face talk

by lori on June 27, 2012

Hello friends

It is has been some time since I have talked about my face. If you have been following this blog for awhile you would know that lately I have been struggling with adult acne. It all started when I got off birth control 3 years ago and it has been a HUGE battle ever since.

I have my good days, weeks, months but then I have my really low months, weeks, and days. Days where I just cry and do not want to go in public. Hard to explain all the different emotions I have gone through, but for those of you that have or are experiencing major acne or pimples then you understand what I mean.

A quick update on my skin/face this past few months.

Well, before my wedding I did really good and my face was (well I thought) getting better. But on my wedding day I had a few pimples,  I did my very best to not let get to me on my wedding day. Believe me it was EXTREMELY difficult, as you want to look your best on your special day. But for me my face had another plan.

And ever since my wedding I still have been struggling with getting clear skin.

I have some new face products that I am trying, so far so good. I will share more about them once I use them a little longer. (Michelle keeps researching and finding me new products to try or articles to read, thanks for the help sis)

I went to a dermatologist this past week because I felt like I just needed someone’s help. I tried going natural for 3 years and things worked but my acne just kept coming back. And I just do not want to go back on the pill, so I keep researching other options. The  dermatologist gave my a few things to try topically and an oral anti-biotic, but I have not full-filled the prescriptions yet, as I keep deciding if I want to do it or not. I admit I am scared. Scared of what is going to happen to my face, to my body.

I do notice that I get my worse breakouts the ‘week’ before my period, though I do not get my period every month. It varies. But no matter if I get it or not, my face still breaks out like crazy. Now for those who tend to over analyze everything we say here on the blog, it is not just one or two pimples. It is major deep cystic pimples, and they are all over the face. They seem to come in large groups too, never just one, always a handful. (which makes it even harder to stay positive)

One thing that frustrates me, is that I feel I have tried everything over these past 3 years to help my face. I have listened and tried things from others (many things from our readers here) advice but nothing really worked long term. Things work at the beginning, but after a long period of time they stop and the breakouts continue.

So I am back to the drawing boards to figure out what is going on with me. I did a hormone saliva test, I meet with my other doctor this coming Friday to go over my results. We shall see.

I will keep you all updated. Thanks for the continued support!! I am doing my best to share my journey, and to stay positive about my struggles. Like I mentioned I have my good days and bad days, mostly good days :)

I know I will get through this journey, as Michelle had bad acne for years and now has clearer skin. She has been so helpful during this difficult time for me.

I know I mentioned before in blog posts and videos that I was getting my clear skin, gave my recommendations to get clear skin, but it looks like my skin was not ready to be clear to just yet. I still believe in the things I mentioned to get clear skin will work for some people, but not all. As I am a good example of it. I had to cut way back on majority of my supplements I was taking for my face as it was getting too expensive.

At the moment I am not really taking any supplements besides fermented cod liver oil which is supposed to help with acne/poor skin, but I have been taking it for a few months and I am still struggling. I still take Vitamin D, and off and on with the DIM plus take a probiotic just about every morning and night (when I remember).  I just got panthothenic acid to try, as I have heard it can help with acne.

I feel my breakouts are still hormonal, but not sure what to do anymore to help, as I feel I have done all the natural things possible to help. I eat very clean, I workout daily, I drink my water, I do not eat fried foods or processed foods, I am not overweight, etc etc etc. My body seems to be a mystery.

I will continue to fight this battle and learn more about me along the way.

The journey continues….




{ 107 comments… read them below or add one }

Lacey June 27, 2012 at 5:26 am

If you are still trying new things out to help your face, you should look into a supplement called Herbal Biotic, and the company Vital Nutrients sells it. My face was bad for a while, and I was going to a all natural nutritionist and eating all the right foods( now wheat, dairy, limited sugar) but I couldnt get my face to be better. She recommended this supplement, and within 2 months my face was significantly better! hope this helps!

emily June 27, 2012 at 5:28 am

I just wanted to leave a message of support. In my teenage years I had it bad too. It took a while to shake it but once I stopped the birth control 5 or 6 years ago mine all but disappeared. It’s different for us all.
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Sam June 27, 2012 at 5:32 am

I have the same problem when I went off pills. I have read in your comments in some post that your period is not regular, well this is the problem. It took me whole year to battle with my acne and found my way to get clear my face. I want you advice I know it will be hard for you cause you like your lifestyle your active lifestyle. I have realized that when I was worked out 5 days a week running bodyrock etc I have never have regular period. My doctor told e that I should stopped cause it stressed my body too much and if it goes this way it can happen that I could have big problem to having baby. So I stopped with running with bodyrock and start to walk and doing some yoga. It tooks 3 month to become my period regural and after 4 month my face has completelly cleared. I have not gain any pounds after stopping workout actually I have loose 4 pounds. I am much more happy with walking with balancing my body. You know someone can handdle to workout 5 times a week but my body can not. So if you want to get clear you acne you have to have your cycle regural and I guess you have the same problem as me that you workout too much. Yes I have felt great when I run etc, but adrenal did not. Please just think about it.

Tatyana June 27, 2012 at 5:44 am

Hi Lori,
first of all, I just wanted to say that I love your guys’ blog!!! Just simply love it! You always try new things and are not afraid to talk about changing your mind or picking a different path :)

I have commented before and it was also on one of the posts about acne. I have experience similar skin problems since coming off BC. I will never go back on the pill, because I hate it, and I hate how it messes up everything with my skin. After coming off, not only have I started to have more white heads, black heads, cystic/deep/acne I also started having pimples on my chest, which I never ever had in my entire life (I am 28).
If you do decide going a more pharmaceutical route, I cannot recommend ATRALIN http://www.atralingel.com/ enough. I am not using it right now because I cannot afford it and they do not sell it in europe :(
I liked it because
–did not dry me out
–used only a pea size amount
–active ingredient is a vitamin A derivative
–has anti-aging properties
without insurance it is like 200 bucks or maybe more. I really recoment to try it, and would stay away from antibiotics. My dermatologist said that it worked by opening the pores and exfoliating the skin. Use it only at night since it makes you more prone to sun burns.
I really wish you the best of luck. I hope you find what works for you! Adult acne is the worst and is very emotionally painful. I am glad you have a place to share your struggles because you are definitely not alone.

Good luck!

lori June 27, 2012 at 5:45 am

From one Lori to another :)

I’ve had adult acne for quite some time now, and for a while it was getting REALLY bad. I didn’t want to go to work or go out with friends, I was so embarrassed. For some reason I always thought it had to do with food, but I wondered why me when I thought I was eating better than everyone else around me. In April I found the 80/10/10 diet, a raw food diet focusing on 80% carbs, 10% protein, 10% fat. My skin cleared up immediately, and seems to do even better on 90/5/5, a ratio that essentially means you’re not eating any overt fats like nuts or avocado. When I get in a habit of using half an avocado in my salads, I actually start to see the acne coming back. I was the “other” kind of raw for a while, and even when I was plain old vegan, I was always eating lots of avocados, nuts in everything, coconut oil… I think it all was making the situation worse. If you’re interested in reading a book about it, let me know. I have one on PDF. Good luck to you, and I’m sorry you have to go through this!!

Katie June 27, 2012 at 5:57 am

Hi Lori! Has anyone (esp. your dermatologist) suggested Accutane? I know that is it not natural, and you’d have to go back on birth control, and it does really dry out your face while you are on it, BUT it totally works! I had bad acne from junior high through college and finally went on Accutane for about seven months, and it completely cleared up my face and I literally have not had one pimple since then (I’m 28 now).

I don’t even know if dermatologists are still recommending Accutane because it was sort of controversial back when I used it in 2004 – when I was on it I had to go on birth control AND have a monthly blood test to ensure I wasn’t pregnant (I guess it can cause major birth defects in babies if a pregnant woman should take it). It’s really drying, like I said, but mostly at the beginning, and then it’s not so harsh as it works to remove pimples. It even cleared up all of my blackheads! It was like getting a fresh start with immaculate skin that never got bad again.

Anyway….I just wanted to mention it because I know you’ve been struggling with your acne. Good luck with whatever treatment you choose!

Meagan June 27, 2012 at 6:06 am

Lori, have you ever seen a Naturopathic Doctor?
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LizAshlee June 27, 2012 at 6:30 am

I admire your optimistic attitude even in the discouraging situation? I am in the IIN holistic health coach program…almost done and one thing that struck me in your post was that you don’t get your period every month? Has it been this way for awhile? Have you checked into reasons, etc? Sorry if you have this posted elsewhere, it just struck me that that is one place I would start. Best wishes!

