At a time when most women are starting to worry about aging, I was still dealing with acne.
TV and magazine ads told me that my late 20s were the time when I should start using products to combat fine lines and wrinkles, but there I was, in my mid-30s, wondering why there was no cure for my adult acne.
For most of my life, I'd dealt with acne; I couldn't remember ever having clear skin. As a teenager, I thought it would get better as I got older, and I resigned myself to waiting. But then I entered my 20s, then my 30s, and instead of clearing up, my acne only got worse.
After years of treatments that didn't help, thousands of dollars spent on products that weren't effective, and hundreds of hours feeling bad about my skin, I finally took it upon myself to clear my acne once and for all.
It wasn't a quick fix and it definitely took some trial and error, but today I feel great about my skin.
Here are some of the things I did that eventually led to my clearest skin ever. And though I'm not big on regrets, I sometimes kick myself for not starting sooner.
1. I cleaned up my diet.
I've always had a pretty healthy diet, but I also have a sweet tooth and I regularly baked all kinds of desserts. When experimenting with my diet to see what was causing my acne, I decided to stop eating sugar (with the exception of fruit).
Avoiding sugar was incredibly hard, but along with adding more vegetables (raw and cooked) to my diet, it also gave me the best results.
If your acne is being caused by a dietary trigger (sugar, wheat, dairy, etc.), you'll break out if you keep eating the stuff, regardless of how healthy your diet is otherwise. An elimination diet is the best way to determine what foods are causing your skin issues, and then make sure to stay away from them.
2. I stopped waging a war against my skin.
After years of trying medicated creams and pills, I finally decided I'd never take antibiotics or any other medication for my acne. I was looking for a sustainable, long-term solution for acne, and prescriptions weren't the answer. In fact, they were throwing my system way out of whack, irritating my skin even further.
3. I started using natural products.
My cleaner diet helped heal my skin from the inside, and switching to natural, clean, organic products worked on the outside. Though home remedies might take a little longer to work, they ultimately had much longer-lasting results and didn't irritate or dry my skin.
My favorite natural skin care product? Natural honey! It's antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and soothing, which makes for a great mask, daily face wash, or spot treatment.
4. I stopped touching my face.
This was the big one. Time and again I'd heard I shouldn't touch my face: the bacteria my hands accumulated throughout the day would transfer to my skin, pores, and blemishes, only making the situation worse. Plus, picking at pimples led to inflammation, bleeding, scabs, and scaring.
Though the advice was good, I ignored it for so long; it was impossible for me to keep my hands off. I had to feel my face to see if I had new pimples, to keep tabs on what was going on with my skin.
But deciding to stop was the best thing I did for my skin. Within a week of my hands-off approach, I saw major improvements. Even if I saw a spot developing, I left it alone. And instead of coming in and staying put for weeks on my face, it healed much faster when I left it alone.
5. I ceased worrying about my acne.
Easier said than done, I know. But 22 years of worrying about my skin hadn't helped, so what was the point? It was a vicious cycle: the more I fretted over my face (instead of doing something about it), the worse it got, which led to more worrying, etc.
When I finally started doing something about and for my skin — changing my diet and lifestyle, not touching my face — I started to see results. It's important to at least try something. Even if it fails, that doesn't mean you're doomed to suffer for life. It just means you need to try something else and trust in the process.
What you have to remember is that acne isn't going to vanish overnight, especially if it's something you've been dealing with for a long time. It's a process, one that needs to start from the inside (through food and mindset) and work its way out.