DIY Face Toner for Combination Skin

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I’ve been meaning to share this recipe for my most favorite face toner for like three years! And I got a fresh bottle of Frankincense in the mail a few weeks ago weekend (my crunchy is showing) so I could make another batch of this wonder potion. I am an extreme case when it comes to eczema and sensitive skin, and this toner is my JAM. It takes the sting out of eczema flares and fights acne without causing another flare. It’s hard to find something that can help both extreme conditions without exacerbating either and apple cider vinegar is the magic ingredient.

Basically from like age 16 to 26 anything that I used to fight the eczema caused clogged pores and anything to help fight the zits caused an eczema flare. And then I covered it all up with kinda orange drug store foundation. Repeat cycle.

This toner came to be in my postpartum days after Lincoln when my eczema flared all over my body. I was on a mission to simplify all of my beauty products so I knew EXACTLY what was going on/in my body (like literally I washed my hair once a week with baking soda and ACV) and I’ve just kept it in my life ever since because it works so well.

In the crunchy community there’s a lot of talk about oils and which ones are best or safest, etc. and I’ve used a lot of different kinds and for my everyday cleaning oils I’ll get the ones from Whole Foods or the Amazon best seller, but for things I apply directly to my kids or face I try to barter from someone who sells Young Living or I order directly from Hopewell. I’ve never tried DoTerra, or Plant Therapy but I hear great things! I’m a distributor of Young Living (got my starter kit back in 2015) and order from them occasionally just to keep my membership active, but unless I want something specific to their brand (most recently: Christmas Spirit PLEASE) I keep my options pretty open. If you have any questions about oils I have a TON of friends that know and use them regularly and I can share my little bits of knowledge and connect you if you have questions I can’t answer! I do love those little colorful bottles and what they add to my life (STILL LOOKING AT YOU CHRISTMAS SPIRIT).

Ingredients:
Raw Apple Cider Vinegar (with “The Mother”) // 1/3 cup
Witch Hazel  // 1/3 cup
Lavender Oil  // 10 drops
Tea Tree Oil  // 10 drops
Frankincense Oil // 10 drops
Water // 1/3 cup

I have this funny little glass container on my sink so I just eyeball it when I fill it up, but these are the approximate measurements. 1 part of each, although depending on your skin sensitivity you may want to dilute. Also, I’ve heard some concern from friends that don’t like  the smell of ACV  and it lingers for only a moment– and the yummy smell of the oils is what stays. Definitely do a small test area at first, for me redness will show up immediately if I need to dilute more. Listen to your body and enjoy the tingle of balanced skin!  Let me know in the comments if you try it or if you have any questions! toner06toner05toner03

Our Skincare Favorites for the Littlest Ones

Just an FYI if you decide to buy, this post contains affiliate links and I will get a small percentage from your purchase.
Your shopping helps keep my little blog afloat and I’m so thankful! 
  1. Eucerin Baby Eczema Relief Body Creme // Target // Amazon
  2. Honest Company Organic Healing Balm // Target // Amazon
  3. Beautycounter Countermatch Adaptive Skin Lotion // Beautycounter
  4. Beautycounter Baby Daily Protective Balm // Beautycounter
  5. Beautycounter Calming Diaper Rash Cream // Beautycounter
  6. Honest Company Diaper Rash Cream // Target // Amazon

Four years and lots of trial and error later, we’ve got a great arsenal of products that we love for our littles and love to recommend! We probably have about a year left of diaper life (seriously, that went by fast) so the diaper cream won’t hang with us much longer, but the others are here to stay. Both of my kids have eczema like me, but have been totally clear for about a year with a few small patches here or there. It is a lot easier to maintain a healthy skin barrier than treat an already broken one with eczema, so I always recommend keeping that in mind when developing your kids’ skincare rhythm. Maintaining skin barrier is the goal!

