It's been awhile since I logged into acne.org.... and I think my time away was really good for me. At first, I liked having access to a community of people who were going through the same issues as me. But then I found myself getting a leeeeetle obsessive about it- specifically, I would focus too much on what others were/weren't eating and micro analyze my own diet looking for "flaws". Some time away was definitely warranted.
In my time away, I've still been applying Retin-A and Duac... Sometimes my face gets too dry/flaky and on those days I don't use either one of my topicals. I give my skin a break. The moisturizers I've been using are both old favorites by Avalon Organics: one is Vitamin C and I use that at night, applying it a few minutes before the Retin-A to give it a chance to absorb. I haven't had any problems with the Vit C interacting with the Vit A. The other moisturizer(s) I use has lavender oil in it- I use both the night and day formulation depending on how dry my skin is. I'm still thinking I might switch this one out, because the lavender often gives my skin a weird burning sensation. There's a jojoba oil formulation, also by AO, that I might try when I get the $.
Other than that, my diet has changed pretty drastically. It's a bummer on the one hand, because I was a committed vegan for a couple of years and I really loved my friends and my lifestyle- if that makes sense. Then, obviously, there are the ethical reasons I was vegan. But, I'd been having health issues with my thyroid and chronic fatigue as well as gastrointestinal issues. It was time to make a change, and I connected with a really great network of local farmers so I have an awesome hookup to people who really care about what they do. I buy all local, organic produce and local, pastured, raw dairy/eggs. My meat is local, organic, and grass-fed. Once I got past the weird ethical conundrum I found myself in (as a human who desires not to consume other animals, but who had to make a choice whether or not to live a miserable, unhealthy existence or not) I tearfully ate my first bit of meat in seven years and that was that. I've eaten dairy, eggs, and meat pretty regularly since then- about three or four times a week. I still love me some lentils, though. ALSO: I gave up on the idea of eating gluten free. It wasn't that it was too difficult, it was that I didn't find it changed much for me. I do soak my grains now, which has helped so so so much with gastro issues. I also take a probiotic.
One thing I've still been focusing on is the idea of loving myself as I am RIGHT NOW. Sometimes I find myself thinking "I'll love myself when I have clear skin or smooth hair or a flatter stomach (and so on and so forth)". Loving myself in the present? It's more difficult. I seriously obsess over whether people like/don't like me based on the state of my skin, and that is a flat-out shame. My skin right now is not awful- it's cleared up maybe 75+%? More, maybe. It's tough to tell, because I do have a ton of red spots/scars and like I said, sometimes my skin gets so freaking dry that it's flaking and the idea of it looking "better" is relative. I have less than four active pimples right now, none of them huge, for what its worth.
I guess that's it for my little update. I may or may not post progress pictures soon-ish.
In highly exciting news, I've been using my new prescriptions since last Thursday- Duac in the morning and every other night, retin A on the nights I don't use Duac. I've still been using Neutrogena Oil-Free for Combination Skin as my moisturizer, since it's the only "oil-free" stuff I have around the house at the moment. I accidentally ordered the wrong vitamin C moisturizer online- the one I've loved in the past is an oil-free version and the version I accidentally ordered is not... I'm terrified that my face will break out if I use anything with oil in it, even if its good stuff (lavender, sunflower, etc.) I've also been keeping up with my vitamins, my daily fresh air/sun/exercise, my sleep, my water intake. So, in short, I'm doing everything I'm "supposed to".
The only hitch? My skin is so freaking dry. Flaking. Angry. I'll post a picture this week so you can see what I mean. I guess it's a trade-off right now, because though my skin isn't looking good yet by any means, I have half the active pimples I had just a few days ago. So the topicals are definitely working the way they should. I've been really careful to use just a small amount of each of them, and as I said, I only use retin-A every other night since I know it can be drying... I guess where I'm at right now is a place of waiting-it-out and letting my skin get used to the new stuff. I think I really just need a better moisturizer and from what I remember that Oil Free Vit C stuff does the trick of being creamy and highly moisturizing without making my face feel like an oil slick or worse- breaking me out.
