How I (FINALLY) Cleared My Skin of Acne

by | Sep 22, 2014
Me in Kauai three weeks ago, no makeup

Me in Kauai three weeks ago, no makeup

I thought I was one of the lucky ones. While I certainly had my fair share of awkwardness during middle school and high school, bad skin wasn’t a problem for me. I assumed I was just genetically blessed in that regard––my mom’s Mexican heritage awarded her flawless skin––and so I focused my attention on studying and dieting my way out of the rest of my problems. Oh the joys of being a teenager.

It wasn’t until I got to college that my skin changed. Within just a few months of arriving at Berkeley I developed deep, cystic acne on my chin and around my jaw line. The blemishes were incredibly painful, not to mention embarrassing. I tried every over-the-counter remedy I could find, to no avail. The teasing and chastising I got from my family that Christmas was relentless.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but my breakouts were caused by the birth control pills I had recently started using. In this sense I am abnormal, as most women experience their skin clearing up as a result of the extra estrogen. Not me, I’m a weirdo.

I can't believe I just put this on the internet

I can’t believe I just put this on the internet (me at 18)

Messing with your hormones is scary business, and in my case led to a slew of symptoms including spider veins and abnormal hair growth. I was responding opposite to estrogen than most people expect, and my doctors were completely befuddled. Since they didn’t have an answer they kept telling me it was “probably genetic” before shooing me out of their office. Thanks guys.

It took me several years and many self-experiments to finally figure out that I had a hormone problem. I got off the pill and within a few month my symptoms diminished and my acne improved dramatically. This was a huge victory.

But while my skin was much improved, it still wasn’t perfect. Armed with the confidence I had gained from my hormone discovery I began searching for other environmental or dietary factors that could be causing my acne. Turns out there were several, and over the years I have finally discovered and eliminated them all.

The first factor I learned about was dairy. Dairy is the strongest dietary factor associated with acne, and sure enough when I cut it out my skin clears up beautifully. I’ve played around a lot with the different ways this manifests for my skin and here’s what I’ve learned:

1. Straight milk, cream, yogurt, sour cream, or any other industrial source of dairy causes deep breakouts within 1-4 days of consumption.

2. Cow’s milk is by far the worst offender, though I’m not entirely convinced that goat’s milk doesn’t impact my skin as well.

3. Quality matters. Fancy grass-fed milk from pastured cows (think $12/gallon) isn’t nearly as bad on my skin. I’ve had ice cream, cheese and butter from these cows without problem. This makes sense if you consider that milk is a hormonal product and industrial cows are given extra hormones to increase milk production. Pasture-raised cows are fed their natural diet and not supplemented with additional hormones. For some reason, regular organic milk doesn’t seem to be good enough. I have no idea why.

4. Butter and hard cheeses in general don’t seem to be a problem. Soft cheeses like fresh mozzarella or burrata wreak havoc unless they are from the fancy cows.

People sensitive to dairy have different tolerance levels, but this is the pattern I have found for myself.

The second factor for me is lavender oil. I noticed a resurgence in my acne a year or so after I reduced my dairy intake. It took me awhile to figure out, but one day I came across a case study of a few young boys who developed breasts after using lavender and tea tree shampoo. I noted that I had been recently purchased Dr. Bronner’s soap in lavender scent (it’s really strong) and was using it to clean my body. I switched back to peppermint soap and my skin cleared up again.

The lavender hypothesis is very controversial and further studies have not substantiated it as an estrogen mimic. I had trouble believing it myself, but I’ve tested my skin over and over again and without fail even simply washing my hands with lavender soap results in a mild breakout the following several days. My guess is that a small percentage of the population is sensitive to lavender, and I am one of those people. For most it is probably safe.

The final phase of my skin journey came as I was preparing for my wedding. I asked my friend Melody McCloskey, co-founder and CEO of StyleSeat, a company that helps you find and book appointments with beauty and wellness specialists. Melody had recently cleared up her own skin problems and had insightful advice for finding an excellent esthetician. For more severe skin problems, she recommends finding an esthetician who also works with an MD.

As a scientist I had often been frustrated with the skin care advice I’d been given in the past. It seemed every time I got a facial I received different, contrary advice to the last one I had. After awhile it was clear that the people I had seen really didn’t know anything about long-term acne treatment.

Melody recommended finding someone who approaches treatment holistically. She suggests reading the biography and philosophy of the practitioner to be sure they approach skin problems in a holistic way, with an eye toward long-term results. They should understand the science and the products they are using, and do a deep dive with you on your own products to discover what is and isn’t working.

