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My Skincare And Wellness Supplement Routine

small coloured powder piles

After last month’s article all about how I use supplements as part of my skincare routine (here), I decided it was time to share exactly what I use and why. Like skincare, I fully believe that supplemental therapy is very personal, but there are so many vitamins, minerals, herbs and plants to choose from that it can be very confusing and overwhelming. I wanted to explain my routine in the hopes that it will help anyone out there experiencing the same health issues or skin concerns that I am.

My supplement routine revolves around three key linked elements that I believe are essential for overall wellness and healthy skin. I aim to support the gut and liver, balance my hormones and reduce inflammation. Generally most women (and even men) could benefit from focusing on these three areas as modern life can really have an affect on all of them. Things like stress, an unbalanced diet, lack of sleep and not enough exercise have really been taking a toll on my health this year and the supplements I take have helped support my body from the inside out.

As I said in my previous article, one of the most important things to remember when choosing supplements is deciding which delivery method is right for you. For me, after many years of taking supplements in pill or capsule form and not liking the process one bit, I found that switching to liquids or powders has changed everything. It has made things quick, easy and painless and as a result, staying consistent is virtually effortless, which is paramount in order to get the most out of what you’re taking and to see tangible results.

For me, the gut is one of the most important organs in the body and how well it operates can affect our whole body, inside and out. Not only that, how well and how often we “eliminate” the waste from our bodies can make all the difference in our overall wellness and the health of our skin. I also think that without actively looking after your gut, taking vitamins could be a waste of time and money. An unbalanced and improperly functioning gut microbiome usually leads to poor digestion, which means the supplements won’t be absorbed making them useless.

Digestive Enzymes
Digestive enzymes work to break down the different compounds in generally hard to digest foods like dairy, red meat and sugar helping them pass through the gut in the best way. They also help reduce inflammation and could help improve food sensitivities or intolerances. I choose a supplement that focused on my specific food issues and now I find that when I eat foods I previously didn’t digest well, I don’t experience the same negative side effects.

My supplement is a capsule (which I don’t mind in this case) and that is pretty standard for enzymes as many have to be taken around meal times. I keep some in my bag so if I happen to go out for lunch or dinner I won’t forget to take them. So far these are one of the best additions I have made to my supplement routine and I highly recommend trying these if you often experience food sensitivities, bloating, gas/belching or indigestion.

Probiotics
The main benefits of probiotics is their ability to boost the “good” bacteria that will help promote a healthy gut and improve digestion, but that is just the beginning. I have been taking them on and off for years, and now in conjunction with the enzymes I am seeing the best results. I have always had quite a sensitive stomach and probiotics have helped soothe and strengthen my gut microbiome. I have tried capsules, powder and liquid probiotics with different strains and strengths and it’s all about finding the right combination for you.

Glutamine
This is a relatively new supplement for me, but over the past few weeks alone it has made such a big difference. It supports the GI tract, boosts gut cell regeneration, improves gut barrier function and aids gut repair. This is so important for better digestion as well as proper absorption of vitamins from food or supplements. I would recommend starting with this to make sure your gut is healed and ready for everything else. Most glutamine comes in powder form and this is what I use.

Milk Thistle, Turmeric and Glutathione
For liver support my go-to supplements are milk thistle, turmeric and glutathione. These three help reduce inflammation, aid detoxification and support optimal functioning. Not only that, I saw the biggest improvement in my skin when I started supporting my liver and it’s because the body was now properly dealing with waste removal. All three supplements are good for the body and skin, but glutathione has the added benefit of reducing excess melanin production, so it is worth investing in. I cannot stress enough how important it is to take care of your liver. It is the largest internal organ beyond the important “cleansing” role it plays, it also impacts our hormones, which brings me nicely to my next category.

Hormonal Support
Supporting and balancing hormone function has been a big priority for me over the past few years for a number of reasons. They function as the messengers relaying information all over the body, which means it is a big deal when they are imbalanced or disrupted. I started to have hormonal issues in my mid-twenties and even now it is still literally a balancing act (no pun intended) because daily stressors like diet, lack of exercise, sleep and stress can impact how well they function.

Agnus Castus
Known as vitex or chaste berry, this medicinal herb has been key in improving my PMS symptoms and I have recommended it to so many people. I used to take capsules of this for years, but I am currently testing out tinctures to further reduce my pill intake. I cannot recommend this enough and swear by it for better menstrual cycles as well as less hormonal breakouts.

Thyroid Complex
The thyroid is one of the largest hormonal glands and is actually linked to digestion because it “regulates how fast your intestines process food”. When it is not functioning properly you could experience issues like heavy periods, disturbed sleep, fatigue and dry hair. I take a capsule supplement which also contains a mix of nutrients and minerals like iodine, selenium, zinc and olive leaf to support optimal thyroid function and improve my general health.

