April 04, 2015

Acne Progress

A picture of a household cactus with text overlaid reading Fighting Acne

I haven't wrote an update about my ongoing Naturopath visits and progress on my acne yet. This is because I wasn't able to go to my last appointment as I was on a business course, so had to reschedule to 8th April, meaning I haven't actually had the follow up appointment yet. It's been a tough 7 weeks and I've felt as if I'm at my wit's end recently. Here's a rundown on my progress so far.

Firstly, I've been eating so much better since seeing Cath (my naturopath). Regular, low-sugar meals can help balance out blood sugar - spikes in blood sugar can contribute to acne. This has been the biggest challenge for me as I have always eaten sparsely. At the moment my average daily diet consists of 3 meals and at least 2 snacks, usually:
Jumbo Oats cooked with oat milk, topped with pumpkin seeds/almonds/walnuts and sometimes strawberries and a tbsp of honey
Sliced banana and apple with wholegrain peanut butter 
Falafel (I go for the Cauldron brand) with humous, raw carrot, mixed peppers and a bowl of fresh soup - usually tomato and basil or mixed veg/lentil 
Wholegrain rice cakes with wholegrain peanut butter 
Mixed vegetable stir fry - broccoli, mange tout, red and yellow pepper, beansprouts, cashew nuts and brown rice 
A Nakd bar or handful of nuts and seeds 
At least three cups of decaf green tea, usually one peppermint tea and a litre of water.
It's not the perfect diet, but I'm a fussy eater and obviously vegetarian. I'm not going to pretend I haven't had the occasional bar of Galaxy or slice of pizza, because I have absolutely allowed myself an occasional treat. However, they are an exception to the rule and few and far between.

Supplements I'm taking:
Iron and Evening Primrose Oil upon waking 
Zinc with lunch  
Vitamin D, probiotic and fish oil around 5pm 
Zinc and Evening Primrose around 7pm. 
The reason they are split up like that is to maximise the absorption throughout the day. Have a read of this handy info graph on optimising vitamins and supplements.
How is the acne? It's been truly terrible. I'm not sure why, but the last few weeks have been the worst yet. I've been following the better diet since mid-February and I thought I was starting to see improvements. Then I ovulated mid-March and my face seemed to erupt. I've been sleeping well and now use pure Jojoba and Sweet Almond oil to cleanse my face, tone with a dilution of Apple Cider Vinegar and moisturise with my own blend of Rosehip oil and Jojoba oil with Geranium and Clary Sage essential oils, some nights opting for pure Rosehip as it really helps lessen inflamed areas overnight. I use Tea Tree oil and honey masks on stubborn patches.

I need to add that the acne is predominantly on my lower cheeks/jawline and temples. I don't have the kind of acne that breaks out in my T-zone and I don't think it's linked to the oils - I was using Liz Earle up until 2/3 months ago. Oils are actually hugely beneficial as skincare ingredients and I wish people weren't so afraid to try them. It's all about finding the correct one for your skin. They all have unique characteristics. For example, Jojoba oil (technically a wax ester) is very similar to human sebum and can help balance sebum production. It's a great option for acne prone skin. With all oils, a little goes a long way and you should only really need 3-6 drops (if using a dropper) to moisturise your entire face. It's also best to use your (clean!) fingertips to press oils onto the skin, rather than rubbing in.

I'm back to see Cath in 4 days and I'm not sure what the next step is. I've eliminated a lot of potential triggers - I'm now eliminating garlic and onions to see if that makes a difference. I truly believe my acne is hormonal and firmly rooted within my cycle/reproductive system. I've noticed I have long cycles, ranging from 36-41 days at the moment. I have a nagging feeling so I'm considering going to my GP to be referred for an ultrasound on my ovaries and also to ask if I can have my blood tested for hormone levels (that might prove difficult). Both my sisters have ovarian cysts and like I've said before, my mum has endometriosis, her sister had breast cancer and my nanna had cervical cancer - I'm showing no signs of either (ladies: get your smear test and check those puppies!), but my point is that there's a bunch of reproductive issues in my family history. I'm concerned something might not be quite right and that it could be contributing to the acne. I'm aware all acne is hormonal, but you get my jist I'm sure.

