Note: Mothers who are contemplating letting your teenage daughter take birth control for their acne...there are other ways to help them find balance.
I have literally suffered from having acne since I hit puberty. It wasn't small blemishes like a normal teenager would have, no no, it was aggressive uncomfortable, embarrassing acne. I was 12 or 13 years old when it started to appear and it was the WORST. Honestly, I had the kind of skin that made me want to crawl into a hole and never go to school. However, it was never on my face. How considerate of my acne...
It was still fucking horrible.
I would go to the dermatologist regularly and they would pick and poke at me. I took topical creams, antibiotics, and finally accutane.
Literally the WORST thing ever. Talk about exposing your body to pure chemical bullshit.
Ro-accutane is a medication that basically closes off your sebaceous glands so your body cannot secret oils, therefore closing your pores so nothing can get in or out.
A. Your body is meant to produce oils to keep your skin naturally hydrated.
B. Who in the hell decided this would be a good idea to create...??
basically everything besides death.
I'm being dramatic, but literally it can make you suicidal, deaf, blind, chance of stroke, blood clots, and if you get pregnant while taking this pill... you're in trouble. The pill package actually has crossed out preggo women on it.
ANYWAY, I begged and screamed to be put on it because I really felt it was my only option (at 15).
I did the 6 month course and had clear skin for about 3 years and then it all came back.
I went back to the dermatologist and she finally recommended I went on birth control to help balance out my hormones.
I really knew nothing about birth control other than it allowed you not to get pregnant and it would help clear your skin up.
This was when i was 18.
My mom begged me not to. She really tried to help me find an alternative way of helping my skin but I didn't care. I was 18 and could make up my own mind about what I wanted to put into my body.
I was on the pill from 18 to 22.
On and off the pill from 22-25.
I remember the summer of 2015 I was working at a surf camp in San Diego and I stopped taking the pill in August for the first time.
Everything was fine until I didn't get a period.
I did not have a period for 5 months. 5 MONTHS!
Eventually...I got my period and it was the happiest I had ever been. I was afraid that I would never get it back, but your body has to re-adjust after taking the pill for so long.
After that first month my skin went down hill, and for the first time in my life I was experiencing aggressive cystic acne on my face. Jaw line to be exact. These were not normal extractable pimples, these were large, painful, swollen, red bumps I had never had in my life.
My skin was this way for about 3 months. I went to my doctor instead of my Derm to see if she could give me any other alternative to birth control for my skin, or at least tell me why I was having a reaction this badly in my 20's.
She recommended topical and antibiotics.
Nothing was working.
Eventually I went back on the pill.
This continues for a couple more years. I kept trying to ween myself off these stupid pills and every time my skin would durastically get worse! There were days I would call in sick to work because I just sat home and cried. I really never felt so ugly. I'll also never forget my boss telling me that I needed to get my skin under control...as if I enjoyed feeling/ looking that way.
I started doing my own research since no doctors were giving me any answers or alternatives to birth control. It was too expensive to see a holistic doctor so I decided to be my own.
Here's what I learned:
Birth control is a bad bandaid for people already suffering from acne.
Birth control tricks a woman's body into thinking that she is already pregnant. Therefore, you are not ovulating. Your body is not releasing or creating necessary hormones to find a natural balance. That is why side effects of taking the pill are weight gain, hair thinning, moodiness, cramps, swollen boobs, amongst others. You may think you're having a period every month, but there's no egg that is actually being released from your ovaries.
It's just the lining in your uterus, ladies.
I mean duh, that's why you don't get pregnant.
No egg, no potential baby!
Anywho, most birth controls are estrogen dominant. This means that your body basically stops producing it on it's own and is relying on the pills you are taking for the fix. This also means when you stop taking birth control, your body doesn't recognize that it needs to make it's own estrogen/ progesterone again.
Hey look! You are now a testosterone dominant woman.
That's why all your breakouts are around your mouth/ up your jawline.
That is your bodies way of saying:
"Yo, your hormones are WHACK AF".
Birth control also makes you insulin resistant!
What does that even mean?
Insulin is another hormone your body uses to balance glucose.
AKA sugar AKA carbs.
When your body does not recognize insulin (insulin resistance), glucose(sugar) get's built up in the body causing a whole lot of problems.
Mass amounts of oil secretion, weight gain, even potential for type 2 diabetes.
W O W.
I learned all of this information through my own research after asking doctors what was wrong with my skin for SO LONG. This opened up a whole new world for how I was going to deal with my skin.
It was no longer a question of how I was going to HELP my skin,
I was going to HEAL my skin.
It's still a work in progress.
I have been dedicated to learning about how to balance my hormones naturally for a year now. It has not been easy, and I still get break outs, but never as bad as it was.
Here is what I recommend for my sisters with problem skin.
Your skin is the largest organ your body has. Everything is filtered from the inside-- out!
L I S T E N to it!
Acne is an EXTERNAL signal of an INTERNAL issue!
There is something happening on the inside that is projecting to the outside and slapping a birth control bandaid on it will not help for long.
If you want long term, do your research and heal from the inside out.
You. Are. What. You. Eat.
If your diet is heavy on sugar, fried food, cheese, and lots of bread/ pasta, your skin is going to mirror that.
Unfortunate, but true. It took me awhile to give up cheese/dairy, but I am happy I did. There are so many plant based options out there that are great and even better for your body.
Drink a lotttt of water. That's a given, but really be conscious of how much you're consuming daily. I drink 20-32OZ as soon as I wake up in the morning.
Acidic drinks and foods will put your body PH level off balance which can also cause acne flares. Be mild with coffee consumption...
Not chewy vitamins like you're 5 that are filled with gelatin and sucrose...
A real, good ass, multivitamin.
As for other supplements to help with your skin...
-L-Lysine (MY FAVORITE!!) L-Lysine is a natural amino acid that helps your body produce collagen. As we age, we produce less and less. Taking it as a supplement helps with skin cell turnover and cell repair! So good if you have thinning hair as well. (Hair is just a bunch dead skin cells btw).
-A good ass probiotic. The little villi in your intestine absorb all the nutrients that you ingest. A probiotic will help these guys get stronger and more receptive to what you eat. More good guys in your gut means less bullshit bacteria you have to deal with.
-Female Balance 2 (testosterone dominant women) MindHerbs --Bali Indonesia: I found these herbs while I was in Bali and I believe they are a huge contribution to keeping my skin at bay. They are amazing and you can order offline at MingHerbs.com
Side note: please consult a hormone specialist to see if you are dominant in one hormone or another before taking any balancing herbal shit.
Like I said, you have to be your own doctor. My body is not the same as yours.
General things that help my skin:
-CALM DOWN. Meditate. Go for morning walks. Read a book. Get off your freaking phone.
I found that really intense workouts like HIIT made me break out more often because the stress from the workout would trigger cortisol release.
I stick with jogging, yoga, swimming, weight workouts but no vigorous shit.
-Get some good sleep.
-PILLOW CASES. WASH EM. OFTEN.
-Do not touch your face for the love of god.
-Create a good skin care routine. I like using salicylic acid, Hyaluronic acid, a good toner, and good cleanser, and squalene oil to keep my skin happy.
-Learn how to love yourself with blemishes. It is ok. There are so many other things about you that are amazing..
-It will pass, It will pass, It WILL pass.
If you are struggling with your skin post birth control, you are not alone! There is actually a whole community of women in the same boat as you are. If you need to talk to someone, reach out!
I love you and you're beautiful.