The Best Gift Ideas for People in Eating Disorder Recovery

So you want to be supportive of your loved one’s eating disorder recovery this holiday season….but at the same time, you don’t want to be insensitive or triggering.¬†Trust me, I get it: those of us in ED recovery can be a tricky bunch to shop for, as many of the typical gifts – like candy or clothes – are a no-go.

But, hey, good for you for recognizing the challenges of eating disorder recovery! If you’re reading this, you’re already ten steps ahead of the rest of the crowd that’s getting their teen cousin a box of chocolates in an attempt to “fatten her up.”

This holiday, get your loved one something meaningful to aid their recovery, without pushing them or putting pressure on them to get better ASAP. My suggestions are specially geared toward those of us in eating disorder recovery. (If you’re looking for more general suggestions for mental health recovery gifts, comment below and I will write a post if there is enough interest!)

Remember: gifts are lovely, but the best present of all is your patience! If you listen to and understand your loved one’s struggles and concerns, you’re already on your way to winning best partner/BFF/family member of the year anyways. Still – no one ever says no to being spoiled now and again! ūüėČ


Body-Positive Reading Material

why not me

Source: SURFACE 85

If you want to support your loved one on their recovery journey, give them a book that will inspire them and motivate them to keep pushing through the hardships and triumphs of the process. Having body positive role models who don’t talk about weight loss or dieting will give your loved one a beacon of light to aspire to when times get tough.

My recommendations….

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

Fully Functioning Human (Almost) by Melanie Murphy

Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat by Michelle May, M.D.

Guided Journal

guided journal

Source: Creating to Love

Therapists recommend journaling to people in eating disorder recovery for a reason: it helps you process your thoughts and feelings about your body, your meals and your life. However, journaling can be intimidating if you don’t know where to start. A guided journal will help your loved one process their emotions without feeling overwhelmed.

My recommendations….

Start Where You Are by Meera Lee Patel

Present, Not Perfect by Aimee Chase

One Question a Day : A Five Year Journal by Aimee Chase

Holiday Hometown Gifts


Source: The Funny Beaver

For whatever reason, it may not always be possible for someone in recovery to go home for the holidays. Whether it’s the cost of travel or emotionally draining family members that deters your loved one from heading home, they might find themselves missing where they came from a little more this time of year. Getting them a thoughtful hometown-themed gift brings a little home to them when they can’t be there themselves.

My recommendations….

Homesick Candles

The Home T

Alex and Ani Collegiate Collection / MLB Collection

DIY Craft Kit

brit co

Source: Lost and Found in the City

One of my favorite ways to center myself and be mindful (without having to sit and meditate!) is getting a little bit crafty. From bullet journaling to Pinterest DIYs, getting creative allows ED warriors to remember all the amazing things their body can do – like work with their hands!

My recommendations….

Brit + Co DIY Kits at Target

MakersKit DIY Kits on Amazon

Homemade Spa-in-a-Jar

spa kit

Source: Popsugar

Strapped for funds? An inexpensive way to treat your loved one to a night of self-care is to make these homemade spa treatments. All you need is a little bit of sugar, coconut oil, peppermint essential oil and food coloring to whip up a homemade body scrub that smells good enough to eat. While using it, your loved one can mindfully rediscover their body and everything they love and appreciate about the vessel that gives them life.

My recommendations….

Trader Joe’s Coconut Oil

Sugar in the Raw

Plant Therapy Peppermint Essential Oil

Skincare is Self-Care, Too! The Surprising Ways Acne Affects Your Mental Health

Acne and other skincare woes are deeply linked to our mental health – which is why you should be treating your skin as well as it deserves. Read on to learn what causes acne and how I busted my adult onset acne – because skincare is self-care, too!

I love Well + Good, but I loved Well + Good even more after I read contributor Rachel Lapidos’ recent essay on acne and mental health. Breakouts both big and small impact the way we view ourselves and the world around us – which is why I passionately insist that taking care of your skin is an important form of self-care.

