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Hormones Affect Our Skin At All Ages

Are you still getting red cystic breakouts? Are you shaking your head wondering “Shouldn’t this phase of my life be over, I’m older! I’m not a teenager!” As frustrating as it is, a lot of women experience these cysts. They are red, swollen and painful, can be located along the jaw bone, chin, forehead, and are commonly linked with menstruation or ovulation, with some cases being linked to diet. Hormonal acne is terrible, and for many women can seem incessant, and never ending.

Believe it or not, we can stop them from occurring altogether and we do this by supporting the organs, allowing these breakouts to heal.

Our body is made up of around 50 trillion cells that are comprised of nutrients. Our hormones act as the feedback loop, communicating between the nutrients. If there is an imbalance, which can be caused by poor diet, lack of sleep or an increase in chemicals, these hormones are unable to perform their jobs. The more we keep our blood full of key herbs, vitamins and minerals, the less stress we put on the hormones, and the less likely the skin and our menstrual cycles will be affected.


Hormonal Acne – How It Comes To Be

When hormonal acne comes to play, there is an increase of oil production beneath the skin. Ordinarily there is a healthy flow of oil to the surface which lubricates the skin. However, when there is too much oil, and it combines with the normal skin cells and other debris on the surface of the skin, it can clog the pores. When oil clogs the pores, bacteria go on a feeding frenzy. This causes inflammation.

It is important to remember that hormonal acne does not occur unless there is an oil problem under the skin. Because it’s under the skin, no amount of washing will ever eliminate hormonal acne. It must be cured underneath, and the only way to fix it is from the inside out.

There are many different hormones (namely Androgens) that affect acne. Here is a quick summary:

  • Testosterone – The most prominent of the androgens, which causes oil production in the skin. Testosterone levels are the highest in the middle of your cycle. It is usually high in those who have diabetes, insulin resistance or PCOS.
  • Estrogen – Fights acne and helps promote clear skin. If there are low estrogen levels (which can happen during the end of each menstrual cycle or during menopause) there can be breakouts.
  • Progesterone – In high doses, it acts as an inflammatory agent and can cause acne to flare up. Progesterone levels are highest during the days leading up to menstruation, which explains why many women experience outbreaks at this time. Synthetic progesterone, such as that found in birth control pills, can also cause acne.
  • DHEA-S – Cause oil production, and is a STRESS HORMONE produced in the adrenal glands. Women who are experiencing stress, whether from emotions, poor sleep, or under-feeding, have higher levels of DHEA-S levels.


What Are The Areas That Require Attention And What Can Help

Issue 1: Stress

Stress is not necessarily the cause of hormonal acne, but does exacerbate it, and prevent proper healing.

What can help: Cleaver supplements, meditating, spending time in nature, deep breathing, use calming essential oils like vetiver, lavender, ylang ylang.


Issue 2: Heat

Heat is inflammatory, and causes sweat, which can clog pores.

What can help: Cleaver AHAs and vitamin A


Issue 3: UV Rays

The sun’s rays are some of the most potent acne inflamers out there.

What can help: Medical grade SPF Environ Alpha Day Lotion

Protect the skin on your face with at least an SPF of 15, or consider wearing a hat in the summer months.


Issue 4: Inflammatory Foods

Inflammatory foods such as grains, dairy, nuts, and omega 6 vegetable oils can all contribute to poor gut health.

What can help: Enjoy preparing your home-cooked meals with whole foods.


Issue 5: Dairy

Dairy deserves special mention because it is a highly hormonal food. Pregnant cows produce several hormones designed for growth. Growth hormones can cause androgen levels to rise, as well as promote production activities that lead to acne.

What can help: Avoid dairy! I have seen enormous success with women with hormonal acne eliminating dairy for their skin.


Issue 6: Lack of Sleep

Sleep both enables healing and promotes healthy hormonal production.

What can help:  Reducing stimulation before bed, like caffeine and blue lights from our smart devices; Adding supplements to your regime, such as good quality magnesium and adrenal support herbs.