I've discussed the possibility of trying a supplement called diindolylmethane (DIM) with Cath. I don't fully understand the science behind DIM, but it works by helping the body get rid of "bad" estrogen (synthetic xenoestrogens found in plastics and artificial chemicals/materials and synthetic estrogens from the contraceptive pill, HRT, etc.). Bad estrogens can cause acne for a few reasons, one being that the body attempts to eliminate them, potentially through the skin. Another reason is that having excess bad estrogens in the body leads to estrogen dominance, which has a range of side effects, including acne. (Source)

I also mentioned that Cath recommended some tests to better pinpoint what's going on. The problem is, they're expensive and not funded by the NHS. I'm not in the best financial position currently, but it's a catch 22 because if I know what's contributing to the acne, I could get on top of it more effectively, instead of tearing my hair out trying to figure out the causative factor, going back and forth and spending money on appointments. I think I'll bring this up with her and see which one would overall be the best option and which ones I can do without.

I'm really disheartened and feeling very low because of my skin. My self-esteem is rock bottom and I can pinpoint how and where it's having a knock on effect in other parts of my life. I've had a few meltdowns over the past couple weeks and have felt like just giving up and reaching for the Yasmin. I know I won't do that because it's not worth it - I'll only be back here in a few years time, none the wiser as to what's causing the acne. I just feel desperate. I considered uploading a makeup free photo that I took a week ago of my cheeks, when it seemed to really flare up, but I can't bring myself to do so. It makes me feel really ashamed and embarrassed that my face looks like this. I'm so sick of it being on my mind 24/7 - everything I do day to day is dictated by my skin right now. I know that, in reality, it's not that bad, I've seen seriously worse cases, but I suppose it's all relative.

This post has been more of a vent than anything, sorry! I'm just so fed up of feeling disfigured - all I can think about is wedding photos. It's so very vain, I'm aware of that, but I think it's a reasonable anxiety to have.

If you've successfully improved your acne, I would love to know what did and didn't work for you. Feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions or feedback!



  1. Hi, I just wanted to say that you have a really lovely face! I know that you probably don't feel that way right now- but I follow you on Instagram, and I for one think that you're lovely, and sometimes you just need to hear it from someone that's a stranger. Granted- I haven't seen pictures of your acne, but I don't need to to know that you probably look better than I do right now! I know you were talking about your family's genetic reproductive issues and I can completely relate. My mum too has had cysts and eventually had to have a hysterectomy- as will I eventually (apparently). And I've had acne since I was about 10 I think, it started unusually young. I tried everything, creams, steriods, lotions and potions, daily steam rooms, oils, the lot. And I too, at a young age resorted to taking the pill. It didn't work, so I tried a different kind, and neither did that- so I pretty much gave up. Everyone told me to wear my hair back, stop wearing make up, stop eating chocolate. Everyone had an opinion, and it was pretty much torturous to have to walk around with break outs every day of the year. The one and only thing that stopped my spots, weirdly- was pregnancy. I had my little boy and prepared myself for the spots to come back with a vengeance. But they never did! I still get breakouts occasionally, like everyone- but the 'acne' finally relented. I'm sorry I'm not much help, and I'm not suggesting you should have a baby to clear up your skin, but hopefully one day something in your body will change and take the spots with it! I hope you feel better soon x

    1. Hi Alix. Thanks so much for leaving such a kind comment - it really is appreciated. That's pretty amazing that your skin changed after having your son! I'm pleased for you.
      I've come to the conclusion that, as the pill worked so well for me in controlling the acne for so many years, that the problem lies within my hormone levels and I need to find a natural way to balance these out, as diet alone isn't cutting it! Thanks again x

  2. Hi!
    So I stumbled upon your blog, and I just wanted to say that this post really spoke to me. I know exactly how you feel. I've been struggling with bad hormonal acne on my cheeks and jawline for 16 months now, and like you I've been trying so many different cures and haven't found one yet. Over the past year I've tried countless topical products, switched birth control, then got off birth control, started taking zinc picolinate, fish oil, niacin, probiotics and evening primrose oil pills, went vegan, started oil cleansing with rosehip seed oil, and recently started taking a DIM supplement (Estroblock) and a liver support supplement (SAT Thorne). I also feel like I'm at my whit's end, I was so desperately hoping that DIM would be my cure but I'm two months in and so far no results. My self esteem and self worth have plummeted because of my acne, so I feel your pain with this struggle :( I'm sorry for the long comment, I just felt such a connection to this post because I've been on the same journey almost exactly. I hope you (and I!) can find the solution and final cure for our acne. You are not alone in this fight. Thank you for sharing your experience, I wish you all the best and don't forget that your acne does not define you and you are beautiful inside and out. ❤️


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