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My Struggles With Adult Acne {Part 3}

October 4, 2016

Thanks for hanging in there through this 3 part series on my struggles with adult acne. It hasn’t been an easy one to talk about, but you guys have made me feel so much better. I’m happy to say that this story has a somewhat happy “ending”. I’m weary to say “ending” as I don’t think a story is really ever done and especially when I so harshly learned that you can go from perfectly clear skin to acne overnight, so let’s just leave it at part 3.

This is a long road, but I’ve seen substantial progress so I’m feeling confident that things are only going up from here.

Part three of The Healthy Maven's Struggles with Adult Acne. How hormonal acne suddenly appeared and what she's doing to try and solve the problem.

So we left off last time talking about supplements and the improvements I’ve seen in my skin since implementing a supplement routine. Thanks to help from my naturopath, we got a plan in place to tackle the last pieces of the puzzle and really try to get down to the bottom of my skin issues.

I mentioned briefly in last week’s post that at the request of my naturopath, I had some blood work done. I’ll admit that I was hopeful that something would come up, only so I had an answer to what was really going on. But in true form, the answer is never so simple. Besides a vitamin D deficiency (very common for most people in North America), nothing out of the ordinary appeared on my blood work.

Ultimately, it came down to what is likely an imbalance between my estrogen and progesterone levels. Their ratio to each other is off but this sensitivity is not something that would show up on blood work.

So basically this means that my hormones are pretty sensitive and at the moment require bit more support.

But ultimately, caring for your skin (i.e. the largest organ in your body!) is a multi-part process. Supplements are great, but there are so many things that are necessary to provide the support your skin needs. And it’s a combination of factors both inside and outside that will yield the best results.

Today I want to talk about the things that have worked, what didn’t work and what I’ve yet to explore:

Part three of The Healthy Maven's Struggles with Adult Acne. How hormonal acne suddenly appeared and what she's doing to try and solve the problem.

WHAT WORKED:

1. Eliminating processed foods

To begin with I rarely eat processed foods, but sometimes I found myself gorging on sugar (hello PMS) and picking out the m&ms in my trail mix. Keeping these to a minimum has definitely helped keep the breakouts at bay.

2. A LOT of water

Getting in enough water has always been a struggle of mine. My tip is to fill a litre jug of water and leave it out on the counter, then throughout the day keep pouring glasses from that. I aim to get in about 3L a day. I pee way too often but for someone with ultra dry skin, it’s super important for me to hydrate.

3. Supplements

As I discussed in last week’s post, having a supplement regimen has drastically improved my skin. I take zinc, b-complex, adult multi (with vitamin D) and Omega-3 Fish Oil.

4. Getting enough sleep and decreasing stress

Stress = breakouts for me. In fact my whole cycle can get thrown out of whack if I’m stressed. Prioritizing sleep and my overall well-being is one of the best ways to protect my skin.

5. A great skincare regimen

I’ve done a lot of experimenting over the last few years with my skincare routine. Because of my ultra dry sensitive skin, I use gentle and oil-based products to cleanse and moisturize. To be honest, it’s been a process to figure out the exact formula that works for my skin and with time it’s needs have changed.

Skin Essence Organics was a brand I used for a long time and I really liked their products, but eventually I was finding the rosehip oil was a bit too clogging. I then switched to province apothecary and have found certain products I love with their line. I now use mostly May Lindstrom products and while it’s certainly not cheap, I’m dumbfounded by how effective they are.

Right now my skincare routine looks like this:

Cleanser: Honey Mud Cleanser from May Lindstrom for daily use (this stuff is a dream!) and Moisturizing Oil Cleanser from Province Apothecary for when I’m removing makeup.

Toner: Province Apothecary Balancing Toner or Witch Hazel

Moisturizer: Josh Rosebrook Nutrient Day Cream in the morning and May Lindstrom The Good Stuff Oil Moisturizer at night

Exfoliant: Skin Essence Organics Facial In a Jar used every other day

Part three of The Healthy Maven's Struggles with Adult Acne. How hormonal acne suddenly appeared and what she's doing to try and solve the problem.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK:

1. Eliminating Dairy

I’ve been off and on dairy for years and while I notice I have better digestion, it doesn’t seem to have any sort of effect on my skin. That being said I also eat very little dairy (some sheep’s yogurt and cheese) that is usually of high quality (sorry…no kraft for me) so maybe that’s why, but all in all it hasn’t seemed to make any difference on my skin.

