ACNEFB

Have you ever seen those ridiculous acne commercials starring really attractive teens dancing around, lamenting one tiny blemish and think to yourself, “Are you f*%&ing kidding me??” Yeah, me too. My skin troubles started in the 4th grade. Literally overnight, I woke up to a face full of acne. At first I thought it would go away and that it was a short phase. But acne has plagued me ever since. And I’m not talking about a breakout here and there.

I’m talking deep, painful, cystic acne. I’m talking pus, deep scarring and skin that somehow manages to be both oily AND dry at the same time. When I say that I had horrible acne, I am not over exaggerating. I resembled a burn victim. People would stare. And to my embarrassment and horror, sometimes they would actually ask me what had happened to me, what was wrong with my face. There was not a single part of my face that didn’t have a pimple. I remember one time trying to find a single surface of my face I could lay the tip of my index finger on without a pimple, and I couldn’t do it. There simply was no part of my face not entirely covered.

Despite this, I took (what I thought was) immaculate care of my skin. I washed with cleansers both morning and night. I used harsh creams to dry out my skin. I applied glycolic acid and benzoyl peroxide daily. My mother even made me use rubbing alcohol on my skin, hoping that it would dry out my excessive oil production. It didn’t. It made my skin dry up and flake off in chunks (yes, chunks), and then produce even more oil. I took Accutane – twice! Nothing worked.

It was a vicious cycle. I even resorted to insanely expensive face washes, toners and creams. They didn’t help. So considering my acne developed when I was about ten, it took me roughly another 10-13 years to figure out that no amount of harsh cleansers or oil-free moisturizers would make my skin better. Because acne, like majority of skin ailments, is a sign of internal distress.

Here are five steps I took to clear my acne.

#1 – GET YOUR DIET IN CHECK.

Cut the crap. 

Healthy food was not a priority when I was growing up. I often ate margarine and sugar sandwiches on white bread. My grandmother raised me, and while she did the best she could, we didn’t have a lot of spare money to spend on groceries, and my  she simply did not know about healthy eating (to this day she eats cereal instead of eggs because her doctor told her it was healthier). Lunch was white bread, mayo and the cheapest ham we could find (it had hard, gelatinous chunks in it).

Switching to a vegetarian diet at 16 did not help at all, and actually further worsened my nutrient deficiencies. I still ate wheat, sugar and vegetable oils, just with the addition of processed soy. I had high blood sugar. This made my skin worse. From there I tried a typical healthy diet (low-fat, high grain, high fiber, lean meats) and my skin still didn’t get better. I tried “clean eating” and it improved a bit. It was not until I eliminated grains (except white rice), sugar, gluten and vegetable oils that my skin started to change. With my body so overloaded with the toxins I was eating, it had no choice but to excrete them through my skin. My other organs were overburdened.

Cure Nutrient Deficiencies 

My diet was extremely low in vitamins in minerals. I wasn’t getting enough vitamin A & D or E, or enough zinc or selenium. These all play a crucial role in acne. Vitamins A and E help fight free radicals. Vitamin A has been shown to reduce excess sebum production. Vitamin D improves insulin response and the immune system. Zinc is often lower in people with acne and studies have shown that zinc supplementation greatly improves acne. Selenium also acts an antioxidant and reduces inflammation.

Reduce Inflammation

I was also not getting enough omegas-3, and was getting an abundance of omega-6. This causes severe inflammation, which results in acne, among other conditions. Acne is largely an inflammatory disease. It is important to eat a wide range of anti inflammatory foods, while avoiding foods that cause inflammation. Luckily, anti inflammatory foods are generally high in vitamins and minerals. Wild seafood, grass-fed meat and healthy fats.

Heal The Gut

Acne is strongly related to gut health. Most people with acne are also suffering from some form of gut dysbiosis, which is a fancy term meaning that the gut has been damaged and there is an altered or diminished amount of the friendly bacteria that should populate the gut. Healing the gut involves eating easily digested foods, repopulating the gut with probiotics, and healing the gut by drinking a lot of homemade bone broths. That last bit may sound weird to you, but bone broth helps strengthen and rebuild the lining of the stomach. It is also extremely rich in vitamins, minerals and healthy fats and fights inflammation.

