As some of you may know, I have been plagued with adult acne ever since my ectopic pregnancy 2.5 years ago- I am not sure exactly how this spawned it, but with the hormonal shift, my skin legit freaked out and I literally couldn't get it under control. In fact, it only intensified. With teaching yoga in sweaty rooms, to even sweatier workouts, my skin got angrier and angrier and I tried everything for over a year on my own to get it under control. This is an AFTER picture, of my healed and cleared skin. And gosh, I wish I had a before picture for you- but I think I eventually deleted them off of my phone because I got too depressed looking at them! But please know, that I had moderate to severe hormonal acne that wrapped across my lower cheeks and jaw. I only had about 1 cyst a month, but I had a continual cycle of 15+ pustules that couldn't pop and were red, visible and painful. Also, it takes a lot of work to make a lot of makeup look like "no makeup". I prefer a natural look, but throughout my acneic periods, I used a lot of makeup to cover these spots and I will get into the issues around that as well.
I am writing this post because I literally scoured the internet to read countless testimonies of how others cleared their acne, I searched for reason and solutions often with no success at all. I am planning to share what has worked for me- and this is in no means a solid solution for everyone out there, just another story on what someone did that worked. I am happy to say that my skin has been continually getting better for the past year with this consistent practice of skin care and I am even happier to report that I have NO acne on my skin at all. (I know, I am even nervous to type that because it seems impossible and too good to be true. But it is! )I have waited a good year to share all of this with you to ensure that it actually has worked. I have a few disclaimers before I get into the details:
1. This will take time, unfortunately, nothing will happen overnight, in fact, your skin might even get worse at the beginning as your skin purges. I swear my skin purged for 3 solid months. The best advice I can give while this is happening is trust the process and DON'T stop or add new things into the process when you freak out about your breakouts. Just stay steady.
2. Stop touching your face and your skin throughout the day and DON'T pick. I think if I had followed the 'don't pick your face' advice at the beginning of this journey, my skin would have cleared up faster. Picking your skin spreads the bacteria and basically makes new pimples for you. It also makes scars and makes it take alot longer for your pimple to heal to a discrete level.
3. I try to use as natural of products as possible. I am obsessed with these kitschy makeup brands like RMS Beauty and all natural skincare lines like Odacite and while their products are beautiful and effective (I have seen how beautiful those Odacite oils have made my friend's skin look)- they do not work for my acne prone skin. Just because it's "natural, without chemicals etc" does not mean it won't break you out if you are acne prone. So you will see a mix of products some natural and some not- and this is what works for me- I am however committed to using products that are sulfate and paraben free.
4. Stick to a regimen for an extended period of time, try not to add more than one thing in your routine at a time so you can tell if it irritates your skin, and don't add things in just because you're desperate for a solution. Research the products and make a slow, conscious decision to add or subtract a product.
5. Wash your face and restart the AM process anytime you sweat a lot or workout!
Step 1: Marie Claire, Skincare Genius
This was the first step that put me on the path to actually clearing up my skin. I spent $275 (How many of us have spent that at Derm visits that offer no reilef?) to visit Acne Expert Aesthetician, Marie Claire in Los Angeles. I was so desperate and after seeing the miracles she performed on her Instagram, I felt like I had to give it a try. Marie Claire took a full inventory of EVERYTHING I was doing in my life, from laundry detergent to supplements to things I was eating and gave me a 15 page guide on things to modify based on my acne and condition. It is VERY comprehensive and actually takes a few hours to digest everything she suggests. She works with long distance clients as well and she also has her own skincare line (which if you make an appt, she will prescribe the proper products) which takes a lot of the guesswork out of trying to find an initial routine that works. This step is certainly what gave me the direction to begin moving towards a solution, she checks in with you, you send her pictures of your skin, and she modifies your routine as needed. I only visited Marie Claire once (the initial consultation and facial) and I purchased a few of her products (which I will outline below) and from there, I was able to clear my skin up without more visits to her. I highly suggest seeking her expertise if your budget allows it! Her customized expertise for your skin issues is worth its weight in gold! She's amazing!
Step 2: Diet
As many of you know, I have been very entrenched in the healthy eating, healthy lifestyle, herbal supplement world well before my bout with acne. For a large chunk of my time in LA, I worked for a juice and wellness brand where I was constantly consuming herbs and green juice. What I am about to share with you may surprise you, but after talking with Marie Claire and doing some research, I cut a lot of this out in an effort to clear my acne. Here's a list of some of the things I avoided.
