Part of my ongoing battle with celiac disease includes a series of skin sensitivities and conditions. While I thankfully have yet to experience continual skin side effects like eczema or psoriasis, I’ve had a few acute skin freak-outs that rank in the top five worst experiences of my life. One occurred last spring when, out of basically nowhere, clusters of pus-filled cysts appeared on the whole of my scalp. They hurt like cystic pimples and when they drained (sorry, gross—if you have a weak stomach, stop reading), they bled, scabbed and then itched like chicken pox. The cycle concluded with the healed pustules flaking off in small sheets, like a sunburn.
I couldn’t lay my head down on a pillow to sleep, they were so painful. If anything touched my scalp, however gently, I’d howl like a puppy who’s just had his tail stepped on. I had a constant, throbbing headache that made doing any sort of work-related tasks nearly impossible. And, to top it all off, my hair started falling out as my scalp flaked off. I still have a small bald spot above my right ear.
After my nothing my naturopath tried worked, I took my first round of antibiotics in more than six years, as prescribed by a dermatologist who was less interested in finding out what had caused the cysts, than he was in getting rid of them (that’s another story, for another time). I was sleep-deprived and desperate for anything to alleviate the pain and rid my head of this attack. And the antibiotics (plus the plethora of supplements I took to counter-balance the negative side effects of the prescription) did both of those things.
During all of this, I felt incredibly helpless. Usually, multiple trips to my naturopath, rounds of supplements and some topical product pulled from my stash of skincare at least makes a small dent in my symptoms. This time, none of my tried and true tricks worked (though Hope Gillerman’s Tension Remedy, which I mentioned as a tool to combat getting glutened, sort of saved my life during nights when the pain kept me awake—that little bottle is a miracle worker).
So, I started trying a few DIY hair and scalp oils to simultaneously help heal my head and promote some hair regrowth. Here’s the one that I use even now as a pre-bath or overnight treatment to help clear away some of the flakes I still have (yep, things are still a little dicey) and to stimulate hair growth.
DIY Hair and Scalp Treatment
- 2 oz. oil (I’ve used a few different kinds here, depending on the day, the severity of my itchiness/dryness and how many times I want to shampoo to remove it. Castor oil is antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory, plus its high concentration of fatty acids makes it great for increasing circulation to your scalp, which can be soothing, and promoting hair growth. It’s just THICK and takes a few shampoos to remove. Sweet almond oil is nourishing and smoothing, helps promote silky hair and is high in monounsaturated and saturated fatty acids, which help moisturize from the root out. Olive oil is incredibly moisturizing, and an emollient, so it penetrates your hair really well. It also contains antioxidants that protect hair from free radicals—great for lackluster or aging hair. Coconut oil is always a great choice for its antibactierial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory, cooling properties. Plus, it’s rich in lauric acid and other fatty acids that strengthen hair.)
- 2-3 drops rosemary essential oil (It stimulates hair growth, boosts mental activity and reduces pain—all important for me in this process.)
- 2-3 drops tea tree essential oil (It’s anti-viral, antibacterial, anti-fungal, treats dandruff and can help curb hair loss.)
- 2-3 drops basil essential oil (I’ve used this to help treat headaches and muscle pain, plus it’s antibacterial and has a refreshing aromatherapeutic effect).
- Add your EOs to your carrier oil of choice, either in a bottle with a squeeze cap or in a small bowl. Mix well.
- Section off your hair (kind of like when you sprinkle in dry shampoo) and apply directly to scalp. I like to dip an old foundation brush into the mixture and paint it on my scalp to avoid a giant mess.
- Massage your scalp gently, in circular motions, for at least 30 seconds.
- Run your fingers through your hair to distribute extra oil from scalp to strands. Add more oil to your hair shaft if you want a full hair treatment.
- Leave on for at least 20 minutes, but overnight if you want (sleep with a shower cap on or put an old towel on your pillow case to avoid oil stains)
- Rinse out and gently remove oil by shampooing (once or twice, depending on how oily your strands were)
Have you tried a DIY hair or scalp treatment like this one? What works for you to treat scalp conditions?
Who doesn’t want a peek at an esthetician’s morning routine, especially when natural beauty products are involved? Enjoy these tips from a NMDL reader and skin buff in North Carolina!
City: Charlotte, North Carolina
Weather: It’s one of those romantic Autumn days, which are so rare here: gentle rain inspires leaves to fall down, cool breeze coming through the window.
Hair: shoulder-length, highlighted , fine
Skin: pale, acne prone, sensitive (my skin is confusing, really)
Star: Princess Diana
I am a free-lance esthetician, so its rare that I have a busy schedule. Usually I get enough time for my beauty sleep and an opportunity to wake up, meditate, and start my day with “This is a glorious day and every experience is a joyful adventure! I choose to feel good!” That’s my mantra. Then I brush my teeth with my favorite, Honest Company toothpaste. It’s absolutely free of sulfates, saccharine, fluoride, artificial colors and sweeteners, and parabens.