#2 – STOP PUTTING TOXINS ON YOUR FACE.

The Top Five Foods For Glowing Skin - these foods help clear acne, prevent/eliminate fine lines and wrinkles, balance oil and even the skin tone. Find out if you're eating these foods daily!

I’ve tried literally hundreds of products on my skin over the years. Unfortunately, the cosmetics industry is loosely regulated. Majority of ingredients have not even been tested for safety. The last time the government passed a bill regulating the cosmetics industry was 1938! These products do not work. They’re not healthy. Hell, they’re not even safe. Majority of them contain carcinogens (cancer causing), endocrine disruptors (hormone imbalancing) and obesogens (interferes with fat metabolism).

These products may work short-term, but they’re doing a lot of damage long-term. Just because you can’t see how these products are potentially affecting you does not mean that they aren’t. Whatever you apply to your skin is directly absorbed into your bloodstream. And chances are, you’re applying a whole lot of carcinogens.

#3 – STOP STRIPPING YOUR SKIN OF ITS NATURAL OILS.

One of the biggest problems with skincare products, especially for those of us with acne-prone skin and/or oily skin, is that we’re often told to use oil-free products or products that get rid of oil. It may seem odd, but this is the exact opposite of what we should be doing! Let me explain.

We use a cleanser that washes away the oil. We use a toner that washes away the oil. We use a cream that dries the skin out or an oil-free moisturizer. All of this removes the oil our skin naturally produces, which causes the skin to produce more oil to make up for it! So it causes our skin to be completely imbalanced!

Instead, we should be using oils on our skin! Using the right oils, like jojoba, mimics the skin’s natural sebum and tricks the skin into producing less or balancing dry skin. These oils penetrate the skin to clean it, to moisturize it, to kill bacteria that causes acne and deeply nourish the skin. We should all be using oil on our skin!

#4 – USE ESSENTIAL OILS.

Essential oils are potent, plant based natural remedies. They can reduce wrinkles, improve rosacea or get rid of acne. Some of my favorites are below:

  • tea tree essential oil – tea tree oil is incredibly antibacterial and antimicrobial which makes it very effective at killing off harmful bacteria that causes acne, as well as preventing that bacteria from forming. It deeply penetrates the skin to get rid of blemishes quickly.
  • geranium essential oil – geranium is antiseptic as well as anti-inflammatory. It’s great for hyper-pigmentation because it gradually lightens and reduces discoloration and scarring.
  • frankincense essential oil – it ain’t called the kind of essential oils for nothin’. This is the ultimate essential oil. Frankincense is extremely anti-inflammatory. It kills bacteria that causes acne and is especially effective for reversing scarring and wrinkles.
  • lavender essential oil – lavender is an insanely soothing essential oil for the skin. It’s anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and soothes redness and irritation. It inhibits bacteria, preventing acne and also reduces scarring and wrinkles.
  • helichrysum essential oil – helichrysum is amazing for scarring and wrinkles. It’s incredible for regenerating skin cells, leaving you with youthful, smooth skin.

The oils are not only healthy, but they’re incredibly beneficial for the skin. They’re amazing actually; they’re so effective and work better over time to give you vibrant, clear, youthful, glowing skin!

#5 – ANCESTRAL ORGANICS.

Yes, I have to plug my own business here. I wrote this article years ago, but recently started my own skincare line ofThe Top Five Foods For Glowing Skin - these foods help clear acne, prevent/eliminate fine lines and wrinkles, balance oil and even the skin tone. Find out if you're eating these foods daily! organic and non-toxic products for all skin types. They are exactly the products I made myself over the years that include organic oils like jojoba and tamanu for scarring, along with the amazing essential oils.

