So you've read about what caused my adult acne and how it made me feel, now it's time to share with you what helped me heal my skin and overcome adult acne!
When it came to trying to heal my skin I decided to take a three-pronged approach; diet, supplements and topical changes.
Diet is a big contributor to acne. No topical treatment or pill can clear your acne if you are feeding your body all the wrong food. However if you're eating a clean diet (refined grain free, refined sugar free and void of processed food) and still experiencing it, it's most likely down to another factor like I discovered. Here are the foods that I found aggravated my acne and are best avoided, and the foods that assisted in healing my skin:
When I tried the Paleo diet and occasionally ate some dairy my skin would flare up within 24 hours. This isn't surprising; dairy contains androgens that cause hormonal imbalances and increases sebum (oil) production in your skin. If you're still eating dairy give it up for at least a month to see if your skin improves. Be really vigilant though because dairy is hidden in a lot of packaged products where you wouldn't expect it to be.
If you've starting taking protein powders as to supplement your fitness regime than also make sure you switch to a plant-based protein.
For a lot of people peanut butter is a known contributor to acne. Peanuts contain androgens that cause excess oil secretion in the skin and inflammation. However I found that most nut butters and nuts eaten in excess cause inflammation in my skin. If you're experiencing cystic acne, definitely minimise the amount of nut butters and nuts you're eating (yes they contain good fats but in excess cause inflammation and can alter the PH in your body which can irritate your skin). Once your skin has settled down try re-introducing different nuts; you may find some nuts cause more inflammation than others.
Soy isn't really a "no" for me, but it is something you need to be careful of if you are experiencing skin issues. Avoid highly processed soy products (like faux meats) and stick to the healthier soy products; miso, soy sauce, tofu and tempeh. With soy it must always be organic and GMO free - if it can't be, don't have it. I don't eat much soy, however I've noticed that if I have a daily soy coffee my skin does get worse. It's hard to tell if it's the caffeine or the soy milk that's contributing to the problem, so I've found minimising soy consumption to 2-3 times a week is best for my skin.
Anything more than 1 cup of coffee a day and I can see the effects on my skin. Coffee is known to aggravate acne in a number of ways; it increases cortisol (which triggers acne) and messes with your body's glucose metabolism leaving blood sugar levels elevated. Lastly caffeine interferes with your body's absorption of vitamins and minerals, and disrupts gut flora all of which just send your body out of balance.
Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha (the raw vegan versions) are super-charged health foods and the best way to give your body a serious probiotic hit. Fermented foods contain lots of good bacteria (more kinds than a probiotic tablet) and work wonders on healing your gut, improving digestion and best of all helps your body fight the bad bacteria that could be causing acne.
Pumpkin seeds are high in zinc and vitamin E both of which are necessary for your skin to heal. Many of us can be zinc deficient due to elevated copper levels in our system caused by environmental factors or lifestyle choices. Copper actually prevents the uptake of zinc, so if you find your skin takes a long time to heal after a breakout you could be zinc deficient.
You name it I've tried it: all the over-the-counter topical acne creams, even the prescription retinoid vitamin A creams (which come with big warning signs all over the container). All of them did the same thing - dry my skin out and leave it flakey. After years of trying all the lotions and potions I could my hands on, I decided my skin needed a break. I stopped wearing make-up and only used warm water to wash my face. I hoped that if I removed harsh cleansers and creams, and chemically laced make-up my skin would start to clear up and heal it's self. In reality my skin remained the same but my confidence plummeted!
Skin care - Medik8
The naturopath suggested a face care range that had active ingredients (e.g. Salic acid). At first I wasn't keen, most of the products I'd tried before with 'active ingredients' just gave me additional skin issues and I didn't like the idea of adding chemicals to my skin, but I went away and researched the brand. Medik8 has a green philosophy and don't test on animals which is a big thumbs up for me. Medik8 is actually very gentle and balances the active ingredients - they understand that sometimes less is more when it come to powerful ingredients. Their face wash is also reasonably priced ($55) and lasts for two - three months.
I started using the Medik8 face wash about 8 months ago and it definitely works for me. It's helped reduce the build up of excess oils in my pores and clears up breakouts quicker than if I just use warm water. It doesn't make my skin feel tight after washing (a sure sign your cleanser is stripping your natural oils) and therefore I don't get oily skin as a result.
I finally made the switch to organic vegan make-up and gosh I wish I had done it sooner. When I used standard make-up my skin would end up clogged and eventually break out. I wore it to hide my scaring and the redness caused by acne, but really it was just adding to my skin problems. After I gave up wearing make-up for a while I switched to an organic brand called BKind, which is available in Australia. This organic vegan make-up no longer clogs my skin, yet it still does what make-up is supposed to do. So now if I do need to hide a pimple or I go on a night out, I can wear make-up without making my skin breakout in the following days.
There are lots of vegan organic brands out there, I highly recommend giving them a go and finding one that works for your skin. If you're in Perth pop into BKind in Subiaco and they will happily help you!
I'm not big into supplements; I think you should source your vitamins and minerals from good nutrition but saying that sometimes your body needs a little extra help.
Those little bumps I mentioned in my acne story are actually called millia. Millia is caused by a build-up of cholesterol and sebum in your skin and one cause for this can be a lack of vitamin B3, and look like little white bumps under the skin. Vitamin B6 works by preventing excess sebum production in your skin. So now I supplement my diet with a good vegan B vitamin.
I've really saved the best 'til last! I totally stumbled across EstroBlock by chance when searching the #acne on Instagram. After doing some research and contacting the makers to see what exactly was in it I decided to give it a go. EstroBlock is a DIM (Diindolymethane) supplement that helps your liver detoxify the 'bad estrogens' from your body that have built up due to reasons such as: contraceptions, pesticides and other lifestyle choices. These bad estrogens then cause hormonal acne. In my case, the copper IUD was causing high copper levels in my body, which increased my estrogen levels. So taking EstroBlock helped re-balance my estrogen levels and reduced my acne.
EstroBlock is completely natural, vegan, soy and gluten free. It's created by extracting the DIM that is naturally found in Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower etc.) and made in to a high potency tablet. I take the 'Pro" version which is triple strength and means you only need 2 tablets a day (morning and evening).
Out of everything, I think EstroBlock had the biggest impact on my skin. Within two weeks I stopped having daily breakouts and after about 3 months the breakouts virtually stopped, allowing my skin to start healing. If any of you out there are desperate like I was, please consider taking EstroBlock it's a much gentler and natural way to overcoming acne that Accutane or vitamin A retinol creams.
I recommend this product to all my clients experiencing skin problems and all of them have seen great results. Pair it with a good liver supplement such as 'milk thistle', this will help support your liver detoxify your body of bad estrogens'. I buy mine here - a 3 month supply costs $134.95. This is not a supplement that you have to take forever, once all the 'bad estrogens' have been eliminated from your body you can begin to reduce the dose until you no longer need it.
Please get in touch if you're experiencing skin issues or have any questions, I'd love to hear your story.