Robyn Glaser June 27, 2012 at 6:32 am

Lori- I’m a new reader of your blog. I admire you and your sister, and all you are trying to achieve. I understand how important it is for both of you to eat clean and natural, stay fit, conquer past demons…and avoid harsh chemicals, additives, etc. But…please consider using a Western (i.e., medical) approach to clearing your skin…for ALL of the reasons you write about…your mental torture, especially given everything you do to be healthy, is heartbreaking for those of us who, through your blog, are vested in your happiness and success. Use the medicine (chemicals) to get your skin where it needs to be, and then maintain it through a natural approach. Listen to your dermatologist and don’t be fearful of the drugs…they are harsh, but they will not impact your otherwise extraordinarily healthful lifestyle and approach to wellness. They will jump start your defeat of adult acne and you can continue your amazing work. Even if your doctor recommends something as harsh as Accutane, I know it’s scary, but trust your expert…take the leap…and put this behind you. Three years is WAY too long. I know this is none of my business, but after reading your archives and this post over the past few days, I just couldn’t not comment. One final thought – I work with a nutritionist here in Massachusetts who is AMAZING and may have some thoughts on natural remedies that you have not already heard. I can connect you with her, but I’d hate for that to put you off the path of more traditional methods to defeat your acne. She may be able to advise you on natural remedies you can take in combination with the medicine to enhance its effect. I really hope you take that leap asap. My gut says that once you do, you’re going to wonder why you didn’t do it earlier. Wishing you and your sister all things good and wonderful. Best, Robyn

Lori and Michelle June 27, 2012 at 7:23 am

Thanks Lacey I will have to look into that supplement, glad to hear it worked for you :)

Lori and Michelle June 27, 2012 at 7:27 am

Sam thank you for your comment. As Michelle and I have discussed our workouts before, in how we should cut back on our HIIT workouts, I know it would help out a lot with my skin and hormones. You would think that would make me change, but for some reason I am scared to stop the HIIT workouts as I worked so hard to get my body to where it is, but I do understand that my face and hormones might not like it at the moment. So I will be looking into cutting back on my workouts, thanks for the push to try it out! HUGS

Lori and Michelle June 27, 2012 at 7:30 am

Thank you Tatyana!!!! HUGS

Lori and Michelle June 27, 2012 at 7:34 am

Thanks Lori, we tried the 80/10/10 for about 3 days, I liked it but did not feel it was for me long term. I am going to be playing around with my diet in terms of how much fat /carbs/protein etc I need in my diet, I plan to experiment with eating high fat days and low fat days to see which way works better for my body, as each body is different. So glad that you found something that worked for you, I hope I found out what works for me soon! HUGS

Lori and Michelle June 27, 2012 at 7:40 am

Yes Meagan I have been seeing a naturopathic doctor for a few months, I go and see her again this Friday to go over my hormone test results.

Lori and Michelle June 27, 2012 at 7:41 am

Yes I have irregular periods ever since coming off the pill 3 years ago. Sometimes I get it every month, then sometimes it comes every other month or every 2 months.

Karine F June 27, 2012 at 7:44 am

Hey Lori, just like I posted before, you should try this: http://www.clefdeschamps.net/en/products/liquid-extracts/single-tinctures/138-teinture-vitex

I know it says that it’s also for menopause, but I tried it when my period came back after my baby boy’s birth. I had a HUGE adul acne crash and I had nothing to do about it (this was last november, and I still have a little bit, but nothing to worry about) and this plant a naturopath recommanded me help to cut acne of about 50% within the first two weeks or so. Now, I’m on a raw vegan diet for a month (personnal challenge :-) ) and my acne is almost gone. Not saying that you have to go raw (jeje.. btw I wanna try your products!!) but this Vitex plant helped me a lot!!!! I just can recommand it to you!! Good luck!
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Lori and Michelle June 27, 2012 at 7:45 am

Thanks Robyn, yes I am having that similar feeling like you mentioned about trying out the medicine while I still do my more natural routine of things. I am meeting with my naturopathic doctor this Friday to discuss with her more ways to help. I am also considering taking some progesterone cream to help with hormones ,etc. I really appreciate your support, it means so much to me!! HUGS

Shantess June 27, 2012 at 8:03 am


Believe me when I say I know you feel – all of it. Seriously, reading this was like reading my biography. I’ve had acne my whole life (since I was 9, I’m now 31) in addition to very irregular periods. Everything was fine when I was on the pill but when I went off – yikes!! I thought it was bad before! I have always suspected my acne was hormonal and more so than the typical two or three breakouts many women get close to that time of the month (I know the clusters you speak of!). I asked my doctor so many times to send me for hormone testing only to be placated with another useless antibiotic or round of BC pills. Well, now my husband and I are trying to conceive and we can’t so I finally managed to convince my doc to send me to a reproductive endocrinologist. And guess what? As I suspected for the past 12 years at least, I have PCOS (poly0cystic ovarian syndrome…funny, cystic ovaries, cystic acne :P ). Part of me is somewhat releived to figure this all out but part of me is mad as hell at all the doctors I saw before who did not listen to me!!

Anyway, my point for you is, if you suspect it is hormonal, DEMAND a hormone test and referral to an endocrinologist. If you have a hormone imbalance you cannot just leave it and attempt to treat it naturally (although there are many natural things that can help) – depending on what is out of balance, it can put you at higher risk for hyperinsulinemia, blood clots, certain types of reproductive cancer, and of course, infertility. Doctors need to take this seriously and realize that often adult acne is a SYMPTOM, not a problem in and of itself.

Good luck :)

Charlotte June 27, 2012 at 8:27 am

I have been following your story and have in the past been in your situation. At the time I was not the healthiest eater and not in the best place in my life. However the acne did not help! I ended up doing something that I believed was called “blue light”. I basically sat under a light machine for 10 minutes once a week for a few months. I also used a stronger face wash. Everything completely cleared up. I have since moved to all natural face washes with no problem, it was a slow change due to worrying it would get worse again, but it did not, even when I went off birth control. I have no idea how bad it is for you, or how expensive (since at the time my parents paid). I would look at it all differently now, but as my husband still says, it worked and I am happier that is all that matters.
Good luck, I hope you get this all figured out, I understand how hard it can be.

Kris | iheartwellness.com June 27, 2012 at 8:36 am

Girl, I hear ya! I think you’re gorgeous! Ok, these are the 3 things that helped me clear my skin right up and you know me….last year I never left the house. Red, broken out ALL OVER and now I’m dealing with removing the scaring….ugh.

1. My Homeopath – got to the root of my problems, helped me naturally. She’s amazing and over skype if you want her info.

2. My Vi Pack Vitamins I distribute. High Antioxidant levels, omegas, etc.

3. The acne line from Clinique :)

I’m a different person now than I was last year, I know its so frustrating and I can relate to every word and cry with you….I was like you, no way was I going back on the pill, I didn’t want to even take an antibiotic for it, but I hated it. I love you girl, you inspire me!! xxoo
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Nicky @kabochafashionista June 27, 2012 at 8:46 am

Hey lovie,
I’ve been a reader for a while now but I’ve never commented so I decided to say hii! I really admire your honesty with your posts about your acne. It can be really upsetting and quite embarrassing to talk about so you are being so brave putting it out there! I’ve suffered with acne since my early teens and now that I’m 21, I’m like ‘ummm I’m not a teenager anymore, why is it still here?!’ and I guess I don’t help it by wearing a lot of foundation pretty much all of the time because I’m so embarassed. I’ve actually been looking into getting mine sorted out once and for all recently and I don’t know whether you have it in the US, but here in the UK we have skin clinics that do laser treatments for acne. While it’s not completely natural like taking supplements etc, it may just be a way to get the skin started because it works by a high-tech treatment called Isolaz that is used to purify the skin, and when combined with skin peels it cleans the skin and tones it to improve complexion and lead to long-lasting results. Maybe your skin just needs a bit of further assistance of something like this and it would be worth it if it made you happier and more confident right?

Claire June 27, 2012 at 8:57 am

Hi Lori!
I have been following the blog for a few months and absolutely love you guys (I follow a very similar diet)! Thank you for sharing your posts about your quest for clear skin :) I have been working on my own quest for two years now (though I don’t have as severe a case as yours). Like you, I was on a birth control pill, which I had to stop after suffering severe side effects. My dermatologist then put me on doxycycline, an antibiotic with a ton of uses. If this is the prescription you have, I caution you. Though it did help, I still had acne troubles, and the worst part was when I went outside, I would get searing sunburns on my hands and nose. I like your hope to fix it with supplements and food. I have found that taking a vitamin A supplement has helped tremendously; taking 20,000 – 30,000 IU throughout the day with fatty foods for absorption. Best of luck with your upcoming test results and sorting through new recommendations! Can’t wait to hear how things are going for you!

Sam June 27, 2012 at 9:02 am

You do not have to be worry about your body. Look you have to realize that it is not only about your skin it is about your period, when woman do not have regular period something is wrong, body is under threat so it wont let you ovulate and have baby. I know may be you do not want to have baby right now but it can damage your hormones so much that you want be able to have baby in future. I do not want to scare you or anything like that, it is what we have found with my doctor. He has many patients that are professional athletes and have so many hormonal problems…………. I have to admited that I was addicted to my running to my HIT to my workouts yes I love my muscles and body, but I love my inner body much more my inner system much more. I ask myself do I want muscles or do I want to give me and my hubby baby one day. I took me whole year to realize that my workouts is responsible for my period for my hormones for my acne….I blame myslelf not to try it earlier now I have regular cycle, clear skin and perfect body too, cause with walk and yoga you can have nice tone body….. and I am much more happy calm inside, very balance. I am writing you cause I know how you feel, but believe one day you can be much more unhappy when you will find out that it is problem to get pregnant. Everybody has different body different balance different response to different kind of stress, like me I can work in my office 12 hours every day that does not affect me at all, but physical workout axhaust my adrenals all my hormones……………………… I do not know why it is so I just have to admit that it is so…………

Deana June 27, 2012 at 9:07 am

I have recommended this to you before, but I want to share it again: Clearin by Vaxa.
It has a money-back guarantee, and I had many personal testimonials of people it helped when I sold it at Earth Fare in Raleigh. It mentions the hormonal aspect among all the other things it helps with. I am also listening right now to a talk about cultured foods, which I know you use, but this woman personally healed her acne. You could also explore Bach flower remedies to handle the emotional aspect, and what about EFT?
Thanks for sharing, and know we are all there for you!