“Once you talk to someone it’s pretty easy to tell if they are just trying to sell you products or if they’re truly interested in giving you personalized skin advice. They should talk about the types of products you should be using for your skin, without forcing you to drop $500 on what they want to sell.”

I ended up finding a woman who studied chemistry and cares first and foremost about the ingredients in the products she recommends. Not surprisingly, she speaks about skin care products a lot like the way I speak about Real Food.

She looked at my skin under a microscope then went through all my skin care and makeup products with me and pointed out some that may be be working against me. I was much relieved when she agreed that some of the things I was using were perfectly fine.

Over the years I have upgraded my entire skin care and makeup collections (full list below), but I did this slowly and as needed. It took nearly two years before we figured everything out, but my skin has never been so clear. And it was glowing at my wedding.

One of the most important things I learned from my esthetician is that everyone’s skin is different, and that you need to experiment to find what works for you. Diet is a huge factor, as is hydration and stress. For instance, I am abnormally sensitive to lavender and dairy, but have no trouble whatsoever with eating nuts. I have other friends, however, that can’t eat them without breaking out.

The same is true of products. The reason she didn’t change all my products over at once (besides having sympathy for my budget) is that she needed to see how my skin reacted to a new one before advising me further. As we made progress and my skin got healthier, we were able to add things like more intense exfoliation, which helped improve skin further.

For this reason I’ve been debating whether or not to include my full skin care regimen here. Ultimately I decided I would share it so you have an example (and I know that if I were still struggling with my skin I would want to see it), but please don’t assume you can just switch to these products and achieve miraculous results. I recommend finding a good esthetician first and working with her or him to find a solution.

Here’s what works for me:

Skin care

Mineral makeup

There you have it. It certainly isn’t cheap, but anyone who has struggled with their skin knows that price is meaningless if you get real results. If you upgrade over time it isn’t that bad.

Have you overcome skin issues? What was your secret?

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86 Responses to “How I (FINALLY) Cleared My Skin of Acne”

  1. Natalie says:

    Wow this post could have been written by me about my struggles prior to my own wedding! Although my skin was clear on the big day it was only after using seriously harsh chemicals to practically peel off all the outer layers of epidermis. Not fun. I’m excited to try a few of the skin care products you’ve found success with.
    Like you I’m extremely sensitive to dairy and hormones: what was your experience finding an effective and non hormonal form of birth control?

    • Darya Rose says:

      I use Mirena IUD. It technically has some hormones, but they work locally, not systemically. Changed my life.

      • Emily says:

        I’m super sensitive to hormones too and I just made the switch to the Mirena. It’s comforting to hear that it’s been good for you! I would never have thought about the lavender oil, but I just switched back to lavender Dr Bronners and had a big breakout on my shoulders. Are there other estrogen or estrogen-like sources you know of that I should stay away from?

      • Darya Rose says:

        Plastics and alcohol are two biggies.

      • Kendra says:

        So your doctor put you on Mirena IUD without having a child first? I had a friend on Mirena who had never had a child and her doctor discouraged her but ultimately agreed to it since she was so adamant. I know it is recommended for women after they have given birth.

      • Cecelia says:

        Emily, There is estrogen in soy milk, and also in the lining of some canned foods. I have eliminated most dairy from my diet and mostly only have Greek yogurt (which is to also help with some tummy troubles I have) but I do love my almond milk. Unfortunately I am getting close to 30 and I can say from the time I started puberty my skin has always been bad. I just laid off chemicals and makeup for a few months and no change.

      • Darya Rose says:

        If you consider the amount of estrogen in soy milk and cans to be relevant, then the amount in yogurt is relevant as well.

      • Cecelia says:

        Did not know it was getting put in there too. I dont think there is anything left that is safe to eat

      • I regained Clear skin. I’m just in middle school and I have been suffering with acne since 1 year. I have a combination skin so I only got acne & Pimples in my T-Zone as it was very easy for me to treat me as I’m only 12. Every night I tried lemon juice and for my nose I use to apply some toothpaste. After a week I could see that after applying toothpaste on my nose the oil on my nose almost vanished. Now I’m almost confident for going school and yeah I hope you to clear your skin.

    • Casey says:

      Great article! I recently started using Spironolactone prescribed by my dermatologist. I have noticed great results the past few weeks. This medicine is usually prescribed for high blood pressure, which I do not have, but it also treats with hormone imbalances. I got the implanon birth control implanted two years ago and for awhile my acne went away, but over the summer it came back in full force, so I decided it was time to take action!

