Getting Vulnerable: My Skin Struggles

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When people stop by my booth at a pop-up event or meet me and hear about my business, one of the first things they do is scrutinize my hair and skin. Of course, I get it - after all, I'm selling hair and skincare products - but sometimes it can make a lady feel uncomfortable. Because the reality is, even though I stand behind my products and I know that they work, my skin is not 100% perfect, 100% of the time. Far from it.

As a teenager, I had mild acne that I was guilty of picking at (though luckily I don't have scarring). I was horrible at allowing my skin what it needed to heal. I used an adapalene-based topical treatment for several years after seeing a dermatologist. In college and grad school, I had an occasional mild breakout, but nothing bad by any stretch of the imagination.

Things with my skin started shifting when I had a blood clot (DVT) related to my PICC line for IV antibiotic treatment for my Lyme disease. You see, I was on an estrogen-based birth control pill from age 16 to 25, and it seemed to be keeping things kosher with my face. Once I had the DVT, I was no longer allowed to take any kind of estrogen because of its pro-clotting effect. The combination of coming off IV antibiotics (which definitely affected my skin microbiome - though the dermatologist didn't seem to agree or understand 🙄) and switching to the Depo shot at the same time made my skin go crazy. I was breaking out a lot in my T-zone, including deep, painful pimples. The dermatologist prescribed Finacea, and while I love its active ingredient, azelaic acid, I did not love the other ingredients. That's why I developed our Clear Skin Potion - it's a super clean version of Finacea that harnesses the power of azelaic acid. And when I told the dermatologist that I recently switched to Depo, she told me that was the worst birth control offender for causing breakouts, and encouraged me to switch to an IUD.

Bright Body IUD hormonal birth control

Fast forward a few months, I decided to take the jump to a low-dose progesterone IUD since I wasn't a good candidate for the copper IUD. Aside from insertion being horrible (hello worst cramps ever), I was feeling optimistic that the IUD would help my skin calm down.

What the dermatologist didn't tell me - or didn't know - is that one of the most common side effects of the progesterone IUD is...acne. I saw only small changes in my skin on the IUD versus the shot, and over time I started having more and more trouble with my IUD - cramping 3-4 days per week, trouble falling asleep, trouble feeling awake and alert in the morning, low libido, headaches, anxiety, and more. After 10 months with my IUD, I decided to have it pulled in late March 2018. Now I'm using the Natural Cycles app.

[super important and relevant note: I do NOT judge anyone for their birth control decisions. I recognize and respect that the advent & availability of birth control is largely responsible for the entrance of women into the workforce in large numbers, therefore contributing to women's economic independence and women's liberation. Whether you use the pill, the shot, the patch, the implant, or natural methods, you have GOT to do what's right for you. Hell, if I never had a DVT I would probably still be on the estrogen pill. But alas, my body did not like the progesterone-only options and the Natural Cycles app felt most appropriate for me at this stage of my life]

My wonderful friends and aestheticians at Luna Aesthetics & Spa warned me that it could take up to two years for my skin to detox and reset itself off the IUD. My wonderful acupuncturist, Dr. Maegan Hodge of Centered Richmond Acupuncture & Wellness, prescribed some custom Chinese herbs to help the detox process, and Cat Schecter, one of the ladies of Luna, recommended this blog post about nutritional guidance while detoxing off hormonal birth control. I was feeling optimistic about detoxing faster than the average bear off hormonal birth control.

Things went pretty well for the first few months, with a few minor breakouts here and there. And then, my last period was SUPER early and since then my hormones have been unamused. After my most recent facial, my face has been purging and I feel strongly that there's also some hormonal imbalances going on given my suddenly irregular cycle.

I get facials with Cat ever 6 weeks and I've been using the Clarifying Toner (instead of my usual, the Hydrating Toner) & Clear Skin Potion, and they are absolutely improving my skin, but I've still got some acne and clogged pores going on. The reality is that detoxing off an IUD takes time and patience, and while there are certainly things you can do to ease that process (e.g. good diet, good home skincare, regular facials), there's no way to skip it entirely.

I say all of this to tell you - even us skincare entrepreneurs have our skin insecurities! Sometimes I feel like I "can't" ever have any problems with my skin, for fear that people won't believe in my products or my brand if I have even one blemish. But that's just not realistic. I'm human, so of course I have my own imperfections and insecurities. 

It's my hope that my transparency helps you trust Bright Body products more, not less, than before. I developed these products out of my own desire to find natural solutions to skincare that works. Although I'm not always happy with my skin, I am more than happy with the products I've developed and the feedback I've received from people like you!

Until next time,

Gabi Day

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