Caralyn @ glutenfreehappytummy June 27, 2012 at 9:11 am

thank you for your openness and honesty Lori! Hang in there — I always marvel and how beautiful you and your sister are in all your photos! You’re stunning inside and out:)
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Anna @ The Guiltless Life June 27, 2012 at 9:47 am

Hey Lori! So sorry you’re going through this. I don’t know enough about your individual situation but I can tell you that when I was 19 I was intensely physically training for my duathlon coming up and my skin broke out worse than ever. Nothing got rid of it – not regular skin treatments, diet, nor the antibiotics or birth control pills doctors tried me on. Eventually they had to put me on Accutane which was HARD on my body but it worked. However, now I know what the cause was I would have just tackled that. Mine was hormonal too – an overload of testosterone because I was overtraining slightly and had very low body fat, very high muscle. Testosterone produces more oil so my glands were just filling with excess oil and breaking out. I don’t know that that’s an issue but as you are very fit I didn’t know if increasing your body fat % was something you had tried or not. I was at about 15-16% body fat when I was training. I haven’t had any issues with my skin in the 8 years following, and now I’d say my body fat % is probably between 18-20%.

Just my experience! I really hope you find the solution that works for you! xx
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Audrey Adams June 27, 2012 at 9:59 am

My brother and sister have had the same problem.
Have you ever tried putting tea tree oil on the acne for a few weeks at least twice to three times a day?

Mia June 27, 2012 at 10:00 am

Hello Lori,

I am most of all shocked that this has been happening for 3 years now since you have been off the pill and no doctor had you take a hormone test. From your description this seems to me obviously hormone related and I would not be surprised that you have micropolycystic ovarian syndrome. This is the most common case. I had it too, went on the pill and had to take some other pills too, don’t remember now what they were. I am still on the pill (Diane.35) because every time I try to change to another one (not even talking about going off of it, just changing to another dosage) my hormones go a bit crazy and the skin problems come back. However they are not as severe, as my ovaries are clear now, no sign of micro cysts.
Even more than the problems with your skin, is that the cystic ovaries don’t function properly, hence the hormonal unbalance and this can have repercussion in terms of fertility.
I agree with Shantess, demand a hormone test and see and endocrinologist if you need to. I am not american and I do not know how your health system works. In my case it was my dermatologist who had me do the test because she suspected already that the ovaries were to blame. These hormones are not included in the routine test. Even my ginecologist never ever had me do these tests because they usually are not concerned with the hormones that cause the acne.

I understand you want to stay away from drugs, but medicine has come a long way and you should not suffer like this when the solution might be simpler than what you think.
I wonder what you think: Even if you would have to ultimately get back on the pill, wouldn’t it be worth it?

All the best, I hope you get through this soon

Julie June 27, 2012 at 10:10 am

I am not a dermatologist (I am a radiologist) and have not struggled with cystic acne before, but from a pharma standpoint, Retin-A has worked fairly well for relatives in regards to desquamination as a means to prevent acne. I know that accutane and topical antibiotics like clindamycin are often prescribed for cystic acne, but I am with you in relation to not taking antibiotics at all for things like skin care (though not completely “frivilous”, I prefer to only save AB as a last resort for extreme sickness).

Have you tried Retin-A/Renova in conjunction with a probiotic facial cream? Or TCA peels? I think a physician approved/monitored Vitamin-A therapy with peels might be the best relatively non-prescription method for acne control to a certain extent. But since peels mixed with Retin-A can be too harsh for some, you would definitely need clearance for this and monitoring.

Also, have you looked into blue light therapy? It can be helpful as well. You can have it done in a derm’s office for a higher price but more efficiency (once every few weeks) or you can buy a hand-held one and do it for like 20 minutes 2x a day and then once a day after a set number of days/weeks.

Sarah @ Fit Betty June 27, 2012 at 10:27 am

I have the same problem! I got off Yaz a couple years ago and my face went bad after that. A dermatologist wanted to put me on antibiotics, but I suspected it was my diet (I have multiple food sensitivities). Dairy has always made my face break out, but I discovered that chocolate is my biggest offender (just within the last year or 2). I think it is the cocoa butter because store-bought chocolate bars make my acne worse but cocoa powder not so much. When I decrease my dark chocolate consumption, my face is does so much better, even the week before my period.
Not so much fun cutting out chocolate, but it may be something to consider! People think it is a myth, but there has been some new research showing that dark chocolate can aggravate acne prone skin.
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Stephanie June 27, 2012 at 10:32 am

Hi Lori, and Michelle!! I really hope that you’ll start seeing more improvement in your skin :( I know you guys found 80/10/10 not for yourselves, but I’ve seen a lot of people testify improvement in their acne on the diet.
I’m not a certified anything, but I feel like too much fat in diet is very much related to our skin. If you look in nature, there’s no way that primates (us) would have lived in such high fat & high protein diet our society eats today. I’m not a raw vegan whatsoever, but I do think that this 80/10/10 ratio in cooked version is a very healthful diet – supported by many renowned doctors including Dr. McDougall, Dr. Esselstyn, and Dr. Neal Barnard. The reason why I prefer cooked is because cooked-version is much more practical, and sustainable, as evidenced by many civilizations that sculpted our world today. I suggest you check out Dr. McDougall’s “the Starch Solution”!! (It’s also available in youtube as a 1 hour presentation – saved my digestion and so much!)

Vanessa June 27, 2012 at 10:41 am

I just wanted to comment on the Accutane – i have had adult acne for years and have been through 3 treatments of accutane (HS, college, adult). It helps me while i’m on it, but as soon as I go off (and you can’t stay on long b/c it is SOO strong and harsh on your body) my acne comes back. One round completely cleared up my sister for life and she barely even washes her face before she goes to bed now! Unfortunately, i was not so lucky :o (

brittany June 27, 2012 at 10:56 am

Your story is similar to mine. I got off birth control about 4 years ago, and my skin was flawless then. I didn’t even need to wash my face, zits were nonexistent. Surprisingly, for 6 months after being off the pill I didn’t get even 1 breakout. I thought that maybe my acne had just “gone away”. But sure enough, right around the 6 month mark, I started breaking out again, bad, and I’m still struggling with it today.

My wedding was this past March, and to prepare I went ahead and paid for antibiotics (I don’t have health insurance so can’t afford this on a regular basis) which kept my skin under control for my wedding day. After 2 months on antibiotics my skin wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough that I felt good at my wedding.

I really hope you find a solution to your acne, I recently have gotten pregnant (I’m 14 weeks today) and I thought that my acne would be even worse, but actually I haven’t had any for the first time since I was on antibiotics. So….maybe thats the cure? lol
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Rachelle B. June 27, 2012 at 11:07 am

I’m sure someone has already mentioned this or that you have already taken one, but have you ever taken a thyroid test?

Rachelle B. June 27, 2012 at 11:17 am

A make up artist was telling me how her friend’s daughter had pretty bad acne and nothing worked. She visited a (gosh I wish I remembered the type of doctor!)–it may have been an endocrinologist or gastroentologist– he found out there was something wrong with her intestines, gave her medicine and her acne cleared up. I really wish I could remember the type of doctor! Those two don’t sound right to me. I’m so sorry!

Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen) June 27, 2012 at 11:39 am

Keep your chin up Lori. I know you are self conscious about the acne and I know it’s frustrating. I went through a period in college that was horrifying with crusty welts on my face. The only thing that worked for me was an old school topical antibiotic. It was one that had to come from an apothecary type pharmacist. I know patience is hard to find with this, but just stay strong and you continue to search for what is right for you. Thank you for sharing your journey. It does help others! xoxo
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ali June 27, 2012 at 11:48 am

I first off want to say how much i love you guys and how happy I stumbled onto your blog one day by happy chance. Your recipes rock. I am obsessed with the protein muffins. :)

Second, I totally sympathize and empathize with your acne struggles and have been there totally myself. While I feel that most everyone has pitched in on the medical front with prescriptions they recommend ( awesome u guys! ) , I’d like to share the name of a skin care salon with their own skincare company where I live, who make products that really helped keep my skin clear, (and my friends) and much better looking over-all when i was in the awful, painful acne stage myself. Their name is *Mario Badescu*. The website is MarioBadescu.com
Their stuff may not work for you, as all things cannot always work perfectly for all people ( but I have faith they will), but their facialists are really super duper knowlegable about acne, cystic acne and acne skin conditions. And their products are plant based. The best part is they will do a *free!* skin care consultation and evaluation with you on the telephone, and mail you a complete packet of samples from their skincare line of all the products they recommend on the telephone so you can try them and see which ones will work or not work for you. If something causes a reaction, or is ineffective you can call back and ask for another sample of something else that may do the trick.They set you up with everything from cleanser, toner, mask(s), treatment, moisturizer and instructions on how to use everything. And once you find what works you can order from them. (They are not super pricey either. Pretty fair prices)
Their stuff saved my life. I have hyper, hyper sensitive skin and with the acne, I was struggling to find skin care products that would deliver the acne fighting power without hurting my skin. I burn, hive, peel, rash easily. They were the bomb. I used to get facials there occasionally but I used their products for years. Elaina was the salon manager when I used to go there, and to me, she was the most knowlegable of all the facialists with regards to my sensitivities and medical issues. If you do decide to call them, see if you can get Elaina on the phone to talk with you about your situation. peace and love…

Meagan June 27, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Hey Lori,
I love reading you and your sister’s posts about GI and face issues because i have and still do suffer with them as well. In high school and college my face was just awful – exactly as you described yours with the huge cystic bumps. My period was awful too – it came every 14 days or so and would last around 10 days with ridiculously heavy bleeding. It had made me so anemic that I felt like I was forced to go on the pill. I definitely understand not wanting to be on the pill but for me I really felt like I had no other option. It was incredibly difficult for me to be in college while being so anemic and having to miss class because of my periods. The pill really helped both my periods and my skin.

