Get To Know: Ashley Ann Lora
Bodewell Editor | September 9, 2020
When you’ve spent your whole life battling eczema a certain way, it can be hard to realize there are other routes for treating it. Ashley Ann Lora managed her eczema with topical steroids for more than two decades until she discovered a slew of “nonconventional healing” modalities — such as mindfulness meditation, positive manifestation, and breathing exercises — that worked even better for her skin.
For 22 years, Ashley Ann Lora didn’t know that anything other than topical steroids existed to treat her eczema. Ever since a doctor first diagnosed her with the skin condition at 2-months-old, she’d used medicated creams, spending the bulk of her childhood and teenage years trying to hide her dry patches and flare ups from others. In fact, because she so rarely talked about her eczema, she spent most of her life thinking she was suffering from it alone. Her turning point came shortly after she graduated from college in 2014 when, for probably the first time ever, she decided to research her condition online and learn more about the affliction that had been plaguing her since she was a baby.
Ashley: At that point I had decided enough was enough and I googled “eczema” for the first time. I discovered that there was a National Eczema Association, and I found all these people that had healed from their eczema.
And here I was thinking all my life that I was the only one with eczema in the world. I’d never met anyone who had eczema before, and, at the time, nobody was open about eczema. So that really changed my whole life: that moment of googling and seeing that other people had found painless, successful ways to heal their eczema because it went against this limited belief that I had to live with using topical steroids all of my life.
I remember being so shocked like, ‘How have I never seen this before?!’ As somebody who has grown up in the web era, how had I never researched it?
But for me, this just showed me that before that moment, I had given up. I just settled because I thought that this was going to be my life forever. I had become stuck in that mentality, in the belief that there was nothing or no one that could tell me otherwise.
Fortunately, I was completely wrong and I learned this on the day when I finally decided to look my eczema up.
Ashley’s online research led her to wean off the topical steroids she’d been using for more than two decades and explore different treatment options, or, as she calls them “nonconventional healing” modalities. She changed her diet by trying veganism for a year, and developed a regular practice, that she still follows today, of writing in a journal and keeping a vision board portraying her hopes and dreams for her future self. Practicing meditation, mindfulness, intermittent fasting, and breathing exercises have also proved effective in managing her eczema, along with the practice of repeating positive affirmations to herself in the mirror every day. Ultimately, what these explorations have taught her is that when it comes to clear, calm skin, the solution is within her, literally — all she has to do is control her thoughts and feelings in a positive, reinforcing way.
Ashley: I feel like I'm a testimony to what the law of attraction and consciousness can do for a person. That's why handling my emotions in the midst of an eczema flare is really important.
This past summer, I had a really bad flare on my back, probably one of the worst I’ve had in the last few years. And I couldn't understand why I was flaring up right then. Was there something deeper that I wasn’t addressing?
And I realized that there was. I was holding a grudge against someone that I loved dearly. And it was only once I’d released that resentment that my eczema actually started healing.
Whether or not the improvement in my skin was 100% correlated to that I don’t know, but it’s now happened multiple times where I’ve been able to use closer examination of my emotions to promote healing. It could be maybe I’m stressing out at work or there are two things in the back of my mind that I’m just not getting done. I’ve found that once I’ve gotten rid of an issue and healed from that specific emotion, the healing process would start to happen.
Because of this, I now believe that everything happens from the inside out. So when I heal internally, it shows up externally on my skin. I realized that before this, I wasn’t healing because my goal was just to have clear skin. It was only after I started doing all of these therapeutic works — meditating every day, becoming more conscious — that my skin started to clear up.
Thanks to the combination of mental, emotional, and physical resources she’s accumulated in the six years since she stopped taking topical steroids, Ashley now has more control over her eczema than ever before. She still experiences the occasional flare-up, but on the whole, she considers herself “99% healed on an average day.”
Ashley: I still get eczema here and there, but now I feel like I can control it mentally and then, with the right products, I can manage it. So for me, it’s really about handling it moment to moment and being present to what’s going on. It’s almost like I see myself as now having a bag of resources that I can pull from when the time comes for it to help me handle it as quickly as possible.