Vitamin D
Technically more of a hormone than a vitamin, this is important due to the links between chronic illnesses, depression, immune function and cell mutation. When I was at my sickest, test results revealed extremely low levels of vitamin D, so now I use a quick and easy to administer oral spray and I have seen a big difference in my stress management.

Vitamin B Complex
B vitamins are another supplement that provide more than one health benefit. They are involved in the production of hormones, but also release energy from food and support overall health. For example, B2, B6 and B12 work with the liver, Niacin boosts skin health and estrogen metabolism, B5 aids production of steroid hormones and B9 can be mood boosting. I take a liquid form that goes in to water or juice and is quick and easy to swallow.

Magnolia Rhodiola
This adaptogen works on stress reduction by balancing the levels of cortisol (stress hormone) in the body. Magnolia extract and rhodiola rosea work together to lower stress and promote a more calm/relaxed feeling. Reducing stress could help the skin a lot as cortisol can affect other hormones, possibly leading to acne. Not only that, in a roundabout way this supplement is excellent for inflammation because that isone of the effects stress can have on the body. I have been taking this as a capsule for years and it has made a big difference to my skin and mental health.

Inflammation Reduction
For many years I had no idea what inflammation really meant or why it was so important to reduce the levels in my body. When I used to think of inflammation I typically imagined angry red spots or back/head pain as seen in typical pain medicine ads. I never realised that inflammation could be occurring all over my body, affecting everything from digestion, menstrual issues and general wellness. I also never really paid attention to how the foods I ate either increased or decreased inflammation. Now I know better and believe that reducing inflammation is vitally important for long lasting great health and skin.

Omega 3
I have been taking some form of Omega 3 for years and can personally attest to how well they can work for the skin and general wellness. When I used to suffer from cystic or stubborn hormonal breakouts this supplement helped so much to calm everything down quickly. I saw my blemishes heal better and over time I actually stopped breaking out with the same level of severity and frequency. I am now taking a liquid Omega 3 form and if liquid oil supplements make you gag then opt for the traditional gel capsules. This is one of my top three vitamins that I recommend to everyone, especially for healthy skin.

Turmeric
This ancient Ayurvedic medicine has been used in India for many years as a fabric dye, in food and drinks and as a natural remedy to a variety of ailments, and I take it for the powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits it provides the body. I feel like this just helps me to feel well and especially when it comes to my digestive system I find there is less uncomfortableness and pain. There are many ways you can incorporate this potent supplement depending on if you like the taste or how much you want to take. I have an oral spray and that works very well for me as turmeric isn’t my favourite spice.

This year I have finally found my “groove” with supplemental therapy and now actually enjoy this previously gag-inducing step in my routine. That alone is a very meaningful change to me because I genuinely feel good about what I am doing. I know this might seem like a lot to take, but for me my health is my number one priority that I would much rather invest in over topical products.

What I use is just a tiny tip of the iceberg and there are many more great ingredients out there and it’s all about finding what’s right for you. As always, please do your research and talk to a doctor before starting on any supplements. It’s what I did and I feel so much more informed and confident in my choices. Shabir is also a wealth of knowledge and besides having already written about every supplement here, he has also written about almost every health concern under the sun.

Of course, the most ideal way to take care of your skin and health is through a well rounded diet full of colourful, fibrous and vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables, while limiting inflammation causing and stomach upsetting (for some and most definitely me) foods like red meat, dairy, sugar and grains. Pretty straightforward in theory, but not always easy to stick to even with the best of intentions, which is where supplements like a good multi-vitamin (which I also take in liquid form) comes in.

I know that a full supplement routine can be expensive to maintain, but compromised health isn’t cheap either. If I was to recommend one area to start with I would say any of the digestive support supplements because the gut really does influence just about everything and a healthy gut can be the first step to overall wellness. There are lots of other things you can do too like get more sleep and exercise, work on your diet, drink plenty of water and practice self-care. Supplements are just one way to improve your health and skin.

How Supplements Became The Best Step In My Skincare Routine

spoon of fruit and vegetables

After my health issues a few years ago it became pretty obvious that what was happening on my skin had a lot to do with what was going on inside my body. In fact, how my skin changed was the first sign that something was wrong, although I did not realize this at the time. As my health deteriorated, my skin progressively got worse until I felt like I looked just as badly as I was feeling (which was pretty awful). The funny thing is, I remember being obsessed with fixing my skin and wasted so much time and money on products and treatments when what I needed to do was focus on my health – the root cause of my skin problems.

