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My Personal road to clear skin through a healthy diet without using harsh chemicals (benzoyl peroxide, clindamycin, tretinoin)

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Abandon Ship!

By GellyB,

A few days ago, I decided to jump off the bandwagon and abandon the no-washing regimen. To break off the regimen, I exfoliated my skin with a vinegar soaked cotton pad two nights ago. I diluted the vinegar 1:4. The reason I changed my mind about the no-washing regimen wasn't because I lost faith in it, but because a person who had done the regimen for a year described the experience as "the worst regimen I have ever tried." Why would he say that? Well, not washing helped that person greatly, but over time the person developed seborrheic dermatitis- a popular consequence of the no-washing regime. By following this idea, I wanted to have clear skin. I didn't want to get rid of acne just to make room for another skin problem.

The foundation of the no-washing regimen will still be considered. I'm still going to try to rebuild my acid mantle, just not with a no-wash regimen. Instead, I ordered an acidic facial bar with a pH of 4.5, and am planning to use that with the diluted vinegar toner I made days ago. I MIGHT use the facial bar with my Clarisonic Mia, after all, I paid quite the price for that. Hopefully, the Clarisonic will clear the pores that are plugged with sebum.

Everyday my acne has gotten worse this summer. Now, I have whiteheads and small acne bumps all over my face. It's even spreading to the left side of my neck. The diluted vinegar has somewhat helped the sebum-plugged pores, but I still have them on my upperlip, chin, and forehead. I haven't lost hope yet; I haven't reached the 2 week mark for a rebuilt acid mantle. I hope I can allow my life to depend on the incoming facial bar; I hope I can say "I found out how to fight my acne," before I turn 20.
Yesterday, I wanted to find out what make the no-washing regime work. It greatly contradicts Western beliefs of skin care and makes us feel icky. However, it's very effective against irritation, acne, and un-normal skin. I was reading a popular post that got me started on this regime in the first place,

and someone had mentioned the acid mantle. Although I took AP Biology, I had no idea what that was, but after a quick google search, I recognized it and headpalmed for being a dumb-dumb.

What is the acid mantle? The acid mantle is a film of sebum, sweat, dead skin, and dirt that maintains a pH of about 4-5 to fight off bacteria. This acid mantle applies to the skin all over your body, not just your face. When we are born, we have neutral pH of 7, but it gradually becomes acidic to fight off bacteria better. Don't confuse maintaining the acidity of your skin with inner body alkalinity. Your blood needs to stay alkaline in order for cells to work properly while your skin's external pH has to be acidic. After over-exfoliation or using harsh or non-acidic products , the acid mantle is worn down. The skin is now vulnerable to bacteria. As a result of your skin's natural barrier being broken down, your skin can retaliate by producing a lot of oil or becoming inflammed to keep the bacteria from passing through the epidermis that the acid mantle once protected.

The no-washing regime promotes regeneration of the acid mantle by keeping cleansers from disrupting the pH and barrier that your body is trying to rebuild. I read that it takes about 14 to 17 days for the acid mantle to completely rebuild, but a prolonged use of harsh products can prevent the acid mantle from ever coming back. I don't know how long "prolonged use" would be and how harsh a product has to be to keep the acid mantle away. I still wonder if the "flakiness" that one experiences during acid mantle regeneration is an indication of whether your acid mantle is completely back or not. I'd like to think that, but one person mentioned that after 2 months, the flakiness was starting to subside. 2 months?? I hope it only took that long because the person was slowing down progress by washing with water more often than I plan to.

My education about the acid mantle made me realize how acne was just a domino effect. It makes so much sense to me, I wish I had known this sooner... This is my own personal domino effect:

Over the years, I have eaten junk food, cooked food, less veggies, and a butt-load of white rice. All this food and the toxins have built up over the years and wasn't completely removed. My liver was overwhelmed and didn't deactivate hormones like it should resulting in an increase of hormone levels in my body. With the help of adolescence, my hormone levels increased and my first pimples appeared. Now my poor physical state (too many toxins) started affecting my mental state. Enter the stress hormones! I was worrying about my appearance causing even more hormone production. Now I was fed up with the acne. So I used scrubs, salicylic acid, glycolic acid, benzoyl peroxide, clyndamicin, tretinoin, toners, chemical sunscreens, masques, and the clarisonic to get rid of the acne. Most of the acne went down the drain and so did my acid mantle. More bacteria was able to penetrate the epidermis. My skin was hella oily, yet dry. I was ALWAYS red on my cheeks, and my skin was blotchy.

