This post has been a long time coming, months honestly, but it has been something I've been struggling with for about 7 months now. Up until about 7 months ago I had pretty good skin. I rarely had breakouts, it was a little dry here and there, but something I never thought about. All of a sudden something changed. It wasn't just a random pimple every once in a while. It was constant breakouts, basically never a day went by when I didn't have something going on with my skin. It has been absolutely horrible. There have been times where I honestly didn't even want to go out in public because of the way my skin looked, and that made me feel even worse. How could I let my skin dictate my self-worth? I felt very ridiculous for allowing it to control me and how I felt about myself. I felt very self conscious and embarrassed. And then, just the other day, I started posting about it on my Instagram Stories. I couldn't believe how many of you sent messages saying you were dealing with the same thing. It not only made me feel a bit better about my situation, but it forced me to share now about my experience in the hopes that it could help some of you.
What is hormonal acne? Well, it's basically what it sounds like, acne tied to fluctuating hormones, and it's especially common in women. Mine all started because of a tiny birth control pill and now has left me with the worst acne in my entire life. It's estimated that 50 percent of adult women have acne and 95 percent of all people will suffer from acne at some point in their lives. And yet, my doctor said there is no cure and no cure in sight. Here's the thing about acne, everyone has different skin, I can't tell you how many people sent me messages of all these different things to try and do for my skin. The reality is, what works for me, may not work for you. And that's what makes it so frustrating and so hard for our dermatologists to treat. It's a lot of trial and error and that's what makes the situation even more frustrating. I didn't want to go off one medication to just go on another one so I decided to try everything other than oral medications to treat my acne. My skin right now, is 85% better and seems to be getting better with everything that I am doing (fingers crossed). I just the occasional breakout still, but I finally feel like I have a grasp on my skin and the process that's going to work for me. So I'm breaking it all down for you below. And if there is one thing I've learned from this experience it's that I promise you, if you're struggling with your skin, you are not alone.
The first thing that I asked my dermatologist when going to her was, is there anything that I need to cut out of my diet that would help? She said that truly diet isn't as important when dealing with hormonal acne (my type of acne), but it couldn't help and speed up the process. Her number one is dairy. So of course I tried to cut out dairy when possible, but didn't give it up completely (I mean who could do that?!). Ultimately I found that dairy was a major factor in contributing to my hormonal acne. Refined carbs and processed sugar were up there too, so I cut that back drastically. I didn't eliminate eggs because my dermatologist said they should be fine. I started to incorporate lots more water, leafy greens and fruit into my diet along with drinking spearmint tea daily and ditching any soda that came my way.
And she couldn't stress enough, WATER, WATER, WATER.
What Not to Do
I have tried a lot of different products over the past 7 months. You truly are willing to try anything and everything when you're in desperate need to get your skin back on track, or at least I was. Ultimately it came down to not only the actual products I was using, but my overall routine and methods that had a major impact on my skin. I want to talk about some of the don'ts that I learned along the way. Remember, everyone is different, but I think since these came from a doctor they should apply across the board or at least help.
Don't Do This:
Over-exfoliate. When I was breaking out really bad my immediate reaction was to exfoliate because my pores must be clogged and that's why I'm breaking out, right? WRONG. In fact, over-exfoliating can make your skin WAY worse. Try and stick to once or twice a week for ultimate results. Some people are good with exfoliating once per month. See what works for you and stick with that.
Keep switching your products. I definitely did this. I would try a skincare routine, it wouldn't seem to be working so I would just switch. Then, my doctor would give me a routine and I would use it for a week and see no results so I'd switch again. NO NO NO. I now know that it can take anywhere from 2-3 weeks to notice anything when using new products, so try and stay consistent with what you use and you most likely will start to notice a difference if it's a good routine with solid products. I haven't introduced any new products to my routine in like two months and have noticed a HUGE difference.
