I’ve got an embarrassing secret which if you’ve seen me face-to-face isn’t really much of a secret at all. I have adult acne. I am also a high raw vegan. I also have the cleanest diet and lifestyle of anyone I know. I do everything right. So what gives?
Acne is a psychological issue with a self-esteem-deflating trickle-down effect. If we can’t cover it up well, it may keep us from attending events, and if it’s bad enough, it will most certainly drop our confidence levels in work and personal life. Acne on someone who is supposed to be a model of health for others just plain isn’t fair. Supposedly, it is my body’s external sign that something isn’t right internally. But what’s wrong?
I’ve made every lifestyle change the experts recommend.
First, let’s examine some of the advice commonly given for healing acne naturally.
If you’re suffering from acne, one or more of these may actually work for you. And if they do, I’ll truly be happy for you – you’ll have no jealousy from me.
Avoid foods that create an acidic internal environment such as added sugar, processed foods, fried foods, coffee, alcohol, and, of course, animal products. Increase your intake of alkaline-promoting foods especially green leafy vegetables, and eat mainly whole foods. Clear skin is almost always listed as an added benefit when switching to a raw food diet. You can also try an elimination diet where you remove common food sensitivities like dairy, soy, and gluten. Check.
Follow proper food combining rules, including eating fruit alone on an empty stomach. Eat raw vegetables like celery before cooked meals. Wait a few hours in between meals to allow food to digest fully. Eat a low fat raw vegan diet to optimize digestion with fruit meals and minimal ingredients per meal. Drink plenty of water but not during meals so you don’t dilute your digestive enzymes. Check.
Get moving regularly to promote healthy circulation and increase blood flow, helping to flush toxins. Bikram yoga is supposed to be especially good for this. Check.
There are two different camps on this one. An ideal held in the uber-natural, raw foods community is to stop washing your face completely and it will balance out. I tried this for a few weeks, and the only thing it got me was stressed because I couldn’t wear cover up. I spent my work time hiding in my office, and a social life or public speaking was out of the question.
The more traditional camp says to wash your face twice a day, use toner to balance skin pH, apply moisturizer to avoid the overproduction of sebum, and use a gentle exfoliant regularly to unclog pores. Over my long history of acne, I have tried dozens of products ranging from doctor-prescribed medications to recipes I created from ingredients in my kitchen. I use commercial products, but make sure they hold to my high standards (no parabens, phthalates, etc.) – Ecobella and Aubrey Organics are two of my regular brands. Check.
(Update 11.16.13: Here is my current skincare routine that has freed me from purchasing products but still allows me to cover up any pimples. It hasn’t single-handedly cured my acne, but my skin sure feels nice.)
For those of you who haven’t mastered these first four steps, read this ebook for a nice holistic overview of the basic causes of acne, especially diet. It’s written by Fran from High on Health, one of my go-to people for real-world acne advice. Check out her YouTube channel for some more great info.
I wish I could give you a magic bullet, but the truth is that I’ve been battling with this for 15+ years, and I don’t have clear skin yet. If you, like I, are an A+ student when it comes to the above four categories, why do you still have acne when the person next to you stuffing their face with a cheeseburger has glowing skin?
Well, first of all, both you and I need to learn to let that envy go. Everyone is different, and the “cures” that work for some may not work for others. It will help both of us to view our breakouts as a helpful suggestion from our bodies to look into things because something isn’t right.
Here’s a short list of what could be the real problem:
My acne is along my jawline, typical for hormonal acne. I’m working with a holistic doctor to get to the bottom of this. (Update: read about how working to balance my hormones has started to heal my acne.)
Zinc and vitamin D are two concerns. Diet tweaks and supplementation based on blood work results is my probable course of action.
I, like many people, have too many balls in the air. Stress never goes away, but better stress management will help.
I’ll keep you posted on how this goes. If you have skin problems, I want to hear from you. Please leave your comments below.
My Other Acne-Related Articles:
- Acne and Hormones – Getting to the Bottom of It (to find out what my bloodwork showed plus the dreaded before and after pictures!)
- The Oil Cleansing Method: Skincare for Acne and Beyond
- 5 Lifestyle Changes that Healed My Embarrassing Adult Acne (this is the latest update!)