Denman Masthead

Roadtest: Healthy Skin Solutions

Javier Steel

Having struggled with the skin trifecta – eczema, dermatitis and hives – Javier Steel finally got proactive about seeking solutions for her skin problems.

The problem

My skin has always been … well, vanilla. My pores are large, I suffer breakouts (even as an adult), I have combination skin and I get an oily T-zone. Within the last three or so years, my skin became more sensitive as I suffered reactions to most products and to the harsh Canberra weather. To add to this, I started to get dermatitis and hives on my hands, wrists, feet and legs. Up until the dermatitis and hives hit, I had pretty much accepted that I’d never have great skin. But at this point, I was desperate for help.

My skin condition worsened at a time in my life when I was at my lowest. My fiancé had been working away for over three months, we were trying to plan our wedding overseas, my step-father had recently passed away (which made me worry for my mother), I was worried about work and I struggled to remain positive. So when I started to develop these itchy, irritating bumps on my hands and feet, I literally thought, “why me, why now?” That was the last straw.

I bit the bullet and went to a local GP for answers. I was given steroid cream and told not to stress (alright, let me just turn that switch off!) I didn’t learn anything about my condition – was it caused by an allergic reaction? If so, what to? Was it environmental? How long would it last? Without any knowledge of why this was happening, I felt out of control and in a helpless position where all I could do was wait and hope for this (seemingly) only option to work.

I applied the steroid cream to the affected areas for four weeks. The patches had healed eventually, while more dermatitis spread around other areas of my body, such as my wrists and ankles. I then stopped applying the cream and after around two months, my condition seemed to heal itself, for now… I was of course relieved, but still had no idea what had just happened or of how I could prevent this reaction in the future.

The hives.

The hives.

Two weeks before my wedding, my skin condition came back with a vengeance. This time I had hives all over my feet, ankles, shins and calves. I was terrified that the hives would spread to my arms, hands or even face and that I would be a hideous bride. I went back to my GP and begged for a solution, explaining that the steroid cream hadn’t worked in the past and that I needed something stronger. I was prescribed Prednisone – a drug that can apparently be extremely harmful with long-term use. It did help, but I could only take it for five days and I honestly was concerned as I rarely turn to medication for answers – but at this point I was desperate an unaware of any other options. I was never prepared for a return outbreak and still wondered what was behind my reaction.

The solution

Three months after my last hives breakout and approaching winter, I went to see Luke at Healthy Skin Solutions in Kingston. The first step was a thorough consultation. He asked me about my medical history, diet, lifestyle and family health and history.

In comparison to previous experiences, I finally felt as though I would be treated as an individual and that I may learn what was causing my skin conditions. Following the consultation, I was given vitamins and a diet plan, with Luke showing me the foods that I should be eating frequently and those which should be avoided. This was a temporary plan for two weeks, which made it easy to follow, knowing that it was short term effort for long term gain. The difficult part was having to avoid caffeine, dairy and red meat – however, I was able to eat wheat, as well as plenty of fruit and vegetables, so I never felt hungry.

Immediately, I began to feel more energetic – the opposite to my expectations – especially with the elimination of caffeine. My overall complexion was brighter, my pores shrunk and the redness around my nose had eased.

I went back for my second appointment two weeks later and discussed the results with Luke. We decided that since I hadn’t struggled with the diet plan, it could be helpful to stick to it for another two weeks and to conduct an elimination diet. This would mean cutting out foods that could be leading to an allergic reaction.

During the month-long elimination, my body would recalibrate so that if I were allergic, I would have a physical reaction which may have otherwise gone undetected. Food groups would be reintroduced, one at a time every 72 hours. What this meant was that I would finally know if my skin condition was caused by an allergic reaction (meanwhile, I desperately prayed not to be allergic to wine!).

In all honesty, it was difficult at times. I tried to avoid socialising at food venues as most menus didn’t have meals without all of the foods that I was to avoid. When I was home, it was fine, but socialising with a glass of mineral water (hold the lemon and lime) got old, fast. Despite this, I stuck to the diet as I knew it would be over soon and that it would all be for nothing if I didn’t commit and be strong…also, I kept diverting to a mental image of my face covered in hives every time I considered devouring a piece of cake or sipping a hot chocolate – that really helped with the motivation.

Javier and her husband on their wedding day. Photo: Lauren Campbell.

Javier and her husband on their wedding day. Photo: Lauren Campbell.

On my next visit to Healthy Skin Solutions, Luke explained what I could expect during the reintroduction phase. This helped me to identify whether or not my body was reacting.

The first food group I brought back was red meat – let me tell you, bacon has never tasted so good! The other food groups were reintroduced every 72 hours, without a single reaction. I was happy not to have to stop eating any of the things – when it comes to food, I don’t discriminate! But more than anything, I was just so grateful to know for sure that this was not leading to my skin problems.

During my final consultation with Luke, we discussed the results. I learned that my skin and overall mood was enhanced through elimination dieting, by eating plenty of vegetables and was assisted by the introduction of vitamins and supplements.

We both agreed that it was stress and exhaustion leading to the dermatitis and hives breakouts and although sometimes this is unavoidable, I now had the knowledge and the tools to prevent future breakouts.

I can now turn to the plan provided by Healthy Skin Solutions during times where my skin is particularly vulnerable (such as the beginning of winter) or when I’m under considerable stress. The eczema is another story – it’s caused by the cold Canberra weather and can be easily fixed by applying an ointment specifically formulated by Luke.

The result

So, after all of this, I have answers and I have solutions.

My one regret about seeing Luke at Healthy Skin Solutions is that I didn’t go when my skin conditions first appeared. Had I been to Healthy Skin Solutions earlier, I would have had the tools and knowledge to prevent hives from appearing on my body before my wedding. I could have prepared for the cold to hit in winter and avoid the eczema breakouts. I wouldn’t have been so clueless and unsure of what I was doing wrong – I would have been in control.

But most of all, I would have been able to prepare my body in times of stress, which would have made all the difference.

If any of the above problems persist, contact Healthy Skin Solutions for a consultation on 6295 6040 or visit their website at

This is a sponsored post but all opinions are the author’s own. For more information about our sponsored post policy, click here. 


Javier Steel

At 18, Javier left her home in the country in search of greater opportunity, leading her to Canberra's creative industry. A visual person and problem solver, Javier has been working as a Graphic Designer in the marketing industry for over eight years. In her time in Canberra, Javier has worked on countless local brands and projects including Chief Minister Andrew Barr’s identity, Brand Canberra (CBR), The Future Sessions, YWCA Canberra, CBR Innovation Network and HerCanberra. Javier is now the Creative Director of HerCanberra. More about the Author

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