Battling acne with food?

acne and food

Coming publicly “out” about my acne, I’ve gotten a lot of advice. A lot of guestions. And a lot of tips. Also, having acne and wanting to get rid of it, I always read posts about it, hoping to learn something new.

But here’s the thing. It feels like there’s not much to learn really. Because everything I read is controversial. Especially about diet and food.

A healthy diet has some impact on your skin as well as in your whole body, mind and soul.

It’s obvious for me – I’ve always noticed the connection between food and my body and my mind. Now a healthy diet can mean different things to different people – for me it means eating vegetarian food with mainly fresh ingredients, drinking lots of water and avoiding sugar or sugary treats. I’ve eaten vegetarian food since I was nine years old. Sure, I’ve also included some not-so-healthy options to my diet, but it’s still always been quite balanced.

That’s why I had some trouble with my diet during last Summer. I’m not so sure I believed in it. I avoided dairy products as well as wheat. I cut down on bread and pasta – all though I never ate that much of those in the first place. I never drink milk for example and the bread that I eat is actually quite healthy, either rye or oats (Finnish bread is quite different than what is sold worldwide).

acne and food my experience

Certain foods in diet – the cause for acne?

I just can’t believe, not really, that a pizza here or there is the reason for acne. Not for me, or for anyone else. What I’m saying is, that a healthy diet may help acne, but it doesn’t cure it, sadly.

However during Summer I cut down dairy and wheat, after hearing that they were causing some people acne. I was a bit desperate and wanted to try everything. But I had some issues with the theory of those being the cause for my acne. Actually two:

One: Being on the pill, I never had skin issues. I was eating the same way as I was always eating, not avoiding dairy or wheat – or anything really. The problems began after quitting the pills, which supports the idea that my acne is strictly hormonal and has nothing to do with what I eat (I actually was right and wrote another post about it (click!).

Two: I was once vegan for over a year, and naturally I didn’t eat any dairy products then. When I slowly took dairy products back to my diet, I did not see any change.

Dairy-free and wheat-free diet – did it affect my skin?

Nevertheless, I’m happy I tried the whole wheat-free and dairy-free diet for about four months. Now I have some experience and I don’t have to scratch my head anymore and wonder, if the cheese in my fridge is a devil to my skin. To sum up my experiences, I would say this: I did not see a difference in my skin. What did improve my skin were skincare products and medication.

However – while I was on a holiday and eating lots of dairy, wheat (and sugar)- my acne seemed to get more inflamed. Then again there’s the travelling aspect of it. When I’m travelling I always seem to break out a little.

So maybe if I ate a lot of dairy and wheat, I would see it in my skin. But when they are just a one part of my diet, there’s not really a difference. The same goes to an unhealthy diet – a longer period of  pizza-eating sure shows in the skin as well as in the body and in the mind.

Last, but not least, I need to point out something, that comes out whenever diet and acne are talked about.

Acne is a skin condition, a disease.

People misuse the word acne a lot. Sure there are different types of acne, but it’s typical to see a post about acne, when it’s actually just impure skin.

The same applies to every skincare tip out there actually – whether it’s “curing acne with coconut oil” or “battling acne with apple cider vinegar”. I’m so sick and tired of reading these articles about acne, when actually it’s just an impure skin and the person never suffered from acne in the first place. Usually after I ask follow-up questions about these arguments, the person admits, that it wasn’t really acne he/she was talking about.

And then there’s the problem, that we are all individuals and we have our own experience of our wellbeing and the health of our skin. And when it comes to diet, there’s this:

does diet affect acne

You could be anywhere on the spectrum.

I’ve heard of some unique cases, where someone has cured active acne by diet changes. Though I must say I don’t know anyone, that I could be certain of. There’s this one girl, who started to suffer from acne again (after first ‘curing’ it), no matter the diet. And then there’s obviously others, who pay a zero attention to what they eat, and their skin is perfect. What’s frustrating and annoying, is that we are all unique in this way too. You could be anywhere on the spectrum.

Personally – I know stress has a bigger impact on my skin than nutrition. And stressing about food causes more stress. The effect on my skin is just not that big, that it would be worth it to start to limit my diet.

Oh – and if you’re new here – my skin is currently doing really well and almost all the acne is gone, since I started to take birth control pills again. Just wanted to get back to this subject, since it’s something I’ve been battling with a lot during the last year.

Do you personally know anyone who’ve battled acne with food? Or do you have your own experiences?
I’d love to hear about everything, in-depth, honestly. Like how bad was your acne and how big of a difference you saw with your diet and acne?

I also found an interesting article, that explains why certain ingredients could affect acne – but how we still don’t have enough research to say for sure:

Diet and acne

acne and diet

Hormonal imbalance, hair loss and acne

acne

I have to say, being so open about my acne journey and skin issues isn’t always fun. Treating acne is no fun. Trying several different treatments for it is definitely everything but fun – especially since nothing seems to work.

Still – since I know how common these things are – I want to share my experience, even though it means I have to say no to a zillion MLM-marketing companies (is there anything worse, than trying to take advantage from one’s desperation?) and listen to people telling me to drink water or try apple cider vinegar for my skin, basically.

