My Journey to Clear Skin

I've been thinking about writing this post for a long time, but I've been too afraid. Talking about skin, mine and other people's, can be nerve wracking for me. It's hard to talk about something you're still working through. Everyone is comfortable sharing their victories but it takes a lot to say, "I'm fighting through this, and really don't know when or if I will get to the other side" while inviting others to watch as you learn, grown and, hopefully heal along the way.

My story is no different than many women's skin stories.  I have fought varying degrees of acne for at least 15 years. Both of my parents had very bad acne as teens so I definitely have a genetic predisposition for skin problems. Around the time that puberty hit my skin starting breaking out; first just a pimple or two or some blackheads but nothing scary... at first.

I had good years and bad years but never anything that made me overly self conscious. The winter of my junior year in college however, my skin went completely berzerk. Seemingly overnight I went from relatively "good" skin to cystic acne. A lot was going on at that time; I was stressed beyond belief and working at a bakery/cafe where I was eating way more processed flour, sugar, and dairy than I ever had before. By the summer my face was swollen and extremely sensitive. I remember riding a roller coaster that summer and having my cheek tap the safety bar. Instantly I felt pain and blood trickled down my face. Yup, one of the many cystic pimples popped on impact.

That was the last straw. So I finally dragged myself to the dermatologist who quickly started the process of starting me on Accutane. I took a five month course of this super powerful drug and was completely clear for one year. Then the occasional period pimple started to show up. After that, during a particularly stressful time when I was in grad school I broke out like mad again. This time I was determined to heal it on my own without prescription drugs. I tried tea tree oil, lavender oil, oil cleansing method, black soap, a vegan diet, water only cleansing, and various systems from different brands promising results. I had mixed results, some things helping, others hurting, and some seemingly causing no change at all.

Even though nothing completely cleared my skin up I learned a lot during this time of trial and error:

  1. Stress will cause my skin to go haywire. Chill chica, chill.
  2. What I eat does affect my skin. I know this has been debated but I can't argue with my own experience. I seem to break out when I eat large amounts of sweets, dairy, and oats.
  3. My skin looks its best when I eat plenty of colorful fruits and veggies. Science backs me up on this one.
  4. Sometimes it really is mind over matter. Again, psychosomatic illness is real and our beliefs and mindset does affect out health. The more I viewed my skin in a positive light the better it seemed to (and seems to) look.
  5. Keep it simple sister. My skin is its happiest when I use natural products with minimal ingredients and limit the steps in my routine.

My skin wasn't great but it was bearable. Bearable though wasn't good enough. It was and at times still is difficult to deal with because of my line of work. People assume a nutritionist should have perfect skin; we're supposed to look like the epitome of health which includes flawless skin, right?

Fast forward to the beginning of this winter. I once again decided to focus on clearing up my skin without the use of prescription drugs. I pared down my skin care products and tools to Desert Essence Thoroughly Clean Face Wash, Philosophy Turbo C Booster (to get rid of the pesky hyperpigmentation that honestly bugs me more than the pimples that causes it), flaxseed oil (as my moisturizer), aloe vera juice as my toner, and I started using my Clarisonic again. I also occasionally do turmeric masks. After reducing dairy and processed grains, eliminating oats and added sugar, and upping my fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, fish, and water intake I started to see a marked difference. For the most part, now I'm only working on my skin's texture and the hyperpigmentation. Comparatively speaking, I have very few active breakouts. Yay!

I still have a long way to go but I have certainly made a lot of progress. You can expect more posts related to skin health and nutrition as well elimination diet protocols I followed and how I monitored my body's reaction to certain foods to figure out what I'm sensitive to. There will also be six week progress pics to come.