Then I take a shower with Honest Company soap. I’m absolutely in love with this brand. The products are pure, effective and gentle. Then I wash my hair with the, yes, of course, Honest Company Shampoo and Body wash, followed by the Honest Company Conditioner. I used to use John Masters Organics hair products and they are absolutely incredible, but since I ordered the Honest Company bundle, it seemed like a good idea to use their shampoo and conditioner as well. When I get out of the shower I like to use one of 100%Pure body moisturizers, or if it’s chilly outside and my skin craves extra oils, I mix Honest Company Body Face and Body Cream ( it doesn’t really have any scent to it) with one of the Pratima body oils. Oh. I can’t say enough about the Pratima Skincare line. Those oils smell divine! They hydrate, heal, and just love your skin. I have all of them, and I choose to ignore the fact that they actually created for different skin needs: for sensitive, oily and dry. I can’t resist the scent. It’s all absolutely hand-made, natural, organic. Zero preservatives!
My skincare changes from time to time. As an esthetician I’m very open to the new products in the holistic skincare market, always excited to try something new. Right now I find it very effective for my acne prone skin to use Pratima purifying essential oils for acne skin (my skin just soaks them in — so lovely, no oiliness, nothing left), followed by my absolute favorite Bee Yummy Skinfood moisturizer by Live Live. This product is sensational. It contains all raw and organic honey, honey cappings, bee pollen, propolis, St. John’s wort oil, and royal jelly. You see, it’s a food for your skin. I always remember that it takes 26 seconds after the application for the skincare product to enter your blood stream. So, what you put on yourself, becomes a building foundation of your own body. My eye cream is Rejuvenating Gold by Pratima. So is my Neem Healing Face Mask and a Turmeric Mask. I love them!
Sometimes I feel like making my own mask, so I just mix raw honey with the oatmeal and some lemon juice, and that becomes my face and body mask. From time to time I like to use some perfume, so Lotus Wei makes wonderful ones. And, I always remember to use their magical flower elixirs. They changed the way I feel about life.
Then I go do some yoga. If the class is going to be hot, I do my skincare routine after I come home and shower again. After my yoga class I remember to put my Omega slow juicer to use and make a full of life and energy apple-lemon-turmeric (excellent blood cleaner) and celery juice. When I feel like a liver cleanse is needed, I add some dandelion.
And that is my morning. The only difference in the evening is that I love to use the Pratima Turmeric Mask as a night cream. It’s very healing and rejuvenating, but it’s very orange, so I don’t have to worry that I look like a pumpkin.
Your turn! Share what you love in the comments, and send your Morning Routine to firstname.lastname@example.org!
You know how you get stuck on a daily makeup look? It’s just enough to look polished for work, school, or whatever and you can practically do it in your sleep, right? Yeah, me too. However simple or lavish your makeup routine, there’s an easy thing you can do to bring out your eyes and appear more polished and awake than you may actually feel. Can’t ask for much more than that.
Maybe you wear concealer or foundation under your eyes, maybe you don’t. I use it pretty conservatively, and I stopped blending it all the way up to my lower lash line because it tends to settle in fine lines right there. Trouble is, the skin closest to the lash line can often look red. Evening that area out can help you look more fresh-faced. So what do you do when concealer isn’t a great option but you’re not into red dragon eyes? I finally figured it out, thanks to Suzy Gerstein, makeup artist extraordinaire. She shared some tips with me a few months ago, and this one took my makeup game from daily grind to jump back, I wanna kiss myself. Plus, it’s so simple and takes zero skill.
Use a small, tapered smudge brush to line your lower eyelid with bronzer. Yes! Bronzer! Right underneath your lower lashes. Blend a little. It conceals any redness and defines your eyes in a soft-focus, smoky-daytime kind of way.
A tapered smudge brush makes application a cinch, but you can even use a cotton swab or your pinky. If I’m traveling and don’t have a bronzer on hand, I use a light brow powder or eye shadow. Mineral powders tend to have great tenacity, so the look lasts way longer than any application of concealer. This is really tough to screw up and never looks harsh. Even if I woke up tomorrow to find the most perfect concealer on earth waiting inside my makeup bag, I would still opt for this look. It just makes me feel a little more put together.
Do you have a favorite makeup trick that you return to over and over? Share!
Let’s be honest. When we heard that Marie Veronique Organics was splitting into two companies, we panicked a little bit. Consolation came quickly when we learned that the Pacific line would continue on with the same delightful and effective formulas, just under a new company — True Nature Botanicals. Headed by Hillary Peterson, the former CEO of Marie Veronique Organics, True Nature Botanicals offers results, not toxins.
While True Nature Botanicals has a long list of products we love, including one of the best smelling body oils of all time, the Pacific Vitamin C Treatment and Pacific Night Serum with Retinol are two NMDL not-so-secret weapons in our quest for great skin. Siobhan wrote about her love for the gentle but effective Night Serum with Retinol, and Rebecca — queen of vitamin C and brightening treatments — has the biggest crush on the Pacific Vitamin C Treatment. As with all things we love, we want to share with you via this Friday Deal!
True Nature Botanicals is giving No More Dirty Looks readers a FREE, FULL-SIZE Topical Vitamin C Treatment ($60 value) when you order the Night Serum with Retinol. Just use the code NMDLREPAIR at checkout, and you’ll be taken care of. The promotion ends Monday, October 20 at 11:59 pm PST. International orders welcome.