Today I'm really working on:
-improving my self-image... thinking of myself as beautiful regardless of spots
-taking probiotics my mother-in-law sent me. that brings my daily pill count to three. (multi-vitamin, DHA, +probiotics.)
-going shopping for fall clothes/shoes and maybe even scheduling a hair appointment. see goal #1.
Happy Tuesday out there!
Yesterday I finally, finally got things squared away with my health insurance. I'm covered through my mom and my husband is covered through his dad because we can't afford our own policy right now. (The cheapest one available to us through his medical school is $7,000/yr for the two of us. NOT HAPPENING on a nanny's salary!) The only problem is that my husband's benefits only extend to a California-based health group, and mine is pretty regional as well. We're both covered for emergency/urgent care visits and of course, limited out-of-network visits, but as far as having a local-to-us PCP we figured we would have to just schedule all of our medical/dental appointments for when we visit San Diego.... but then I lucked out and discovered that I'm covered at a medical center in Baltimore, which is a two hour drive from my house. It's not convenient, but it definitely beats having to fly to San Diego to visit my doctor.
Anyway, I made an appointment and drove there today to see my East Coast PCP, and she prescribed me Duac and Retin-A. I was (and still am, to a certain extent) gunning for a completely holistic approach to "curing" my acne.... but strangely, now that I have the prescriptions in my hand? All I feel is relief and hope that these products will help clear my skin and make me feel beautiful again. I've never used Duac (I was prescribed Benzaclin previously, which worked well) but I have used Retin-A and loved it, so I really am optimistic that this'll be the combo for taming my skin. I ordered a lavender gentle skin cleanser and vitamin C moisturizer that I've used and loved, so I'm looking forward to that as well.
I can't wait to start using them! (I'm not looking forward to my skin temporarily getting worse before it gets better. But there's always a trade-off.)
Today's a lovely rainy day and I've got two little boys to snuggle, so I'm off! Happy Hump Day out there!
hello! I hope I haven't made a serious mistake in introducing TTO to my skincare regimen this soon... I had been using 10% BP as topical to combat the horrific breakouts on my temples/forehead/chin (basically everywhere haha. AWESOME). Combined with the fact that I just finished pms-ing (I frequently have bad breakouts just before my period... tmi? whatevs) and have been diligent in drinking plenty of water, taking my vitamins, and staying vegan/GF, my skin looked much better today than last week. I mean, it still looked bad. Red marks + pimples coming to a head. But better. BP has never ever gotten me completely clear, and tends to really irritate my skin, so I want to stay away from it if I can. Enter TTO. I mixed some with Avalon Organics Lavender Moisturizer and applied after washing my face as usual with Dr. Bronner Liquid Soap in Peppermint. Earlier today I also tried a homemade raw honey "mask" and green tea toner. So I guess there goes my plan to only introduce one new thing at a time. haha! oh well.
I love the smell of TTO and I love how it feels going onto my skin. I think I've used TTO as topical before, in the form of a blemish stick. I've never applied it over my whole face, though, so we'll see how that goes. I'm realllly hoping not to see any crazy new zits tomorrow morning. I'm just trying to get my skin to a manageable level. I don't mind a few zits here and there. I've come to expect it, actually. But the way it's been the last few weeks is unacceptable. so so so many zits all around my face. more than I could count. ah, well. it's already down to a number I can count to. so, there's that
It's been such a lovely fall weekend here. Honestly, I can't complain. My husband and I have been taking it easy. Lots of hot tea. A long walk to our favorite pizza/salad shop. Perfume shopping. I love spending time with him and literally cherish every moment now that he's in medical school!
On the skin front- it's pretty meh. My skin hasn't worsened, but it hasn't gotten noticeably better. I'm still embarrassed by the army of red spots on my temples, forehead, and chin. Nothing makes me feel smaller or less capable.
I want to talk about something that occurred to me today while driving around town, and that is the idea of betrayal. I honestly feel completely betrayed by my body and my skin- like my skin and body actively work against my every effort to be my best version of myself. Do you ever feel that way? Like you have no control over the way you look, and like your skin is betraying you by looking like it does? It's aggravating. I'm not dirty, unhealthy, or fifteen years old, but my skin deceptively makes it look that way.... I also swear I used to be pretty! Sometimes my skin feels like a giant mask of ugly.
