My Acne Story

My journey with acne started at a young age. I was in middle school when I started to break out. I remembered seeing my older sister do the same, but worse and was really stressed about the fate of my skin. I had zero knowledge of how diet, stress, sleep, or my gut could impact my skin, so as it got worse I did what most normal people do and went to a dermatologist (I have two sisters and we all have acne prone skin and went to the dermatologist at a very young age).

At the dermatologist, I was given prescription topical creams and gels that burned my skin and caused it to be super dry. My skin was often peeling and made me so self conscious. It was sensitive to the sun so I had to be careful when I went outside. It was an all around nightmare. Especially when you’re 14 and are already self conscious. The funny thing is, they never gave me something specific to cleanse my face with. The focus was always on what I was putting on my skin after I washed it. I used cleansers from CVS with the little bead-lets inside and of course Cetaphil.  I never used a toner. It was never even brought up. The dermatologist was not concerned that my skin was dry. I want to shake my younger self now because I know that I just needed to get off those toxic products and nourish my skin.


Antibiotics & Birth Control

When the prescription creams and gels weren’t enough, I was recommended the birth control pill, which I was already secretly taking, along with antibiotics. I was put on Tetracycline as my antibiotic and I took it everyday for 2 years. I wish I didn’t, since even a low dose of antibiotic has been shown to disrupt the gut bacteria, but I didn’t know any better. I trusted my dermatologist. I also didn’t know about the connection between gut health and skin health.

Honestly, I took both birth control and tetracycline so long and still struggled with my skin so I don’t even know if they worked.  All I know is that I was causing serious damage to my intestinal lining by taking prescription medications, stressing and focusing so much on my skin, and disrupting my gut bacteria.


Lifestyle Transition & Getting off the Pill 

When I met my husband I was introduced to Crossfit and Paleo (I was in school to become a Dietitian) and became obsessed. I completely transitioned my life from crazy, obsessive eating and exercising to doing fun fitness and eating real food. I still had my issues with food (it took me a long time to learn how to eat intuitively), but I truly became a new person. I was eating so well, making all my food from scratch, but still taking the birth control pill and using harmful skincare products.

Birth control is complicated for women. I didn’t know many other options, but I knew I wasn’t ready to get pregnant. After a lot of research, I decided to get off the pill and get a copper IUD. I wanted to get the synthetic hormones out of my body and give my gut a break from prescription medications. I knew it was going to be a difficult transition with my skin. At this point, I had very little acne and only broke out a few times a month and was hopeful that I would be okay, but terrified at what could result. I didn’t know anything about detoxification or how to support my body so after I got my IUD, I just stopped taking the pill. I ate really well, but didn’t do anything in particular to heal my gut. If I had the knowledge I have now, I would have followed these steps I outlined on this topic in a Facebook live.


Experimenting with Natural Skincare Products

As you could have guessed, my skin freaked out for about 6-8 months. It took about 2 months for the acne to really show up after stopping the pill and it stuck around for about 6 months. This is when I started looking at the products I was putting on my skin. I threw out the toxic crap that had ingredients that I couldn’t pronounce and started the oil cleansing method.

Why oil cleansing? As my acne got worse, my obsession with learning everything I could about healing my skin naturally grew. I learned that your skin has it’s own environment. It has bacteria on top and even it’s own pH level. I discovered that most conventional and prescription skincare products completely disrupt and work against your skin. Once I understood how the skin operates I realized that trying oil cleansing to get rid of my acne made the most sense. At the time I had a combination of dry, oily, acne prone skin so I combined jojoba and castor oil. I went on to learn that there are an endless number of oils you can use and even experimented with adding in essential oils, which has been really helpful. (If you’re looking for a great place to start with oil cleansing, I highly recommend checking out Primally Pure)

Oil cleansing worked. It took time for my skin to adjust, but not more than a couple weeks. It definitely didn’t make my acne worse, which was my main concern. I also started using Manuka honey, which was truly a game changer for me. I believe that using the honey as spot treatments and doing 3 masks a week with it is the reason I don’t have as bad of acne scars. It truly is what helped my skin heal. I still use Manuka honey and recommend it to anyone with skin issues.





Natural Detoxification 

As you can see, I’m a bit of a slow learner, which I’m okay with. Even though I was very conscious of what I was putting in my mouth food-wise and was super educated on natural skincare, I was still using conventional make up. As I began my career as a Registered Dietitian, I started learning about natural detoxification methods and functional nutrition. As usual, a lightbulb went off in my head and I became obsessed with learning everything I could. All of a sudden, it all made sense. My gut was in shambles because of the birth control pill, antibiotics, conventional personal care products, stress, and life in general.