These are the products I used to clear my acne. I now have clear skin but if you’ve ever had truly severe acne, you know that even after the skin clears – it’s left scars. I had deep, pitted scars. I hate this term but after I cleared my skin through diet and natural oils, I had a “crater face.” I’ve been able to greatly reduce the scarring from using these products.

My skin isn’t perfect, but with repeated use of these products I’ve seen such a huge improvement. My skin is no longer insanely oily, I don’t have white or blackheads everywhere, my pores are way smaller and my skin tone is much more even.

BONUS!

With every $50 order of Ancestral Organics, I will send you a free four week meal plan that is incredibly healthy, anti-inflammatory and nutrient dense. No diets, no counting calories, just real, simple, straight forward food that will help you achieve the best skin of your life. Plus, with every $50 order you get free shipping!
The Top Five Foods For Glowing Skin - these foods help clear acne, prevent/eliminate fine lines and wrinkles, balance oil and even the skin tone. Find out if you're eating these foods daily!

63 responses on “5 Steps To Clear Skin and How I Cleared My Acne

  1. Mary

    Wow. Great info. I was plauged with acne also. Finally, it took removing dairy from my diet and doing much of what you said. Blessings!

      1. Lori

        What a great article! I had severe cystic acne as well and resorted to using Accutane… If the problems you addressed are not remedied, the acne will manifest itself in other ways i.e. rosacea. The bad stuff has to get out somehow. If your body isn’t detoxifying adequately, the garbage will come out through your skin. This was a very good article. I wish I had known all this when I was having all my skin problems. Why don’t doctors tell you this??? Sure would alleviate a lot of anxiety and lead people to address the root problem.

        1. Dani Stout

          I took Accutane too! It didn’t even work for me, though I’m sure it did its damage considering how dangerous it is. I’m so happy you liked the article! I wish doctors knew about this. All of mine have told me that acne is in no way related to what you eat. I’m just hoping to get the word out and hopefully I can help people with severe acne.

        2. Monica

          Drs/clinics contract w/ the big-$$ pharmaceuticals … of course they won’t tell you natural, healthy alternatives when they need to push the drugs to increase their profit. I worked w/ medical clinics for over 20 years.

  2. Melinda

    I’m curious as to why you kept white rice in your diet? I’ve been considering going on a grain free, dairy free diet for my acne to see if it helps.

    1. Dani Stout

      I was mostly grain free for a long time, and then I read Dr. Jaminet’s book The Perfect Health Diet. It was my diet exactly, with the addition of white rice. And I love white rice. The reason is that white rice is a largely non-toxic food and is a good source of carbs/glucose. While most grains are high in phytic acid and other compounds that are hard to digest, they have been removed from white rice making it easy on digestion. BUT, I did this after strengthening my digestion, adding probiotics to my diet and removing all grains. I would absolutely suggest removing all grains and seeing how it works for you. It works very well for most people, and if you feel so inclined you could see how white rice does for you. Hope this helps.

  3. Tiffany C.

    Can’t wait to see your 6 week meal plan. Thanks. When you use Apple Cider Vinegar on your face do you eventually get use to the smell?

    I got acne as an adult. It’s painful and looks horrible. I wonder if mine is related to hormones. Nonetheless I need to seriously change my diet, and I’m working on it. I also take a probiotic daily and fish oil. I’ll working on adding in the good and taking out the bad. Thanks so much for sharing your story.

    1. Dani Stout

      Thanks Tiffany! I’m excited to release it, it’s actually turned into an 8 week plan. 🙂

      It could be related to hormones, but the first step to balancing hormones is fixing the diet, so you’re on the right track! It’s great that you’re taking a probiotic and fish oil. I definitely recommend fermented cod liver oil from Green Pastures for a fish oil supplement, all other have been heat treated and have little nutrient density. Let me know if you have any questions and hope this helps!

  4. Tanya

    Great article! What brand of coconut oil do you use? Do you take vitamin supplements? If so, what brand do you trust? And for the probiotics? Thanks!

