So it's been a little over a week since I began the paleo diet - and exercising daily. Basically the only thing that can motivate me to get off my ass and get healthy is my skin. And hey, works for me. I basically started the diet really abruptly, without tapering off carbs or sugars and whatnot. Thankfully I'm a total carnivore and definitely not one of those people who ever really craves bread or sweets, so it wasn't especially difficult. At first though it was definitely strange not having a carb component, because I never really felt like I'd had a meal. I guess because I didn't feel incapacitated by fullness. I adjusted to that pretty quickly though, and it hasn't been too rough. Also I'm not absolutely militant about my diet, so I'll let myself have a macaron or whatever if I want to. So far it's going fairly well, but meat is pricey, especially if you want good/lean cuts, and if you're having meat at every meal. Another con: it's difficult to remember to eat enough; people on the nutrition board suggested that I'm not getting enough calories, because I used to get a lot of those through bread and rice. This means I've lost some weight, so I need to make a point of adding in more fats - so far it's been primarily protein, vegetables and fruits, with fats added only incidentally. What else... I've also been taking supplements: magnesium, zinc, fish oil and vitamin A. I noticed my skin becoming oilier upon adding the fish oil/vitamin A (can't tell which is the culprit), so I've started taking these every other day. I was intensely upset about the oily skin thing because it was so unexpected - typically my skin is dehydrated to the point where I'm not getting dryness-related irritation breakouts that actually look rash-like. Within a matter of days though, it became about five times oilier, which I assumed would lead to horrific breakouts. Not really the case (KNOCK ON WOOD), and red marks actually seem to be fading faster and my skin feels suppler and healthier. Makeup looks a lot better on, less cakey. Finally, I've factored in exercise. Exercise is not something I ever do. I used to get winded walking up single flights of stairs; it was really pathetic. Once I started paleo though I figured I'd add in exercise too, so I've been jump-roping daily. It's only been a week but my stamina has improved greatly: I've gone from panting over 300 reps to doing 1000 without breaking much of a sweat. It is fantastic for stress relief and I feel a lot more physically capable, and hopefully this is benefiting my skin as well. This entry's all over the place, but here's my rational for going paleo: I suspect I *may* be somewhat insulin resistant, or that I've exhausted my adrenal glands completely. I think I would have 'outgrown' my acne at 17 years old if I had maintained a reasonable diet and exercise routine, because around then my skin was fairly clear (I got the occasional spot, which was easily treated with BP). Then when I went off to college, stress levels, coffee consumption, and eating habits gradually went completely into the toilet. I'd skip meals regularly, or eat terrible ones (to "save money"), and stay conscious by consuming massive amounts of coffee. At my worst I could easily consume 10+ cups, or 4+ Red Bulls (honestly) and still feel tired. I had to take in huge amounts of caffeine just to function, but ultimately it just made me feel worse. I kept this up for YEARS... then wondered why my skin went to crap. I figured I was young so I could abuse my body any which way and expect my skin to still look good. And hey, some people can, but I'm genetically predisposed to both acne and diabetes so... This is total speculation, but I thought maybe the caffeine consumption, poor diet, and carbs/sugar was contributing to hormonal imbalances - which I could never correct with birth control pills (which I don't want to go on, and which never cleared my acne). I cut out caffeine almost completely several months ago (everyone was so proud), but my diet was still a mess and so here I am. I'll probably update sporadically because I don't check back here too often, which is a good sign. I'm actually not doing anything special to my skin, because I've given up on spot treatments and such altogether (they just seem to dry out and irritate - skin's still rather thin and fragile from Accutane). I've been sticking to my usual simple cleansing routine, and I'm still using Mario Badescu's glycolic foaming wash. Recently got a hold of Alpha Hydrox's 10% glycolic gel, which I'm testing on my forehead. My skin seems to like glycolics so hopefully that works out well.