      I, like Darya have been struggling with acne my entire life, and I finally took charge and found a doctor that specialized in women’s hormones.

      One down side to this medicine, is that you have to go in regularly to get your kidney’s check, but other than that the side effects have been minimal.

      I appreciate the article, it is great to know I am not alone out there.

      Every day I am working towards becoming more confident in my skin…

    • Casey says:

      I heard apple cider vinegar works wonders as well!

  2. Pat says:

    You look lovely without makeup

  3. Elizabeth says:

    I read somewhere that lavender oil is photo sensitive and about a third of the population breaks out in a rash or acne if they wear it in the sun. Like you I spent the last two years getting rid of my adult and hormonal acne. I had a great facialist to work with. First thing she told me was to drink more water and wash my face with cooler water. I saw small changes in my skin each time she had me do a small change in my routine. I was able to get the adult acne and acne caused by outside irritation gone and my skin an even coloring in 18 months. I did have to turn to a prescription for the hormonal acne but my face is now clear of all acne and looks great.

  4. Maya says:

    And chance you would be wiling toshare the name of your esthetician?

  5. Abbey says:

    First of all. Love the picture! You are adorable.
    I too had struggles with cystic acne which I believe stemmed from GI problems. I remember telling my doctors I thought food was causing my acne and they told me food had no effect on skin issues whatsoever (this was the 90s) so I continued to eat dairy, sugar, gluten and anything else I wanted. Later when I finally went to a nutritionist and figured out my food allergies, my acne went away! I get flare-ups here and there but it’s usually because of something I ate. So glad that you listed all your products. I love Jane Iredale, and I’m going to try the sunscreen as those often cause me to breakout. Great post!

    • Abbey says:

      P.S. I too am interested in getting your esthetician’s info!

    • Jessi says:

      Hey Abbey, the Colorscience powder sunscreens are also great for more sensitive skin. I would break out with every cream sunscreen I tried, but this powder is awesome. Works well, you can barely see it and no break-outs!

  6. Marian says:

    Hi Darya,
    thanks so much for this article. I am one of the people whose acne went away when I started taking the pill as a teenager. I stopped taking it a few years ago and had to fight and treat for a year to fight back the huge outbreak I had even after going back on it after six months. So I am dreading the time when we will want to start a family and I must stop taking it again. After reading your article I will try to find such a person here in Germany. I bought your book when you were at Creative Life and am still on my way to incorporate all your advice into my daily life. That and seeing a homeopath regularly should help with the holistic aspect as well. Thanks again and all the best!

  7. Ashley says:

    Great post Darya, this was terrific. Thanks for posting your list of items – it’s always good to hear about brands from people who aren’t trying to sell them – and that’s hard to do these days.

    Same boat here with the regular/organic vs. fancy dairy.

    Very interesting about the Mirena, and the local vs. systemic (?) hormone contrast.

    I’d also love your esthetician’s contact info (hoping she is taking new clients!).

  8. Keli says:

    Wonderful post! I struggled with cystic acne for years as well. I found my skin improved slightly when I eliminated cow’s milk from my diet (cheese doesn’t seem to be a problem). However, when I started using organic apple cider vinegar on my face each night like an astringent, I saw a major improvement. When I started putting a cap full in my water bottle each morning my skin got even better. I will say I increased my water intake around the same time so I can’t know for sure if one or all of these factors working together account for the improvement. Now I use the ACV as needed when I have an occasional breakout. I am glad to see sunscreen is part of your regime too! I am having my second basal cell removed this week. Here’s to quality protection from the sun!

  9. Amadeus says:

    Avene cleanance facial cleanser basically got rid of my acne.

  10. Nicole L says:

    I would love more thinking of birth control and options for those seeking more natural methods. I too was on the pill for a long time- no breakouts over here but now after a pregnancy, I’m finding out so much more about hormone regulation, side effects, etc…

    I’d love (without being too personal) to hear your research/thoughts on natural-ish birth control options. Maybe future post?