I am lucky (I guess) in the sense that I don’t want to have my own children so i don’t worry about the repercussions that I know the pill can have. I truly do believe though that some people’s dna just gave them a body that is not able to regulate hormones correctly for whatever reason. Just like I take thyroid medicine because my thyroid doesn’t work right, I take the pill because my hormone system doesn’t work right. Sometimes it relieves the pressure when you realize that it isn’t your fault that this is happening and you can just do whatever is necessary to fix it. God bless and good luck! I look forward to hearing more about your journey.

Jenn June 27, 2012 at 12:21 pm

I’ve followed your blog for a year or so now, but I usually don’t comment unless I feel passionately about something. I agree with Shantess – please get a full hormonal screening and be persistent with your doctors! I started having problems with acne about five years ago so I know how horrible it can be. It wasn’t until recently that I got it under control.

Basically, every hormonal screening I had showed my hormones as “normal.” But nothing was fixing the acne. I tried all sorts of prescription medicine and natural/diet remedies and nothing worked. I had some old medical records transferred to my new dermatologist and he noticed that my hormones went from one end of the “normal” spectrum to the other end of the “normal spectrum” when I started having problems with acne. It was only then that we were able to dig further and discover that I have PCOS. I’m now on Spironolactone (oral) to keep the hormones in balance and I also use Retin-A for the occasional pimple. I’m not a doctor so I don’t know if you have PCOS too but please know that even if the first test shows you as “normal” be persistent and hopefully you’ll find a remedy like I did. Good luck!

Lori and Michelle June 27, 2012 at 12:40 pm

Anna, too funny that your brought this up, as it is exactly what I was looking into more. So thank you for sharing me what happened with you!!!! I will definitely look more into this as it sounds like it might be my issue.

Nicole @ Making Good Choices June 27, 2012 at 12:40 pm

Thanks, as always for your honest post. Not sure if you read Healthy Diva Eats, but her post today make me think of you because of what you said about your period being irregular. Maybe there is something more there and that could be your answer…maybe not though.Hope you figure more out soon! Anyway, here is the link for her post! http://www.healthydivaeats.com/2012/06/dear-body.html :)
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Lori and Michelle June 27, 2012 at 12:40 pm

I have tried tea tree oil, never really worked that well for me, but still feel it is a great product!

Lori and Michelle June 27, 2012 at 12:43 pm

Thanks Sarah, glad you found what worked for your skin, I try not to overdo my chocolate intake, but I will be more aware of it now. thanks!

Lori and Michelle June 27, 2012 at 12:45 pm

My sisters all did it and did not have great results, so it looks like it works for some but not all, which is not fair.

Lori and Michelle June 27, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Congrats on the baby :) and yes my mom mentioned to me that her face was flawless when she was pregnant, so maybe there is a link ;)

Lori and Michelle June 27, 2012 at 12:46 pm

I got a basic test done for it, I do need to get a more detailed one. Thanks for reminding me.

Lori and Michelle June 27, 2012 at 12:47 pm

thanks Sarena!!! xoxo

Lori and Michelle June 27, 2012 at 12:49 pm

Glad you found us too :)
I have heard of Mario Badescu before, actually while I was in high school I used their products, not sure why I stopped, maybe it was not working for me. But I will keep that company in mind, thanks!

Lori and Michelle June 27, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Thanks Meagan for sharing, and I am glad that by going on the pill has helped you :) So happy to hear that. Thank you for your support!!!

Lori and Michelle June 27, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Jenn, thank you! I do need to get my hormones checked more often, I will talk with my doctor about PCOS as others have mentioned to me in the past. Thank you xoxo

megan June 27, 2012 at 1:21 pm

hi lori,

i am new to your blog and i have really enjoyed the content. congratulations on all the new developments taking place right now!

thought i would chime in on the subject of adult acne.

as far as i know, MANY skin disorders can be traced to the gut. so this is something to consider.

the immune, endocrine, and digestive (not to mention neurological) systems are all very inter-related. for example, if you have a sensitivity to wheat sometimes the immune system gets confused and will read OTHER PROTEINS as wheat gluten. did you know that COFFEE is one of the proteins that the body most often confuses for wheat gluten?

i notice that you eat a lot of protein powders (made from plants) and coffee. these can all set of an alarm in the immune system and in the gut. like i mentioned before, the skin is a direct reflection of what is happening inside. the reason why hormones seem to play a role in all this (like breakouts before period) has to do with the role that estrogen plays in the inflammatory process. inflammation equals immune reaction. this is why stress can also trigger a breakout!

stress tells the body to fire away with stress hormones and inflammatory messengers called cytokines.

one more thing, alcohol will also trigger an inflammatory response! it’s amazing, right?

good bacteria (a high-quality probiotic) can help the body to cool down and also will reestablish balance in you inner ecosystem (your gut!)

an antibiotic will wipe out all these good guys and may make a bad problem worse. antibiotics attack and destroy. probiotics and managing immune/endocrine systems will support the body so it can do what it knows how to do best– which is thrive!

thank you for sharing with us and keep up the good work!!

megan June 27, 2012 at 1:28 pm

one more thing! cyrex labs is the only lab i know of that will test for cross-reactivity (which is not the same as allergy). there are many physicians that can get you the tests ordered, if you decide to explore this avenue. one great place to begin may be dr. tom o’bryan’s website. he does have a referral service!

India-Leigh June 27, 2012 at 1:48 pm

Hi Lori,

I totally feel for you. I had terrible skin a while back and was at the end of my rope trying to heal it. I too didn’t want to go out of the house. I had been single for some time too and it just knocked my confidence further. I see you’ve had lots of ‘try this’ replies. This is another. I FLOODED by body with organic watercress, cleavers (sticky willy…you can juice it) and avocados (not too many of those, half a day) water, water, water (I’d now suggest alkalinised) and I allowed myself the time to heal. Meditation. The body also utilises ALOT of energy the weak before menstruation. Exercising at this time puts stress on the body. Perhaps too much. Stress will cause your body to react. It gets pissed when it is pushed too far. I now use adapotogens by a company called Paradise. It supports your adrenals. Have you had your cortisol levels checked? again this can cause your reproductive hormones (DHEA) to deplete). Belly breathing (I am new to this one and am finding it a task to remember). I know you don’t eat sugar. I dropped this from my diet too. I’ve never missed it. Tasting it now is like so artificial. So I don’t need to advise this one! :) Good luck. Try and stay hopeful. My skin is great now.

Christa @ Edible Balance June 27, 2012 at 2:06 pm

(apologies ahead of time for the TMI that might follow!!)

Lori – I know you get a million responses, with stories and advice, but I honestly feel like we are on the exact same journey with adult acne and hormones. It’s come to the point where my doctor even suggested early menopause which scared the crap out of me.

I have been dealing with whacked out hormones since I was in my early teens. I never had a regular period but when I did the pain was unbearable, I had such terrible dysmenhorea (sp?). I started on birth control then, and had been on it until a year and a half ago. My acne started before I stopped b/c, at the age of 30, but once I stopped b/c it got increasingly worse. The exact same as what you are going through, deep cystic, painful, clustered acne that NEVER stops. I have tried everything, and am still trying to go the natural route. I have a dermatologist appointment next month, but I’m nervous with what he will suggest.

My blood tests showed that my testosterone is low… which makes no sense, I would have less acne, plus my cortisol is a bit out of ‘normal’ range. So, my first naturopath had me try UNDAs, HMF powder, liver detox formula, food elimination, still no change. He wanted me to do another round even though nothing happened, but I decided to find a different ND who I connected with much better (for other reasons as well). I also did a 10-day round of progesterone a month ago at my GP’s request to kick start a period, as I hadn’t had one since this past December, and before that a full year without. I got one immediately after the doseage ended, nothing since.

It was last night that everything started to make sense. I did the hormone saliva test a week ago and went to my naturopath for the results. It showed that I was in the low range for progesterone. Which is funny, because I just had a huge dose of it a month ago. It was then that I remembered my doctor prescribing a low progesterone birth control to deal with a bit of acne in my twenties and I had stuck with it ever since. Now that I am off b/c my body is not regulating the progesterone properly. BIG aha moment!

