A few weeks ago I was listening to my favourite beauty podcast Fat Mascara (it’s so worth a download and listen if you love beauty – the hosts are beauty editors at US Marie Claire and Harpers Bazaar).
Anyway, they were interviewing a dermatologist Dr Whitney Bowe, who had just written a book, The Beauty of Dirty Skin which talks about the microbiome. The microbiome is basically a system of bacteria, the majority of which live in our digestive gut.
In her book, Dr Bowe explains that skin health is much more than skin deep, and explains how the skin disorders such as acne, rosacea and eczema are manifestations of irregularities rooted in the gut. She focuses on the microbiome — where trillions of microbes “speak” to your skin via the brain — and highlights the connection between sleep, stress, diet, gastrointestinal health and the health of your skin.
She spoke about the things that are great for your skin (Kombucha! Probiotics!), and also mentioned the baddie: artificial sweetener (like those in all the Coke Zero I drink) destroy the healthy bacteria that live in your gut, which in turn leads to inflammation of the skin.
I love(d) me a good Coke Zero, and would drink at least one 440ml bottle, maybe two, plus a glass or two at home. I know the stuff isn’t great for you in any way (though it makes me so happy), but listening to the podcast shook me into action as I could do with better skin.
I pretty much went cold turkey, and two days later a colleague asked what I done to my skin as it looked much brighter. I thought maybe it was just a lucky day, but a week later another colleague remarked on how good my skin was looking.
Now let me be upfront: I still have pigmentation. I still have blemishes. I still have some acne. Abstaining from the beautiful brown stuff hasn’t been like a magic wand to my face, and nor is my skin perfect. But, I have less acne on my cheeks, and I’m looking less dull and wan, especially when I wake up in the morning. I also don’t give myself a big fright when I look at myself in the mirror first thing.
While I have been trying out new skin products, the “glow” started before them, and I haven’t been using them long enough to see a shift.
I’ve replaced Coke Zero with mostly just tap water, and the occasional sparkling water, and the sugar-free flavoured varieties. I can’t say whether my health is improving, but I’m pretty sure my reflexologist would be delighted. Every time she looks at my feet and gets a sense of my acid levels, she gives a friendly yet stern rebuke for drinking diet drinks.
This is my face first thing in the morning. I unfortunately don’t have a before pic because I didn’t think I’d be needing one. Trust me on this one though – I’ve noticed a big difference. You’ll obviously see the absence of filters and editing in this picture because I’d like to keep it real here.