Battling Acne

I’d like to say I have perfect skin. I’d like to say I’ve had perfect skin since I was 13. At 29, I’ve spent more years with acne than without. It’s embarrassing when children and adults alike point out that I have spots on my face like I’ve never owned a mirror. I used to work in an assisted living facility when I was in college. Women would point out my acne all the time. I chalked it up to them being old and possibly senile in order to hide my hurt. But really, they just didn’t give a crap and were rude. Doctors have talked about putting me on birth control pills or Accutane to get rid of it – but being a bit on the crunchy side of things, I’m more than happy with blemishes rather than chemicals being pumped into my body. I sometimes find myself looking at other people’s complexion and wondering what it would be like to wake up in the morning and not see the latest reincarnation of Mt. Vesuvius on my face.

I’ve tried everything other than the oral or injectable drugs. I’ve done the topical RetinA treatments – they left my face red, extremely dry and blotchy and with deep cysts. I’ve tried over-the-counter oil-free or oil-reducing or whatever other marketing gimmick they put on the label. No dice. And ProActiv? Try NoActiv.

(It was hot, we were thirsty and a bit goofy… but note the acne scars – most of those were the cystic kind, too. Ouch?)

Acne is caused by an underlying food allergy/sensitivity that isn’t being treated and is causing gut-permeability. That’s right. The food you’re eating is causing the Cascade Mountain range to be mapped out on your face. Your skin, the largest organ on your body, is also generally the last organ to start showing this decay in health. In other words, there’s a lot of healing to be done and don’t be surprised if it takes months and months before you start noticing a ton of change. Please don’t let this discourage you! Keep it up and your body will appreciate the results in the long-term.

If you’re not sure if you have gut-permeability, the easiest way is to check your excrement. That’s right. Your poo. If you suffer from what’s called from leaky-gut, you have increased gut-permeability. Basically, what is happening is that the lining of your intestines is letting through larger molecules than it’s supposed to. This is causing an increased amount of mucus to form for protection… and this mucus is passed. Literally. With your stool. If you have a mucus in your stool, you have problems.

I made a few drastic changes to get to where I am now and still have a long ways to go. Also, everything I did may or may not work for you but I hope that it provides some areas to explore in your own life.

  • Figuring out your sensitivity and ridding it from your diet:  This has to be your first step. You can go about doing an elimination diet – chances are, there are other areas of your body that a sensitivity is harming and you’ll feel a lot better pretty quickly, your skin, however, will take some time to heal (it can be months) so don’t use that as your marker.
  • Healing your gut: Now that you’ve figured out what the heck was making you sick, it’s time to do some healing. Bone broth and ferments are integral healing foods. Eating food that is anti-inflammatory in nature is also a good start. I have tons of anti-inflammatory recipes on my Pinterest page or using recipes that are GAPS-friendly will also bring healing (more of those to come soon). Bear in mind, you’re going through a detox and ridding your body of toxins. The diet is limiting however, most of the foods you can successfully reintroduce once healing is achieved. Getting rid of foods that are non-GMO and non-organic will also help.
  • Increasing good fat: I’ve talked about fat a few times on here and feel like I’m beating a dead horse sometimes. But it helps. So so so much. So much so that I started using…
  • Fat as a facewash: What the what? Just like oil-pulling with coconut oil, fat pulls toxins out of your skin. I use castor oil on my face. I’ll wash my face with a gentle face wash (I like Kiehl’s) and my Clarinsonic (deep pore problems) to get all of my day’s make-up off. I promptly follow it up with a dollop of castor oil and wipe it off with a warm wash cloth (and put on a night cream and maybe a little bit of this magic if a small spot tries to form). There are different kinds of oils you can use – some people respond well to olive oil or a blend of the two. (Castor oil can be rather drying to the skin.) And some find that coconut oil works best for them. In the morning, I’ll just wash my face with castor oil and rinse in the shower.
  • Moisturizer: I use a moisturizer that’s high in fat content. My skin took some time to get used to a higher-fat content lotion. It felt heavy on my skin and it was weird. Now, my skin loves it. This line is fantastic for me and you might find that something different works for you. But I love their day and night cream. It’s reasonably cheap ($9/bottle). I bought the bottle back in January and it’s still going strong at the end of May. Whole Foods carries a lot of awesome products, and like Nordstrom, you can take a sample home and try it out. You just have to ask.image
    (My sister modeling the face cream for me. It goes on thick.)
  • Make-up: Impurities in your make-up can also cause flare-ups. So can using make-up lines that contain your allergen. For me, it’s gluten. Which is unfortunately in every. single. beauty. product. known to man. I find myself shopping at Nordstorm’s more often than not these days as the people who work at the beauty bar know their stuff and are easily able to direct me to products that won’t react. Or, I’ll shop at Whole Foods for my make-up – their workers also are quite knowledgeable with their product line and are always helpful.

Like I said, my face is no where near officially healed. But it’s improved so much in the past year! So much so that even my father commented on it.  I do have to stay on top of what I eat – consuming food that causes increased gut-permeability also increases my break-outs and sets me five steps back. I’m no way out of the dark yet, but with hard work and determination, I’m getting there!

Feel free to ask questions in the comments section below! And to your health and a clear face!

(Me now, without make-up)