She also found my thyroid numbers to be low. My GP thought the numbers were fine, but I’m at 2.76 on the scale, my naturopath doesn’t like to see anything above 2.0. I am now going to have a full thyroid blood work up to see what we can find, and will be taking my basal temperature every morning to see what my cycle is doing since I have no period to gauge. This will tell me if I’m ovulating at all period, which will be another issue to look at.

All this to say Lori, I think you are on the right track. For me, and maybe for you, this has been a very long road starting early on in life, unfortunately we cannot expect it to disappear instantly. I have had incredibly bad days ending up in tears feeling like I need to throw a tantrum I am so frustrated and sick of what I look at in the mirror.

With what I have said, I’m not insinuating that I have the answers yet, or the ones I have gotten so far are the end of it. I’m not a professional either, so my knowledge is only my experience. I have a long way to go yet. I pray that you will get some answers from the saliva test that you can start to work with. I look forward to hearing about it.

I admire you and your willingness to fight through this, no matter how awful and hard it is. If you need anything, I am always willing to help, and/or support in any way that I can.
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Kait June 27, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Hi Ladies,
I love your blog so much and it breaks my heart when I read your acne posts…you are so vibrant and beautiful and deserve it to show on your skin.

In my opinion it is 100% related to your hormones and period and working out and stress about acne and diet and working out. Missing a period is a sign that something is not right and it’s showing on your face. You need to heal that.

If you want some random old lady’s advice, I say quit spending money on products, wash with water only, keep up a healthy diet of fruit, veg and a small amt of protein and fat and cut back on the workouts a little bit. Go for a walk. Don’t feel guilty about not exercising one day because that will be stress and you don’t want that! If you’re afraid you’ll gain weight if you cut back on HIIT, then eat a little bit less or cut out some fat. Seriously, as in many things, simple is better. Try it for a few weeks, what’s the worst thing that can happen, you get zits? You’ve got them already! Maybe your cysts will go away and you’ll get your period, who knows! Just say Forget it and go au natural for a bit and see what happens :)

After a few weeks if you’re not happy, go take the pills and be done with this mess…three years is too long to suffer!

Ronnie Piaggi June 27, 2012 at 3:21 pm

I’m very new to your blog and so far very addicted as well. You two are wonderfully honest and creative (a great combo).
I’m not one to post, but thought perhaps my 2 cents would be food for thought.
I had terrible skin the past 3 years. It started from nothing I can put my finger on….
Nothing helped. I went for Chemical Peels and even Laser and although it helped, they kept coming back. I’m very healthy, water, veggies, no sugar no dairy you name it I’d tried it!
Finally I’ve been seeing a Naturopath and went for this ‘Vega’ test. This test flags areas of concern in your system. Hormones & skin flagged (go figure) for me. The next test was a Organ test (after trying multiple food tests I was glad to try something different)…they then test (each persons different obviously in their needs and in-balances) said items with balancing supplements or needs required by your system. Now keep in mind it would be different for each person. My goodness though…after YEARS…my skin is looking soooo much better in only a week! I’m also following a prescribed detox per this same Doctor. I’m from Canada so I’m not sure if you have the same test(s) available, however I’m sure you do. The Doctor I used here was Dr Sleigh in Langley, B.C. Canada. I’ve read much controversy on many methods/tests and Naturopaths, but I can’t complain when its natural and working for me. My two cents.

Diane June 27, 2012 at 3:33 pm

Hi Lori, I didn’t read through all of the previous posts,so apologies if I am repeating anything.
In my personal experience with adult acne, which began as soon as I stopped birth control after 10 years, diet was everything. The first thing that made a major difference for me was giving up coffee and adding in probiotics and fermented foods. I was already a very conscientious eater, as far as natural and organic etc. I did eat mostly fish with some chicken and turkey and loads of vegetables and salads and very little dairy. There was definitely periods of time where I consumed more dairy and noticed my skin flare up, so I try to keep it to some aged cheese and yogurt. For a time I had no caffeine at all and it seemed to work wonders, as if my body and hormones just needed that long rest. After almost 2 years, I started back with green tea and mate without any issues arising. From there, it was fine for me to treat myself to a coffee about once a week without causing any upset to my system. Giving up the coffee,at least temporarily, might be something for you to consider, if you haven’t already. Again, apologies if i did miss this info already.

Lori and Michelle June 27, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Thanks Megan for sharing all this great information, I totally agree with you on everything. I totally understand how everything in the body is related, I need to dig a little deeper and play around with things. Thanks again!

Lori and Michelle June 27, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Thanks for sharing!! I do need to get back into meditation, as I know how helpful it can be. I do need to get my cortisol levels checked, have not done that yet. I will have to look into that adapotogen thanks!

Lori and Michelle June 27, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Christa wow thank you!!! It is so comforting to know that I am not the only one dealing with adult acne and having a hard time figuring it out. My DR prescribed me to take some progesterone cream, I plan to start here in a few weeks, well depending on my apt. with her on Friday. I hope it provides me with more answers, I think it is testosterone related, so hopefully I can get on the right track to heal. Good luck with your journey as well. I will keep you posted ;)

Holly McBride June 27, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Hey Girls,

First things first – I just love your honesty. Often, health bloggers rant and rave about the next ‘elixir’ that saved their life, which only serves to reinforce your sense of isolation regarding your own health problem.

I too have hormonal problems, have been down the natural route, the conventional route and now I am working with a Chinese Herbalist. Hormones are so complex and remember – it must have taken years for your body to get to this state – so don’t be hard on yourself.

I feel your anguish. Rest assured that time and consistency in your chosen protocol will work.

Keep up the beautiful words,

The Robertsons of Mumbai June 27, 2012 at 4:44 pm

My heart aches for you, Lori!!! As someone who has suffered with cystic acne since I was 12 (am and now 37), I completely, 100% know exactly how you feel. So much of my life I wasted lyin in bed crying and hiding indoors (and admit I still do it when my face gets bad). I wish I could be there to give you a hug during those moments, because I really believe that people who have not dealt with this have NO idea how it makes you feel. People with no acne are clueless, and people with mild to even moderate regular (non-cystic) acne also, in my opinion, have no idea what this is like. One thing I feared most of my teenage and early adult life was my wedding day. And, despite taking prednisone for a week before the wedding just to try to avoid cysts and clear up what was there (I admit that was drastic, but as you already know, cysts can wreck any day, much less your wedding day!), but of course, I had a HUGE cyst between my nose and my upper lip. I was mortified! The photographer was great and did what he could not to have it show up, and also did some magic with the photo editing, but I would be lying if I said that it didn’t cause me a lot of upset on the day (and for the entire honeymoon!).

I also feel that hormones are mostly responsible for mine. Now for some reason, the past few weeks I have cleared up almost completely. With this pregnancy, it seems that the more nauseous I get (I am in month 5 and still having extreme sickness), the clearer my face gets. I also still swear by the microdermabrasion, so perhaps you can find a discount or a beauty school or derm school to do it for cheaper than the normal going rate. Also for me, I took Accutane numerous times, and the first time had wonderful, wonderful success, but the 1 full and 2 half courses I took after that were not as successful at all… I was desperate, though. The derm should be able to give you a quick cortisone injection into the cysts which will shrink them up fairly fast. I am an injection junkie, but all that has had to stop with the baby belly. Anyway, you might want to ask about that when you go for your follow-up. I understand your hesitation to take antibiotics. I was on them for about 12 yrs straight, and they really messed up my gut flora, etc. (and I still had the cysts). Wishing you all the best in deciding what is the right choice for you! Not that it really helps anything, but you are in my thoughts!
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amy June 27, 2012 at 5:45 pm

I have also had severe acne in the past and have a few comments on things that I have learned make me break out like crazy that you might not realize especially since you are such a healthy eater…my skin can NOT handle oral probiotics or any kind of Omega 3′s, fish oil, and the like. If you saw my skin you’d never believe I have acne problems but within a few day of taking either of those I will break out like CRAZY!!

Also I took an oral antibiotic for a few years when i was younger and it worked amazing wonders!! its worth it and I don’t have any side effects from it now!!

Maya June 27, 2012 at 5:59 pm

I know it’s not considered a natural solution, but thousands of women go on Accutane every year and come out with beautiful clear skin.

I used to be afraid to leave the house because my cystic acne was so terrible. After Accutane, I feel that I have my life back!

I recommend at least talking to your dermatologist about it. It’s perfectly safe (decades of use have proved it so). I’m in med school and have done my research and I think you should look into it!!

Lori and Michelle June 27, 2012 at 6:26 pm

Diane thank you for your comment! I did give up coffee for a few months before wedding. It helped a little.

Shantess June 27, 2012 at 6:28 pm

Jenn’s comment reminded me about something with hormone tests and the supposed “normal” ranges. What is often considered normal is in reality not normal at all. Many labs use very skewed guidelines by inadvertently including “atypical” people in the sample studies (so instead of being conpared to people with balanced hormones, you’re compared to people who may be suffering from a hormonal imbalance of their own). Naturopaths often use different standards but not necessarily. Here is some really good info on interpreting hormonal test results:


It’s on a PCOS message board but applies to any female hormone panel. If you end up getting tested, be sure to ask for the number to check it out yourself, especially if the doc says the numbers are “normal”.

