A Very Long Post About My Updated Skin Care Routine

Updated Skin Care Routine

I’ve written so much about my skin care struggles here and it continues to be a work in progress. In an effort to improve what has been a 15+ year struggle I have tried many things — medications, antibiotics, expensive facials, and even Accutane (CLIFFS NOTES: DO NOT RECOMMEND!) — but since about 2010 I’ve taken a different approach.

The History

I changed my diet to a Paleo template and as most most people know, many folks in the Paleo community have a real shared love for finding the root cause of health issues instead of just trying to make the symptom go away — myself included. I firmly believe acne is a symptom of an underlying health problem, and more specifically an underlying gut problem. I don’t think it’s just something that happens as a fluke, it’s absolutely an indicator of something going on inside your body.

With that in mind, over the last few years I’ve tried many different things in order to uncover a solution. I have experimented with eliminating foods, learned a ton about digestion and it’s relation to skin, I’ve added helpful supplements (Liz Wolfe’s Skintervention Guide has some great advice here) and then in the middle of 2012 I made a marked effort to move all of my products toward the “natural” side of the spectrum. I know “natural” doesn’t mean a whole lot these days, but essentially I decided I was going to simplify the sheer amount of products I was using, and leave as much of the chemical skin care stuff behind as I could.

I focused on gut health and how it relates to skin for about a year and in many ways my health got better. But my skin results were always inconsistent. I’d go through periods of time where it was great, and periods of time where it was only ok with no rhyme or reason, but even at its best, my skin was still so very far from where I wanted my skin to be. Also not to state the obvious, but I’ve continued to get older. Prevention is still important with respect to skin, but also I would like to UNDO some of the damage, scarring and pigment issues I’ve got going on as well.

Recent Developments

In October of last year, I decided go back to a few “more traditional” skin care items. I did it in response to giving nutritional ketosis a try (man I still have to blog about my Keto experiment)  because among many  developments, my face was overtaken by SUPER SEVERE acne. So bad it felt equivalent to the time in my life when I decided I should try Accutane.  I was literally having some mini panic attacks about it and my coconut oil and baking soda face wash was basically laughing at me on the sidelines. I was fretting about the potential for scars (I already have enough!) feeling sad about the additional pigmentation problems (I’ve had freckles since I was born and breakouts don’t make it better!) and so one day I just impulsively made a bee-line into some retailers who sold my old tried and true skin products from my back in the day.

Probably two weeks later I was ASTOUNDED by the change in my skin. But truth be told, I was also conflicted about the positive results.

The Conflict

Day after day my skin was improving — the look, the spots, and the texture were all getting better. Consistently. All of the things that I had hoped to attain by moving toward more natural solutions were happening — except natural skincare lovers would certainly say my products had “questionable” ingredients in them. I wrestled with this for a while, and then one day I woke up, shook myself, and said “Save your stress for the things that matter, Holly! You can’t win every battle at the same time.”

The facts are: I am really happy with my current results. Do I wish I was accomplishing these results with only coconut oil, baking soda and the sweet breath of unicorns? YES! Absolutely! And someday I might get there. I aspire to get there, actually. But I also have a lot going on in my life right now, and a finite amount of resources in the problem solving department. I believe in allowing yourself some evolution (Paleo Joke!) and in my opinion, the people who are the best example of this Paleo LIFESTYLE (gag) are the people who interpret all the ancestral wisdom through a modern lens. And right now, I’m happy that in these modern times I have a Clarisonic and a Sephora.

I know this has been a lot of words so far and I haven’t even talked products, but I wanted to give you some context. If you have any other questions about why I turned on a dime and went running back to retinol — feel free to leave them in the comments. But for now, here are the things that are just rocking my world lately when it comes to taking care of my face.

