How To: Get rid of Acne Naturally

Image: Ambro /

Previously wrote a great article on the realization that many of his acne products were absolutely filled with chemicals. I too have struggled, and still struggle, with keeping acne at bay, but have found some great natural alternatives that do a fairly good job as well as the chemical stuff.

Throughout my whole high school experience I was one of the luck ones blessed with perfect skin. Washing my face every day seemed unnecessary when black heads, pimples and oily skin were just something I never really faced.

As I found myself leaving high school I noticed more pimples then normal. I freaked and bought every complete line of products available. Of course I needed the face wash, toner, moisturizer, and topical creams just as advertising had told me so.

Rather then getting better my skin got worse and worse as I became more and more desperate. What I didn’t realize then was that I was ruining my skin. The amount of chemicals I was using eventually changed my skin type. I went from a normal skin type to combination skin type.

Eventually I just stopped. I went with plain old water twice a day and noticed an improvement, but not enough. While stopping the chemical filled products prevented me from getting more acne, the water just wasn’t enough to clean what was already there.

My current cleanser, Cetaphil, while not perfect at all (rated a moderate 3 at was way better then any of my previous products. It didn’t foam (chemicals), no fragrance (more chemicals) and it just cleaned my skin. Which I needed.

Some actual Natural products I’ve tried:
Clarisonic Mia ($200 CND): This is actually a mechanical brush that gets deeps into pores and takes out all the bad stuff preventing dirt from staying in pores and making a mess. A bit expensive but definitely worth it. I find my skin is less likely to breakout, and if it does it isn’t cystic acne that lasts for two weeks.

Tea Tree Oil ($5-10 CND): Tea Tree Oil is a great spot treatment that will drie up any pimples you have without the irritation! Extra benefit? Helps get rid of acne scars as well.

Witch Hazel ($7 CND): If you have really oily skin you may need an astringent. Witch Hazel is a great natural alternative. This will clean your skin without stripping it of it’s good oils. I’ve also used this as a spot treatment for cystic acne. Men have also reported Witch Hazel as a great after shave option.

Cucumbers: If you have a lot of redness you should consider a cucumber mask. Just cut up a cucumber and place it on your face. It’s cliche but it works.

Although these are just some of the tips, there are many more if you look for them. You don’t have to live with acne, but you don’t need to live with chemicals either.



Pilot’s Contest

Pilot's Contest

Thank you Jamie from Thornhill for sending us an adorable picture of her dog Misty. Misty can already drive a car, and she realizes that by carpooling, everybody wins”

The Earth on a Smaller Scale

Image: luigi diamanti /

The other day when I was watching the Garbage! documentary by Andrew Nisker, I opted to multitask and clean my fish tank at the same time.

I’ve been keeping fancy goldfish as a hobby for almost 7 years now and learned a lot about keeping my fish alive. People are often surprised when I tell them my oldest goldfish lived to be 6, but even crazier is the fact that goldfish are actually supposed to live to 10 or older.

My fish tank is a contained 30 gallons with a large filter, some live plants, and an aerator. There are a few parameters that need to be constantly checked: Nitrate, Nitrite, and Ammonia. Now since my tank has been set up for a while there are lots of good bacteria on the filter and in the water that help keep my Nitrites and the Ammonia down. I’ve added plants and promoted growth of algae which feed on Nitrates, yet I still have to change the water every week to lower the Nitrates. Nitrates are constantly being created as food decays and the fish releases waste.

Past the science stuff what I’m getting at is that even though I have cultivated a system and environment, it still needs to be maintained. Say I avoid cleaning the tank for a while and the bio system crashes, the tank could still be crystal clear and yet the goldfish could be suffering from ammonia poisoning, nitrate poisoning, or nitrite poisoning. Since I’m on the outside I’m suddenly wondering why I have a sick/dead fish.

Much like the fish tank, the Earth, as large as it may be, is contained. It’s space and resources are fixed and if we abuse it we upset the balance we hurt ourselves in the process. We are given everything and like the goldfish, we unknowingly destroy our home with our waste, chemicals, and garbage. Unlike my lucky goldfish though, we don’t have someone to clean up after us. When we die from chemical poisoning or pollution we will be the only ones to blame.

It’s difficult to understand the expanse of the Earth and our footprint. I encourage everyone to keep a Goldfish to truly understand the difficulty maintaining, and the delicacy of a contained environment. It’s really eye opening.


This is Pilot. He knows everything about the environment.

This is Pilot. He knows everything about the environment.

The Lorax

Image: aopsan /

What’s nicer than a night out at the movies?  It was just me and the guys, out enjoying the good ol’ cinéma…  And, well, while it’s probable that we were the only people in the theatre over the age of 20 not accompanying their young child, it was a free movie coupon well spent.

What movie could attract audiences of such diverse demographics, you say? The answer to that question is The Lorax.  If you’re asking, “what’s a Lorax?” then you probably have never read the book – the Dr. Seuss book – as a child, but that’s okay.