My boyfriend and I swap stories about acne and confidence frequently. We have had opposite experiences with acne: while he struggled with his skin growing up, I only recently developed adult-onset hormonal acne when I got the Liletta IUD.

For him, acne was a source of stigma and insecurity that affected the way he saw himself, and the way his peers treated him. For me, having adult-onset hormonal acne is a frustrating insight into the life of the modern American woman: I am presented with a choice between preventing pregnancy and having clear skin. Acne seems like a small price to pay for seven years of pregnancy protection, but as someone who has faced social anxiety and disordered eating, it’s a daily challenge to look in the mirror and not always like what I see.

Some of you might say, “Well, why not change your thinking instead of your skin?” Redirecting and rewiring negative thought patterns is certainly an element of building body confidence – but looking and feeling good in the skin you’re in helps, too. After all, it’s hard to feel good about the skin I’m in when the skin I’m in is greasy and inflamed.

That’s why skincare is an essential component of my self-care routine: when I neglect my skin, I neglect my mental health, too. The opposite is often true, too: skin problems can be an outward reflection of an internal health problem (such as gut dysbiosis, which can be caused by stress, medication use or depression/anxiety).

Thus, skin is an important component of our mental health, both as a symptom and a treatment for stress, anxiety and depression. Specifically, this guide hones in on acne: what its causes are, how it relates to mental health and, most excitingly, some of my favorite tips, tricks and products for treating your skin well. Let’s get to it!

Acne and Mental Health

First thing’s first: acne is more common than you think. In fact, 80% of people between the ages of 11 and 30 struggle with a breakout at some point in their lives. And as for those of us with chronic acne, we have a 63% increased risk for developing depression – which is why it’s so important we address the relationship between skin and mental health.

Below, you’ll find some facts I selected to show you just how interconnected skin and mental health truly are:

  • Studies show that acne directly impacts teen girls’ self-esteem. Many say they feel unattractive, even if their acne is mild, during a breakout.
  • One study showed that 38% of acne patients suffered from depression, and 34% suffered from social anxiety. These results were more prevalent among females than males.
  • 88% of acne cases reported embarrassment as a result of their skin condition. As a result, 69% of patients avoided daily activities like shopping, 57% reported negative effects on work or study and 68% said it negatively impacted their social lives.
  • Adult female acne is also prevalent, with the average age of onset ranging from 19-31 years old. Female patients reported perceiving their adult acne as burdensome and impacting their self-confidence, and frequently used makeup to conceal their blemishes.

What Causes Acne?

We’ve perpetuated many myths about what causes acne over the course of the years – ever hear the rumor that chocolate causes acne? (Yeah, not true.) Unfortunately, the causes of acne aren’t as clear-cut as magazines and health gurus may lead you to believe.

Many acne triggers are individualized, and must be identified through self-awareness of symptoms and the conditions causing them – think food diaries and period tracking, for one thing. The causes of acne range from allergy responses to things like gluten or dairy, to hormonal imbalance and gut dysbiosis, to a bodily stress response to the over-production of cortisol.

There are more rumors and myths surrounding the causes of acne than concrete facts; however, here is what we do know about the potential triggers of acne in adolescents and adults alike:

My Skincare Tips

Since the onset of my adult hormonal acne at 19, I have tried just about everything to eliminate it. I’ve had many trials and errors – but in the process, I’m thankful to have discovered at least a few things that help in both my lifestyle and my beauty routine.

Below, I’ll share just a few of my favorite products and tips for treating acne. If you have mental health issues, and you have acne, I highly recommend trying these out – because skin care¬†is¬†self-care, and you are not selfish or vain for taking care of your skin!