Now that I know how the acne started. I'm on the road to success. Candida feeds on the complex sugars that would get stuck in your body and ferment. By eating fruits, I can fuel my body with the simple sugars and starve the candida. I improved toxin elimination through exercise, more fiber for bowel movement, and hydration. My body can heal better with regular sleep thanks to exercise and improved diet habits (not eating too late). My liver isn't overwhelmed because I eat mostly fruits and veggies. I stopped washing my face. Now the substances in my clogged pores can be seen being pushed out, my face is less oily when I wake up, and my skin tone evened out. All this motivation as well as the stories and science to back it up is making me more optimistic about the outcomes. Also, I hate not being productive. I keep myself busy by reading the books that have made a tower in my room. Youtube videos (I LOOOVE YouTube! xD) make me laugh when my dogs aren't around to. All these things lower my stress levels- which lower my stress hormone levels.

I know that my own strategy against acne can help a lot of people, but not everyone. There's still vitamin deficiencies, severe candida infection, hard/soft water, etc. But I just want you all to keep fighting. Never give up. Just never. Don't even consider it. I didn't want to give up, and I just feel in my heart that I'm so close to the ultimate solution.

So today is the 4th day of not washing my face. I'd have to admit, however, that I cheated a little when I splashed my face twice with cold water on the 2nd night. Fortunately, the water didn't seem to have an effect on my skin's progress, but I decided to leave water out of the mix from then on. That includes water in the shower. The past few days have been uncomfortable for me, not because of the oiliness of my face, but because of the itchiness. My skin tone is even, but dull from the oil all over my face. All over my skin (cheeks, chin, sides of nose, and most of all, the forhead) it appears as if a white substance is being forced out of every pore on my face. The size range from smaller that half an ant to a grain of salt. This is most likely sebum and dirt and the bigger chunks can be easily wiped off (but aren't). I'd have to guess that this is the "flakiness" that most people refer to when they start a no-washing regime. At first, I thought they meant the flakes of dead skin that accumulates in the winter. Yesterday, I had an incoming pimple right in the middle of my forehead, but today it has receded to a smaller whitehead blending in with the sea of white debri evacuating my pores. Today, I can feel an incoming pimple on my chin which I associate with the soup I ate yesterday that missed my mouth. Another thing that I can't ignore are my eyes. On the second day of no washing, I noticed that if I touch my eye, it will be very irritated and start to sting. I have to squeeze my eye forcefully to bring about tears and squeeze them shut to bear the stinging. The same stinging sensation happened randomly yesterday with both eyes at different times. It also happened earlier today, with my left eye.

I decided to continue this no-washing regime for one week. Then, once every week I would let cold water run down my face in the shower. No touching at all. And I would let it dry on its own. After that, I would let the no-washing regime continue.

I really believe that this can work. Combined with a healthy diet that supports the organs of elimination, your body will be able to once again fight off acne.

Time To Start!

By GellyB,

Today is the day I officially started trying to clear my acne without the use of harsh chemicals! My methods? A diet that achieves the 10 serving recommendation for fruits and vegetables (5 servings for each) and not washing my face! What?? Not washing my face? Yeah, it'll feel weird, I know, what with my oily face and all. However, I've read quite a few success stories in the forums, and I thought I'll give it a try. If it works, that would be fantastic! I won't abstain from washing my face forever though, I'll probably just wash it every 3 to 5 days (or even 10 depending on the results) with a quick cold water rinse every evening. I know a couple of beauty gurus who don't wash their hair every day. They said that at first, their hair would be so oily after one day of no washing, but after a week of no washing or a continued routine of washing every other day, their hair was healthier and less oily. I believe (and hope) that the same principle can be applied to skin. After all, my skin is so used to being washed twice a day and my hair is used to being washed everyday that just one long day of no washing makes me an oil slick. To go about this no-washing routine, I'll abstain from washing my skin for 10 days and see how it goes.

I've already started working on my diet last week. I'm just trying to reach 10 servings of fruits and vegetables everyday. I also eliminated the staple food of my people: white rice, minimized meat, and greatly minimized dairy. I haven't started taking any supplements, though. I know what can help me, but I just want to try this new diet for 3 months to see whether supplements will be necessary. I think it's also important to add that I'm using a juicer to help me get my daily 10. I use the Breville Juice Fountain Plus je98xl that I bought from for $150. Amazon was more expensive, even without shipping. For breakfast I try to eat 2-3 servings of fruits with the remaining servings as snacks during the day. I have a salad once a day with the remaining servings coming from juicing. The third meal (lunch or dinner) is just a "whatever" meal. Probably something my mom will cook (if its not fried). During these "whatever" meals, I try to make the healthiest choices- limiting meat, no rice, and eat a lot of veggies. I don't expect this new diet to completely take effect until October, which will be 3 whole months. I'll keep people updated if my acne changes for the better or worse, or if my skin looks more even toned.