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  1. Eucerin Baby Eczema Relief Body Creme // Target // Amazon This creme is super thick, goes on easily and doesn’t leave a greasy feel. We use it all over on the kiddos after bath time and twice a day in the winter when the temps are cold and cheeks are chapped, or after pool days when skin is dry after being in the pool water. This creme gets a 5 on the Think Dirty scale, 3/21 ingredients are considered “half n’ half” which show up in studies from 1999 has having potential “toxicity” or are known to be potential eye irritants.
  2. Honest Company Organic Healing Balm // Target // Amazon I got this when Lincoln was a newborn and had a really terrible diaper rash from Pampers diapers. I tried all the regular zinc creams and even a prescription cream from our ped, and this cleared it up within 24 hours. I was a believer immediately! We actually ended up switching to Honest diapers after that for a long time to keep his bottom clear, but this place earned a permanent place in my diaper bag (purse) and in each kid’s room. Cuts, scrapes, hangnails, pimples, etc. — it’s basically the Greek Man’s Windex. Some people have told me they had success with it treating their eczema but I did not have that luck, sadly. I still love it anyway. IMG_0040
  3. Beautycounter Countermatch Adaptive Skin Lotion // Beautycounter Once you’ve tried something from the Countermatch line you just keep trying more from the Countermatch line. When I became a consultant I got a free giant bottle of this moisturizer that I love, so I just stuck it in the kids’ bathroom for hands before bedtime, etc. It became our go to for warmer weather moisturizer. It’s lightweight, not greasy, and totally smells delicious. I’m always very cautious when introducing a new product, even a “safe” one, to my kids and their skin love this. Definitely keeping it on the kids’ shelf! Their hands are little so it’ll last forever. My eczema is significantly better on my hands since being on Dupixent, but this stuff brings life back to my hands within minutes if I’ve overdone water exposure. You can read about the Countermatch technology above– it’s truly amazing. LRG_DSC09840
  4. Beautycounter Baby Daily Protective Balm // Beautycounter // This balm is everything that loves my skin rolled into one. After doing a pretty intense “elimination diet” so to speak for my skin, I found that my skin loves jojoba oil, shea butter and sunflower seed oil. This balm contains all of these things and other great things! We use it for extra diaper help, chapped lips, dry patches, inside my nose (TMI?), an extra boost for eczema hands, etc. It’s truly a wonder. I got it at the tail end of my breastfeeding journey with Em and it was a lifesaver for chapped nips and TOTALLY safe for baby mouths. Recommend 10 out of 10!
  5. Beautycounter Calming Diaper Rash Cream // Beautycounter //  This is new to my arsenal, but it worked literally overnight. We tried a new “clean” brand of diapers and my daughter’s bum did not like them. This cream + the daily balm above cleared it up literally overnight. IMG_0049
  6. Honest Company Diaper Rash Cream // Target // Amazon // This has been my go to diaper rash cream (think zinc) for years. I also think it smells like Fruit Loops and I love that about it. Weird? Probably. Pleasant? Definitely. We keep one of these in the diaper bag and one of the BC tubes upstairs. A great, clean, safe choice if you’re at the store and need something for your baby’s bum.

October Eczema Awareness month. Read more about it on the National Eczema Association website here: https://nationaleczema.org/eczema-awareness-month/.

Comment below with any questions, shoot me an email or message me on Insta!

Eczema Awareness: My Story

20180125_January Everyday05.jpgMy mom says I was born with eczema on my thumb, but I don’t know if that is true or if it was an exaggeration. Eczema  is a misunderstood disease, and we are kind of in a transitional place in history with it. The generation that came before us saw it as a skin disorder, and the generation now sees it as an immune disorder. It’s pretty unpredictable and literally different for everybody and every BODY. Some triggers are diet, other triggers are things that come into contact with the skin like allergens. Stress is major trigger, it all just varies greatly.

So for me, I always had a patch here or there. On my hands, face, arms, or legs… it never failed I had a patch somewhere. I’d go to the dermatologist periodically and get the latest and greatest topical steroid out there and it would clear up and then when the seasons changed it would resurface somewhere else.

