If I were to identify a segment of MadeOn customers very specifically, I might say something like this:
She’s probably a woman, likely a mom, who either she or her child, has some form of skin condition, whether it be a rash, itchy skin, and/or extreme dry, flakiness. Allergies are likely a culprit, although she may not know it.
Over the past few years, I’ve known Chris as someone who has 1.) suffered from unexplained skin conditions caused by unknown allergies, 2.) took charge of her health to figure out what those allergies were, 3.) muddled through medical professionals, both conventional and natural-minded, to get help, 4.) finally identified the cause when she was getting ready for a date, 5.) eventually found alternative skin care products to use, and foods to eat.
She’s living a much richer life as a result.
I asked her if I could share her story with you. Here’s my interview with Chris:
My health started going downhill once I headed to boarding school and college. By the time I was a freshman in college, I had weird symptoms that just didn’t feel right to a person my age who wanted to be active but was unable to do much but get through the day. My college buddies would joke that I was allergic to the world. I brushed those remarks off, but they were truer than we would ever have guessed. After 18 months of modern medicine searching for what was wrong, I was given a list of things that it wasn’t and that it was all in my head.
Then I had two unexplained visits to the ER with wide spread cascading hives. Obviously, it wasn’t in my head.
I moved from the East Coast to the West Coast and stumbled on teas in the grocery store that could be used for different ailments. I cheered because really I was done with pills and being used as a pin cushion. This started me down the path, but I was only dipping a toe in the water. I hadn’t changed anything else. I was still just as sick but I refused to live on allergy medicine.
My thesis year in art school, a friend handed me a business card for a Naturopathic Doctor. I was desperate – so desperate that I stuck with it for over 6 months. Nothing really got better except that my list of things to avoid grew. It wasn’t til I was finishing up an appointment with her and decided to get ready for a date with my now husband that I triggered the main reason I had been going to see this Doctor. She immediately pinpointed my problem as a Petroleum allergy.
I had used a face wash product to get ready for my date. I was still at the appointment (they would last for 2-3 hours while they did allergy testing). The face wash triggered giant hives to pop up on my back and shoulders which were not touched by the face wash product. My only trigger for the hives is petroleum, but it was such a rare allergy that she had started with foods and other common items. It took 9 months to find the source. I did have reactions to other allergens but not anything huge like the hives. It was another modern medicine doctor that finally figured out the link between my ER visits and the petroleum.
Now I had some answers. I also saw a very competent chiropractor who discovered the “why” behind the issues that had originally sent me to find answers at age 18. He figured out my exact issue and explained it to me very clearly. He didn’t just treat the symptoms; he performed x-rays to diagnose the problem. I saw him for over 10 years. I learned from him that I needed to clean up my life. I am very thankful our world was starting to wake up to petrochemicals in our daily interactions with products we ate and used. I just had to switch faster than everyone else. When you are a body product junky and see your entire collection of products including your “EO perfume” tossed, you get a wakeup call. Sadly I still didn’t have enough energy to tackle it all. That piece of the puzzle was solved 3 years later. By the time I turned 30, I felt the way I had expected I should have been feeling at 20.
The Body Shop at the time diluted their essential oil perfumes in mineral oil. I do not know if they have stopped using petroleum products in their formulas, but at that time (2004) I owned everything from their store and it all got tossed by my allergist. It was a complete shock.
Petroleum is found in EVERYTHING, literally: Food, Medicine, Skin products, Cleaning products, Clothing, food dyes, and Dental care. The list could go on in more detail, but the ingredient list is massive. Some names are too hard to spell, but I will list the most common ones: Glycerin (this comes from 2 sources – vegetable or petroleum. I do not buy undefined Glycerin products because I was informed that one batch may be safe but the next might not because they buy whichever one is cheaper at the time), Mineral oil (only petroleum source), Paraffin wax (only petroleum source), White Vinegar (2 sources – petroleum or vegetable based, brands that care will list if they are petroleum free), all food dyes, fragrance oils, plastics (lots of sources – petroleum, food based, wood and possibly other sources) and propylene glycol.
The list of products and companies to avoid is too long. I admire and support companies that promote and practice transparency in labeling. 100% Organic means it’s safe for me. 100% Natural is unregulated and petroleum is natural – this is how I think The Body Shop got away with it. My dad spent his career getting petroleum out of the ground and to consumers for their cars. Just because it’s from the earth doesn’t mean it’s meant to be used in or on humans. I know not everyone can afford to pay for the 100% Organic seal or to claim it. So in those situations, I look for clear labeling and producers who are willing to find out about their base ingredients sourcing.
Then I got pregnant. The strong reminder to avoid prescription drugs or possibly face death was on the forefront of my mind.
Petroleum is considered an inert carrier or binder by the medical world. Most doctors wouldn’t even know it’s in a drug they prescribe. Only the pharmacist can accurately answer this question by looking at the insert for that specific drug. The local hospital to us at the time was known for not checking all the specifics of drug allergies. One of the ladies in my church bible study had her heart stop because they gave her a drug and then refused to even tell her the drug. For this reason alone, I was scared that their inattention and refusal to inform might just end my life.
I entered the world of midwives and herbs. I was still just doing what I was told, not knowing how to be proactive. When our new one arrived, I wanted a holistic pediatrician, but most in our small town were so busy that I decided I needed to broaden my own knowledge base to deal with most things at home and only bother the doctors with the situations outside my knowledge scope. I was doing well, but still wanted more training. None of the programs I found seemed to be what I was looking for until right before my second child’s birth. At that point, I got a free class on natural health and EOs from Vintage Remedies. As I took the class, I wanted to know more. I consulted my husband and decided to focus on the 2 classes that fit my immediate needs: Pediatric Botanicals and Foundations of Herbalism. I wanted to go all out and do the Family Herbalism class, but we were trying to get out of debt and pay off our mortgage, so I could only do what we had money in the bank to purchase. That was over 18 months ago that I started classes.
I originally started to help my family, but I love helping others when they ask. For anyone reading this, feel free to send questions via Renee and I will do my best to answer things based on my current level of training.
I adore Trader Joe’s, Endangered Species, Theo’s, and Alter Ego.
So there you have it. I hope Chris’ story gives you hope if you’re dealing with skin break-outs that you can’t find the cause of. Finding the right health care professional is crucial, and putting your skin care products on an elimination diet might be just as important as eliminating foods as a way to identify the allergen. If you have a story like Chris’, where you had a skin care problem and then discovered the solution, email me! I’d love to feature it. You never know who you’ll help!