Don't use essential oils. This is something that you'd think would really help, but my doctor said it actually really clogs your pores. I actually don't use essential oils at all, but the first thing she asked me was if I was. Again, this is what she is saying for acne-prone skin so if that's not you then I'm sure you're good to go. Also, this might not be the case for everyone so again, do what's right for you and your skin.
Clog your pores with makeup. This is tricky, I know, the last thing I wanted to do when my skin was at it's worst was go anywhere without makeup (and I have always worn little makeup my whole life so this killed me). When I started breaking out really bad, I started caking on the makeup. I hated it. I hated the way I looked with the makeup on and I hated it without so it was a loose/loose in my book. I started only wearing makeup when I needed to be somewhere like a business meeting, photo shoot or dinner. On all other days and occasions I would force myself to go makeup free and not care. If you're going to use makeup while healing your skin, try and use mineral based makeup. My dermatologist actually recommended Laura Mercier and good thing I've been a fan for a while and already had most of her makeup in my drawer.
My Skincare Routine
Okay, finalllllly. If you're still reading THANK YOU! Let's talk products. My dermatologist has become my best friend (LOL). Over the past 7 months I have been there A LOT. She has helped me beyond words and has been so knowledgable about just skincare in general. It's so important to start at a young age whether you are dealing with acne or not. So, my dermatologist has recommended all the products that I am using right now with the exception of my favorite Drunk Elephant moisturizer. She also recommended that I start doing silk peel's and dermaplaning once per month until my skin gets under control or forever (they are both just good in general). Like I mentioned in my IG story, I am going to video the next time I get these treatments done so you can see for yourself. Since my skin has started to calm down I am going to swap my next silk peel for micro-needling. Micro-needling is great for scaring and the overall appearance of your skin. The treatment is a bit pricey, but you see immediate results from one single treatment. With the silk peels and dermaplaning there is no down time, but she has informed me that the micro-needling will be about a 4 day recovery so be sure to schedule when you know you have nothing going on. I also am going to start doing monthly facials once my skin completely clears to keep it that way. You have to be careful with facials and acne because they tend to irritate the skin and react to the routine that you've worked so hard perfecting. I haven't done any facials in the past 7 months and am going to wait until my skin seems to be almost better if not better. Another quick tip, make sure to always wash your face with cold water.
Cleanse. I use Restorsea and this product has completely changed my skin. My dermatologist sold this to me and I instantly saw changes the very next day (NO JOKE)! This product line is so interesting to me because it's made from salmon. They also say that eating salmon is so great for your skin, but who knew that washing your face with salmon would help DRASTICALLY.
Exfoliate. I don't exfoliate at home often because I have been getting treatments that do this for me, but when I do I always use the Peter Thomas Roth Peeling Gel and your skin feels incredible afterwards.
Tone. I never knew how important toning was until recently. I use this one and love.
Moisturizer/Serum. DRUNK ELEPHANT ALL DAY EVERY DAY! Can you tell I'm obsessed? The second I started using this product I was in heaven. It's so light and feels so good on the skin. I use it day and night for best results. This product has also completely changed my skin. When dealing with acne it's important to incorporate azelaic acid into your routine. I can't go a day without this product. It goes super fast so stock up on Amazon like I do. As for serums, it's not recommended to use many when dealing with acne, but be sure to incorporate a Vitamin C serum into your routine. I use this one from SkinCeuticals.
Mask. The only mask that I use is the DRUNK ELEPHANT Babyfacial. It's so so good.
Sunscreen. Any of these sunscreens on this list are recommended.
Wow, that was long. I hope it's helpful. I am also going to video my products on my Instagram Story this week so be sure you're following along. Please, if you have any questions at all for either me or my dermatologist BFF, leave them in the comments or on my skincare Instagram post. I will also be posting my morning and night routine in another blog post soon so stat tuned. At the end of the day, what I have learned through this long/annoying process is that no one knows your skin better than you. Trust yourself and listen to your body. What works for me might not work for you. It's a process and clear skin doesn't happen overnight. Just remember you are not alone and YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL! Acne is something that many people struggle with so don't be too hard on yourself and trust the process to clear skin.