Dana June 27, 2012 at 7:57 pm

I am praying for you Lori! The Lord keeps showing me what to do in my health journey and I believe he will show you too. It’s pretty remarkable I have to say…just keep trusting and taking those little steps of faith! Much love :)

Cat @ Cat's Kitchen June 27, 2012 at 7:59 pm

Again, it’s not natural but it cures acne – I have severe cystic acne from 11yrs old, and after years of various antibiotics I tried Roaccutane – cured. I had to take the Pill while on it (because of birth defects caused by it if I were to accidentally conceive), but as soon as I was finished my course, I stopped the pill and have had almost 100% clear, glowing skin since. I can’t recommend it enough. Just make lip balm your best friend :)

Rachel @ Eat, Learn, Discover! June 27, 2012 at 8:57 pm

Wow – you have no idea how much I admire you for posting this. Within the past year I have also been hit with horrible adult-onset cystic acne, but have not yet found the courage to share my journey. I know that mine is definitely hormone related, as well as stress related, and I have no idea what is helping at the moment and what is not.
My mom insisted that I see a dermatologist (background: my parents don’t believe that natural products/remedies work, they are big into western medicine. since i’m still financially dependent on them, I have to take their suggestion unless I want to pay for it out of pocket). She gave me a few prescription things – both topical and oral. I still refuse to take the oral antibiotic, even though I’m fairly certain it would work. At this point it’s not worth it, but it may be if it lasts this long. I did agree to the topical treatments, and they have helped with everything except the really deep stuff. I have messed around with my diet as well, but not in a really methodical way, plus I don’t have any guidance for that. So I have no idea what causes my flare-ups and such.
In time we will find what works for our bodies – know that you are not alone on this journey
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Laura June 27, 2012 at 10:06 pm

In natural medicine, acne is related to an imbalance in the gut. Have you tried probiotics like Natren or Udo’s Super 8 Hi Potency? Taken with cod liver oil or omega 3 fish oil (or Ascena), it can really help to balance the dysbiosis in your gut. I’ve had many clients respond well to this approach especially when combined with a diet like yours :)

Brittany Dearing June 27, 2012 at 10:14 pm

I work at a Homeopathic Clinic in Las Vegas, NV….we have a lot of out of state patients. We work with all kinds of patients but I know that we have helped with acne before and we do A LOT of work with patients with hormonal issues. It’d be an investment as you’d have to make the trip and we don’t accept insurance but I thought I’d put it out there in case your doc wants you to do too many prescription things and other stuff you’d rather not. Our docs stick with supplements and homeopathic tinctures for the most part: http://www.nevadaclinic.com

Shannon June 27, 2012 at 11:14 pm

Hi Lori,

I’ve been a reader for a while but never commented. Have you tried acupuncture for your acne? I am not an acupuncturist but I know that my acupuncturist has told me that acne and skin problems in general can be symptoms of some of the meridian disharmonies, can’t remember which ones. Also, I’ve done acupuncture for about 5 years and found that, while acne was not my main problem, it has completely eliminated hormonal, cycle-related issues I was having such as cramps, bloating, and ovarian cysts. I would highly recommend acupuncture to anyone, but after reading this blog post I’d definitely recommend that you try it.

Kristy June 28, 2012 at 1:40 am

Have you had a scan for ovarian cysts? I have found that I have polycystic ovarian syndrome which leads to weight gain around the stomach, hair loss and acne. There’s an insulin imbalance which causes the weight gain, but you already compensate for that with your diet, but it MIGHT explain why you still have the acne. I only found out becausemy period went missing for three months and then they found my ovaries completelycovered with cysts. Sadly, the main treatment is the pill, but they might also try metformin to balance things out….just an idea :)
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The Robertsons of Mumbai June 28, 2012 at 6:15 am

Yeah – and I am an example of someone who it worked for well in one course (was all clear for about 5 glorious, glorious years and literally became a different person!), but then not in the following courses! However, I do not regret taking it (at least the first time, anyway), as it did make a big difference, and for the first time I actually felt like I was not afraid to make friends, talk to people, etc. But, it is a big decision, and one that I feel no one can force you into. You an always abort the course if you feel that you are not happy with what it is doing or how you are feeling, of course. However, if you did not have acne your whole life after starting your period, maybe you will be able to figure out what exactly is causing it and therefore not need to do something so drastic (in my case it started at 12, right when my period started and my skin became oily, so it was clear to me that drying up the oil as Accutane does was going to help – initially, anyway).
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Annie June 28, 2012 at 6:48 am


Hi! Long time reader, first time commenter. I just wanted to chime in on your ongoing struggles with acne. I recently graduated from esthetician school where I worked with a product line that produced some amazing results. I do not suffer from cystic acne, however I did have some fellow classmates who did. I’m glad so many of your readers have graciously share their advice and given you support! So, I would just like to add one more thing to your list for you to consider :-)
First, skin care products that are readily available over the counter, whether it be Aveeno or Clarins, are regulated by the FDA and are therefore only allowed to treat the top layer of your skin, the stratum corneum. Unfortunately, the stratum corneum is mostly comprised of dead skin cells that are shedding. So products that we buy over the counter are just treating dead skin! Products that are only sold in a dermatologist’s office or at spas where a licensed esthetician is on staff are called cosmeceuticals. One example of a popular cosmeceutical company is Obagi. Cosmeceutical skin care products generally have higher percentages of active agents, such as glycolic, salicylic, or lactic acids. These types of ingredients cause actual changes in the skin’s appearance. So my thought was that it might help to see a dermatologist and not necessarily get put on an antibiotic or topical ointment but to try a cosmeceutical line. While in school we used Image products. I can’t say enough good things about their products. They have a line, Clear Cell, specifically suited for acne issues. They also have another line, Ormedic, that is completely organic and worked wonders for one of my classmates that suffered from adult acne. I love that their products are paraben-free, contain no chemical preservatives or petrochemicals, contain fragrance composed of 100% essential oils, and are not tested on animals. And another reason why I loved this skin care line is that their price point is so much more reasonable. Please know I am in no way affiliated with the company nor do I sell their products. I just simply believe in and have witnessed their effectiveness. Here’s a link to their website: http://www.imageskincare.com/

Good luck on this journey. I know it may be frustrating but there is light at the end of the tunnel!

Stephanie June 28, 2012 at 7:23 am

Hi Lori – I’ve been reading this blog for a while and I share a similar struggle with adult acne. I’ve gone through the whole process of cutting things out and trying to pinpoint what was that one or two foods that was causing my acne. Similar to you, I don’t eat sugar, grains, or processed foods. I eat entirely organic. I tried to cut out dairy and nuts and several other specific foods from time to time to try to pinpoint the problem. But nothing seemed to work. And I definitely have hormone/thyroid problems. I’ve learn though, that it’s not necessarily that you need to cut something out, but that it’s what nutrients and minerals you need to add in. For a month now, I’ve been juicing nearly every morning, having a 24 or 36 hour complete juicing day once a week, taking 1-2 tbsp of coconut oil every day, 2 tsp of maca (NOT the raw kind) every day, 1 tsp of chlorella with nearly 1 tsp of kelp or dulce flakes every day, 1 tsp of cod liver oil every day, and superfoods every day (bee pollen, raw milk kefir, some type of berries, goji berries). This is in addition to one other meal with lots of veggies, some meat, and always a digestive enzyme. Throughout this detox, my acne has been steadily improving. A lot of these foods support hormone balance and thyroid health (maca, coconut oil, chlorella, kelp/dulce). The kelp/dulce or other seaweed especially detoxes and support the thyroid by supplying it with iodine which it sorely needs while kicking out all of the floride, chlorine, and bromide that replacement it when there isn’t enough iodine and actually poison the thyroid. This list isn’t comprehensive, but I think it outlines how we need to focus on adding nutrients and vitamins and minerals in, rather than limiting and restricting ourselves from foods. More often than not, I think a lot of our outward ills are a result of a lack of something in our bodies (after, of course, our diet is cleansed of all processed foods, etc). Let me know what you think. Thanks for listening and we’re in this together!

Lori and Michelle June 28, 2012 at 7:30 am

Laura yep I mentioned above that I take a probiotic and cod liver oil.

Lori and Michelle June 28, 2012 at 7:31 am

Shannon thank you, I would do acupuncture but cannot afford it. Maybe one day.

Lori and Michelle June 28, 2012 at 7:31 am

Thanks Kristy, I have not. I will look into this more.

Laura June 28, 2012 at 7:39 am

That embarrassing I’m sorry, I thought I read everything through :S
Best of luck!

Stacey June 28, 2012 at 8:00 am

I’ve experience bad acne (cystic) too after going off birth control pills. I know you want to go the natural route if possible, but if you’re open to the derm and their prescriptions you might be open to Proactive. I started using it and it cleared everything up immediately. We have a vending machine type thing in our mall and I just buy it from there instead of ordering online. It really works wonders for me.

I wish you the best; such a hard thing to deal with emotionally and physically. I just know I couldn’t deal with all the food eliminations so that’s why I threw this out there.

Lori and Michelle June 28, 2012 at 8:04 am

No worries Laura!! It was a lot of information in the post! I just wanted to let you know I do take those supplements and appreciate you mentioning them!