I didn’t really understand about topical steroids as a kid, teen or young adult, I just thought I was supposed to do what the doctor and my mom said to do. So after 20 years of intermittent topical steroid use, when pregnancy hormones hit my veins, something happened and eczema took over. I began what I believe to be Topical Steroid Withdrawal (TSW)– there are some telltale signs of it (eczema sleeves and mask on the face… I had both of these) and it was just exacerbated by pregnancy and breastfeeding and my immune system being on overdrive.

I saw a few different doctors and dermatologists but the consensus was “use more topical steroids” and after researching TSW and Red Skin Syndrome I decided that if TS wasn’t safe for me breastfeeding, it wasn’t safe for me at all. So, I stopped cold turkey and the eczema exploded.

It was a dark season. I don’t really care to elaborate more, I honestly don’t know how to describe it without sounding super dramatic and dark, but it was one of the most hopeless times of my life. I thought about death often. The literal pain and just the mental strain of the disease was unbearable most days.  No one could tell me what was causing it or why. There was no cure and there was no indication on when I would be healed. I was disfigured, hurting and a brand new first time mom. It was not the best of times.

I don’t ever want to go through that again. I don’t want any other person to ever have to go through that. Especially my kids. So, awareness is important. Awareness of options for treatment is important. Awareness of whole body health is important. Awareness of what we put on and in our bodies is so important.

We can’t passively sit by and rely on physicians who don’t know us and the FDA to make decisions for us and our bodies– we have to research. We have to understand. We have to be aware. STAY WOKE!

Over the next month I’ll be sharing more about my experience with TSW, what I did to make it through, what happened after I had a baby again and the current treatment plan I’m on and why. I’ll also be sharing some practical tips for living, traveling and raising kids with eczema because I’ve learned SO much over the past four years!

If you are a fellow warrior– do not give up. You are not to blame. God is in it with you and you’re becoming stronger day by day– you will look back at your strength in awe.

Keep on, warriors.

Less Skincare, More Life

 

For as long as I can remember my skin has been a topic of conversation. As a child I had eczema so I was always being moisturized and more severe or infected areas were being treated with topical steroids and carefully crafted bandages. In the summer I was slathered in sunscreen and when it failed (it always did) I was usually very sunburned and peeling. The teenage years brought acne into the already dry and eczema mix and which was frustrating as all the treatments for acne seemed to exacerbate the eczema situation. Into my twenties the acne and eczema combination worsened and after my first big eczema flare in 2014 I simplified my skincare down to virtually ZERO products. I did UVB therapy 1-3x a week for almost two years so I have substantial “sun” damage on my face and all over. In the past four years I have simplified my beauty and skincare routine to the bare minimum and found that in the absence of products my skin and hair really seem to flourish on their own when left to their own devices… and when provided with fruits and vegetables. That element is clutch. Dairy and gluten lead to acne breakouts on my chin almost immediately. As if the eczema and gut health wasn’t a motivator enough to eat clean (it’s not, sometimes I really want cheese.), I get the bonus motivator of a zit-free chin.

The most fascinating thing about my eczema journey is really the way my soul morphed through it all. I was an average lady when it came to appearances. I didn’t wear a TON of make up, but I wore a lot to achieve a “natural” look. Which kind of makes me laugh, looking back. I was not okay going out without something on my face, even though my light mineral make up usually wore off pretty quickly.  I’d always cover blemishes and those dark circles under my eyes (which didn’t exist because I slept SO much in my twenties), and leaving home without wearing mascara was not an option. When my eczema started worsening in 2014 I upped my make up game, covering as much as possible which definitely made it worse. After weeks of literally causing myself stinging, burning pain just to keep up appearances I really questioned myself WHY I continued to wear make up when literally it was just for other people to feel better about the way I looked. No one gave me sad looks or made comments if I covered up the sores. Is that a metaphor or what?