    1. Dani Stout

      Thanks! Everything I use can be found under Marketplace. I use the coconut oil that is listed and the supplements under Marketplace is where I order my supplements from.

  5. Shar Mohr

    Ugh! I had the same issues with acne. Diet changes really helped. I also have just found out about Ava Anderson Non Toxic products, which has skin care, shampoo, foundation, and other products that won’t clog pores or leach toxins in the blood stream. I read the other day how it only takes around 20 seconds for the chemicals in products to enter our blood stream. Nasty! Here’s my Ava Anderson site if you’re interested in checking out the products and the company. Thanks! http://www.avandersonnontoxic.com/sharmohr

  6. Samantha

    Regarding the Dr. Bronners soap, I noticed there are so many different scents, your link goes to the peppermint one, is that the one you would recommend for use on the face? I noticed there is a tea tree one also, thinking that might be good too although I think the other ingredients differ also between the two. Was hoping you would know or at least have a suggestion, thanks!

    1. dani stout Post author

      You can use any scent you like. They are all safe and gentle to use on the skin. The scents don’t make a difference (I actually use lavender now just because I prefer the smell).

  7. shmo

    Funny, I used to eat white bread, margarine, sugar sandwiches too …. I ended up taking tetracycline for a couple years for acne and while it did clear up my skin I have paid the price since then and now my kids are paying it too with their inherited gut dysbiosis. Too bad back then (25 years ago) no one knew anything really about gut health, probiotics, etc and I’ve only really been able to figure things out in the last year. In our family it is caseine that causes the issues.

  8. Deanna

    Hi dani, what would you recommend I do if taking probiotics actually make my acne worse. I’m assuming because i have a lot of bad bacteria that its a die off symptom but even the slightest bit of probiotics makes me breakout so I’m scared of taking them. Would I still be able to heal my gut without having to take probiotics?

    1. dani stout Post author

      Have you tried eating probiotic rich foods? Sauerkraut, pickles, kefir, etc? Do you know how you react to those?

      If you haven’t, I would suggest starting with probiotic foods, see how you react to them and work your way up. The body needs probiotics so it’s very important to incorporate them into your diet.

  9. Alina

    I know you meant well but this post is very misleading leading when it comes to the vegetarian/vegan lifestyle. There are absolutely no vitamins, minerals and nutrients found in animals products that you could not get eating a plant based diet. If you do it right (making sure to get all of the nutrient necessary for a healthy body) choosing to maintain a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle is one of the healthiest and most compassionate decisions you can make. But being vegetarian/vegan is obviously not for everyone and there is nothing wrong or unhealthy about eating grass fed, farm raised meat and animal products (though as humans our bodies are not meant to digest dairy/eggs at all, but that’s a different argument). But there is also nothing wrong or unhealthy about choosing to be vegan or vegetarian. Your health problems as a teenager stemmed from an unhealthy diet lacking in essential nutrients, not a lack of animal products. (:

    1. dani stout Post author

      Alina, I know you mean well too but your information is completely wrong. There are literally no plant based forms of b12, among other nutrients. As humans our bodies are meant to digest meat and eggs extremely well, we are very effective at doing so. If we weren’t, we literally would have died off long ago. Humans have always eaten animals, it is what allowed our brains to grow and our species to evolve.

      Here is some info I wrote recently about what a vegetarian diet lacks:

      You can read more about what a vegetarian diet lacks in this article: http://ancestral-nutrition.com/an-open-letter-to-jay-z-on-plant-based-diets/

  10. Steph

    Wow! Thanks for the article. I’ve been struggling with acne for a few years now also. I was a vegetarian but someone recommended going on the GAPS diet. It is similar in the fact that it eliminates grains, sugars and starches and includes bone broth with every meal. I have eliminated grains (for the most part) from my diet and only eat natural sugars, like honey sparingly. It is still a struggle though. I fall off of my diet and eat a sweet or some grains and my skin flares up. I try though.

    So is there a certain both broth that you think is more effective. I usually drink chicken, but I’m going to try beef bone marrow broth.

