It seems that the quest for clear skin never gets old even though we all get older in years. Mine started at the ripe age of ten as puberty struck embarrassingly early, and to this day, I have yet to wake up and not find some sort of blemish when I look in the mirror. Some sign of imperfection that, I think, if I could just sleep more or eat better or drink more water or buy some other new product…then I, and my face, would be better.
The latest imperfection I’ve discovered are these small, irritating, non-pimple like bumps. Resembling milia, they don’t produce pus when squeezed (believe me, I tried) but rather seem as fixed into the skin as King Arthur’s sword. No amount of exfoliation or tea tree oil would calm them, so I sought advice from my friends at Brooklyn Herborium.
The lovely cofounder and esthetician (aka magic-maker) Emma Graves knew exactly what I was talking about as soon as I described it. Oh, that’s an ODD. “Wow, she’s telling me my skin is ‘odd’? That’s a bit straightforward,” I thought, until I realized that my condition was, literally, ODD.
Short for Occluded Debris Deposits, ODDs are hard bumps on the surface of the skin that appear to be whiteheads but have no “head” or pus. They form when, you guessed it, debris gets trapped in the sweat glands and isn’t allowed to be released onto the surface. The source of this debris is also odd-er than you thought: it’s not excess oil or sweat or smog trapped in there, but your own metabolic waste that’s trying to move out through your skin instead of through digestion, your waste’s traditional route. If your skin is dehydrated, it will hold onto all that even more tenaciously rather than let is pass through.
How do we prevent and treat ODDs, then, if it’s not really a skin problem? The first way is inside-out, turning to healing microbiome-friendly foods to improve digestive function (i.e., the root of the problem). Think easy-to-eat dishes like kitchari and curries, with healing and warming spices that are well-cooked and cooled to improve nutrient absorption. Then, there’s the outside-in way, which clears out topical debris through extractions, masks, and other treatments meant to give the skin what it needs. Once properly hydrated, then it can begin to work as it should and is less likely to be clogged even when the internal body is off-balance.
If you’re looking for some at-home treatments, try a clay and charcoal mask to eliminate “stress bumps” and encourage the clearing of skin toxins. Use a thin layer of serum under the mask to prevent drying out.
Since spring is the time for cleansing the liver in Chinese medicine (it’s also Kapha season for Ayurveda, when all the frozen wet buildup from winter begins to melt away), now’s the perfect time to clean out those pores and put your best face forward this spring—and only as “odd” a face as you want it to be!
Have you ever experienced ODD? What’s your favorite way to detoxify your complexion?
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