One of the core values of our church’s code is we do more by doing less  and it has permeated every part of my life just about. Skincare included. By using less on my skin, less in my hair, less on my body I am overwhelmed with more. More confidence in who I am and not what I look like. More time to sleep in the mornings. More money in our budget to spend elsewhere. More life, less showering. Literally, MORE natural oils in my hair and on my skin which is an indicator of health. More fun, less worry about the long term effects of

Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing my simplest of simple beauty and skincare routine and favorite products. Face toner, shampoo, make up remover… all kinds of stuff! Some are super crunchy (looking at you, Apple Cider Vinegar) and some you can buy at Target (hello, Eucerin baby eczema cream). Some are from Beautycounter (you can shop here: www.beautycounter.com/kelliechaney— I recommend checking out their Countermatch line) and some are from the grocery store. Less really is more! Let’s go!

Dupixent on the Tenth Day

Actual text from me to my dermatologist nurse friend regarding the two Dupixent doses I injected into my own belly on Valentine’s Day: These are tiny syringes of Jesus miracles!

I almost took a few self portraits that day to document how bad it was, but after I took one I decided that I’d rather actually not remember that day in detail, thankyouverymuch. I woke up in what I am tempted to call excruciating pain in my right arm, which was swollen all the way down to my fingertips and it was stiff and hard to move. I whimpered my way into the shower to try what I call a hard reset on my skin. Warm water, pat dry, then hardcore layers of Aquaphor, Cerave and Eucerin creams within 5 minutes of exiting the shower. Hard to do with one arm. Thanks to my shipping notification I knew that meds were en route so mentally I was just trying to hang on until whenever they would arrive.

I had a hard time getting the baby out of her crib and diaper changed and basically didn’t make the toddler do anything he didn’t want to do so I could just sit on the couch and wait. We had been trying to wean at that point but due to pain and immobility in my right arm, making bottles were not a possibility so I just sat and fed the baby on demand most of the day. I texted a few people to see if they could come by and help me with the kids but no one that I texted was available, and I was feeling very vulnerable and guarded and didn’t really want to reach out to anyone that didn’t know the situation already. I just didn’t feel like explaining the complexities of my genetic defect and the incredible way the immune system creates antibodies while breastfeeding–– and the incredibly WRONG way my body interprets those signals. Hubs came home at lunch and changed an impeccably timed poopy diaper, fixed everybody lunch and got the toddler down for a nap in the most productive lunch hour I’ve ever seen. He snapped right out of work mode into super dad/husband mode and it was incredible to watch.

It was a rock bottom day for sure, but deep in my soul I was searching frantically for the familiar feeling of anxiety reeling out of control but it wasn’t there. I was strangely at peace and matter of fact about the situation. Maybe it was knowing that I couldn’t just skirt my responsibilities for the day– I had to feed kids and keep them safe. Maybe it was knowing that help was ON THE WAY. Maybe it was supernatural peace straight from God. Maybe it was a combo of all three. But that rock bottom day could not have been more different from my rock bottom days of my first flare in 2015. Same disease, new me. Behold, he is doing a new thing! In everything.

UPS dropped off my cooler box around 1pm and I set the syringes out immediately and once they were room temperature I cleaned my belly with a baby wipe (note to self: get rubbing alcohol) read, re-read, and re-read the directions again, stress ate the remaining seven gluten free Joe Joes and injected them into the loose skin of my belly that grew two humans in the past four years. Such a weird visual.

Anyways, today is day ten and I feel amazing! I saw literal overnight improvement in my fingertips on day 2. They were plump  feeling and in general my skin was extremely, abnormally soft. I started flaking and peeling like a madwoman. Over the weekend I had a widespread flare on my arms and face, but it resolved quickly and just left some peeling. On Tuesday (day 6) I had another widespread flare, but after putting on some lotion and taking some ibuprofen it was manageable and the redness went down. Overall, I just feel very very very very dry.