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The Game Changer: Clarisonic Mia 2
Clarisonic Mia 2

At the beginning of last year I finally ponied up $100+ for a Clarisonic because I couldn’t go five feet without hearing someone rave about it. I used it for a few months and was only mildly impressed. Then I found out IT WAS A FAKE! A fake that I had purchased on Amazon from an unreputable retailer. (Be ye not so stupid. Only buy on Amazon from legit places!) I went most of the rest of the year without it but when I had my skin care scare that I mentioned above in October I decided that the next time I saw a good deal from a legitimate retailer, I would pounce. And on Black Friday I did just that. I purchased a kit from QVC, that included a cleanser that I didn’t care about at all and a travel case, and from the first week on I’ve been absolutely in love. If you need additional endorsement? I got Garrett to use it (“Hey babe, try this vibrating hot pink face washer the next time you’re in the shower, ok?” HA! You should have heard his response) and even HE is an evangelizing devotee now. Masculinity be damned. It is worth it.

The AM/PM Everyday Cleanser: Fresh Soy Face Cleanser
Fresh Soy Face CleanserRemember the cleanser I got with the Clarisonic that I couldn’t have cared less about? It was this! And I was shocked by how much I loved it. It’s incredibly gentle, has only a few ingredients, a very light cucumber scent and it makes my face feel wonderful. When I first purchased it I was just using my Clarisonic with Cetaphil thinking the cleanser you used didn’t really matter, but the difference was remarkable. I’ve already repurchased a second bottle. It’s pricy, but it’s so worth it.

The Wild Card: Acure Unscented Argan Oil Facial Cleansing Towelettes
Acure-Organics-Argan-Oil-Cleansing-Towelettes

Sometimes on days when I am wearing a lot of makeup I like to do a little pre-wash before I use the Clarisonic. These work great to get a ton of makeup off. Also, these are awesome in my gym bag. They don’t dry out my skin, are very gentle, and have a non existent scent.

The 3 Nights Per Week Cleanser: Mario Badescu Glycolic Foaming Wash
Mario Badescu Glycolic Foaming Cleanser

I used this years ago when the Mario Badescu Drying Lotion was all the rage and I didn’t even have a hint of a reason to use anything glycolic (For the record, the drying lotion does NOTHING for me.) I picked this up on a whim at Ulta around Thanksgiving and it’s just an awesome AHA exfoliating face wash. I only use it 2, maybe 3 times a week (usually at night) — depending on if my skin is feeling dull and it brightens it right up. This is also one that Garrett rolled his eyes at and is now using religiously. It’s a really great product that makes a noticeable difference in my face.

The Toner: Dermalogica Multi Active Toner or Dermalogica Antioxidant Hydramist
DermalogicaPost washing, I like to use a light toner, but I don’t have the patience for liquids and cotton rounds and all of that. Dermalogica makes, HANDS DOWN, the best toners out there in my opinion. I’ve been a long time user of the Multi Active Toner, but decided to try the Antioxidant Hydramist because it is a part of their Anti Aging Line and I am VERY. ANTI. AGING. :)  Not sure which one I like better, but I will always keep at least one in the rotation. I love that Dermalogica makes travel sized products, and it is a great way to try out their line without breaking the bank. I think it is worth every penny, but it’s always nice to try a small size if you’ve never used something.

The Everyday Moisturizers: CeraVe AM Lotion with SPF 30 + CeraVe PM Lotion
CeraVeAbsolute Drug Store STEALS, and really amazing moisturizers. I like the separation of AM and PM because of the sunscreen issue, and they are really hydrating without using a lot of product or making you feel greasy. I find the bottles last a long time too, which makes a $10 purchase feel like even MORE of a deal.

The (2-3x per week) Night Cream/Tip Toe Into Retinol Products: RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream
Roc RetinolThis was an impulse purchase (what isn’t in my life, JEEZ!) and honestly I am not that up to speed on Retinol type products so I’m still sort of researching my holy grail version of this or if I even want to continue using it. But I got it in a 2 pack, and I’m going to use it all up. Mostly because it is gentle (probably because it doesn’t have a large percentage of retinol? retinoids? See? I’m still researching) but when I use this a couple of nights a week, I wake up with the tiniest pores in the morning. It’s actually kind of weird. But good weird, you know? Plus it doesn’t smell too chemically.

The Spot Treatment: Bremenn Clinical Zit Stick
Zit StickI’ve already raved about this. Seriously, do yourself a favor and go get it.