Haven't been on here in a while; haven't really felt compelled to check the boards obsessively like I used to, even though my skin's not doing so hot. Lately it's been acting really weird: ever since I tried Desert Essence Thoroughly Clean soap, which was pretty drying. I think it threw my skin pH out of whack/messed with the skin barrier. Actually the bad breakout I mentioned in my last blog may have been a combination of acne and irritation rash - I figured this was because my skin's been feeling very dry. And of course I still don't use moisturizer because I can't find one that my skin doesn't react to. Actually someone on MUA suggested I try KY Jelly - I find this hilarious and am seriously considering it because the ingredients look promising. If not that I'm going to start moisturizing with aloe gel. I think my skin needs it because it's been looking so parched and flaky. I stopped using all topical treatments (mostly just Mario Badescu's Buffering Lotion) and have taken a break from my AHA cleanser. Basically anything drying or detergent-like. I wish I could stop wearing makeup as well, but my makeup contains my SPF (I won't wear sunscreen on my face because that breaks me out as well). I've been looking for a really, really, ridiculously simple sunscreen but they all contain so many ingredients. Oh well, I dunno. My skin just feels all weird and imbalanced. Simultaneously dry and weirdly oily. It kind of changed suddenly (in a matter of weeks it got dramatically worse), but I can't pinpoint why this would happen. I've contacted my derm about going back on Accutane, but he told me I'd have to wait until basically February (or so) to give it another shot. He offered maintenance treatments meanwhile, but derms usually prescribe junk I've already tried. Also, I'm not entirely sure I'd want to do a second course. My first went fine and the main lingering side effects I have are some photosensitivity and thinned out/fragile skin. I'm afraid though that a second course might have more dramatic, lingering effects. I got really panicked when I noticed my skin looking poorly, so I considered birth control pills: doubt these are the solution though, and I'm (uncharacteristically) wary about putting stuff in my body that shouldn't be there naturally. Also, BCPs never really improved my skin noticeably. I am also considering spironolactone (cheaper than Accutane anyway), because I suspect my acne may be hormonal. If it is, it definitely isn't typical hormonal acne: I don't have issues with my period at all (no cramping, no heavy bleeding, no irregularities; it's a very easy, fairly short cycle) and I don't typically get acne on my jawline or chin. http://www.marysherbs.com/heal/heal-f-rP.htm Uh, according to this chart my problem may be my lungs? But I digress. If spiro doesn't have many weird/unpleasant/unhealthy side effects I'll probably give it a shot. Meanwhile, I'm starting to transform my diet and exercise regularly. I'm giving the paleolithic diet a shot, because it makes a lot of sense. I've started taking supplements as well: magnesium, zinc, and vitamin C, and I'm going to add in vitamin A, E and fish oil/omega-3s. On top of that I'm going to force my lazy, sedentary ass to exercise daily: 15-20 minutes of cardio, which for me is do-able. I'm intensely out of shape right now so this should be interesting. I'm looking forward to the health effects though; I'll probably feel significantly better physically/mentally from making these changes, even if my skin doesn't improve much. My main vice though would be caffeine. Surprisingly I've cut down on consumption a LOT. I went from drinking 8-10 cups daily (good lord) to maybe a couple cups a week. I loooove coffee, but I think caffeine is terrible for me. I noticed when I stopped drinking it completely that my energy levels went up; I wasn't tired constantly (ironic). And yeah, that's pretty much it. Skincare regimen is very simple: glycerin soap to cleanse, Neutrogena liquid soap to remove makeup, and Vichy thermal water spray to calm down irritation. Considering a powdered sunscreen and aloe gel, as well as making a rosewater/glycerin toner. And now I'm sleepy, but that's the update for a while. I'll write again if something comes up, but I'm trying hard not to obsess about my skin because it's just upsetting.