  11. Tiffany says:

    Ok so I have just started a step into eating more WHOLE foods as am so sick of feeling tired, lethargic and generally unwell about 80% of the time. I knew by far my biggest battle will be my love of dairy. So anyway I am 46 with cystic acne (yes that is correct 46) around my jaw line & I have tried it all including the heavy duty Roaccutane with all its side effects!! I have wondered if the copious amounts I drink each day in tea & coffee were affecting my health & my skin and BANG I read this!!! Hmmm much to work on. I am NOT a lover of herbal teas or black coffee and struggle with other milk forms in both. Soy in coffee is do-able at a stretch…..any suggestions would be most appreciated 🙂

    • Darya Rose says:

      My recommendation is to spend money on better coffee. Really good coffee isn’t bitter, and I actually prefer mine without cream now.

      I use unsweetened hemp milk in my breakfast muesli.

  12. Samantha says:

    Hi Darya,

    How soon after consuming dairy do you break out? Just wondering how to tell what caused the breakout with so many things in our diet. Also, what about kefir? Have you tried it, and does it produce the same results as yogurt? Lastly, is soy milk an acceptable substitute for cow’s milk when almond milk isn’t available, or will that cause breakouts too?

    Thank you!

  13. Miranda says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience! I went through over half of my 20s as a major over-exfoliator before trying a clean eating lifestyle. I felt better, lost weight, but my face, mama mia, was a wreck! Even worse than my fast food days. Turns out I’m one of those who can eat all meats and dairy, but one almond or coconut sliver equals a monster on the chin. After coconut milk for my breakfast beverage EVERY DAY for two years, it was a shocker. But such a relief, truly, to know the triggers. It’s a labor of love to weed out the culprit, and it’s not normally easy on the budget, but for the sake of sanity (and a little vanity) I’d encourage any acne sufferer to endeavor treatment via rotation diets with a physician/naturopath and gentle, chemical-limited skin products.

    • Lisa says:

      Hi Miranda, what you describe about almonds and coconut sounds exactly like me. Prior to going vegan, I had fine skin. As a vegan for 7 years, I relied heavily on nuts and coconuts and now cannot touch them without getting bumps and dryness on the chin. I also developed deep lines on the chin as well. I’m now back to eating meat and also trying to rotate my diet. I see you work at MPM (great name!). Wondering if anyone there might know personally of a naturopath in NYC to recommend? Thanks in advance!

  14. coralcrue says:

    I didn’t have acne till my 30’s. So I am quite struggling with it and at wit’s end trying everything possible. Mostly natural stuff. Let’s hoping things clear up. You have great skin now. Cheers

  15. Sandy S says:

    I have discovered that anything with vitamin E added causes my skin to breakout. Even in my 50s.
    I have also discovered that it is added to most of the beauty products out there. And not even listed on some. It has been very frustrating.
    Certain shampoos have it added as well. My back breaks out if used in the shower.
    What is a girl to do!!!

  16. Val says:

    Can you share your esthetician?

  17. Angela says:

    Hi Darya, Great information! I, like you, had fabulous skin throughout junior high and high school. Then in my 20s got some acne on my chin but it wasn’t until I was 29 that I began noticing a new problem, now I know it to be called Sebaceous Hyperplasia. Yes, I was that young with a problem that usually doesn’t occur until well into your 50s IF you get it. Most people don’t even know what it is. Doctors started me on Retin A, it helped a little. I tried everything from AVON to everything natural. Flash forward to now, I’m 47! and still have the same struggle with Sebaceous Hyperplasia. So over time I switched my diet around. In my 30s I stuck to a vegetarian diet and have continued, at times becoming vegan, but I always went back to cheese. I couldn’t help it! Now, in the last 2 weeks I want to get to the bottom of this Sebaceous Hyperplasia problem once and for all, so I cut gluten, sugar, dairy and eat a lot of veggies and beans, no meat. I drink more water or drink green tea. The only sweetener I take in is xylitol, the natural kind from Birch Trees, The Ultimate Sweetener brand. I also wear very little make up, and when I do, it’s an all natural brand. I’ll let you know how it goes. Oh, and the thing about Lavender…wow! I use natural liquid soap with pure lavender in it and my chest breaks out, so now I wonder of this in the culprit! Thank you again for this informative post!

    • nicole says:

      Hi Angela, I have sebatious hyperplasia too 🙁 and I’m 21 now but I’ve had it since I was 18 and it’s so annoying. But in the future I’m having this laser thing procedure with a tool called the skin classic and Im really hoping it works. By any chance have you tried that?

  18. Shelley says:

    I’ve had acne off and on–mostly when I’m eating dairy–and recently, a few months after the birth of my son, I developed eczema. It is very frustrating, especially when the two dermatologists I saw gave me a steroid cream and told me to get over it, basically. I asked the second one about diet, and she said there is nothing I can do–just hope that it doesn’t get worse. I need to do some experimentation with food elimination and see if anything works.

