This thread is officially closed!
Low-calorie Paleo (NO dairy) and intermittent fasting.
Sources of flareups:
- Acne cosmetica. However, I can use mineral makeup without problems.
- Harsh cleansers. I appreciate a non-sudsing (or just gently sudsing) form of facial cleansing that removes superficial debris while not leaving a residue on the skin. Note about sulfates: yes, they can be irritating, but most people can tolerate synthetic detergents. It's the amount of exposure to the detergent that matters. Sulfates, at an extremely low concentration in your cleanser, applied for no longer than 30 seconds will not be detrimental. I will say that sulfates neither benefit your skin nor destroy it. If possible, forgo detergents if your skin can maintain itself without it.
- Spot treating. By smothering inflamed popped actives (essentially open wounds) with creams and clays, you can potentially prevent actives from healing during the most critical hour time: sleeping. Spot treating should be limited to anti-inflammatories (icing or honey, as an example). Only leave spot treatments on no more than an hour, and let the skin breathe and heal. The spot treatment will not heal the pimple--only your skin can do that. Spot treating should encourage the healing process.
- High glycemic load. Having experimented with low-glycemic diets about 4 times, the last 2 finally doing them right, I've figured out that extremely low glycemic diets clear my acne up immensely. Think about it this way: in the same way that going to the gym is pointless if you come home and eat a cake, consider the same for skin. Don't expect your new mask to do you any favors if you're eating junk all day.
- Over-moisturizing with deadening emollient moisturizers. (I used to try benzoyl peroxide while simultaneously moisturizing with thick creams, however I've come to understand both these products don't work well together. If you have similar problems with minimal progress using BP, you might be well suited to try a gentle 5% BP gel and moisturizing with a light gel (like aloe). Make sure you are careful ramping up your usage of BP, or else you will experience intense dryness. Only ever use about a nickel amount on the face and neck, if your neck can withstand it.)
- Overusing active ingredients. Active ingredients should be limited. In reality, most topical medications provide sufficient results with minimal exposure. The effectiveness of the product is not really based on the highest amount you use; actually, the negative side effects (dryness, redness, irritation, "raw" look and sensitivity) are more dose-dependent. Therefore, you will not get good results from overdosing with harsh product. You will only damage your skin. Effectiveness doesn't increase with dosage--side effects do. So be kind.
Going to a nutritionist for your acne
The truth: of all the knowledge a nutritionist can give you, that and even more is available for free. You do not have to pay a nutritionist $150.00 an hour for basic fundamentals. I also believe it is better to research for yourself. It is much safer to get primary over secondary sources of information.
Here's some suggestions where to begin (you don't have to do ALL of this, but if you're completely insane and want to do all of it, go for it. It's listed by priority):
1 Cut out major allergens. This includes dairy, gluten, wheat, soy, and maybe eggs.
2 Cut out processed food. No more cakes, cookies, pies, pastries. No fast food. No more grains either, like breads, oatmeal, rice, corn. Replace processed, syrup drinks with water and tea.
3 Cut out as much sugar as possible. Eliminate fruits high in fructose. Only eat the fruits with the best fiber-to-sugar ratio, like cherries and berries. No juice. I should note, bananas are OK--and although not a fruit, potatoes are OK (refer to Archevore's blog).
4 Eat high-quality (and humanely slaughtered) animals. Make chicken is organic and hormone free, the beef is grass fed, and the fish is wild. If you're going to eat pork, make sure it's uncured and nitrite-free. Avoid tuna from a can and cold cuts (deli slices).
The above steps will help insulin resistance or hypoglycemia; you'll have eliminated wheat and sugar and surely are eating foods low in carbs, which can help alleviate gastrointestinal issues and regulate bacterial overgrowth like Candida; and finally, you'll have added in animal foods that help re-balance your omega 3 fats, which will prevent inflammation.
5 Make nutritionally dense vegetables apart of your diet. Broccoli, kale, chard, are spinach (leafy greens) are all good.
6 Get a food sensitivity/intolerance test. This way, you can see if you are allergic to things like dairy and eggs. If not, feel free to drink raw milk and farm-fresh eggs. An elimination diet could work too (though not as accurate).
7 If you like, add in supplements. Specific vitamins, probiotics, and fish oil capsules (or evening primose oil if you react adversely to fish oil); herbs like saw palmetto and agnus castus; natural DHT-blockers, and so on. Ginger and turmeric for inflammation too.
Any persisting inflammation should be completely eliminated, once you have given up food intolerances. Supplements can repair vitamin and mineral deficiencies, restoring balance to the body.
People I like on nutrition:
Petro Dobromylskyj (Hyperlipid)
Most skincare kits employ very basic ingredients: salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, glycolic acid and so on. Often times the kit will have a salicylic wash and benzoyl peroxide moisturizer. ProActiv has a sulfur mask, and I've heard this indeed does work. But, overall, most skincare kits do not have lasting results. Kits, like AcneFree and Noxema, usually damage the skin and makes breakouts worse.