The Occasional Nightime Dry Skin Reliever: Julep Luxe Repair Skin Serum
Julep Luxe Repair Skin SerumThis is a little too oily for me to use on a daily basis, especially as part of my morning routine, but we’ve had a couple of weeks this winter where it was really cold (For California! I know!) and the first thing to revolt was my skin. Those days when I was feeling a bit parched, I would just slather on this serum and be right as rain the following day. And despite it’s viscosity, no breakouts at all. I’m on the hunt for a better serum, but I do like this one in the meantime and will happily use it all.

The Once Per Week Anti Aging Treatment: Philosophy The Microdelivery Triple-Acid Brightening Peel
Philosophy The Microdelivery Triple Acid Brightening PeelHands down this is my favorite skin discovery in probably the past five years. It is an at home chemical peel that I use once per week (I do some juggling with my skin care schedule to use all of the products for sure!) and usually once I put it on my face and neck there is enough to use on my chest and hands. It’s amazing, feels luxurious, and in is far, far better than similar products like this that I’ve tried by Bliss and Peter Thomas Roth. The best price around is at QVC and while it seems spendy, it last forever because and remember it is only a once per week treatment that you will make a NOTICEABLE difference.  $4 each is a steal and I’ll skip a latte in favor of this brightening peel any day.

The 2x Per Week Spa Solution: Karuna Masks
Karuna MasksI have always been a sucker for masks, and I find that as well as they work for my skin, they also work for my LIFE — because to sit down (on my couch or in a bathtub) twice per week for 20 minutes to do a mask on myself is such a great stress reliever! I love these Karuna masks but you can always find fun ones at TJ Maxx or Ulta to stock your collection.

 

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What I’m Still On The Hunt For: A “worth it” Vitamin C Serum. Haven’t found one yet — any suggestions?  Anything surprise you? Any questions for me?

Ideas for Moving Toward More Natural Body Care

One of the easiest parts of The Great Skincare Experiment (at least MUCH easier than giving up caffeine) was beginning to transition to more natural body care. I say “more natural” but like food, I’m well aware that skin care is a marketing mine-field full of buzzwords to make you think you are doing a body good. There are a million resources out there to help clarify what you “should” and “shouldn’t” use, but I’m not going to link the them because they make my head explode. So much information about THE PRODUCTS YOU ARE USING RIGHT NOW ARE KILLING YOU AND THE ENVIRONMENT OMG, but quite frankly, I just can’t get motivated by alarmist tones. I find the recommendations overwhelming, and I don’t know about you, but when I get overwhelmed I just don’t do anything, which um…doesn’t help.

I decided to take a small step during my skin care experiment to see if I find some products that didn’t have parabens or pthalates that I enjoyed just as much as my old products. I focused on these two things because both P-words are thought to affect some of the natural hormone activity in your body, and hey — that aligns right up there with my reasoning for loving Paleo — because it keeps my hormone levels healthy and in check! Plus, let’s be real, avoiding only 2 things seemed to be something small and manageable that I could handle.

I wanted to share the stuff I’ve been using for a month because:

A. I’ve really enjoyed all these products and talking about beauty products is fun.

B. All of these things are easy, affordable changes to make and a good place to start.

HOWEVER, IT IS WORTH NOTING:

C. I’m not an expert and I don’t really want to be. I’m just trying to move towards better decisions and have fun with it, so if this doesn’t help you or if you CAN’T BELIEVE THE AUDACITY OF MY RECOMMENDATION BECAUSE OF (INSERT OFFENSIVE INGREDIENT HERE), feel free to ignore it. Okay? Okay!

Now let’s talk about some natural body care products that are pretty cool:

(Clockwise from the top left)

1. Avalon Organics Vitamin C Refreshing Cleansing Gel – It’s a citrusy smelling gel facewash that doesn’t leave your skin feeling particularly dry. Also – it works well with the Clarisonic, foaming up just enough but not making your face feel like a bubble bath. I’m not into bubble bath face really, but if that’s your bag — GO ON WITH YOUR BAD SELF!

2. Yes to Blueberries Daily Repairing Moisturizer
– I was feeling a little sad about giving up all of my age-defying chemically face products but this has been a nice substitute. Note, it doesn’t have a sunscreen in it and I am not recommending a natural sunscreen because I haven’t looked for found one. Bad Holly! Doomed to a lifetime of wrinkles!