    • Darya Rose says:

      That’s so frustrating. I’d definitely try removing a few suspect foods to see if it helps. I’ve had friends get rid of eczema by cutting out wheat, and others had success limiting alcohol. I’d try dairy and nuts as well if those don’t work.

    • Fi says:

      Shelley, I have a similar problem! At 18, when I moved abroad, I developed severe eczema. I went and visited SO many different doctors, and everybody just says the same – cream and get over it. They say there is no way to ‘cure’ it, and I’ll have to live with it forever, and that it is probably genetic and I used to have it as a child (and I didn’t- but that didn’t stop the doctor from arguing with me that I must have had but my mom doesn’t remember properly- sheesh!).. And here’s the thing- ever since I started to eat vegetables and real food, it’s gone away! Like properly totally gone away. And if i have a day or two where I don’t eat much veggies I can literally feel my skin hurting and starting to flame up! It’s ridiculous! But at least I know now that what I need to do is binge up on some spinach, kale and I’ll be good to go again!

  19. Ekaterina says:

    Great article, thank you! I have used the Mirena and I didn’t do well on it as the hormones affected my mood a lot. Felt like I was pregnant again. However, as a holistic health coach, I’ve done beacoup research and had contacted most nationwide chicken meat and egg farms, grass fed farms and duck farms to know in DETAIL what if they are feeding the animals organic soy. Well, they do. Soy=estrogen=breast=hormones=acne… you name it… So buying organic free range chicken eggs or meat, or duck is simply not enough. Also, most farmers markets who sell those items also feed the hens feed that contains soy or even GMO corn. Most of them don’t really look the ingredients. I suggest you ask them to bring label of the feed so you see what they feed them, or go to the farm yourself.

  20. My favorite article yet! Does the Mirena IUD have estrogen in it?

  21. Isabel says:

    Hi Darya,
    I love your blog and book! I abandoned dieting after reading it and it’s working great! 🙂
    I have psoriasis and my skin is pretty dry, specially the lips. I drink a lot of water and use all kinds of lip balms, moisturisers, etc, but nothing seams to work.
    Any idea of foods that might improve these 2 issues?

  22. Allie says:

    After struggling for close to 20 years with acne, the three things that have helped my acne the most are:
    1. Drink lots and lots of water.
    2. Use mineral powder makeup. I like Larenim.
    3. Stop washing my face so much. I wash with a gentle, homemade soap every week or two and I use the oil cleansing method about once a week. Otherwise I just rinse my face with water whenever I shower. Oh, and I moisturize with plain grapeseed oil.

    I’ve only discovered these things in the past few years but the difference is amazing. I think they work for me because I’ve always had extremely oily skin and everything I used to do was irritating or drying and causing my skin to produce more oil. Now that I’ve stopped fighting the oil and replacing it when I wash, my skin produces SO much less oil on its own which means much clearer skin.

  23. Colin R says:

    Great article, however, it would be nice to have a male perspective on this topic. I’m 27, eat healthy, don’t drink alcohol or do drugs (4+ years now), no soda, no gluten issues (that I’m aware of), rarely any dairy (except in coffee or the occasional ice cream), no makeup, obviously no birth control, and no other medications (except for naproxen when my back pain flairs up). When I was a kid/teenager my acne was extremely minimal an influx here and there, most likely due to hormones, but when I was 22 and I got sober along came the acne which could very much be due to a shift in hormones, however, more than 4 years down the road and I still have issues. I’ve tried prescriptions, over the counter, and up til recently (last 6 months) I’ve started using a face wash that seems to help my face 70% of the time but not my back. As anyone with acne knows it can be a struggle with confidence when a major break out happens. Would really love to see a male’s perspective or tips on this because some of the reasons (presumably after reading the article and comments) women break out are similar and more in common with women but not sure about men. There is so much information noise but so little actual information. Love all your work Darya and congrats!

    • Darya Rose says:

      Hi Collin,

      Besides the bcp thing, I think most of this still applies to men. I used to think I ate “very little” dairy too. Since I’m lactose intolerant I get sick if I have too much. It wasn’t until I eliminated it completely that I saw results. Cream in the coffee is a huge suspect.

      I also think that finding a good esthetician could help a lot.

  24. Donna says:

    I’m loving this blog thread. Has anyone used Eminence organic products from Hungary? I’ve started using them, with some results, but not enough yet.