    1. dani stout Post author

      GAPS is great! Both chicken and beef broth are very healing, just see if you respond to one better. It’s different for everyone.

  11. Jessica M.

    I’ve been trying to improve my moderate acne through diet for about a year. I’ve pretty much done everything you’ve said, except that I haven’t been consistent with daily probiotics. That, and trying a stricter diet are really the only things left that I can think of to try! (and I’m wary of trying a stricter diet, I don’t think it’s usually the healthiest thing to do for most people!) I’ve tried cutting out all the major allergens for a few weeks at a time with no results (though I still do limit my consumption of eggs, nuts, and dairy because they can aggravate acne in many people) I eat grain free except white rice, lots of veg, bone broths, grassfed/pastured meats, nothing processed, etc., I do oil cleansing, all that stuff! I basically follow Liz Wolf’s Skintervention Guide. I’ve tried balancing hormones by regulating my sleep schedule and drinking herbal teas and all kinds of stuff, but I still have that hormonal acne! Granted- my acne never was, and still is not severe, but I have made HUGE diet and lifestyle changes and one year later all my other health complaints have nearly disappeared but my acne has only lessened slightly. I always seem to have about 3 to 5 pimples plus all the hyperpigmentation scars from the last few weeks of breakouts… All I want is to be able to not wear foundation! Any ideas, anyone??

    1. dani stout Post author

      I definitely recommend probiotics, are you eating fermented foods everyday?

      I also suggest getting a food sensitivity test done. Some people are allergic to random, usually harmless foods like tomatoes, carrots, coconut, etc.

    2. Melinda

      Have you tried doing an adrenal reset? The adrenals are the start of your thyroid, insulin, hormones, and cortisol. Stress taxes the adrenals and drags everything else down with them. Getting my adrenals in line brought my thyroid and insulin from low back up to average, improved my sleep, and lessened my acne. Diet alone wasn’t enough for me, but this helped tremendously! I still break out a bit around my cycle, but nothing like it used to be.

      Amazon has a book called The Adrenal Reset Diet that explains the science behind the adrenals functions and how to support them properly for optimal function.

      I also took Adrenal Response supplements from Innate Response, also on Amazon. 2 with breakfast and 1 with dinner. I noticed a huge improvement in only 2 weeks along with my diet, plenty of water, and whole foods vitamins that I was already doing. After about 3 months, I went down to only 1 in the morning, but if I notice I’m feeling “off” again, I go back to them.

      Hope this helps!

  12. Brittani

    Thank you for a great article! Much of the research I have done matches with what you’ve said and you included a similar background as me, so this reassures me some.

    I have been slowly but surely working towards a Paleo diet (and it has helped!). I havent seen any reputable scientific resources on the GAPS diet, some even argue that the first stages put a person at risk to nutrient deficiences. If you have some great resources or personal experiences, I would be open to them.

    From reading other articles on your website, I grasped that you live in the DC area, as do I. Would you have any recommendations for great local places? I frequent McPherson Farmers Market, Eastern Market, and Takoma Park area.

    I’m seriously considering your 21DLT. Thanks again!

  13. Stacey Martin

    Wondering the ratio you use to mix the castor and jojoba oils? My son has a complexion issue and I have been searching for something for him to try…

    1. Steph

      It depends on the type of skin he has. If it is oily use like 50/50, but if he has dry or sensitive go easy on the castor oil.

  14. Stella

    Does meats give u acne? I tend to get acne when I eat meats like veal cutlets or fish. I don’t have fruits because Im fructose intolerant and get gassy. I can’t wait till I make the bone broths though.
    Thanks for your advice.

    1. dani stout Post author

      Generally no, but it is very likely that it may happen if you’re not eating grass-fed meats or wild seafood.

  15. Natalie

    I was wondering how you take your gelatin everyday? I use it in cooking, but I’ve been wanting to get more in more consistently. Thanks for a really great post!!