I like to start my day with some good ol’ fashioned exercise. It’s a fantastic way to help balance hormonal levels and restore your sleep cycle.


Issue 7: Phytoestrogens

Phytoestrogens have the power to act as estrogens in the body.

What can help: Reduce the amount of soy, flax, legumes and nuts in your diet.


Issue 8: Hypothyroidism

Without sufficient levels of T3, the active form of thyroid hormone, in the blood, a woman’s skin cells lack the ability to heal properly.  Many women who suffer hypothyroidism can suffer chronic acne.

What can help: Low carbohydrate diets. Having sufficient glucose stores is important for skin healing, and can speed the recovery of acne lesions. Glucose is also helpful for preventing hypothyroidism.


For more information, and careful diagnosis, reach out to Kat, #TheSkinWizard

Spring is in the air

…so feed the skin on your body well.

After spending a month frolicking in the surf and sun of Costa Rica (such fun!), my skin did feel the damage from the elements.

The toll on our body from sunshine, Melbourne winters, lifestyle or genetic weakness is big, and it all creates bigger problems over time.

With summer just around the corner, we are about to reveal our skin and bodies to the world again, so it’s important to remember the easiest and most effective ways to keep it healthier, younger and problem-free.

My ritual is mixing a small amount of Environ Dermalac lotion and Enhanced Body Oil together, and then applying to my whole body from my jaw bone down, twice daily. Once my skin gets accustomed to this, I add in the body roller. The body roller’s real magic comes from creating thousands of microscopic holes, which lets the medicine in the oils get into the living skin cells. This creates younger, softer, and problem-free skin.

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For added protection, I make sure to apply Alpha Day lotion SPF+ to my neck, chest and hands if I know they’re are going to be exposed to the daylight.

Some people make the mistake of thinking that we have to avoid the sun at all times, but in reality, the vitamin A as retinal palmitate and the antioxidants contained in the formulas, actually make the skin more naturally resistant to sun damage.

There is evidence the right amount of antioxidants can build up in the cells and become an SPF in the skin cells, making it even more protected.

In contrast, products with retinol, retinaldehyde and retinoic acid are photo-sensitisers and aggravate the skin when exposed to light of the sun, so make sure to be cautious about sun-exposure and apply a good sunscreen.

Ideally, skin care should start as early as possible, at four to five years of age. This is because, by this age, sun damage can already be detected in Type I and II skins. Most young people in their twenties mistakenly believe that they are too young to use any cosmetic moisturiser, ignore warnings, and continue to go about their daily life in front of computer screens, surrounded by inside lighting and high levels of city pollution without thinking of feeding the precious skin cells Vitamin A/Antioxidants each day – what they need to survive and remain functional. The truth is that 80% of photo-damage is done by the age of 18.

Darker Mediterranean skin types can tan easily and relatively safely but still incur sun damage. Even black skins are damaged by the sun and become blotchy, with irregular pigmentation. Look carefully at the skin of an average person in their early twenties who has exposed themselves to the sun, and you will see evidence of sun damage in the beginnings of fine wrinkles around the eyes, freckles and clumping of the skin pigment. On the body itself, it takes longer to show.

If only more of my clients had the daily ritual of feeding their skin with Vitamin A/Antioxidants daily, I would not be working so hard in clinic, needling away their loose skin and tightening up sun-damaged chests, necks and hands. And we haven’t even touched the real dangers: damaged cells can become abnormal or even pre-cancerous.

As the old saying goes prevention is better than cure! Feed your skin using a recipe tailored to you, making the most of ingredients that will protect the skin, and restore some of the skin’s lost youthful properties.

Preventing Skin Cancer

I’ve felt inspired by the AFL player Jarryd Roughead (you may have recently caught on the news that he had a melanoma removed from his face) to talk about why we could all benefit from learning how to prevent skin cancers from forming as early as possible.
This topic is so close to my heart and one that I harp on about all day long with clients, family & friends.
The world we live in is no longer the environmentally friendly place it once was. This gives us all the more reason to learn how to protect our precious skin from the damaging effects of pollution, environmental irritants and prolonged sun exposure – the sooner the better.

