A Guide to Priscilla’s Science-Based Skin Health & Wound Care

Introduction

I’ve learned a lot about skin since my accident down in Sydney the day before New Years’ Eve 2019. At the time of writing this, it has been just 8 months since my accident. Aside from sustaining 7-8 facial fractures I also had a whopping 21 stitches sewn across my face right up to where I almost lost my eyeball. At the time I was more concerned with whether to have titanium plates and screws put into my face, bone asymmetry issues, ensuring I kept my vision and my eye was able to drain properly than I was about my appearance. I also suffered nerve damage. After a couple of weeks of the magnitude of what happened to my face at 43 years of age began to settle in I decided I would use my research skills as a clinical nutritionist (thank you Deakin University) to help heal my face. The scientific literature took me down a rabbit hole of healing from the inside out with support from the outside in. In this blog post, I am sharing my most important findings, and what I did. My healing journey continues. 

Before we get into this I would like to preface by saying that I have zero affiliation with ANY of the companies’ products I am sharing with you that I use. None. Integrity is high on my list, so there’s no kickbacks, freebies, or funny stuff going on here. I have nothing to sell. I am simply sharing with you what worked for me anecdotally. It is my hope that by sharing this information it might help others. Genetically, we are all different and genetics do play a role in the healing process. So too does epigenetics (modification of gene expression through lifestyle and environmental factors, which may influence epigenetic mechanisms,) which I was most interested in. This is not a substitute for medical advice and is for educational purposes only. Please consult your physician if you require any sort of wound management. 

I must admit I am a sucker for fresh clean dewy skin. In my late teenage years and into my twenties I was plagued with acne, which precipitated my taking Roaccutane and drying my skin out. I also enjoyed eating a lot of fried foods, sugar and having late nights (tis’ the season right?) I thought nutrition was a fruit bowl and granola for breakfast (or vegemite on a crumpet), a sandwich for lunch, and bangers and mash for dinner followed by a paddle pop for dessert. Unbeknownst to me, I was riding the blood glucose spike crash crave rollercoaster daily with an imbalanced gut microbiome, however, this was rarely discussed back then, so I was completely oblivious. Exercise was sweating it out at the gym for hours – maybe once every 6 months, or so and some surfing where I would repeatedly burn my face from the sun (Australia has no ozone layer) and have it peel again and again. Sleep, well let’s just say my evenings wouldn’t really get underway until 10pm to meet my friends in Sydney’s CBD! I ran my body like a beat-up Ford Pinto and had no idea how to take care of it so that it hummed like a Tesla. All this is to say, my skin took a serious beating. 

Fast forward to now. My skin is the most nourished, clear, plump, dewy and even looking than it has ever been in my entire life! As a clinical functional nutritionist skin health is at the top of my list and what I have learned in short is that our skin is a direct reflection of our diet and lifestyle. Period. 

A snippet of skin-science

Skin is the largest organ of the human body and also the boundary between us as an organism and our environment. As such, the skin is subjected not only to the internal aging process but also to various external stressors. Let’s consider some of the beneficial “anti-aging” effects of increased reactive oxygen species (ROS.) Antioxidants such as carotenoids, tocophenols, and flavonoids, as well as vitamins (A, C, D, and E), essential omega-3-fatty acids, some proteins, and lactobacilli, have been referred as agents capable of promoting skin health. 

Skin-Gut Axis

A growing body of evidence links an imbalanced gut microbiome to sub-optimal skin with increased inflammation leading to skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis, dermatitis, etc. This is not new news as The ‘brain-gut-skin axis,’ was initially proposed by John H. Stokes and Donald M. Pillsbury in 1930. They hypothesized that negative emotional states such as depression and anxiety alter the gastrointestinal function and lead to changes in normal gut flora, increased intestinal permeability, and systemic inflammation. Research in the scientific literature and clinical studies have demonstrated the gut microbiome’s contribution to host homeostasis, allostasis, and the pathogenesis of disease. Through complex immune mechanisms, the influence of the gut microbiome extends to involve distant organ systems including the skin. Inflammation, oxidative stress, glycemic control, tissue lipid levels, pathogenic bacteria, as well as levels of neuropeptides and mood-regulating neurotransmitters affect our skin. 