It’s also kind of weird being on this side of eczema where I’m, like, 99% healed on an average day. Not too long ago there was a project happening in New York with Dove. I tried out for it and got denied the role because my skin looked too good. I remember thinking, ‘Wow, this must be a blessing in disguise that Dove thinks my skin looks so good they’ve denied me this opportunity.’ It kind of helped me in realizing just how far I’d come in my healing process.
If and when her eczema acts up, Ashley now has a number of helpful, effective tools that she can rely on to stem the anxiety, discomfort, and overall anguish caused by her condition. Here’s her go-to routine whenever she senses a flare-up bubbling beneath her skin:
Ashley: The first thing is I start being conscious of my breathing immediately. Am I breathing in this moment so that I don’t go into panic mode or have an anxiety attack (which is what I used to go through)? Next, I’ll wet my face. I’m really big about applying something nice and cold on my face and then immediately applying moisturizer. In this case, it would be Bodewell, which is what I’ve been using and seeing the most results with. And then, with that cooling sensation from Bodewell fresh on my face, I would go through my routine and do all my mental practices after that.
Ashley also has a different attitude and approach towards her flare-ups than she’s had in the past. Instead of trying to hide her skin with a scarf or with makeup, she makes it a point to show it off and feel proud and comfortable no matter what state it is in.
Ashley: I’m now very big on ensuring that even when I flare up, I don’t hide from it. So if I have a flare-up on my arms, I won’t allow it to stop me from wearing a spaghetti strap shirt. I let it be free. And if people ask about it, I see it as an opportunity to educate, which is a completely different perspective than I had in the past. Now, all I want to do is buy spaghetti straps and shorts.
In fact, I’m always present to what I couldn't do before and how that has now changed for me. I have an extreme level of gratudite for how far I have come.
I remember one time in particular when I had just started healing and I was in New Jersey for winter break. There was snow outside but I decided I was going to wear shorts because I was so in love with my legs, which I had never been able to show off. So even though it was freezing and in the middle of winter, I went to the supermarket with shorts on. People looked at me like I was crazy, but for me, I was like you have no idea. I had been hiding these legs for 20-something years. And I no longer wanted to keep doing that.
So that’s my mentality now: Anytime I get the chance to show off my skin, I will show it off, proudly.
As Ashley sees it, living with eczema and other inflammatory skin conditions is more of a lifelong journey than an endless, uphill battle. So long as she maintains a positive, calm, and constructive mindset and continues to project patience with herself as well as self-love, she feels confident in her ability to control and gracefully manage her eczema. She doesn’t believe that one can ever be “100% cured” of eczema, but she’s grateful that she has at least figured out how to peacefully coexist with it.
Ashley: Just like happiness is not guaranteed — it’s a choice that you choose — I view healing the same way. I don’t believe in curing from eczema, but think of it more as a journey that continues for your whole life.
Because it’s like, yes, you can get rid of ur eczema right now but who’s to say it won’t pop up next week or three months from now or five years from now? So what I focus on instead of cures is healing and taking those daily practices every single day almost as a preventative measure to stop the eczema from occurring.
And even in times when I’m struggling, it’s about having this undeniable faith that even though I can't see my healing, it exists. Even though I can’t see the health I want physically, I believe in it.
I believed in it so much that’s how I feel I really healed and got to where I am now. You could say it was almost as if my present self had finally caught up with my future self. And that’s who I am today.
Lately, Ashley has been finding relief using Bodewell’s vitamin- and nutrient-rich products to both quell and soothe her eczema. With their clinically-proven results and patented plant-based technology, Bodewell’s serums and creams have become a staple in Ashley’s skincare routine. She says she uses them not just because they work, but because she knows she can trust them, too.
Ashley: I’ve been using Bodewell products, especially at nighttime and in the mornings. Before Bodewell, I’d wake up in the mornings with my face feeling really dry, as if I had scales. But now I’m no longer waking up like that.
Bodewell’s products not only feel good on my skin, but I trust them. I like that they are made with ingredients that I can actually understand. Other than the main goal of healing, I haven’t experienced any side effects using them. They seem to work well with my skin and have really supported me in managing my eczema.