Sometime in the fall of 2016, I noticed an increase in the number of pimples I was getting. I had dealt with a little bit of acne issues ever since I was a teen, but all of the sudden, I was experiencing big, cystic breakouts that were mostly on my cheeks
For the next 4 years, I searched for answers as to what might be causing it:
- I changed my makeup to make sure everything I was using was pure and toxin free.
- I tried all sorts of skincare regimens, acne treatments, essential oils, and natural remedies.
- I removed gluten, dairy and other foods from my diet.
- I tried a juice fast for 30 days.
- I tried doing expensive esthetic treatments that burned my skin (some involving lasers even)
- I tried an antimicrobial pillowcase.
- I tried probiotics to fix my microbiome, and other supplements that claimed to clear up acne.
- I tried to get to the emotional roots of the problem too - facing my insecurities, sensitivity, and striving for perfection.
I have 4 years of before photos.
(You'll see them in a second). Each time I would try something different, I would take before pictures, but the after photos didn’t exist. The breakouts just kept coming and they kept getting worse and worse.
These are just a few of the many facial experiments I tried along the way.
So I continued to conceal them to the best of my ability, and kept searching for answers. (I wore makeup even to the gym to work out - my skin embarrassed me that much!)
One night I stumbled on a video testimonial of a woman who struggled with the same acne issues. She shared that she switched her pillow to one that has no flame retardants.
Here's what she said that caught my attention:
"But most recently, like within the past year or so, I switched to a pillow that has no flame retardants. At least here in the state of California, almost all pillows are doused in toxic flame retardants. Flame retardants are chemicals that stop the pillow from catching on fire And I think it’s like a law that California passed. And it makes sense, if your house is on fire, you don’t want your pillow to catch on fire and kill you. It’s for safety.
But at the same time, those flame retardants can be endocrine disruptors. They can be neuro-toxins, which means that they are toxic to your brain and to the cells that cause your brain to function and your body to function. And those chemicals I don’t believe are safe or healthy for us."
I finally had a lightbulb moment that night about what was going on with my skin!
You see, in the fall of 2016, we got a brand new king sized mattress and pillows. And it was shortly after that when the acne started. (My first "before" picture is about a month after we got it). But that’s not all - around that same time, I started experiencing some pretty crazy hormonal changes. It almost seemed like my 38 year old body was attempting to go into menopause. I started going 40-50 days without a cycle. Then, a few months later, I actually started a menstrual cycle that lasted for 4 months!
(Skip this next paragraph if you are a little squeamish - I'm going to go into detail about what that was like)
The bleeding was extremely heavy - I had days where I would soak through an extra-large overnight pad in an hour. I passed blood clots the size of chicken eggs several at a time day after day. As you can imagine, I was becoming anemic, and struggled to make it up a half flight of stairs just to get to the restroom. I saw several different doctors during this time, and none of them had any answers for me as to what was causing it. I even took an extremely high dose of progesterone to try to correct the issue, and it didn't work.
And yeah, I tried all sorts of natural remedies for the bleeding too. I finally got resolution with that with emotional/spiritual healing. But I can tell you that the toxic load of that mattress is the thing that opened me up to the physical attack on my body. I suspect that by the time the bleeding stopped, some of the toxins had off-gassed to a point where I was no longer experiencing the extremes in my cycle, but they were still destroying my face.
Even after the cycle stuff calmed down, I noticed I struggled more and more with weight management, and there was even a period of time when I started losing my hair!
After putting the pieces together from that video, I shared with my husband what I had discovered, and the evidence I had found that not only the pillow, but the mattress we had gotten was causing the issue with my skin.
What I had learned is that not only is all the bedding doused in toxic flame retardants, they also use toxic chemicals just to make the fabric, dyes, and filler for the mattress itself, and then they fumigate the storage facilities with even more endocrine disrupting chemicals to kill off bed bugs. Yep - they literally bathe your sleeping setup in PESTICIDES!
We were eating organic, using organic personal care, household cleaners, etc, but sleeping every night for 8 hours - the 8 hours your body does the most detoxification - on arguably the most toxic thing in our home.
Even though the bedding we had was only 4 years old, we resolved to replace them with an organic mattress and pillows. We landed on choosing an Avocado Green set, when a friend recommended it because her son really liked his and saw improvements with his asthma. We decided to go all-in and get organic sheets while we were making the changes too.
That was toward the end of 2020.
My skin didn’t clear immediately.
I had four years of eight hours or more (around 12,000 hours) on that mattress to detox out of my system. It probably took about a year to see the cysts finally go away. But they did go away.
Here's a selfie series so you can see the progression of what happened.
If cystic acne or other skin issues are something you struggle with, I want to encourage you to look beyond the skin care treatments, pills, etc. Your skin is a secondary detox organ, and when it shows signs of inflammation, it means there is something disrupting the major detox organs - your liver, kidneys, lungs, lymphatic. If you remove the toxic load, the detox organs can do their job more effectively, and the inflammation in the skin (and the rest of the body) goes away with time.
Toxins can creep into our system from water sources we drink and bathe in, the air we breathe, things we wear or touch our skin, and more. One-third of your life is spent on your mattress. It's a massive exposure.