Thursday, 29 August 2013

If I can beat adult acne, so can you. Here's how:

Growing up, my skin was always soft and clear, and like my size 28 waist, it's one of those things I wish I had appreciated more at the time.

I was lucky. In High School, I could pile on the makeup, go out drinking all night, work up at sweat from dancing my heart out, eat McDonald's on my way home in a cab, pass out on my friends couch as-is, and wake up in the morning with not even the hint of a blemish.

If only life was still that easy.

After my 25th birthday, I noticed a lot about myself that started to change. It became harder for me to lose weight. I didn’t go out drinking all night or eat McDonald’s that often, but when I did, there is no way I felt good the next day.  

And my face started to break out - badly.

I am not exaggerating when I say it was awful. It got to the point where I didn't want to leave my house. I explained this to my friend one night when she wanted to meet up for a beer and I wasn't feeling confident enough to leave the house. She reassured me it would be OK if I did.

"I'm sure it’s not that bad, Lisa. Besides, it’s just me! Lets catch up, it has been too long."

I was doubtful, but wanted to stay optimistic. Besides, it was getting depressing staying indoors all the time, so I headed out to meet up with her.

This is one of those moments that I don't think I'll ever forget.

I still remember what restaurant I met her at (Original Joe's in Marda Loop), what table we sat at (a small two-person table against the font window) and what I was wearing (a black hoodie, jeans, and my Blue Jays ball cap). But it was the look of shock and pity that washed over my friend’s face as I sat down that rings most true to my mind.

"See," I said, "I told you it was bad."

"It''s not that bad...I've just never seen you with even one pimple"

"It's OK Charlotte, I know it’s bad."

My friend is lovely. She is very sweet and nice, and I know she would never want to hurt my feelings.

Still to this day, I appreciate her honesty.

My face really was awful.

I was so embarrassed.

Adult acne stressed me out, big time.

I never really had a zit before, so I didn't even know what to do with them! To pick or not to pick? Aren’t I supposed dab toothpaste all over my face every night something? How am I supposed to wear my makeup?

And oh the face hurt so much. These were deep welts under my skin, mainly around my chin and jaw line. I could hardly smile without grimacing in pain.

In a desperate attempt to fix this immediately, and because I didn't really know of any other option, I bought Proactive. Hallelujah, my face cleared up! ...For a while.

After using Proactive for almost two years straight (and bleaching half of my towels, staining my sheets and pillow cases, and burning off who knows how many layers of skin) I thought I would be ok to stop using Proactive all the time. But I wasn’t.

When I stopped using Proactive and tried something new, my skin would break out horrendously again, within a matter of days. WTF! So now my skin was dependent on this bleach-filled stuff? How was I ever going to get rid of it? What was going on with my face? Will I have use Proactive for the rest of my life?

I was stumped. So I kept using it.

Fast-track to three years later, I decided that I was going to get my skin problems under control for once and for all.

I saw my family physician and he referred me to dermatologist. The dermatologist told me I had to go on Accutane. She said it was the only thing that would cure my acne.

Accutane? Isn't that supposed to be some chemical that eats your body from the inside out?

Side effects of this drug include dry flaky skin, joint pain, depression, nosebleeds, sores and ulcers in the mouth, increased sensitivity to sunlight, trouble sleeping…and that’s just to name a few.

That’s not to say nobody should ever go on this drug, I’ve heard it works great for some people, I just didn’t know if it was for me.

I didn't like the sounds of it. It gave me anxiety just thinking about taking this stuff, but I felt I had no other choice.

Finally, at the last hour, I decided against it and opted for some temporary medical relief by taking anti-biotics instead. I took them for a month. They helped a bit, but I was still breaking out. 

At this point in my life, I decided that I was going change my approach and try to manage my acne on my own.

That was about a year ago now, and since then, I've done a lot of my own research and tried a lot of different things.

