Acne and I have been acquainted for most of my teenage years. It is a bit like that friend you feel like you have outgrown but they do not really catch onto it and still cling on to what you once had. Acne has made me stuff my face with vitamin B5-capsules, take birth control and in desperation use milder antibiotics like tetralysal, and of course spend endless amounts of money on face creams and serums.
I do find it rather disheartening to stumble upon posts written by girls with airbrush finish skin saying like "just wash your face a little more carefully"... Actually, I believe it is quite the contrary and has SO MUCH to do with your gut and hormones, aka internal procedures, rather than external, such as what bloody high end soap you are using. So today I thought I would share with you what has helped me get rid of my acne, without any harsh chemicals or spending a fortune.
Man, the amount of time I have wished I was one of those girls who can live of candy bars and sleep in their make-up and still look like a darn delight, but in recent years I rather call it a blessing. At the end of the day, your acne is simply your body trying to communicate with you - and in that sense it is really quite a blessing - even if it feels super frustrating that you do not always seem to speak the same language...
Let us start about two years ago, I was back from my 13-month backpacking trip and my skin was a hot mess, as you can see from the photos on the left. I was very strict about my diet at the time, and kept running from one thesis to the next (is it dairy, is it gluten?) that could be the reason behind my breakouts. My self-esteem had definitely reached an all-time low and I was so stressed out, but I was still reluctant to the idea of taking harsh antibiotics that would merely kill the symptoms but not the cause.
I needed a change, and I knew it had to be down the all natural-route. The following list is 8 things that I incorporated to heal my face, literally. Some of them I still practice.
→ Face Mapping.
First off, I would head off to skinacea that has a great post on the Chinese medicine approach to mapping out your acne, she writes: "Your skin often reflects your internal health, so by analyzing where you get pimples and "mapping" where acne pops up on your face, you can understand what's causing your acne and prevent the zits from forming!"
→ Food intolerance test.
In December 2014, I visited a local homeopath. Both for my skin, but also for my severe period cramps. To make a long story short, we did a food tolerance test and there were plenty of items that I was reacting to (among them like all legumes, eggs and wheat). I also had a leaky gut, which means that no matter what I ate the nutrition sort of passed right through. In order to let my gut restore itself, I needed to stay away from these foods for a minimum of 3 months. So that is what I did. I still avoid wheat, as I can literally feel it constipating me and I have found that happy poo = happy person.
→ Hot Lemon Water.
I start each day, more or less, by downing a pint of hot lemon water. My homeopath recommends this to Everyone. This is to aid digestion and boost your immune system; lemons are stuffed with vitamin C which are great for your skin. It also helps to get you well on your way of reaching your daily h20 quota.
→ Eat and Sleep regularly.
I can tell on my skin immediately when I have not gotten a proper night's sleep, I tend to look and feel gloomy. Plus, I get way more hungry than usual. Hungry Linnea = grumpy Linnea. So it may sound really boring, but I try to keep a sleep routine of 10pm-6am, making sure I catch the sleep train on time each night. I also have a night time routine of drinking a cup of relaxing tea and listening to an audio book to tell my body it is time to rewind.
→ Limit caffeine.
This one is quite dull for a coffee lover like myself, but it goes well with the former point of getting enough sleep. Personally, I try to avoid coffee after 1pm as it takes about 7hrs for the caffeine to pass through your system. Further more, caffeine stimulates your intestines (you know how a visit to the toilet goes a lot smoother after a cuppa?) and so they get emptied too quickly and there is not enough time for the body to absorb the nutrients from the food you are consuming... In a sense, you could live off kale but it would not show. See how things are sort of coming together here, with digestion and sleep?
→ Wash less.
It is a big myth that us with acne-prone skin would be less hygienic than those with just naturally smooth faces. When you wash off the sebum from your face, your body will simply react by producing more sebum as to not get dried out. I recommend reading more on "The Caveman Regimen" on the Love Vitamin. Myself, I only wash my face once a day, and that is in the evening.
→ Stop picking.
I seriously did not hear of this until I was 20 years old (!!!). It may sound like an easy solution, I will just pick the zit now and it will be gone... In fact, if you keep a journal to track down where you are getting your breakouts, you will find that most likely a spot will return in the exact same place where you plucked it a few days earlier. So - hands off! I have learnt to become friends with my zits. On occasion, I will have a volcano glorifying my face for a few days... I simply go with it, who cares in a hundred years? Or even the next day...
→ Self love.
Perhaps most importantly, give yourself a break. Acne can be so blooming stressful, but please please remember, there is so much more to you than your skin! Do what you love and good things will come your way. You don't want to sit on your deathbed and regret the things you did not do because of corrupted ideas of beauty - fuck that!
Of course I appreciate that everyone's skin is different, this is simply what has worked for me - even if I am far from airbrush finish skin, these days I confidently leave the house without an ounce of make-up and it feels like such freedom.
What are your experiences with acne? Do you have any advice or expertise to share, it would be delightful to read about! Lots of love! x