I have never had great skin. Ever since I hit puberty, my face, chest, and back looked like I lost a fight with a bee hive. I did my best to hide it. I bought acne-friendly cosmetics, learned the best tricks for concealer, even tried tanning to even out my complexion. I went to the dermatologist more times than I can count. I have tried different dosages of birth control and just about every prescription topical cream there is. Despite all of my efforts, none of it ever really worked. My skin would kind of clear up, and then get worse a week later. My dermatologist suggested that I tried Accutane, but after reading the side effects and the giant “YOU MUST NOT GET PREGNANT OR YOUR BABY WILL GROW THREE HEADS” warning, I decided to give up and live with my acne. I figured that it would just clear up as I got older. It kind of did, but I still broke out every time I got my monthly visitor.
When I first became pregnant, my new baby decided to make her presence known. With cystic acne. All over my face. I had it on my chin, around my mouth, on my forehead, and one of my cheeks. Luckily, I didn’t end up with deep pock marks all over my face. I did, however, get one scar on my cheek. A daily reminder of the painful cyst that throbbed whenever I bent down slightly. Towards the end of my first trimester, I caught a reprieve. My skin looked freaking fantastic. I had a glow. My face was smooth and beautiful. Even better? It stayed that way after I had Endsley… Until I had my first post-partum period. After that period, my skin reverted back to it’s pubescent state. My entire face was covered, and I was even blessed with cystic acne again. I thought I was pregnant. I took test after test until I realized that this was just my body reacting to the influx of hormones that come with Aunt Flo.
Part of me wanted to go back to my dermatologist and try something new. I was desperate enough to want to try Accutane. There was just one problem with that plan, I was still breastfeeding. It’s not like I could magically wean my 16 month old daughter just because I wanted to get rid of my acne. Believe me, I considered it, but then I decided to try some natural acne remedies first.
The first thing I started to do was drink more water. I SUCK at hydrating. Seriously. I don’t even know how I make milk, I almost never remember to drink anything during the day. So I downloaded the app “Hydrate Me” (for free) that sends me annoying updates throughout the day, urging me to drink water so that I don’t shrivel up and die. I also started to cut back on greasy junk foods, and supplemented my diet with fruits and veggies when I was feeling peckish. Another game changer? I added coconut oil into my food pyramid. For whatever reason, I had gone back to my old ways of using butter and olive oil to cook my foods. Not anymore, I told myself, as I grabbed the jar of coconut oil from my daughter’s room and placed it triumphantly back in the kitchen. I’ve always heard that what you put inside your body, reflects on the outside. I put good, clean, healthy foods in my belly and maybe my skin gets the memo and stops freaking out.
Okay, diet changed, healthy habits in progress, now what? Well, I got rid of every beauty product, shampoo, body wash, and conditioner in my bathroom that wasn’t natural. Anything that had parabens, sulfates, phthalates, sodium laureth sulfate, DMDM, TEA, etc., was thrown away. At the time, this wasn’t at all related to my quest for clear skin. This was just coincidental, but looking back, I am pretty sure it played a big role. My bathroom looked pretty sparse. I replaced all of these things with wonderful products like Nature’s Gate shampoo, Dr. Bronner’s soap, and A Wild Soap Bar. I also purchased all natural Witch Hazel to use a toner and made a stronger “on the spot” toner out of aspirin and 70% rubbing alcohol.
So here is what I do daily, and how I actually got rid of my awful cystic acne:
Every morning I wash my face with warm water and my Mesquite Bean Wild Soap Bar. This soap has organic castor oil, organic coconut oil, calcium bentonite clay, and mesquite bean meal. Mesquite bean and bentonite clay are fantastic for acne, both of them have natural antibacterial properties, while the clay opens and cleans your pores, drawing out grease from your face. A Wild Soap Bar also has a new Black Willow Bark soap specifically for acne. I haven’t tried it yet, but I will definitely be picking up a bar at the store next time I go out.
After gently drying off, I pour witch hazel onto a cotton pad and wipe it across my face, grabbing any excess dirt and grease. More often than not, my cotton pad turns a grey-ish color (ew), a sure sign that I still have dirt in my pores. Next, I grab my trusty aspirin/alcohol mix. Now, rubbing alcohol will definitely dry your skin out. I wouldn’t recommend using this across your face like I do with the Witch Hazel. This mix is to be used only on your problem areas. Pour a bit on a cotton pad and gently sweep across problem areas. Sometimes I soak a cotton pad and pop it into the freezer for a bit, then press it against my face and leave it there for a minute or two. I then allow my face to air dry. (Tip: you can also dissolve an aspirin tablet with a few drops of water, and put the paste directly on a pimple for a few minutes).
Around the middle of the day, I use my Witch Hazel to wipe my face clean, and apply my aspirin/alcohol mix again. At night, I go through my entire morning routine, except I sometimes alternate my Mesquite Bean soap with Dr. Bronner’s tea tree soap. If I have a particularly bad pimple, I dab a little diluted Tea Tree oil on the spot at the end of my routine. It stings just a bit, but it works well.
It has been approximately 4 weeks since I started my diet changes and facial care routine. These results were by no means instantaneous. I had some days where I saw improvement and other days were my face physically hurt from my acne. Now, however, I am almost completely acne free. I no longer have any cystic acne, just a few blackheads that pop up here and there. Along with the junk food I was eating, I truly believe that the commercial beauty products I was using were reeking havoc on my skin. Since I’ve stopped using them and started using natural, organic products, my skin has been less prone to crazy acne flares.
Everyone’s skin is different, but if you haven’t tried these methods, I would definitely give them a shot!
Aspirin/Alcohol On The Spot Toner:
8 oz rubbing alcohol (I use 70% strength)
4 Excedrin tables or 4 regular aspirin
I throw everything into a little glass bottle I have and shake it, then let it sit for an hour, and shake it again until
all of the tablets have dissolved. I like using Excedrin because it also has caffeine in it, which helps reduce inflammation.