Want to know more about bouncing back from summertime skin damage? We were delighted to see Hillary’s article about repairing skin damage in the Huffington Post recently. We also featured Hillary’s morning routine this summer. You’ll find great tips in both!
Did we mention that True Nature Botanicals makes incredible solid natural perfumes? We’ve got a little giveaway for you in a few weeks, so stayed tuned.
Have you tried either the Night Serum with Retinol or the Topical Vitamin C Treatment? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
Over the course of the last seven years, I’ve been in a battle with my body. What started as debilitating stomachaches morphed into migraines, weird rashes, multiple types of belly pain, bloating, cramping, nausea and general uncomfortableness.
Waking up every day, I didn’t know which symptoms I’d have, how they’d impact my work day or my social commitments or how to cope.
Doctor after doctor gave me inconclusive diagnoses and shoved me full of prescription acid-blockers. I was told to go on the BRAT (bananas, rice, applesauce and toast) diet whenever my symptoms arose, and after extensive testing, including an upper endoscopy, MRIs, CAT scans and blood work, I was still left without conclusive results or a treatment plan that didn’t include multiple medicines.
Frustrated and fed up after three years of what felt like no progress, I went to see a nutritionist who specialized in food allergies and sensitivities. She was the first person to suggest that my health problems could be related to what I was eating instead of overactive stomach acid. She took me off of gluten, eggs and dairy, and put me on a strict, six-small-meals-per-day diet. For about a year, I felt better than I had since my cycle of bad health had started. It was exhausting having to plan for so many meals and bring food with me everywhere I went, but I forged ahead, hopeful that my digestion disasters were behind me.
Then, somewhat suddenly, my symptoms reappeared, once again waging war on my daily life. Nine months of seeing a naturopath, a Chinese herbalist and a homeopath, and three full days of more extensive testing at the world-renowned Mayo Clinic later, the only answer I had was that my system was slightly low in B12. Unhelpful and disappointing to say the least.
What I didn’t know at that time was that, though my Mayo doctor had done all the standard Celiac disease testing, he wasn’t aware that in order for a blood test to point to a Celiac disease diagnosis, I had to actually be eating gluten for 8 to 12 weeks before the test. Fail.
It wasn’t until a doctor went back to look at my endoscopy results that my Celiac disease diagnosis was confirmed—and that was less than a year ago. For a while, I was angry with all the doctors I’d seen.
How had no one thought to test me correctly or accurately? Why didn’t anyone tell me about cross-contamination? I’d inadvertently been poisoning myself for nearly seven years and I had no idea.
Now, I’ve spent the months since my official diagnosis mourning the lost years, and learning all that I can about the autoimmune disorder (I highly suggest picking up the book Celiac and the Beast if you’re new to the disease, or just wondering about whether or not you could be intolerant). I’ve adjusted my lifestyle, bought a new toaster and new cutting boards (yes, cross contamination can happen through household items) and declared my home a gluten-free one. The only gluten-ful thing we stock in our house is beer, for my husband.
Why do I tell you all of this, when my headline promised tips on how to recover from getting glutened? Because I was in the dark for so long. Because I read countless articles about going gluten-free and still didn’t understand how to get tested or how to live a truly gluten-free life.
Now, I’m not saying this post is conclusive in all of those realms, but I do want it to be anecdotally comforting. If you’re struggling with any kind of long-term, undiagnosable health issues, you’re not alone. No matter how long it’s been going on, or how hard it’s been for you or how many doctors you’ve seen, don’t give up hope. There are answers out there for you, and though the road to get them is full of detours, speed bumps, crashes and breakdowns, it is ultimately worth it. You won’t always feel this badly.
Even though I’m painfully careful about avoiding gluten at home and at restaurants, no matter where you go (unless it’s this awesome, 100% gluten-free restaurant Susannah and I ate at in Austin), how many questions you ask and how certain your server is that your meal is gluten-free, there’s a chance that eating brunch at a new restaurant will lead to head fogginess, migraines, stomachaches, rashes and general un-wellness.
So how do I cope when I’ve been glutened? Here’s what’s worked best for me:
- I do a one-day juice cleanse.
- I up my probiotic intake to increase the good bacteria in my stomach, which helps soothe and calm things down.
- I pop Tummy Drops in ginger or peppermint to combat acute nausea (and to placate myself).
- I sometimes drink ginger ale. (I know, I know—sugar can make things worse. But I do it anyway.)
- I use Hope Gillerman’s Tension Remedy multiple times a day for my headaches.
- I take liquid chlorophyll to help my system detox.
- I make smoothies with GI-healing nutrients (GI Revive or Intestinal Repair Complex—see the comments of this IG post for a great recipe from Chase at Kypris Beauty).
- I heat up a corn bag or hot water bottle to hold on my stomach to alleviate cramping.
- I drink a ton of water.
There you have it: my Celiac disease story and how I cope when I get glutened. Do you have a similar story or tips on how to recover from food allergies? Share with us in the comments below!