Erikka June 28, 2012 at 8:09 am

Hi Lori, I have struggled with acne all of my teen years. I am finally getting clear by drinking green smoothies everyday, washing my face twice a day with natural soap, and using witch hazel after I wash my face. I have been vegan for over 3 years and have been told that since I no longer had dairy in my diet I shouldn’t have acne. I felt horrible and that something was wrong with me. The only supplement I take is a multivitamin (vegan) and drinks lots of water during the day. I also do yoga to help a neurological condition I have but yoga is also detoxifying so it is good to help cleans the pores. I also make sure to get outside everyday. Acne needs to sun exposure to dry the oil (all acne is associated with oil that clogs the pores).

I wish you the best on your journey.

Katie June 28, 2012 at 8:13 am

I want hug you
Katie recently posted..We are a family of {free}My Profile

Roxana June 28, 2012 at 8:32 am

I’ve heard this cream works wonder. http://www.buynoni.co.uk/natural-plus-vitamins/details/65/6/lenil-noni-cream/lenil-noni-cream-1-x-50ml-tub.html I did not try it myself, but it might be helpful. I wish you success. :)

Paige @ Running Around Normal June 28, 2012 at 9:17 am

Are the antibiotics long term? If not, then maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to try ‘em out. I know when something’s not right on my face, it makes me feel super vulnerable. I feel for ya, Lori!

Reyna June 30, 2012 at 4:05 am

Dear purelytwins,
I have been following your blog since the days of your socca experiments! Perhaps 2 or 3 years ago. Let me say you guys have been truly amazing. I am glad to have this chance to possibly give something back to you, after all you’ve have given by sharing.

Lori, I would like to share with you something I did to CURE my personal struggle with cystic acne. I have PCOS, which you might already know is a hormonal problem, irregular menstruation, high testosterone levels etc.
Have you heard of a 3-day apple fast? I did that and it totally cleared my face. I seriously hope you consider this. I am a great advocate of it because it was nothing short of magical for me.
You can read more what I did at my website below:

As for skincare, after my face cleared up I slowly and carefully tried different products. One thing definite is that I always go for oil-free products. They may not always be a 100% natural but definitely oil-free. Also, right now I am using Obagi, which is only to be used temporarily. They are not natural, they contain paraben but they work for my skin. The first week is harsh because it peels away oily dead skin but after finishing the one set, I end up with great skin. After that I will go back to my oil-free minimal skincare.

bri @ In Love & Words July 6, 2012 at 5:48 am

Oh my gosh, I completely feel your pain here.

I just discovered your blog after reading your guest post on Fitnessista’s blog (immediately subscribed!) and when I came across this post, I was really happy I decided to start reading.

I went through the EXACT same situation. I had clear skin all through high school and college, then when I went off birth control, all of a sudden I broke out like a teenager. My skin became greasy and pimply to the point where I’d be in the shower washing my face, so completely in shock at how bumpy it was when it used to be so smooth. I know it may seem kind of vain to some, but it was so upsetting. There was a good 6 months where I hid from the world – didn’t hang out with friends or anything – because I could barely make eye contact with them. I Felt like my acne was all they would see.

I tried all the stereotypical things like ProActiv and all those things, but nothing worked. I finally started going to the dermatologist & started taking pills (which freaked me out because i’m not a big pill-taker, but I was desperate) and it started to clear up (this is after about 3 or 4 years). However, I still had scarring.

Then I got pregnant and, obviously, had to stop taking the pills (i’d actually started cutting back significantly on taking hte pills as soon as my face started clearing up, anyway.) I still have a bit of acne (i’m still pregnant right now , 34 weeks) but it’s not as bad. Very likely from the hormones. I have no idea what my face is going to turn into after I have my baby, but I’m certainly interested in more natural remedies since I’ll be breastfeeding & I really don’t want to take any dangerous medications or topical creams. I’ll definitely be following this journey with you & if I come up with any solutions, I’ll let you know!

Rachel July 6, 2012 at 11:38 pm

Hi Lori. I just found your and Michelle’s blog today and I am loving it. My husband and I have been sitting here gushing over the amazing, yummy looking recipes. We are vegan and eat a lot of raw foods. We’ve already made some lists of ingredients to buy tomorrow so we can start making some of these awesome looking dishes. And you guys are getting me excited about Bodyrock – I’ve always been a gym-goer but maybe it’s time for me to try this method. Anyway I somehow found these posts about acne and wanted to leave a comment because I’ve struggled with it for years. I’m 28 and started getting bad acne in college. Maybe when I went off birth control, not sure. I tried a lot of prescription topical creams and gels over the years, and various antibiotics, and Proactive, and natural remedies. It was so frustrating because like you, I eat so clean. Finally in Dec 2011 I went on Accutane. (Well Accutane is no longer available in the US actually, I was on a generic called Claravis.) And it worked. Not to sound like a commercial but I finally have clear skin and I feel like it is a miracle. I know what it’s like to feel so low, depressed, ashamed of one’s skin, and embarrassed to go out, be social, or even make eye contact with people. My doc had me on the drug for 6 months. I experienced no serious side effects, just dry, red skin, chapped lips, and some hair loss (not a ton, not noticeable). I was really hardcore about moisturizing (so actually the dry skin wasn’t really a problem), never being without lip balm, and avoiding the sun. I know Accutane is a risk as apparently there are some potentially serious side effects. But I feel my body can handle it for 6 months, and then I’m good forever (hopefully) as far as clear skin. Before I was always rationalizing — “I broke out because I ate too much sugar” “I didn’t give that treatment long enough to work” — stuff like that. But I finally realized other people are able to eat those foods and live their lives a certain way, and they don’t have acne, so it’s not about the food or the supplements or whatever (just my opinion). Now I’m clear – I don’t even have to wash my face. I don’t use any follow-up treatments, I’m just clear. It feels amazing, I can’t put it into words really. I wish I’d gotten my act together and done this years ago, but I try not to beat myself up about it. Well anyway I wish you all the luck in the world dealing with this thing. Know that there are fans out there who support you. Thanks for the amazing blog and keep up the great work. -Rachel

Lori and Michelle July 7, 2012 at 10:08 am

Bri glad you found us! And sorry to hear that you are having acne issues as well. Yes I will keep everyone updated on my face journey over at purelytwins.com (our new blog).

Marina July 11, 2012 at 4:55 am

Hi Lori and Michelle,
I really feel for you and can relate to your feelings. I came across your blog a year ago through bodyrock and stopped by occanionally ever since. I experienced just the same problems at the beginning of this year and had trouble with it until now. Fortunately, my acne completely vanished after I startet the Paleo Diet. I can highly recommend the book of Loren Cordain : The Paleo Diet. Just like you, I had digestive problems since ten years. I had been suffering of depression for many years and for a very long time I just felt hopeless about it. But Bodyrock gave me back my lost energy and thanks to the paleo diet I finally regained my overall health. Please, give it a try! You both still eat things that might cause your problems. Grains such as buckweat, legumes such as garbanzo beans and starchy foods like potato (or even sweet potato) all contain ingredients that can cause permanent inflammation. However, I know, that what works well for one, maybe won’t do the the job for others. But I really would love to see you recovering and feeling better. Keep up the good work!

Carol July 26, 2012 at 8:00 pm

Bio identical hormones could help with acne. A compounding pharmacy or a natural doctor could test you.


Chrissy July 28, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Hi Lori, I’ve had issues with adult acne also, so I know how you feel. I never had it as a teen, started in my mid 20′s. I did some research too and recently cut out milk and try to limit dairy as much as possible. Although I love cheese so much, hard to not have a little! Limiting dairy has helped my skin. I’m also currently using Eminence Organic face products. My routine is to cleanse with Mineral Cleansing Concentrate (morning and night), moisturize with Clear Skin Probiotic Moisturizer and use the Clear Skin Probiotic Masque 3 or 4 times a week in the evening. The products are expensive but they have helped me the most of anything I’ve tried for problem skin. I don’t exfoliate a lot as I find it makes things worse. I think the masque helps to exfoliate gently. I had a problem with the cystic acne, not a lot of them, but they are painful and would take a while to clear up. My skin in so much better!!! I do get a few pimples still, but not the large cystic sore ones that would stick around for a month. Not sure if you’ve tried Eminence but it’s something that could help. I truly love the masque, it feels so good and takes the redness out, very soothing. Hope you find something that works for you, keep trying :) )

Elena August 10, 2012 at 7:15 am

Let’s see how briefly I can summarize this. Have you tried acupuncture?
Eastern philosophy has always been the best answer when it comes to my very crappy health, I mean, very crappy. (Chinese and Aryuveda). (Diet included).

I was to the point my body could not eat any gluten, dairy, coffee, nightshade veggies, nothing…everything would cause some kind of inbalance that reflected in muscles, joints, hair, skin, mind, immune, hormones. There was NO BALANCE and it seemed hopeless. After 3 years of considering being on disability, and only 4 months of (not even that much) acupuncture and only one inexpensive bottle of chinese herbs that lasts me two months at a time, my muscles are growing again, I can eat more normal, my skin is better, my hair doesn’t fall, I can stand in the heat without hive breakouts, I don’t go crazy on periods. My body cleanses toxins again!!!

They find the energy blockage in the organ that causes the symptoms. The needles open your bloodflow and life force to help that area heal itself (especially as healthy as you already eat).