2. Birth Control

BC is what cause my acne in the first place so I wasn’t about to jump back on it to try to fix the issue. I’m not anti-BC as a solution but for me the cause was more important. Just some food for thought!

3. Waiting it Out

I was literally in denial about my acne for a year and wouldn’t talk to anyone about it. Poor C dealt with the brunt of it and even though he tried to be encouraging to talk to someone about it, I was convinced it would go away on its own. Spoiler alert: it didn’t. We all have random breakouts every now and then but don’t be ashamed to seek help when it becomes a persistent issues.

WHAT’S LEFT TO EXPLORE:

1. Eliminating caffeine + alcohol

wahhhhhhhhhh I know both can be responsible for acne, but I just don’t wanna! I’m all about both in moderation, but I don’t want clear skin at the sacrifice of the things that I love. I’m okay with some zits so long as I can still have my precious morning coffee and evening glass of red. These things bring me joy, but I’m willing to compromise…just not there yet!

2. A cleanse

duh duh duhhhhhhh. I will never ever eliminate all food groups, drink my weight in green juice and call it healthy. That being said, I think adding in additional juices and shakes could potentially be an option for adding an extra dose of goodness. My naturopath has suggested I try a variation on a cleanse created by Thorne. It’s called “Mediclear” and for now it looks like I’d just substitute it for my regular protein powder in my morning smoothies. I’m open to the idea but haven’t started yet. I’ll keep you posted

Part three of The Healthy Maven's Struggles with Adult Acne. How hormonal acne suddenly appeared and what she's doing to try and solve the problem.Thank you all for following along the journey. It certainly isn’t over yet but I’ll touch base in a few months to let you know how things are going. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions!

Don’t forget to read part #1 and part #2 to get the full picture of my skin journey!

Where are you at with your skin journey? Are there any things you’ve tried that have worked, didn’t work or you want to try?

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  • Reply
    dixya @food, pleasure, and health
    October 4, 2016 at 7:16 am

    thank you for sharing these and being so open and detailed. i went through very similar journey as yours and im still some of that but nothing compared to how it used to be. not to discourage you to try different options, but i have tried staying away from caffeine and alcohol – i didnt see any difference in mine. drinking lots of water definitely helps…currently im trying a new organic, all natural skin line along with my chemical filled foundation which i cant do without – my skin has never been better. if you ever want to try that product – let me know i can send you details and its relatively very affordable too which is always a plus.
    dixya @food, pleasure, and health recently posted…Fort Worth Food & Fitness Events in October

  • Reply
    Jaclyn
    October 4, 2016 at 10:08 am

    Davida!
    Thanks so much for sharing this series, I know you must have helped so many people out.
    I must concur with you on both the PA (cleanser and toner) and the May Lindstrom products, specifically the honey mud for those with dry skin. The May products are simply amazing and although they can be pricey, they do the job, plus they are larger sizes so that helps as well! Have you tried The Clean Dirt from her line- GAME CHANGING!
    I struggled with acne when I got off the pill as well and it was so embarrassing, although I found what helped with me were probiotics, an ACES + Zinc supplement (Vitamins A, C, E, Selenium and Zinc are great for the skin), a generally clean diet, tons of water and good quality skin products such as the ones you mentioned plus a few others.
    Jaclyn recently posted…No Bake Pumpkin Chocolate Energy Balls

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      October 4, 2016 at 4:05 pm

      I looooooove the clean dirt. It’s incredible! You know I trust anything that comes from my detox ladies 😉 Thanks for sharing, lovely!!

  • Reply
    angie ehrenreich
    October 4, 2016 at 3:35 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story about your acne. I too have dealt with adult acne in some form or fashion since I was in my 20’s. I’m now 46. I used Proactive for several years with success along with using bio identical progesterone cream. That worked for many years. For the past 2 years I have been using Clenziderm MD and I have been very happy with the results. I’ve heard that this adult acne can get to where it is immune to things so there may come a time when I have to switch to something else but for now as long as I am diligent with my cleansing routine I am pretty much acne free. Once or twice a year I may get a bump or two due to traveling stress and hormones. Good luck.

