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So 2 years ago, when I was almost 25, my skin decided to break out. Badly. It felt horrible, and I had no idea what happened. My skin had always been pretty clear, especially after I stopped eating french fries every week (I know…).
In the 2 years between then and now I have not only learned why my skin broke out so badly, I have also managed to clear it!
Now that I did, I want to share with you how I got rid of my acne so you can clear your skin! If I’d known these things earlier, I wouldn’t have had to go through 2 years of bad skin.
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So let me first give the short story of my acne.
I was travelling in South East Asia when my skin started getting bumpy. On top of that, I couldn’t get my hair clean no matter how much I washed it, and generally I felt off. It was obvious to me that something was going on in my body, and I had to fix it.
So after 6 months of being abroad, I went home. And I won’t bore you with the details (if you want them, let me know in the comments), but let me assure you, I’ve tried a lot of things. I’ve gotten my bloodwork done, asked for a hormone level test, went through 2 rounds of antibiotics, saw a skin therapist who ‘extracted’ (read: popped) my pimples for an hour every week, and saw a chinese acupuncturist.
Everything helped a little, but nothing got rid of my acne. It was painful, I started feeling insecure, and I have cried many times, wondering when it would clear, if ever.
I will admit that the only thing I didn’t try was accutane. My doctor and skin therapist suggested it, and a friend of mine went on it at the same time I was struggling, but accutane didn’t feel right for me. Please do your own research and take an informed decision about the pros and cons if you’re considering it. For me, the cons outweighed the pros by far, and I was convinced I could do this by myself, the natural way.
And I did. 2 years later, I can say I have cleared my skin 99%. And when it does break out, usually I know what caused it. So let me tell you what helped my skin, so you can use them to clear your skin!
Visiting a skin therapist
The first thing I did to clear my skin was to visit a skin therapist my doctor sent me to. A skin therapist is like a combination of a cosmetologist and a dermatologist. She popped my pimples twice a week at the start, and we tried to slowly reduce my visits to an hour a week, then an hour every other week.
On top of the extraction, she also gave me facials and peelings to help scarring. Then she gave me tips on what might help, or what has helped other clients of hers.
Learning about what my skin needs
One thing I learned from my skin therapist was that I actually had dry skin. I always knew I had dry/combination skin, but this time it was actually very dry.
We tend to think that when we have pimples or acne, we must have greasy skin. But more often than not, the opposite is true. Skin can also break out from dryness, and it is easy to help this.
I went from drugstore cleaners to using coconut oil and lush ultrabalm, and that really helped! As weird as it sounds, coconut oil actually makes a really good cleanser. I’ve used it to remove my mascara for years, but never thought to use it as a cleanser for my face. Adding this extra moisture really helped some of the acne!
In order to help clear your skin and make it look amazing, it is crucial to find out what type of skin you have. My advice is to do this with a dermatologist, cosmetologist, skin therapist or anyone else who actually studied for it to make sure you are getting the advice you need.
Changing pillow cases and towels
A simple thing to do to clear your skin is to change pillow cases and towels regularly.
Even though surface bacteria didn’t cause my acne, they sure didn’t help. So I changed everything that came in contact with my face a lot. I’d use clean washcloths every time I washed my face, a clean towel every time I dried it or took a shower, and a new pillowcase every other day. This will prevent any extra bacteria from irritating your skin even more.
You can also try using silk pillowcases, as they are said to be much softer and gentler on the skin. They don’t absorb moisture from your skin either, leaving your skin more glowy. These are an amazing price!
Also related to this topic: stop touching your face! It’s so easy to do unconsciously, but pay attention to where you touch your face and how often, and you might see a connection. I slept with my hand against my jaw and that was the exact spot the acne wouldn’t go away.
Also clean anything else that is in contact with your face a lot such as your headphones or your phone. The cushions of my headphones can really be a culprit so I clean them with 90% alcohol.
