Becoming a teenager marked the beginning of my decades-long battle with acne. I was 13 when I felt a line of bumps on my right cheek. As the years went on, my acne got progressively worse. It took the next 20 years for me to figure out what my skin was trying to tell me. I was stressed out. I was angry with the way my life had gone and how horrid my childhood had been compared to that of my friends. Even as an adult, and in spite of the fact that I was doing well in life and that many people admired me, I was still angry that I had acne on top of everything else I had suffered.
In my late 20s, I met my soulmate and future husband. He was really good looking, and the fact that he fell for me should have been enough to boost my confidence. It didn’t. He worried that I was so stressed out all the time. Stress had become more of a habit than anything else. About six months after we got married, I had a severe case of cystic acne. It was difficult finding a patch of clear skin anywhere on my face. My already low self-esteem took a further dive. I refused to go out and show my face to the world. Antibiotics and medicated ointments made my acne only a little better. A short while later, I got pregnant and was too busy over next 3-4 years taking care of my precious little boy to be overly concerned with my skin.
In my early 30s, however, with the acne still refusing to leave me, I decided to visit a reputed skin clinic in the hope that they would be able to help me. I should have left when the dermatologist tried to give me Accutane without warning me what it was. However, I stuck around, hoping that she might know something the other eight dermatologists I had seen didn’t. Six months into the treatment when my acne got worse instead of better, I decided to stop all medical treatments for my acne. I was going to get rid of my acne whatever it took, but it was clear that conventional dermatological treatments like Accutane weren’t the answer.
Knowing that the health of my skin was now in my own hands, I took to the internet to do some research. Having been told by all dermatologists that diet had nothing to do with acne, I was pretty surprised to learn that many people had got good results from modifying their diet. Armed with this knowledge, I started by cutting out sugar. Thinking that it would take a few tries while I eliminated other foods, I was prepared for it to take me 3-4 months to clear my skin. Imagine my surprise when within two weeks my acne cleared up. After 20 years of fighting acne with so many treatments, my skin was finally clear.
That success encouraged me to make further changes to my lifestyle. Here are the three main ways I beat my lifelong acne:
1. I cleared out my diet.
Feeling inspired, I soon started adding more fruits and vegetables to my diet. Gradually, all the packaged foods started disappearing from our house. I even stopped buying bread and started making chapatis (Indian flatbread), which are made out of whole wheat flour. Not only was my acne healing, but my skin started glowing. The constant redness in my face soon disappeared as the inflammation in my body decreased.
2. I detoxed my skincare routine.
My old skincare routine was filled with harsh ointments and face washes. They were not doing much for my skin even though I once thought they were the only thing that would keep my acne at bay. Somehow, I had been convinced that dry, red skin was much better than skin with acne. One day, I just stopped washing my face with soap. All I did was rinse it with water. I also applied a layer of honey on my face. The way my skin looked after just one application was much better than it had looked after peels or laser treatments. Soon, I even ditched the face wash and moisturizer and started using oil instead. My skin has never looked better.
3. I distanced myself from the toxic people in my life.
Even though my stress was much less, I still got pretty stressed out from time to time. I decided that even this amount of stress was not worth it and soon worked at becoming pretty calm about most things. I let go of the toxic family relationships from my past. In India, family ties are a bit more complicated, and family cannot be completely avoided however bad they are, but with my husband’s help, I figured out ways of dealing with them. Just because they are troubled and want to hurt others does not mean they are allowed to hurt me. This may seem simple for me to write down, but it took me years to figure out.
After the anger and stress disappeared, my skin improved further. Today I feel light and healthy. My acne flares up when I let my diet slip a lot, but my skin generally looks far better than it did when I began my clear skin journey.
Have you tried clearing out your life to clear your skin?
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