I'll admit, I was skeptical when I picked Skin Cleanse up. One of my biggest bugbears, for basically half my life, has been my skin. Okay, it's not the worst skin in the world - just bad enough to be embarrassing. I spent what feels like my entire teen years buying books, creams, gadgets, lotions, potions, special cloths, brushes, and even the odd DVD in the hope of sorting out my problem skin.
And then when I hit my twenties, I thought, thank goodness, perhaps I'll grow out of bad skin at last. Only, not so much. In fairness, without the deluge of delightful pubescent hormones, it did improve. A bit. But I hated having blemishes that were often red, sore and downright uncomfortable. And for some reason, this year, things started to get even worse. The skin on my back was already plagued by blemishes enough that I hadn't worn a bikini or a strappy top since I was about fourteen. But lately, no matter how much I exfoliated, moisturised or cleansed, the problem was spreading from my back and shoulders down to my arms as well. I tried everything, from spa treatments to prescription meds, and nothing helped.
So I bought Skin Cleanse hoping, but not really expecting much. Reviews on GoodReads were mixed. But it was Adina's author photo that really intrigued me. It was probably airbrushed, I know that. But her skin looked fantastic - plush and rosy and glowing. I have got, I thought, to get me some of that.
One of the first things Adina recommends is an elimination diet. I have struggled with disordered eating, so I'm very careful about committing to any eating plans (other than that well-known 'seafood diet' - you know the one, right?). I decided to try her non-judgemental food journalling technique to see if I could pinpoint anything that might be causing my breakouts. But then, I couldn't wait through a fortnight's food journalling to read the rest of the book. If there was something in there that could solve my skin issues, I wanted it now. So I read on.
I learned about the harmful, unregulated and potentially toxic ingredients lurking in the beauty products I had - ironically - bought in the hopes of helping my skin. I took the book into the bathroom and went through my entire array of products. I discovered that my face mask and body lotion contained formaldehyde. The scrub I was using on my back, and my daily facial moisturiser, both contained petroleum. No wonder my skin was upset.
I bagged up and chucked out a whole range of products (with the notable exceptions being everything I had from Lush, a handful of Body Shop products, my Pure Chimp cleanser and the Golden Silk oil I bought from a local independent health shop).
I am now four months into a stripped-back, natural skincare routine. The only 'products' I have used on my back are water, olive oil, apple cider vinegar and sea salt. I was nervous about using oil on my back in case it made the problem worse, but my skin is softer - almost velvety, if I do say so myself - and I have had no more breakouts. The skin is not so red and irritated. My face was visibly clearer and felt smoother after only three days. After a month, I no longer needed foundation or concealer.
Unfortunately, because I over-excitedly tweaked my diet and my product regime at the same time, I can't say which has made the greater difference. I think that many of the immediate, visible differences have been down to changing my approach to skincare. There's a nice mental effect too, I actually feel like I am caring for my skin now, not just covering it in more and more product. I'm also planning to implement more of Adina's suggestions, such as regular meditation and exercise (both of which I guess I should be doing anyway... oops).
So despite my initial misgivings, I have to give Skin Cleanse five out of five stars, because it has saved me money (and time in the mornings) and given my self-confidence a massive boost. I have even been seen out in a strappy top once or twice this summer! I can't promise that this book will help everyone, but it helped me, and if nothing else, you probably don't want to be putting petroleum on your face.