Hello, hello! I wanted to change it up a bit on the blog today and share an amazing conversation that I had with local LA influencer, registered nurse, and holistic skincare expert The True Spoon – AKA Celeste Thomas. Being prone to breakouts, I fell in love with her content on gut health and the connection to healthy skin. As you guys are aware, I’m obsessed with green beauty and holistic skincare, so I was super pumped to get Celeste’s take on her go to products, her #eattoglow recipes, and her holistic skincare journey. Buckle up because this interview is especially helpful for anyone dealing with acne and struggling with how to go about treating it with a holistic approach in mind.
When did you first start breaking out and what treatments did you first use? Accutane? Benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid?
I’m one of those people who is super genetically acne prone. My mom had terrible acne growing up so it was very early adolescence for me, maybe like 14 or 15, when I first started to break out. My first line of defense for treatment was really anything from the drugstore that had the word “acne” in it. The harder or the rougher it was, and the more I felt like it dried out my skin, the more I was interested in trying it because I wanted to kill the acne. I just had no idea what I was doing at all and didn’t take into account any lifestyle factors.
I was also a super active adolescent doing a lot of sports and not really caring for my skin before or after so it was pretty much all the bad things you can do for your skin – like eating junk foods, over stripping it, not cleaning it properly, and not having a good skincare routine.
Then in college I went to nursing school because I was very interested in science and wanted to learn more about the body. Also, I really wanted to learn how to cure my skin. I then learned all about the more traditional western approach, went to a lot of dermatologists, tried different Retin-A’s, was put on birth control for my acne and other drugs like Spironolactone. I tried a bunch of different medications or prescribed topicals.
And so at this point nothing with diet had been integrated yet?
No not really. Those were the days when I was eating like diet yogurt as a health food. And in classical nursing approach in western medicine, you’re not taught a lot about that. You more so learn diet is about macros and having this many carbs and this much protein to heal the body, but it’s not in the way we think about diet and wellness and nothing I would really suggest to people today.
And did you have any other symptoms besides the acne or was it just the acne that was sending you the message that something was off internally?
It was pretty much just my skin. I’ve always been someone who has great energy levels and has been a very happy person but there was definitely underlying causes gut health related. I was heavily focused on my skin because everything manifested in something so physical as acne. It became my norm and I didn’t really realize something was wrong.
After graduating from nursing school, I got a job working for a dermatologist in his aesthetics office and was learning about lasers and injectables- just learning a lot more about skin and product, definitely still more from the western philosophy, but I had never really learned about topicals because you don’t learn about products or treatments in nursing school, so I started to make that connection which was helpful. But I have such sensitive skin and it was still very harsh and intense and I had tried every medication, had been to multiple dermatologists, and was working in skincare as a nurse, trying to treat my active acne with lasers. Nothing was working.
“I was like OK- there has got to be something for me. I was still having such bad breakouts that I didn’t want to leave my house and I was so self conscious of my skin. For me my research method is that I become a total nerd, like I look at pub med! I was trying to find evidence based research behind what could help skin. I just first started cutting out dairy because I had read an article about dairy and began to see some improvements. From there, it was kind of just a trickle down effect. I just wanted to learn more and more about a holistic and natural approach and it kind of just snowballed after that.”
Did you continue to eliminate food groups and see how that affected your skin? Did you do bloodwork or any advanced testing?
I‘ve never really been interested in blood work and it’s probably something I should focus a little more on but, at the time, I was so turned off to doctors and doctors offices that I just wanted to slowly integrate things and test them for myself to see what worked and what didn’t for me. So that’s really what I did. It was like, ok well I know that if I eat a lot of cheese, I’m going to break out. Or, ok my skin is feeling kind of dry, I’m going to try this mist and start swapping out my products, that I now know are toxic after researching, to things that are more natural and soothing. Just so many different things. My whole lifestyle.
After that I was learning how to make my own fermented foods and then did a big deep dive into gut health. Once I started getting interested in holistic stuff, I was seeking it out from so many different sources. It’s so hard to pinpoint where each different little branch started, but living in LA I would hear something on a podcast or see something on someone’s Instagram or go see someone for a facial and learn more and more.
I’ve never made my own fermented foods but I am really big into gut health too so what is the easiest thing you recommend I start with?
I have a fermentation e-book which teaches people how to very simply make fermented foods at home. It all depends on what you want. I really like kraut and I feel like that is a easy place to start. Fermentation practice is SO so simple. You can make a big batch and save it for months and months.
I would love to hear about your thoughts on the connection between cutting out coffee and holistic skincare for acne.
When I first started cutting out coffee, I had just come across some research that coffee is really inflammatory for the body so I recently began to test removing it. I started to see an improvement in my skin and anxiety levels when I cut it out. Then I read Doctor Perricone’s book called The Acne Prescription. He is a derm with a holistic approach to skincare. He is amazing and he talked about the specific amino acids in coffee that have been scientifically proven to increase sebum production, which makes your skin oilier. For someone who is acne prone, you have to be very careful of excess sebum. That just was enough for me to try a full month of no coffee. I’m currently loving my skin right now- it’s very healthy and happy and I’m not even craving coffee anymore.
The coffee thing is two fold- first, potentially caffeine vasoconstricts your vasculature, preventing as many nutrients from getting to certain systems in your body like your skin. I think the acids and oil production are just a second wave issue with coffee that no one really talks about it.
Matcha and green tea both have L-Theanine which is a slower release of caffeine and I love them both. I feel like these options sustain me longer. Also, I’m just anxiety prone in general so if I can not have a jittery burst of caffeine I feel way better.
Favorite makeup brand for foundation?
Juice Beauty Youth Cream Compact Foundation! We all tend to get scared of foundation first and this one does have a small amount of high quality coconut oil in it but trust me- If I was going to breakout from this, I would. Everyone’s skin is different, but I’m a huge believer in Juice Beauty. Their formulations and their quality of ingredients are so fantastic for the price point so it’s worth trying.
Favorite holistic skincare product?
One thing I’m really loving as a category since traveling to Korea is essence, especially in the winter months. So normally in the summer, in warmer months, I’ll use a toner after I cleanse. But in the cooler months, or if my skin feels really dry, I’ll use an essence instead. Essences really help to balance the pH of your skin, hydrate it, and prep it for active serums. There is one I’m really loving- the Cocokind Glow essence. It’s super high quality and affordable. You can get it at Target, Whole Foods, even Amazon. It’s in a spray bottle versus a bottle where you need to use a cotton pad so it’s easy. Plus, it saves the environment on cotton.
Ok guys, I’m back. And that’s a wrap on the interview. How knowledgeable is she?! Freaking loves it. If you want to learn more about Celeste check her out Insta or on her website. She has awesome e-books available on gut health and fermentation recipes. I also know she has a new program launching this coming month in January! You’ll have to stay tuned for all the new goodies coming.
What was your biggest holistic skincare takeaway here? Let me know on Insta on my latest post or in the comments below. I love sharing different tips and resources for combatting breakouts, like in this other post here. Let me know if you’re interested in even more skincare info!
Thank you so much to Celeste for sharing her holistic skincare golden nuggets of wisdom with me!
Until next time.