  25. Michelle says:

    Wow what an inspiring story and to be glowing at your wedding is like a dream after battling acne for so long. You were so blessed to find someone that was willing to help you. Your experience speaks volumes. LOL!

  26. Anne Ricci says:

    Hi Darya, I totally agree with you about dairy. I have noticed the same with me. Every time I eat what I call processed dairy products (=the cows are fed mostly grain) I get some acne on the forehead.

    Now, I live in Europe, where growth hormones are prohibited, so this means it’s not only the hormones that are fed to American cattle that’s the problem. It’s the feed I think. Giving grain to cattle is a non-sense because of how they digest food.

    And just like you, when I eat butter, cream, yogurt and milk from cows that have been grass-fed (pretty hard to find even in Europe!), I don’t have any acne at all.

    Why doesn’t regular organic milk seem to be good enough? I think it’s because although the feed has not been grown with chemicals and spread with pesticides, it’s still grain, not grass. Actually, my milk comes from grass-fed cows, it doesn’t have the organic label, but it is much better than any organic milk I could find here.

    For me, processed pork products and gluten seems to also affect my skin and give me some acne.


    • Darya Rose says:

      Another hypothesis I’ve heard is that even organically fed dairy cows are required to produce milk round the clock and their bodies are overrun with excess hormones (natural ones). Grass-fed cows are more likely to be treated humanely and “work” more biologically appropriate hours. Food for thought.

  27. Alejandro Correa says:

    I started megadosing on pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) and my skin cleared up pretty nicely. Avoiding dairy and sugar + increasing water consumption and sleep also helped.

  28. Ryan Hill says:

    Great article, Darya, and may I say your skin’s looking lovely. The information on cow’s milk was particularly helpful. I run my own health and fitness blog, which you can check out here [link removed], and recently wrote an article sharing 7 foods for healthier looking skin – [link removed]

    Would love to get your opinion! Thanks, Ryan

  29. Christa S. says:

    Darya –
    Have you heard of thyroid issues being a possible cause of acne? I was just reading about that on the following website:

    I’d be curious to hear if you’ve read the above blog or article and if you’d agree or disagree with her assertions…


  30. Great article! I am a Women’s Holistic Health Coach who specifically works with balancing hormones natural and fertility issues, and I can not begin to tell you the amount of problems I see from the birth control pill! It’s so frustrating that that’s so many doctor’s answers to all female health problems without exploring other options, or to see the connection of the pill and other issues, like in your case. I’ve also see so many other health conditions clear up when dairy is removed- I know, it’s tough because it’s so delish;)

    Healing the gut and dealing with any liver/detoxification issues also has helped to clear up acne- it’s said that your skin is a mirror to your gut. Balancing any underlying hormone issues usually will do the trick as well:)

    Thank you for telling your own story and helping so many women know that they are not alone – it can be so frustrating when you feel like you are on your own island. Your insights will definitely help others to with their own health journey. 🙂

  31. Karen says:

    I hear you about hormonal acne. Not only did the BCP make me break out, but it also wreaked havoc on my moods. I also had the same problem during pregnancy…I broke out like CRAZY, whereas the skin of most pregnant women tends to clear up. I guess some of us are more sensitive to hormones than others and/or are genetically predisposed to a paradoxical response to at least some hormones. (It doesn’t have anything to do with skin, but there are studies about how some women have paradoxical mood responses to progesterone…it has to do with receptors in the brain…far more complex than anyone needs to get into here).

    • Darya Rose says:

      Eeeek. I know that will happen to me if I ever get pregnant. Ugh 🙁

      • Karen says:

        Well…hope for the best…and if not..well, you already have a kick-ass aesthetician! That’s what I did during pregnancy: maintained a VERY close relationship with my aesthetician! You may not have as many problems as I did, though, because you eat far better than I did when I was pregnant. I ate anything and everything, so that certainly could have had an impact, too. The good news is, the pregnancy break-out, if it occurs, has a finite (and presumably happy) end point!

  32. Dana Hayse says:

    Do you know of any association of soy milk and acne? Thanks.

  33. Laura says:

    I can’t believe I haven’t come across this article in my obsessive search for help with my skin! I’ve had acne my whole life- it’s at its worst now at 27 years old- and despite the most unbelievable list of things that I’ve tried- internally and externally. I’m still ridden with dreadful skin. What I’m most curious about In Your article is your mention of issues with birth control and “abnormal hair growth”. Coupled with my acne I as well have an issue with this… Chin(dark coarse) belly, face… Quite the hand I got dealt. Ugh. So I have gone to Drs and had hormone tests run and nothing points to why the heck this hair growth happened to me – no pcos or anything like that has been detected. So I’ve kind of made my own theory that it was somehow caused by the hormones in the birth control I was using .., but have never come across anyone else with a similar experience or this being a possible side effect. Anything you can give me of your experience would be much helpful and help me feel like less of a freak! Thanks!!