We are constantly being bombarded with radiation from the sun, computer screens and artificial lighting, which all emit a massive amount of UVA/UVB (the A stands for ageing 😳). Further to this, industrial waste has polluted the atmosphere and the contaminants directly affect our skin. Some pollutants have deprived us of the protective qualities of the stratosphere. The thinning of the ozone layer is a reality, subjecting us to more intensive ultra-violet radiation and the corrosive effects of free radicals.

A very thin membrane separates us from all of these irritants. This delicate but amazingly efficient organ, that we call the epidermis of the skin, is our only protection against an increasingly hostile environment. As the sun’s damaging effects only tend to present themselves later in life, it is important to educate our children to become sun-wise, in order to avoid wrinkled damaged skin as well as skin cancer in later years.

The frightening increase in skin cancer has led to scientific predictions that 1 in 75 children born in the year 2000 will develop a melanoma within their lifetime. Living in 2015, I fear that this number is only continuing to climb.

The good news is that we can prevent it in most cases – but we have to be PROactive about it!

Today, melanoma is one of the most common skin problems for men and women, especially in the fair-skinned folk living within the sun belt of the world.

It is amazing to bask in the vital energy of the sun & the great news is that we still can. However, we must do so with the correct protection and nourishment for our skin.

Our skin cells are made up of about 93% retinal palmitate (Vit A) which allows them to function optimally.

What we know as “sun-spots” (or keratoses) are the eventual result of damaged DNA of irradiated cells, which then grow as a clone of abnormal cells and ultimately result in either keratoses or skin cancers.

Normally these cells would be removed by an effective immune system soon after they develop. However, because the Langerhans cells (the ones that would carry out this removal naturally) are rendered inactive by solar irradiation, the defective cells can thrive within an impaired immune system. This creates a clone or group of identical cells that slowly multiply and eventually become visible.

The long-term effects of our Australian climate are very damaging, but due to the cultural acceptance of a “bronzed Aussie”, most people consider pigmentation and damaged skin to be a natural part of ageing. People also attribute their wrinkled skin to a very dry climate rather than photo-ageing.

We must begin to recognise sun damage as a skin disease caused by the sun/pollution and not a condition caused by time. The long-term effects of sun exposure & free radicals are sinister – skin cancer may occur either as a simple rogue ulcer or in a more malignant form. The damage caused by the sun is called photo-damage or photo-ageing, and is preventable.

With the current climatic conditions in mind, increase of skin cancer and following the loss of two young patients early in his career to melanoma, Dr Desmond Fernandes a world-leading plastic surgeon was inspired to pioneer skin cosmeceuticals to supply vitamin A, C and other antioxidants at effective medical dosages to combat skin cancer head on. Enter: Environ.

Dr Des believes in giving people tools to be proactive in preventing skin cancer and slowing photo-ageing in its tracks. products are not created equal and medical cosmetics are VERY different to those available over-the-counter – even those which promise the “latest and most effective” molecules to rejuvenate skin.

My favourite choice as a holistic dermal therapist is Environ. Its topical vitamins are of the highest quality in the world, from how they are made to the freshness and stability of the packaging, as well as its affordable price point. I can use them to re-build vitamin-depleted skin helping us all to become more resilient in our harsh environment and boosting the vitamin levels in the skin. This is the key to helping to prevent skin cancer – a cell cannot mutate and allow disease if it is at peak immunity and full cell-function.

Applying topical active dosage of Retinol Palmertate & antioxidants, as well as a physical SPF daily is how we help to turn back the clock.