3. South of France Acai Pomegranate Bar Soap – I am a pretty steadfast showergel user but sometimes I just want a bar of soap. The only bars of soap that I have found that don’t make me feel sticky afterward are Dove bar soaps. Dove actually isn’t *that* offensive, but I thought I’d experiment with some hippie soaps. :) This one smells FREAKIN AMAZING and doesn’t make me feel sticky either. Score.

4. Lavanila The Healthy Deoderant in Vanilla Lavender – Do you use deodorant with an anti-persperant? THEN YOU’RE GOING TO DIE OMG!!!! Is that true? I don’t know. But I’ll tell you what is a documented fact: most hippie deodorants without an anti-persperants really suck ass. That’s just science. Tom’s of Maine is the most offensive in my opinion. Their deodorant sticks may smell good but your sweaty armpits won’t after CrossFit, let me tell you. But this Lavanila, which is baking soda based, actually freaking works! Can you believe it? I almost couldn’t. CROSSFIT TESTED!!! If you aren’t allergic to baking soda: TRY THIS. The price is steep, yes. But it really does work.

5. Burt’s Bees Pomegranate Volumizing Shampoo and Conditioner – Less sudsy than regular shampoos, but very delicious smelling and I felt it worked just fine. I will continue to look for a shamp/cond combo that I LOVE, but in the meantime this one is nice enough and pretty affordable. Plus, I use the Burt’s Bees Pomegranate chapstick and I feel very secretly smug when my lips and hair smell the same. Kind of like when my underwear matches my outfit. Wait, what????

6. Alba Very Emollient Body Lotion
– Alright stop what you’re doing (cuz I’m about to ruin?) and pick up this lotion immediately. Years ago Elizabeth recommended this lotion based solely on its smell being “the best clean smell ever” and so I purchased it sight unseen, smell unsmelled. And I’ve almost used nothing else since. It’s an amazing lotion (aptly named “very emollient”) but it’s the smell that I love. Dear Alba Marketing Team – “Original Scent” doesn’t really help much as a descriptor, but I will say this: it kind of smells like you have just taken a shower in a Hawaiian waterfall. And you totally did it in a string bikini and you looked tan and AMAZING the entire time! I think it is floral and clean but for people who don’t like floral scents (which is people like me. Floral stuff? BLECH!) Anyway, PLEASE GO GET THIS.

7. Alba Very Emollient Bath & Shower Gel (Honey Mango Scent) – I don’t know how many scents there are in this line, but who cares — this is the one to buy! It’s warm and fruity and the shower gel itself is super moisturizing. I was so in love with it I bought the (somewhat) matching cream shave. (I’ll talk about that in a sec! Hold tight!)

8. Yes to Cucumbers Soothing Facial Towelettes – I’ve told you before that makeup removing quick wipes are one of my workout essentials, so these are a nice chemical free version. It’s like a mini-facial in a towelette. I hate the word towelette. It completely kills the spa vibe, actually. But regardless, these are lovely.

9. Alba Very Emollient Mango Vanilla Cream Shave – I enjoy shaving with coconut oil in the shower just like every other person who has just discovered that coconut oil is all the rage. But you know what I don’t like? GLASS IN MY SHOWER THAT IS NOT THE SHOWER DOOR. (Hell, I don’t even like glass shower doors all that much!) You see, I have the dropsies, like, all the time. Adding water doesn’t help the situation, so coconut oil in my shower is a no go unless I put it in another container and that’s ugly and far too sensible a solution. I just buy new things! Like this cream shave. Which is (oddly enough) VERY EMOLLIENT. And smells just like the Alba shower gel I just raved about. Win win!

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Hopefully this helps you if you are contemplating taking a step towards more natural body care. I’m sure there are many awesome products out there that just Rule The School, but these were mostly affordable, drugstore options that helped me get the ball rolling. Feel free to recommend your faves in the comments!

