Jenny Barrow, our resident Skin Health Coach at LOX, didn’t start out with the glowing skin she has today. Up until recently, Jenny had given up all hope of changing her skin, accepting stubborn acne as her lot in life. Then she walked into Lox Holistic Beauty and her life direction – and skin story – were forever altered.
Jenny’s honest and moving skin story begins in her youth and follows her through times of deep personal loss and transformative growth. In her own words, she describes the personal journey behind her skin transformation and the joy she finds today in helping other women to discover not only beautiful skin, but a beautiful life.
MY SKIN STORY
By Jenny Barrow
A Stubborn Case of Teenage Acne
My earliest memory of teenage-hood is marked by pimples. I turned thirteen and overnight, pimples appeared on my face, chest and back.
At first it felt like a rite of passage, visible proof of the monumental changes I was going through. By fifteen though, I had had enough and my typical teenage pimples had evolved into severe acne. The persistent poor state of my skin at this fragile age wore me down and began to interfere with my confidence and happiness.
Eventually I saw a skin specialist who swiftly wrote me a script. Hesitantly, my mother filled the prescription. She was wary of a medical solution but aware that more than my skin was at stake: the acne threatened my wellbeing and the core of who I was. The acne on my chest and back cleared and my face improved dramatically. Though the medication had no physical side effects, I wasn’t happy with how the medication affected my mental and emotional health. After six months I stopped taking the pills and the acne came back.
Living with Acne, Moving On with My Life
By sixteen, acne still plagued my skin but I was finding my feet. Surrounded by supportive family and friends, I had started to love the woman I was becoming and was excited about where my future might lead. Acne was my unwelcome companion, but I learnt to push its existence out of my mind and move on with my life.
Before I knew it I was at university, and my life was beginning to take shape. Deep down, a small part of me was hopeful that reaching my twenties would mean leaving not only my teenage years behind, but my acne as well.
Television Advertising + Supermarket Solutions
In my early twenties I began making purchasing decisions for myself. With television advertising as my only guide, I made my first skincare purchase from the supermarket in the hopes of clearing my still present acne. No result. I didn’t spend much time feeling sorry for myself – I accepted that acne was my lot in an otherwise great life, so I tucked the problem to the back of my mind just as I had done in my teenage years.
Despite a strong resolution to not let it ruin my life, small things still saddened me about my skin. I married a wonderful man yet I wouldn’t let him touch my face. Deep down, I longed for him to stroke it tenderly.
Discovering My Passion For Wellness
In my mid-twenties, my husband and I moved overseas. I spent this exciting new period of time delving deeper into discovering who I was by exploring not only new career possibilities but also my own life and what I wanted it to encompass.
During this time, I developed a passion for wellness. I was fascinated with the links between physical, mental, spiritual and emotional health and wanted to pursue this passion. Our move overseas had prompted my own personal wellbeing journey.
A Dream Threatened
As part of my move towards holistic health, I came off the contraceptive pill. When my period never returned, I was diagnosed with polycystic ovaries syndrome (PCOS). My husband and I experienced fertility challenges and, unsure if we would be able to start a family, my body, mind and soul were pushed to limits I didn’t know existed.
My skin issues paled in comparison to what my husband and I were going through yet I was pleased to discover that, for the very first time, my skin started to improve ever so slightly. I had drastically changed my diet, moving back to the nourishing foods of my childhood and steering well clear of anything in a packet. I chalked up my skin changes to this new way of eating. This was the beginning of learning to listen to my body and working with – not against – it in order to heal.
Homecoming + Tragedy
Upon our return to New Zealand, I was determined to be kind to myself. That included continuing my healthy diet, but it also meant finding a job that fuelled my passion for wellness. I ended up in a dream role combining administration, with meal planning and cooking. I had cultivated a life centred around wellness and self-love. This new foundation was vital, as my life was about to be shaken to the core.
Then tragedy struck. In 2011, my younger sister died suddenly. I went through a phase of immense grief and began to challenge and question the ways of the world.
I came out the other side of this grief craving a slow and simple life. It wasn’t easy, but I had found deep reserves of strength and positivity within myself and my inner circle of support. I remained positive in the face of challenges and continued to love myself through whatever was thrown my way.
A Miracle Baby
We call her our miracle baby. In 2011, I became pregnant despite still not getting periods. I was over the moon, and it was just the boost I needed to further examine how I was fuelling my body. I intensified our whole-foods journey, making changes slowly and sustainably. With this renewed focus on what nutrients were entering my body, I saw, for the second time, a slight improvement in my skin – but I thought it might have been the pregnancy hormones!