This is my point: do not rely on kits. It's important to customize a regimen for you.
Note that, a normal regimen would have the following setup:
1 cleanser, rinse
2 mask, wash off
4 exfoliate with any liquid toners
6 sprays, mists
8 healing powders (daytime) or spot treatments (nighttime)
(Steps 3-6 tend to be considered the "water-based" part of your routine. Step 7 is the lipophilic, or "oil-based"part of your routine. Oils, moisturizers and so on are step 7. It's a good idea to order your products based on this characteristic.)
You do not need every step here. Anything beyond 3-4 steps means your regimen doesn't have great products to begin with.
Some companies do not label their ingredients properly, nor do they guarantee quality. It is extremely important to trust the company you buy your products from. I believe the skincare company Aubrey received a lawsuit for this. Here
Beauty products are far less regulated than you might think, and now several popular companies are being sued over their use of the word “organic.” While manufacturers claim their products are more natural than that of their competitors, a watchdog group found many products don’t have the required amount of organic ingredients, and some even contain potentially toxic chemicals.
Last week the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) filed a class action lawsuit against 26 cosmetics companies for allegedly violating a California law that says products must contain at least 70% organic ingredients to use the term on packaging. Use of the label has been in dispute for years, and according to the Associated Press, and the federal government never established rules for what constitutes an organic beauty product. Then again, the USDA has approved standards instituted in California in 2003.
CEH decided to file the suit after its researchers performed tests on beauty items bought at several Bay Area stores including Target, Walgreens, and Whole Foods. Based on their ingredients lists, these “organic” products contained very few, or in some cases no ingredients considered organic.
A "Natural Approach":
For a time I tried DIY skincare. This was completely new to me, yet made a lot of sense. I liked the idea of creating the most customized and chemical-free products for myself. I used products such as:
apple cider vinegar
tea tree oil
grapeseed oil, castor oil, jojoba oil, olive oil
manuka honey 12+ & 16+
Egyptian Magic Cream
Aztec Indian Secret Healing Clay
Before I say anything else, I'd also like to share my experience with the oil cleansing method. Be careful: oils are not created equal--and I'm not just speaking of comedogenicity.
The method the oil was extracted and processed is extremely important as well:
Polyunsaturated oils are prone to spoiling:
Regular, mass-produced vegetable oils have turned rancid from the time they were produced, because they are extracted using high heat. Having gone bad, the oils are then deodorised and various chemicals are also added to remove the bad smell, give the oil a nice colour.
polyunsaturated fats - unlike saturated fats - are highly unstable and they spoil easily when exposed to heat, light and air. By the time they reach you, most would have already turned rancid. And rancid oils are highly toxic.
For these reasons, make sure your oils are cold pressed, stored in dark bottles, kept away from heat, and preferably unrefined and organic as well. If you order your oil online, I'm not sure the regulations on preserving the oil quality. Exposure to heat could be a reality (and even the oils shipped to stores from the manufacturer are at risk). Bottom line: oils vary greatly in quality! Beware. Also, I do NOT think the majority of acne sufferers will benefit from OCM.
The main idea is that oil dissolves oil, so why not cleanse with oil? Because when you rub oil all over your face, how do you get it off? Not with water, which is usually how people rinse. You could steam it off, as steam will help the oil's adhesion, but I don't recommend steaming your face twice a day. Actually, detergents dissolve oil. And very effectively. That's what detergents are. Don't be fooled by OCM. If you want to cleanse with oil, I'd recommend a second step that uses a dissolving liquid to allow the oil to be rinsed off easily with room-temperature water.
Here's my last problem with natural skincare: quality assurance and shelf life. I fear I left my oils out and they got rancid, and then green tea eventually grew stale. I think part of trusting a company now to make my skincare for me, is that they are discerning oil quality and homogenizing and preserving the mixtures with safe ingredients. This way, I don't have to worry about anything going rancid or stale. They are just safer to use.
I believe in natural derivatives like oils, extracts, hydrosols, distillates and so on. I also believe, in the same way not every dermatologist's prescription will work for you, neither will every natural derivative. Just because it's natural doesn't mean a whole lot of anything. If a product works, it works. I would compare natural products to any other "chemical-laden" product, because in the end, what produces results in a safe manner will win.
The Feedback Hypothesis
The "Feedback Hypothesis" states that continual topical regimens strip the skin of it's sebum, and the pilosebaceous unit increases its sebum production rate compensatorily. Consequently, if the skin is excessively dried, then skin will react by becoming oilier with greater sebum production. If you sift through the Oily Skin section, this is constantly brought up as either truth or complete myth. Many believe this old idea is wrong, and that the pilosebaceous unit ("organ"), isn't sensitive to such subtle external changes. The alternate theory suggests that sebum production rates are controlled by androgenic hormones; without doing some hormone therapy either topically or externally, the skin's sebum content isn't affected. Various research has supported and denied both camps.
Simply: will drying out your skin will make you produce more oil? This is inconclusive.