The Great Skin Care Experiment

I’m hatching a plan in my mind, are you ready for it? Of course you are, you have begun to expect my particular brand of crazy around here, right? We had The Whole 30, The Great Zone Experiment, last year’s Look Better Naked — I mean, You know I LOVE a good experiment! I start to get a little anxious if I am not challenging myself and it’s weird and I know it. We are all on the same page here. :)

What I’ve decided — and it’s been kind of a long time coming — is that it is time to get to the bottom of some of my skin issues. I have made some great strides with my diet and fitness over the last 2 years, dropped a ton of weight and improved my overall health; however, the skin situation is still hanging on to let me know that something still isn’t quite right. You skin is the largest organ in your body, right? So when stuff continually shows up there, it is my opinion that your body is talking to you. Mine seems to not want to shut up, so I’ve decided I’m going to listen.

Diptic
Naked picture of my face. OH MY.

One of the most awesome takeaways I had with the Whole 30 is that sometimes managing the little things makes such a big difference, so I’ve decided to let that inform my this experiment. I think it is a complex issue and for me I think it is a mix of gut issues from a lifetime of carrying extra weight, lifestyle/stress issues, and hormones. And for the record when I say “Hormones” I don’t mean it in that in a once a month, blanket type of way that we as women have a tendency to use the word “hormonal.” Hormones aren’t the enemy. They don’t exist in your body to make your skin look crappy and to give you mood swings that make your boyfriend crazy. They are a system in your body that has a function, and if it is not functioning right — hey, why not get to the bottom of it?

Seeing a functional medicine doctor 2 years ago, going Paleo because of it, and learning so much more than I ever wanted to know about hormones, neurotransmitters and gut health and how it all interacts with the food we eat has really given me so many ideas of why my skin is potentially still flaring up a bit, but at this point I’ve just made a bunch of lists of things I could potentially change and never really said “Hey I’m going to pay attention to all of these little things at once and see if they make a difference on my face.” I’ve decided to change that and do something about it.

My hypothesis: I think the little things will make a difference. And so I’m going to make some changes.

And I’m making these changes during the month of October so let’s just call October the month of The Great Skin Care Experiment. I’ve done A LOT of thinking about most of this, and some of it has to do with my own personal medical history and my skin care history, so this post may seem like a willy nilly oversimplification but I assure you it is the culmination of a lot of research. Also, please don’t think I’m telling YOU to do this. It’s a bit nutty and I’m okay with that, and don’t think my methods are for everyone. But since this will be on my plate for October I thought I’d let you know.

Today, specifically, I thought I’d outline the main changes that I’m easing into right now, but will be going full force with starting in October. Where I can, I’m providing links to what inspired them, but I imagine I will be talking more about them in the future. If there is anything you would like me to address in more detail, feel free to let me know. There are 11 changes, and most are internal things I’ll be addressing (diet/supplement/lifestyle changes) but there are also a few external things going on (physical changes I’ll be making with respect to skin.) Here’s the rundown, and after 30 days we will see if monitoring these 11 factors make a difference.

A QUICK NOTE ABOUT DIET: Since I do think it is the foundation of this experiment, I think it is worth noting I plan to keep to 90% Whole 30 Eating, which I have found mostly easy to maintain. That 10% will include some Paleo-ified staples like banana muffins on occasion and my beloved red wine if I feel like it. But still no gluten, no dairy, and just generally eating for nutrient density. I’m keeping the diet clean with intentions on adding in some of the strategies below.

Internal Actions


1. HOLY CRAP, I’m giving up coffee (and subsequently, caffeine)

I’m not even sure I can talk about this just yet, but you all I am taking the plunge. 30 days, no coffee. HOLD ME CLOSER, TONY DANZA.
The upside: I really love herbal tea. (Just keep telling yourself that Holly.) I worked in coffee & tea for years so I really do enjoy a good cup of tea, but no doubt this will be a huge adjustment for me and I’m not quite sure I will survive. But it’s time. The relationship between caffeine and your adrenal system (something that I really need to keep a close eye on) coupled with my PASSION for a good cup are not always a match made in heaven. Plus, I’m also veering into a liiiiiitttle bit of an unhealthy place with my coffee dependence and when I saw this the other day it spoke to me:

So. Let’s do this.


2. Taking a Fermented Cod Liver Oil/Butter Blend supplement Supplement

If you spend any time listening to the Balanced Bites Podcast, Diane and Liz make a great case for this supplement. For your skin, and for your life. Ooooh, didn’t that make it sound extra dramatic? :) Anyway, I’m trying it.