A Life Changing Leg Waxing Session
Strangely, it was a leg waxing session in Auckland that really changed the course of my life and skin health. My beauty therapist and I were both passionate about the emerging Slow Food movement. We discussed wellness and nutrition and compared notes on how it felt to return to a whole-foods diet. I gave her some recipes I had developed that were gluten, dairy and refined sugar free, and in return she showed me the next step on my path by introducing me to the Bestow Recipe Books.
I devoured these amazing books and went to work on my kitchen leaving no drawer unturned as I rid my kitchen of all things processed. I began cooking like mad and made vegetables the hero of our meals. My husband and two-year-old daughter were the perfect guinea pigs. I wouldn’t have dared say it aloud, but there was a sliver of hope that this might also help my skin.
With Bestow as my guide, I became incredibly passionate about slow food. My husband and I moved from Auckland to Tauranga in the hopes for a slower, simpler life. I didn’t look for work straight away in Tauranga, so I had plenty of time to throw myself into studying nutrition.
Straight To The Source
My admiration for the Bestow philosophy led me to LOX Holistic Beauty, the home of Bestow and Janesce Skincare. New to Tauranga, I was looking for a new clinic for beauty treatments and, as a fan of Bestow, LOX felt like the best fit.
One day my therapist, Jan, gently asked me about my skin. I was fascinated that the conversation didn’t solely centre around topical products but also involved a discussion about the food I ate.
My Journey Towards Glowing Skin Begins
Encouraged by Janesce skincare holistic approach, I agreed to give their plant-based organic skincare range a shot, coupled with Bestow skin nutrition blends and further skin-specific changes to my diet. Even though I was eating a really healthy diet, I was deficient in certain skin nutrients and there were foods in my diet which, unbeknownst to be, had been aggravating my acne.
I see things in black and white, so when my therapist said to do something, I did it. When she said to avoid a particular food, I followed that advice too. For me, there was no grey area, no ‘just this once’. I followed my programme to the tee and was rewarded with change straight away.
Within a week my skin began to look more subtle, wrinkles plumped out and started to disappear. The Janesce Skin Soaking ritual made a huge difference and it all seemed too easy. The time I spent on myself during my skincare routine was not only improving my wellbeing, it was actually changing my skin! The acne was still there but the surrounding skin became healthier.
With the addition of internal changes and supplementation, my skin’s redness disappeared after a few weeks and the acne began to clear. My skin was still congested, but I no longer had the angry-looking pimples that had plagued my skin for years.
Persistence and Dedication
Most skin clears up after four months of the Janesce + Bestow programme, but my skin, which had been deeply congested for 15 years, took eight months to clear. But when it cleared, it really cleared! I still get the odd pimple, but this is a far cry from the woman who, upon waking, would immediately feel her face, searching for pimples and wishing them away.
My skin is now soft, clear and has the trademark ‘Janesce’ glow. It’s the skin I always secretly dreamed of having, but didn’t think was possible. I am grateful everyday for the wisdom and support I received on this skin transformation journey.
From Client to Coach
Through my personal experience at Lox Holistic Beauty, I ended up meeting founder, Janine Tait, an influential figure in the beauty industry, Janesce educator, Bestow founder and champion of the Slow Beauty movement. I was inspired by who she was and what she stood for and secretly hoped to be part of her team. As our relationship grew, I expressed that I had recently moved to Tauranga and was looking for work in a wellness-related field.
I started working for Janine in 2014, filling a variety of needs in her multi-faceted business, and my Skin Coaching role evolved as I have sat, literally, side by side with Janine. She has taught me so much about holistic skincare and my nutrition and teaching background have played an important part in my role as Janesce educator, and Skin Health Coach.
Helping Others as a Skin Health Coach
It is natural for me to share my skin story in my role as Skin Health Coach at LOX. It is encouraging for others – beauty therapists and clients alike – to hear that change is possible, that beautiful skin can be achieved – even against great odds. I love merging my organisational skills with my love of food and nutrition alongside my passion for skin health and wellbeing. I count it a blessing to share in the journey of others, walking alongside them as they fulfil their desire for beautiful skin and a beautiful life.
As for my journey, I love looking after my skin and continue to cultivate a life that is slow and simple.