How I (think I) cleared my acne

One of my most popular posts of all time (along with my Vegan Weekend Waffles) is my Vegan Truths post I put up a couple of years ago to talk about the real experiences I had after first going vegan.

Even if I go a couple of months without a new post, I still get tons of comments and emails from people on this post – particularly asking about the acne I experienced as a vegan newbie. It’s worth a note that the acne I experienced was not due to veganism nor was it healed by veganism like I had hoped it would be at the time.


Real talk: I’m pretty sure my acne was caused by hormonal changes that occurred after I suffered a miscarriage in the beginning of 2011. I hadn’t experienced any adult acne before this and afterwards it exploded. My hormone levels were all over the place for a good 6 weeks after this occurrence and when I eventually sought out the help of a dermatologist she agreed that hormone disruptions could likely be the culprit. She then proceeded to put me on birth control to even out my hormones, antibiotics to prevent infection and scarring from the cystic acne, and a prescription face cream to help clear up breakouts.

I hated being on all of these medications – birth control makes me feel like a crazy bitch, I don’t think antibiotics should be used unless absolutely necessary, and the face cream was too harsh for my sensitive skin. Once my antibiotics had run their course (90 days worth!!), I quit all of the medications and tried to heal my acne naturally.

I must be doing something right because my skin is glowing these days.


J/K that’s totally the work of an instagram filter. But for real, here’s an untouched picture of my skin close up.

photo 2

Not too shabby, eh? The best compliment I could ever get is for someone to tell me that my skin looks great (I get so giddy when this happens). And yes I know, I have a selfie problem. :/

As it’s something I get asked about quite frequently, I thought I’d do an update on my skin and how I think I cleared my acne.

Water – water is my cure-all. Just ask my husband…he gets so tired of me telling him to drink more water. Headache? Water. Tired? Water. Dry skin? Water. Break your leg? Water…oh wait. Aside from oxygen, water is the most basic human need. Yours cells need H20 for every function. I would say most Americans are chronically very dehydrated. Drinking plenty of water will not only make your cells happy but it really does help to give a glowing appearance. I drink at least 3 liters (90 ounces) of water a day. Any less and I can feel the difference. If you have a hard time getting in your aqua, I suggest starting with 64 ounces per day and building up from there. You will soon realize how poorly you felt before you were adequately hydrated and you’ll never look back!

Bonus —> try some Glow Juice for a beautifying and hydrating sip that’s damn tasty.

Sleep – I’m a stickler for some shut-eye. I’m an 8 hours a night girl through and through, even if this means I have to go to bed at 7 to get up for an early clinical. Sleep is your body’s rest and repair time and clear skin is low on the priority list so if you’re only getting 4 or 5 hours per night, chances are your skin shows it. Not only does too little sleep make you feel like shit but it can cause premature ageing…nobody wants that!

Fruits & Veggies – conventional wisdom tells us that food does not cause nor can it heal acne. BULLSHIT. Our bodies use the food we eat as energy for cellular processes to keep us alive. We really are what we eat. And processed food does not a pretty face make. Fruits and veggies contain beautifying antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that you can’t get anywhere else. Plus they are hydrating which is a glowing bonus. Fruits are the ultimate beauty food and so good for your skin when eaten in their whole forms. Veggies like dark, leafy greens also help promote cellular turnover for healthy, glowing skin so make sure to drink yourself a green smoothie a few times per week.

Minimizing sugar – on the same front, sugar is terrible for your skin. They say that “this month’s diet is next month’s body” but for me it’s “this week’s diet is next week’s skin.” I know that if I eat more sugar or processed foods than usual, my skin will look terrible in a few days. It will be oily with breakouts and blackheads galore.

Don’t pick it – I struggle with this one…nobody wants to go to work or school with a giant white zit. But the more you pick, the more likely your face will scar and leave a nasty reminder even after your acne clears up. Try to pick, poke and pop as little as possible.

Moisturize – when I was younger I had pretty oily skin and so I avoided using lotion on my skin. I thought that this would help dry it out but in reality it’s the opposite. When your skin is too dry, it goes into oil-producing overload and ends up even more oily! When it’s properly moisturized, there is a natural oil balance that keeps your skin happy and your face from looking like you fell into an oil slick. Lotion it up with SPF in the morning and a repairing cream (or coconut oil) at night.

Time – Just be patient. It will eventually clear. My acne took a couple of years to really clear up and look better. I still get breakouts from time to time but these days it’s very mild. Also remember it seems really bad to you but nobody else even notices. People don’t care if you have acne. And if someone does give you shit you should drop them from your life stat.

And don’t forget to do things that make you happy because happiness is more beautiful than perfect skin could ever be!


meet my husband, the dehydrated, candy eating machine with flawless skin…life’s not fair

So these are the things that I do on a consistent basis that I know have had a hand in helping my skin to look its best. They may not help everyone but they’re worth a shot because either way they’ll make you a little healthier too.  I’d love to hear if you have any other tips and tricks for clear skin!


4 thoughts on “How I (think I) cleared my acne

  1. Great post, Shelley! I recently read that sleeping with a clean towel each night over your pillow helps with acne. Just passing that on. As for me, my skin looks better now than ever. i credit it to coconut oil moisturizing, and about twice a week I’ll add baking soda to the oil and give myself a gentle scrub. Followed by more coconut oil. I have oily skin, too, but the coconut oil moisturizes without causing breakouts. thanks for the reminder to drink more water. I hate plain water! I’ve been putting cucumber slices, mint, stevia leaves and lemon balm in a pitcher of water in the fridge and it’s delish.

  2. Diet is absolutely the reason alot of people get acne, some people’s body can’t deal with all these toxins.. like me, I cured my acne with diet alone when nothing else worked. Thanks for sharing your story 🙂

  3. A clean diet for 4 months did nothing for my acne 😦 I’m lost. What did you do to balance your hormones? I’m using a bio identical progesterone. I’m 26 and can’t imagine living the rest of my life with this awful painful skin and I refuse to go the accutane route although I feel tempted daily.

    • I really credit my balanced hormones to time and patience. It took well over a year (and probably over two years) for my acne to truly clear up. Sometimes diet really does effect our skin and sometimes it doesn’t (in the case of my husband who eats terribly and yet has a flawless complexion). I wouldn’t lose a clean diet though because it’s benefitng your whole body, if not your skin.

      What do you use for your daily skincare routine? Have you tried using natural products? Even face washes from the drugstore that aren’t as harsh as accutane can be too much for your skin. I use a soap called Chandrika that is very natural and then follow up with an apple cider vinegar/water toner and moisturize with coconut oil (which is antimicrobial so it’s good to prevent acne infection and scarring). As we get older, less really is more for our skin. I’m sorry that it’s painful…that’s so terrible! Just try not to fuss with it.

      I hope it gets better for you soon!

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