Let’s get some acne facts out of the way.
Acne is a skin condition that results when oil, dead skin cells and bacteria get plugged in your hair follicles. It can present in any one or combination of these:
- Blackheads and Whiteheads – we all know what these look like.
- Papules are firm, inflamed bumps that look almost like a rash.
- Pustules are inflamed, puss-filled whiteheads.
- Nodules are large, inflamed bumps that develop deep within the skin. They hurt.
- Cysts are large, pus-filled lesions that look like boils. These also hurt.
No one really knows what exactly causes acne. It could be hormones, drugs, genetics, comedogenic products, stress, underlying diseases or other environmental factors. That’s why it’s so important to talk to your esthetician and/or dermatologist not only about treatment options, but also your family medical history, what’s going on in your life, changes to diet and/or routine, etc.
Regardless of the cause, there are only a few ways to treat acne:
- Oral and/or topical drugs that kill acne-causing bacteria, dissolve the debris that clog pores, reduce oil production and/or balance certain hormones in your body.
- Cleaning your pores out with facials, either laser or ones that include extractions. You may want to consider throwing in some bio-LED blue light therapy to kill pesky acne-causing bacteria as well.
- Healthy diet, lifestyle and habits.
- Eating healthy so your body is nourished and working optimally (yes, your skin is an organ)
- Limiting carbs, chocolate and milk – all foods that research has linked to breakouts (and happiness, unfortunately)
- Hydrate (Fun Fact: Did you know your skin is 64% water?)
- Changing your pillowcases every week
- Washing your makeup brushes
- Stop touching/picking at your face (easier said than done!)
- Finding your ideal routine and using the right products
So, on to my personal journey with acne.
I was on spironolactone and birth control for a while, and my skin was so clear! With my monthly facials, I would get maybe one or two pimples the week before my period and that’s it. I thought I had beaten acne and it felt great!
Then I started feeling a little weird. I’d get heart palpitations, felt dehydrated all the time despite drinking tons of water, I’d get super dizzy when standing up, always felt tight in my legs and just generally weak. One day, I just got sick of feeling this way and started looking into the medications I was taking.
It turns out spironolactone isn’t even meant for acne! It’s used to treat heart failure, high blood pressure and low potassium, but also commonly prescribed for acne because it helps to regulate aldosterone (a hormone) in your body. The side effects blew my mind! It causes tumors in animals, has been linked to deformity in babies, impairs your thinking and reaction, causes light-headedness, stomach bleeding, uneven heart rate, extreme thirst, muscle weakness, vomiting, muscle spasms, slurred speech, etc. I stopped spironolactone immediately.
Months later, I feel great, but my acne is back with a vengeance. It got so bad at one point that I considered going back on spironolactone, but decided that I was going to try a new approach that didn’t trade one condition for a myriad of horrific side effects.
I decided to see if changing everything else would help. I'm getting my monthly acne facials from VHB and a monthly 15-min. laser and light facial from Skin Laundry, spaced two weeks apart. I switch between a salicylic acid and benzyl peroxide face wash at night. I try to get enough sleep and water. I use a witch hazel toner sometimes if I feel like my face needs a refresh during the day and I wash my face with a gentle cleanser right after working out. Oh, and I moisturize at night – heavily – with things that won’t clog my pores and I change my pillowcases every week.
It’s only been a month, but I’m noticing a pretty big improvement.
I love VHB’s holistic skincare philosophy. Stacy works from the outside-in starting by listening to what you believe the issues are. While she’s doing the facial, she factors in lifestyle, skincare routine, habits, etc. and she’s honest with the process. There is no such thing as a miracle drug, cream, or procedure. Like everything else in life, it’s a process... and you’ve got to respect the process.