How I cleared my acne

It all started with my skin. The skin on my face was clear and suntanned. I first noticed my glow when I was around 9 years old. I knew I wanted to practice regular self-care . Why? Because this practice of self-care gave me confidence.

Photo by  Cassidy Kelley

I made it to age 13 without a zit. My birthday cake was one of those confetti cakes and I decorated it to look like a face covered in zits. I deemed this a stereotypical joke for a new teen such as myself. I guess I was around 14 or 15 when I finally did get a breakout. They started to show up more often and I tried face wash after face wash. I began looking for the active ingredients to make sure they could kill the bacteria as the marketing claim on the label stated.

When one brand didn’t work, I’d try another with yet a similar formula of very toxic ingredients. That is another post or series of posts in and of itself, but for now I’ll just mention that there are less than 20 ingredients that are banned for use in our personal care products here in the United States. To put this in perspective, the European Union bans over 1400 ingredients from their personal care. I, like many unsuspecting Americans fell sucker to all the marketing(which is in large supply) and quickly realized I was given a run for my money, err…my humble lawn mowing stash. Even still, I was hopeful and would try another product only to be disappointed once again. Then I tried Proactiv…and it worked, but only for a very short time. My skin actually became super sensitive after trying all these different formulas and my face felt like it was burning when I used Proactiv. I really hated to go out in public without the right amount of makeup on. I would try to pop a zit in an effort to hurry up the “healing” process, but it only made matters worse. I saw several dermatologists and had allergic reactions to the prescriptions they gave me.

My skin began to clear a little around the same time I got into the Culinary Arts Program at our community college. I was enjoying every bit of school and had also started working at a lovely restaurant unlike any I’d ever dined in growing up. I was so proud to serve elegant meals at a very slow pace while encouraging guests to relax, enjoy and spend as much as they like. This was calming to me, which I might add, is especially unusual in the food service industry. Later, I requested to work in the kitchen where I could learn from the Chef; the creative mind behind all that I was proud to serve. My request was quickly granted. I took a cut in pay (no more hefty tips) and got to work. I learned so much, made so many mistakes and amazing memories, but this career move stressed me out! The inflammation in my body had risen to the surface once again this time in the form of CYSTIC ACNE. I even recall one of the servers repeatedly ask me, “What is going on with you?!” or “Lauren, your face?!” I didn’t know how to respond other than an embarrassed and bewildered “I don’t know!”. I was doing everything the dermatologist said, everything that the magazines recommended without any success.

Thank God for my intuition, because without it my sweet Simon might not be here today.

After I had moved out on my own, I soon began taking birth control with high hopes that it would help. I tried various pills and when one finally seemed to keep it somewhat under control I would have miserable side effects. Finally, I made an appointment with a dermatologist and she told me Accutane was the answer. It was the only option I hadn’t explored, mainly because I’d heard terrible things including having a co-worker who suffered bleeding on the brain! Accutane is a super high dose of Vitamin A that is actually quite dangerous and now ILLEGAL! I encourage you to check out EWG’s Skin Deep rating for Retinol. As she read to me the list of side effects along with the list of responsibilities that were required with this agreement, one of which being infertility, I selected not to go through with what seemed to be my final option. I balled my eyes out knowing it was the right decision. Thank God for my intuition, because my sweet Simon might not be here today. Later I learned how a woman’s cycle really works and how I had just been covering up my body’s symptoms and natural processes once again, this time with birth control. Again, I was never really getting to the root cause of all the inflammation.

Flash forward a few years and I had stumbled upon several really great books that opened my eyes to how the body actually works as a whole system. I always had a suspicion that, since taking the drugs prescribed to me by my dermatologist, food or anything taken internally might also have an effect on my skin. If chemical reactions were taking place when I downed a pill, what chemical reactions were taking place when I ate certain foods? The first book I found just browsing the internet. It was written by a forward thinking Dermatologist by the name of Jessica Wu, M.D. Her book is called: Feed Your Face. You can find it here or at your local library. In her book she spoke about certain foods aggravating specific skin conditions and which ones to avoid. I implemented some of it, but was not strict about following her 28 day plan.

How I cleared my acne

Then in 2012, the year I was gearing up for my wedding, I found an article in a free publication at my local food co-op that featured Kimberly Snyder, C.N. This is the Clinical Nutritionist that changed my skin and answered all the questions I’d had since my teens. Her book; The Beauty Detox Solution along with other fantastic reads was written with such clarity. She explained how our body processes different foods and how digestion works. Did you know it takes up the majority of our energy? This means that depending on what you eat or drink, you could be left with less energy to renew your cells. In turn, this could slow down or speed up the aging process as well as many other important natural processes. This book really marks a huge turning point in my health and wellness journey. Also, what I thought was a little belly fat was actually belly bloat that went away just before my honeymoon thanks to following her principles. My skin was glowing to the extent that on multiple occasions, friends would ask if I was pregnant when I wasn’t. Many of her fans and clients include Drew Barrymore, Ben Stiller, Kerri Washington and Channing Tatum just to name a few. I am really looking forward to stocking my bookshelf with her latest book; Radical Beauty which features another health hero of mine, Deepak Chopra, M.D.

Photo by  Erol Ahmed

Photo by Erol Ahmed

Now I can honestly say that I am thankful for my acne. As painful as it was and still is sometimes (dealing with scars – nothing that proper nutrition,  serums and this beauty tool can't handle), I may have had much bigger health issues to contend with. The skin has been referred to many times as the 3rd kidney. If something is showing up on your skin, it is like a last cry for help that something is not quite right on the inside. The body is bogged down and struggling to detox properly. I’ve learned from personal experience that going the conventional healthcare route can not only be painful, but it often leads to prescription after prescription. I don't know about you, but I would rather avoid all those pesky side effects.

Doctors like Mark Hyman, M.D. now a Functional M.D. are leading the future of health care in a more positive direction. This is also thanks to the recognition by the Cleveland Clinic.  These are the people that give me hope! These are the providers I want to hire to help me on my health and wellness journey. I don’t want to pay someone to keep me medicated, because ultimately that practice limits one’s quality of life.

Have you suffered from acne or another health concern? How did it affect your life?

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