A makeup-free Starre Vartan today; clear skin thanks to oil cleansing and dietary changes.
Confession: from my mid-20s to mid-30s, I struggled with cystic acne around my mouth that embarrassed me when I went out and was painful to boot. For a week I could feel it coming, the pressure building a huge lump under my skin; finally it would burst through and be tender for days, then start healing, finally leaving a red mark that took months to fade. In a word, it sucked.
I tried all sorts of different cleansers and treatments, both holistic and conventional, and nothing was effective. Sometimes I would go a week or 10 days without a flare up, but they would always return. Finally, I looked at my diet, at the suggestion of a friend, Cara Joy, who specializes in alternative health. It was hard, but I removed gluten from what I ate for about 5 weeks—nothing (and I didn’t notice any difference with my digestion either). So that wasn’t it. I stopped drinking alcohol for over a month, but that wasn’t it either (and I didn’t even lose any weight, dammit!).
Next I tried dairy. I’ve been vegetarian for 20 years, but have always consumed small amounts of dairy; milk in my coffee, ice cream occasionally, yogurt regularly. That, apparently, was it. After 3 weeks, I noticed that no new acne was popping up (haha), and after 6 weeks I swore off dairy completely. In the almost-2-years since, I have had two breakouts, both when I tested my dairy-acne connection. One serving I can get away with, but as soon as I have more than a small amount of dairy on two days in a week, bam! Giant cystic acne makes its appearance.
I also have had a long-standing issue with a fairly oily t-zone and very dry chin and cheeks, so after I got rid of my acne, I started working on that issue. Last winter, again while visiting Cara, we both decided to try cleansing with straight-up coconut oil; for me, it was a revolution in face-washing. My skin felt fresh, clean and balanced; no tight-dry cheeks, no oily t-zone anymore! I experimented with olive oil and jojoba oil too, but keep working my way back to coconut; it just feels the best to me. At night, I use the Kari Gran system (reviewed here) but in the morning I still use straight coconut oil, rubbed all over my face, and rinsed off with warm water. Sometimes I’ll drop some lavender essential oil on a steamy washcloth for some additional cleansing—and the lovely aroma! I finish with a bit of Kari Gran daily oil.
In addition to my own story, check out the suggestions in the (superfunny!) video below, from Brianne Rene, a holistic esthetician and founder of Nabele, an all-natural beauty line she created after her own battles with acne. It points out some obvious—but oft-overlooked—things that may be contributing to your breakouts.
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