An acne/hormonal update

An acne/hormonal update

A few people have asked for an update about my skin, but I hesitated to write it until I was completely healed. I don’t think I’m ever going to have perfectly clear skin, so now is as good a time as any. Sharing this post with pictures is embarrassing and not easy for me! If you don’t feel like reading a wall of text, I highly recommend skipping to the part about my skin care regime below, as I think everyone could benefit from the changes I’ve made.

A quick background for new readers: I was originally prescribed the birth control pill to help improve my skin and regulate my periods when I was 17. I stopped taking the pill last January as I wanted to see how my body responded with no artificial hormones.

From January until October, I suffered increasingly bad acne. My period did not return and I had other symptoms such as insulin sensitivity and excessive fat storage in the mid-section. I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome, which I attempted to treat by switching to a Paleo diet.

I followed the Paleo diet quite strictly from November 2012 to February 2013. I cut out all supplements and did not have any gluten or dairy, apart from when I was on holiday over Christmas. My period returned in January and my skin cleared up enormously.

The picture below is from January. I stupidly didn’t take a picture before I started Paleo so I could show you all how much worse it was then, but documenting acne isn’t something one dreams about!

jan13

After my bike accident, I ate anything and everything, including a lot of dairy and grains. I definitely overdid it and I felt horrible because of it. My skin suffered – albeit not as badly as I had expected – and I gained weight.

Since I got back in the gym in April, I’ve been following a less-strict form of Paleo. Although my skin improved by cutting out dairy and grains, it did not become perfect. I stopped getting new pimples but I still had underlying imperfections that wouldn’t disappear.

I no longer have acne in the area between my eyebrows, and the left side of my chin is almost blemish-free. This is a marked improvement to a few months ago where I was too self-conscious to even go the gym without wearing make-up!

I took this photo just now, with no make-up on (eek, I can’t believe I’m putting this on the internet!). Sorry about the lighting – I currently have no power!

jun14

A few weeks ago, I started having one cup of greek yoghurt each day. Apart from a little parmesan on my eggs in the morning and one cup of coffee on the weekends, this is the only dairy I consume. I introduced it purely because I’m lazy – I need to eat another meal in the afternoon now that I’m dieting, and I can’t bear the thought of eating more meat.

All along I had an inkling that dairy was the main culprit behind my acne, and it didn’t help that everything I read suggested the same thing. Lo and behold, a week after I re-introduced yoghurt, three new pimples popped up! The next week I had another breakout. I was about ready to throw in the towel, but I decided to give it one more week. My skin has surprisingly been fine since then, so maybe my body is adapting?

I haven’t yet decided what I’m going to do about my diet going forwards. I don’t like being restrictively Paleo, and I have accepted that I may never have completely clear skin. I have had two periods since January and I’m hoping that I can continue to improve my hormones without driving myself crazy eating only meat and veggies. I’ve been reading a lot about Estroblock and I’m hoping that once I begin taking that, in conjunction with a mostly Paleo diet, my skin will improve without my conscious effort.

My new favourite snack!

My new favourite snack!

My skin care regime
I can honestly say the changes I’ve made here have had the most significant positive impact on my skin. When I was initially diagnosed with PCOS, I was prescribed a daily medication as well as a night cream to get rid of my acne. I had tried countless brands of face wash, and they all seemed to irritate my face and only worsen my acne. Cetaphil is the only facial cleanser I’ve ever managed to tolerate, but it did nothing to improve my skin.

After reading Tracy’s blog, I took the plunge and stopped using all facial products. I stopped using cleanser, moisturiser, toner and even make-up remover. Instead, I follow this routine:

  • In the mornings, I apply a thin layer of manuka honey to my face and let it sit for 20-30 minutes before rinsing with warm water and patting my face dry. I then rub 2-3 drops of jojoba oil into my skin for 30-60 seconds before washing it off.
  • I made my own homemade cleanser using about two-thirds jojoba oil to one-third honey. I use this in the evening to cleanse my face and wash off my make up – it gets rid of everything, including mascara.

Yes, these products are expensive upfront but they are worth it. My manuka honey (the higher grade the better – don’t cheapen out!) was around £25 and the jojoba oil about £15, however, I still have more than a third of the honey left and about a quarter of the oil. Not bad considering I’ve used it twice a day for the past six months!

For the first month or so, I kept taking the medication and using the skin cream. I was afraid to stop using these things. But I started to notice that the cream seemed to make my skin worse. Whenever I put it on, I would wake up with a new zit! So I took the plunge and trusted the success I had seen in overhauling my skin care regime to throw these products away.

My skin is much clearer and softer because of it. I’m entirely convinced that the whole beauty industry is a sham – every product seems to produce side effects that only require more products to fix them!

cream

About six weeks ago, I started using an all-natural night cream recommended to me by a friend. The ingredients list is all natural and mostly comprised of oils, herb extract and bees wax. I use this 3-4 nights a week, as I find using it every night in conjunction with my other methods is just too much oil on my face.

So that’s my evolving story! I hope it helped some of you. Talking about acne can be an uncomfortable thing, so shoot me an email if you don’t want to comment here 🙂

Have you ever suffered from acne? What do you use to clean your face?

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