What I have learned so far, is that you need a ton of patience for ANY acne treatments. And there are different types of acne out there. And what might work for me, doesn’t necessarily work for you. And also – acne sucks and it’s super hard to find good reliable information on it. So – how to treat hormonal acne?

hormonal acne

MY ACNE & TRYING DIFFERENT DIETS

Anyway – back to my skin, my acne, and my battle. Since I last wrote about the subject, I was pretty hopeful. I had understood by then, that my acne was and is strictly hormonal. I didn’t tell you at the time – but I was on a new treatment too. Now when it comes to diet changes, I tried to focus on foods, that would help to balance your hormones. But with just diet changes, I felt like I wasn’t going anywhere. And also… I’m just gonna say it: Eating super strictly, super super healthy, isn’t for me. I do – however – eat pretty healthy. I have been a vegetarian since I was nine years old. I eat lots of fruits, vegetables, fibres and I try to keep track of my protein intake as well. I haven’t talked about this much, but I have a history of eating disorders and having to stress about my diet and food constantly is not good for me mentally. For me? Eating pasta and chocolate every once in a while is healthier than not having them.

DIM – THE NATURAL WAY OF BALANCING YOUR HORMONES

The new treatment I was excited about was DIM. It’s short for diindolylmethane – it’s basically a food supplement, that works in your body in a way, that it balances the hormones. The substance is the same substance, that can be found in broccoli. Only you would have to eat a ridiculous amount of broccoli a day, if you wanted the same amount of dim from it. So DIM is the natural way of balancing your hormones. The internet is full of good experiences with the substance, especially with breakouts or acne, that is less severe. I am still to this day pretty convinced of this supplement, even though it didn’t work for me. I tried it for a month (I know, I could have tried it for a longer time, but I just basically couldn’t, as you may realize if you keep reading). DIM is something, I am keen to try again sometime and as I said, I think it’s a valuable option for someone, that has acne, but not as bad as mine.

MY HORMONES WERE ALL OVER THE PLACE

Even before the DIM-treatment and after that, I had pretty bad symptoms of hormonal imbalance. I’m just gonna call it that, ‘cause I don’t have any other diagnosis for my hormones and body not working properly. Basically my acne was worse than ever – super itchy and sore, bleeding and impossible to cope with. Besides that, I started to lose my hair. My hair was falling off everywhere – in the shower, after the shower, it was all over my clothes, my jacket, my bed. Naturally, I started to freak out a little. Besides the acne and my hair falling off, my menstrual cycle wasn’t regular and for quite a long time, I was a bit worried about it. So I called a doctor.

acne blog

POLYCYSTIC OVARY SYNDROME?

I was 99% sure, I would get a PCOS diagnosis. I knew a lot of people with that condition, and I had pretty similar symptoms. I was already devastated, because PCOS affects fertility as well. My doctor took all kinds of tests and they all came back normal. The one thing I didn’t get though, was the ultrasound to actually check if my ovaries were polycystic or totally fine. All I got was the recommendation to start birth control pills and maybe roaccuttan with that.

Well, since my ovaries hadn’t never been checked before and I wanted to know my situation, I booked another doctor appointment – one that I had to pay myself. And I was relieved to know, that I did not have PCOS – though the gynecologist wasn’t really as convincing, as I would have liked her to be. Still, she didn’t give me the diagnose, and I am happy and relieved that I am somewhat healthy and normal. She, too, recommended the birth control pills for me.

I AM ON THE PILL AGAIN

Now here’s the terrifying part – telling you all, that I am on the pill once again. I’m not even sure why it feels like such a big deal – maybe ‘cause I started this whole thing about being natural and not having to eat hormones. How I’ve felt so great without the hormones. But really – I didn’t have any side-effects from the pills. Moodswings? I’m prone to whatever feelings 365 days a year – and that is just my personality.

And after already eating them for over a month – I have good news. My hair stopped falling off almost immediately after I started to take them and my skin is already smoother, healthier and not sore.

I’ve started to think of birth control pills from a totally different perspective – maybe they are not a drug, but a medicine? Even though I didn’t have the condition I thought I had, clearly my body was not working properly and my hormones were a mess. Maybe the pills are just what my body needs. At the moment, at least. And if I had to eat them for the rest of my life or for many years? Well, after experiencing a severe, painful, bleeding acne (impossible to wear makeup even) and having my hair fall off – that seems like a small price to pay.

You don’t always have to fight everything off by yourself, with zero help. It’s also okay to take the help, eat that supplement or take that pill.

After all, I didn’t battle my depression naturally either – though that is definitely a more severe situation. Antidepressants were super important for my recovery.

The photos in this post are different to my usual acne post photos. These are from a photoshoot a while back. I am wearing a ton of makeup, but you can still see my acne through. These are unedited. It’s funny, but actually I don’t even have photos from my acne at it’s worst. But just imagine it being it a little worse, than in this post.

my acne journey

.. and some pictures of me smiling, just to remind you, that life is not that serious after all.

Photos: Susanna Pomèll / Healthyhair 


I’ve already learned by now, that there are a lot of people out there suffering from acne. How is your skin doing right now? Have you heard of dim, or tried it? And do any of you have the same experience with hormonal acne? Anyone else on the pill too?