Two days ago I started taking borage oil and lecithin supplements to help reduce the oily skin in my T-zone. The brands I'm taking are Nature's Way Borage Oil (1,000mg with 480mg GLA) and Swanson Vitamins Lecithin (1,200mg). Here are my dosages: Day: 2 borage oil capsules (2,000mg, 960mg GLA) 1 lecithin capsule (1,200mg) Night: 1 borage oil capsule (1,000mg, 480mg GLA) 1 lecithin capsule (1,200mg) So I get a grand total of 1,440mg GLA and 2,400mg lecithin every day. I also take 3g of fish oil, which some posters believe works in tandem with the GLA somehow by creating a balancing effect of omega 6 (GLA) and omega 3 (fish oil). For the uninitiated, the theory is that the gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) found in borage oil inhibits an enzyme (5-alpha reductase) responsible for converting testosterone into DHT. DHT is a hormone that is supposedly the main culprit behind sebum production. Lecithin is recommended because it is said to be vital to the proper absorption of fatty acids like GLA. My bottle of borage oil has 120 capsules, so at 3 capsules a day that gives me 40 days to test out this regimen. Of course, it wasn't until after I bought the supplements that I discovered borage oil contains minute traces of potentially toxic substances. Many websites warn against long-term use, but I think 40 days shouldn't do much harm. There are alternative sources of GLA for when I use up the last of the borage oil. Evening primrose oil, blackcurrant oil, and hemp seed oil are all possibilities I'm looking into. With any luck this will have some effect on the excessive sebum production on my nose. I was inspired to try borage oil after reading some success stories on the internet and on these boards. Here are some samples: "The borage oil made my skin much less oily" - http://www.regrowth.com/hairloss-forums/vi...f=1&t=15398 "it's been day 3 and I am already noticing a REMARKABLE difference in my skin . . . I have ZERO sebum now. Zero, nada. This is coming from someone who has always been oily in the T zone and wish she can wash her face 3 times a day." - http://www.acne.org/messageboard/BE-t21677...73#entry2494273 "I've been following this regimen for about 2 weeks now with great success. It has basically completely cleared my face and reduced oiliness considerably... i would say by about 50-60%" - http://www.acne.org/messageboard/BE-t216774.html&st=160# "day 5, again no breakout yet. this stuff is great" - http://www.acne.org/messageboard/Evening-P...tml&st=400# "cleared me like 95% until i found out the adverse affects of borage oil." - http://www.acne.org/messageboard/Borage-oi...html&st=20# Rache's post: " I am about 70% clear. As of 2 weeks of doing this." Rache's sig: "2,000mg's of GLA "Borage oil"+1 per dose Letchin with milk. Status: 100% clear thanks to Borage oil, Letchin." - http://www.acne.org/messageboard/Evening-P...tml&st=180# "I'm on day 5 of 5200mg Borage Oil/d and 2400mg of Lecithin/d with very clear skin!" - http://www.acne.org/messageboard/Evening-P...tml&st=402#
Well, here's my 2-week progress report like I promised. For the past two weeks I have completely avoided dairy, with the exception of a few accidental slip-ups where I didn't realize the food had dairy in it. I'm sure those things were too small to make a difference, though. One of them was a roll, for example, that I found out contained a small amount of butter. Unfortunately, my nose is still as oily as ever. I wasn't expecting immediate results, but I was hoping to see some improvement after two weeks. Nevertheless, I'm going to press forward for the remainder of the 30 days. In fact, I may continue even longer. A comment on my previous dairy post brought to my attention the fact that some experts think it can take up to 6 months to start seeing results from a dairy-free regimen. I don't know if I can go 6 whole months, but I'm willing to shoot for a few more months just to see what happens. Just once in my life I have to perform this experiment thoroughly before I make any conclusions one way or another, and then I can finally erase any doubts about whether or not my oily skin is actually connected to dairy. I'm looking forward to the end of this experiment. Not eating dairy is really hard because it's in almost everything I used to eat, and many of my favorite foods contain some kind of dairy.