3. Incorporating Brewer’s Yeast into my routine
The inspiration genesis of Brewer’s Yeast (as well as the Fermented Cod Liver Oil Supplement) came mostly from this Cave Girl Eats skincare post. I mean, hello, results. So. Let’s add that into the mix as well since we’re shaking things up.

4. Exploring (eek!) Organ Meats
Is pastured liver the cure all for everything? I don’t know, lots of people make great cases for the nutrient density of organ meats so I am going to work to find some ways to incorporate them into my diet. I don’t know whether to cringe and crawl in a hole, or get excited for the culinary challenge. I’ll get back to you on that. :)

5. Regularly Eat Fermented Foods
I started this during the Whole 30 with sauerkraut, but I’m thinking about doing a little more exploring. This was a great podcast on kombucha (organ meats too! YIKES) so I may explore that a bit just for fun. Allison (who is a wonderful resource you should all be reading) sent me an email full of information (Thanks, lady!) and I’ve gotten some amazing links from readers of things to explore on this topic, so again – more on this possibly in the future.

6. Adding in Some Bone Broth
Do you drink bone broth? Have you heard of all of it’s wonderful properties? Why inject collagen when you can drink it, eh? I don’t even know what I’m saying right now, so forget that, but bone broth. I’m exploring that. I made a huge batch this weekend. I’m uh…too scared to use it so far, but baby steps.


7. Potentially focusing on some particular nutrients

Chris Kresser has been putting out some amazing resources for addressing skin issues with diet. His 3 part Nutrition for Healthy Skin series(Part One, Part Two and Part Three) has been really enlightening as well as his podcast about gut health and acne. He makes some great recommendations I’m considering.

External Actions

1. Purchase a Clarisonic — Yep I took the plunge. And I’m excited to see if it is as life changing as everyone claims. Since it is made by the same folks who make my Sonicare toothbrush (which DID change my life!) I have high hopes.

2. Use only Non-Toxic Skin, Makeup + Body Care Products

I’ll talk about this in another post, but basically if it has Parabens, Pthalates or other crap that isn’t doing my body good, I’m swapping it for something else. I’m not gunning to be the world’s best hippie or save the environment on this one. What I’m doing is trying to keep things as natural and non-toxic as possible during this period of time. (Bye bye super awesome wrinkle creams. Let’s just see what happens, eh?) I know I keep saying skin is our largest organ so I best be treating it right everywhere. I figure if I’m going to be complaining about how the skin on my face is acting, I better at least make an effort to treat my skin EVERYWHERE pretty well.

Makeup, lotion, skin care, deodorant. We’re going full on Au Natural. This actually wasn’t too big of a change for me, but to be honest I had never paid too much attention. Come October, the labels on my beauty products are going to be short.


3. Dry Brushing

I just think this sounds fun! And since it is supposed to promote skin and organ health, why not use this month to get in the habit? Fun times.

4. Give Oil Cleansing Another Try

I had a very…um, not great experience with Oil Cleansing the first time around. I experimented with many different formulas and all of them (even the 10% castor oil one) made me feel like I was washing and moisturizing my face with battery acid. But you know, I’m a glutton for punishment, so I may try again. And instead of using jojoba for the moisturizing element (my skin is SUPER dry) maybe I’ll roll with coconut. We’ll see.

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And that’s the plan man. It’s kind of nutty right? But as with everything nutty I do, I always seem to learn something. I don’t imagine this will be any different.

Skintervention

Alternate Title: Way Too Many Words About My Skin Care Struggles

So. I have a long and sordid history with my skin that I don’t really like to think about. But now that I’m in my 30s, it’s really just time to bite the bullet and get things in order.

In my teenage years my skin was pretty flawless. I barely wore makeup, I’m sure I broke out, but I don’t even remember if I had a “skin care ritual.” I did go to the dermatologist though, and I can’t even really remember why. Probably because everyone else was going, so I made my parents drag me — I had good parents like that. Copays for non-existent problems! Certainly! I wouldn’t even remember those appointments I’m sure, except that these days my high school dermatologist is pretty damn famous.