  • Reply
    Lucie
    October 4, 2016 at 4:45 pm

    Like you, I started having adult breakouts when I had to go off birth control (for me it was the pill). I had no idea how much the pill had altered my hormones. I tried many masks and cleansers before doing some research and having my estrogen levels tested. My estrogen levels were way too high so I began taking progesterone supplements and within a few weeks, my skin cleared up. That was 6 years ago and I have been pretty much acne free every since. The only time I break out now is if I do something unwise (such as falling asleep before I wash my face). I take Vitex by Now Foods. I have no idea if this will help you but I do understand what it is like to struggle with adult acne and if something simple like this can help you, it is certainly worth trying.

  • Reply
    Amylou @ The No Grainer
    October 8, 2016 at 5:59 pm

    Love this series. I have definitely had my fair share of acne bouts and currently still going through it. All hormonal as indicated by the chin/jawline/mouth whiteheads. I have it so much worse on my lower right cheek than on my left which is so interesting to me and makes me wonder about ovaries and more hormonal/cyclical issues there. Its such a tricky process as its hard to decipher what is and what isn’t causing it. So many variables! But natural skin care is a must as is gut health I’ve recently been realizing. All the nutrients we take in through our diet that are supposedly miracle cures for acne aren’t always absorbed unless the gut is at optimal absorption level which can be impaired by leaky gut syndrome and other issues. It can be a huge mess basically! But definitely something I’m working through. The best solution is to have confidence that it will get better as your mood can affect your hormones and cause stress which we know isn’t going to help! would love to hear any updates you have! thank you and I understand the distress acne causes!

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      October 10, 2016 at 12:04 pm

      I totally agree! It can sometimes be a bad cycle where you stress about your acne, try to cover it up and in the process the stress and cover-up just make it worse. Trying to keep stress levels low and confidence high is the best solution!

  • Reply
    kylie
    November 22, 2016 at 9:22 pm

    thank you so much for sharing! ive been battling acne for the past 10 years and ive tried everything!!!but lately ive been doing things youve mentioned in the article and ive already seeing a slow but steady change. also solvaderm has a lot of great helpful products you should check out as well

  • Reply
    Dayna
    January 11, 2017 at 3:30 pm

    Hi Davida,

    I have struggled about the same as you. Had perfect skin until I went on BC. Tried several types of BC and eventually decided that BC is not the best thing for your body and now have a copper IUD. I didnt notice a huge improvement with my skin in fact it might have made it worse. I struggled, trying every type of face wash (proactive, acne free, st. Ives, Neutrogena, Murad, Clinque, Biore, La roche, you name it), even tried the oil cleansing method, honey etc etc. I was on antibiotics for it from my doctor which help for a short time but i did not want to be on antibiotics for my skin as just how you feel i know its something internally. I have a fairly clean diet due to food intolerances, no dairy, gluten, eggs, low FODMAP and nightshade free. Of course I am not perfect, the diet has helped quite a bit, i do have the odd alcoholic drink and some caffeine. Ive tried supplements like crazy, Vitamin A, E, D, zinc, omega 3, Burdock Root, Vitex, probiotics and have since reduced it to Omega 3, Vitamin D and the odd zinc as it causes my stomach to get upset. For probiotics i drink Kombucha and Kefir which has helped tremendously with my stomach problems. My skin is still not perfect but i am no longer afraid to go in public without makeup. I know that stress triggers my acne however so in order to help with that (as i like to pick at my skin) i use a mineral makeup from Pure Anada – mineral powder. Its amazing and stops me from picking at bumps on my skin!!! I use Dessert Essence – thoroughly clean face wash and a Skin Lovers Oil for a moisturizer and tea tree oil as a spot treatment. Something that made a drastic improvement on my skin was Retin A – a cream prescribed by my doctor, basically strong vitamin A. It takes a good month and the first month is hell (follow directions, especially waiting 30 minutes to apply after washing) but the results are worth it, i am not currently using but am considering going back on to just help remove the scaring and dark spots. I went off since my skin improved so much i wanted to see what my skin would be like without it. I did end up getting some acne back, especially around me period but no longer the huge painful cystic acne i was used to. I think that the Retin A helped me get to a point where i was comfortable with my skin and now i am working on natural ways to keep it clear through minor supplements, clean diet and trying to stress less!

  • Reply
    Hyo Hartzell
    March 8, 2017 at 6:24 am

    I have struggled with acne for almost 30 years…but, Dermalmd Blemish Serum is the best. WAY better than Proactiv. It does a very good job of keeping things under control and spot treatment. I also get a lot of redness/inflammation..this product does wonders.

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