Let's start with a backstory!
I recall having teenage breakouts, likely from lots of sugar and greasy foods. That soon turned into monthly cystic breakouts on my forehead, which throughout my 20s moved down to my jawline and cheeks.
I was at the GP every other month, miserable and refusing to leave the house. Over a period of 4 years, I saw at least 5 dermatologists who told me I needed Roaccutane, antibiotics, and all kinds of topical treatments.
I tried antibiotics but I was reluctant to start taking Roaccutane. An overdose of vitamin A, Roaccutane temporally ‘decreases’ your oil production, in turn stopping your skin from producing excess sebum. With no long-term studies, the short-term side effects were enough to scare me out of taking it.
The turning point
A turning point for me was meeting a nutritionist at work. She told me that my body was struggling to digest excess hormones. I started doing research on natural hormone balancing through vitamins and herbal supplements.
I started to take zinc and drink two cups of raspberry leaf and nettle root tea every day. During this time I also found out that I had a bad intolerance to dairy so cut all milk out of my diet.
I saw such a huge improvement in my skin after a couple of weeks, but I was still having awful monthly cystic breakouts. My savior came in the form of a multivitamin from Now Foods.
It was called Female Balance and included ingredients such as Vitex, Wild Yam, Folic Acid, and B6; all of which I knew were powerful natural hormone balancing. It was a slow process but every month I saw my skin improving, my cramps lessen and I felt much happier.
One of my biggest lessons was to refrain from using really harsh topical acne products and instead use a really gentle, hydrating routine.
I stayed away from products made for fighting acne and focused on ingredients catered to hydrate and reduce inflammation.
Once I had the hormonal breakouts under control I slowly started to find a routine that would prevent breakouts as well as diminish the accumulation of hyperpigmentation that each spot had left.
The key was to find products to work surface level, whilst the vitamins, diet, and the 'inside out' stuff was in the works.
When you're first building a routine, the key is the keep it simple. A simple cleanser, toner, and moisturizer (+SPF). Once you've got the right products going, then you can look at adding serums, targeted treatments, oils whatever your heart desires.
I started using products with Lactic Acid in, like Sunday Riley’s Good Genes (since switched to The Ordinary 10%). As well as evening and brightening, it helped to improve the texture of my skin.
I stepped away from harsh physical exfoliants and started building a tolerance to chemical exfoliants, which I now prefer.
I will share morning and evening routines here soon!
Life after acne
Here's my skin as of today, no heavy base makeup.
My skin is nowhere near perfect but I love the fact I don’t have to worry about covering up breakouts. I do still get the occasional spot but make a conscious effort not to stress about breakouts and not let my skin determine my mood.
I’m not telling you to go out and buy the same vitamins that helped me. You know your body and skin better than anyone else; find the root cause and you’ll be able to work to improve things.
One last thing, next time you’re on public transport or walking down the street, take a look at the people around you; no one has perfect skin!
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