My skin had been fairly clear until my early-mid 20's. (I'm 28 now for reference.)
I was in nursing school, decided a plant based diet was a good route for me, and I was completely destroying my skin barrier by over-exfoliating, cleansing, and generally stripping my skin thinking that it would help my acne. I ended up with painful, cystic acne and whiteheads mostly along my jawline and down onto my neck. I wish I had photos from when it was at its worst.
I tried *everything* I could think of. Spent thousands of dollars on all sorts of things. Parasite cleanses, various diets, copious amounts of pro and pre-biotics, endless products, clay masks, salt water, chlorine water, the list never ends. I even went on a few rounds of antibiotics which helped, but acted as a bandaid rather than a solution. I'll lay out everything I did which has helped me achieve a completely acne-free face. Fair warning, it's probably nothing new to you. It's simple, real, and effective methods for healing over time.
This post goes in depth of how I cleared my skin and how I continue to keep it clear.
How I cleared it:
1. I started eating enough. I was under immense amounts of stress during school and a plant-based diet was simply not a sustainable diet for me. I could not get enough vitamins and minerals (or calories) from plants alone. I started to focus on Vitamin A rich foods which includes red meats, liver, fish, eggs, carrots, and dark leafy greens.
2. I started to support my skin's barrier. The skin barrier is the most outer layer of skin which protects the more delicate layers from all sorts of factors.
From witch hazel to alcohol based cleansers to walnut shell cleansers to clay masks that dried my skin out--they all had to go. I was using them all in a harmful way that leaded to further inflammation (acne) of my skin barrier. I bought an extremely gentle plant-based cleanser and stuck to that while my skin barrier healed.
Looking back, I wish I would've gone straight to an oil cleanser, like what I sell in my shop here. Why an oil cleanser? Like dissolves like. Oil gently lifts sebum, debris, and gunk from the day without stripping your skin of its own sebum. Sounds counterintuitive but if there's one "self care" piece I'll never let up, it's oil cleansing.
3. I started using plain grass-fed tallow on my face. This was the ultimate game changer for me. As my acne cleared from my lifestyle changes, the tallow helped immensely with acne scarring and preventing future break-outs. My skincare routine for quite a while was a gentle cleanser followed up with tallow. Nothing else.
I now recommend Alpenglow for those suffering with acne. Alpenglow is my herb-infused tallow balm specifically crafted for most any skin ailment. Always perform a patch test before applying a product to your face. To do this, simply apply a small amount to the inside of your forearm and watch for any redness.
While tallow won't work for everyone, it's an amazing ingredient for most people with ancestral uses in nearly every culture.
4. I got sun on my face everyday. I'm not saying I'm out in the sun for hours on end without shading my skin, but the sun offers so many life-giving benefits that our skin desperately needs in small amounts.
How I continue keep my skin clear:
I should first preface this with normalizing an occasional breakout. Sometimes our skin just has to get some stuff out by purging and that's ok.
1. I continue to eat enough. I minimize processed foods, focus on protein, and take Grass-fed Liver. Why? They're high in Vitamin A, the active ingredient in Acutane. Acutane is a notoriously dangerous prescription medication for acne. Although it works (and works well), it doesn't come without side effects. Liver is a wonderful way to get small doses of vitamin A, along with many other vitamins. Always check with your doctor if you have concerns about this, though.
2. I continue oil cleansing. I prefer my Yarrow & Dandelion oil cleanser (mostly because I like the scent of yarrow over chamomile.) This has been a game changer for my acne scarring, too. My scarring is mild and I have lots of freckles that hide it well, too. There's info about oil cleansing on the link if it's a new concept to you!
3. I use a chemical exfoliant as needed. I've tried them all--Moon Juice Acid Potion is by far my favorite and worth the cost. Acidic exfoliants help keep your skin looking bright, they help keep gunk out of your pores, and they can greatly help with scarring. I use this maybe once every 6 weeks for a week. I'll also use this if I've been camping in the backcountry for a few days or if my skin is looking extra dull or porous. If you choose to choose a chemical exfoliant, you must use caution as improper use of them can damage the skin barrier. Make sure you're using a quality sunscreen when using an acid, too. Pipette is my favorite mineral sunscreen.
4. Tallow is still my ride or die. Right now, I'm loving my Midnight Sun.
5. Finally, I keep up good habits. I wash my bedding often, I avoid touching my face, I support my nervous system when my stress levels rise, I walk daily to encourage lymphatic drainage, I embrace aging, and I trust I know how to support my skin a lot better than I used to.
I remember my skin consuming so much of my brain power each day--which is part of the reason I created Alaska Tallow Co. You'll read so many real reviews from real people experiencing their skin healing and returning to its whole state after using these simple yet incredibly powerful products.