I'm breaking out again. It's been pretty sudden, actually: I've noticed my skin getting worse in the past few months, but it's been breaking out more and more (daily) for the past week or so. After Accutane my skin was nowhere near perfect - the scarring and hyperpigmentation is still going strong and I'd get smaller zits or clogged pores pretty regularly - but I was comfortable with it and could rely on it not to go crazy. I started getting concerned about my skin going to crap again in June, which is when my family was supposed to renew their health insurance. To save a couple bucks, they did not. This means I will either have to pay for everything out of pocket or wait ten months and then some to get coverage again. I'm thinking of applying for individual insurance, but I think they're either reject my application or refuse to cover the costs of Accutane because I would clearly be getting on insurance to acquire that. I'm at a loss. Again. I know my skin is very different from how it was when I started my course: it's very much thinner, it's very fragile, and it scars ten times more easily. Those tiny zits I mentioned earlier used to disappear without a trace, but even the smallest leave behind red marks. I can't imagine how terrible my skin is going to look once the breakouts come out in full force: which I completely expect, especially at the rate my face is getting worse. The entire thing is really stressful. I can't afford to do this again, but I'm not about to let my skin go to crap again. I really wish I still had insurance because then this would be a minor concern. What's ironic is that the rest of my family recently also developed health programs, so I'm doubly angry about them canceling insurance entirely. Way to go. Bleh. I look really awful.
Thought I'd do an update because my skin looks pretty bad lately. "Bad" is totally relative and I am staying chill about it. For the past two or three weeks I've been going through a lot of different foundations, which is unheard of for me. I've also tried several different concealers. Typically I steer clear from ANYTHING that doesn't belong to my usual routine for fear of causing new breakouts. I've become a lot less neurotic though, and decided to just go for it. What I've tried so far: 1) NARS Sheer Glow: I like this stuff. But it costs $42, and that's without sales tax. IMO, not worth it, but it'd be perfect for drier-skinned ladies. If my skin's having a good day, this stuff makes it look flawless. The finish would be beautiful on someone without hyperpigmentation. Too many cons, though: dismal staying power (rubs off on the hands not long after applying - though this could be that I neither use primer nor setting powder), gets oily quickly and starts to separate on the face. Also will accentuate any flakes/dry areas and looks awkward over enlarged pores. Basically will look great if you start with a good canvas, but I am too lazy for that. Pass. 2) Stila Natural Finish: Again, not bad. The staying power is a little better than the NARS but still not too impressive. Goes on sheerer, but the formulation looks oddly thick and feels greasy going on. Thankfully it dries to a nice satin finish but it breaks down easily as the day goes on. Also, I realized one day that this stuff has noticeable shimmer. I do not want to be illuminated, Stila, thanks. This went back. 3) Lancome Teint Idole: Nice! I thought I'd hate this one because it sounded like a Double Wear dupe. The finish doesn't have the same beautiful glow as the NARS, but it doesn't look cakey or mask-like and lasts for hours. It also didn't feel heavy or like it'd cause breakouts. All in all, I loved Teint Idole, but it had one drawback (well, two, the price is ridic): it sucks over my concealer. It's quick drying, so I guess it bunches up around the extra pigment and darkens it: which means you see darker patches everywhere my red marks are. I can't blend them out, either, and my concealer is such that I have to use it under, not over, foundation. Too bad! I love this stuff. Perfect for when you need your makeup to stay put, but not too heavy-duty. 4) Make Up for Ever Face & Body: Suuuuuucks. For me, anyway. My skin got all itchy minutes after applying this stuff, but I just thought I'd gotten a bad sample. I would say this stuff is HG material for anyone with clear, dry-ish skin who just wants to even out their skin: it's cheap for the amount you get (almost 2 oz), will probably last ages, and leaves behind a finish that makes you look pleasantly bare-faced. Very natural, but also very dewey-looking (i.e. borderline greasy). Also waterproof. I liked this stuff but the itchiness and tiny bumps were intolerable. 