Anyway, that's just something that popped into my head as a way to describe how my now-constant battle with acne makes me feel. Enjoy the rest of your weekend! Hope you spend it with someone special, who doesn't mind your spots and lets you know how beautiful you are inside and out
I normally take a multivitamin to supplement B-12 and iron. (I'm vegan and I'm also anemic.) Recently I've made sure to be extra diligent about it. I want to be at my best, inside and out! And I don't want any excuses for a breakout. ("oh, I didn't take my vitamin!" or whatever.) In addition to the vegan multi, I've added a vegan algae-based DHA, which I hope will help improve alertness and my acne situation. I took my first one today:)
In regards to switching from my former regimen to the new, more holistic one: my plan is to go slow. Normally I get excited about a new plan and tend to just go all in on it... but I really want an opportunity to look at all the variables. I don't want to start a new washing method, new moisturizer, new topical, and new vitamins all at once because then I would never be able to tell for certain what exactly made my skin better or worse.
So, for today, it's the new vitamins. In a few days, I'll swap out my BP with TTO. Next, I'll try using honey as a cleanser. (there's also the possibility of reverting back to Avalon Organics Lavender Gel cleanser, which I think I liked.) Lastly, I'll switch my Neutrogena oil free to an Avalon Organics oil free.
I'm excited to get this process started. I'm hopeful! But, at the end of the day, skin is just skin. I'm happy I am who I am and that's what matters.
I've still been using Dr. Bronner's to wash morning/night, Neutrogena Oil Free for moisture, and 10% BP for spot treatment twice a day. There haven't been any huge improvements, except maybe that some of the spots on my cheek finally dried out and the parts of my face that don't have acne on them are really beautiful and glowy. Nothing has gotten worse, either... so I guess that's a plus. haha!
I did buy some organic raw local honey to use as a face wash (I couldn't find manuka) and a vial of tea tree oil to use as spot treatment. I have a small amount of Avalon Organics Lavender leftover to use as moisture, too. I really want to make the more natural/holistic thing work, I'm just terrified of making any sudden moves when it comes to my skin. I'm afraid to freak it out! I ordered my vegan DHA vitamins off of amazon and they're scheduled to arrive tomorrow, so maybe I'll switch up my skincare routine once I start taking those?
I've been vegetarian for years and years, on and off vegan, so normally I'm quite good about reading labels et cetera.... but today I totally scarfed down some GF popcorn chips that most definitely contained some sort of whey. Bummer. Other than that, the GF vegan diet is going well. it really works for me in terms of making my body feel its best, and I'm hoping my skin will follow suit.
Anyway, that's all for today. not much to report but I hope there will be soon!
I just want to take some time to talk about how acne has impacted my life.
feeling like you want to curl up in bed and not face the world
feeling like nobody will take you seriously because of your acne
feeling jealous of those who have 'good skin'
feeling obsessed with finding a 'cure'
those are all things I have (and still do) struggle with! I'm not even a little bit vain. I've always been the type of girl to "go natural". My dad ingrained in me that makeup was for "ugly girls who have something to hide." So I've never worn makeup. And now I find myself feeling like I have no other option. My face is just that bad. It's disheartening, to say the least! And little things- like meeting my husband's friends and colleagues, has become the most emotionally daunting task. I hate meeting new people because of my acne. I worry that my pimples are all they see. That they'll wonder why my husband is with me. (Because I feel ugly.) And, professionally, acne has taken its toll on me as well. I'm lucky enough that I nanny for a three month old and a nineteen month old. They don't care at all how messed up my face looks! It's awesome. But now I'm considering other career options. I've been volunteering at a local school as a literacy enrichment coordinator.... and I worry that, sans makeup and with a full face of acne, I won't be taken seriously enough by other professionals. I look fifteen. (sidenote: I actually looked better at fifteen because my face was clear back then.)
I won't lie. Acne has made me a little depressed. It's lowered my self esteem a bit. I think of it way too often while making plans to hang out with friends or go into the office. ("my face is too ugly today. I can't possibly go anywhere in public!")
