All About Acne!
Longggg post ahead! If you’re just interested in some tips, skip to the bottom since I’ll be giving a little story time about my journey beforehand and to some, that’s a snooze. If you want to read the whole thing, be my guest!
Okay so today let’s talk allll aboutttt acneee. It’s just the worst isn’t it? I want to start by prefacing that I did NOT cure my acne naturally. I wish I did and even though I’m going to be talking about curing your acne naturally, it was not the route I took since I went on medication before I truly understood holistic health and wellness. SO I’m no miracle worker, but I do feel like I know a thing or two since I’m a big believer in the only reason I’ve been able to maintain clear skin is through holistic health.
Let’s back up a bit- I do have another whole blog post about my skin journey but everybody likes a refresher, right? So every since I hit puberty, like the second I hit puberty, I started experiencing acne. I was very young when I got my period, around eleven, so pretty young to even be thinking about washing my face twice a day or developing a routine. I really never washed my face unless in the shower until later in middle school, and even then it wasn’t consistent. Nonetheless, I saw a dermatologist from around the time I was twelve all the way through high school.
I tried every medication under the sun from retinoids to antibiotics to topical creams. Finally, I went on birth control around seventeen to at least alleviate the deep cysts. It definitely helped subside my acne somewhat.
Basically from the time I was fourteen to twenty-two I would pile on makeup everyday just to cover up my acne, and I was on some type of acne medication whether it be topical or in pill form. Not good.
In 2016 I finally had enough. I went to my dermatologist in Chicago and asked to be put on Accutane. He was hesitant and handed me like a fifty page booklet with all the information about the drug, protocols and side effects. I read that thing front to back, came back to him and knew I still wanted to move forward.
I have a love/hate relationship with Accutane. During the six months I was on it, I experienced maybe a fraction of the symptoms that people generally face when they take the drug. It’s a very serious drug where you are required to be on birth control the entire time and have your blood drawn every month to check for pregnancy and that nothing else in your body is out of whack. I only experienced dry and red skin. I had to stop wearing makeup after the first month of taking the drug my skin was that dry and red. I looked a little weird but my skin became so sensitive. And my hands and lips were constantly dry. Many people experience joint and muscle pain and bouts of severe depression and a whole list of other undesirable symptoms. I basically had a walk in the park with the drug compared to all the reviews I read about it. And in the end it cleared my skin.
BUT years later, as you all know I deal with a lot of digestive distress which could be highly linked with Accutane. I’m sure it is. Especially since even though I eat a clean diet and have eliminated foods I’m allergic or sensitive to, I still have episodes of huge distress.
If you are curious about Accutane, please do your own research (extensively) and talk with your dermatologist.
So that’s an option for curing your acne- knowing what I know now, I probably wouldn’t have done it. It’s definitely a route you can take, but just know what you’re getting into first. Plus, healing your acne holistically will take longer, but be so much more rewarding. I took the easy and fastest way out.
You know I’m a big believer in holistic medicine, but we have western medicine for a reason, and I think it’s beautiful that we can link the two together sometimes. Are there major flaws in western medicine/medical model? Yes. But that doesn’t mean I’m completely against (prescription) drugs. I’m no doctor or expert so I never want to say one thing will be more beneficial for your body than something else. I don’t know everything. At the end of the day I believe if you’ve exhausted all your efforts with holistic medicine, it’s your decision to pursue other forms of healing. It’s your body! Or if you want to go straight to a drug to cure an ailment- do it!!
But here’s what I’ve found to work to keep my acne, even the deep cystic acne at bay.
These might seem obvious but done in conjunction together is what will clear your skin. Not just by doing one thing or another- it has to be all. Acne can come from just one thing being out of sync- mind/body all connected.
Keep A Consistent Skincare Routine
I know it’s fun to play around with new skincare products, but don’t do it every week. Have a consistent morning routine and night routine and stick with products you know your skin likes. Switching up your routine every six months isn’t a terrible idea, but overwhelming your skin every week with new products might lead to more breakouts and irritation.
Maintain A Clean Diet
So I’m a big believer that your diet is strongly connected to acne and the state of your skin. I know not a lot of people don’t believe that, but I feel it’s true for myself. Keeping your diet in check aka eating your fruits and vegetables, good source of protein, and healthy fats it’ll not only start to balance out your hormones but it’ll keep the acne at bay. It’s not going to be the end all be all, but you’ll see brighter skin and with patience and consistency, keeping diet and hormones in check will make it easier in the long run to rid that acne for good.
PRO TIP: Don’t skip out on those healthy fats. Fat (healthy fats) don’t make you fat by themselves (if you’re worried about that) it’s your avocados, mac nuts, almonds, olive oil, salmon, that will make your skin glow. These foods are rich in Vitamin E and omegas that boost your skin elasticity and maintain collagen synthesis! Eat your fats, please!!