- Avoid Seaweed and Kelp (of all kinds)
- Soy (including soy sauce, tofu etc) This is a phytoestrogen
- Dairy (yes, it's sad, but I still eat Ghee, which is delish.) Here's the one I buy most often, although I love a lot of other brands too.
- Peanuts- this includes peanut butter, some people use PB2 as a replacement, but I just avoid it altogether.
- Spinach and Broccoli (I don't know why, but taking it out helps?)
- All products with Carrageenan- it's in most of your milk substitutes, like almond milk and coconut milk. I make my own Hemp Milk- write me and I will share the recipe- it's so easy!
- Replaced all table salt (esp. iodine enriched) with Pink Salt or sea salt and purchase goods made with sea salt rather than processed salt.
- Avoid the supplement Biotin (which ironically is found in a lot of skin supplements)
- Herbs that mess with your hormones, including but not limited to:
- Schizandra Berry
- Pine Pollen
- Ho Shou Wu
- All meat that isn't hormone free, antibiotic free and grass fed
- Chocolate, Sugars, fried and Fermented Foods (consumed lightly)
Step 3: Lifestyle Changes
Well as it turns out, I am a very sensitive person and my skin was getting irritated and triggered by things like laundry detergents and coconut oil. Here are some things I shifted to eliminate the possibility of triggering acne.
- Switched Laundry Detergent to a Free and Clear option. Really, I am not sure why it took me this long to realize this needed to happen. The smells from laundry detergent have always given me a headache and I really don't want all that fragrance and dye snuggling with me either.
- Started drying my face off any time I washed it or out of the shower, with a CLEAN paper towel instead of my bath towel. This really, really helped me. I think for some of us, just making this change will solve a lot of the breakouts. Our towels hold a lot of bacteria so rubbing it on your warm, open pore face definitely doesn't help!
- Avoid all topical products that contain coconut oil, jojoba oil, shea butter because my skin hates them. There are some oils that my skin will tolerate and I will go into detail about that in the Skincare Blog Post.
- Avoid Sulfates in hair products and skin products. "Sulfates are a group of detergents or surfactants that are used in countless consumer goods today. The most commonly used sulfates are sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES). These corrosive cleaning agents started off as an industrial strength cleaning additive since they easily cut through heavily soiled surfaces." But regardless of all that, they break me out.
- Switch Shampoo + Conditioner to a Free and Clear option. I was previously using Kevin Murphy which made my hair really shiny and happy but as it turns out it was also making my skin really shiny and unhappy. I was also breaking out on my neck which is an indicator that your hair stuff is irritating your skin, so I switched to a free and clear option. These hair products leave a lot of to be desired, since they are sulfate free and often fragrance free. There's shampoo and conditioner that you can buy at Walgreens called Free and Clear, this one is drying but it's good for a nice deep clean of your hair (if you have naturally dry or processed hair you will want the other option) and there's another option that is very moisturizing which I like really well (aside from the fact that it doesn't sud up... since it doesn't have sulfates.) It's called Original Sprout Natural Shampoo and Deep Conditioner . I alternate between these two and they are great as a team!
- Take a good critical look at your makeup- I will go over skin products and I will eventually do a post on makeup that is safe for my skin, but avoid primers, switch to a mineral makeup, and try to cut out as much make up as possible in the first phase. If you are slathering MAC or Clinique all over your face I can guarantee your skin will not get better.
- Drink more water! Like, a lot of it. This is how your system removes toxins, so def drink the water!
Step 4: Add Skin Supporting Supplements
I mentioned above that I cut a lot of herbs and supplements out of my diet, but I did add some in.
- OptiZinc Zinc Monomethionine Complex 30 mg (1 a day)- There's something about this Zinc that is better absorbed. This is the only supplement that I would say you 100% NEED. The others below are nice but not necessary
- Vitamin A
- Collagen- I use this but you can use Bovine Collagen or whatever your preference may be. This helps to increase the hydration level of your epidermis which makes your skin more plump. It will also make your nails grow so long and be very strong.
- Ionic Liquid Silica- A cap full of this stuff with lots of water will make your skin glow! It also strengthens your nails and hair. I keep this in the fridge and only use it when I feel like I need a boost. I typically only use it about once a month. I like this one.
Okay! This is the first phase which I think is the hardest, changing your lifestyle and some of the habits that we have is the first step to clear skin. I will link my next blog post, Phase 2: Morning Skincare Routine here when it's posted.
I hope this helped, I would love to hear your feed back on what has worked and hasn't worked for you! Stay tuned for the post where I will share all of the products that healed my acne. xo Ryann