Brain-Skin Connection

Emerging research has demonstrated that skin is not only a target of psychological stress signaling modulation, it also actively participates in the stress response by a local HPA axis, peripheral nerve endings, and local skin cells including keratinocytes, mast cells, and immune cells. Researchers have found feedback mechanisms and crosstalk between the brain and the skin, and pro-inflammatory cytokines and neurogenic inflammatory pathways, which play a significant role in mediating such responses. Stress may induce telomere shortening (a hot topic of research), cortisol and epigenetic modulation have been proposed. Telomere shortening can lead to the down-regulation of mitochondria (the energy powerhouse inside every cell.) This could constitute a vicious cycle where stress from lifestyle or habits further exacerbates the skin damage and signs of aging.

Skin & Sleep

A recent study established the negative effects of sleep deprivation on skin aging. It was found that poor quality sleepers showed increased signs of skin aging including fine lines, uneven pigmentation, and reduced elasticity. When we skip out on quality sleep our cortisol levels increase, which triggers inflammation. Inflammation actually breaks down the proteins in the skin making its appearance less radiant and smooth. Many women who are nearing menopause notice that their quality of sleep deteriorates and their skin suffers. In addition, insulin resistance has been shown by researchers in clinical sleep trials to be high after just one night of poor sleep. This adversely impacts our endocrine (hormone) system, especially our hunger hormones which makes us hungrier than usual and has a direct impact on blood glucose levels. Aside from our endocrine system sleep also regulates our glymphatic system that promotes the disposal of waste products clearing the brain of harmful metabolites such as amyloid-beta that build up during the time we are awake and consolidating memory. Sleep is our superpower.

Skin & Exercise

Exercise helps to increase blood flow, which carries oxygen and nutrients to the cells including the skin. Whilst exercise does not detoxify the skin as some might believe (that’s mostly the job of our liver) it does help to flush cellular debris. Exercise has also been shown in the scientific literature to lower stress levels, which can also be a contributing factor to poor skin health. Stress and skin health is an emerging field of science, so more studies are required. While exercise is associated with numerous anti-aging benefits, there is no correlation between exercise and skin tissue directly.

Skin & Sun

Ultraviolet B – UVB, ultraviolet A – UVA and Infrared A – IRA are all associated with extrinsic (exposure to various environmental elements) skin aging processes. The mechanisms involved in UV-induced skin ageing processes are multiple and complex. They include Mitochondrial damage, arylhydrocarbon receptor (AhR) signalling, receptor-initiated signalling telomere-based DNA damage and protein oxidation. Research by Flament et al. suggests that UV exposure is responsible for 80% of visible facial ageing (other research indicates up to 90%) and chronic UV exposure is associated with loss of pigmentation and vascular homogeneities, loss of skin elasticity and degradation of skin texture.

Even before healing my scar, I would always wear a hat in the sun and certainly, now I don’t stand in the sun without one. I always wear an SPF too (see below.) Scars are highly sensitive to sunlight and can burn much quicker than healthy skin. I have been VERY careful to shield my face (in particular my scar area) when active out in the sun, as research suggests for at least one year. Otherwise, scar healing halts and can worsen from exposure to the sun making the scar tissue darker and thicker, which is often irreversible. 

Skin & Telomerase 

Telomeres have an important role in the life of skin cells, including the ageing of the skin. In short, they are the caps on either end of our chromosomes that protect our DNA from damage. As we age they get shorter until they can no longer replenish tissue known as senescence. Short telomeres influence the early onset of ageing diseases (heart disease, some cancers, stroke, diabetes, dementia, etc) and age our skin. If telomere shortening is involved in skin ageing, then activation of telomerase should ameliorate skin ageing. Some researchers suggest that antioxidants: Vitamin C, E and selenium may help to increase our telomerase.

Polyphenols and carotenoids are the two major types of phytochemical antioxidants found in plant foods. Consuming plants deep in colour that include dark leafy greens (#4 of my 5 to thrive flexible food framework) and coloured cellular carbohydrates – eat the rainbow (#5 of my 5 to thrive) is how we get them. These include non-starchy and starchy vegetables, seaweed, lacto-fermented vegetables and low glycemic fruits deep in colour like berries. Make sure you consume these with some healthy fat (avocado, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, nuts and seeds, etc) for the bioavailability and uptake of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K found in vegetables and fruits.

Skin & AGE’s

The correlation between diet and skin health has become a highly popular subject over the years. One important mechanism is demonstrated by the advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which have the ability to exert their negative effects by impacting on both intrinsic (natural) and extrinsic (exposure to environmental elements) skin ageing mechanisms. AGE’s are proteins, or lipids that become glycated as a result of exposure to sugars. Dietary glucose and fructose are involved in the production of AGEs which induce changes in cutaneous collagen, elastin and fibronectin. Accumulation of AGEs in skin is strongly associated with increased stiffness and reduced elasticity, as they deplete the body of antioxidant stores. Antioxidants keep free radicals in check and protect collagen. Research shows efficacy in the prevention of AGE’s is to keep blood glucose levels regulated and include plenty of dietary dark leafy greens.