The strangest thing about these flares is the immense pain that comes with it. It feels like  I am sunburned and wet and any stretching or moving hurts way worse than anything I’ve ever experienced. I think my nerves are doing weird things. Today, on day ten, my pain has decreased significantly. I need to moisturize like whoa but I haven’t made time for it today but in general, I am feeling great. It’s still there, still visible but the redness is significantly less and it’s actually disappeared from my arms some. Both of my tattoos were covered eleven days ago and now only half of one is. Truly incredible.

I always make the “joke” (quotations around joke because my husband has recently brought it to my attention that my jokes may not be as funny as I think they are…) that I don’t want people to offer any solutions or products for my eczema unless they are selling a brand new immune system. Y’all, this really is a new immune systems! The injections target the pathways that contain the erroneous response to allergens and FIXES IT. Incredible. Bionic immune system. Also, this drug is priced at $37,000 for a year of treatment, I believe, and my insurance was going to charge me $200. And then I got a co-pay discount card which made it $0. For free. $37k treatment for free. What is life. Here’s Day Ten photos– you can see a few days before I started here.

Focus is all wonky because self timer and really I cannot believe that I am posting photos of myself in my sports bra on the interwebs, but ta da! Feeling so good guys. It’s still there but mobility has returned in my arms and hands and I’ve washed, dried, folded and put away laundry, washed bottles as soon as I needed to and taken pictures and adjusted my settings and none of my finger or knuckle skin cracked in half. Praise God. I am certain that setbacks are ahead, but praising seriously, hugely, and incredibly big for the gift of this small step in healing. Today is a great day. I’ve never loved washing dishes or putting laundry away more. It’s funny what things I used to take for granted.

 

 

 

 

My Best Yes: Dupixent

With a blog it’s tempting to wait until any difficulties have passed to write about them. It’s nice to wrap the past troubles up in a blog post and tie a bow on top while proclaiming “this is what happened and here’s what I learned!”. After stumbling upon Helen’s very honest and vulnerable blog about her journey with mamahood and eczema, I felt compelled to share my own. Finding her “me too” was like finding GOLD. It was healing balm to my soul to find at least one other heart on this planet that shared the same struggles and fears as me. I often feel very alone in my Eczema Mama journey. It’s so unique, so severe and so lonely at times. I figured it was time for me to share while I’m in the middle, because I know FOR SURE there is another mama out there like me. I hope you find this, girl.

We are gonna make it through this. You know how I know? I did it once already. This is how the story ends: WE WIN. 

I found Helen’s blog by searching “Dupixent success stories”. My amazing dermatological team has been recommending this new drug to me and after this big flare that has lasted several weeks now, I’ve finally ordered it. It is basically the opposite of everything that got me through last time. Last time I stopped breastfeeding, went strict Autoimmune Paleo, and within a month I was almost completely clear. And it was fine! (PS: to see how Dupixent works click here… it’s cool)

The problem I’m running into this time is that eating for eczema is the ultimate metaphor for a works based religion: you have no idea how much you have to do before it works and you’ve achieved salvation. It takes time, and I don’t have time. This is NOW. This is my kids’ childhood and while I’m taking lots of pictures, singing songs and snuggling I am missing quite a bit. I wake up most mornings these days unable to extend and bend my arms without intense pain. I can’t get my hands wet, so I can’t give the kids a bath. I would basically saw my arms off for a chance to sit in a hot shower and cry out all the regular frustrations of new motherhood, but a hot shower is basically a guarantee that I’ll be miserable and immobile for the next three days. And speaking of crying, I basically have the ultimate Raccoon eye mask of eczema around my eyes, and salt water tears? Literal salt in the wound. Crying makes it worse, so crying I do not. I just want a good cry.