Wear Sunscreen Everyday
Seriously! Wear sunscreen everyday. This won’t help rid cystic acne, but it’ll prevent your skin from sun damage and who wants sun-damaged skin AND cystic acne? Not me. I have sun damage, and I know one day I’ll be able to see all that damage more so come to light. Do it for self-care. Do it for an even skin tone. Check out this article if you don’t believe me
Drink Enough Water
This one should be pretty obvious. Make sure you’re drinking enough water for your body everyday. Like I said above, I believe the state of your skin is directly linked to what you put in your body. Your gut is the hub of immunity and keeping you healthy- that includes your skin!! Water helps with skin tone, texture, hydration and preventing excess oil production- which we all know can bring about that cystic acne. Or just acne in general. So drink your water.
Clean Pillow + Clean Towel
GAME CHANGER! Even if you wash your face every night, your pillow and face towel can be a hub for dirt, dust, whathaveyou, and honestly over time it just gets dirty. Like you clean your sheets, change out your toothbrush, clean your hairbrush, blankets, why not your pillowcase and face towels? Sometimes when I start to breakout, I’ll get super confused because I’ll be eating right, know my hormones are in balance, that I’m drinking enough water, etc. then I’ll change my pillow case and face towel and boom- face clears up. It’s just proper hygiene and I’m sure there’s a lot of info out there about pillowcases and acne, but from experience change it out pretty often (use your best judgement) and you’ll notice a difference in your skin.
Wash Your Face BEFORE and AFTER A Workout
This one is huge for me as well. If you’re wearing makeup, take it off before your workout and not washing my face after a workout is like cystic acne’s playground. All that dried up sweat and oil and bacteria my body just released now sitting on the surface of my skin. Lovely. I will wash my face at least 30 mins after working out, especially if you have to drive home from the gym- don’t beat yourself up over the time, just wash it as soon as you can. I know it’s annoying, but your face will thank you. You don’t have to do your whole skincare routine- just a quick wash and maybe some moisturizer if your skin is dry afterwards. Check out this article for more tips for pre and post workout cleansing
Go Makeup Free
I know we all love makeup and it’s a godsend for covering up, but it might be the reason you’re still breaking out. I wore makeup literally everyday and I know it wasn’t helping clear my skin. I would never let my skin breathe and piling on the makeup was just causing more irritation- especially if your makeup isn’t the best and packed with oils that’s just making the cystic acne grow. I’m no expert but once I stopped wearing face makeup, I could feel my skin thanking me. Haven’t put a drop of foundation on since 2017. If you want to check on your products and the possibility of them clogging your pores head here!
Less Is More
Some people love an extensive skincare routine, and if that works for you then it works for you, but many of us feel like we have to use every product under the sun to ensure we’re keeping acne at bay and this just isn’t true. My dermatologist that I had in Chicago challenged me to just use a basic Up & Up face cleanser and simple moisturizer (when I needed it), and for years that’s all I needed to keep my skin clear and not irritated. Now over the years I’ve been able to add products into my routine slowly and deliberately, but I still believe that less is more. You don’t need to drown your face in benzoyl peroxide when you breakout- your skin is going to hate you. Trust me, been there done that. Start with less, see how your skin reacts, and then build from there.
Keep A Journal
I’m serious. Keep a food journal/skincare routine journal/water intake journal. This will help you hone in on what’s breaking you out. You might start to notice a pattern and can go from there. Or better yet, bring the journal to your practitioner or dermatologist if you’re lost in making a connection. This has been so helpful for me, as when I break out I can look back and say, oh yes, there’s the connection now that I know my skin and its irritants.
Most importantly, give your skin and body time to adapt to changes. Changing your diet, skincare routine, drinking enough water is not going to show its effects for a while. At least a few weeks so be patient with yourself and your skin. Don’t write something off just because you have a few breakouts in the process. It’s the long term effects you want to wait for, even if your skin isn’t perfect along the journey. If you’re in need of guidance, consult with a dermatologist, or better yet, a holistic practitioner who will most likely help you make that mind-body connection in healing your skin.
Also, at the end of the day, I’m no expert. I just talk about what I know and what worked for me. Do your own research, as always and listen to your body.
So I provided some pictures below, I honestly don’t have that many pictures of my skin pre Accutane since I hated it so much. In all of my pics I have on heavy makeup, so it doesn’t give a complete accurate representation, which I apologize for. But, you can tell a bit and if you can see them somewhat with makeup on, omg brutal without makeup on. Back then, I didn’t love my skin and was super ashamed of it. I wish I had taken the time to love my skin, because that’s most important.
So the first picture is actually about two months into Accutane, I couldn't believe how clear my skin was and one of the first times I actually felt confident without foundation. I still obviously had some breakouts but it was so clear compared to what I was used to. In the other pictures, ignore how cringey they are, but you can see even through makeup my acne on my chin and forehead. The last picture is current day!! Even though I still get breakouts.
I hope this was helpful, and again, I wish I had more pictures of my acne!! This is a lesson to everyone, despite having acne, don't be afraid to take photos of yourself and love your skin without makeup. I wish I learned that while I was still dealing with acne. Now I just make sure anytime I breakout to embrace it and remind myself it's only temporary!!