Industrialised seed/ vegetable oils & skin

These are highly inflammatory oils that drive inflammation. These oils age us and make our skin look depleted as they integrate into our cells. These include sunflower, safflower, canola, soy, corn, rapeseed, cottonseed, vegetable oils, and anything that says hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated on the label. They are full of the wrong kinds of omega 6’s and are heated to the point of being oxidized to ensure a longer shelf life for the manufacturer at the expense of our health and our skin! Unfortunately, they lurk in most packaged foods (read your labels and lean mostly on whole foods) and are unstable acting as free radicals in the body. Opt for healthy whole food fats and oils such as avocado, nuts, seeds, eggs, fatty fish, grass-fed/ finished meat, extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, etc. These healthy fats act as messengers, helping proteins do their jobs. They also start chemical reactions involved in growth, immune function, reproduction, and other aspects of basic metabolism.

When we require energy to exercise our bodies use enzymes called lipases to break down stored triglycerides. The cell’s energy powerhouse, (mitochondria) can then create more of the body’s main energy source: adenosine triphosphate, or ATP. Dietary fats nourish the skin and prevent dryness by maintaining healthy hydrated skin. They are critical for the uptake of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, which are stored in the liver and fatty tissues. These include dark leafy greens and coloured cellular carbohydrates (vegetables and fruits deep in colour.) Without them, you will just pee them out.

Collagen and skin

As a major extracellular matrix (ECM) protein, collagen is the most abundant protein in humans and accounts for 1/3 of our total body protein with types I, II, and III. It makes up our skin, bones, teeth, ligaments, cartilage, blood vessels, intestinal tract, eye corneas, and more! It is not a complete protein, however, it is higher in glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline, amino acids that provide strength and structure. Increasing our collagen intake is important, especially as we age, as our ability to synthesize collagen decreases. The role of collagen specific to wound healing is to attract fibroblasts and encourage deposition of new collagen to the wound site which helps to stimulate new tissue growth. While bovine collagen (I consume from pasture-raised grass-fed cows) contains both Types I and Type III collagen, marine collagen is primarily Type I collagen. Vitamin C is required for the uptake of collagen. I supplement 20g of collagen per day in my morning Thrive Smoothie post-workout, which contains greens for vitamin C. I also drink 1 Cup of my Healing Bone Broth, which contains approx. 10g collagen and I add a squeeze of lemon juice for vitamin C to increase collagen’s bioavailability. For collagen I use on the daily, I prefer Primal Kitchen Collagen Fuel and Vital Proteins.

I won’t go into the reasons why smoking and alcohol cause skin to age. I am sure most of you are already aware that smoking and excess alcohol consumption cause our skin health to decline rapidly. 

Okay, biology class is over 🙂

After researching it became overwhelmingly evident to me how much diet and lifestyle play a significant role in the healing process and how my daily choices impact my recovery. The pillars of my THRIVE lifestyle have always been nutrition, exercise, sleep, and destress practices, so I was very interested to discover cumulatively how they impact my recovery post-accident. After opting out of surgery to allow natural bone and tissue regeneration each time I returned to my surgeon for a check-up he and his medical staff were in disbelief at my seemingly expedited recovery. My surgeon would say, “whatever you are doing just keep doing it,” “your recovery is truly remarkable,” “it’s rare to see someone heal like this after such severe facial trauma.” These remarks I noted down so that I would never forget the power of living my lifestyle. I have thankfully regained approx 95% of the nerves back around the left side of my mouth, teeth, and gums.

I continued to use my rooted in science T.H.R.I.V.E framework to heal myself

The 5 to thrive: Flexible food framework

Hormones: Hunger regulation & fat burning

Recovery: Sleep & de-stress practises

Insulin sensitivity: Blood glucose balance

Vital gut-health: Microbiota

Exercise: Resistance training & cardio

Nutrition

Optimal nutrition is fundamental to all healing. High-quality macronutrients and micronutrients are key to any recovery process. Vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals/ antioxidants, and isothiocyanates all assist with the reduction of inflammation, detoxification, cell turnover, and renewal, and hence the promotion of skin health. The cosmetic industry which tries to replicate these into expensive topical treatments for the year 2019 in the US made USD$49.2 billion. You can obtain these key ingredients from your food to optimize your skin health for far less $$$ with much higher skin-improvement efficacy. Beauty from the inside out is far more effective than slapping on any cream or gel and is the foundation for naturally beautiful skin.