 

My discovery of how important supplements can be for the skin happened completely by accident. In order to avoid surgery to remove a large cyst I began researching alternative medicines and from there I learned about the different vitamins, minerals and herbal remedies that would help me naturally balance my hormones, support the digestive system and lower my stress levels. The supplements I began taking had nothing to do with the skin as far as I was concerned, but a very happy “side effect” I started to notice after a couple of months was that my skin was improving, all without having any kind of skincare routine.

 

That’s when I realized that for many of us skincare junkies out there, products can only do so much and to really care for our skin we need to look after our bodies as a whole. For me that included taking my supplements, but also eating well (things like sugar, dairy, meat and grains really upset my stomach), regular exercise, plenty of rest, less stress and more mindfulness. Basically, all the boring things we know we need to do, but often find it difficult to make time for these days. I ultimately made a complete lifestyle shift with my supplements at the centre of it all and the difference in how I felt and looked was like night and day.

 

Despite all this, once I was well enough to get back to my normal life I was quick to forget everything I had learned. Ridiculous, I know, but I think I rushed my recovery because I felt like I had wasted so much time being ill and I just wanted to move on from it all. It was a dark time for me and instead of seeing the things I had done to get well as a new way of life to stay that way, I saw them as a reminder of how sick I had been. Over the years I eventually stopped doing everything, even taking supplements. As a result, about six years later I am dealing with the same issue again, which brings me to my current round of supplement therapy.

 

I thought it was important to finally share my experiences with supplements and talk about my current journey because I know that in general most people are quite skeptical of them and I was too. Even after I had seen how well they had worked for me I still doubted if they had really had an effect. I wondered if they were just giving me “expensive pee”, but after tracking my health and skin with supplements alone, only using skincare products and just exercise and healthy eating, as well as different combinations of these things, I know that supplements make a difference for me and that they are worth trying.

 

Currently I am focusing on reducing inflammation, repairing my gut and balancing my hormones. As I have said many times, I believe inflammation is the root cause of pretty much every issue with the body and skin and in my experience it affects and is linked to my digestive and reproductive health. I am also working on improving cellular waste/toxin removal, which I hope will help my issue resolve itself without any surgical intervention. As for my skin, the biggest concerns I am trying to address are dullness, hyperpigmentation and inflammation, which the supplements I am taking have already begun to help with.

 

Even though supplements are very personal and it’s important to tailor them to your own specific needs and issues, there are a few that I think pretty much everyone could benefit from for overall health and good skin. The main supplement that I have felt and seen the most improvement from are digestive enzymes/probiotics. These are the staples in my supplement regime and sort of form the basis for general good health because without proper gut function you’ll likely not be able to absorb and reap the full benefits of any vitamins you take, as well as the food you are eating. Not only that, more and more research and studies are coming out that show just how important it is to look after our gut and many issues, especially with the skin, could be a result of conditions like leaky gut (Shabir has written about that more here) or gut bacteria related food sensitivities. 

 

Once you have taken care of your gut you can move on to tackling specific issues and even when it comes to the skin there is pretty much a supplement for everything. If inflammation (internal and/or external) or acne (especially cystic) is a chronic issue for you then try Omega 3. It has worked really well for me over the years and helped reduce the size and frequency of the cystic acne I was getting the first time I was ill. Another good supplement for the skin is zinc, which helped my blemishes heal quicker by improving wound healing and boosting my immune system.

 

If like me pigmentation or dullness is an issue then check out Glutathione, which not only works to reduce melanin production, but also supports the liver and kidneys (also great for the skin). If you find that your skin is affected by your menstrual cycle then try Agnus Castus, which has worked wonders for me and many of my female family members and friends. Stress management is also extremely important for your skin and overall health. If you find you frequently suffer from feeling anxious, low mood or mood swings then something like Rhiodola Rosea can help reduce the levels of cortisol in the body. This hormone affects how we respond to stress, but it also impacts our skin, which is why we often get blemishes during stressful times.

 

All these supplements have been written about extensively on here by the extremely knowledgeable and incredibly helpful Shabir and I encourage you to read up on any issue you are having because it’s likely you will find a way to deal with them through supplement therapy like I did. As many of you will know, I found my way to Victoria Health thanks to googling alternative ways to help with my cyst and the supplements I bought as a result of reading Shabir’s articles were why I was able to get well without conventional medicine or surgery.

 

I know that taking supplements probably seems less exciting and more of a hassle than using a face mask or getting a facial, but for me (and I am sure many of you), what is happening on my skin is just a symptom of something else going on in my body. Skincare products can help a lot, but only to a point and what I have found is that by taking a 360 approach to my health and including supplements as part of my skincare routine my skin is way more calm and balanced, even when I barely use anything on it like I have been for the past few weeks.