My check list for SPF is:

– No higher then a 15+ – 25+ ✔️

– Titanium dioxide, zinc, antioxidants ✔️

– Physical barrier with organic and inorganic particles ✔️

Simply applying the right skincare daily will both help to replenish the starving cells of their fuel source (Vit A) and protect it from the environment that is robbing and damaging it.

Your Time Starts Now

Our skin is by far the largest organ of our body and on show to the world as a testament to how our inner health is doing. 


The amount of times a day that clients ask me if I’m psychic for guessing their bad habits, be it lifestyle/nutrient quality/quantity and hormonal imbalances by simply looking at their skin is ridiculous.  


However, this usually works in my favour – because they quickly learn that they can’t hide from me, and they may as well start admitting to their skincare transgressions before we even start treating. 

We all need to be accountable to someone beyond ourselves, because it helps each one of us to achieve our goals quicker and keep us on track -that’s why I love all my CrossFit coaches!


I’ve found that the quicker you can pinpoint the trigger, the quicker you can start helping to reverse the problem.


Age, pigmentation, acne, scarring, red veins, eczema, sunspots – the list goes on. All abnormalities in our skin don’t just happen TO us – they’re simply a result of our genes (epigenetics) and how they are impacted by our environment and daily habits.


The more I’ve learnt and continue to learn, the more I’m convinced of one essential thing: all problems in the skin stem from a deficiency in Vit A, brought on by environmental factors.


Our skin does not adapt to this harsh Australian climate without help, so we can’t expect it to look perfect or age and be pimple free at any age without some human intervention.


Sadly, I only get to meet most clients by the time all of the damage is done, and then it’s the hard slog of correcting it.


However with the help of active vitamin-based skincare and medical corrective procedures, we can fix almost everything today; it just takes a little teamwork and a clever program.


With the hole in our ozone layer getting larger each year, more people sitting in front of computer screens, exposure to radiation and the pollution in the air, we have even more reason to learn how to prevent the deficiencies in our skin.


My dream is to teach people how to prevent free-radical damage so that we don’t have to work so hard later on to fix the problems.


My youngest client at the moment is 7 years old and is already amazing at looking after his skin and general health.


He came to me after he fell off his bike over 12 months ago, causing severe grazing to his face. We helped stop the scarring from developing, as well as detecting that he had a Vit-A deficiency, presenting in a red bumpy rash over his body (keratosis pilaris). Through supplementing the correct dosage of vitamins, both topically and internally, improving his ability to absorb nutrients with gut health and skin permeability, he now has glowing clear skin and is rash free, letting his self-confidence sky rocket (maybe a little too much)!


He now tells me why he can’t eat sugar anymore: “because it makes the red bumps come back” without any prompting and performs his simple skin care application daily by himself.


I’m proud to see him flourish and grow, knowing the chances of hormonal acne and skin cancers will also be low into the future due to the work we’ve done on his deficiencies now.


Dr Des Fernandes, founder of Environ Skincare, is very passionate about skin cancer prevention, and has been known to prescribe to patients from the age of 2 years old, topical forms of retinol palmerate and a low % medical SPF to prevent the sun, radiation, pollution depleting precious Vit A from our skin cells. T


These cells are made of about 93% retinol palmertate and are affected when exposed to light (and yes, a computer screen) emits more UVA (the A stands for aging ) and pollution.


The quicker these cells become depleted, the quicker we destroy our precious anti-ageing reserves, leading to the skin developing problems from dull, un-even skin tone to basal cell carcinomas later in life. 


Therefore, we need to learn how to improve our skin’s natural ability to adapt to this harsh Australian clement replace the internal units of Vit-A topically as a daily practice, allowing our skin to perform its function of preventing all abnormal conditions – something which I see and treat each day, all of which could be prevented when taught how to look after our skin.


But don’t worry, it’s never too late to start.  


Knowledge is power, so let’s start learning how we can all make simple changes to help prevent and fix skin conditions, so that we can look glowing and healthy, ageing gracefully and problem free.

Needing Needling

This week I was lucky enough to meet one of my skin heroes, Dr Des Fernandes, plastic surgeon and founder of Environ. 

