I’ll keep this brief so we can get straight to my list of anti-acne, pimple preventing tips, tricks and tools.
As many of you know, I’ve battled with acne for two decades. Practically forever, or so it feels!
What have I tried? Everything: washes, lotions, ointments, lasers, diets, antibiotics, medications including Accutane three times… the list goes on.
What have I learned? A LOT!
I’ve dedicated the past two years to really battling my acne without having to resort to Accutane for a fourth time. To be honest, I don’t think it would be easy to get a fourth prescription anyways because of the risks associated with it. So all the more reason to approach my acne cure from every angle but Accutane!
But you thought Accutane was a one-and-done treatment, right? Me too. And it often is, reducing your oil production so drastically and so permanently that your body’s incapable of creating pimples (very basic explanation). But in many cases, acne is so hormone-derived that the power of Accutane just isn’t strong enough. This is my case and many of yours too I’m sure!
Having PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome – google can explain the details since we’re trying to get straight to our list), which is very common amongst women and messes with our hormone production, has caused me to suffer from acne since I was just a kid.
What does this mean now in the past two two years? I’ve had to tackle acne from not only its source (hormones), but from all angles: hormones/oil production, bacteria & inflammation.
Below is my quick list of MUST DO’s (or don’ts) that have worked and continue to work wonders for myself, and likely for anybody with acne, no matter the cause.
If you’re considering other options and have questions, don’t hesitate to ask. Like I mentioned, I’ve tried it all!
Here are my most strongly recommended tips, tricks & tools:
Eliminate Meat (…& gluten, dairy, refined sugars, artificial sweetners)
– Being a vegan is trending right now. I totally get this! BUT, if I hadn’t tried and tested my skin with and without meat (chicken especially), I would be skeptical about the whole vegan trendy thing too. I regret to admit this because I am such a carnivore, but a meat-free diet has practically CURED my skin. I am not exaggerating.
– I will assume you’ve already tried eliminating gluten, dairy, refined sugars and artificial sweeteners (I know, what is there left to eat?!) so I haven’t directly included this in my list. Meat caught me by such a surprise though, so I’m just relaying the (sad, but exciting) news to you.
– I still eat fish and eggs, but haven’t had the willpower to test a 100% vegan diet yet. Maybe eliminating all animal products will have even greater benefits. For now, I can be certain that meat definitely, absolutely, totally makes me break out, and bad.
– Top food choices: veggies, fruits, fish, egg whites, whole grains, legumes, and anything else with only one simple & natural ingredient that isn’t meat.
Apple Cider Vinegar
– One swig in the AM as soon as you wake up and one in the PM right before bed.
– Helps with the pH balance in your stomach, especially if you choose to still eat meat! Regardless, it’s been very helpful.
TARGETS: inflammation & digestion
Kombucha and/or other probiotics
– Simply put, healthy gut = healthy skin
– Don’t neglect the “good bacteria” in your bellies. Your skin relies on them! Eat or drink plenty of probiotics.
TARGETS: inflammation & digestion
Spironolactone (100mg daily)
– Spironolactone is an anti-androgen medication. It has run its course for me (see previous Hormone post), but served such a purpose for about a year or so, by lowering my testosterone levels which helped clear up those deep, hard pimples around the chin and jawline – prime hormone areas.
– Even with spironolactone, when I reintroduced meat into my diet (before I realized the connection), my skin broke out like mad!
– I have been off spironolactone for almost a month and sticking with the rest of this list. My skin has never looked better, including Accutane use. It better stay that way!
Obagi Clenziderm MD face wash, toner & cream
– I recommend this for anyone with more severe acne. Once your pimples start to clear up, you can switch to the brand below, something milder.
– Your skin will be very red and dry at first. Push past this! It gets better and the results are worth the dead red skin.
– I order this on Amazon or elsewhere online
TARGETS: bacteria & oil production
La Roche-Posay face wash, toner & moisturizer
– This is a gentler, simple cleanser, lotion and toner line (they have lots of products! The Effaclar is the cleanser I recommend and you can choose your moisturizer based on your skin type). I use this now that my acne is a lot less severe. However, I still often use the toner from Obagi in combo with this cleanser & moisturizer.
– Overall, it’s been so great for my skin and will be great for longterm use!
– Side note: this is what I used while I was on Accutane years ago and it kept my face from drying up and completely falling off (one of the many harsh side effects).
– Can buy it at any pharmacy like Rite Aid, Shoppers Drug Mart, Walgreens, etc.
TARGETS: bacteria & oil production
DO. NOT. PICK!!
– I’m definitely still learning how to be better at not picking every pimple, but I regret not listening to everybody who’s ever told me not to pick. It really makes a huge difference! Not only to prevent scars (I always thought that was the only benefit), but a picked pimple lasts so much longer and is so much redder than one you let run its course, finger-free.
TARGETS: bacteria, inflammation & redness, promotes healing
IPL Laser Treatment
– A non-invasive laser that kills bacteria
– Relatively inexpensive (especially compared to other lasers)
– I’ve been going weekly for a while now and it’s been helping with the smaller, surface pimples, while also promoting an even skin tone (color and texture)
TARGETS: bacteria & inflammation
– Topical ointment that I use as a spot treatment when I have pimples. If you aren’t using the Obagi line, you can buy this separately ($10 for three pack on Amazon). If you are using Obagi, the lotion included in the line is a benzoyl peroxide so you don’t need this in addition.
– You could also talk to your Dr. about using a Retin A cream (as well or instead), but not while you’re doing any laser procedures. Retin A has been very helpful for me lately, now that my skin is much less inflamed and the deep pimples are gone, but in the past it’s felt too harsh on my skin while using other topical products. I would save this for after you’ve tried everything else on this list, your acne starts to clear up, and you’ve moved on to maintenance or dealing with scars or rare surface pimples.
TARGETS: oil production & inflammation