Acne

I’ve been there, you start to heal that last round of acne scars, the welts are just starting to flatten out so you allow yourself to get a little excited, maybe this was the time you breakout. Then just as you start to get giddy about how much clearer your skin is looking BAM Mother Nature strikes again and your face is covered in welts, painful bumps and you’re back to where you started.

I struggled with acne on and off for several years, I tried it all. I bought the Clairsonic, the acne creams, the chemical free face wash and everything else in between. I felt my confidence lower as a result of the scars on my face, I felt like everyone was staring at the welts and I learned how to cake makeup on to cover the scars & scabs.

Today, while my skin is not perfect, I can honestly say I have made major strides in clearing things up. Throughout this journey I’ve done hours & hours of research on why we get acne and how to heal it. Hopefully my struggles will help some of you with your own skin journey.

Lets start from the beginning — my first big girl job. I was working full time in a clinical dietetic roll and I wanted to impress my higher ups. I took on a roll that was way more that what a seasoned dietitian could handle, much less a newbie RD. 13 patients a day, staying late and falling asleep from mental exhaustion as soon as I got home that was my life for 6 months. During this time that acne came on full force. I chalked it up to stress and hoped that when things died down my skin would return to normal. At that time I didn’t realize high stress levels also caused my body to burn through more than just B vitamins. Magnesium, zinc and a whole host of other nutrients are also increasingly lost under stress. In addition to the nutrient wasting, stress can wear down the lining of our guts leading to leaky gut, low grade inflammation which can make acne worse.

The stress eventually died down but my acne did not. One morning I noticed some white spots on my nails and a few lumps on my neck. I knew the white spots were a sign of deficiency thanks to that dietetic degree so after some research I concluded a zinc deficiency which is known to cause white spots on the nails, lumps on the neck and acne. A wave of relief, I had found the solution. I supplemented zinc for 6 weeks (if supplementing zinc you do not want to go more than 6 weeks on at a time be sure to take a 2 week break before starting again. Supplementing without breaks can lead to wasting of copper which can cause neurological and cognitive issue). The acne cleared slightly but it wasn’t my golden ticket as I had hoped.

Frustrated I turned to what I knew best, nutrition. I had a basic understanding that acne did not come solely from what was going on my face. I cracked open a functional medicine textbook and started to dig into more research. Boom dairy was noted to cause acne through raising insulin and androgens hormones that may perpetuate the formation of acne. Done, I gave it up along with decreasing processed foods & I loading up on high nutritional value foods. I felt better but still the acne was there.

A year or so had passed by this point. I was sick of living with the acne but worse I was starting to have other health issues onto of the acne. These were more concerning I thought I was losing my mind, my memory was shot, my speech was slurred and my anxiety was full force when I wasn’t drinking which I was doing heavily nearly every Friday and Saturday night. I was determined to find a solution for the fog I was living in. I started with removing IUD which had been placed around the time of this whole acne onset. I knew hormonal imbalances could contribute to acne and after research had found several blogs with women who had similar symptoms as myself. Thats all I needed to hear to decide to have that IUD cord pulled.

Hormonally I don’t think I was back to normal for several months or maybe even years after that and the acne didn’t clear immediately after removing the brith control. In the mean time I continued to search for anything that would cure the problem. I cleaned up my makeup and stopped putting toxic shit on my face {you can read more about that here}. I started using Tea Tree oil, which also seemed to help. I did a gut reset which cleared the brain fog & slurred speech which were likely a result of leaky gut. Again slightly better but I was still getting acne.

In the end I don’t think it was one solo cure that healed my acne. I don’t believe it was just the dairy or just the gut reset. It slowly got better over time with the right tools, consistently trying different approaches and staying consistent with lifestyle changes. That being said there was a several things I discovered a few months ago that seemed to be the icing on the cake for clearing this shit up.

First I read the affirmation in Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Body and was a little mind blown (more on this in a future blog). If you’re not familiar with her work she basically talks about how our thoughts can manifest disease or heal. She provides affirmations for the illness or ailments we experience. For acne she called me out on the thoughts I continued to have. The low self worth and beating myself up were manifesting the welts on my face. A few days later I was listeneing to a podcast when I got another affirmation of this. A women stated that when she felt a pimple coming on she basically told her body no I don't have acne and it would go away. The mind is so much more powerful than we even can begin to realize. Desperate to try anything I started to say affirmations to heal my skin and told my body that I’m not someone who gets acne.

The last piece of the puzzle came together after a session of intuition journaling, another handy tip I picked up on a podcast. Its a tool I use often when I need clarity on a decision or just brainstorming. I wrote the question “how can I heal my acne” at the top of the page and then I free wrote all the things that popped into my head, no matter how silly they felt. After reviewing my page of random words from dairy-free to lemons my eyes settled on honey. I felt it in my gut this was what I was supposed to get out of the journaling practice. So I put honey on my face.

I shit you not between the affirmations and honey things really started clearing up. I can honestly say I don’t get acne. Yes I break out from time to time but usually I can tell why it happened like shitty eating, a ton of dairy or crappy makeup.

I know my story is unique and its kind of a lot to digest so I put together a little summary of things that were helpful for me & may be helpful for you. Tune into your intuition as you read on, try the suggestions that feel aligned for you {no that doesn’t just mean the ones that sound easy, if dairy-free is something that catches your attention and in your body feels right but you’re like nope that sounds hard then you’re not really tuning in and trusting your intuition}.

Foods that can cause acne:

  • Refined grains & Sugar: increases insulin & androgens which produces more sebum the oily secretion of your skin cells

  • Dairy: this too increases insulin & androgens thus increasing sebum.

  • Fast food: Although the exact cause is unknown there is a 43% greater risk of acne when following a high fat diet. Some researchers believe consuming fast food alters the genes that promote acne.

  • Omega-6 Fats: corn, safflower, sunflower, soybean, cottonseed oils are all fats that promote inflammation and acne. They are also the most commonly used oils in commercial products. Double check your salad dressings and packaged food labels, try to toss any with the above oils.

  • Chocolate: although the mechanism is unclear studies giving participants dark chocolate or cocoa capsules had an increased number of acne spots after a few weeks.

Foods that may help with acne:

  • Omega-3 fats: decrease inflammation and insulin

  • Probiotic foods: kimchi, kombucha, sauer kraut

  • Green Tea: may help with decreased sebum production and inflammation

  • Vitamin A containing foods: carrots, squash, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes.

  • Vitamin E containing foods: nuts, seeds, leafy greens

Supplements that may help:

  • Vitamin D: have your doctor check your levels, if you’re in northern parts of the hemisphere its a good idea to supplement.

  • Zinc: remember only 6 weeks on at a time, 2 weeks off before starting again.

  • Fish Oil: Most people don’t get enough omega-3 fats. Studies show that after a few weeks of taking fish oil supplements participants had reduced acne.

Reduce stress:

  • Meditation

  • Breath-work

  • Prayer

  • Sleep 7-8 hours

  • Yoga

  • Get into nature and ground yourself

Home Remedies:

  • Apple Cider Vinegar: this seriously works for acne scars. I dilute a little and put it on a cotton ball before swabbing it on my face. It also helps with fighting bacteria.

  • Honey & Cinnamon Mask: I still believe that putting honey on my face was actually really helpful after that day I don’t really remember getting acne. That being said there is actually research I found after the fact that the antioxidants present in honey and cinnamon can be powerful for healing acne.

  • Tea Tree Oil: Spot treatment

  • Green Tea applied to skin: Reduces inflammation, fights bacteria

Other:

If this blog post was helpful for you pease share and help me spread all the wellness love.

xoxox

Shelby