  34. elaina says:

    This article and feed is so helpful. I’ve been struggling with cystic acne since my mid 20’s and now I’m 30. I have been on antibiotics, which work, but only until I’m off of them, but I stopped taking it becuase it made me sick all the time and who wants to be taking antiobiotics for exteneded periods of time?! I’m wondering if anyone can tell me about allergy testing. Is that something I just ask my doctor to give me? Does insurance typically cover that sort of thing? I have a terrible feeling, from reading someone’s comment, that maybe I could be allergic to nuts becuase I drink almond milk everyday, and have nuts a lot in general. I feel like I’ve tried everything with the acne and I never once assumed it could be the almond milk! Literally I’ve tried everything, washing my face, not washing my face,mineral makeup, natural soap, no soap, washing with baking soda, washing with different oils, aloe, fancy aloe, super fancy aloe, eating vegan, no sugar, no gluten, hella water, ACV, ACV and blackstrap molasses, tea, no caffeine, vegetables vegetables vegetables, raw honey, raw honey on my face, cinnamon, cinnamon and honey on my face, etc. Anyway, a lot of these changes are healthy in general and I have adopted, others have fallen away. I’ve noticed what seems to help the most is getting enough sleep (this is not to say I don’t break out when I get enough sleep, but it subsides quicker). Stress also kills as well as overeating I think. But, now, I shall try the allergy test!! Any helpful tips on getting this accomplished?

    • Darya Rose says:

      Allergy tests are notoriously inaccurate. If you really think it’s nuts, the best way to know for sure is to stop eating them for a few weeks and see if there’s any difference. That’s how I figured out the dairy thing. Being super strict and systematic about your diet is really the only way to know if that is affecting your skin.

  35. @kmattridge says:


    I know that your skin care products may work differently for me, but I am curious as to why you the chose Rhonda Allison line? Was this recommended by your esthetician?

    I have struggled with acne since I was in 5th grade and have never seen any real improvements. I recently started using a product line called Arbonne? Have you ever heard of this line and, if so, what are your thoughts on it?

    • Darya Rose says:

      Yep, my esthetician recommended them and a few others. She’s very picky about the ingredients that companies use in their products (probably why I like her :). I don’t know much about the specific ingredients or brands myself.

  36. Kelly Wilson says:

    Casey, if you Google the words ‘apple cider vinegar,’ you will find that there are thousands of results relating to home remedies of all shapes and sizes – apple cider vinegar is extremely versatile. For example it works for getting rid of skin tags and acne because it is so acidic. However, this does mean that it should never be used to eradicate skin tags on or around the eyes. For effective removal, all you have to do is carefully clean the area in question – just do this as you usually would, with a mix of mild soap and water.

  37. Ana says:

    I’ve read good things about argan oil for treatment of acne & acne scars. Have to try this 🙂

  38. Lola says:

    I randomly recently cleared up my acne (I’d had it for 13 years) by drinking loads of water, reducing my caffeine intact, reducing my diary intake and upping the amount of veggies I ate (I ate a lot already). I didn’t do it intentionally, I just wanted to be a bit healthier and had a hunch water / veggies and less caffeine / milk might help. I also use tea tree and aloe vera on my skin. Who knows what worked the most but the combination has left me with lovely skin, and no more massive, painful cystic acne breakouts on my back.

  39. Jennifer says:

    Similar to your story, at school I was always told how lucky I was that I never got spots. At the age of 24 something changed, I started getting terrible breakout around my chin, cheeks and jaw. They were painful. After years of going on and off antibiotics which worked at clearing up my skin but not quite flawless complexion I also tried laser treatment which helped as well. It instantly dried up the spots but they just kept coming back. Now 31 and due to get married in 5 months I spent Christmas trying to work out what changed in my life at the age of 24 and I worked out when I moved to london I started drinking a huge amount of soya milk with Starbucks lattes daily (sometime multiple times daily) 5 weeks ago I gave up soya milk and seriously cut back sugar intake including artificial sweetener and stopped daily diet cokes.! I can’t believe what a difference this had made. My skin has completely cleared up. I don’t have a single spot. My skins not been this good for over 5 years.

