Putting an End to My Battle with Acne

I’ve had enough.

I started getting acne when I was in third grade. THIRD. GRADE. And it’s been an increasingly difficult battle ever since.

My acne tends to flare up around stressful times in my life, like my senior year of high school and pretty much my sophomore, junior and senior years of college. Right now it’s at the worst it’s been in a very long time. I am in pain constantly and at 23 I’ve just about had enough of it.

I’ve done everything externally that I possibly could. Every cleanser, lotion, cream, exfoliator, facial mask and trick in the book, but until recently I haven’t made any efforts to make any internal changes (i.e. diet, exercise, hydration). Those external things were easy “changes” and they were something I could buy. But no lasting improvements were ever made with these products. I just grew to accept that this is how my skin would be until I hopefully one day outgrew it.

There is absolutely something to be said about self-love and loving yourself the way that you are, but self-love also comes out in the way that you take care of yourself. I think the trick is to accept your current situation, be grateful for yourself and your body and everything it provides you, and come from a place of love with any changes you wish to make.

With that being said, here are the three major ways I hope to heal my skin:

1. Diet

When I went vegan in November, my skin certainly was not the reason I made the change, but I was excited by the thought that going dairy-free would clear up my skin…unfortunately…it got worse. I can’t even begin to explain how frustrating this was and is for me. I’ve been hearing for years that dairy leads to acne and I just figured that must be it. I’ve always consumed A LOT of dairy and so that correlation seemed to make sense.

However, I recently started realizing a shift that happened in my diet when I went vegan. Dairy can have an addictive effect and when I cut that out, I switched to a new addiction…SUGAR. My new favorite thing was to make desserts that were vegan, but tasted nothing like it. I made COUNTLESS batches of these cookies and started to get a really intense craving for chocolate. I think I’ve been eating chocolate every day and its usually disguised in seemingly healthy things, like trail mix and protein bars.

Another crutch I’ve been leaning on is gluten. Pasta and toast are my two go-to’s when I’m too unmotivated to make anything and with everything I’ve been dealing with lately, that’s been happening a lot.

Sugar and gluten are two inflammatory ingredients that are well-known for causing acne or at least making it worse.

So I’ve made the decision. I’m going to start this journey to clear skin by cutting out refined sugars and working towards minimizing my gluten intake. Having an already fairly restrictive diet, this is a lot to add on so I’m going to make these changes slowly and go easy on myself. This won’t be a strict dietary restriction because eating out would officially be impossible, but I’m going to bring more attention to my intake of sugar and gluten and just start by cutting out the obvious stuff.

2. Hydration

Growing up I never drank water. I’m talking MAYBE 8 oz a week…even while I ran year round through high school…someone please tell me how I survived. Needless to say, staying hydrated has been a very difficult habit to maintain for me.

I’m going to be to start with ~90 oz of water per day (four of these beautiful water bottles I got for my birthday. The straw is key). My goal is to work my way up to around 160 oz per day. I’m hoping this will also help with the eczema and joint pain I’ve been dealing with for years.🤞🏼

3. Exercise

This change is definitely going to take the most effort for me. Despite the fact that I’m a month away from becoming a registered yoga teacher, I’ve been to only a handful of yoga classes over the past eight months. I’ve been dealing with a lot of injuries and joint pain that I blamed on yoga, so for the most part I’ve stayed away from taking classes because my pain would only become aggravated by them. I’ve become very stationary and I think that’s only made it worse.Sweating and moving your body releases toxins and gets the blood moving throughout your body, so exercise is another great way to combat acne (also anxiety and depression). My plan is to start lift twice a week to strengthen the muscles around my joints combined with cardio and to go to yoga at least once a week. ~You may be wondering why I don’t just go to the dermatologist…well I have. Multiple times. And every time they give me the same incredibly harsh cleansers, topical treatments, and antibiotics that make me nauseous. Not once have they ever asked me about my diet or exercise or any of the other causes of acne that can’t be fixed with a prescription. I’m determined that I can get clear skin without having to deal with the horribly dry skin and nausea. And if by the end of the year, I still haven’t made any progress I will go to the dermatologist and I will stick to the regimen they give me…but I have faith in my body’s ability to heal itself.

I’ve struggled with acne long enough, it’s about time that I feel comfortable in my own skin.

So here are my before pictures. No makeup. Completely unedited. By the end of the year, I hope to have some after pictures for you!

P.S. If you’re struggling with acne and feel inspired to make some changes in your lifestyle and would like someone to support you and hold you accountable, I’m here for you! These aren’t easy changes and they certainly aren’t easy to go through alone, so let’s do this together! 

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