Unfiltered Shelfie: The Breathwork Teacher Who Healed Her Skin from the Inside Out

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In Unfiltered Shelfie, we peek into the bathroom cabinet of a real woman working in the wellness industry. No #sponcon, no brand marketing, just the unfiltered truth on what skincare products they’re using, loving, and leaving behind. 

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Even though Michelle D’Avella has completely cleared her skin of the deep, chronic acne that plagued her throughout her teenage years and into her mid-twenties, she’s hesitant to say that she’s a skincare expert–or even skincare-savvy, for that matter. That’s because while she’s tried every traditional skin-clearing trick in the book (from Proactiv to going vegan), none of them actually worked. Michelle had pretty much given up hope of ever having clear skin–"I avoided having a skincare routine, or dealing with my face at all, because I had acne all my life" –when she found Breathwork, an active meditation practice that moves stuck energy and uproots trauma stored in the body. After just a few Breathwork sessions, Michelle’s acne was pretty much gone (along with some anger, heartbreak, and grief to boot).

Today, Michelle teaches Breathwork through her company, Pushing Beauty, where she helps people feel and process their pain. A byproduct of her work? Radiant skin. Her regular routine only serves to enhance her natural glow: it’s super-simple (a total of eight products, including deodorant and sunscreen!) and focused on natural ingredients that nourish and repair.

ILLUUM chatted with Michelle about how that whole Breathwork-healing-acne thing actually works, and what it takes for a product to earn a coveted spot on her bathroom sink.

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Michelle Says:

I’ve actually realized that I avoided having a skincare routine, or dealing with my face at all, because I had acne all my life. There was a lot of shame, frustration at trying a million different things–like Proactiv–and having nothing work that I kind of didn’t want to deal with my face. I always washed my face, but never experimented much or played with makeup or anything. My makeup routine was to cover my zits and that was it. 

Breathwork is the only thing that ended up clearing my skin, and I’ve tried every possible type of diet, every possible type of treatment. I started doing Breathwork, and the teacher that I had at the time was like, “Your skin’s gonna clear up.” I had been telling him, “I’m in my late 20s, when is my skin going to stop doing this?” and he was like, “Oh, it’ll go away pretty quickly.” And after only a couple sessions I stopped breaking out–and this is like from having chronic acne my entire life to literally having no zits.

Going to see Hayley [the facialist behind Therapeutic Skin Coach] a year ago was really me getting serious for the first time about taking care of my skin now that it’s cleared up. Now, it’s about repairing the scarring and things like that on my face.

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I use One Love Organics Easy Does It Cleanser in the mornings and the evenings as a gentle face cleanser, and then I do the Teddie Organics Rose Water spray in the morning and I use the ILLUUMinated Moon Water Magic Tea Tree Toner in the evening. Then I do jojoba oil in the morning–just really clean, simple–and that’s my moisturizer. I don’t really use any lotion or anything like that, I just use oil. Sometimes I’ll use coconut oil. 

Sometimes I will cleanse by literally putting jojoba oil on my face with makeup on, and then use a warm washcloth to wash it off. And then I use my spray, and put more jojoba oil on for moisturizing. My whole routine is super clean and super simple. Even my makeup.

Then, in the evenings the only different thing I do is switch out the sprays, and then I add in Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil. That’s actually supposed to be for repairing some of the scar tissue. I use One Love Organics Cleansing Sponge once a week and I really love that. It’s lasted me quite a while–I think they’re supposed to last up to three months, and it’s lasted me a little bit longer than that. 

Oh, and my deodorant I love! It’s a local brand called No Tox Life. I was always trying natural deodorant because aluminum is terrible for you and causes breast cancer and all that, and I could never find a good deodorant. But I’ve been using this one for years now. It’s fig scented, it smells amazing.

I just got Pratima Neem Rose Face Sunscreen. I’m not a product junkie so I don’t know much about it, but Hayley had recommended that brand. I’ve used it couple times and I will say that it’s super light and it does not feel like a sunscreen. Living in Southern California, it’s really important–especially living out in the desert–to have something on my face. I just started using it, so there’s not much I can say except that it’s really light and feels like an additional moisturizer.

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Want to reap the emotion-clearing and skin-healing benefits of Breathwork? ILLUUM is co-hosting a Breathwork retreat with Michelle Aug 25th - 26th in Joshua Tree, CA. More details here. To book a virtual session with Michelle from anywhere in the world, click here.