This past summer I went to rehab. Acupuncture Skin Rehab to be exact. I was looking for a holistic solution to my chronic problems with acne and scarring. I found one, and it worked. But it wasn’t at all what I imagined. Going into treatment I thought my skin was the one and only problem. I learned that it went far beyond that. To finally achieve clear, beautiful skin I had to heal my gut and digestive system, and deal with my emotional anxiety that was getting in my way.
This is a diary of my journey……
Part 1 – My Skin Has Had It
I’ve always had problems with my skin: oily, enlarged pores and constant breakouts. As a model this is pretty much the worst thing. It’s painful and embarrassing, and has held me back in my work. I’ve tried everything from peels, to micro-dermabrasion, to Pro-active. But it wasn’t until I was given heavy doses of antibiotics for months at a time that I saw results. I knew that antibiotics would take a toll on my body but I didn’t care. I needed my skin to look better, and I didn’t think I had other options. I chose to sacrifice my health within so that I could be acceptable at the surface… that’s the honest truth and an interesting metaphor for me to understand as I later come to understand.
In the beginning they really worked. I’d never seen my skin look that good before. I had no scars and no blemishes anywhere. My pores were still big and I was still oily, but the breakouts stopped and that was what I cared about. After about 6 months of taking the antibiotics, I also started to explore a more holistic lifestyle. I changed my diet by spontaneously becoming pescatarian and even became super aware of the products I used. I started caring more about being sustainable, natural and more conscious and within months things really started to shift.
The crazy thing about antibiotics is that after being on them for a few months, they stopped working as effectively. So I went back to my dermatologist and she increased my dosage, plus added topical creams to my treatment – which if I didn’t have insurance would be expensive as hell (i.e. $900 a bottle). At one point I was on the highest daily dose of antibiotics that is considered safe. I took them consistently for over 4 months, which even I was aware is a really long time. I remember being in my kitchen one day looking at my bottle of antibiotics and I just couldn’t take them anymore. So I went cold turkey and threw them out. I started to look for a more holistic approach. My dermatologist was always telling me that my pores would never get smaller, that’s just the way they were. She insisted that antibiotics were the only way. She had no real long term answers. But I knew there had to be more than what she was telling me.
That’s when I reached out to Sandra Lanshin Chiu – an acupuncturist and owner of a beautiful wellness studio in Brooklyn called Treatment by Lanshin. I emailed to ask her if she could treat acne and skin problems. Not only was her answer yes, absolutely – she had just launched a Skin Rehab program that was all about using acupuncture, herbs and other natural ways to heal skin from the inside out. Even within the first email, she suspected that something was off with my stress levels and digestion, which was throwing off my hormones. After all I had been through, this sounded the most on target of everything I had tried and I couldn’t wait to get started