***Notice the title of this post "how I got clear skin." I did not want to title it "how TO GET clear skin" because I really have no idea if these methods will work for anyone else. This is just my personal experience. I am not a dermatologist or a doctor of any kind. Also, it is really difficult to put a picture of yourself like this on the internet, but I have had a request to do this post and I have hope that it might help someone else. Okay, disclaimer over***
First, a little history. I have struggled with acne for as long as I can remember. It was present all through middle school and high school, but it got particularly bad my junior year of college. It was so bad that my parents noticed when I came home and basically made me see a dermatologist, who put me on an antibiotic. It worked for a while, but I stopped taking the pills because they weren't meant to be used long-term. I've tried what feels like every pill, cream, lotion, oil, wash etc. After trying multiple pills and creams with my current dermatologist, he basically told me the next option was Isotretinoin (formerly known as Accutane). I thought about taking it for a long time, and I will spare you my thoughts/opinions about it, but I basically decided I couldn't do it.
Only people with acne can truly understand how awful it is. I am a relatively confident person, but there was a time when I couldn't look in the mirror for more than a couple of minutes without getting upset. I have always known that my worth is found in Christ and how I treat people is a lot more important than what I look like. Still, it was hard. There were definitely tears shed and prayers prayed.
In the past 6 months, my skin has improved significantly. After I decided not to take Accutane, I started researching lots of methods and practices online. I figured since medication wasn't working for me, I had nothing to lose with making a few changes. I have been absolutely astonished with the outcome, and while I don't know if it will work for anyone else, I wanted to share the changes I have made:
- I only wash my face once a day. This probably sounds a little crazy, but I think this has been a major contributor to my skin being healthier. I was washing my skin too much and stripping it of the oil that keeps it healthy. I now wash my face at night, and I just rinse it in the mornings when I take a shower. If I’ve done a hard workout in the morning I will wash my face in the shower with a gentle wash.
- Clarisonic: I purchased this at a discount through a friend and I am so glad that I did. I definitely think it helps get my skin much cleaner than when I use my fingers. However, I started using a Clarisonic about a year ago without changing anything else and I did NOT see an improvement. I just wanted to make it clear that the Clarisonic itself did not clear up my skin, so if you cannot afford it, it should not make that big of a difference.
- Sulfur Soap: I switched to sulfur bar soap about 6 months ago. It has been strange switching to bar soap after using face wash for so long, but besides the inconvenience when traveling, it has been fine. I have purchased it from Sprouts and Amazon - I don't think it makes much of a difference.
- Moisturizing Lotion: I think I had been drying out my skin which had caused an influx in oil production on my face. I am currently using NeutrogenaNaturals lotion, but I will probably switch to a mid-weight lotion during the summer. I apply it after washing my face with sulfur soap in the evening AND after I rinse my face in the shower in the morning.
- Sulfur Spot Treatment: When I get the occasional pimple (occasional pimple – I never thought I’d be able to write that!), I use the spot treatment in the evening and then just rinse it off in the morning in the shower.
- Dairy. Oh dairy, how I love you. And how bad you are for my skin. I have had the sneaking suspicion that dairy was making me break out for a while, so I finally decided to cut back. I tried to go cold turkey at first, but it was really hard (I love you cheese, I love you cream, I love you milk). It was a lot easier to cut back thoughtfully. I switched to almond milk in my cereal, coconut creamer in my coffee, I opt out of cheese on my burger, I try to choose non-cream based soups, etc. I definitely still eat things with dairy in them, I just try to avoid it when I can.
- Coffee. I know it’s obvious by my blog name, but I love coffee. I used to drink a few cups every morning. I started drinking coffee my junior year of college, which is when my skin started to get really bad. You would think I would have made the connection a long time ago, but I think I just tried to ignore it. I have read a few articles about the coffee acne relationship, and even though most people are skeptical about coffee as an acne trigger, I think it was for me. It’s totally a personal thing (my husband drinks coffee like it’s water and I’ve never seen a pimple on his face), but I believe the caffeine was causing an overproduction of oil in my skin. I cut it out completely for a month, and now I drink it just on the weekends.
- Water. I have always been a big water drinker, but I started drinking more. This is good for your health in so many ways, so I will just leave it at that.
- Green Tea/Lemon. There are so many things out there that are meant to be good for your skin, including green tea and hot lemon water in the morning. I am not a doctor nor am I a nutritionist, but I bought into the hype. I drank green tea in the morning with the juice of half a lemon for about three months. I have no idea if it really did help, but since my skin has improved significantly, I felt like I needed to include it. Just FYI, warm lemon water is pretty nasty. I still drink green tea most mornings, just without the lemon juice.
Whew, that was a lot. It’s really not a complicated process, it just includes things from a lot of different areas. A natural acne solution has always seemed unreachable, but through a little trial and error I have finally found something that works for me. Please let me know if you have any questions - I definitely could have left something out!