i started experiencing acne as a pre-teen. my earliest memory of an “acne treatment” is of my mother applying a steaming hot washcloth to my face and then squeezing the black heads out of my nose and cheeks. it wasn’t too long after that she started bringing home creams, spot treatments and face cleansers from the drug store. nothing I tried ever made a dent in the acne breakouts. the blackheads turned into red swollen papules and pustules and eventually i went to see a dermatologist. he told me to wash my face with the same bar soap i washed my body with (dove/irish spring)! when that didn’t work it was on to the antibiotics, retin-a and other harsh prescription topicals. at one point i was even making a home brew of sugar and toothpaste and putting that on my face after my mom’s friend told her that it was a magical cure for acne. i couldn’t understand why none of these things fixed the problem. in the end, they just made matters worse. all the years of harsh creams and products left my skin sensitive and permanently pink and flushed.
during my teens and twenties the state of my skin was constantly on my mind. every morning i’d wake up and look in the mirror hoping that things had improved since the day before. i was usually disappointed. before acne came into the picture i was outgoing, i laughed a lot and was even considered to be a bit of a class clown. after i started breaking out i just felt like everyone was always looking at my acne and not me. i figured they must be thinking “her skin looks awful. why doesn’t she do something about it?”. in an effort to avoid attention i became introverted and self conscious. even after my skin finally improved i still remained somewhat shy and reserved. it’s a tendency that i still have to this day.
the breakouts persisted for many years with no apparent pattern except that all the little pimples on my chin and jawline got bigger and more inflamed about a week or two before my period. now at age 40 and i still have acne. the only difference is that today my acne is under control. a few years ago I read a book called “it starts with food”. the book talked a lot about systemic inflammation. inflammation starts inside the cell producing chemicals that when released set processes in motion that, over time, have a detrimental effect on the entire body. this type of inflammatory cascade is believed to be the precursor to many diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, obesity and, you guessed it, skin disorders. controlling systemic and localized inflammation is the first step in successfully managing acne.
the book inspired me embark upon a 30 day diet program called “the whole 30“. it’s a diet that is designed to calm systemic inflammation get the body back onto a path to health and wellness. the diet wasn’t too hard for me because i was already eating a paleo-based diet to control blood sugar swings (i’m hypo-glycemic). i started eating this way about a year earlier and noticed improvements in my overall health and skin but it my acne never completely cleared up. to start the whole30 I needed to completely eliminate all dairy, soy and sugar.
after 3 weeks on the whole 30 the papules on my cheeks and chin and the nodular acne on my neck and jawline went away. my skin looked better than it has ever looked and the redness calmed down as well. the effects of the diet went beyond my skin, I lost 10 pounds, i looked younger, i had more energy, slept better and my outlook on life had greatly improved.
after the 30 days, it was time to start adding foods back into my diet and take note of how my body felt with the introduction of each food. dairy made me extremely tired and the inflamed acne came back after about a week. soy gave me terrible gas. sugar was ok in small amounts, but too much made my heart race and i started gaining weight again after a month or so of adding it back in.
today, I am soy free and almost 100% dairy free ( I do my best with this one) and monitoring my sugar intake is a daily battle. stevia has been a huge help. i bake with it and put in smoothies and teas for sweetness.
completing my whole30 was something that I had to do in order to see, first hand, how these foods were affecting my health and skin. i was able to do something in 30 days that I hadn’t been able to do in over 20 years, finally get control over my acne.
my own transformation was so life changing that I decided to find a way to help others through my experience. as an esthetician at skinSALVATION, i’m able to use cutting edge treatment modalities like expert extractions and chemical peels alongside customized home care regimens and nutritional and lifestyle counseling to help people clear their skin of acne in just a few short months. The feeling i get when a clients starts to see their skin turn the corner to clarity is indescribable. I am extremely blessed to be in a position to help empower other acne suffers to uncover their own beautiful skin.