Hi. My name is Blair, I’m 31 and I still breakout on a regular basis.
This is post I never thought I’d write. The one I’ve been wanting to write for years has a title like “How I Finally Cleared My Skin for Good” or maybe, “How I Cleared my Skin Naturally,” but the time hasn’t come—though I still have hope it will. I wasn’t sure exactly where to start this post because my struggle with skin has been long and on-going. But I guess starting at the beginning can’t hurt.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve dealt with bad skin and breakouts.
It started in my teens, like a lot of other people and since then has gone through periods where it looks pretty good, followed by periods where it’s pretty awful. My dad has always had oily skin, so for years, I resigned myself to never having the perfect skin I dreamed of, and that worked for a while.
Through college, my skin was pretty okay, which is surprising considering the lifestyle I was living. Late night food, too much drinking, not enough sleep, poor food choices. After college, I got into a really good and healthy routine for a while. I lost some of that beer weight, went to hot yoga 3x a week, ate super healthy and slept a lot. Despite that, I still had extremely oily skin! I carried those oil blotters around in my bag and freaked out when I didn’t have them. If I ran out, I’d use toilet paper or put some more powder on, which I’m sure just added to the problem. I got regular facials, took a probiotic, but still wasn’t enough.
Then Rob got a job in Chicago. Whew!
Looking back at that year, it was one of the most stressful ones. I didn’t necessarily feel stressed in the traditional sense (too much work, not enough time), but there were so many underlying worries I had with that move. Would I make friends, would Rob and I stay together, would I make enough money doing my design business to pay my rent?! Shortly after I arrived, my skin broke out horribly. I’m talking deep cystic acne, something I’d never experienced before, all over my cheeks. I was so embarrassed, I wouldn’t even make eye contact with people unless I had makeup on.
I eventually got on a different birth control pill, which cleared up my skin pretty quickly and then forgot about my skin issues for a while. For the most part, my skin was mostly clear. Sure, I’d get a breakout here and there, but it wasn’t horrible.
Several years later, we started talking about a family. I knew I’d have to get off birth control and worried what would happen to my skin. I’d read a few books, namely, WomanCode, that opened my eyes to what could actually be causing my breakouts and that’s when my move to clean beauty and skincare began.
Reading that book was literally LIFE-CHANGING.
I had no idea how many toxins I was slathering on my body and using throughout the day. They’re everywhere. Toxins are in candles, laundry detergent, dish soap, cleaning products, toothpaste, bath and body products, the water we drink, the food we eat and the air we breathe. The list goes on and on. Obviously, we can’t avoid them all, but I can say with 100% guarantee that removing toxins has been hugely beneficial to my health and that of my family as well. It’s a process that I feel like I’m really just getting started in and I’m hopeful that it continues to improve our health.
But, back to the topic at hand—skin!
just a few months after Owen was born
Okay, so then I got pregnant! We were obviously so excited, but I wasn’t expecting to be as nervous as I was about child birth. It didn’t bother me too much, but as the third trimester got closer, I got more and more nervous about it. I remember looking at the pictures from the day Owen was born and being distracted by my own face—I was horribly broken out and oily, and despite it being one of the best moments of my life, I was still embarrassed by the state of my skin.
It didn’t get much better after that either. In fact, it got worse and I finally went to see a holistic doctor about it. We made diet tweaks, added supplements, acupuncture and suggested lifestyle changes and pretty soon, they were working. My skin cleared a bit, I felt a lot better, less foggy, I had so much more energy and overall, I felt like a new person! But, still my skin wasn’t totally clear. I’ve had periods where it looks pretty good, but then a month later it’s bad again. Basically, it’s just been a roller coaster and I want reliably clear and healthy looking skin.
One of the hardest things for me though?
Is knowing that I’m eating healthy, hydrating properly, getting lots of sleep and still dealing with something I thought I would have outgrown years ago. I very well know our skin is an outward projection of our internal health, so it’s tough to sit here knowing that I’m doing all the healthy things, but still struggling. Maybe you feel the same?
It’s been a bumpy road.
One that’s taken a major hit to my self-esteem and held me back because sometimes I don’t feel like I have the authority or expertise to share skincare tips when my own skin is suffering. But, I’ve said this many times before, it’s a journey and it takes time. Also, I don’t want to sit around and wait to only share the picture perfect moment at the end. Why? Because it doesn’t capture everything that’s happened leading up to that point, and sharing that one moment definitely won’t help anyone else who’s suffering.
Despite how much this all sucks, I try to stay positive. The silver lining for me is that I’ve learned a LOT. And, all that learning has impacted my health in a positive way. It’s been a huge mental shift too, because I realize how much more control I have over my health than I once thought—and that is POWERFUL stuff!
It’s also lead me to three conclusions on why I’m still breaking out at this age.
One—long-term antibiotic use.
Ironically the antibiotic I’m referring to was prescribed to me for my skin. What I didn’t know at the time was that antibiotics are really hard on our livers, making it harder for the organ to do it’s job—detoxing our bodies. When we’re constantly throwing more and more toxins in and on our bodies, our liver has to go into overdrive and at some point, it can’t keep up. That’s when things like acne, eczema, rosacea, and so many more weird, often unexplained symptoms and conditions start arising.
Two—stress. Plain and simple.
Turns out, I’m sort of an easily stressed anxious person and it’s having a major effect on my skin. The hard part, and this will take some soul-searching and intensive journaling is that sometimes I can’t figure out where the stress is coming from. The obvious things like work or money or a relationships occasionally wig me out, not really. I know that navigating my new world as a working mom has been a big adjustment for me and one I’m still figuring out. Or, maybe it stems from the fact that despite living in Chicago for 7 years, I often feel unsettled, because we never know how long we’re going to be here. That used to be something I loved, but now that we have a little family, it gets in my head a lot. I guess it’s that nesting instinct mamas have.
And, when I look back at all those other moments where my skin hit rock bottom, the common thread? Stress.
And three, digestion.
I’ve struggled with digestion for as long as I can remember. Also, I know that if I can focus on better digestion and healing my gut, it will be hugely beneficial for my skin and my overall health. One thing I’ve been practicing lately is consciously chewing more. It sounds crazy, but it helps a ton and reduces bloating as well!
I haven’t figured out the magic blend of skincare products, diet or balanced living just yet. But I’m not going to stop trying to find it. If anything, writing this post has fueled me even more!
By sharing this now, and in future posts, I hope that I’m able to help you heal your own skin, give you confidence and encouragement that we don’t have to settle and that it’s always worth it to search for new things if it means you might have relief.
Okay, so yes, that was long and emotional (for me at least)
I wanted to leave you with what I’m currently doing. I’m always learning new things and anxious to try them. But I realize that good things take time and that my skin isn’t going to heal itself overnight. So, for this month, I’m going back to the theory that less is more. Instead of going overboard on products, I’m cutting back a bit and giving my skin some room to breathe and actually heal.
Thanks for reading guys!