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Kay.cookie

New member! My acne journey

Hey guys! I've been a lurker on this forum for couple years, and finally decided to make my own account. I'm excited to discuss skin-related topics and possibly receive some helpful feedback (and vice versa). Sorry this is so long!
First off- I'm a 22 year old, female, vegetarian/transitioning to vegan, fairly physically active and I try to stay in shape, and I've had acne since 8th grade. I actually remember the very first real pimple I got in my life (is that weird? Lol) What an awful day that was.
My journey to clear skin between then and now has been a long, frustrating and exhausting one, to say the least. Throughout high school I tried a lot of topical stuff that was horrible for my skin- your typical benzoyl peroxide and salicyclic acid ointments, Proactive, Clearisil, etc...none of which worked. Proactive was absolutely HORRIBLE. It just stripped my skin of anything good and made the acne worse. I tried natural, homemade stuff- oatmeal masks, apple cider vinegar, the oil method (with olive oil)- before I really knew anything about natural treatments. All of those were awful and I swore off natural remedies for a while after that. I opted for "natural" shelf products- Yes to Tomatoes facial cleanser was one of the synthetic brands that actually helped a little while being somewhat "natural" (at least more so than Neutrogena or Clearisil). But after a while I wanted something better, more effective and less damaging. So I turned to natural remedies agin. But this time, I did more research. I found myself looking into essential oils- rosehip and jojoba seemed promising- as well as the supposed "miracle" product called African Black Soap. Good old pure coconut oil was another big thing I was interested in. I also found myself looking into more natural makeup brands. I had been layering on thick concealer and liquid foundation (mostly CoverGirl and Physician's Forumla) since high school, and I figured it couldn't have been doing my skin any good. So I found a brand called Alima Pure (a natural mineral makeup brand), which got good reviews and wasn't too too expensive. I also discovered skindeep.org, which is a database of tested products that you can search through (over 61,000) that have been given a rating on how hazardous they are to your skin/body. This was a very helpful resource when finding good products.
I was determined to create the most pure, skin-friendly regime, in hopes that the acne would go away if I had happy, well-nourished skin.
My first natural regime that I was experimenting with (which I started about a year ago) consisted of: Thayer's alcohol-free rose water and witch hazel toner, rosehip oil, pure organic Shea butter, jojoba oil, raw African Black Soap (the big block of soap version), and Alima pure powdered mineral foundation and powdered concealer. Looking at this, you would think my skin would be pretty happy right? Especially after having all those harsh chemicals bombarding it throughout all my teenage years? Not so. After trial and error, I discovered that my skin absolutely hated Shea butter and jojoba oil. Which included the African Black Soap because it had Shea butter in it. It was entirely a learning experience of what my skin did and didn't like. And more often than not, it was more about what it didn't like. This was incredibly frustrating.
I mean, come on. I already had the healthy diet down (being a vegan) and was even making sure to get all my fruits and veggies by drinking homemade smoothies every other day. As well as drinking enough water. Another thing I discovered was black currant seed oil supplements, which were suppose to be really good for your skin and hair. I've been taking those for a couple months now.
Being a vegan, switching to the most natural and wholesome skin products I could find, and STILL dealing with acne was honestly infuriating. I felt like I was just going in circles and not achieving any real results, while people around me had flawless skin yet could eat whatever they wanted and only washed their face with water everyday.
Of course, my skin has definitely improved since high school. A lot, actually. Whether that's because of time of improving my skincare routine or both, I'll probably never know.
Anyways, I got the feeling that I should minimalize my routine. Maybe the problem was with using TOO many natural products at once. As in, you can have too much of a good thing.
So I narrowed it down to this: raw aloe Vera gel (straight from the plant), alternating between rose hip and pure vitamin E oil  (the plant-based kind, not the synthetic stuff), and coconut oil as a makeup remover AND cleanser. (Using coconut oil as a cleanser used to scare me because I thought it would make me break out, but turns out, if you massage it to your face and then remove it all with a warm wash cloth, it's an incredible cleanser and leaves your face feeling super soft. It's the best cleanser I've ever used. I keep it in a jar and add a few drops of pure lavender essential oil mixed in with it. It's amazing.) my skin was better, but I still felt like it was an overkill. The raw aloe was great for reducing redness but I felt like it was actually breaking me out after using it for over a month. So I stopped using it.
So for the last month, this has been my routine: cleanse with pure/organic virgin coconut oil followed by either pure vitamin E oil or pure rose hip oil. For makeup, I'm still using Alima Pure and I love it. It has amazing coverage for a natural, mineral powdered foundation and concealer and doesn't break me out.
I'm also going to try using pure, all natural rose water by Alteya Organics (rather than the Thayer's rose water toner, which has added synthetic fragrance- yuck). I'm looking forward to trying this pure, truly natural version.
For anyone who might suggest hormones being something to think about- I do have an IUD (Skyla, which is the lower dose of hormones) that I've had for over a year and a half now. It's not suppose to affect your hormones like the pill, which is what I used to be on, but I read that it's not out of the question. I do wonder if the IUD has some negative affect on my skin, but I'm also still kinda in the adjustment period for it so I feel like my body is still adjusting maybe?
For the last week my skin has been pretty great. I haven't had any new pimples all week, but I do have a problem with picking so I'm currently still healing from those last pimples I picked at- I really need to stop doing this but it's so hard! Does anyone else struggle with this? One thing I've found that helps is coconut oil- sometimes I leave it on for half an hour before bedtime before rinsing it off with a cloth, which allows it to sit on my skin and soften the healing scabs from old pimples. Then when I wipe the coconut oil off with a cloth, the dead skin is more easily exfoliated off and doesn't do nearly as much damage as "dry picking," as I call it. Dry picking always leaves a red mark, whereas light exfoliation after coconut oil removes dead skin without the same consequence.
SO that's that! I'm sorry that was so long, and for anyone who took the time to read through it- thanks! I hope it gave you some ideas or that you can offer me some insight- I'd love to hear back from anyone who can relate or has any feedback!
The journey to clear skin continues, but it's slowly (as in, a torturously slow rate) getting better. I think I'm pointed in the right direction!

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