However, when it comes to the anecdotal evidence, it seems oil can be controlled. There are thousands of reports of being able to reduce or increase sebum output depending on external regimen. Typically, the two important factors affecting this are cleansing and moisturizing. Cleansing is one of the most crucial steps of a regimen, as this step initially strips the skin; moisturizing "gives back." Cleansing can either make the skin too dry or not cleanse thoroughly enough, and it's vital to find a proper balance in this step. Moisturizing can either provide a softness to the skin, or it can actually have an oily look if it isn't absorbable. How well a moisturizer absorbs depends on pore size, skin type and so on. Regardless, without these two steps balanced, your skin will suffer regardless.
Ultimately, neither hypothesis can't be debunked, for the science is still too infantile.
However, there's two factors you can count on: whether or not a cleanser could make you oilier, it can definitely irritate and dry the top layer of skin. Whether or not a moisturizer "sits" on the skin or absorbs, it can be comedogenic and appear oily. Essentially, make sure your cleanser does NOT dry your skin, and make sure your moisturizer doesn't give you a "shine."
Derms and Parents
In all my years growing up with several dermatologists, they would never take me seriously, because I lacked the confidence. However, if you know your skin and really do want a specific prescription within appropriate bounds the derm could give, make sure your voice is heard. Using one of their products is as much a personal decision as a medical treatment.
If you want a certain prescription, like Differin or Finacea, ask for it and prepare yourself with reasoning behind your desire for the product. They might listen if you sound well-informed and sure about yourself. (And, if your parent is there, make sure that parent is on your side.)
That being said, nothing a derm has given me has worked too well. I'd hesitate to set foot in a derm's office again. That's just me.
I used to take out my stress on my face. And to punish my acne, I would get my q-tip and spot treat every last blemish I could find. I would mask and peel and scrub and pick and steam and do everything in my power to get rid of it. And I would always pick.
My face was at it's absolute worst when I picked and spot treated. When I finally stopped so much peeling, picking, masks and scrubbing, I saw improvement. My efforts for clear skin were thwarted by picking habits. When I picked I was kissing clear skin goodbye.
My Philosophy on Masks
Masks aren't miracles, and I learned the hard way. I didn't see proportional results with my time using masks--results that should've countered my family's jabbing comments. "Do you ever not have a mask on?" they would sometimes comment.
Good masks are far and few between. They are a little helper, never a staple. And if you make a mask a staple part of your life, I promise it will be annoying.
Masks are messy, time consuming and life disrupting. I urge you to rethink your priorities if you're willing to spend the time and money like I did, for mildest improvement in complexion. The hours upon hours behind a mask are neither good for the skin nor good for the soul.
Chemical Peeling and Chemical Exfoliation
Point 1: exfoliation is crucial. You must exfoliate somehow, either chemically, manually or naturally (naturally meaning letting your skin exfoliates itself--and if you can do that without clogging pores, you probably aren't on this board anyway). However, there's drawbacks of chemical peels and using acid. The skin can become accustomed to exfoliation, essentially building a dependence to the acid and stunting its own ability to exfoliate regularly. However, it's also true that acne-prone skin usually can't exfoliate effectively anyway, as one of the main causes of acne is hyperkeratinization and retention hyperkeratosis. This typically needs treatment with chemical exfoliation, unless your diet may help otherwise (which it can if you have it dialed in).
Overall, it's important to find balance with exfoliation. It can be very helpful if used correctly. If you're stuck with exfoliants and do not know which ones to pick, I'd recommend going to a local esthetician that would be willing to test various acids on your skin for sensitivity. Trust their professional opinion, and whether or not you'd benefit from regular toning, using serums or getting monthly peels. (note: a dermatologist is not a great source for for this advice.) Your skin can adjust to a particular acid, so it's important to adjust your use of acid as your skin adjusts.
Proper Skincare Mentality
A lot of our character is created by our beliefs, which stems from various contexts. Humans love ideologies and easy concepts to follow.
But it leads to tunnel vision. There's a reason why everyone's "tried everything and nothing worked." Because the causes of acne are vast. Sticky skin cells, premature apoptosis, excess proliferation and improper maturation of sebocytes/corneocytes, impaired ability to exfoliate, deficiency in exoliating skin enzymes (to break up desmosome adhesion), improper and low-quality (even thick) sebum composition, overproduction of sebum, bacterial imbalances and bacterial overgrowth, hyperkeratinization/retention hyperkeratosis, progesterone/estrogen imbalances, testosterone dominance, overactive immune response, sensitivity and gut irritation to specific foods, allergies and topical sensitivity, to name a few. How could you possibly place one idea on all of this? Acne does not have one answer.
Your take on acne must be objective. You need to be free of tunnel vision and stubborn beliefs--there's just what the evidence suggests. This includes observational and experimental research, case studies and personal experience. Look at the validity and reliability, and try to not fall for logical fallacies. Beware of the armchair scientists that circulate the boards, and be open to listening while being critical.
Good luck everyone.
Edited by Vanbelle, 06 July 2012 - 10:04 PM.