Miraculously, I’ve been able to maintain clear skin, for the most part, over the past year.

This is what I do, and I hope helps you too, to manage adult acne:

Watch for behaviours and patterns that make you break out

Unfortunately, I noticed that a lot of my breakouts would happen after having some red wine. One glass or four, it never failed: A new pimple would surface. So, no more red wine for me. OK maybe one, on special occasions, but otherwise I stick to white or none at all.

Maybe your trigger is sugar or gluten -  everyone is different, but in order to know, you have to consciously track what you are putting in your body and notice if you get new pimples or if the ones you have are getting worse after eating or drinking certain things.

This takes some time and patience, because you have to stick to monitoring how you react to one product at a time.

Always try to eat organic food that either come from the ground or has a mother. For example, cheese puffs are a no-go. But eggs come from a chicken and spinach comes from the ground, so they are ok to eat…do you get where I’m going with this?

And as always, drink a lot of water and get enough sleep! These are key to having not only good skin, but great health overall. 

I've also quit eating sugar (for other reasons), but I’ve noticed a difference in my skin since I cut back on my sugar intake, too.

Less is more

Remember that Full House episode where Aunt Becky teaches DJ how to put on makeup? Just in case you don’t, this is the moral of the story:

"The trick to wearing makeup is to make it look like you aren't wearing any at all."

It’s true!

I only wear powder now. It's a lose powder that I bought a couple of shades darker and wear it as bronzing powder. I brush it across my cheeks and my t-zone area.

Find something light that works for you. You still want to feel confident, but don't wear it all: concealer, foundation, powder, bronzer and blush. It's too much. It doesn't let your skin breath and it’s hard to wash it all off every day.

Try to save makeup for special occasions only. On a day-to-day basis, wear minimal makeup. As a touch up throughout the day, I'll blot my skin with Clean and Clear Oil Absorbing Sheets - I can’t live without these things. They leave you looking fresh without having to add on any additional layers of makeup to your skin.

I think you'll notice that once you start to wear less makeup, not only will the quality of your skin improve, but you'll really start to enjoy your new routine.

Always use fresh, clean face clothes

In addition to having a healthy skin routine (washing your face every morning and every night) replace the towels that you wash and dry your face with every night, or at least every other night. I used to replace mine once a week, but now I switch them out at least every other night. Since I started doing this, I have noticed that I break out less.

Make your own skin cleansing products

The most effective over-the-counter skin cleansers that you can buy for acne is Clearasil. It's available at most pharmacies. But this still isn't the best for your skin. It’s full of chemicals, and it can be a bit expensive. With a little bit of effort, you can make your very own, effective, skin cleansing products at home.

This is what I do:

Simply mix a cup and a half of coconut oil and with a cup of baking soda in a jar. Every night, I smooth some across my dry face - you don’t need to wet your face before putting this on. I let it sit for a couple of minutes as I floss and brush my teeth, and then rinse it off. It works as a face scrub and a moisturizer.

After washing it off and patting your face dry, it may feel like there is still some product on your face. Don’t worry: it’s the coconut oil soaking in.

My home-made face cleanser

I then apply some skin toner with a cotton ball. This is simply a mixture of half apple cider vinegar and half water.

The smell goes away quickly, and it leaves you feeling fresh and clean. This helps to remove any access dirt left on your face.

Trust me when I say the next morning, you skin will feel baby-smooth.

Practice hot yoga

Wash your face prior to and sweat it out at hot yoga. Hot yoga will leave you feeling cleansed from the inside out - sweating is so good for your skin. I try to do hot yoga at least twice a week.
Not only does it help you get in shape and de-stress, but it also detoxifies your skin.

Again, this is what worked for me. I found the coconut oil, baking soda, and apple cider vinegar combination to be the best way to care for my skin. I’ve shared it with a couple of my friends and they all love it.

I hope you have found this helpful, and best of luck!

Thanks for reading,