Deactivating products for my reactive skin


Ok - glad we cleared that up. Hi. My name is Raj Barker and whilst my skin appears seemingly calm, I’m here to inform you that in fact - it is a temperamental, moody piece of work. After almost 33 years on this planet I feel like I have finally figured out the right amount of bribes and good food to get her to chill. But sometimes she backflips on me and I realize I know NOTHING.

So, after my many years of trials and tribulations between my epidermis and me, I am here to shed some light on products that have worked for me and why. Most things won’t break your bank budget and everything is a hand-on-heart, totally real and honest recall.

A little back story of my skin journey. She started out pretty nice. I grew up having a pale but dewy (if I do say so myself) complexion. Once I hit around the age of 13 - I think (well, I believe) the antibiotics I had been munching on for my reoccurring middle ear infections and weak chest (hello bronchitis) started to rear their ugly side effects. Perhaps my stable diet of canteen sugar was also coming in hot with a vicious backlash. I started to get those lovely puberty pimples - like I wasn’t going through enough at my all girls private catholic school on Sydney’s North Shore. My darling, most beautiful and amazing Mum was just as offended by these facial spots as I was and together we set out on a quest to try EVERY healing modality and method you could imagine. Being 13 I had no income so my Mum really did sacrifice so much to send me to Dermatologists, Estheticians, Naturopaths and Chinese medicine men. You gotta remember, this was back in 1997 so Holistic Heath was absolutely not a thing. Seeing a Naturopath was wild - but I dug my Mum’s open mind and faith that food and lifestyle really do impact this stuff. Anyway, long story short, nothing worked, at sixteen, moments after my first period (I bloomed late - it was wonderful), I went full steam ahead on the pill also known as OCP also known as birth control. And after a few short weeks, my dewy complexion was back, and my investment in the canteen sugar section was stronger than it had ever been.

I carried on this merry path for the next eight years with no ifs or buts or questions about the tiny pill I was taking like clockwork every single day. During this time I also started smoking and continued to do so for the next five years. If you aren’t versed in the risk that smoking and being on the OCP can imply, basically your risk of breast cancer is drastically increased if the two are combined long term. My big sister was always trying to educate me on this fact but I was in my early twenties and knew better than EVERYONE…Sigh.

I thankfully started to wake up, as I drew closer to my mid twenties, I developed a deep curiosity for alternative health and the more I researched, the more I realized that a) I should probably quit smoking and b) I should stop taking synthetic hormones everyday. I reflected on my mature age and thought my skin had been a response to being a teenager and that it was probably ok now and I didn't need to be on the pill anyway. I was visiting my sister in New York at the time. I was twenty four and I was nearing the end of my current OCP script. I made a decision to not refill the script and to stop taking the OCP for good. But I thought, you know what? That’s brave - you deserve to continue smoking.

Less than a month later, my whole face erupted. The eruption also hit my neck, chest, back and arms. My Mum went back into battle mode with me and I dove headfirst into recovery mode, but vowed never to return to the OCP. Cut to age 32, a Nutritional Medicine degree under my arm (because no matter where I turned - no one could give me an answer, so I decided to study the body for myself), a badge of vegetarianism (to the girl who spent most of her weeknights scowling out steak nights at cheap RSL clubs and bistros across Sydney) and a somewhat tamer, complexion. The majority of this outcome is 1000% credited to diet. I stoped smoking, did a few years of not drinking, upped my fruit and vegetable content, and developed an obsession for Ayurvedic medicine and in turn - Yoga, another huge player in my quest for clear skin.

As it stands on this day, I have a simple and weird skin protocol. I’ll share it below.

  1. Sub out harsh cleaners for an oil. Im not convinced that expensive oils make a big difference. I use plain Jojoba and as long as it’s organic - I’m a fan. My personal fave is this one.

  2. Use Organic Rose Water spray as a toner.

  3. Use the same Jojoba oil as your moisturizer. I made a mixture that is 75% Jojoba oil, 20% Argan oil + 10 drops each of Geranium Essential Oil and Organic Lavender Essential oils both by DoTerra.

  4. In the winter, I also use this moisturizer by the amazing Live, Live on 10th Street in the East Village.

  5. Swap out all harsh body washes for a soap-free alternative. I would drink Dr Bronner’s if I could. Get the Rose. Ugh - the simple things!

  6. Use Sun Potion’s Shea butter as a body moisturizer.

  7. Twice a week, May Lindstrom’s Honey Mud Mask.

  8. Two other separate times a week, apply PLAIN yogurt on your face, chest and any other area you might be having trouble spots with (neck, upper arms). Sounds weird but the premise is to populate the top layer of skin with the good probiotics that are abundant in the yogurt culture.

  9. Drink Goop Glow every morning before you eat or drink anything else. Follow it with a ton of water.

  10. Drink 2L of water EVERYDAY.

  11. Sleep 8hrs every night and wash your pillow case twice a week in non toxic wash. I like Mrs Meyers.

  12. Another thing that always profoundly clears my skin is swimming in the ocean or fresh bodies of water (NOT chlorine pools). In summer - I try and swim as often as possible. I not only LOVE being in the ocean but it truly is so cleansing and healing.

This is just a cleansing and washing angle. the diet and lifestyle is a whole other ball game. This is also what works for me. I can assure you though that my skin gets fiesty really easily so chances are, these products are mild enough for you too.