I forgot! In regards to my diet, I forgot to mention that I have been trying to drink a cup of water on the hour every hour. Sometimes I get off my a quarter hour or even skip an hour or two, but I'm still hyrdrated. I avoid drinking water before, during, or immediately after meals as well. I also started drinking a glass (12 oz.) of green tea two days ago. I was drinking 3 cups of decaffeinated green tea, but I ran out and can only drink caffeinated green tea in the morning. I have also been drinking 3 cups of roasted dandelion root tea everyday for my liver. Soon I'll start drinking a detox tea as well.
What was once my best friend is now my enemy. In the beginning, benzoyl peroxide helped me prevent acne and get rid of the current acne that I had. Eventually, it caused my skin to become dry and oily at the same time. It happened so gradually that I didn't realize that benzoyl peroxide was ruining my skin.

I started using benzoyl peroxide religiously my sophomore year. There were a few times when I would use it on and off, but altogether, I used benzoyl peroxide for 3 years. At first my skin was normal. Not too oily, not too dry. It was completely fine. I just needed those annoying pimples to make like a tree and leave. It worked for me in the beginning, and it worked for me in the end. However, I decided to quit benzoyl peroxide because it was just too irritating for my eyes. When I applied bp, my eyes would get so red and watery that I couldn't bare to open them while and after I applied bp. I also realized bp was doing something weird to my skin texture. After a year of using it, my skin switched from normal to oily, and a year and a half of using bp, I noticed that my skin was dry even if it had sebum sitting on top. I was so confused, so I used different moisturizers: creams, gels, lotions, no moisturizers, spearmint tea, even the Clarisonic Mia, but nothing worked. "It's got to be this darned benzoyl" I thought. I didn't know the science behind it, but I knew one thing: having oily skin that was starting to wrinkle on the forehead and would show pronounced little lines when pulled was not good. Finally in May, (if I had to give a specific date, I would say May 7 although I know I quit earlier than that) I quit using benzoyl peroxide cold turkey. Has my skin gotten worse? Oh yea, but i'm not going to put my skin's age in danger even if it means having less acne. I decided to go for a different approach, a holistic approach, for my acne and let my skin recover from the ravages of benzoyl peroxide. I'm at that "2-month mark" when people supposedly get worse acne when they quit using these acne products. My skin has definitely gotten worse than it was the beginning of the summer, but it happened gradually. Now, I have whiteheads and comedonal acne, but no cysts (thank God). It is highly likely that my skin is responding to my quitting benzoyl peroxide, but I'm not 100% sure. There is also the chance that my skin is detoxing due to recent diet changes I have made.

My Acne Past

By GellyB, is the day that I decide to create a blog of my acne experience. I'm doing this to tell other people what will or won't help me over the next months (6-12 months), and to help me keep track of my progress. Another reason was because I couldn't find answers to many questions through a plethora of google searches (such as when your face gets through the purging stages of stopping benzoyl peroxide cold turkey).

Let me start off with my acne story...

The earliest I can remember having acne is in the 6th grade, thanks to a fellow classmate pointing out that I had "bumps" on my forehead. My skin was normal back then (unlike the super oily skin I have now), but, like my fellow classmate had described, I had bumps of acne on my forehead. I'm positive these weren't cysts or even whiteheads and blackheads. I just remember them being annoying bumps that weren't really inflammed, possibly comedonal. Looking back, I'm not sure if it is more than a coincidence that my brother's and my acne developed after moving to another state (since the climates were about the same) If I had to decide, I would contribute my acne to hormonal changes since I started having my period that year or the year before. My straight bangs that covered just my forehead and genetics (my father's side) were probably helping as well.

My acne over the next few years (7th, 8th, 9th grade) are a blur to me now. I can only remember having a lot of acne on my forehead and nose and maybe a cyst or two every few months.

The year I started to seriously treat my acne was the summer before my sophomore year. My brother had gone to a dermatologist (probably around April or May) for his acne. His acne was much worse than mine: cystic-especially around chin area, and oily skin. Mine was comedonal, blackheads, whiteheads, and a cyst every month or two on the nose, forehead, and cheeks with normal skin. If I had acne on my chin, it was usually a cyst. The dermatologist told him a skin care regime that would eventually become mine. Unlike my brother, I decided to wait until summer started (start of June) to begin my new regime. This was the regime:

Wash face (Aveeno Clear Complexion Cream Cleanser w/ 2.5% salicylic acid)
Use clean finger to dab liquid clindamycin phosphate 1% on problem areas
Use pea sized amount of benzoyl peroxide 5% to problem areas (soon I switched to 2.5% strength gel due to irritation)
Finish off with Aveeno Continuous Protection Sunblock Lotion