I began putting the pieces together and working on my gut health by incorporating bone broth, collagen, probiotics, and fermented foods. I also ate a Paleo diet, which was very helpful for healing my intestinal lining. This wasn’t enough though. As I learned more about natural detoxification and what makes us toxic, I realized I had a lot of detoxifying to catch up on. I started including more cruciferous vegetables, broccoli sprouts, and incorporating naturally supportive detox supplements. This helped get rid of excess toxins, balance my hormones, and improve my skin.


Safer Beauty Products & A Non Toxic Life

Finally, I switched over my make up products and all personal care products like deodorant, shampoo/conditioner, soap, body lotion, you name it, it’s been switched over. The important thing to note is that I did not do this over night. This all started when I first got off the birth control pill at age 21, and continues to be a work in progress even today (currently almost 28). It took me a long time to find long term, non toxic solutions for each area of my life. That’s why I recommend taking a non toxic lifestyle slowly. Every area you detoxify is a reduction in your overall toxic load. This means by just changing one thing, you’re reducing the amount of toxins in your body for the long term. No need to rush!

I’ve experimented with a lot of different safer make up options from brands like 100% pure, primal life organics, honey girl organics, Beautycounter, and even some DIY. Beautycounter was the true game changer for me. I finally found make up products that worked, were tested, and a company that had a bigger meaning. Not only does Beautycounter have an intentional screening process for what they use in their products, but they test every batch of products. I think my favorite thing about the company is how transparent they are. They don’t hide anything. If a batch of product comes back with a less than perfect test, they recall all products from it, refund customers, and figure out why it went wrong and how they can do better.

I also appreciate that they are a B corporation, which means that a brand has to meet high standards for social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. It’s a big deal to get this status. They also work really hard on a political level to make change in how our cosmetic products are (or aren’t) regulated. This is near and dear to my heart since detoxification is a major focus of mine. I see how many products women use on their skin each day and work to educate them, but also want our products to be better and more regulated in general.

Switching over my make up products not only helped reduce my toxic load, but it also improved my skin. My favorite foundation contains an ingredient called hyaluronic acid, which helps keep just the right amount of moisture in your skin. When I started using this, I found that it made my skin feel amazing. I was used to foundations and concealers drying out my skin or making them really oily.

I then dove into switching over pretty much everything in my home. I started making my own cleaning products, face masks, and even got plants, salt lamps, and diffusers to detoxify my home environment as well. I still have a lot to continue detoxing in my home, there’s always small ways I could do better, but making all of these changes as made a huge improvement not only in my skin, but my overall health. You can get my top 10 tips to detoxify your home here.


Where My Skin Is Now

I don’t have perfect skin, that’s for sure, but my skin is more consistent now. I get your typical pimples before I get my period as my hormones are increasing, but I rarely get random breakouts. I know what sets my skin off now. I know what foods my skin likes and doesn’t like. I have found a routine that works and I make adjustments as needed (weather and moving has really changed the products I use).

Here’s what I’ve learned triggers acne for me:

  • Not getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep. One night of no sleep and I typically wake up with at least one pimple.
  • Eating too much dairy. I can handle small amounts of dairy, but as soon as I start eating it consistently, I get cystic acne and dark circles under my eyes. It’s tragic.
  • Excessive sugar & alcohol. If I eat too many treats or drink alcohol too frequently I will also notice smaller pimples begin appearing. And of course, dry skin since they are both dehydrating.
  • Dehydration. If I’m slacking and not paying attention to how much water I’m drinking (it’s easy to get busy and not drink enough), then my skin will begin to appear dry and be much more prone to breakouts.
  • Excessive stress. Whether I’m traveling, have a huge project/deadline, or I’m just not taking care of myself, it will show up on my skin. I know what I need to do to restore my energy and if I do this consistently it really helps.
  • Inconsistency with my skincare routine. If I skip washing my face one morning and let my skin dry out too many day in a row, I can see the impact on my skin. This is why I keep my routine simple so that it is sustainable.
  • Not enough cruciferous veggies. If I’m traveling and can’t eat like I’m used to and get in enough cruciferous veggies I definitely notice this in my skin. Your body requires certain nutrients for cell regeneration and you get a lot of those from vegetables.

How did I learn this? Experimentation and consistency. I’ve experimented a lot with elimination diets and adding in foods to see how my skin reacted. I also pay attention to my skin at different times of my cycle and make note of how my skin is reacting when I travel. I think living an intuitive life helps a lot and encourage you to experiment with different foods, using more natural products, but also listening to your intuition and what your body really needs.


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