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Success Story: I Stopped My Acne By Changing Everything!

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Hey everyone! I have used this site as a resource for years, but I've only just signed up so I can leave a post about the amazing things i've learned over the past year and maybe spread some hope- I am definitely a success story.

I've had acne since I was 15, and I'm now nearly 27. It was very mild at first and my skin wasn't red, but as I got older it got much worse. I was lucky never to have cysts on my face or even what you would call severe acne, but it has been constantly broken out, red, and oily for over a decade. It was incredibly red and irritated, hundreds of rough, tiny pustules and super oily immediately after washing. This past spring my skin was the worst it's ever been; there were hundreds of little red zits covering my face and the skin beneath was BRIGHT red. My eyes were also continuously red (picture that: a face full of acne and red eyes to match...). My confidence plummeted, all I could think was "I am too old for this, WHAT AM I DOING WRONG?"

Let me say here that I am fairly healthy, I get a lot of exercise, and I have literally tried everything for my very stubborn acne. I've tried all the antibiotics. Only Doxycycline worked, but as soon as I was off it I had terrible, terrible breakouts and redness. I've tried so many topicals, cheap and expensive, including Dan's regimen. The regimen worked okay...but I'm not sure being stuck to a strict regimen and having terrible acne without it counts as success. It was a huge hassle and bleached tons of pillowcases. I did a course of Accutane. Accutane is neutral for me, because while it cured my back acne (still clear!), I immediately broke out on my face after the course was over. In addition, I started getting eyelid cysts (google "chalazion," they're awful) after the Accutane. I've had two surgeries for the Accutane-induced chalazions.

Finally I started researching diet and lifestyle choices. When I took a long hard look at my diet and lifestyle, I realized there were many things wrong. Sure, I'm physically very fit, I don't drink alcohol much and I get a fair amount of sleep, but my diet was unvaried and I had way too much dairy, sugar, and caffeine. I cut out the dairy and sugar and within a week, my skin was noticeably less oily and the redness was improved. It wasn't a miracle, but it was noticeably better.

Next, I decided to try vitamin D. 5000 IU a day left me still less oily and my complexion was somehow brightened. The zits weren't as inflamed, but they didn't stop.

Next, I tried cod liver oil, because I hardly eat meat and I probably get very little vitamin A. Cod liver oil was definitely a turn in the road: the oiliness went down again, my skin looked plumper, brighter, smoother...I was amazed after only a couple days. As long as my vitamin A levels stay in a safe range, i'm never going to stop taking it. (I just got the plain oil from Holland and Barrett, take two teaspoons in the morning, and decreased my Vitamin D to 1200 IU, since CLO already has vitamin D in it). I also noticed little cuts and scrapes heal faster. Sweet.

At this point, I became a believer in diet and lifestyle changes. The supplements were working, I felt much better without dairy and sugar (and I used to love cheese and candy...but after a couple weeks, I didn't miss them at all). I started researching any and all holistic diet remedies for skin problems. I started cooking every meal with a variety of vegetables, greens, avocado, and usually with fish or lean meats. For breakfast, I have anti-inflammatory muesli with oats, coconut flakes, blueberries, chia seeds, nuts, cinnamon, and almond milk. I learned to make sauerkraut (absolutely delicious and super easy) to heal my gut after all the antibiotics. I realized, after watching my skin carefully, that coffee (unfortunately) makes me oily and red. I cut it down to one cup a day, and have started drinking more black and green teas. This was a hard change for me because I'm a hard-core coffee geek and I work in a coffee shop. However, my skin looks better, and I don't need the coffee anymore. It's just for enjoyment.

The last supplements i've tried really sealed the deal for my skin: DIM and zinc. DIM is an estrogen balancer, and it seemed to end the zits I get around my mouth during my period. It wasn't a miracle, but after everything else it really made my skin look better. Zinc has been incredible. I believe I am zinc-deficient because I don't take in very much zinc through diet (I don't eat a ton of red meat), my eyes are slightly red (zinc is essential for eye health), and because I work out quite a lot and zinc is lost through sweat. I also crave oysters a LOT...which is odd, but they are nature's largest source of zinc, so I suppose that makes sense. Supplementing 50mg of zinc a day has smoothed my skin, noticeably faded red marks (within a couple days!) and decreased the oil to nothing. Before diet changes, I literally blotted my face 15 times a day. Now it looks normal!