Use clindamycin phosphate 1% on chest and back morning and night

Wash face (Aveeno Brightening Scrub)
Use liquid clindamycin phosphate 1% again
Thin layer of tretinoin .025%

The results of this regime were wonderful. Aside from the initial adjustment my skin had to make (I was peeling really bad on the chin from the liquid clindamycin), my acne quickly reduced. I know that the Aveeno Clear Complexion and suncreen brightened my complexion because a classmate I saw the last week of July had commented that I looked pale (I'm Filipino so he was used to me looking a bit tan). I loved this skin care regime like a miracle. I got rid of my comedonal acne, reduced blackheads and whiteheads and the number of cysts I got. My cheeks were finally smooth and my forehead was mostly smooth.

Over time the clindamycin I used on my face stopped working. I had never really used the clindamycin lotion for my chest and back because I was too impatient to wait for it to dry before I put a shirt on. I stopped using the clindamycin and my skin was fine without it. So la la acne was better than it had been even if I still had it more that my classmates, but I had lived so long without smooth skin that I forgot what it felt like (I loved to rub my cheeks, they were so smooth!) But then I noticed something. Why was I waking up with such oily skin? My skin wasn't burning from the tretinoin anymore. Where was the even-toned, normal skin that I would wake up to after a night of tretinoin? Now I woke up with extremely dull, oily skin. What did I do? I stopped using tretinoin. My skin care regime was the same minus the clindamycin and tretinoin. Did stopping tretinoin make my skin normal in the mornings? Honestly, I don't remember, but I remember staying off tretinoin. Somewhere along the lines, I started using the benzoyl peroxide day and night.

Now to the summer before my junior year. In June 2010, I had my first facial extraction which hurt like hell. Although I was left with scars on my cheekbones, it seemed to completely get rid of the acne on my jawline, cheeks, and temples. Aside from changing facial washes (too many to remember) I was still using benzoyl peroxide morning and night, but switched to Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Daily Face Lightweight Suncreen Lotion SPF 30 since the aveeno one made my face look too greasy too early in the morning. At this time, I had oily skin, but I never noticed it. I was too distracted by my new smooth cheeks. It wasn't until the middle of the first semester my junior year that I noticed my oily skin. My acne had reduced to a few bumps on my forehead, no blackheads, few whiteheads, and rare cysts. After that I tried moisturizers, masks, glycolic acid, salicylic, serums, toners, and spearmint tea to try to fix my oily skin in vain.

My senior year pretty much ended up in the same way with me trying to solve this oily skin problem. It wasn't until the second semester of my senior year that I gave up and went to a simple routine: wash, benzoyl peroxide, sunscreen. Eventually I stopped using sunscreen because it made my skin way too oily. Then I stopped using benzoyl peroxide cold turkey (there will be another blog post on why I decided to quit using bp)

June 2012: I read an e-book (AcneNoMore by Mike Walden) about healing acne holistically, the only method I have yet to use. It describes detoxing, enemas, fasting, flushes, and other ways to get rid of acne. Before hearing of this book in a Youtube comment (sometimes I check the comments to see what silly fight has started) I didn't think that diet affected acne. I was unaware of "detoxing" and the importance of the liver. I thought that unless someone ate by mashing their face into a plate of food, then diet really didn't affect acne. I also didn't think hydration affected acne. Water hydrates skin? Doesn't oil do that? What? I was so ignorant of the importance of getting my daily 10 servings of fruits and veggies.

And so this is where I am now: acne spreading throughout my face and dry/oily skin. (At least I don't have any cysts) A healthier lifestyle..if this won't get me nice skin, I don't know what will. Even if a good diet doesn't help my acne, will I go back to bad habits? Nooo. I love the idea of being healthier. I'll still try to get my daily 10. I'll still try to use my juicer everyday and make the healthiest choices when eating out. I'll still play Dance Dance Revolution for daily exercise. I'm confident that living right will get me healthier skin, but I can't be too confident. I've got a few other tricks to help me along the way. Like, I was reading a post about how this guy stopped washing his face every day and his skin improved. That is one thing I haven't tried, so why not? What more could I lose?

So that's it. That's my acne story that my memory can tell me. I'll have blog entries about how my acne has progressed week after week or even every few days. I'll write about what things I consume to help my acne. If you have any questions, you can leave one in the comments and I'll try to answer as soon as I can. I hope this blog can help someone else achieve clear skin or at least guide them closer to having a good complexion. My next blog entries will be about my experience with benzoyl peroxide and my previous diet.
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