Saturday, March 12, 2016

You want me to do what with that?

Anyone who knows me knows that I absolutely detest my facial skin - I have had acne for almost 20 years (and I'm only 28). I hate how my skin feels, looks, and the impression it gives to others. I've become pretty good at learning how to cover it up, but sometimes the best makeup techniques can't even help me out with it. It makes me slightly self-conscious, a little embarrassed, and uberly disgusted.

** So looking back at my pictures (please disregard my HORRID eyebrows), it's the ole hind sight is 20/20 thing. I wish my skin looked as "bad" as I thought it did during this time in my life. While I still remember how I felt, and there is certainly evidence of acne, apparently as I've gotten older it's become way worse... THIS is what I'm experiencing now:
I've tried every OTC cleanser, toner, wipe, scrub, mask, WHATEVER you can think of (however my utter FEAR of horrible reviews for ProActiv and things like it have caused me to avoid those at all costs). I've also been prescribed "medical-grade" cleansers/scrubs from my general doctor (I've never seen a dermatologist because I've always felt I could handle this on my own). I added a daytime and nighttime moisturizing routine into my regular, twice daily cleanings. Add that to all those home remedies: baking soda, toothpaste, straight alcohol, aspirin, honey, cinnamon, green tea, tea tree oil, lemon juice, cider vinegar... this list could fill a book, seriously. (** Obviously I didn't try these all together or all at once; this is just my list from over the past 20 years**). Some people were convinced it was the foods I ate (see my Life Without Cheese post), how much food I was eating (I've lost 50+ pounds since 2014), the water, the weather, the location (humidity/altitude), whatever. 

At my ultimate wits' end, I discovered COCONUT OIL. I'm assuming that I never even thought of or researched this is the past because I absolutely, positively detest coconut in any form. It stinks, it tastes weird, it has a funky texture, it looks gross. Now I don't remember exactly when or how I came across this, BUT in my many internet browsings I found a bunch of articles on the topic of using coconut oil, not only as a moisturizer, but as a sole cleanser. Here's only a few... 

DON'T get me wrong. Coconut oil is NOT a miracle cure. It's a long process and it doesn't necessarily prevent new stuff from forming. But cleaner skin is less of an ideal environment for the shit skin to happen! Keep in mind I only use it topically, not internally (and I realize I'll probably never be acne ridden because I WILL NOT become a vegetarian, organic, hippie freak, which is pretty much the only way to be acne-free apparently).

My current regimen:
- Shower (I've decreased the heat in which I shower now, as too hot isn't good for you!), only "cleansing" my skin with water... no products.
- Get out 1-1½ teaspoons (not an exact science, here) from the jar and work it between fingertips until liquidy. Rub into entire face (I put it on my neck too) - LIGHT layer, don't glob it on - for 30 seconds to one minute. Get a clean cloth and get it as hot as you can. Put on your face and allow to "steam" for 30 seconds to one minute to open your pores more. Use the cloth to wipe away the greasiness, but don't entirely dry your face. You want to leave some as a moisturizer; it'll eventually soak in.
- Before bedtime, I rinse my skin with warm water and do the same thing.
- That's it.

DO NOT rinse your hands or drop any oil into your drain. It WILL congeal and clog your pipes and that's a horrible problem to fix.

I personally use Dr. Bronner's Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, which I found in the "organic" section at Kroger (City Markets/Dillons/FoodsCo/Fred Meyer/Fry's/King Soopers/Ralphs/Smiths). (Update: I still have the same jar I started with 4 months later and I use it twice daily). There's a lot of sciencey-stuff involved in choosing the best oil, but the articles linked above deal with that, so give it all a look. Keep in mind this might not work for everyone. But coming from someone who's been suffering with acne as long as I have, and exceptionally horrifically over the past four-ish years, I have to say that I am sold. 

I think I will never buy any other product ever again. I'm still going to see a dermatologist and see if there's some sort of internal prescription that will work in tandem with the oil, but I think this is what will be my saving grace (at least bring me to a normal level, not what you see above).

1st row: Day 1
2nd row: After 30 days
3rd row: After 60 days
Clearly, I still have some issues, but the improvement is kinda obvious.

** Update after using for 4 months - at the 4 month mark, I decided to add in a normal benzoyl peroxide cleanser (Neutrogena's recent commercials for THIS product just sung to my heart, fucking advertising). NOPE. Horrible, bad, stupid idea. So I'm trying to detox my skin again and get back to where I was before :(

I hope I helped you out if you've been struggling and unable to find some relief. I will keep you updated on any future developments in the acne department!

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