Right now, my skin is clear and I'm working on the fading red marks with a daily raw honey mask. It feels amazing, leaves my skin moisturized, and it's working. Future experiments? I plan to switch to manuka honey face masks, do a liver cleanse in a couple weeks, and i'm currently brewing some kombucha for more probiotic power. Soon I will have perfect skin....!

Here's my daily diet/supplement regimen. I hope this helps somebody! Stay strong everyone, you just need to experiment and figure out what works for you. Lots of love, Carly


Wash face with Aveeno moisturizing bar (the oatmeal is slightly exfoliating and calms my skin, so there's no after-wash irritation...plus its super cheap!)


-Anti-inflammatory muesli

-High-quality black tea (no sugar or milk, obviously)

-2 teaspoons cod liver oil

-2 capsules DIM-plus from Nature's Way

-25 mg zinc picolinate from Holland and Barrett

-1200 IU vitamin D3


-Brown, white, and wild rice, eggs, roasted or stir-fried vegetables, lean red meat, fruit, hummus wraps, nuts, salmon, avocados...

-Homemade sauerkraut as a side dish

-Maybe a cup of coffee

-Dark (85%) chocolate for dessert

-25 mg zinc with food

Wash face with Aveeno moisturizing bar

Raw honey face mask for as long as I can keep it on before sleep

Lots of sleep, rock climbing/yoga, and 10-minute meditation if i'm stressed out

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Congrats on your success! I don't recommend taking DIM and zinc long term, especially since zinc can deplete your body of copper and cause other imbalances. DIM might also cause other hormonal imbalances if taken at full dosage long term (over 6 months approx.). so be careful.

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Hey all, I want to give everyone an update on how my skin is doing.

My skin looks amazing. There were some major bumps in the road since I last wrote this post, however. I hate to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but  after everything I've been through all I can conclude is that the skincare industry (particularly the acne industry) does not want its consumers to have clear skin. "Acne wasn't invented until Clearasil." Here's what I've learned:

1) Birth control pills can be the best thing ever or your worst nightmare. When I moved away from the UK to the USA I couldn't get the same brand I was using (and loving) anymore. The one I switched to absolutely ruined my skin again, and left me feeling extremely manic as well (I never appreciated how hormonal drugs could really affect your mood until the last few years...I feel for everyone going through that rollercoaster right now). I researched the exact hormones and dosages in the UK pill that I liked, and finally found a USA one that matched perfectly. The acne calmed down again.

2) However, the neck acne left over from the pills refused to go away. I never had neck acne until a couple years ago and for a while I seemed to have it all the time, and it left scars. I realized I haven't been taking care of my neck very well. I stopped using any kind of soap whatsoever, face and neck. I only washed my face in the evening and simply splashed water on my face and neck in the morning. I also switched completely to oils (argan oil in the day, rosehip oil in the evening). My skin responded very happily. The less I wash and the more oil I use, the less irritation and oil my skin produces. Hmm....

3) I started using micellar water and cotton pads to remove my (light) makeup in the evening. I ignored micellar water for a long time because it seems so trendy, but it really is a miracle product for me. I use Simple brand. My skin has never looked better, and right now I'm pre-period and should be completely broken out but my skin looks awesome. Look at the picture: no zits, no oiliness. My nose is red from a  from a  scrape though, haha.

4) Food and supplements make a difference. I detailed this in my last post so I won't go into it, but in short: reduce dairy and sugar, and take vitamin A and zinc, and you will have clearer skin.

I hope this helps someone. Acne sucks so much. Remember that your skin knows what to do- let it take care of itself and help it with gentle products and oils.


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So happy for you! I find that omega 3 really calms my skin, but didn't notice any chance from zinc. I may try out cod liver oil instead of my current fish oil tabs as suspect I am vitamin A deficient but personally for that a top quality probiotic was a miracle worker for my skin. Morning green smoothies with kale and spinach was also a game-changer!

I currently have clear skin for the first time in adulthood, but just stopped my pill so will be bracing myself for the 3 month point break out!

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Add me to the list of people finding success  with diet changes. 

I have a post somewhere in the first page (my gluten dairy low Glycemic diet) in which  I've talked about it. 

Great to see others having results. 

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Happy for you. Coffee trigers my acne, too. So I begin to drink more teas instead of coffee.

And yes, you remind me that these days I've added dairy and sugar to my diet, no wonder my pimples broke out.

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