So, after some gentle coaxing and absolutely no pressure from my dermatologist friends and husband (they know me so well– the slightest bit of you should do this will make me NOT do it immediately) I have reached my pain threshold and decided to give Dupixent a yes. My Best Yes.  As Lysa taught me, a yes is always a no to something else. So, the big No is breastfeeding. Which, first time mom me was relieved to say goodbye to. I stopped breastfeeding Lincoln when he was around 8 months old and it was hands down the best choice for our family at the time, but second time mom me is having a harder time with closing this chapter. Emmeline is our last biological baby (we’ve always talked about fostering or adopting, but that is just a twinkle in our eye..) and I am struggling with closing the chapter on the babymaking days and all the wonder and magic and dreaminess of it all. These are the days I dreamed about, you know? So much of her story has been so redemptive to me. My pregnancy, birth and even breastfeeding went so much smoother and was just so joy-filled, that I just really don’t ever want it to end. Alas, reality has reared it’s ugly, red, itchy face and I must return from my visit to the stars. It’s taken a few weeks, quite a bit of bartering with God, waiting-and-seeing, crying and bottle and paci hunting, but the time has come. My healing will be arriving on Wednesday on a Refrigerated White Horse requiring a signature and my big, sad No will lead way to a bunch of Yeses that I haven’t said in years. I’ll be saying yes to some of these things without fear for my skin to retaliate. Cannot wait. Also, I have not even considered that this treatment will not work for me so, please pray with me that it will.

short sleeves, bathing my kids, a long hot shower, wearing mascara, wearing my wedding rings, swimming in the summer, sweating, exercising, hairspray for my crazy baby hairs, pimento cheese, pet my dogs, wash dishes, hold hands with people at church, paint my nails, try new foods, wear my hair down, use regular soap in public bathrooms, bend and extend my arms fully, scratch without fear, get a pedicure, get a massage, get a haircut, get ice cream?!, eat at the State Fair, wear sunscreen, snuggle sweaty sleeping babies, clean the bathroom, holding my camera with whole fingers without cracks, epsom salt baths to relax (not out of necessity), sleeping all night, UV rays from the sun, walks outside, crying while watching a movie 

Last week I set up some self portraits of me and my sweet girl in our special place. As deep as the pain goes, the joy goes just as high– and that chair has been the place for it all. Snuggled her brother in that chair when she was barely a blueberry in my belly. He told me she was a “sister” weeks before we really knew. Those early baby piranha nursing days. Cluster feeds from 6-10pm for what seemed like months. The time she pooped on the wall. Rocking a stuffy baby to sleep, and many sleepy snuggles to come (she just doesn’t know it yet). That chair is holy ground.

I stumbled upon a few eczema hashtags on Instagram recently and wanted to contribute. Most of the images were expressionless faces, and I thought I’d mix it up a bit with a smile. This disease is the absolute pits. A slow torture and an unpredictable thief. But here’s the thing, it’s not anything we did or that we didn’t do. It just is what it is, and it’s up to us to choose joy. We just gotta. I hadn’t really realized how bad it had gotten because my brain just stopped feeling it. All my fingers were cracked, open wounds around and I legit didn’t feel them. I’d avoided mirrors for a few days and not really made eye contact with myself. When I looked at these photos on the back of my camera I remember hearing a sob and realizing it was my own. It was like looking at someone else’s diseased body.

I’ve never been particularly attached my appearance. I’ve always been one to choose comfort over style, sleep over a shower, money in my pocket over a haircut or makeup… so while I would definitely prefer to not wake up disfigured or oozing some mornings, I’ve adjusted to the no-make-up and one hair wash a week lifestyle just fine. Now that I’m a girl mama, I’ve been kind of worried about how I’ll teach her to do her hair (I need to take a class, for real) or make up or dress or other girly things, but I hope she looks at these pictures in her teens, twenties or even when she’s thirty like me and see that beauty is so much more than skin deep. Yes, daughter, we should shower. But also, your face isn’t everything. Your soul matters, your heart matters and also, being funny matters (please be funny, my little girl!). 

These are some of my favorite pictures of she and I to date. Strangely enough, I’m at a loss for words to describe why. Behold, he is doing a new thing. Same disease on me, but a new thing in me, for sure.