Lifestyle Changes

  1. Keep a food and symptom diary.¬†I don’t believe in dieting as a general rule, nor do I think there’s anything wrong with eating a cupcake (or five) every once in awhile! However, there is evidence to show that eating certain foods – like gluten, sugar or dairy – can be linked in breakouts to people prone to acne. I recommend keeping track of your diet in a food diary (note: by “diet” I simply mean “the foods you eat every day,” not a diet in the traditional sense of the word!) and taking note of your breakouts alongside it. Soon, you may notice an emerging pattern of what foods affect your skin in a negative, or positive, way! (Side note, but if your acne is linked to gut dysbiosis or another digestive condition, you may also want to consider an elimination diet to identify potential food intolerances.)
  2. Identify inflammatory ingredients using CosDNA. I learned about CosDNA from a dermatologist on Curology after reviewing their custom acne-treatment service for my previous blog. Basically, this website lists all your favorite skincare products with their ingredients, and rates their ingredients from 1 to 5 from the least to most harmful for acne. Remember to take the results with a grain of salt Рfor example, retinol is given a 5 for inflammation but is one of the best over-the-counter treatments for acne Рbut this site is amazing for giving you a general idea of what skincare products might be contributing to your breakouts.
  3. Read¬†The Skincare Bible¬†by Dr. Anjali Mahto. THIS BOOK CHANGED MY LIFE. It taught me everything I didn’t know (but wish I had) about acne and skincare back in high school when I first started dealing with oily skin and breakouts. Dr. Anjali Mahto is a consulting dermatologist in the U.K. who not only treats women with everything from cystic acne to menopausal rosacea, but also suffered from acne herself. Her book goes through everything from how to read the ingredients on your skincare labels to what ingredients to look for and avoid for different skin care conditions to how acne affected her own health and self-confidence as a teen. Basically, it’s equal parts big sisterly advice and dermatology appointment for a fraction of the cost – and I highly recommend it!
  4. Know when to visit your doctor.¬†If everything you try over the counter fails to treat your cystic acne, if you’re suffering from deep, painful, blistering blemishes or if you suspect there’s a co-occurring medical condition with your acne, it’s probably time to make an appointment with your GP or a board-licensed dermatologist. To find a qualified, board-certified derm in the United States, visit the American Academy of Dermatology’s Find-a-Derm site to search for a local professional who accepts your insurance.


kate somerville

Source: Aim for Glam

For acne-prone skin: Kate Somerville Eradikate Daily Foaming Cleanser ($38)


Source: Ulta Beauty Coupon 2017

For stubborn blackheads: Biore Deep Cleansing Pore Strips ($7)


Source: Garden Collage Magazine

For removing every drop of makeup: Simple Micellar Cleansing Water ($5)

peter thomas roth

Source: Dress with Yas

For an extra-deep clean: Peter Thomas Roth Therapeutic Sulfur Masque ($47)

What acne-busting lifestyle tip or product do you swear by? Let us know in the comments below!

A Former Makeup Addict Shares Four Ways Going Barefaced is Better for Your Mental Health

The #NoMakeup movement has been gaining popularity in the last few years – but did you know that going barefaced might be better for your mental health? As a former makeup addict, here’s why I think you should shed the eye shadow and opt for the natural look instead.

I still remember the first time I wore makeup out in public. I was 13 and had just gotten purple and blue eye shadow in my stocking on Christmas morning. A few days later, I experimented with a purple eye and some mascara Рa bold move for a girl who had never worn makeup before, and whose mom never taught her the right way to put it on, either. And unfortunately, yes: there are ancient Instagram pictures documenting this entire look.

A year or two later, however, makeup turned from a playful hobby into my daily battle armor. When I entered high school and started having hormonal breakouts from going off birth control, foundation became the mask I hid behind every. Single. Day.

Don’t get me wrong, I still loved playing and experimenting with different looks but it got to the point where I almost forgot what my face looked like without mascara and eyeliner. Even in sweatpants, I was too self-conscious to leave the house without it – and when I did go barefaced (usually because I was running late and forgot to grab my makeup bag to put on in the school bathroom) it was like I could feel everyone’s eyes on me, staring from all directions.

Then, during my sophomore year of college, things began to change – namely, my mental health. I got into a good groove with therapy, medication and healthy lifestyle habits, and left a relationship that had been detrimental to my happiness and well-being. And somewhere along the way, I stopped wearing so much makeup.