The Lorax, published in 1971, was a tale about capitalism, consumerism, and environmentalism, all wrapped up in a children’s story. In a futuristic town where nature no longer exists, we follow a young boy who encounters a mysterious figure named the “Once-ler” in his quest to find a tree.  The Once-ler recounts his story: as an eager young man he sought to create a product that everyone would want, and in turn began to cut down trees to gather resources. Despite the warning from the Lorax – the creature who speaks for the trees –  the Once-ler continued his work until not a single tree remained in the entire land. All the animals were forced to leave, his factory was shut down, and the Lorax had disappeared. Back in the present, the Once-ler expresses his regret, but offers a glimmer of hope – he gives a single seed to the boy to plant.

While the movie expands upon this simple story, I felt it did a decent job of delivering the message Dr. Seuss intended: that we all live in balance with nature, and that greed can be a dangerous thing.  It’s possible the flashiness of Hollywood storytelling (the numerous songs or chase scenes, for example) may have distracted youngsters a bit from that message, but in any case, it is really nice to see movies out there that are entertaining as well as thought-provoking – for any age.

I think it says a lot for a kids movie when a grown male can leave the theatre thinking critically about what he just saw. One line that really stuck with me, and spoken in good old Seussical style, is: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.

How true that line rings — especially in rhyme.


Spring Cleaning

Image: John Kasawa /

Ah, finally…the long, cold grip of winter has loosened on Ontario (or at least Toronto, anyway) and spring is here! Birds chirp outside my window, the sun doesn’t disappear before supper time, and I can go outside without having to be all bundled up.With spring time comes a few traditions: March break, preparation for the NHL playoffs (unfortunately it seems the one Leaf that doesn’t appear in the spring is of the Toronto variety…), and, of course, spring cleaning.  This is a wonderful opportunity to declutter, organize, sweep – whatever needs to get done – but there’s a few things this season I won’t be doing.If I’m looking to freshen things up a bit inside, I don’t have to look far. This time of year is literally a built-in air freshener – there’s no need for any kinds of sprays or air “deodorants” when I can just throw open the window. There’s nothing quite like getting a light spring breeze through the house (or apartment, in my case), and if I’m looking for freshness, I’ve found it.Most air “fresheners” that come in a can are really only masking the smells in your room, covering them up with something that is manufactured to smell pleasant.  In reality, many of these products can contain chemicals that can cause illness in the long-term, and in the short term can easily cause irritation and allergic reactions.

Many air fresheners contain pthalates, chemicals that help to disperse the fragrance and make it last longer.  The only problem is that pthalates also have been linked to hormone disruption and altered reproductive development, and are easily inhaled and absorbed through the skin.  Not only are these products strong enough to have an effect on an adult human, how do they affect cats, dogs, and children?

I’ve got a little pet rat myself, actually, who goes by the name of Moxie (he’s quite the environmental expert, wouldn’t you know). When the room starts to smell bad, I don’t spray half a can of chemicals: I open the window and promptly change the little fella’s bedding.  I got to say, he packs a pungent punch for one so small!

In all seriousness, I’m sure glad the nice weather is here, giving me the chance to freshen up the all-natural way.  “Spring” and “fresh” are two words that really do belong together, just… not on an aerosol can.


Safe Sunning

Image: njaj /

The shorts, sunglasses, and rise in outdoor activity only means one thing: summer is coming. While for some this means tanning season, a lot of informed people are turning towards the UVA and UVB sun protection that sunscreen provides. But are our good intentions really hurting us?

As a kid I always hated sunscreen. I hated the sticky feeling and it often was a dull road block to my exciting journeys outside. As a teenager someone said something very important to me that brought validation to my fight against sunscreen: “You should be able to eat anything that goes on your skin”. Which may sound odd, but makes a lot of sense. Your pores absorbe everything you put on your skin and it enters your body.

I quickly decided that I didn’t like the mysticism (I don’t understand most science) behind sunscreen. There just had to be something harmful inside sunscreen that they just weren’t telling us.

The sunscreen of choice in the US are Chemical. These chemicals range from hormone disrupters to nanomaterials that penetrate the skin and affect sensitive organs. These can even lead to sun-related skin allergies, thyroid, immune, nervous, and reproductive problems.

Some other problems include lowering our exposure to the super vitamin D that the sun provides. Even scarier yet, the Vitamin A in a lot of sunscreens speeds up the growth of cancerous cells! In the dark Vitamin A does a great job repairing the skin but in the sun light it can have bad effects.

After having a great conversation with some of my co-workers on the subject one of my friends finally exclaimed exhausted with information: “Then what am I supposed to do? I burn!” The answer is a little easier then expected: just pick the right sunscreen!

Skin Deep has a great list of safe sunscreens to keep you burn free and chemical free:

Also head to Skin Deep’s Sunscreen information website here for more in depth explanation: