Skin Journal: The History
My Skin History
If some of you have been reading or following me for some time, you’ll know I was documenting my skincare journey and the progress I’ve experienced with my skin based on diet and skincare routine changes. Since transferring to a new website platform and losing all of my old content, I’m recreating as I go.
Here’s a brief history and bullet point low-down on my skin over the course of basically the last decade. (*Note: the images to follow do not depict 10 years worth, just the recent years. But I’ve been dealing with skin trouble for all of my twenties).
I’ve never struggled with teenage acne or “typical acne”.
My skin problems began to manifest in my very early twenties, around 21 or 22.
I’ve dealt with under-the-skin, deep, cystic acne and scarring for all of my twenties and into my thirties. These cysts usually go away once they’ve bursted. What usually seeps out is a lot of puss, sometimes solid, mostly a pale greenish or slightly off-white liquid and kind of sticky, and lots of blood. These usually leave very deep, pitted scars, and sometimes if I’m lucky (sarcasm) I sprout a new cyst in the same spot once it’s healed over.
I have many of these cysts on my upper shoulders and mid back. I have active breakouts present day in these areas but many of the “cysts” or bumps are scar tissue healed on top of other old tissue or other scars, so my skin texture on my shoulders is VERY bumpy.
I’ve tried a variety of acne medications oral and topical prescribed by a licensed dermatologist over the course of 2-4 years in my early twenties. A dermatologist diagnosed me with Hidradenitis Suppurativa or HS—A chronic skin condition featuring lumps in places such as the armpits or groin. I was getting lumps or cysts in these areas, but that still didn’t explain what was going on with my face. I do not have severe HS thankfully, so this isn’t discussed as much as my condition with the skin on my face or shoulders.
I’ve never gotten to the point of accutane, but I did take something else very strong and I ended up having an allergic reaction to it that put me in the ER for a night and admitted to the hospital for two days.
This allergic reaction led me to my first holistic skin experience at 26 or 27. I found myself a naturalpath doctor who practiced Ayurvedic medicine. She stressed the importance of a well balanced diet, nutrients, gut health, and the link to my skin inflammation and issues.
We did a food allergy test where I found that I was highly allergic or sensitive, to a very large list of foods including; dairy, eggs, peanuts, red meat, oysters, avocado, bananas, garlic, and the list went on. We did a 3-6 month trial where I eliminated all of the “avoid list” items and many of the “moderate” list items to see how my body reacted to going back to a more “natural” non-inflamed state.
During this period of 3-6 months I ate a VERY bland diet (avoided all the allergen items, nixed a lot of processed foods or junk, and very extreme limitations to refined or processed sugar), did my best to drink more water, took lots of natural supplements (Ashwaganda, ginger, tumeric, fish oil, vitamin D3, and a blend of herbs for reproductive and female regulation and health).
She recommended I stop birth control pills which I did to see how my hormones would level out. She was concerned with how long I had been on the pill—over 10 years. I started when I was around 15 and had continued into my late twenties.
We had planned on doing hormonal testing after 3 months off birth control and on the new “diet” but she ended up leaving the clinic I was going to and then I moved out of state by the time she got set up somewhere new.
After 6 months of seriously sticking to my “Ayurvedic” diet (where I avoided everything I wasn’t supposed to eat on the allergy list), I began to slowly incorporate the eliminated foods back into my diet to see if I’d have reactions. *Note I did this on my own without a doctor since I moved. My personal conclusion was that I was very sensitive to the major avoid list items being dairy and eggs (these were the top contenders that caused me the most visible and physical issues compared to the rest of the list). Red meat was harsh on my stomach and peanuts could sometimes help flare up my skin as well. So I now avoid or eat very little of all of these things. But I do allow myself to indulge every now and then.
I’ve concluded that if I consume too much red meat, eggs, or dairy, that I do myself no favors with my skin or my stomach.
After being 3-5 years dairy and egg free (mostly* again I cheat sometimes—about a couple times a month is all I can handle or care to deal with) my skin has been doing so much better.
On top of dietary changes, I minimized my skincare routine as I believed that all of the products I was using was overloading my skin. For more information and really great resources about skin barrier and how smart your skin truly is on its own, PLEASE go binge a bunch of Liah Yoo’s Youtube videos. I went from a several-step-layered-Korean styled skincare routine to a simplified “essentials” routine—I only use what keeps my skin happy and what it needs. You can read about my morning skincare routine here.
I currently (2019) experience less cysts and “breakouts” but do still have textural and scarring issues. It is much, much better now overall compared to just last year.
See most of the above detailed in photos in a timeline of sorts below. *Note that none of these images are altered or edited in anyway except cropping to stay consistent in depicting accurate skin changes and progress over time.
February. The beginning of more severe cysts. Lots of darkened “bruise” like discoloration was what I assumed to be cysts forming underneath my skin.
April. I continued to just get worse from here.
October (I started seeing the naturalpath doctor in September the month before. So this is at the beginning of my purge diet, no more birth control, and slightly simplified skincare routine, I was finishing up products I wouldn’t repurchase again). I think my skin went through the most changes at the end of the year as I was getting my body back to an original state. Stress was also apparently a factor.
November. After I moved out of state. Dietary restrictions still going strong. Simplified skincare, still taking and finishing up supplements that naturalpath prescribed. Still (and at present) off birth control. Skin pictured here is wet because I just got done washing my face.
January. This is the worst stage of the cysts when they were REALLY bad. This one was not only just hideous, but EXTREMELY painful. I also get similar on my chest, but more often my upper shoulders and mid back. My face really blew up at the start of 2018. I believe it to be partially due to the new extreme elimination of food and no more birth control so my body and hormones, and everything was in a purge mode or just freaking out.
June. The cysts I’d get started showing up less frequently, but when they did get disrupted or bursted, it was less blood and liquid puss, and more of a solid form as you can see on the tissue. (Sorry these are pretty gross, and graphic). You can also see how dry and dehydrated my skin is. I moved to a much drier state. My dairy & egg free diet is in full swing here. Still no birth control and a simple skincare routine. I also began working out regularly and consumed more water. Breakouts seemed to happen more frequently, specifically during my menstrual cycles. *I do not recommend purging or squeezing your breakouts like I did here. If you can help it, don’t touch, let it do its thing or go see a dermatologist or aesthetician to professionally drain or extract.
Upper shoulder cyst.
August. What happens when I get the really bad on my upper shoulders.
September. Finally started seeing major progress. Diet still going strong. I forget the timeline, but I also started only washing my face with any kind of cleanser, once a day. This helped tremendously with not overwhelming my skin or drying it out further, allowing it to properly heal.
February. Much happier skin—on a good diet avoiding dairy & eggs (with limited cheat days because YOLO). Minimal skincare that works for me. Proper hydration, exercise, and stress management.
Unfortunately, I haven’t shot any comparison shots as of recently because I drifted off the blogging bandwagon, I lost my dad in February of this year, and went through a lot of stress mentally and emotionally. I’ve also been in and out of depression and trying to stay out of “the funk” for most of 2019 so far. It’s summer time and I’ve been enjoying the sunshine, so I hope to keep riding this creative/creating energy flow.
I do plan on posting my current skincare routine, both day and night, as well as a more up to date glimpse of how my skin has been doing, which is quite fantastic if I say so myself! I’m pretty ecstatic going through all of these photos with all the progress I’ve made in just over a year. It was a long process, but SO worth all of the effort with my diet and skincare regimen. I hope this was thorough and insightful. If my gross and gnarly images didn’t scare you away, I hope you come back soon! Until my next few posts, see you then.