Hi there holdingmeback!
I think you're absolutely right—topicals don't fight acne from the inside out and it's lilkely that the root of your acne problem has little to do with your actual skin itself. I've come to this opinion through lots and lots of research on the subject and also through lots of trial and error and personal experience in actually eradicating my own acne.
I struggled with moderate to severe acne for years after I got out of high school and have been completely clear for about 5 years now (woohoo!). I'll share with you the basic principles that helped me, as well as others I've known (and helped), get to the ROOT of their acne. They are really more like lifestyle changes. Some may disagree, but I've seen these principles work over and over again when applied. Without a doubt, they worked for me.
1) Avoid the most common foods that cause and aggravate acne (typically allergenic to most people). These include:
* wheat and gluten containing products (most grains in general)
* rancid fats (fried and hydrogentated oils)
* sugar (in all forms)
2) Eat a diet that promotes good skin
Below is a very basic outline. The point is to have a low sugar diet w/ and emphasis in high vitamins and minerals. I've found that sugar feeds bad bacteria in your stomach, which is at the root of a lot of acne cases. This is also known as candida.
* veggies, including sea veggies and sprouts (obviously)
* low sugar and no-sugar fruits (tomatoes, cucumbers, etc)
* nuts, seeds, oils
* lean quality meats and fish
* certain high nutrient, lower glycemic grains like oatmeal, quinoa and wild rice.
3) Take proven, safe, time-tested skin-specific herbs/food-supplements
* Burdock root tea
* medicinal mushrooms like reishi and maitake
* drink fresh, raw green vegetable juice DAILY
4) Consume PROBIOTICS and natural antibiotics
A poor internal "ecosystem" is very often at the root of skin problems. Probiotics are natural beneficial bacteria that feed the good bacteria in your stomach, giving you better digestion, better immune response, better skin, etc, etc. You can get probiotics from food or supplements. Or both.
Natural antibiotics are herbs that are specifically targeted to kill bad bacteria, parasites and other pathogenic organisms that are probably hanging out in your system.
5) Practice proper food combining.
This is kind of a divided topic but I have seen the bevefits first hand. Do your own research on this subject, but the main thing to keep in mind is not to eat proteins with starches. And don't eat sugar after meals. There is a direct link between poor digestion and poor skin.
Sweat! Practice deep breathing and exercise to clean out your system of toxins.
7) Care for your skin properly from the outside
* wash 90% of the time with WATER ONLY
* use fresh aloe vera leaf gel on your skin
8) Don't let emotions get in the way of clear skin )