  40. Sarah says:

    I never had acne and always had beautiful skin. I had a Mirena IUD put in and I got the worst cystic acne ever. My face became unbearable and I have scars. Ortho tri cyclen helped clear my acne.

    • Abby says:

      Mirena IUD gave me pizza-face as well. I had it taken out after a year and switched to Yaz, cleared up my face perfectly!

  41. Ayyash says:

    I cut off added white sugar for a year, and to my surprise acne disappeared. I know it isn’t just sugar, but rather the things that come along added sugar, but sugar deceases immunity, and allows other elements to attack.

  42. Katie says:

    Same exact experience with dr. bronners lavender soap! Had the rose one and it cleared up my back but switched to lavender and breaks me out every time.

  43. freshgg says:

    I have hormonal acne around my mouth and chin, and since using the Citrus Clear products it has improved considerably. I still get the odd pimple, but not deep cystic ones like I would before, meaning they heal quicker. My skin looks smoother and more even now, with less red and dry patches that were caused by the acne. The Citrus Clear Sensitive Moisturizer is not too greasy, like the majority of creams are on my oily combination skin.

  44. Anna Levis says:

    Ofcourse food can cause acne and it depends totally on you that which type of food you eating. There are several food which cause acne to grow more

    If you’re experiencing breakouts, try eliminating one or two foods at a time (eliminate dairy for one week, greasy foods the next etc) to see if removing these foods helps to keep your skin clear.

    1. Chocolate
    2. Spicy Foods
    3. Cheese
    4. Nuts
    5. Peanut Butter
    6. Sushi
    7. Pizza
    8. French Fries
    9. Potato Chips

    Also you can treat you acne scars and remove it completely following the tips and techniques provided by professional doctors and plastic surgeons [link removed].

  45. Mary Guadalupe says:

    I’ve had acne my whole life, and have tried proactive before, but that’s never worked too well. I looked up dermalmd acne serum, saw the reviews, and decided to go for it. It’s got benzoyl peroxide, which helps to kill off the microorganisms setting up shop in your pores. I put on the tiniest amount on an acne-rich part of my face, waited til the next day, and BAM the size definitely decreased! I’ve been putting it on all potential acne spots, and within 1-3 days, the acne visibly diminished. It’s incredible. Probably going to be using dermalmd serum for a long time.

  46. Susana says:

    Dermalmd Blemish Serum has helped my acne a lot though it dries out my skin pretty bad. Took a little while to find the right moisturizer and method to go along with it but that’s no fault of the product that’s just my skin.

  47. Tiffany Norris says:

    I am almost 40 years old and have tried almost every type of acne product there is out there. Dermalmd Blemish Serum is the first product to get rid of the acne on my chest. It works very quickly. I have not had any issues with it staining my clothes when I put it on in the morning. The product does dry my skin out and causes some itching but it is seriously worth it. It is like a miracle acne serum.

  48. Lily says:

    Hi Darya,

    I love your post. I’m 21 and I’ve had acne since I was 15, and I have only recently thought diet might have something to do with it!
    Thanks for posting the timings that you suspect breakouts occur after dairy consumption- this was something I was considering testing myself (I’m sure it’ll still vary from you to me, but I’m surprised the breakouts could still occur up to a week after consumption!).
    I was wondering if you’d be able to suggest a good milk substitute. I’ve tried soy for about a month but am not really seeing noticeable results (still breaking out lots around my chin) so I am thinking of trying almond milk instead (but I hear nuts can be bad for skin too?).
    Should I be trying coconut milk instead, or stick with almond milk for a few weeks first?
    Would love to hear your views. Your post has inspired me.


    • Darya Rose says:

      Almond milk is fine, just make sure you’re getting unsweetened as sugar also causes inflammation. And it can take weeks for it to really get out of your system. Best of luck!

  49. pamela ap says:

    I’m 38 yrs old and I have a hypothyroid that has caused my skin to break out, feel dry and have an extremely dull appearance. I’ve tried everything under the sun for over a year hoping to find a fix. I have been getting some relief with some natural products. The one that worked the best was the Citrus Clear Grapefruit Spot Treatment – I tried it for one week, and my acne is almost gone. I have a glow again and my face looks fresh! If you have hypothyroid like me with acne, definitely look at the Citrus Clear products – all natural, and they work for acne.

  50. Reiki says:

    Got these oils from the store, hopefully I will get rid of acne. thanks for this brilliant post!

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