 

Of course, like everything (but especially all things beauty/skin related) supplements are extremely personal and there is no one magic pill that will cure everything, nor is there one perfect regime that will work for everyone. It’s all about what your body needs and the right combination and dosage to get the best results. Even so, I truly believe that if you are dealing with persistent health or skin issues then supplements could be worth investing in over an expensive serum or “miracle” cream.

 

Being that this is a health and wellness platform, I know a vast majority of VH readers are dedicated supplement users, but if you are a newbie then there are some guidelines that can help. First and foremost, there are many factors that go in to what supplements to take (age, sex, lifestyle, medication, allergies, contradictions etc), so it is very important that you do as much research as possible and consult your doctor. Shabir has written thousands of articles and those are a great place to start. The first time I discovered them I was reading until the sun came up and it was the first time I felt truly empowered in my illness.

 

Next, like skincare it’s all about finding what works for you and that also includes how the supplements will be administered. I have found that I pretty much hate the feeling of swallowing pills or capsules and have now focused on liquid/spray supplements from brands like Biocare, BetterYou and LivOn Labs in my regime. By doing this I now actually enjoy taking my supplements and again like with skincare products, great ingredients can only work if you actually use them. 

 

Not only that, in the same way that you have to stay consistent with your skincare products to see the best results, the same goes for your supplements. I usually start to feel a difference within a month (what my period is like is generally a good indicator) and see results around the 10-12 week mark. I would also recommend starting slowly (just like you wouldn’t start using too many products at once) and documenting how you feel day-to-day.. Right now I am taking all the supplements mentioned and a few more that I will explain in more detail on my blog to share my journey.

 

For some of you simple changes like switching to a non-drying cleanser, or incorporating a retinol product will be all you need to see a difference in your skin, but for others the issues are more than skin deep and need to be addressed from the inside out. Sometimes our skin can act like a mirror reflecting what’s going on internally and if you find that you have the same recurring issues or can never quite get a handle on your skin then incorporating supplements could be the best step your skincare routine has been missing out on.

 

Is Social Media Bringing Out The Worst In You?

heart keychain on barbed wire

I have thought about this question a lot this year and have come to the conclusion that for many of us the answer is yes. Now, before anyone gets offended by that, there is zero judgement coming from me and when I say ‘worst’, I’m talking about everything from feeling depressed and anxious because of what you’re seeing online to interactions that are nothing more than bullying. I am also including myself in this observation because aside from a couple of missteps along the way, I also could not be less interested in social media right now because of what’s going on. Read More…

The Boring Truth About My Skin (And Probably Yours)

cream tub

Ever notice how when your skin is freaking out, you pare back your routine to the bare minimum? Like me, you probably cut out strong actives such as acids and retinol, up the hydration and stick to only three-five products (or less) in a routine. Sound familiar? It is something I think almost everyone does instinctively and there’s a good reason for it – this is what our skin really wants from us.

While it has become increasingly popular to acquire lots of products and perform up to ten steps per routine, most of us could very easily use way less and have better skin for it. Boring, I know, but it’s a truth I have finally accepted about my skin and it has made such a big difference. Read More…

Arly’s Favourite Skincare Buys

syrup spoon

After thoroughly enjoying the first ever VH Awards in the epic and highly entertaining December newsletter, I have been itching to share my favourite skincare buys from last year. Despite everything that happened throughout 2017, there was one thing I could count on for a much welcomed distraction Read More…

28,000 Retweets Later: Letting Go and Looking Forward

arly-jan-18

Looking back over the past twelve months I can safely say that 2017 ended up being one of the most challenging years I can remember and sadly I know I am not the only one who feels this way. Like many of you, I have lost loved ones, there have been a few close call accidents, my health has suffered and overall I just haven’t felt like me. The year was so emotional and stressful for so many different reasons and I am disappointed to say I let 2017 get the best of me. It’s not something I am proud of, but it’s the truth. I feel like it quite literally and figuratively drained the life out of me, but I refuse to let that happen in 2018.

Without a doubt the things that have happened last year have not been trivial. 2017 was an overwhelmingly tragic year full of once in a lifetime natural disasters like the recent California fires or any of the hurricanes that hit around the world, devastating global events such as the Rohingya crisis, numerous heartbreaking terrorist attacks, the terrifying rise of white supremacy and the recent #METOO sexual abuse and harassment revelations, among so many other issues that I can barely keep track of at this point. I feel like we are living in crazy times where the moral fabric of society and humanity is being ripped apart and I don’t know what to do, nor how to carry on as “normal”. Read More…