On September 10, I started taking 450mg of saw palmetto twice a day to help tone down the sebum production on my nose. After doing some research, I discovered that the ingredient in saw palmetto alleged to help with sebum production, beta sitosterol, can be bought as its own standalone supplement in a form that's far more potent than saw palmetto. So two days ago, after 3 weeks of use, I stopped taking saw palmetto and am preparing to purchase my next anti-sebum supplement. Right now it's a toss-up between beta sitosterol, boswellia, borage oil, and evening primrose oil. I still have to do more research on all of these supplements. If anyone has information or experience with any of these supplements I would love to hear it. My experiment with olive oil as a moisturizer is also coming to an end. Everything seemed to be going okay at first, but then a few days ago I noticed several tiny red bumps popping up on my cheeks. Keep in mind I never get cheek acne except for the occasional blemish every once in a blue moon. The skin texture in that area also seems to be getting rougher. I'm noticing lots of skin-colored bumps, like clogged pores I guess? Although I have noticed these in the past, they seem more prominent and numerous now. It's possible that the extra attention on my face has caused me to start noticing things I hadn't before and it's all in my head, but I feel pretty confident that it's the olive oil. I'm going to switch to grapeseed oil as my in-shower moisturizer since it has a less nefarious reputation for clogging pores, and I've got a big bottle of it that's just sitting in my closet.
Today marks the beginning of a 30-day experiment to completely eliminate dairy from my diet. I've been itching to get started on this experiment all week. I just had to finish up the last of the milk in my fridge. I had been introduced to the concept of abstaining from dairy a long time ago on the Acne.org boards, but it wasn't until recently that I had reached my breaking point and accepted the fact that this may be one of my best options. That's typically how it goes for me. I see a regimen or treatment on the Acne.org forum that sounds crazy, then several months later I get so desperate that I start trying it myself. The main purpose of this diet change is to curb the excessive oil production on my nose, rather than to specifically prevent acne (although that would be a nice fringe benefit). Recently I've been reading lots of information on the link between dairy, hormones, and sebum production. The theory is that dairy stimulates the creation of DHT, a hormone supposedly responsible for triggering the sebaceous glands into producing oil. As it happens, I drink a lot of milk. As part of a bodybuilding diet designed to gain weight, I have been drinking half a gallon of whole milk every day for the past several months. Even though my oily skin predicament started prior to the heavy milk drinking, I still have hope that there is some connection. At the very least, my oil problem seems to be worse now than it used to be. My milk alternative of choice is Almond Breeze. I picked some up at the store today for the first time and it's not half bad. The taste is totally tolerable. As a side note, I've also been taking 900mg of Saw Palmetto every day for the past two weeks in an effort to reduce the sebum on my nose. So if I do start noticing reduced oil production in the coming weeks, there is a slim possibility that it's due to the Saw Palmetto. That would be doubtful since I have yet to see any effects from the supplement, but I just thought I'd mention it for the sake of accuracy. I'll try to post a progress report at the 2-week mark, October 10, and then another one on October 26 when the experiment comes to a close.
As of yesterday I experimented with olive oil as an in-shower moisturizer for one full week. I only used it once at night while in the shower. Each night I would spend about 2 minutes massaging the olive oil onto my wet face, being careful to avoid my problematic nose. Then I would rinse off most of the olive oil while still trying to leave some remaining on my skin. Normally when I get out of the shower, the skin on my cheeks begins to dry up and feel tight, even if I apply a creamy moisturizer. The first couple of nights experimenting with olive oil, I experienced the same effect, but perhaps to a slightly lesser degree. I decided to try washing off less of the olive oil, and since I started doing that I haven't encountered that post-shower tightness. No need for moisturizer. The downside is that my skin looks a bit shiny, but it's right before bed so I don't mind. My skin doesn't seem to be reacting to the oil. I haven't noticed any new acne blemishes since I started. I was originally planning to try this for one week, but seeing as how my skin is handling it well so far, I'm going to continue indefinitely and see what happens.
