Dana Dinnawi: "I know a few things about skin care"

Editor’s note: At MITCHA, we believe that a healthy lifestyle and balanced diet is essential to looking, feeling and being your best self. Therefore, we collaborated with Dana Dinnawi, a fantastic nutritionist, to provide some tips and tricks about how to eat healthy and exercise. Packaged with Dinnawi’s incredible storytelling of her own personal journey, this blog is a guide and a story all in one. Content is lightly edited for structure.


These are the before and after photos of what my skin used to look like. My acne started when I was 14 and only went away a few years ago after I completely cleaned up my diet and switched to natural skin care products, even though I had tried EVERY SINGLE PRODUCT you can imagine before that.

The photo on the left is from 2001. I was 28, had 2 kids and was doing my MA in English and Comparative Literature and this was the face I had to walk out with every day. You can see my acne on my forehead, chin, cheeks--all over really.

Except no-one really saw it like that because I had it covered up with about 6 inches of heavy foundation and concealer every day. But if it was a hot day, as that day was, the makeup would slide right off because my complexion was just SO oily.


And my face looked like that since I was about 14 when my acne first started and it's the face I had up until about 4 years ago.

The second photo is me a few months ago. I still have my freckles, but my acne is completely gone.

I don't need to use heavy foundation anymore--just a little bit of tinted moisturizer, eyeliner, mascara and lip gloss. And not every day. Most days I don’t put anything on my face at all.

My name is Dana Dinnawi and I am a holistic health and wellness lifestyle coach. I want to empower you to get out of the cycle of yo-yo dieting. I want you to understand--and not just follow blindly---why and how food works for or against your body. I want you to take back control of your body and health because when you do that, you take back control of your life and when THAT happens, you can create a guilt-free lifestyle that fills you up every. Single. Day.

And the most important pieces for you are weight loss, energy, focus and CONFIDENCE in your clothes and how you look.

Yes, you want to LOOK AND feel good. 

And while my nutrition programs get results for weight loss, losing inches, and regaining energy and focus, they also center around creating beauty from the inside out—through your skin.

I have personally experienced the trauma, (yes trauma), of bad skin and how that can shake your confidence. My acne just wouldn’t budge no matter what I tried, or what new medication my new dermatologist gave me or what new cream or procedure (and there were some very severe procedures) to get rid of the acne and to reduce the scarring.

It all worked but with very short-term results. Nothing was sustainable and nothing gave me back my confidence. I could NEVER leave the house without a heavy layer of foundation to cover my insecurity.

Right now, I have a very different complexion—no more acne, no more trauma, no more daily foundation to go out and much more confidence.

And I want to show you how to do that, too.

I want to show you how to restore and rebalance your skin from within—because, as I’ve personally experienced, that’s where skin is REALLY restored, not by using topical chemical toxins that only add to your skin’s burden.

My skin improved dramatically after I changed how I ate, but the real transformation happened when I also changed my commercial products and prioritized self-care.

And restoring your skin’s balance isn’t just for acne. It’s for any skin issue you may be experiencing: Wrinkles, sagging skin, dark spots, or a basic lack of “life.”

We only get one shot at life—where we feel energetic, and confident in our body and skin. 

Which means . . . we must make the most of the time we have.

You feel you're ready for change. You’re ready to feel better in yourself. And you’re ready to try something new.

Did you know that the average woman uses up to 12 products per day containing anywhere up to 168 toxic ingredients, making one of our most coveted routines – our morning and evening facial washing rituals – one of the most dangerous if we don’t use the right products?

That's because your skin is a “breathable” organ. Up to 60% of what you apply topically on your skin will be absorbed into your bloodstream within 26 seconds.

26 seconds. That's faster than absorption through digestion. 

Most cosmetic companies do NOT list their ingredients, aka toxic chemicals, because they are not required to do so. And several of these toxic chemicals are linked to a host of problems including allergies, skin rashes, cancer, headaches, fertility and reproductive issues, birth defects, hormone inhibitors and more. 

Fortunately, heightened awareness and potential dangers have caused consumers to take a closer look at what they put on their skin and demand safer alternatives. 

Look at your favorite products and see if you find some of these toxic chemicals listed: 

  • Parabens 
  • Artificial fragrance and color 
  • Toulene 
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate/Sodium Laureth Sulfate 
  • Formaldehyde 
  • PEG’s 
  • Paraffin/Mineral Oil/Petrolatum 
  • Phthalates 
  • Triclosan 

Of course, there are more, but you get the point. You can look up what’s in your skin care products by visiting one of my favorite sites: http://www.ewg.org

If you wouldn’t EAT it, it doesn’t belong on your SKIN. 

But WHAT you DO eat is equally as important if not more so when it comes to the quality of your skin.


