. For me, diet and natural skincare became a crucial ally. By harnessing the power of nature's ingredients and avoiding harmful chemicals, my skin started getting back to normal (or for me a new normal).
In my late 20s I noticed that I wasn’t feeling myself. I was tired all the time, developing extremely dry skin, my stomach was constantly in a state of upset and I was experiencing hot flashes and heart palpitations. I felt much older than I should be. I went to the doctor and at the age of 29 was diagnosed with two autoimmune diseases – Graves and Hashimotos. This sent me down a rabbit hole. I started reading everything I could, which in the mid to late 90s was not a lot. Naively, I thought that having my thyroid eradicated with radiation would “cure” me and that I would no longer have these conditions. Not so true and that’s when I turned to lifestyle changes as I struggled with maintaining a consistently stable thyroid.
I first started taking a hard look at my diet as a vehicle for fueling my body rather than “being on a diet”. It was simple, eat real food. I had (and still have) a pretty significant sweet tooth, so no more sugary cereal or microwave popcorn and red licorice as a regular meal option. The other thing that came up in blood work is that I have one of the markers for Celiac and so I removed all foods containing the gluten protein from my diet to try and give my immune system a break.
It wasn’t until about 2007 that I thought about personal care products. After learning about potential endocrine disrupting chemicals, I made the decision to remove them. Which meant the majority of my skincare and makeup products had to go. And as a makeup junkie this was extremely hard. This is what ultimately led me to making something for myself. I’m picky so my focus was on scent, texture and ingredients that soothed my super dry skin.
Understanding Autoimmune Disorders and Their Effect on the Skin
Autoimmune disorders are chronic conditions where the body's immune system mistakenly attacks its own tissues. This can lead to a variety of symptoms, including inflammation, fatigue, joint pain, and skin problems. For woman with autoimmune disorders, these skin issues can be particularly distressing, as the skin's natural resilience and elasticity start to decline.
The Power of Natural Ingredients
Natural skincare products are formulated with ingredients derived from plants, fruits, and other organic sources. These ingredients offer numerous benefits, including nourishment, hydration, and protection for skin. For women in their 50s with autoimmune disorders (hello, me), the avoidance of harsh chemicals is paramount. Natural ingredients, such as plum seed oil, glycerin, sea buckthorn, avocado, Swedish algae, and camellia are renowned for their soothing, and antioxidant properties. These ingredients can help reduce redness and calm skin, all while providing much-needed moisture and rejuvenation.
Gentle Cleansing and Hydration
A gentle cleansing routine is vital for maintaining the health and balance of mature skin affected by autoimmune disorders. Natural cleansers, free from sulfates and synthetic fragrances, are less likely to cause irritation and dryness.
Hydration is equally essential. Natural moisturizers can replenish the skin's moisture barrier, promoting elasticity and reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. These natural hydrators help the skin retain moisture and create a protective barrier against environmental aggressors, which is especially beneficial for individuals with autoimmune disorders.
For me, this is my KG System with the addition of the Vitamin C Serum. The Essential Cleansing Oil is a gentle oil-based cleanser that cleans without stripping the skin. Our Hydrating Duo is our moisturizer. Packed with skin-loving ingredients full of antioxidants, vitamins and essential fatty acids, this duo naturally hydrates and moisturizes skin. The Vitamin C Serum is cushiony and moisturizing. This antioxidant rich step in my morning routine helps mitigate the UV and environmental damage that comes with life.
Protection from Harmful UV Rays
The sun's UV rays can exacerbate skin problems for individuals with autoimmune disorders. Natural sunscreen products (i.e., mineral-based) with zinc oxide like our Essential SPF and Essential Tinted SPF provide effective broad-spectrum protection without the use of endocrine disruptors found in many conventional sunscreens. Applying a natural sunscreen with sufficient SPF every day is crucial for shielding the skin from UV damage and minimizing the risk of flare-ups and further skin sensitivity.
Holistic Approach to Skincare
Beyond external care, a holistic approach to skincare is essential. Prioritizing a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet, regular exercise, and stress management, can greatly improve overall well-being and support healthy skin from within. Adequate hydration, less alcohol consumption (I know, I know), whole foods and a good night's sleep also play significant roles in maintaining skin health.
As someone living with autoimmune disorders, it’s important that I balance. Yes, I do still enjoy a red licorice here or there and even a glass of mezcal. And yes, not every night’s sleep is tranquil. The difference as I age is that it takes longer for my body to recover, especially my skin. Which is why no matter how I might fall off the food and drink wagon I always stay firmly hitched to my skin care.
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