5) Urban Decay concealer stick: Pretty good on red marks, covers them well. Main drawback is that the formula isn't buildable and gets cakey after more than one layer. People will definitely know you're trying to conceal something when you use this stuff, and it's so thick I think regular use would clog pores. I liked it at first, but this is nothing compared to... 6) Make Up for Ever full coverage concealer: I love you. I use shade 4, because the parts of my face with hyperpigmentation are also freakishly pale. This stuff is wonderful for hyperpigmentation, dunno if I'd put it on active acne as it requires a bit of tugging/rubbing. It dries almost immediately - so quickly it becomes tacky almost as soon as you put it on. But it's so pigmented that a tiny dab will cover basically anything. It's not 100% foolproof - nothing is for me, because I don't like putting on a full face/full coverage anything - but it's the best I've ever tried for my red marks. It's almost like quick-drying paint, which makes it easy to use under foundation. I've tried applying concealer under foundation (usually MAC's Studio Finish) and the results have always been horrendous. With the MUFE, though, you can't tell I'm wearing concealer at all because I cover that with a layer of foundation. Fantastic! Anyway, that's my update post. I thought I'd share. Something annoying, though: I whipped out an old Neutrogena powder (exp 12/2010) to set my NARS foundation a couple days ago because I knew it'd melt off otherwise. I now have a smattering of small zits on my face. >_> Also, trying all this foundation has just led me back to square one. Each one I tried was nice in its own way, but they either had poor staying power or blended badly. I ended up just ordering my usual foundation (Cargo oil-free) in two shades. I typically use the F-40, which is about three shades too dark, but I also got the F-20 and airtight pump bottles to mix them in. Woo! Oh, and random crap I want but can't currently afford: 1) Green Cream Level 6 2) MAC Lustre lipsticks in See Sheer & Sheer Plum :'(
I think it makes a difference, y'all. I typically hate trying new skincare items because they tend to break me out, but I recently busted out some high-end samples I've been avoiding using. I've been using a creamy glycolic cleanser (md formulations) almost daily, even though the texture is really emollient like Cetaphil - I do it mostly to clear traces of makeup and to keep pores clear. After that, I apply an amazing serum - the Skinceuticals Phloretin. I only have a tiny vial and I will seriously cry when this stuff runs out. I've been using it for a couple days, applying a fairly generous amount. I've tried it before but was unimpressed and thought it made my skin burn a bit, so I laid off (I was also on Accutane then, I think). I'm already seeing results, it's pretty incredible. My looks calmer and less hyperpigmented already. Downside is this stuff costs $150. Nooo! I don't know what I'll do when I run out; I'm totally broke but I think it's actually a good investment. I don't think I'll need it indefinitely because it's too expensive to use it on the regular, but I'd love to use it until my hyperpigmentation fades. I'm really hesitant about using a retinoid, especially since I apparently still have traces of old breakouts left over. I've also found that even Green Cream can be harsh and drying, and my makeup looks awful (I've realized) over flaky skin. The Phloretin also takes much less time and is a serum - I hate creams. I've pretty much decided to maintain a skincare regimen that includes a solid AHA/glycolic cleanser, along (maybe) with a light toner, some Vichy mist (basically mineral water to calm) and this serum. I really don't think my skin reacts well to moisturizers, even though it's not outlandishly oily. Hoorah. I was really worrying about how I'd maintain my skin after Accutane. I'm still thinking of using a retinoid, but I feel like it's too late since I've been off Accutane for a month or two now... I'd hate for my skin to start purging. =X And that's pretty much it! How are you all doing?
I've been keeping from probing my face to check for new pimples (for the past month) because I haven't wanted to go insane. But I did so this morning, after - get this - trying a new skincare regimen. I haven't done that in YEARS, but I have these high-end samples that are going to waste because I hate experimenting on my skin. I used an md formulations glycolic wash last night, which was weirdly thick - it felt almost like cold cream and was hard to rinse off, but gets great reviews on MUA, so I dunno. After that I used a Skinceuticals serum, I think I have the Phloretin CF, which is supposed to even out skin tone and help fade hyperpigmentation. People have reported seeing results really quickly, which is good, because this stuff is ludicrously expensive and because I only have a sample tube. Verdict? Skin doesn't look any better, but I didn't expect it to. While washing my face today I did check for lurkers, and that zit I've had on my left cheek is STILL THERE. We're going on six months or more now, people. It shows no signs of going away, though it shrinks and expands according to my stress levels (I think). It's gross. I also appear to have some sort of new pimple on my left cheek near that lurker; I can't tell if it's a normal zit or an epic one yet. Apart from those, a couple of small zits on the left cheek as well, and enlarged pores on the nose (again) which are clogging up (again). I have a bottle of MB seaweed toner I think I'll start using just on the nose. That's about it.