Your Gut and Your Skin 

Skin issues are not skin-deep. Skin is the largest organ in our body, and it reflects the condition inside our body. The best way to relieve skin problems is to fix the root cause so that they can be taken care of once and for all. And the root cause (as with all chronic conditions) lies in your gut. 

Your skin is also the largest detoxifying organ in your body. It is your first line of defense! The minute you ingest something of a chemical nature or an allergen or experience a stressful situation, your skin reacts by breaking out by trying to expel the toxins, whether those we consider real poisons, or the ones emitted by our stress hormones. This is when your skin is telling you that you are out of balance, that you are doing things that are not serving you, that it is not the time to cover it all up with the fanciest concealers, but instead it is time to undergo a major clean-up.  

If you who want that youthful, glowing skin that’s a reflection of the healthy you, of healthy intestines, of healthy and unclogged lymphatic system (your body’s garbage disposal system), you need to start with a cleanse and apply the following:

  1. Remove or limit all sources of wheat, dairy, sugar, processed oils, processed foods, caffeine, alcohol and soy. Alcohol dehydrates the skin, and sugar hastens the aging process. 
  2. Load up on antioxidant-rich foods. Antioxidant-rich foods have the capacity of seeking out and destroying free radicals, which are unstable molecules that make their way through the body, stealing from our healthy cells to become complete. While they are naturally occurring in the body to some extent, environmental factors such as pollution, radiation, cigarette smoke and herbicides can also spawn free radicals.
  3. Normally, the body can handle free radicals, but if your diet is lacking antioxidants or free-radical production becomes excessive, damage can occur. Free radical damage accumulates with age and is a major contributor to wrinkles. By making sure your diet is chock full of the following nutrients, you can provide optimal support for healthy skin: 
    • Omega-3s — Cold-water oily fish are loaded with anti-inflammatory EPA and DHA; look to mackerel, salmon, anchovies, and sardines for the best complexion benefits. 

    • Vitamin A — Antioxidant-rich vitamin A is abundant in dark leafy vegetables and dark orange vegetables. Dark leafy greens are also high in fiber, which slows blood sugar production. 

    • Vitamin C — Antioxidant-rich vitamin C is found in papaya, bell peppers, strawberries, broccoli, pineapple, Brussels sprouts, and of course, oranges and grapefruit. Vitamin C is essential for collagen production, which helps to keep the skin supple. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who ate foods rich in Vitamin C had fewer wrinkles and less age-related dry skin than those who had a diet low in Vitamin C. 

    • Vitamin E — Antioxidant-rich vitamin E is found in sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, Swiss chard, dark leafy greens, papaya, asparagus, and bell peppers. 

    • Selenium — Critical in the production of a glutathione, a substance that combats free radicals, you can find selenium in tuna, cod, halibut, shrimp, salmon, and turkey and lamb.

    • Antioxidants — You can’t go wrong by loading up on berries, and such purple and deep red foods as acai, pomegranates, purple carrots, black grapes, and beets. The latter contain anthocyanins, which help promote blood flow to the skin. 

    • Fiber — Whole grains help combat inflammatory responses in your body that can trigger a breakout. 

    • Zinc — Found in oysters, crab, lean meats, sesame seeds, and pumpkin seeds, zinc helps reduce oil production that can lead to acne. 

    • Good fats— soothing avocados, coconut oils, coconut milk, and olive oil. These moisturize your skin from the inside out. 


    • Hydrate! When cells are dehydrated, they lose their plumpness and structure. Make sure you are drinking at least 33 ml of water per kg of body weight a day (alcohol and caffeinated beverages don't count). Caffeinated beverages can move fluid out of the body, worsening dehydration. 

And while you take care of your body physically, be sure you are also taking care of yourself emotionally (it all shows up on your face).

Take time daily to do something nice for yourself, which can mean:

  • Reading a book
  • Watching your favorite TV show 
  • Enjoying your favorite herbal tea with a spoonful of honey
  • Taking a luxurious bath or a long shower
  • Watching a good movie
  • Saying some extra affirmations or watching inspirational YouTube videos 
  • Calling a loved one to catch up
  • Exercising— Bouncing on a rebounder (mini trampoline) is the most efficient exercise for de-stagnating your lymphatic system, but walking is also potent. (Remember to nose-breathe throughout for best results) 
  • Sweating— Don’t block sweat glands by using antiperspirant, especially if it contains aluminum. Try to make sweating part of your daily routine through exercise, saunas, steam rooms, or Epsom salt or fresh ginger baths. 
  • Dry Brush/Massage— Go for a manual lymphatic drainage massage or dry brush your body focusing on areas where the lymphatic system resides. Gentle stimulation and massage of your skin is a highly effective means of getting lymph moving.

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