More specifically, I undertook a challenge for my college chapter of Her Campus. I had grown fond of writing “I tried” articles, and had come up with a crazy idea – after reading a similar story on Byrdie – to stop using commercial skincare and makeup for a week. Instead, I would go completely barefaced and use household products like baking soda and apple cider vinegar to cleanse and tone my skin.

And let me tell you: that so-called “skin detox” worked. My skin felt softer, smoother and less oily than it had before my challenge. After a week of not washing my face with traditional skincare products, I was itching to feel clean – but as soon as I started reintroducing products into my routine, it became obvious which of my skincare and makeup products were causing my breakouts. Immediately, I adopted a more minimalist approach to makeup and skincare – and I haven’t looked back since.

After that challenge, I got used to the sight of my own reflection again. I stopped liking what my face looked like caked in foundation and liquid eyeliner – I could hardly recognize myself beneath all that smoke and mirrors – and started using lighter coverage products, like tinted moisturizer and BB cream. For the first time in my life, I spent more of my time, energy and money on skincare than makeup. I learned how to enhance the features I was born with, instead of hiding behind my crutches in Sephora.

It’s then that I realized just how problematic makeup had become for my mental health. While makeup can enhance confidence for lots of women, mine had become a sort of addiction. While some people use alcohol or drugs to compensate in social situations, I was hiding behind layers of makeup to avoid the embarrassment of having to be seen –¬†truly¬†seen – for who I was.

At the end of the day, the makeup wasn’t really the problem: it was my chronic lack of confidence. The way that led me to use makeup as a mask to hide behind, rather than a mood-booster, was the true problem with my makeup habit. If this sounds like you, I recommend taking a step back from the makeup bag for a few days, and getting used to the idea of loving yourself and your body just the way you are.

Still need more convincing before you swear off the makeup brushes for good? Check out four more ways going barefaced can benefit your mental health below…

Going Barefaced is Empowering

When you feel helpless to the forces around you, try going without makeup to renew your sense of empowerment and control. Often, women wear makeup because they believe they need to to look beautiful. But who decides what is beautiful? And why do I need to look beautiful every second of every day, anyways? If you, like me, find yourself wanting to give arbitrary beauty standards the middle finger, then tell the patriarchy “not today, Satan” and leave your lip gloss at home.

Going Barefaced is More Honest

One of the most detrimental consequences of living in a world where 84% of women wear makeup is that makeup is a good liar. When we’re surrounded by other women who we perceive as “beautiful,” we tend to fall into unhealthy traps of comparison and inhibition. We might feel like we need to wear makeup because all our friends are doing it, or to “keep up with the competition” in the dating pool. But whatever the reason, I can assure you that most of those so-called “beautiful” women probably don’t look like supermodels when they wipe off their makeup at night. (If you check out this article of what 26 Miss America contestants look like with #NoMakeup, you’ll see exactly what I mean.)

Going Barefaced Checks Your Privilege

As an insider within a system like the beauty industry, it’s difficult to see its flaws – but once you step outside the inner confines of the industry, you get a more complete picture of the industry and its mistakes. The beauty industry is far from inclusive, with many ranges of face products offering only a limited range of tones for darker skin (though this is, thankfully, improving with new lines like Fenty Beauty by Rihanna). Studies even show that we’re more likely to make assumptions that women wearing makeup are healthier, more credible and even heterosexual. By not wearing makeup, you are actively choosing NOT to participate in a system that perpetuates these problematic gender and racial “norms.”

Going Barefaced Boosts Your Confidence

Many beauty gurus and industry leaders defend makeup as a mode of self-expression. But if you’re hiding behind someone else’s face, are you really presenting the world with an accurate picture of who you truly are? At the end of the day, wearing makeup is, of course, a personal decision that looks different for everyone. However, note that even though you may feel more confident at first, the boost in self-esteem that wearing makeup brings is only fleeting. Plus, studies also show that if you only wear makeup because you feel like you have to, you’re actually less likely to experience a confidence boost from makeup in the first place!

What are your thoughts on the #NoMakeup movement? Let us know in the comments below!