I invested pre and post-accident in my 5 to thrive flexible food framework. I don’t count calories or macros – I prefer to stay flexible with a sustainable framework that feeds my brain, body, microbiota, skin – the whole enchilada, what we as humans need to thrive! I eat for balanced blood sugar, increased insulin sensitivity, hunger hormone regulation, and feed my good gut buddies in my microbiota. It’s pretty simple. At every meal either on my plate, or in my thrive smoothie I look for the following: 

The 5 to thrive: A flexible food framework

1.  Protein

2.  Healthy fat

3.  Fiber

4.  Dark leafy greens

5.  Coloured cellular carbohydrates (plants with their fiber wall intact in a variety of colours. Eg: land & sea vegetables (mostly non-starchy), lacto-fermented vegetables & fruits deep in colour like berries. 

Every day I consume My Thrive Smoothie (contains the 5 to thrive in a delicious portable meal to go smoothie – I have 10 recipes to choose from!) and 1 cup of my homemade Healing Bone BrothBOTH of which contain collagen. This was an integral dietary part of my healing journey and still is. I drink bone broth now every other day and have my thrive smoothie still daily. 

Circadian Intermittent Fasting (CIF)

I have engaged in ‘circadian intermittent fasting’ (CIF) for about 8 years now. I like to finish dinner between 6:00 – 7 pm (studies support eating early for fat burning and digestion, so eat like a grandma!) This allows my body to focus on healing and not be digesting all night. Most of my intermittent fast is done overnight. I wake up at 5:40 am, meditate, workout fasted, have my herbal tea or (sometimes) a bulletproof coffee (doesn’t raise insulin), and have my break-fast around 10 am – 11 am. This helps reduce snacking and has made me metabolically flexible where I’ve been able to reap all of the brain and body benefits. 

CIF is not for everyone to include children, teens, pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and those who have not had a healthy relationship with food. I recommend going slow with a 12:12 (most do this already), 14:10, and later 16:8 (fasting to eating window respectively.) Research shows that we can reap some of the benefits such as increased autophagy, BDNF, and apoptosis without squeezing ourselves too tight! If you jump in all gusto you will likely send your hormones into freak-out mode, especially if you are female. If you are new to CIF keep it slow, listen to your body, and build over time. I don’t recommend starting eating at 2 pm and late into the night, as this can cause a mismatched circadian rhythm and binge eating.

Stay hydrated!

I keep a drink bottle with me throughout the day and am continuously filling it. Keeping well hydrated is absolutely integral to skin health. How much water do we need to be drinking? As a general rule use this calculation: Your weight (in kg) x 0.033. Eg: If you are 60kg you should drink about 2 litres of water each day. At 90kg you want to consume about 3 litres per day.

Be mindful of your sodium intake (read labels and don’t over-salt your foods.) I prefer to use unrefined salt such as Celtic Sea Salt and Real Salt brands. I put minerals into my water (I use Eidon Ionic Minerals brand) when I train. I don’t recommend any of the sugary electrolytes out there. I rarely ever drink alcohol, maybe twice or three times a year, or less! Alcohol contributes to inflammation in the body, which would be counterproductive to my healing process. 

Supplements I took pre & post-accident & currently take:

High quality supplement brands I trust are (no affiliation): Thorne, Life Extension and Nordic Naturals (DHA/EPA)

DHA/ EPA

Glutathione

Vitamin C

Curcumin

Zinc

Selenium

Basic B Complex

Vitamin D

Probiotic

Note on probiotics: Whilst I am a HUGE fan of sourcing a variety of fiber from our food for ‘pre’ and ‘postbiotics,’ as a plethora of fiber will hep to proliferate a plethora of good gut buddies also take Thorne FloraMend Prime ‘probiotics.’ Whilst on the more pricey side (you get what you pay for with probiotics) it delivers three bacterial strains in an acid resistant capsule. This was important to me because research tells us that most probiotics do not reach where they need to go due to hydrochloric acid (HCL) in our stomach. In addition, rather than looking for a high colony forming unit (CFU) research the strains you prefer to colonise your gut with depending on your individual health issues, etc. If you are not sure which ones to choose you can work with a health care practitioner.

Note: The two additional supplements I added after I had my accident were: Glutathione and Curcumin. Glutathione is our master antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. It helps to repair cellular damage, reduce oxidative stress, and free radical formation (aging process.) It has been proven that Vitamin C supports glutathione by working as an antioxidant to protect cells from oxidative damage and also maintains the body’s own supply – Selenium is a cofactor. Curcumin is also a potent anti-inflammatory compound. Also, vitamin D is vital to wound healing, however not from direct sunlight as this can cause scarring to darken and thicken. 