I won’t bore you with all his accomplishments, however at almost 73 years of age he is walking proof that we can age without the face showing it. 

He joked that 2 fortune tellers have told him that he is to live to the ripe old age of 120 years of age and if that’s true, he wants to look in the mirror and not be depressed with the face that stares back at him. 

Skin needling is a proven and well documented program which was completely pioneered by the Dr himself who has constantly improved the procedure over the years constantly treating himself and using his patients to push new therorys to get better and better results, he tells me his had over 60 session to date. 

Countless patients of his keep turning back the clock, regenerating the skin back to full health. 

This program has helped me to reverse my acne scarring and red vascular skin AND it keeps looking better and better. 

This is something I’ve also found success with for many of my clients over the years, however today, with new discoveries and clinical research, I am seeing the best results of my career. 

Here’s how Dr Des explains needling and its role in non-invasive treatment:

“Medical clinicians are used to being consulted by patients who want to restore their youthful appearance. While structural changes to the face and body may be achieved with surgery (e.g. face lifts, etc.), the impression of youth also relies heavily on young-looking skin. It is desirable to have thicker and tighter skin in order to properly fulfill the desire for a youthful look. 

Skin needling offers an anti-ageing effect to improve the appearance of all skin. Experience has shown that needling works optimally when combined with a scientific skincare programme to restore a youthful appearance. In addition, the same technique has proved to be very effective in minimising acne scars and burn scars by removing scar collagen and replacing it with normal collagen. Consequently, scar contractures and depressed scars are improved.”

Seasons and The Skin

As the seasons change, we all have to adjust our skincare programs to help our largest organ get through one of the toughest (and coldest) times of year! 


With my skin, I work on boosting the key vitamins A, C and E and usually add special boosting ingredients depending on what I’m working on.

This keeps it hydrated and problem-free, making it more resilient to artificial heat, wind and general harsh Melbourne weather, allowing it to both age more gradually and in tip-top health.


As for clients, this is actually my favourite time of the year – because it’s when I get to start increasing exfoliation, incorprating stronger medical treatments and adding in my favorite medical needling. This means it’s a great time for fixing all of the imperfections that I can or might not have been able to do to the clients skin throughout summer due to beach, sun and activity lovers. 


With my skin, my ultimate goal is to correct all of the years in the sun and snow, having spent my youth growing up on ski resorts and following them around the world. This means there is a lot of sun damage and possible skin cancer that I want to be protecting against and preventing.

Acne, eczema, rosacea and visible signs of ageing have one thing in common: they are all symptoms of an unhappy gut.
It’s not just what you put on your skin that matters to heal skin conditions – we have to look deeper inside the body to fix the cause of the problem.
Functional medicine goes by the principle that every body system is connected. Your endocrine (hormone) system, immune system and digestive systems don’t operate independently of each other – they are all in support of each other. 
At the centre of our body achieving optimum homeostasis, is a balanced and healthy digestive system.
About 4-5kg of our body’s mass is made of good & bad bacteria living in the gut! Amazing, don’t you think? We are more bacteria than living cells. That’s about one human cell to 10 bacterial, so it makes sense that in order to improve our health, we need to help re-populate the good bacteria.
When you have an unhealthy gut, it doesn’t only affect you in the form of tummy pains, bloating or feeling ‘blocked up’, it also shows up on your skin in different forms. My job is to play detective and help heal each client’s concerns for long-term results.
When the gut is sluggish and of ill health, our immune system is also adversely affected. 
60-80% of our immune systems is located within the digestive system and an imbalance in our gut will cause immune concerns, auto-immune disease or a weakened immune system in general, leaving us more susceptible to illness and disease. 
An unbalanced gut can be linked to hormonal imbalances, auto-immune diseases, diabetes, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, anxiety, depression, eczema, rosacea, and other chronic health problems. There is also a higher rate of IBS, reflux (when pregnant), anxiety and chronic fatigue syndrome when a gut imbalance is found in women (via The Whole Daily).
The goal is to get rid of things that negatively affect the environment of the gut, things like wheat, lactose, sugar, and hydrolysed oils, as well as irritants like alcohol, caffeine, or drugs. These not only mess with the digestive system – they also throw the nervous system and endocrine (hormone) system into disarray.
As horrible as it sounds, many of us are walking around with infections in our digestive system, caused by bacteria, yeast or parasites. 
Making sure you’re re-populating your gut will assist in aiding our body’s absorption of nutrients. What is the point of spending money and time sourcing organic whole foods if you’re not absorbing it? 
Before we had fridges, we fermented our vegetables and dairy products to increase the shelf-life, whilst also making them easer to digest, thus allowing for higher nutrient absorption.
Think of your belly like a cooking pot: the warmer and fermented, the better the body will be able to process these nutrients. That’s why we cook foods, because if everything is raw, it would be harder for the body to hit its daily caloric needs.
For me, I like to take a good quality probiotic supplement periodically to help aid my gut flora as I don’t consume enough of the above foods in my daily diet. It’s important to introduce nutrient support to properly repair your digestive system.