I've decided to make a blog following my ongoing battle with acne and oily skin. My hope is that having a blog will persuade me to be more diligent with my acne experiments and regimens. First off, a little bit of personal history to paint a picture of my situation: I don't have severe acne. Even during the worst breakouts, my acne would have probably been categorized as a "moderate" case. In fact, most of my face enjoys being acne-free most days. I hardly ever get breakouts on my cheeks, forehead, or jaw like many acne sufferers. But my nose. Good god... my nose. Pustules, clogged pores, dry skin, wrinkles, excessive oil. It's like I have the nose of another person. Even if it was "moderate" acne, it was still extremely unsightly and gross enough to receive stares from every person I talked to. Recently I have had success in keeping my acne mostly under control. My breakouts are way less frequent and way less severe when they occur. So I should really count myself lucky considering there are many people out there who have acne that is far more severe than my own. An oily nose is one of my big problems right now. With the exception of my brow, the rest of my face suffers from mild dryness. So I have to walk around with bone dry cheeks and forehead and an extremely shiny nose. Definitely the sort of thing that gets looks from people. Over the years I've tried a number of acne products. I've no doubt spent hundreds of dollars over the years just on acne-related products. Yet no matter what I did, my pores would always get clogged, which would lead to pustules. About 2 years ago I discovered the wonders of squeezing out my pores. I would take a tissue and with two fingers I would squeeze either side of a pore and watch as solid white buildup would come squiggling out. It was gross, but incredibly gratifying at the same time because I could actually see my pores emptying out. While it wasn't a complete solution, this technique contributed greatly to reducing acne. So I'm going along squeezing the heck out of my skin every night, going to bed feeling satisfied that I've found a pretty sweet remedy to my acne problem. Then around June of last year I suddenly came to a horrifying realization: I was ruining my skin. My nose was completely dry and parched, and I had developed what seemed to be permanent wrinkles. It was as if I had weakened the elasticity in my skin and now it was just sitting loosely on my nose. All the pressure from squeezing pores and the overly drying acne treatments had really done a number on my nose. I was so focused on treating the acne that I neglected the overall health of my skin. To top it all off, my nose had become extremely oily. How I it took me so long to notice all this, I do not know. But that's what happened and now I have to deal with it, and not a day goes by that I don't regret being so harsh with my skin. 2 months ago I started on a new regimen focused on restoring my skin back to health and trying to be as gentle with it as possible. With any luck my skin will eventually repair itself and go back to normal. It will probably take months, if not years, but at this point I have no other choice. My current regimen: Basis cleanser in the morning Jojoba oil and Complex 15 Face Cream Tea tree oil mixed with jojoba oil Benzoyl peroxide as a spot treatment Repeat in the evening except don't apply tea tree oil In addition to this facial regimen, I have also modified my daily diet to be more skin friendly. I completely stay away from junk food (e.g., pizza, ice cream, cookies, etc.) and eat as few simple carbs as possible (e.g., white pasta, white bread). I also drink a green smoothie every day that consists of water, a banana, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, spinach, and kale. I also eat a handful of broccoli and about one cup of baby carrots. I drink 3 cups of decaf green tea, 2-4 tablespoons of olive oil, and my supplements include zinc, magnesium, fish oil, and Vitamin E. The results of this diet are not dramatic, but I have noticed a definite reduction in the frequency and severity of acne in the last month or so. Whether that's a result of my diet or my ever-changing regimen, I can't be sure, but I am inclined to believe it's the diet. Now for the main reason I started this blog. I want to record the details of my experiments and test runs with different products, treatments, and regimens. Currently I'm trying out 3 new things: 1. Saw Plametto to reduce sebum production on my nose (oily skin). 2. Olive oil as an in-shower moisturizer on the non-nose areas of my face. 3. Brewer's yeast for general acne. Some experiments I'm planning to try in the near future: 1. No dairy (for oily skin and acne) 2. Peppermint tea (reported to reduce oil production) 3. Evening Primose Oil (for oily skin) 4. Wash face with just water in the morning. So my current goal is threefold: stop the acne, stop the excessive oil production, and repair my dry and wrinkly skin. The key is to find the right balance of treatments that addresses all three of those problems. I don't know how helpful my blog will be to anyone else. It's more something I'm doing for myself, but if someone is able to take away any useful advice or ideas from my posts then that's great.