Exercise:

Being active was important to me and whilst initially, I couldn’t lift I was told by my surgeon I could walk. Once cleared to lift light weights again I did and then later moved onto heavier weight training on my strength training program. I wanted to keep active, as it helped keep my mind in a positive space where I felt empowered. Exercise was integral to my mental health and outlook. I was thankful I had not developed any PTSD after my accident and jumped back into my training as soon as I was cleared by my surgeon. I will finally launch my training program this year after 18 months of researching, programming, filming, writing, and working with my wonderful developer designing it to fit into an app/style. It’s been a huge undertaking and I can’t wait to share this with all of you. My program helped me to rebuild my not just my physical strength and power, but also my mental strength. 

Sleep:

I prioritized my sleep as much as I could. Despite my accident happening right before the outbreak of COVID-19 here in Hong Kong I knew that in order to heal and recover sleep needed to be at the top of my list with nutrition and exercise. With homeschooling getting tossed on top of the pile (like many of us) of trying to move my business forward I decided rather than staying up late and pushing myself I would prioritize my sleep as much as possible going to bed around 9:30 pm (I am up at 5:40 am) as often as I could. It is truly our ultimate recovery and anecdotally I believe that decision positively impacted my healing. 

Destress practises:

I practice transcendental meditation. I have been off and on with meditation over the years until COVID-19 hit where I desired a coping ‘tool’ where I could escape and return refreshed. This type of meditation does just that for me. I also tried breathwork, however, the transcendental meditation seems to have stuck this time, so I am going with it. I get up at 5:40 am (lie in bed for 5 mins to wake up) then go and meditate in a separate room for 20 minutes. Sitting in stillness for 20 minutes a day has a profound calming and productive effect on the rest of my day, which I have come to love. I am no zen master and still lose it once in a while at my kids, but it helps to feed me in a way food and fitness can’t. Once you get the taste for it much like nutrition and exercise – you can’t ever go back. I also engage in a once a week magnesium bath soak (see below under Bath Soak.) 

On top of my T. H. R. I. V. E framework, I also engaged in wound care management and researched scar care then later after my stitches were removed topical treatments that would have the most efficacy on skin health. Here is what I found:

Topical-Skin Treatments for Wound Care and Beyond

Although I obtain most antioxidants, vitamins, and acids through my food I also sought out these ingredients in my topical skincare for optimal skin health and tissue regeneration. There were two things I did topically that have proven to work for me: 

  1. Initially, whilst my stitches were still in I gently flushed my wound with saline solution. Filtered water, bottled spring water, or any other water for that matter is not sterile and should not be used on wounds, as it contains microorganisms. Saline solution, however, consists of salt water that’s pH balanced. Once my stitches were removed I used silicone strips and silicon gel ONLY on my wound (no other products, as this is what the research supports for hypertrophic and keloid scars.) I kept this up every morning and every night (twice daily) for 6 months (recommended is 90 days). Together, these can help to soften and hopefully flatten the scar. I would cut the strips to fit my wound. I would wear this around the clock day and night. The research I did in the scientific literature showed silicon strips and gel to be efficacious for the following reasons:
  • It increases hydration of the stratum corneum and thereby facilitates regulation of fibroblast production and reduction in collagen production. It results in a softer and flatter scar. It allows the skin to breathe. My scar was raised for some time and I wasn’t sure if it would ever flatten – I am so thankful that it did and I was fastidious about keeping this up for 6 months post-removal of my stitches.
  • It protects the scarred tissue from bacterial invasion and prevents bacteria-induced excessive collagen production in the scar tissue.
  • It modulates the expression of growth factors, fibroblast growth factor β (FGF β), and tumor growth factor β (TGF β). TGF β stimulates fibroblasts to synthesize collagen and fibronectin. FGF β normalizes the collagen synthesis in an abnormal scar and increases the level of collagenases which breaks down the excess collagen. The balance of fibrogenesis and fibrolysis is ultimately restored.
  • Silicone gel reduces itching and discomfort associated with scars.
  1. After my scar tissue had fully sealed and healed to a certain degree I began my next plan of action. I began researching all of the below ingredients and slowly introduced them to my regime. I researched and found my new favorite brand YEOUTH (I have zero affiliation with this company) which was started by a former chemist. I have seen marked changes in both my scar pigmentation and it fading (to the tune of my surgeon putting on his bifocals and asking “where is it?”)