So, there's this huge psychological/emotional impact that acne brings to the table. It's not just physical. I think that's why so many of us are eager to be rid of it! It takes its toll.
I'm ready for clear(er) skin. I work hard for my overall health, and I'd like my face to reflect that.... so, yeah.
As I said before, I'm changing my regimen a bit. It's really simple right now. (Dr. Bronner in peppermint for morning/evening face wash. I wash with warm water and rinse with cool water to help close my pores. Neutrogena Oil Free for moisturizer, morning/evening. 10% benzoyl peroxide. I'm pretty generous with it in the evening before bed. In the morning, I just spot treat so I don't dry my face out.) But the combination is not working.
I'm switching to morning/evening wash with raw organic honey + warm water- TTO applied with q-tip for topical, and perhaps an Avalon Organics face lotion for moisture. Simple. Natural. Hopefully something my face will like I'm continuing on with my vegan, GF diet, exercising, and taking my raw vegan multivitamin, plus adding in a vegan algae-based DHA supplement. I've always been really good about drinking at least eight cups of water a day, so I'll continue that as well as getting enough shut eye each night. That's it! I'm hoping to have some good results to show you guys. I'll be posting another current photo to the gallery today so you can see just how inflamed my skin actually is. Oh! And for the first time ever (besides my wedding day, where I wore Clinique makeup) I'm trying out foundation! Pretty sure I'm going with cheapo Naturelux, and I realllyyy hope it doesn't break me out. But I have an interview today, and I feel like I absolutely can't go to it without covering up.
Have a great weekend!
two years or so ago I began experiencing more severe acne than I had in my teenage years. before that, I'd have the odd blemish or two but never had to think very hard about what products I used on my skin. my skin today is the worst I have ever seen it and I now find myself o.b.s.e.s.s.i.n.g. over every little thing I do, wondering if it contributes to my acne.
my health history: I have alopecia areata, which is an autoimmune disorder that causes mild hair loss; I am also lactose intolerant and possibly gluten intolerant.
my diet: I'm vegetarian and have been for years. Most of the time, I keep a strict vegan diet. No dairy, no eggs. if I'm out to eat, I might eat a salad with goat cheese on it. Recently (the past few weeks) I've also transitioned to a gluten free (gf) diet, which means I'm eating a lot less carbs- and when I do, it's corn, buckwheat, oat, millet, or quinoa-based.
exercise: I loves staying active, whether it's a long run, stretching, or chasing after toddlers. I'm a nanny, which keeps me in shape.
"the regimen": currently, I'm using Dr. Bronner Liquid Soap in peppermint; Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture for Combination Skin, and a generic 10% benzoyl peroxide gel topical. it just isn't working for me. In the past, I've done ACV treatment (not really any noticeable results there), I've had prescriptions for tetracycline and clindaycin (kept my acne under decent control, but my insurance changed and I had difficulty refilling. plus, I prefer natural and organic solutions and don't want to be on prescriptions my whole life), honey/lemon masks, Avalon Organics Facial Cleansing Gel (I think this is what might have worked well for me. I'm thinking of trying it again), Avalon Organics Vitamin C Rejuvenating Oil-Free Moisture, and Desert Essences TTO Blemish Stick. I have also tried oil-cleansing.
I'm hoping to move back towards more natural products. I'm waiting on an amazon.com gift card to arrive in the mail so I can buy vegan DHA supplements. (I currently take a vegan multivitamin, but want to see if upping my DHA will help balance my skin.) I then plan on using a combination of Avalon Organics Facial Cleansing Gel, honey masks, TTO as topical, and possibly the Avalon Organics Vit C moisturizer again. Looking through photos of when I was using AO products, I think my skin looks pretty good. I'm trying to avoid having to get more prescriptions if I can help it.
So, that's where I'm at. When I have the time this weekend, I really want to post about the repercussions of acne and how it has affected me professionally, socially, and psychologically. Acne's no joke! But for now, have a great Thursday! I hope someone out there's having some success in achieving clearer skin and a healthier, happier self