Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Losing My Lipid Layer (and how I got it back)


So far, 2017there just isn't another word for itsucks. I spent the entire month of January battling one ailment or another, which is pretty unusual for me. I'm wondering how much had to do with stress and how much was due to being off my kefir? I gave it a rest last September and it's somewhere in the back of my fridge, dead more than likely, and doing me no good, regardless. But that's another story. This one— I'll warn you now— is long enough.

In addition to the afore-hinted-at ailments, my face and neck were under constant siege: hot, red, swollen, rough, dry, and itchy. So. Very. Itchy. Itching like a thousand burning ants were dancing under the surface. All of my frantic "research" online just seemed to spin me in circles until ultimately I chanced upon what was going on. So with that, and after spending most of January with various oils and unguents on my face, I've listed a few things below that I, and anyone else suffering with dry, dehydrated, and otherwise distressed facial skin, might do well to keep in mind.

Great Barrier Grief...
Though I may never figure out why it happened, the moisture-barrier (or lipid layer) on my face and neck was compromised. My skin was no longer retaining moisture and was, as a result, severely dehydrated and in great hot gobs of distress. How do our bodies usually react to distress... with inflammation. I could tell that something was seriously wrong when, in addition to everything else, my face was so puffy that I could no longer see the creases around my eyes. I've never been so happy to see my wrinkles than when it meant that my face was returning to normal. Welcome back, little friends!

So how can skin heal itself when it's in a constant state of panic and can no longer hold moisture?
It can't. If the barrier is gone, it is defenseless. I figured that if my skin no longer had a barrier, I would have to provide it one until it could heal and take over again. For the record, I didn't exactly figure this out right away. I wish I had. Over the days and weeks though, I naturally began to turn to things that were, under normal situations, much too heavy/greasy to use on my face. Lo and behold, the heavier and slower to absorb it was, the better my skin felt.

Occasionally I needed to exfoliate. Now the last thing I wanted to do was scrub my stressed-out face, but there comes a point when there's no point in slathering glops of good stuff over layers of dead skin cells. Extreme caution was in order though; it needed to be super gentle. I started with powdered milk and later used finely ground oats. Both worked well without being aggressive. After gently removing with a wet washcloth, I patted aloe all over and followed with straight shea butter or coconut oil. Whenever things started to itch, I would glide my homemade lotion-bar over the itchy areas.

Yeah, I said lotion bar. The biggest surprise of all! There I was, rubbing it on my poor chapped nose (2+ weeks of cold/flu) when my face started itching to distraction at the same time. I absently rubbed the bar on the itchy spots and the itching subsided right away. Like a miracle. What's in it? Shea butter, coconut oil, and beeswax. Hallelujah! I had inadvertently stumbled on the perfect thing. I am convinced that it was the beeswax in the lotion bar acting as temporary moisture barrier that did the trick.

It still took time for my face to heal, but with my lotion bar at hand, I was able to keep the line of defense in place (and quiet the itching) while my skin repaired itself. Seal it to heal it! (I just made that up.) Here is a great big ginormous list of...

Things that worked for me, things that didn't, and things to avoid...

(in alphabetical order)