When choosing topical products for your skin look for the following ingredients below in them. I get all of these ingredients in the main skincare brand I love and use, YEOUTH. I have shared my morning and evening skincare routine with you below following the photos.

Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA) (I use):  Water-soluble acids that consist of tiny molecules that work by penetrating the skin’s surface and melting the intercellular bonds that hold it together, helping the skin’s natural shedding process. AHA increases apoptosis (regeneration/ cell turnover.) They consist of: Glycolic acid (sugar cane), magic (fruit/ apple), tartaric acid (wine/ grapes), citrus (citrus) lactic (milk/ plants.) AHAs are best for normal to dry and sun-damaged skin (mine!) as they enhance the skin’s moisture content, reduce the visible signs of sun damage, and aid in getting rid of dead skin cell build-up. 

Unlike scrubs, chemical exfoliants work by weakening the lipids that bond the upper layer of the skin. This process effectively removes the dull and dead skin that we want to get rid of and promotes healthy cell regeneration to reveal younger, healthier-looking skin. Most at-home chemical exfoliants contain a high enough percentage of acid that effectively slough away the dead skin in the upper layer of your skin. 

Glycolic acid (I use): The most popular AHA used in skincare products is glycolic acid. Glycolic acid (derived from sugar cane) has the smallest molecules out of all AHAs giving it significant exfoliating abilities. It boosts skins collagen production and helps with: Hyperpigmentation, scars, sun damage, and skin-aging and its antimicrobial properties may help prevent acne breakouts. It may also help with scaring (I believe it has helped my scar to fade, however, I did not use glycolic acid on my scar until it was completely sealed and no longer dark pink.) Research suggests that the mechanism of this may be due to epidermal remodeling and accelerated desquamation (in this case invisible skin shedding), which affects skin pigmentation. I did not use this on my face at all for the initial 6 months after my accident then I began using once every 3 weeks, or so.

Beta-hydroxy acids (BHA) (I do not use): Lipid soluble and penetrate deeper into the skin’s surface than AHA. They clean up pores, removing excess sebum and dead skin that are deep-seated below the skin’s surface. They are best in treating oily and acne-prone skin types.

Salicylic acid (I do not use): Salicylic acid is the most popular BHA found in skincare products. It is naturally derived from the bark of the willow tree. Its light surface exfoliation improves overall skin texture, while the deeper penetration action effectively treats skin problems such as whiteheads, blackheads, and deeper cystic acne. It also has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Hyaluronic Acid (I use): A powerful humectant, which pulls moisture to the surface of the skin. It is a sugar found in our skin that holds water to keep it plump and hydrated. Just like collagen and elastin, the amount of naturally-occurring hyaluronic acid in our bodies decreases as we get older. It makes the skin appear dewier because it improves skin elasticity. 

Ferulic Acid (I use): An antioxidant that fights free-radical damage to reduce signs of ageing. Studies show that Ferulic Acid provides increased stability for Vitamin C and E and may even double its efficacy. 

Vitamin C (I use): A potent antioxidant that protects the skin against free radicals, supports collagen synthesis, cell turnover, and improves texture, radiance, and pigmentation. It can also help with fine lines. 

Vitamin E (I use): Fights free radicals, helps to protect the skin from damage, and is anti-inflammatory. It is highly moisturizing and helps to strengthen the skin barrier function. 

Vitamin A – Retinol (I use): Helps build collagen, increases skin cell turnover, smoothes out the skin, and minimizes wrinkles. Retinol has been shown to help fade scars over time as Vitamin A has been shown to help with wound healing, bone formation, and growth. Vitamin A retinol helps cells reproduce normally, a process called cellular differentiation. Retinol makes skin more sensitive to burning in the sun, so I would only put this on at night and always wear a hat and SPF if outside in the sun. This is not recommended for pregnant women.

Tripeptide 31 (I use): A synthetic peptide containing three amino acid residues joined by peptide bonds. Tripeptide 1 and Tripeptide 3 are anti-aging, as they target cell renewal through the regeneration of collagen. These two tripeptides have retinol-like effects on the skin. They improve the look of skin texture and tone and help promote firmness and skin elasticity.

Vitamin E oil & Rosehip oil (I use): Vitamin E oil is a fat-soluble antioxidant. It protects the skin and acts as a free-radical scavenger. Experimental studies suggest that vitamin E has antitumorigenic and photoprotective properties. However, there is a lack of controlled clinical trials providing efficacy for topical vitamin E. Rosehip oil is known for its high level of phenolic acids. Due to its high composition of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and antioxidants, this oil has relatively high protection against inflammation and oxidative stress. The most abundant fatty acid is linoleic acid followed by α-linolenic acid and oleic acid. Once I have all of the topical serums and creams on my skin for the evening I usually pat on some rosehip oil or vitamin E oil as the last layer. I love Now Foods Rosehip and Vitamin E face oils.