One day during one of my office visits we started talking about things, life and the soap opera that is high school and I mentioned that I was a cheerleader. She then launched into this long story about how she and a colleague were making a product, and they wanted to film an infomercial with an “All-American group of kids” who would use it and talk about their results. So she gave me all of this information and I was to take it to my squad and talk it over. I did, and in my memory no one was really interested. It was like — yeah, MEH — is that going to cut into our cheerleading/boy-chasing/studying time? Then probably not. So we never did it. But my dermatologist’s product?

So yeah, 15 years later I can’t decide if that was a good decision or a bad decision. I mean, on the one hand it would be a fun story. But on the other, I’m not sure I want my legacy of fame to be a role in an acne lotion commercial you know?

Anyway — THAT was a sidebar.

So. Fast forward to my 20th birthday and all of a sudden my skin is taking the most mysterious and spiteful revenge on me. I try all sorts of dramatic interventions and nothing works. (Of course I’ve tried Proactiv. Unfortunately it did not work for me AT ALL.) Years later I would look back and think of all the drinking and eating take-out I did and it would seem a little less mysterious, but finally I threw my hands up and gave in to taking Accutane at the recommendation of the dermatologist I was seeing then.

Have you heard of Accutane? (I can’t wait to see the spam comments I get on this post.) The side effects are intense. From a warning:

[Accutane]must not be taken by patients who are pregnant or who may become pregnant. There is a high risk that isotretinoin will cause loss of the pregnancy, or will cause the baby to be born too early, to die shortly after birth, or to be born with birth defects (physical problems that are present at birth).

NBD. I may just have kids with webbed-feet (you know, if they survive at all) but I’m sure it’s not doing anything TO ME while I’m taking it. OHMYGOD. I can’t even believe I took it when I look at those (very abbreviated) side effects. There were so many more! I had to sign all sorts of stuff that said I would use 3 types of birth control, had to come in for monthly pregnancy tests for a year (at my dermatologist’s office!) and agree to seek therapy if I felt the early twinges of anxiety and depression. Also, I couldn’t eat carrots.

Sounds healthy, right?

But let me tell you, for about 6 years I had the best skin of my life. I mean, I also spent two years on anti-anxiety medication that I’m now SURE was a side effect of all that, but you know — no pimples and all that! (CRIMONY)

My skin began breaking out pretty badly again about 7 years ago (in my mid-20s — hello, bitter) but at the same time I got back on The Pill and that helped tremendously. But fast forward to about 6 months ago when Garrett and I agreed we would kick The Pill in preparation for our upcoming *Make A Baby Sometime* Project and no joke, not 30 days into all that business, my awful skin came back.

You guys it is like PTSD up in here.

I have quit eating dairy, I have tried new face wash (Older Lady Naturals, obvs), I have been incredibly diligent and to no avail. I’m convinced it is totally hormonal since my skin is ok (not great, but not awful) for about 2 weeks out of the month and then REVENGE OF THE PISSED OFF CHIN ZITS (for about 2 weeks out of the month) and it is just the most awful thing. Garrett could not care any less and every time I bring it up he tells me not to worry and that it’s kind of all in my head. But emotionally it is difficult because it takes me right back to all those years ago when I felt that my skin was so awful that I would rather take medicine that could KILL A BABY than have zits.

I am no longer that person though. I don’t even take Advil when I have a headache. Mostly because I don’t get headaches because I’m super anal-retentive about everything that goes in my body. I turn to holistic solutions before I take ANY kind of medication, so obviously Baby Killing Drugs are not what I’m looking for. I’m also not looking to sound like a total douche, so if that paragraph above sounded that way — please know I’m not a total freak about everything that goes in my body. I’m just more mindful, I guess now. But I’m also at a loss. So this is where you come in. The internet always has advice, and I WOULD REALLY LIKE SOME!

Have you had experience with adult acne? Have you tried something that worked? Tell me about your skin care regimen because I am curious, even if you don’t have crazy skin? When I posed this question on Facebook I got a lot of Clarisonic/Obagi love…have you invested in either. (And I do mean Inve$$$$ted?) Is it worth it?

Talk to me girls. Let’s pretend like we work for Cosmo, only let’s come up with more helpful stuff than the same 50 recycled tips to have the BEST! SEX! EVER!

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