I thought I'd never abandon the org even if I cleared up, and here I am barely checking back even though I'm not clear. Ridiculous. I think it's mostly that I was searching for solutions then... now I know that pretty much one thing works, and I don't want to bother with that other stuff. I don't even know how long I've been off Accutane at this point, but I'm going to wager about a month or more. My skin already looks very different - patchy, uneven, ruddy, and it's even starting to break out. They're 'zit' type pimples, but come on now... it's only been a month. Can't I at least get a damned year of clear skin before the breakouts return? I mean, jeez. When is enough enough? The other day, someone suggested my skin could be reacting to a thyroid disorder or something. Apparently my tiredness and such indicates that there could be something wrong in that respect. Which means I'm going to get a blood panel done in the future to see exactly what's going on. I've been insanely, insanely busy of late so I keep skipping my derm appointments - I've missed two so far. I think they're pissed. I'm going to make another one next week and hopefully see my derm in a timely manner. I miss being on Accutane, weird as that sounds. One perk, though? I really do think it was contributing to my exhaustion. I got myself a really good sleep aid, started cutting back on the caffeine and have been walking a lot more lately - and it's been working well for me. Case in point: I slept four hours the other night and was alert all day, apart from my usual morning slump. Awesome. But boring to read for everyone. I'm really happy to not be feeling so tired all the time. It is a huge perk.
So technically, I've been off Accutane for about ten days or more. I do still have a few pills left but I haven't gotten around to taking them. I've been trying mostly not to think about my skin at all, because god knows there's enough stress right now... but it's already getting back to 'normal.' I don't want to go prodding at it for lurkers because I'm scared I'll find many. My skin has gotten oilier, but not really by much. I can still get away with barely washing my face if I'm not wearing makeup. The texture doesn't look very good though, and I really hate that the pores on my nose are getting back to normal already. I did speak briefly with my clinic about extending my course, but I ended up missing that appointment. I am really not taking good care of myself lately, so Accutane would be good insurance for my skin. It would be excellent to clear up and close this chapter of my life.
As in, REEEEEEASONS by Earth Wind and Fire. Anyway. I realized that my skin had been looking so bad mostly because I wasn't treating it well. What a breakthrough, right? The irregular pill taking had something to do with it too; I went back to popping them daily and it seemed to settle down some. Makeup goes on much easier now, too, so that's nice. I have literally six pills left. Now my blog is a countdown to sadness. Upper lip zit still there, skin around it still flaking, but it's on its way out. Side of mouth still cracking open, lips still chapped as hell. I don't mind much - hey, I don't have to use moisturizer after all. That still befuddles me, but whatever. I may be about as tall as a fourth grader but behold my resistance to all medications. I feel like you'd have to give me the dose you'd administer to a large horse with any sort of pharmaceutical. It's weird and dumb and inefficient, and it doesn't even mean that I can drink heartily to excess now that I'm an old woman. Woe. Also, I got rained on and stink but I'm so tired right now I could die. I've been sleeping irregularly for the past several days, and for the most part don't get solid rest at all. I'm going to crawl into bed and PASS OUT. Woo.
