Looking to clear your skin? Take a look at your diet with these tips!
I’ve been fortunate enough to have had (relatively) clear skin my whole life. In high school, a bratty pimple would make an appearance here and there, but I never had full fledged acne -until a year and a half ago. Y’all…it was bad. For the first time I had pimples popping up nearly every day and they seemed to become larger and more painful as the months went on. They felt different than the odd pimple I got in high school. They felt like icebergs …with the majority of the pain and pressure underneath my skin. They became more and more inflamed over time and strangely enough, they only formed under my cheekbones. They got so bad that it hurt to sleep on my side with my cheeks against my pillow – so I had to sleep on my back. Now I know what you’re thinking…I didn’t see any acne in your photos, and you’re right! Full coverage makeup, great lighting and a little photo editing works wonders! Before I begin, I want to warm you these photos are extremely raw. I honestly debated back and forth between sharing these photos but I want you to know what real cystic acne looks and feels like. It makes my stomach hurt to look at these photos, but they’re a reminder I got through this tough period in my life…and so can you! Keep reading to find out the one thing I eliminated from my diet to completely clear my skin.
My Journey With Cystic Acne
My story begins last January. Thank goodness my selfies have dates on them in my cellphone! I didn’t know I’d be sharing these photos with y’all so the majority are taken with my iPhone so the quality isn’t the best. I wish I would have taken all with my DSLR camera!
January 20, 2017
Flashback to January 20, 2017. My cystic acne was the worst it’s ever been and my face hurt constantly, but it wasn’t just my face that was acting up. My stomach has always been tender to the touch, but it was more sensitive than usual and my sinuses were also angry. I suddenly noticed my whole body started swelling even my fingers and toes. I just figured I was gaining weight, but after trying nearly everything (changing my entire skincare routine, wearing no makeup, changing my laundry detergent, drinking more water etc.) I got my eyebrows micro-bladed. If you’ve been following me for a while you’ll remember I wrote a re-cap on my experience here. The photo on the left above shows the texture of my skin at its worst.
It was then I met Marina at Magda’s Skin Care Clinic, (my skin’s fairy Godmother) and she noticed the skin between my eyebrows was inflamed. Marina also performs facials, so her knowledge of skin is next level. I remember her saying typically people who have inflammation in that area have either a dairy or gluten intolerance and/or allergy. She suggested I cut out dairy (which was usually the culprit) for a week and see if it made a difference. If that didn’t work, she told me to cut out gluten. At first, I couldn’t fathom which was worse… no cheese or no…. basically anything (why is gluten in everything?!). But I was desperate to try anything to clear my skin. I figured it would be easier to cut out dairy – so I decided to eliminate it completely for 2 weeks and see if I noticed any difference in my skin.
I kid you not, in 6 days I noticed my acne started to become less inflamed! It was then that I knew in my gut, it was dairy after all (pun intended). After 2 weeks, I noticed a difference in my stomach – I didn’t feel bloated all the time and I felt like I could breathe easier and the swelling in my fingers and toes shrunk! I wasn’t ready to accept the tragic news (I am a cheese FANATIC), so I decided to stay optimistic and assume it was a happy coincidence.
February 24, 2017
Unfortunately, it was no coincidence, my skin looked and felt better everyday without dairy. I decided to continue my dairy free diet for a month. When I went back to get my micro-blading touch up with Magda she agreed my skin looked much better, but warned me it would likely take a minimum of 3 months for my skin to clear. I didn’t know what was worse – a life without dairy or the thought of having my skin look atrocious for another 3 months. In full transparency, my cystic acne took a huge toll on my self esteem. I remember trying to hide my face as much as I could during conversations with everyone – including my closest friends. I felt like everyone was staring at my acne and it made me feel unattractive at best. It didn’t help I write a fashion and beauty blog – so I am always in photos! I ended up turning down a bunch of beauty collaborations as I didn’t want my skin photographed with a DSLR camera. The days seemed to drag on, but I was hopeful my skin would clear one day.
March 12, 2017
You might be thinking – you’re skin looks worse than before in these photos. It’s hard to tell from these photos (I never thought I’d be sharing them so I didn’t use a DSLR camera to document my progress), but my skin was healing. My acne started to become less and less inflamed and began to scab. While my skin still looked rough, little to no new acne began forming. It took everything in me to not pick at my skin, but my fear of acne scars kept my fingers from touching it. I used the more natural skincare and minimal makeup I could find. It was downright torture to not use the most high coverage foundation and concealer. I wanted my skin to breathe as much as possible so I used high coverage makeup. Let me know if you’d like me to write a post on what exact products I used while my skin was in remission!
April 5th, 2017
My skin continued to heal during months 2 and 3. For whatever reason, I stopped documenting my acne after 2 months… but believe me when it looked almost exactly the same from months 2-3. Around month 4, my skin was 90% better. I still had hyper pigmentation where my cystic acne once was, but no new acne was forming. Then something crazy happened, I ate a sandwich with cheese in it and one cystic acne pimple formed the very next day! This further re-assured me dairy was the ultimate culprit. Once my skin was completely healed (month 5) I wanted to confirm it was all dairy that was irritating my skin. I introduced milk to my diet…. nothing after a week. My stomach was a little upset, but no acne. Then I introduced butter….nothing. Then I tried cheese again…BOOM HI ACNE HOW ARE YOU. I was crushed, CRUSHED. It was cheese. CHEESE. One of my all time favorite foods. To this day, I can eat most dairy without my face breaking out, but the moment I eat cheese I will get acne the very next day. THE. WORST. It also makes my stomach extremely sick. So, that’s my tragic story of a life without cheese. But you know what, my skin is absolutely GLOWING. It’s never been better and for that I am so thankful.
June 28, 2018
Before & After Cutting Out Cheese:
Everyone’s experience with acne is different, but I thought I’d share my story in case you’re feeling hopeless with acne, or anything that makes you feel less confident. In case you’re wondering why you didn’t see any photos with acne… it’s because I did everything in my power to conceal my imperfect face. Makeup, great lighting and retouching can mask our deepest insecurities and I wish I would have rocked my bumpy face with confidence, but I was ashamed. I don’t want you to feel the same way – I want you to feel empowered, imperfections and all. I know how frustrating it can feel to not know the culprit and do everything you can to help your face and it continues to get worse. I remember searching the web for stories on cystic acne in hopes of finding answers and feeling less alone. Not much came up – which is why I wanted to share my personal journey with you! If you have any specific questions on my cystic acne journey my inbox is always open (firstname.lastname@example.org).
In short, if you’re experiencing adult cystic acne, you may want to think about cutting out dairy! If that doesn’t work, try cutting gluten. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself -healthy diet, exercise, maintaining mental health and don’t forget to take your vitamins! Do your own research to find what’s best for you here is an unbiased review on Ritual Vitamins for starters!
If you’re looking for more information on a dairy-free lifestyle – click on my post here