Sun Protection Factor (SPF) (I use):  I often use an SPF 50 on my face if I am at the beach with the kids, or paddleboarding on the weekend. The SPF number indicates how long the sun’s UV radiation would take to redden the skin when using the product exactly as directed versus the amount of time without any sunscreen. For example, SPF 30 really means: It would take you 30 x longer to burn than if you weren’t wearing sunscreen. An SPF of 30 allows about 3% of UVB rays to hit your skin. An SPF of 50 allows about 2% of those rays through.

I always, always, always wear a hat, baseball ball cap, or visa in the sun. Repeated from above in Skin & Sun: Scars are highly sensitive to sunlight and can burn much quicker than healthy skin. I have been VERY careful to shield my face (in particular my scar area) when active out in the sun, as research suggests for at least one year. Otherwise, would healing halts and can worsen from exposure to the sun making the scar tissue darker and thicker, which is often irreversible. 

Hair Care (I use):  I prefer clean hair care products less the chemical and endocrine disruptors, so my family and I use Philip B hair shampoo and conditioner. See picture below for which ones I use.

Bath Soak (I use):  I love Now Foods magnesium flakes in the bath. Magnesium is natures relaxer and a magnesium soak helps with post-exercise muscle recovery. I also drink Magnesium (I use brand Thorne) at night. Dark leafy greens contain magnesium, which I consume plenty of in my thrive smoothie and with my other 5 to thrive meals. I love essential oils too and use DoTerra oils and Aura Cacia oils. Candles always make for the perfect relaxing ambiance in a bath too. 

Make-up beauty products (I use): My make up routine is super simple. I rarely use foundation, although I own some. Most days I don’t wear any, but if I do its mascara and a moisturising natural tone lipstick. I use mostly Honest Beauty by Jessica Alba and I supplement some MAC too. I am not a purist and just do the best with what I can. I prefer spending money on beauty from the inside out (consuming dark leafy greens and coloured cellular carbohydrates deep in colour that resemble the rainbow) while ensuring my skin is nourished and well hydrated topically with the aforementioned antioxidants, vitamins, acids, etc.

Here are some pictures of what I use *Note: (I stopped using the silicone gel and strips 6 months post-accident.) See my morning & evening skincare routine below.

Silicone strips & gel for wound management post-stitches
The skin care brand I use and love. The founder is a Chemist.
Other brands I like. I especially Love Now Foods facial oils.
This cream makes my skin feel baby smooth every time. So too does my Yeouth creams.
Non-toxic hair care myself and my entire family use.
My make up routine is simple. I rarely ever wear foundation.
Love these for a bath soak.
These are the supplements I take and the brands I trust.
Research shows most probiotics don’t make it to where they need to go due to hydrochloric acid (HCL) in our stomach. I take these ones by Thorne because they have an acid resistant coating and contain the three strains I prefer.
This is a very simple deodorant, which I prefer less all of the carcinogens found in most. I shake it right before I put it on and it goes on smooth. I especially like that unlike most ‘natural’ deodorants it dries clear and not chalky. It has a mild fragrance.
These are the pasture raised grass-fed brands of collagen I use.
My Healing Bone Broth has been a staple in my healing journey.

My personal skincare routine using the above aforementioned and pictured products:

Morning routine (in order) Brand YEOUTH ~ Vitamin C Facial Cleanser, Balancing Facial Toner, Hyaluronic Acid Plus, Vitamin C & E, Day/ Night Cream. If I am going outside I will also use an SPF and wear a ball cap.

Evening routine (in order) Brand YEOUTH ~ Vitamin C Facial Cleanser, Balancing Facial Toner, Hyaluronic Acid Plus, Retinol Serum, Retinol Moisturizer or Anti-Aging Super Serum (I alternate between these two.) To finish, I take about 3 x drops of rosehip or vitamin E oil and gently pat onto my face from Now Foods.

Spa time (in order) Brand YEOUTH ~ Vitamin C Facial Cleanser. Either the Glycolic Acid 30% Gel Peel or Dead Sea Mask (read instructions before use.) Water and face washer cloth to gently remove mask/ peel. Then I continue with: Balancing Facial Toner, Hyaluronic Acid Plus, Anti-Aging Moisturizer L22 (Retinol Serum and Retinol Moisturizer / vitamin A products must NOT be used for 48 hours following the Glycolic Acid 30% Gel Peel).