First off, I haven't been feeling physically up to par the past couple weeks. I think it's possible I'm coming down with a cold, because I can't stop sneezing loudly. Oh well. Apart from that, my skin for some reason has just looked and felt awful. I'm pretty sure this has something to do with me taking my pills so irregularly: I've just been forgetting, really. Or it's one of those days where I keep telling myself I need something in my belly for the pills to absorb into, but I'm not hungry. Sigh. What's unsettling is that... hey, skin, it's not like I've taken you off Accutane. If it's doing badly when I'm still taking pills sporadically, then how will it make out when I'm off Accutane completely? To be more specific, my skin feels rough - not necessarily dry, but it has this weird texture that doesn't absorb my makeup as well. I don't even know how to describe, really, but it's been looking really sallow and blotchy. I think this has about 96% to do with how little I'm taking care of my body right now. I've been imbibing wayyy too much caffeine (screw you college, you will kill me someday), and guzzle between 6-10 cups daily. More, when desperate. I'm usually only capable of focusing on one thing: either my health, or academics. It's inconceivable of me to take care of both at the same time; and anyway I've been dutifully avoiding exercise because 1) it sucks 2) it's boring 3) it makes me tired 4) I'm lazy 5) my muscles cramp and start aching very easily on Accutane. So long as I stay sedentary I'm fine, but the handful of times I've tried aerobic exercise have = disasters. Good job, self! I suppose I'll try to eat healthier, or have a green smoothie or something daily. I feel like... even if I'm just drinking a glass of celery juice, I'll psychosomatically fool myself into thinking I'm the paragon of human health. Okay, wow. This retarded entry is brought to you courtesy of me not having slept now for 24 hours WOOOO!!! Damn. Oh, and there are a couple of breakouts on my face. One I got recently on my upper lip that looks like a crimson beauty mark (yuck), which I made the mistake of treating with MB's Drying Cream. Dumb idea; the entire area flaked a day later and it looked like someone smudged me with ash, or something. So much for spot treating, but I didn't want the mask to go to waste and this pimple was just so conveniently there. What annoys the hell out of me is this damn pimple I've had on my left cheek for about SIX MONTHS. I know it cropped up early in my course, and I thought a month ago it might be on its way out. Nope; the asshole won't budge. It's one of those under-the-skin lurkers, and I'm starting to think it's immortal. It will live on after I die. I feel like I should name, or something, since we have such a consistent and intimate relationship. GAH. Go away, zit. Finally, I have FIVE DAYS LEFT. 9 pills remaining. That is a damned shame; I want to be on Accutane forever. The prospect of my acne returning is really repellent, as is knowing my skin will get oilier. It's maintaining a pretty respectable level of hydration in spite of the Accutane and lack of moisturizer, so I'm afraid it'll just go back to its normal hyper-greasy self in no time. I'm sure I'm not helping by turning my blood into espresso. Hopefully a couple months of wreaking havoc on my body won't be too terrible. I mean, what the fuck! I'm young. I should have astounding regenerative powers. Now I'm off to pass out. At 9 PM.
Finally got my MB sample kit in the mail and tried out the Healing & Soothing mask today, mostly for the hell of it. Kind of a weird, creamy consistency that doesn't seem to wash off all the way; it leaves behind a glue-y/tacky texture even after cleansing with soap, so that's odd. Right after my skin looked really bright and redness was noticeably diminished, but here I am a couple hours later and parts of my face are flaking off. Gross. I really don't need moisturizer even on 60 mg of Accutane (yeah, freakish), but it's fun to do masks sometimes. I might start using a hydrating mask instead of a face lotion occasionally to keep it moisturized because my skin responds so badly to lotions of any sort. I've also been using MB's seaweed toner, which I received in an MUA swap, and it smells good and literally seems to lift crap out of my pores. The pores on my nose still have the tendency to clog a bit (damn them), but the toner seems to clear them pretty easily. Finally... I have 10 days' worth of Accutane left in my possession. FREAKING OUT! I'm calling my dermatologist on Monday and seeing if I can set up an appointment for another month of 60 mg.
I wish I had started charting my progress in a blog to begin with, but oh well. I'll be writing in here to chart progress, though lately there hasn't been much to report at all - hence the relatively empty log, which will hereby be abandoned. Not much to say, except that I have about 2 weeks left on Accutane, probably less. I'm going through pills pretty quickly and the end is looming very, very near. Of course I'm intimidated by this, as I've said, but I haven't gotten around to calling my dermatologist about extending my course yet. I am not 100% clear at this point. I do still get random pimples, and I still have those ever-present lurkers. Hopefully I'm allowed to stay on Accutane for an extra month to ensure that the acne doesn't return... or that if it does, it's 'normal' acne that can be treated topically, instead of these deeply embedded things I've now been getting for years. Oh, and I'm still not on birth control (again) yet, oops. Nor am I doing anything notable with my skincare regimen; just cleansing. Which is silly, because I've gotten a bunch of good quality samples in the mail lately, including Mario Badescu. Truth be told, it must be a damn good feeling not to 'need' this forum anymore. I'd love to get to the place where my skin's just another part of my body and not something to worry about excessively.