Changing my diet
The biggest change was when I saw an ayurvedic practitioner who helped me change my diet. And while this is not your standard ‘eat more fruits + veggies’ bit, changing your diet could easily help clear your skin.
The practitioner I visited told me I had too much heat and fire in my system, and the acne was one way of my body trying to get rid of it. In its basic sense, acne is an inflammation of the skin, so it made a lot of sense to me. It also explained my digestive issues, and my mental state. It all connected.
She then provided me with a list of things I should avoid eating for the time being. While food is different for everyone and I really encourage you to see an ayurvedic (or chinese) practitioner to help you with this, here are some things that don’t actually sit well with the majority of people.
- Wheat gluten
- Red meat
- Processed sugar
We don’t always notice this because most of us are pretty out of touch with our bodies, or we think our bodily reactions are normal. If you are suffering from acne or any other irritations or inflammation of your body (your digestive tract, for example), try cutting these foods out for a week and see how you feel. It doesn’t mean you can never eat them again, it means you have to be a bit more careful eating them in the future, or eating less of them.
If you want to know more about ayurveda, I recommend reading this book.
Making lifestyle changes.
Combined with the dietary changes were lifestyle changes. I’d already noticed a huge difference when I switched jobs, and half my acne was gone within a week of starting the new job. Turned out my previous job was causing a lot of acne due to stress.
As I was so stressed and irritable, I had to relax. This is another thing my ayurvedic practitioner helped me with; she told me to incorporate more calming activities into my life. Do more things for the fun of it, and do things that don’t require a lot of thinking.
On top of that, exercises like yoga or pilates, doing meditations, breathing exercises and swimming are great ways to cool the body and calm it down.
I’d always been prone to stress pimples (I always got ‘math pimples’ in college when I was studying for my math exams) but I never thought it could get this bad.
Try to see what might be causing you a lot of stress that you may (not) be aware of. See if there is anything you can change about that situation, even if it’s not a change you can make today. Work towards it and see if it helps clear your skin. Otherwise, adding some low-stress activities like cooking, coloring or walking can really help.
Changing my skin care
As I said before, I saw improvement when I changed from conventional cleansers to lush cleansers and coconut oil. But that’s not all I changed.
For moisturizer, I now use a simple drugstore one with SPF in the morning, and argan oil at night. Skincare doesn’t have to be expensive, and often the cheaper products work just as well. You also don’t need a 12 step skin care routine. Sometimes, simplicity is key.
In order to clear your skin and find good skincare products for you you have to pay very careful attention to your skin, and keep everything else as stable as possible.
I tried a different moisturizer a couple of months ago, and noticed the difference the next day: I had broken out again. I was trialing 2 or 3 new products at the same time, so I wasn’t sure which product had caused it, until I stopped using the other new products but stuck with the moisturizer.
Right now my skin care routine looks like this:
In the morning, I usually wash my face with a green clay soap. I then use apple cider vinegar with water as a toner, followed by moisturizer with SPF or straight up sunscreen.
At night. I use that same soap, apple cider vinegar with water as a toner, and argan oil as a moisturizer.
I try to do The Ordinary AHA + BHA every 3 days, but that depends on the sun. If it’s a sunny week, I’ll skip it.
Every now and then I do a green clay mask, where I mix the green clay powder with apple cider vinegar and tea tree oil. I used to do this twice a week, when I didn’t have the ordinarly peeling. Green clay is really good at drawing the heat out of the skin, and my face was bright red after using it, so I used pure aloe vera gel to calm it down.
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So there you have it, all the things I did to get rid of my acne and can hopefully help you clear your skin. It took me a long while, and I think it is something I had to go through. I know there are a lot of people out there with acne way more serious than mine, and I am really sorry you have to go through it. It wasn’t until my acne started that I understood what it felt like to deal with it every day. I truly hope these tips can help you, and you can clear your skin like I did with mine.
Let me know in the comments if you have any additional tips on how to clear your skin!
If you liked this post, you may also enjoy my post about my ayurvedic morning routine.