I am truly thankful for this experience. It opened my eyes like never before. The appreciation and love I have for my family, my brain, my body, my lifestyle is unequivocal. This made me a better person. It EMPOWERED me. Through my healing process, I have come to marvel at how much our daily choices matter to this miraculous vessel we live in.”

I have documented my entire healing journey in Opened I, II, III, IV in my highlights on Instagram. I would love to hear from you if this has been helpful to you? I can be found mostly on Instagram here: @thrivewithpriscilla Below I have included pictures of everything aforementioned that I have used (and most I am still using) so that you have a visual to search up. Also, I have pages and pages of PubMed research references but have only included a limited bunch below.

References – Just a slice of the number of references I have accumulated.

Bercik P, Collins S. M. (2014). “The effects of inflammation, infection and antibiotics on the microbiota-gut-brain axis,” in Microbial Endocrinology: the Microbiota-Gut-Brain Axis in Health and Disease. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology Vol. 817 eds Lyte M., Cryan J. (New York, NY: springer; ). [Google Scholar]

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Choi, F.D, Sung, C.T, Juhasz, M.L, Mesinkovsk, N.A. Oral Collagen Supplementation: A Systematic Review of Dermatological Applications. J. Drugs. Dermatol. 201918, 9–16. [Google Scholar]

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Emery CF, Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Glaser R, et al. Exercise accelerates wound healing among healthy older adults: A preliminary investigation. Journals of Gerontology Series a-Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences. 2005;60(11):1432–36. [PubMed

Immokawa G. & Ishida K. Inhibitors of intracellular signaling pathways that lead to stimulated epidermal pigmentation: perspective of anti-pigmenting agents. Int J Mol Sci 15, 8293–8315 (2014). [PubMed

Kosowski TR, McCarthy C, Reavey PL, et al. A systematic review of patient-reported outcome measures after facial cosmetic surgery and/or nonsurgical facial rejuvenation. Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 2009;123:1819–1827. [PubMed

Lohwasser C., Neureiter D., Weigle B., Kichner T. & Schuppan D. The receptor for advanced glycation end products is highly expressed in the skin and upregulated by advanced glycation end products and tumor necrosis factor-alpha. J Invest Dermatol 126, 291–299 (2006). [PubMed]

Ogawa R.  The most current algorithms for the treatment and prevention of hypertrophic scars and keloids. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2010; 125: 557– 68.[PubMed]

Peguet-Navarro J., Dezutter-Dambuyant C., Buetler T. M., Leclaire J., Smola H., Blum S., et al. (2008). Supplementation with oral probiotic bacteria protects human cutaneous immune homeostasis after UV exposure – double blind, randomized, placebo controlled clinical trial. Eur. J. Dermatol. 18504–511. 10.1684/ejd.2008.0496 [PubMed]

Perez-Sanchez, A.; Barrajon-Catalan, E.; Herranz-Lopez, M.; Micol, V. Nutraceuticals for Skin Care: A Comprehensive Review of Human Clinical Studies. Nutrients 201810, 403. [PubMed]

Proksch, E., Segger, D., Degwert, J., Schunck, M.; Zague, V., Oesser, S. Oral Supplementation of Specific Collagen Peptides has Beneficial Effects on Human Skin Physiology: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Skin Pharmacol. Physiol. 201427, 47–55. [Google Scholar]

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Walburn J, Vedhara K, Hankins M, et al. Psychological stress and wound healing in humans: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Psychosom Res. 2009;67(3):253–71. [PubMed

Watson H., Mitra S., Croden F.C., Taylor M., Wood H.M., Perry S.L., Spencer J.A., Quirke P., Toogood G.J., Lawton C.L., et al. A randomized trial of the effect of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplements on the human intestinal microbiota. Gut. 2017;67:1974–1983. doi: 10.1136/gutjnl-2017-314968. [PubMed]

Zague, V., do Amaral, J.B., Rezende Teixeira, P., de Oliveira Niero, E.L., Lauand, C., Machado-Santelli, G.M. Collagen Peptides Modulate the Metabolism of Extracellular Matrix by Human Dermal Fibroblasts Derived from Sun-Protected and Sun-Exposed Body Sites. Cell Biol. Int. 201842, 95–104. [Google Scholar]

Zbytek B, Pfeffer L M, Slominski A T. CRH inhibits NF-kappa B signaling in human melanocytes. Peptides. 2006;27 (12):3276–3283. [PubMed

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