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Sisley Killam knows what it's like to be unhappy in your skin.
For years, the 28-year-old dealt with a myriad of skin issues and wondered if she'd ever have clear, healthy and glowing skin.
Fast forward to 2022, where Killam is truly living her best life — or should we say, The Pure Life (TPL). Since graduating from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, the wellness advocate has a blossoming health website, TPL, which helps women everywhere combat their skincare woes. From acne, scarring, aging and more, Killam has helped hundreds of women live more confident and happy lives.
In an interview with Yahoo Canada, the Vancouver, B.C.-based nutritionist opened up about her career and how food and gut health plays a role in healthy skin. Killam also shared her top tips to making skin look younger and brighter without expensive products or supplements.
Yahoo Canada: Why did you decide to become a Registered Holistic Nutritionist?
Sisley Killam: "I spent the majority of my teenage years trying to understand the connection between food and how it affected my body...I finally started to put two and two together. I found a passion for natural healing and wanted to help others do the same. I felt like there was a lack of information, especially for women struggling with acne, blemishes and gut health issues, and wanted to help women take control of their own health via holistic nutrition and wellness. And so I enrolled at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition so I could deepen my knowledge around the science behind nutrition."
"My goal is to help people feel empowered in their choices and help them create healthy, glowing skin from within."Sisley Killam
YC: Can you explain a bit about The Pure Life platform, and what it offers people?
SK: "TPL has developed over the past ten years into a resource for holistic skin-clearing resources, including nourishing recipes, wellness tips, information on why we experience acne and how to clear it naturally. My social channels, such as Instagram and TikTok, are a free resource for women from all around the world."
"My intention behind TPL is to remind women that they have options for promoting healthy skin naturally, without harsh medications or expensive creams. I share the science behind how nutrition, supplementation, skincare and lifestyle all have an affect on our skin. My goal is to help people feel empowered in their choices and help them create healthy, glowing skin from within."
YC: What are the main concerns women have when they come to you for skincare help?
SK: "Most people come to me struggling with acne, whether it's cystic acne or rosacea — I've seen it all! My job is to help them peel back the layers and understand the connection between their health history, other symptoms and their skin issues."
"I help people uncover the root cause of their acne or other skin issues, whether that be a hormonal imbalance, gut health issues, blood sugar imbalance, stress or mindset blocks...Most people who come to me are dealing with a host of other symptoms, so it's important that we focus on bringing the body back to homeostasis via diet, supplementation, holistic skincare and lifestyle."
"No matter the root cause of your skin problems, nutrition will be the foundation for your healing."Sisley Killam
YC: In your opinion, how does nutrition play a role in healthy skin?
SK: "Nutrition is the main driver for how our body equips with life's stressors, both mental and physical. If our body isn't being fuelled properly, with an abundance of micro and macronutrients to keep the body balanced, then we will have a difficult time keeping our skin healthy. Nutrition plays a massive role in keeping inflammation down, for example. Nutrition also helps support healthy hormones. No matter the root cause of your skin problems, nutrition will be the foundation for your healing."
"The best foods for healthy skin are nutrient-dense and non-processed foods. Some of my favourites include mixed leafy greens (like spring mix salads and fresh herbs), wild fish, zinc-rich pumpkin seeds and antioxidant-packed berries. These are foods I eat almost every day!"
"Some of the worst foods are pro-inflammatory, refined and highly processed foods such as refined sugar, as well as canola and vegetable oils in large amounts."
YC: What usually causes acne, scars or blemishes?
SK: "The top two biggest contributors that I see in my practice are imbalanced hormones and gut health issues."
"Many women come to me to safely transition off of hormonal birth control. Post-pill acne is incredibly common mostly because of something called "androgen rebound," where your androgens (male sex hormones) surge after stopping the pill...Other sex hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, can take a while for our body to start naturally producing and regulating again after being on artificial hormones for a long time. These hormones play an important role in keeping our skin clear, hence the importance of balancing hormones as quickly as possible post-pill via diet, supplementation and lifestyle changes."
"Gut health is also crucial when it comes to keeping our skin clear and healthy. Functioning digestion is important because if we aren't eliminating efficiently, then we are just recirculating toxins and unwanted hormones throughout the body, which can contribute to a host of issues such as hormonal imbalance and inflammation. If we are eliminating too quickly, this often means we aren't absorbing or utilizing the nutrients needed to fight acne."
"We can't focus on implementing healthy skin or supporting mental health without looking at gut health!"Sisley Killam
YC: How does the gut-brain axis relate to skin?
SK: "The gut-brain-skin axis is something I discuss often with my clients. Our microbiome plays a huge role in mental health, which many people struggle with alongside acne or other things like aging skin. Our beneficial gut bacteria produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin and melatonin, which play an important role in keeping our mental and physical health in check."
"Another connection is with inflammation — inflammation and gut health are massively interconnected, and acne is an inflammation issue at its core. We can't focus on implementing healthy skin or supporting mental health without looking at gut health!"
YC: Can proper nutrition play a role in making your skin look younger and brighter?
SK: "While working with women I often focus on increasing foods that contain antioxidants and healthy fats, both of which simultaneously help with anti-aging. Focusing on a whole food, anti-inflammatory diet is a great way to support youthful looking skin."
"I admire the beauty of natural aging in skin, but there is a lot we can do to reach that healthy, glowing skin we all strive for. Interestingly enough, a study done by the Journal of Investigative Dermatology showed that acne sufferers may show fewer signs of aging, so that's a sliver of hope amidst the acne struggle!"
"Stop buying every skincare product and supplement on the market."Sisley Killam
YC: What are your top tips for healthy skin and how do people implement them?
SK: "I wish it was as simple as giving someone a magic pill or cream, but it is complex...it's important to understand why your acne or other skin problems are happening in the first place. A great place to start is by following these three tips:"
1. "Start focusing on eating a whole-foods based anti-inflammatory diet. An easy place to start is by filling 1/2-3/4 of your plate with vegetables — raw or cooked, as many colours as possible. This is a great way to get in a healthy dose of fibre and micronutrients."
2. "Stop picking! This is a game changer. Picking at your skin can spread bacteria and make scarring worse. A good rule is to stand a foot away from the mirror, or put a few sticky notes up in the bathroom to remind yourself not to pick."
3. "Stop buying every skincare product and supplement on the market. The best results I've seen with clients is when we cut back the noise and focus on a few simple yet effective products, depending on their unique underlying imbalances. Both the body and the skin can feel overwhelmed with too many products and supplements. Keep it simple and turn to an expert for advice."
YC: What's your overall advice for women struggling with acne, blemishes, or are trying to promote healthy skin in general?
SK: "That you are fully capable and deserving of having nice skin. Don't ever lose faith in this — you can keep your skin healthy with the right tools, support and guidance. You got this!"