Privacy, it’s one of my biggest values and when it comes to my own personal struggles, I value it even more. But it is so hard to be private about one of the biggest personal struggles of my life when it’s staring everyone right in the face.
Talking about it was never something I wanted to do for fear of bringing even more attention to the issue and making me even more vulnerable. But I’m going out on a limb here because I know what helped me, and I want to help others.
I believe I was 11 or 12 years old when my beautifully perfect baby ivory complexion got invaded by the Pimple Crusaders. This was around the same time I had to shop for “training bras” and panty liners. Oh the “teen years” is what it got passed off as and so I went on thinking this was just a phase, my skin would revert back to its previously clear state once the “teen years” had passed and everything would be sunshine and rainbows again, right? WRONG.
I had no idea that this face invading “dis-ease” would leave scars far deeper than my complexion would ever reveal, for years to come.
People were never too shy to point out my less than silky smooth facial mishap. I remember being in a hair salon and the cute little Asian lady washing my hair rubbed her hand along my asphalt textured forehead and exclaimed “ohhhhh you have Pimple”. Yeah, thanks lady now me, you and the entire salon are well aware of my misfortune.
A boy who allegedly had a crush on me in grade 6 decided to change his stance one day and in front of an entire hallway of people called me “pizza face”, ouch. There are words that can cut so deep no amount of time or acne medication can ever erase.
Fast forward to high school years, I was Cover Girl’s #1 consumer. My actual skin tone was never seen by anyone, except for my very first boyfriend because let’s face it, going to sleep with makeup on is so counterproductive! But my self-esteem was at an all-time low, I didn’t understand how anyone could love a face like that (except for my mom) and so when that relationship became physically and mentally abusive, I allowed myself to stay because like he said “No one else is ever going to love you”, and I believed him. Side note: DON’T EVER BELIEVE THAT!
I’m still not sure why I didn’t get the “beauty is not only skin deep” memo at the time but alas, I missed that train and got right on the next one to ‘down in the dumps-ville’.
After many family doctor appts and prescriptions for acne skin creams such as “Retin-A”, “Benzoyl Peroxide”-the strong one “Vitamin A” cream, oil production stopping pills (that made me vomit) birth control pills (that made me vomit), I hit up a dermatologist when I was approximately 17. I was so excited because finally a skin care “specialist” was going to look at me and fix ALL my problems, right? WRONG again. The last words this doc (who I swear was younger than I was) said to me, right after handing me an Acutane prescription were “well, if this doesn’t work, I don’t know what else to tell you, this is our last hope”
I walked out of that office with tears in my eyes and little hope left in my heart. I knew what the side effects were of this suicide inducing drug, and I was feeling them before I even took it.
Let me list a few for those of you fortunate enough to NEVER have had to know:
depressed mood, sleep problems, crying spells, aggression or agitation, hallucinations, thoughts of suicide, sudden numbness or weakness, blurred vision, sudden and severe headache or pain behind your eyes, sometimes with vomiting;
seizure, severe diarrhea, rectal bleeding And the list goes on!
Let me just say that I knew my skin was bad, but I also knew it wasn’t bad enough to need Acutane.
F that doctor.
(WARNING: disturbing thoughts coming up next)
My next thoughts were probably no better than those side effects though as on more than one occasion I considered pouring gasoline on my face and lighting it on fire (no joke). My thought process went like this: if I end up with a severe burn then the scarring will leave me with one even smooth surface of skin, instead of this rocky road ice cream face (yep, I was called that once too). But anyone I revealed these thoughts too quickly assured me it was a bad idea. (Thank you wonderful friends).
I also used about every skin care product that claimed to clear acne known to mankind. Here is a list of ones I can remember: Noxema, Clearasil, Oxy- pads: cream & exfoliant, Biore, Spectro Gel, Spectro-something else and I know there are plenty more.
I even went to a skin clinic in Yorkville Toronto where they gave me a cream to stop the oil production on my skin, this helped for a while.
Knowing what I know now, this was a terrible idea, but hey you live and you learn!
As an adult, acne had affected my life so much that there were days I wouldn’t even get out of bed. I just couldn’t understand why this “teen years” problem was still plaguing me into my early twenties.
It was only about 6 years ago I discovered a book called “The Clear Skin Diet”…could it be? My diet was ruining my face?! I purchased that book rather quickly.
At that same time I had just been introduced to a whole new world of healthy living.
Feeling once again at my wits end, I went to get a colonic done hoping that clearing out my intestines would lead to clearing of my skin. It just so happened that my colon irrigation specialist was also a Holistic Nutritionist (way before my time), and she told me to stop consuming dairy!
And my world shifted.
At 12 years old I had taken a stand as an individual and became a lacto-ovo vegetarian, this meant that although I didn’t eat meat, dairy was free reign and let me tell you, I loved dairy! Milk and cookies, cheese and… EVERYTHING, all day, every day. Cheese was a food group and it was at the bottom of my food pyramid- aka- eat more of it!
But, she said it, and because I had tried just about everything else I chose to believe her, what else was there to lose?
So I slowly cut the dairy out of my life. It didn’t happen overnight but, I was slowly starting to see results. The funny part is the most significant result I noticed was that the irritating – I wanted to scrub it with steel wool- eczema I had on my hands for years, was instantly gone! POOF! Just like that, never again was I woken up in the night by the severe need to itch my fingers raw. If for no other reason that alone was worth it to me! Aside from that I was finally able to see my forehead again, no more rocky road!
I was convinced and so began my Holistic Health journey into cleaning up my diet and in turn, cleaning up my skin!
Aside from removing dairy, the other #1 method I use to help keep my skin clear is hydration.
I cannot say it enough. If I don’t consume at least 2 liters of water daily, my skin will show it. 1: because our bodies are 60% water and the skin is the last place to get hydrated when you consume water and 2: because it helps remove any toxins from the body including excess hormones.
Let me just say, I am nowhere near the end of this skin care journey nor will I ever be, because as we age our skin care needs change.
And as another-oh so sweet- bf felt the need to remind me only two years ago “Your skin still isn’t that great” when I explained why I stopped consuming dairy.
But hey, I have come a long way and I am no longer letting remarks like that affect who I am.
The most important part of you is not your face or your body, it’s the soul that inhabits you and how you choose to look at the world and treat others. That is the stuff that matters!
I learned to find confidence in who I was not what I looked like. Some days are still a struggle as every once in a while when I acquire a break out from what I now can recognize is from either consuming too much sugar, or a hormonal imbalance- I don’t even want to leave my house. But I remember that there is so much more to me than a first glance and anyone who can’t see that doesn’t deserve my time. I also have learned that although kids can be cruel and obviously some grown-ups too, most people are fighting their own battles and have no need to add to yours and a soulful smile goes a long way!
In regards to what I put on my skin:
Less is more. I was using so many products my poor skin didn’t know what to do! I now simply wash with an evening primrose oil soap bar at night, and rinse with water in the morning.
If you are interested in more of my skin cleansing tips, internally and externally, stay tuned to future blogs as I reveal some more of my most time tested and results driven remedies.
If you struggle with acne as a teen or even as an adult please know, you are not alone and that there is hope!
If you are interested in working one on one with me for a more customized skin care protocol please email me atJanine@wholeninehealth.ca. I would love to be a part of your journey!
Thanks for your time,
Love & Light from within