Leaky gut syndrome will also need to be healed if this is present. This is when tight junctions in the gut, that control what passes through the lining of the small intestine, don’t work properly and so allow substances to pass through the gut and into the bloodstream. 

Be kind to your gut and many of the problems you’re trying to fix topically will fix themselves far more easily.

Forming Barrier Function

A functional dermal barrier is essential if you want to have healthy skin. This is something I find myself talking about and helping clients with on a daily basis.

Whether it be acne or ageing, we need to help our skin’s natural barrier function by avoiding the stripping of our stratum corneum, so as to avoid further problems.

The stratum corneum is the waterproofing layer that keeps moisture in the skin and prevents the penetration of chemicals and bacteria.

In a nutshell, the shells of the dead cells (corneocytes) are “glued” to eachother by chemical lipid bi-layers, as well as by the remnants of the desmosomes that originally connected the cells together.

Because this is mainly a lipid (fat) barrier, lipid-soluble molecules can enter the skin more easily than water-soluble ones. Photo-damage AKA ageing makes the horny layer build up and thicken, causing dull-looking skin. It can also force the cells to develop abnormally.

The skin’s natural exfoliation process slows down with age to almost half its rate by age 30. Clients always notice this when we get talking about it and it usually leads them to seek me out for the treatment of rough, thickened skin, as well as adult acne. Problematic and sun-damaged skin can also have a very thick stratum corneum of up to 25 sheets.

Maintaining the surface of the stratum corneum is also important to protect us from infections, because normally there is a layer of oils secreted from the sebaceous glands, sweat glands, etc., that help to form the “acid mantle” of the skin.

This has a natural pH of 4.5 to about 6.5 and inhibits the growth of bacteria and fungi.

Since our bodies are mainly composed of water, we need the dry cells to be the interface between us and the extremely harsh and dry atmosphere.

Therefore this layer has to prevent the loss of water from our bodies so that we do not dehydrate. On the other hand, it also has to prevent the flow of water into our bodies when we are immersed in water. If it did not, we would become water-logged and drown when we swim or have a bath.

Unfortunately, when exposed to the environment prematurely, these immature cells rapidly dry out without the advantage of normal maturation, so they become inefficient stratum corneum cells with inadequate lipid bi-layers. They are also damaged by exposure to oxygen from the atmosphere and are hence attacked by free radicals.

While this may be relatively unimportant if an exfoliation procedure is performed regularly, it becomes more important to correctly cleanse and exfoliate without stripping our precious natural skins barrier.

The important message of an effective skin care system is that the horny layer is a highly developed, sophisticated, delicate membrane that we desperately need to help protect us from the harshness of our environment.

Our efforts should be concentrated on preserving this thin layer of cells and avoiding any destructive procedure that results in the scarring of the epidermis.