I never believed in it, but my husband said we must try it at least once. Living Social had a ridiculous sale and now I can’t believe I had almost given up on health. Doctors said it was autoimmune, it can’t be cured, blah blah blah. Chinese medicine said it’s your spleen and stomach that needs attention. I find a new improvement every week. Inflammation is manageble, stress is managable, hence my skin glows again.

If you try it, or already have, let me know what you think.

Lori and Michelle August 17, 2012 at 10:24 am

Elena glad you found what worked for you, I cannot afford acupuncture at the moment, maybe one day.

Katerina August 27, 2012 at 7:21 pm

Maybe you have already tried this, but I wanted to mention acne.org
I have combination to oily skin and had a lot of different problems with cyst acne for a long time on and off. Using the “treatment’ mixed with AHA mourning and night is all that worked for me. I used those together because my skin just cannot seen to handle moisturizers. It is not a natural regiment, which I did not love, but it works, and is cheaper than many other options out there.
Best of luck

Miri October 28, 2012 at 7:18 am

I don’t have time to read all the comments, so maybe someone already suggested this, but I have found for my self, and my kids, it’s all about allergies!
My first child had severe asthma, and after trying everything alternative to try and avoid the daily steroids, I decided to go to an allergist. I knew he was sensitive to dairy products, but I hadn’t realized that he was allergic to the soy milk I was replacing it with. ONE WEEK later – no asthma, and not even once again in two years.
My second had recurring ear infections. Two days after we finished a round of antibiotics another infection would develop, until – you guessed it … the allergist said he was alergic to chocolate. I stopped eating it for the duration that I nursed him, and again, not another ear infection since.
But the best was my fourth. A month after he was born, he developed severe acne onall over his face, and it was starting to climb down his torso. The allergist took me (I was nursing) off grain, dairy, soy, nuts, fish and nightshades, and again, one week later he had a perfectly gorgeous face, and by the end of 3 weeks, his torso was clear. BUT the best part was… my face also cleared up! I assume that I am also allergic to one of those things, because it is like night and day!
You don’t have to start an elimination diet. It’s hard. But if you can get a recommendation for an allergist, I would really recommend it! Good Luck!

julie November 5, 2012 at 2:18 am

i am 24 and have been dealing with acne since 7th grade. I got off birth control about 7 months ago and my face went crazy!! I already had bad acne but it got to the point where i had like 20 new pimples in the morning and 10 more that night (not including the little bumps) I have gone through every emotion just like u said u did and tried so many things. this lady recommended femmenessence macaharmony. it’s not a hormone but helps balance them out. with that i also started taking the most natural state of aloe pills (for the inflammation) that i could find and cut out dairy as much as i could…and i’m telling u my face looks 80% better…people with acne are a lot of times sensitive to dairy and have inflammation …and these improvements happened within a month. …im not sure if all of these helped or just one of them but i dont want to stop taking one of them and risk my face getting bad again…..hope this helps and good luck :)

Lisa January 21, 2013 at 7:42 pm

Hi Ladies,

I feel for you so much. I tried going off of birth control for a few months last year, and ended up right back on Yasmin because of an acne outbreak that scared the s*** out of me. I woke up every day and thought I was living in a nightmare. Maybe you know how I feel in that way. I didn’t leave my apartment in NYC, and it started to affect my self-image and my marriage, because I became extremely defensive and would burst into tears when my husband told me I looked pretty – something he did before I had acne and it made me feel good, but after acne there were so many emotions going on, I couldn’t handle him saying it. This of course, was extremely confusing to him as well. Overall, the entire experience numbers among my worst.

So, here I am, back on it with no plans of going off again. I’m 30 now, so we have talked about starting to think more seriously about having kids, but I really don’t know if I can handle the uncertainty. I never thought I’d be in a place where I’d have to weigh having kids with having acne. It is the worst. Let’s just say that going off of birth control is going to be very well-thought out. There will be no surprise kids in my future. :) I am going to go to a dermatologist and maybe an endocrinologist before thinking about kids to try to get a better idea of what might happen. I can’t risk losing my mind again.

Kat February 14, 2013 at 11:31 pm

Hi Lori,
I really feel for you. I’ve also suffered from acne for years now. It had/has devastating effects on my self-esteem. My story is a bit like yours, only I had acne pretty much all my life.I went on the pill and it seemed to work really well. Of course after years of being on it I really wanted to actually get better and not just ‘mask’ the problem. I also was stuck and didn’t know what else to do…until I tried acupuncture!

I agree with Elena, Western doctors just don’t know how to deal with skin issues.
It’s been working for me. It is expensive, but you can spread out the sessions. They give you a different diet requirements; for me it was to eat more ‘cooling’ foods such as bitter melon, green leafy foods and no coffee! This last one was really difficult, as I’m a major coffee addict.
At first, my TCM practitioner told me that it might get worse before it gets better; she explained it as releasing all the ‘heat’. She also said that skin is linked to emotions, period and circulation, apparently I had a lot of pent up emotions which I wasn’t dealing with, and this results in missing or weak periods, the other side of it is of course violent periods when they do come (and also violent emotions).
So a good technique is to be kinder to yourself and to accept yourself and your emotions as they are; I know this is much harder said than done, believe me. It’s not an easy journey but when you know where the problem lies it’s easier to understand that you CAN deal with what happens to your body.

My case was severe, but after 2 years of treatment my face and chest look pretty good, however I still have stubborn few on the back. They seem to keep coming back, I need to improve my diet.

Usually they say it takes about a year or so to get better. I know it’s embarrassing having to deal with this, it’s like telling the whole world there’s something wrong with you. But, I’m glad that an imbalance in my body is coming out this way rather than in more serious form down the track. At least I can deal with this….well because I have to, it’s literally in my face.
Good luck:)

Marie March 21, 2013 at 1:25 pm

I have struggled with acne since going off the birth control pill many years ago as well. I totally feel your pain in this area. I have cystic acne right now– the worst I have ever had– and am pregnant with our third. I sometimes don’t want to go out because it’s so bad. I actually had a visiting missionary from our church come up and ask me ‘What happened??’ And do a broad gesture to my face. I wanted to die. I said, I’m pregnant.

Anyway, I eat super clean, sugar free, no yucky oils, all natural, many organics. It’s awful to see no progress. And the only thing that has ever worked is Proactiv. I don’t want to go back to that! It’s so labor intensive plus it’s not natural. But right now I’m using witch hazel and ACV (separately) and seeing no progress at all. I don’t have a clue what to do next. I’ve tried everything in the world. The only thing that I haven’t tried is getting tested for food intolerances. I was such a junk food junky, I think that might be why. I guess my next step might be doing GAPS diet, but I don’t want to. :(

Laura April 4, 2013 at 11:52 am

Have you considered going dairy-free? I have had cystic acne in my adult years (after going off birth control), and several of my friends too. We have all gone dairy free at various points and for various reasons, and the acne has subsided (for all of us)! It often doesn’t matter if milk or cheese is organic, your body/hormones (and everyone is different) will react similarly with any dairy.

Good luck!

Kim June 5, 2013 at 10:41 am

Have you ever read that your body detoxes via several means…one of which is your skin? I don’t have an explanation as to why it prefers the skin of the face, but sometimes drinking more water or eating cleaner (specifically eliminating a specific food item or group) can be helpful. Maybe you could track what you eat and then note how your skin looks the over the days that follow? I know you and your sister eat concentrate on eating very clean already…just a thought.

Miguel September 5, 2013 at 11:24 am

OMG you have just describes what I’m going through :( I was actuate for a few months and then I had no insurance. I still had a few occasional breakouts but it was fine, this was at age 18.. I’m 22 And the acne is back, like bad!! But it’s only on my neck, I’m scared that this will never end and I hate myself for it.. I’m a guy and this sucks, idk how you people do it,, you are all so strong but I don’t feel like I’m strong at all

Stephanie May 5, 2014 at 12:50 am

Hi I can relate to this. I am in my 20′s and my acne has just gotten worse. I feel like giving up because Ive tried so many things. And I went to the Dermatologist and we talked about Acutane; however, the side effects are a bit scary so I wanted to know if theres something else I can try before I decide to go on this medication. I know it has been a while since this post but I was wondering if anything ever worked for you?

J. Stokes July 25, 2014 at 3:22 pm

Hi Lori. My issue with my skin is almost exact as yours. However, i decided to get back on the pill, which reduced the amount of bumps, but did not get rid of them. It seems like i get at least one or two new bumps per day. I got checked by my doctor for other issues that i had regarding my cycle, and was told i had polycysticovarian syndrome. Well, that answered a lot of questions regarding my skin! Apparently, nothing i do on the outside will clear my skin, because i have these cysts causing my hormones to be imbalanced. And there is no cure, just treatment that is only temporary. So, i just try to do the best that i can to kerp yhe bumps at bay. Proactiv really helps. Good luck with your journey in finding something that will help for you.

loisk July 27, 2014 at 8:45 am

I have suffered from small acne all thru my 20s, esp during my menstral cycle. Im 30 yrs old and have dry skin mostly. I came upon the Citrus Clear face wash, and within 1 week, my acne cleared up 80%. I wear heavy makeup daily for work, and wash my face every night with Citrus Clear before bed. This really takes the makeup off well, makes my skin feel fresh and it can breathe. I apply the Citrus Clear Moisturizer (sensitive skin) as a moisturizer as well every morning and night.

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