I know that acne is so far from the worst issue one could have. When my acne got really really bad again starting early last spring (nearly a year ago) I had to constantly remind myself to be thankful for things like sight, hearing, etc. I know it sounds superficial, but I felt so so ugly. I remember crying to Trey a couple of times because I had painful cystic acne on my cheeks and around my mouth and absolutely hated going without makeup in front of him because I felt so unattractive (although he was always so encouraging and wonderful despite my skin). One of my favorite bloggers posted a picture last year saying something along the lines that if you take care of your skin you will have great skin. I know she didn't mean it as an insult, but that made me so mad. I had been taking great care of my skin for 10 years, yet had horrible acne as an adult. I felt completely helpless.
Let me preface the rest of this post by saying that I have tried a lot of things to help. Cutting out dairy and gluten, different antibiotics (which really damaged my stomach), proactive, rodan + fields, apple cider vinegar, and many many other treatments. I have not spoken with any of the brands below - none of this is sponsored whatsoever, and none of these products were given to me. I just felt led to share what has finally worked for me, and my journey with it all. If there are even a few girls out there that struggle with acne, in the very least I want to share that I truly feel your pain and that you are not alone. People can be really mean about acne, but most of the time it's not something that's your fault whatsoever.
Left - cystic acne in June, one of my worst months. These were very painful and left scars. Right - last Friday with zero makeup on (only lip balm) and no retouching
I really had two different types of acne; dark red + super deep blemishes that were hormonal acne (and very painful), then clogged pores/bacterial acne that showed up as tons of teeny tiny colorless bumps around my mouth and blackheads on my nose.
I started using the acne.org regimen in June after observing the success my best friend was having. She and I have always struggled with acne together and were constantly trying new things trying to help each other out. I had never heard of these products, but with her success and the affordable price point I figured I had nothing to lose.
Acne.org gives you very specific instructions on how to use and ease into their products. I followed the directions to a "T" (and still do), and that really has been a big part of it working. After a couple of weeks I hit the "dry spell," where your skin gets really really dry from the benzoyl peroxide. I'm talking Sahara Desert dry. I had used drugstore treatments with BP in it, but this has a much higher concentration, so it was actually effective. Despite my skin still having acne and being super dry and flaky, I kept pressing on according to the directions and finally had a breakthrough about 3 weeks later. Then, over the next couple of months (July-September) I gradually saw the pores on my nose turn from black to predominantly clear. The tiny bumps all over my chin completely vanished.
Here's a testament to how good this line is... Not only do my best friend and I still use it religiously (I notice a difference within a day or two if I slack on it!), but my sister also uses it, as well as her best friend and my other best friend! It really does work so well if you watch the videos and follow the directions, and stick with it for at least 3-4 months. And the price is great for the quality and quantity of the products.
So the acne.org products gradually cleared up my bacterial acne, clogged pores and blackheads, but I was still left with the nasty hormonal acne. I started doing extensive research on hormone imbalances. I found out about a lot of great supplements, but some of them were fairly extreme in treating hormones, and because I was on the pill I didn't want to risk things mixing and messing me up even further. I had a feeling that the pill I was on wasn't helping my acne, so I talked to my OBGYN and tried multiple different types over the past year, finally landing on one that has pretty much cleared up my hormonal acne! I know that not everyone wants to be on the pill, and I completely understand that, but what I discovered in working with my doctor was that the pill I had been on wasn't helping my hormone imbalances (or possibly putting them in greater imbalance), and that my current pill has resolved a lot of those issues. So, the point of this is all to say that if something doesn't feel right to you, whether it's showing in your skin or showing in another way, listen to your body and talk to your doctor. I'm sure my OBGYN's office thought I was crazy switching pills every 3 months for awhile, but I eventually found one that made me feel like my best, normal self while also helping my skin (I take Tri-Sprintec if you want to research it or ask your doctor about it).
In addition, I totally switched up my supplements based on the research I did and things I found that were safe to take while on the pill. I've been taking prenatal vitamins for about 6 months and have definitely noticed a difference in my hair and skin. These can be taken even if you're not trying to get pregnant or are pregnant! They contain a lot of amazing nutrients for growth, which help your skin to regenerate faster, plus they contain folic acid, which is said to help acne. I also take a Gelatin capsule every day, which also builds healthier skin.
While I had ruled out a food intolerance years ago, I have learned that cleaner eating does make a huge difference in the health of our skin. I find that the less processed foods I eat, and the more nutrients I eat, the less acne I have and the more my skin glows. I try to eat clean for most of my meals and snacks (I do give myself exceptions), and constantly up my fruit and veggie intake. I also recommend cooking only with olive and coconut oils, and not using canola or veggie oils because the latter two are very hard for the body to break down. I also now drink a lot of water, and also drink a green tea nearly every morning. Both keep you hydrated and flush toxins out of the body!
Now that my skin has finally cleared up significantly, I'm now working toward making my skin prettier. Clear skin does not necessarily equal pretty skin, especially post-acne. I have a lot of dark marks and acne scarring on my cheeks still, and I know those will just take time and good products. I use this mask once per week to help keep my pores clean, and am planning to buy a whitening/brightening mask (either this one or this one) to fade some of my dark spots and scars. If you have any recommendations for how to treat scarring please let me know! While, I love the lightweight moisturizer in the acne.org program, I like to also supplement with more hydrating products 1-2 times a week to improve the texture and suppleness of my skin.
I know this post was really long, but I hope at least a few of you found it helpful. Even if just to know that someone else out there has struggled with acne for years and years. It's easy to look at everyone on Instagram and think that they're perfect, all while bashing yourself and feeling ugly because you're the only one with zits. Trust me, I get it. You're not alone whatsoever though. Keep trying everything you can, and I promise that eventually something will work! If you have any questions at all or even just need to talk about it, please don't hesitate to email me at email@example.com! I still have a list of supplements I found from my research if you need some more ideas for what to try.