I've created an account just to post about this. I have suffered with moderate & occasionally severe acne on my face, back, chest & upper arms since I was 8. I am now nearly 29.
I have tried most things short of accutane. I am female, with PCOS & high levels of testosterone. I was given salycic acid gels when I was younger which did nothing. Dianette (the cyproterone acetate pill) worked apparent wonders initially with a 97% clearing of my face & beautiful smooth texture. But I disliked how it made me have a constant brain fog & it diminished my natural strength making me lose interest in sports. I kept up with it for approx 6 years, but stopped when I realised my blood pressure had crept up from exceptionally low (70/45 ... My family are naturally like that) up to 125/110. Coming off it was a relief but my acne came back on my face with a vengeance (although it never went away on my back/chest anyway)
I saw a dermatologist eventually at the age of 24ish. He put me on antibiotics, 2.5% benzoyl peroxide (I think only once a week) and differin/adapalene daily. Results were ok-ish but I was only approx 40% clear on my face & no real difference on my back. I had constant yeast infections, felt sick & was constantly getting ill.
He suggested putting me on Spironolactone, but explained it was hard on the kidneys. I knew that I was having constant UTIs & protein had been found in my urine on several occasions before (stupid doctors kept saying it was contamination in the sample & I couldn't possibly have kidney problems at my age) Luckily I decided to push the doctors to investigate properly before I went on the Spironolactone. Turns out I have stage 2 chronic kidney disease, with only 60% function - which I can't help but feel may have been compounded by the years of taking dianette & antibiotics. My GP just tells me it has to get worse before they will send me to a nephrologist! But whenever I tell another doctor (eg when having surgery) they always look at me as though they are shocked, ask what caused it & why it isn't being looked into in more depth. Obviously, this must be uncommon at my age.
So I decided that the medical establishment are a bit short sighted & that I needed to take things into my own hands. I tried the benzoyl peroxide regime here on acne.org but struggled to keep it up & I got so fed up of the bleaching of clothes, the smell, the dryness & the fact reaching my back was so difficult. The final straw was when the only moisturiser I'd found that worked in the UK was discontinued (Boots Botanics Pore Perfecting moisturiser with SPF 15)
I then fell across the oil cleansing method. I laughed at first. Oil is so obviously bad for acne right? Like you - I've done loads of reading about acne & this seemed so counter-intuitive. So I ignored it for ages, but something kept niggling at the back of my brain.
When I was on bed-rest after an operation a while back, I had not been doing anything at all to my skin. I basically hadn't been washing much... Gross I know! But my acne seemed to magically clear up. I had dismissed it as coincidence, or lack of stress through doing nothing! But this, combined with the fact that my acne had improved when I started using a gentler face wash (Avene gel cleanser... Great for the benzoyl peroxide regime - no foaming and much more calming than most) ... Well it made me wonder if my skin didn't like having its oil stripped away all the time.
I started with Olive oil (extra virgin) & once I got over the I initial oddity, I liked the way it removed my makeup gently, made my skin feel smooth and not irritated, and at the time, I thought I may be imagining it - but my skin felt less greasy. However I did this for a couple of weeks and no improvement in the acne at all. I got bored & stopped for a while. However I decided to keep using olive oil on my hands immediately after washing to seal in the moisture (a great tip btw... I could never grow my nails before I did this - is get rough bits of skin & nail that I'd try to 'tidy up' with my teeth & end up biting everything off!) I also kept using it as a lip balm (I really liked the idea of it being edible). But I started getting loads of little spots on my lip line... Something I'd never suffered from before - so I realised that the olive oil itself was blocking my pores.
This actually brought me back to thinking about the OCM since I realised that the issue may be the specific oil, not the process itself. I did a load more research & discovered that Jojoba is the most universally tolerated oil for acne. Some were mixing it with grapeseed - and castor was mentioned quite a lot too. I bought these (tried to get organic, cold pressed where possible to avoid synthetic chemical contaminants), but after doing a bit more reading - decided against using the castor oil. Too many people were saying it broke them out or was drying. I also suffer from some excess hair growth in places & castor oil is supposed to stimulate hair follicles!
So I did an approximately 50/50 mix of jojoba/grapeseed. I put it on with clean hands at night, massaged it in & used a hot washcloth to wipe it gently away several times. I felt the same as with the EVOO - smooth, non-irritated, less greasy etc... Except this time I seemed to be gradually clearing up. I've now been doing it for 6 months & am astounded by the results.
Oil cleansing with Jojoba (this is the key oil for me - the grapeseed is just to reduce the cost) made me 85% clear on my face. My constant slight redness dissappeared, the dryness dissappeared, I didn't have a constant forehead oil-slick anymore & the texture of my skin was improved massively. Best of all... No side effects! I was putting something that was safe enough to eat on my skin. That made me feel strangely smug ... but also just made complete sense.
However, I'm greedy & wanted more than that! I thought - if this has made such a difference, maybe something else can help with last few spots.
I discovered Manuka Honey & started using it as a face mask in the morning. I put it on slightly wet skin all over the affected areas & let it sit whilst I eat breakfast etc - then rinse it off with warm water or a washcloth. I am now 95% clear & feel able to go without makeup for the first time in my life! Even when my skin was clear on dianette, I had a slight blotchy redness that I felt the need to cover up. No longer with this routine... I feel truly liberated!
I would have laughed at this remedy previously - I had heard honey was good for skin many times before, but thought it was an old-wives nonsense tale. Clearly it was only for hippies... only worked a little bit (not like real synthetic chemical cocktails!) or was only for those with 'normal' skin or minor issues. My skin was clearly far too severely problematic to benefit from something natural, edible and that came from a flying creature!
How wrong could I have been. The jojoba oil had shown me that the way I had been tought to think about my skin was completely the wrong way round - which is why I gave the honey a try. The Manuka honey is particularly good because of the diffferent mechanism of it's antibacterial properties. Also, it won't have been processed in a way that damages its healing properties.
So my summary is: give it a try, what have you got to lose? Don't use olive oil - I know people are different, but I you are much safer to use Jojoba oil which mimics our skins own natural sebum. Try it as an eye makeup remover or lip balm first if you are scared - then any problems should become apparent quickly. And most of all - don't dismiss it as non-science, it makes a lot of sense when you start to analyse it - and these substances are not going to harm you at all (unlike accutane, antibiotics, hormonal treatments etc)... So just give it a go.
P.s. my back acne seems to have magically dissappeared too! The only thing I can attribute this to is that I now only wash my hair with hot water every day, and sometimes a bicarbonate of soda wash followed by an apple cider vinegar rinse. I wash once a week with a tiny amount of ecover washing up liquid (!) in a bowl with a load of warm water, then dunk my hair & scalp upside down into it (which is how I use the Bicarb & vinegar too). I use a tiny bit of jojoba on the tips as a conditioner.
I am starting to wonder if surfectants/degreasants/silicones etc have been almost entirely responsible for aggravating the while thing! The only other time my back has cleared up is when it gets burnt in the sun.., wierd, but it stays perfectly clear for 2-3 months afterwards. No treatment by the medical establishment has ever improved my back. The idea of 'wash away the grease' with these stripping chemical cocktails is clearly flawed. If I was cynical - I'd even venture that it might be encouraged on purpose to ensure the problem is never cured & they keep their customers. Money & greed can be terrible corrupters.
Edited by Lull, 31 March 2013 - 06:08 AM.