Me and my skin

Acne. A party no one wants an invite to. But, thanks to the stress of moving and hormonal factors, my face erupted into a full-scale rave shortly I returned home from travelling in summer 2016. It got to a point that my face was sore from the cists, plus I was embarrassed to be seen in public, so I dutifully went to see my GP. I don’t want to say he was unhelpful, but he didn’t seem keen to discuss any of the lifestyle factors that I had researched online. I suppose GP deal with facts, not wanting to encourage anything that hasn’t been clinically proven. So he sent me on my way with a prescription for benzoyl peroxide. It came with a warning that it might sting at first and not to put in on before bed, as it might bleach my pillow case. This cream had the power to bleach fabric, and I was meant to be putting it all over my face. Erm, well, thanks, but, no.

I decided to follow the holistic route, but to take it with a pinch of salt and not be disappointed when traditional remedies didn’t live up to their promises. Here’s what I learnt in the months that followed:

Coconut oil cleansing is messy work and makes your towels smell like coconut all the time. Damp coconuts. No.

Maca tastes delicious, but I can’t tolerate it raw, and it wasn’t the wonder ingredient for skin (although it did have a noticeable effect on my mood).

Lots of lotions and potions didn’t deliver. I stripped back my skin care regime to just a very simple, sensitive skin face wash. No serums, no moisturizers, no toner, no cleansers, just warm water and face wash. And I stopped using flannels, using just my clean hands.

Exercise helped, but I had to be meticulous about washing my face ASAP.

I would have my good days and my bad days, but there didn’t seem to be a hope that my face would ever clear up completely. In all the articles I read about acne and skincare, two themes kept cropping up time and time again, but I would always turn a blind eye, pretending it wasn’t true. One was dairy. The other was sugar. It would mean a major shake up to my normal diet, but looking in the mirror at my red crater face made me determined to give anything a go.

The dairy wasn’t too much of a concern, I was never a cheese fiend in the first place. I now use almond milk for my oats and porridge. I have a cheesy pizza once a week and on occassion, I will have a couple of spoonfuls of Greek yogurt or sour cream or normal cream. These changes are not really a sacrifice.

Sugar, on the other hand, was going to be a harder habit to break. I’ve always thought I had a rampant sweet tooth and that would always be the case. It wasn’t all crappy sweets, but I used to eat a lot more flavoured yogurt, granola, honey, both dark and milk chocolate and fro-yo. By being incredibly aware of my sugar intake, I have helped my skin immeasurably. This is the one thing that has changed my face from lumpy to lovely, as you can see:

 

Left = Before. Right = After.

Now, I have one teaspoon of my chosen sweetener in my breakfast (normal either organic honey or pure maple syrup). I have a sweet treat in the afternoon at work, either a home made flapjack or a date-based bar, or possibly a couple of pieces of chocolate. I haven’t had to give up chocolate completely to get my face back on track, but I have a lot less, whether it’s dark or milk or anything. I have fruit, but not an excessive amount, and I rarely have sugary drinks. I think twice before ordering a latte with syrup in. If I’m out with a friend and it’s a treat, then I will enjoy it to the full. But I don’t have one everyday.

You don’t need much pure maple syrup for a great bowl of porridge!

When I went on holiday recently, I left with a clear face. By the time I got back, after enjoying French cheese and Belgian chocolates, I was definitely looking more than a bit patchy. That’s how I know it’s the dairy and the sugar that directly affect my skin. It might not be the case for your skin, we’re all so different. But if you are struggling with painful spots, I would highly recommend that you cut down on both for at least a couple of weeks and see where you end up. It took a good five months before I saw real change with my skin, and at least two months of being low-sugar. I still get a large spot every now and then, but they are smaller and nowhere near as sore. I don’t crave sweets and chocolate in the same way anymore, but I do look forward to my 4pm treat.

I’m very comfortable with keeping my diet this way as long as it continues to be beneficial. Do you have a top tip for good skin? Do you eat anything in particular to help? I would love to hear all about in the comments section below, or come and find me on Instagram.

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11 thoughts on “Me and my skin

  1. Pingback: 10 Tips for a Be Brave Day | Boo Wholefoods

  2. I do have something coming up this week that may help you topically, although you mentioned trying to avoid coconut oil. But it is an easy, all natural skincare regimen you can create at home that I have been using for 10-years. Everyone who uses it; including men and women of all ages with or without acne, love and swear by it, which is why I am introducing it in a post. I so sympathize with your frustration. Too often acne is triggered by environment, diet, and hormonal fluctuation that prescribe astringents seem to only inflame the situation further. The fact that from a dietary standpoint you have identified dairy as the trigger, is half the battle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your lovely comment. I’d be interested to read your upcoming post 😊 Low sugar and low dairy have definitely been helpful to my skin, it’s a way of life now.

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      • Admittedly, I am a dairy hound. Fortunately, I don’t have issues with it, although processes sugar is something I have successfully eliminated from my diet and I sleep better now for having done so.

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  3. Dairy, wheat, sugar, and alcohol are big no-no’s for me if I want to keep my skin clear! Ever since I had my second child 6 months ago my body is so much more sensitive and I have to be extra careful what I put in it, rather than on it (my face). I use a scrub of coconut oil and baking soda that I love, a toner of witch hazel and rose geranium essential oil, and a homemade balm of organic beeswax, coconut oil, and lavender EO. if I stray from this my skin goes crazy! I very rarely wear any makeup anymore, and actually feel more self-conscious when I do….go figure….
    I think you look lovely!

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    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences on this matter. That’s really interesting that your skin after having children, hormones eh? I know what you mean about make up, I barely wear any. Aww, thank you!

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      • Yeah everything has changed! With my daughter, nothing, but my son…..everything! My wheat sensitivity popped up after having him as well. It’s actually made me much healthier so I can’t complain too much!

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  4. I inherited my terrible acne-prone skin from my Dad. It was terrible during my teens – I wish I’d known more about alternative treatments then. I put every horrible cream on it that the Dr gave me. Then I tried long-term antibiotics and actually they really did work for the spots, but I think they destroyed my immune system and then I came down with a chronic disease (so I wish I’d never taken them!) I even considered Roaccutane at one point, but the side effects terrified me.

    I’m wheat and gluten free thanks to my chronic health condition and maybe that helps my skin, as has ageing! I’m in my mid-thirties now and I generally don’t get outbreaks very often, but I do still have horribly greasy skin. I’d really recommend Lush’s Coalface soap and I also swear by the topical application of teatree oil if I get a spot. As a teen, I also had great success with The Bodyshop’s tea tree range.

    I’ll be really interested to read some more of your blog and try some of your food based ideas. Good luck with everything 🙂

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    • Thank you so much for taking the time to write this comment. I’m so sorry you had such issues with your skin, but I’m glad it’s much better now. Thank you for your recommendations, I’m having success with a simple face wash from Avon at the moment, it seems to be doing the trick 😊 I hope you enjoy my posts!

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