  16. yvonne

    Hi I’ve just started reading about you my son is going through very bad acne at the moment he’s just turned 17 and on oratane and dexmethsone and was very sick couldn’t get him into the dermatologist so took him to then Drs they all prescribed Antibiotics finally got into the dermatologist and he’s been given a high dose of Dexmethsone and had been bed ridden for the last couple of weeks in pain with this condition we also got some cream made up which I’m trying to put on him salicylic acid/chlorhexidine his father also had the same condi
    tion and his back is purple the top half with scaring any advise you could give me would be helpful Thanks

  17. nick

    One thing not mentioned is the role of sleep.
    A lot of us go around in a constant state of sleep deprivation and this can really compromise everything, including immunity, which leads to breakouts, stomach issues, increasing susceptibility to the common cold, and a host of other issues.

    If you do one thing right, make sure it is sleep.

  18. Jaime

    Hi Dani! Great info!! Can you share your daily face routine? Specifically, do you use any soap, how you use the oils and how much, morning and/or nightly, etc? Thank you!!

    1. dani stout Post author

      It always differs for me. It’s not a science. I mix tamanu, jojoba, castor, coconut each day, I always change it up. I don’t use any soap. I only oil cleanse at night, nothing in the morning.

  19. Susanne Runion

    Hi Dani,

    This is such a great article. I struggled with acne severely when I was younger and went through similar struggles as you. I really reasonated with everything you said. I will be sharing this with my Facebook page and on Pinterest. Thanks.

    Susanne

  20. Josh

    I have also been doing grain free for awhile now with much improvement, but im curious as to what you drink when it comes to alcohol? I drink gf beer and/or red wine, im not sure if its why im still getting cystic nodules on my back here and there. Its gone down drastically with the diet change and vitamin A/D/B?Fish Oil pils tho. I wonder if I would be better off with hard alcohol since it is distilled.

    1. dani stout Post author

      If you’re getting cysts you should stop drinking all alcohol for a time. It doesn’t have to be permanent, but alcohol is hard on the liver. The liver is the filter and detoxes the body so it directly influences acne.

      I recommend quitting alcohol for a month or two, then drinking organic red wine.

  21. Ana

    This was a greatly helpful article! I have an 18 year old son on the autism spectrum, and while we’ve done gluten free (and casein free) for extended periods more than once, I feel like we did not see improvements. We use sourdough (and sprouted wheat) bread. Would the sourdough be okay? He has pretty significant acne and I am planning on incorporating many, if not all, of your suggestions. But, dealing with lyme disease myself, I feel like I need something he can fix for himself to fill himself up.

    1. dani stout Post author

      Some people digest sourdough well, others don’t. You could check out breadsrsly.com – they make gluten-free sourdough that’s amazing. They also ship across the US.

  22. Dee

    Great article. I have a 17yo son with cystic acne. He eats a clean diet and has eliminated gluten, dairy and refined sugar with minimal change. He has just started a week or so ago with eliminating grains altogether. Can I ask how long it took before you saw significant improvement after you eliminated grains? Thanks

  23. Dee

    Hi there, my question seemed to have disappeared so I am just re-posting. Can you advise how long it took before you saw some significant change in your acne clearing up after you went grain free? Thanks

    1. dani stout Post author

      It’s hard to say because it was such a gradual process. Once I went completely grain-free, maybe 2-3 months?

  24. Ayesha

    Hi and thank you so much for sharing your journey with us. I have moderate acne mainly on my forehead. Do u think it could be diate related. I did try the oil cleansing method using a olive oil based cleanser but I noticed I broke out more.. Im really concerned about my face which has never been as bad before. Im 23 now. Thank you again for all the tips. Please advise me if u can

  25. Sarah

    Do you take your supplements at specific times a day? I just started taking a fish oil, B-complex, Zinc, and Magnesium so I was just wondering if taking them at specific times during the day will be beneficial and not conflict with each other.

  26. Phan

    What are some of foundation brands you use Dani? I’m been using Revlon but not sure if it’s good for my oily acne prone type of skin.

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