Saturday, July 20, 2013

Acne

There is a lot of information online and out in the world of mass media about acne and acne treatments. I'd like to take a moment to say that most of them make NO sense if you really stop and think about them.

I had acne, cystic acne, for most of my life. It started when I was 10 and pretty much took over my face for the next 13 years. I am not talking about a little pimple here or there like my friends would whine about (I used to think I'd kill to just have a white head on my nose every couple of weeks). I am talking about large, swollen, painful lumps all over my face. The kind that make your jaw go from heart shaped to volleyball as soon as they appear.

This was a really good day in Claire's acne history and I have on a lot of makeup...
 In 6th grade, my acne got so bad that my parents started to dutifully take me to the dermatologist. My Dad was usually be the parent who took me because he felt so guilty that his genes were passed on (he was an acne sufferer too). From those doctors offices (I have seen 4 dermatologists over the years) I heard the same misinformation's (dare I say-lies?): "Acne has NOTHING to do with what you eat and drink, it is all topical." And guess what?! They all had some solution to sell me which was usually quite expensive. We spent thousands of dollars on potions for my skin. I was put on Differin in 6th grade. I took the dreaded (now recalled) Acutane shots which results in my having to get my liver tested every month to be sure it was not destroying it (great idea science!). Acutane turned my skin into a peely oily mess before it just stopped doing anything at all. Then I was put on Proactive which I used for years. Looking back, that made no sense because it did not ever make any difference for my skin but it did cost $50 a box. I've had two laser treatments and one resulted in my face breaking out into a horrible mess of white heads in every pore (can you imagine?). Are you grossed out yet? I am. I was put on birth control at 16 to control "my hormones" with the hope that it would solve my acne problems. Then I took antibiotics for 2 straight years (how is that OK?). Between all of those terrible misadventures I spent a fortune on soaps, creams and don't forget...makeup. I piled on the makeup like it was my job. I learned how to paint by putting on my foundation every day. Pace face. 

Thank you, Daddio.
Remembering this part of my life is no big deal now. It used to make me cry and remind me of all the times I wished, prayed, begged that my face would be clear like all my friends and my sister. Having acne did do me some good, I suppose. I learned to smile a lot. I learned to be myself and let my personality shine brighter than my skin. I learned to not judge myself by my appearance and over and over I learned that other people weren't judging me by it either. Well, the ones I cared about weren't.

 My acne was bad but fortunately, I had the realization that I was much more aware of it than anyone else. That helped me to see that it did not make or break me. It just was. That's all. I could still be Claire, as mom would always remind me, the clear, bright light (even if my face didn't reflect that clarity).

It wasn't until my adulthood that I realized 4 men in my life were speaking truth to me about this issue for years. 
Lookin good but where is the water?
In middle school my Dad would casually point to my sister's basketball team as they played and say "All of those girls are athletes so they drink a lot of water and they have clear skin. Why don't you play basketball?" All I heard was Dad trying to get me to play a sport and the answer to that was "no". 

Years later in college, I was visiting my best guy friend at his university and stood in his bathroom putting on my nightly regime of tonics, slims, and goos. Over my shoulder he shook his head and muttered, "Girls, put a lot of shit on their faces." I whipped around, all offended, and reminded him that my skin was in bad shape and this is the only thing I could do to keep it a little bit clear. He walked away still muttering, "my skin is clear and I don't do anything to it."

Thank you, Joel.
At 22 working in my first real job, I was visiting my grandparents and my Pawpaw looked at me and asked me how many times a day I wash my face. I answered "two." He patted his cheeks and said, "I've never washed my face a day in my life and I've never had a pimple. If you leave it alone it will take care of itself." I just rolled my eyes. What did he know? He's only lived 86 years.

Finally, during the first two years that I dated Joel my skin was a wreck and I just covered it up with makeup like I always had. One day I commented on his beautiful complexion and he challenged me, "Why don't you stop washing your face and stop wearing makeup and see what happens. I bet your skin will clear up. Mine only breaks out after I wash it." 

For this guy, I'd do anything. 

When we completed the Daniel Fast, I also decided for that month I would not touch my face with any products at all. I accepted his challenge. We ate nothing but pure foods (no processed foods and only drank water and green tea). It only took a week before my skin started clearing up. By the end of the month my face was totally clear. It had never, ever looked like this! I was thrilled. After that I was a believer. What you put in your body directly correlates with your acne problems and leaving your face alone DOES make it better. 

I know some of you out there have gotten great results from topical solutions and that is possibly because you do not have cystic acne, but I still think this is worth reading.
Thank you, Jeremy.

After doing some research, I stumbled across this video on Youtube and it changed my life forever.

All those years, my Dad was onto something. My friend was onto something. My grandpa was onto something and so was my husband. Those dermatologists and advertisements were telling me the same mistruths which results in my now clear skin baring scars where picked and tormented cysts once lived. 

God has given us everything we need. The video says it all. Your liver is the number one organ for cleaning out your body and blood. It removes toxins from your body. When you eat processed foods, high fat foods, too much sugar, alcohol, anything hard for the liver to clean (you can google foods that are tough on the liver and you can guess what they are: meats, processed everything, white breads, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, anything from the ABC, etc) then your face will probably break out. The more you eat like that the harder it is on your liver and the worse your skin will look. If your liver cannot get ride of all those toxins then your second most important organ for releasing toxins takes over- your skin. Your skin is the largest organ on your body. Your blood flows all through your veins and releases the toxins that weren't captured by the liver into your skin and they are sweated and pushed out of your pores through your natural oils. These toxins build up and if they are already coming out in large quantities then they will clog and back up your pores. Therefore, you get ACNE! woohoo!


Thank you, Pawpaw.
Once you claim this as truth, acne is really simple to solve and it can happen almost right away. I looked up all the foods that are hard on your liver. Then I looked up foods that promote good liver function. It was almost silly to look this up because it simply means you need to eat a well balanced diet. Eat vegetables, lots of greens. Parsley cleans out your blood. Mint helps speed up liver function. Cilantro has powerful natural cleaners in it too. Antioxidant baring foods are essential like fish oil, almonds, blue berries, green tea, dandelion root tea, beets, etc. I stopped wearing foundation. I stopped putting on lotion. I stopped washing my face. I started eating pure foods as often as possible. I stopped having an alcoholic drink every time I had the opportunity and when I did have one, I'd immediately follow it with a glass or two of water. I carried a 32oz nalgene with me everywhere and drank at least half my weight in ounces of water everyday. I drank a pot of green tea a day. My skin became clear and it has stayed clear.

Over the years I have gotten less regimented with this diet and drinking to cleanse routine. I have found an organic lotion from Lush that works for my skin just right (My sister works there and gives me a discount). I use it two or three times a week. I don't wash my face often and I don't pick at it because there is very little to pick. All of that helps.

Pounding those blueberries!
If my skin breaks out, I can always predict when it will happen. It consistantly breaks out when I have had fast food more than once in a weekend, if I have been drinking and did not follow those drinks with water,if I have eaten excessive sugar, and if I exfoliate or wash it more than three times a week. Anytime I binge on any processes, sugary or alcoholic substances, I will have a break out in about two days. This is time tested and proven in my book.

It was so empowering to know that I hold the key to my own beauty and health. It is so humbling to realize that God has been telling me this for years and years and still I gave that control over to fools. The truth is, if we really invest in being intentional with our bodies and our health then we will look better. You ARE what you eat. You will feel the difference just as much as you will see it. 

Happy clarity of mind, spirit and skin!