my acne journey

allyson is one of our most senior estheticians, who also trains our future skincare therapists. she is a perfect example of someone who’s suffered with adult acne, and eventually found her way to long-term clarity with personal experience, professional insight and growth at sS! –kim

clear skinned and feelin’ myself in mexico, 2017.

i just wanted to take some time and share my personal struggle with acne. although everyone’s struggle is different, clients always seem surprised when i tell them that i currently have acne. here is a little bit about my journey which i’m sure many of you can relate to!

my personal struggle with acne has led me down the same road that many of you have traveled. when i see the myriad of products that clients show me during consultations, it sparks memories (even very recent) of that desperate search for a miracle product that would make my skin normal again. i have tried everything, and I mean everything, on the market. folks who follow my instagram can vouch for my insanely stocked bathroom. yes, i am a bit of a junkie, but the search for the perfect products was just an attempt to control some aspect of what was happening to my face. my breakouts were a reflection of deeper things simmering beneath my epidermis, however it took years for me to truly understand what exactly was causing these eruptions on my face.

admittedly, i was blessed throughout my teens and early twenties. the typical around-my-cycle pimple would appear, and then vanish from whence it came. i even did horrible things like sleep in my makeup on regular occasions, but still my skin appeared healthy and balanced. in 2011 when i was 25, i moved quite spontaneously to the bay area from my native pennsylvania. after a few months in my new home, i began to experience some changes.

large painful pimples appeared all over my chin, nothing like i had ever experienced. this was very confusing and awkward for me, and my new boyfriend at the time was less than supportive, attributing my breakouts to the the junk (makeup) that i smeared on my face on a daily basis. this sparked my endless battle with topical skin obsessions, and i began trying different makeup such as bare minerals, which claimed to be safe and “non-comedogenic.” after it was clear that i needed to change more than just my makeup, i began seeking out products such as proactiv (which worked for a little bit, but then as soon as i stopped using it, the acne came flooding back), and even natural brands that claimed they were gentle yet effective at treating acne.

years later, still navigating through the ebbs and flows of clearing up and breaking out, i received my first facial. my sister, who is an herbalist, for many years suggested that my skin problems seemed to be connected to my liver or my colon based on the areas that i was breaking out. she introduced me to a fellow herbalist and esthetician. after having my first session with her, i was so astonished when she suggested some hormone regulating herbs for me to take. i had never thought about the fact that perhaps my body had become out of whack, starting with a huge move to a new and very different location, and a seemingly non-stop on the go lifestyle, compounded with tons of adrenal depleting coffee and other not so healthy foods and substances!

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chinese face mapping, linking breakout sites to internal imbalances 

the experience with my first facial and drawing parallels with my body and my skin was what led me to go to school to be an esthetician. i was so drawn to learn more about the skin, and the industry. i also began to note my personal triggers for acne. acne is genetic, so being that i do have the genetic propensity to break out, i am extremely sensitive to the foods i eat, stress, and products i am using. i noticed that while my friends could drink coffee all day and be unaffected, it would cause my acne to become inflamed and breakout. i decided to cut coffee and noticed a huge improvement in my skin. i also noticed a connection with my sugar consumption and my breakouts, another area that i decided to closely monitor and limit! the last piece that i could tell affected my skin (before the vast knowledge that i obtained working at sS) was stress. i would get flare ups in conjunction with stressful occasions, and reflecting back now with the knowledge i have of physical and sleep stress, i can see clearly that my on-the-go work and life schedule, as well as my lack of quality sleep (lots of late nights), could not have been good for my inflammation and skin!

now that i have the education and tools that are essential to get and remain clear, thanks to working at sS and self exploration, i am so grateful to have some kind of control over my body! the acne-safe lifestyle is so much more than  a key to getting clear skin, it’s a recipe for a healthy and happy body as well. so be good to yourselves and trust in the process! hopefully my little reflection sparks some connection, and know that you are not alone!

above: instagram photo proof of what a product junkie i was! 

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