I think a lot of people see me today, and in recent years, and think I have always looked the way I do now.
- Smooth hair and skin
This is in no way representative of how I grew up though, particularly in regards to acne. Even this picture sucks though, other than in how swollen/poofy my face used to be.
Sucks because I used to have really, really, really bad acne. The kind where your entire face is covered, top to bottom.
The kind where on, numerous, numerous occasions, the girl next to you in class had to tell you “your face is bleeding”, because it would actually be bleeding and/or oozing puss.
As a teenager, this is pretty mortifying, to say the least.
As a young adult?
You tend to not give a shit what other people think, or at least, you shouldn’t. What matters is what you think.
Does this mean cast aside a strive for the ideal? For health, wellness, and physical beauty?
And in case you’re wondering, yes, I think I’m beautiful.
No it doesn’t. And this post is a compilation of my thoughts on acne, based on experiences from my own life and knowledge gained from a few years of digging around the internet researching health, nutrition, and exercise.
1. Physically irritating your face is the number one inducer of problems.
If you shave with a razor, stop, immediately. This dropped my blood oozing zits from level 9.5 to level ~7, almost overnight.
When I exercised the will to stop picking and poking at them every day, this further dropped my acne level from a 7 to a 5.
In regards to shaving, use a buzzer. It’s that simple. I’ve used one from Wal-Mart for $20 for going on 3 years now. I am on my second one only because the charger broke in Amsterdam last year. The actual buzzer still works as a backup.
2. Consider growing a beard.
Growing a beard is bad ass. It’s obviously the only thing that makes a man a man. So grow one.
On a more serious note, for the course of a couple million years, people were pretty hairy. Assuming you’re genetics allow for it, your body is expecting some level of facial hair throughout your entire adult life. For some, having none, and sliding a sharp blade across the face every day, may pose no problems.
On the flip side, for many, this may cause problems. Irritating the shit out of your face is one, but it could go beyond that if your body is expecting something and then not getting it.
From my own experience, this — growing a beard — significantly (meaning noticeably, and permanently) improved the clarity and health of my face, in addition to the improvement of going from blade to buzzer.
3. Wash your pillow cases
And wash them in a detergent that you don’t suspect is irritating your face via fragrances, chemicals, etc. Use the simple stuff.
4. Eat healthy, and then tinker with the remaining foods.
Here’s how you learn to eat healthy: Mark Sisson T21C 2010.
Removing all grains from my diet in October of 2008 had the biggest and final impact, because after that, the few zits I had from time to time no longer bothered me. They are exceedingly rare today, other than in times of extreme stress (more in a sec).
Staying on point, I suggest removing nuts from your diet first, if you ate them in the first place. Do a 30 day trial where you completely abstain from them.
If no effect, try removing dairy next. 30 days with only butter and heavy cream. No milk protein or carbohydrate. If no effect, remove everything dairy, save for ghee.
If you really want to go all out, remove dairy entirely. I’m doubting ghee would pose any problems for most people though (it’s virtually 100% animal fat).
From there it’s a shot in the dark. Have patience, and keep going 30 days without a certain food that you are suspect of.
If nothing has proved effective within 6 months, it’s probably safe to say it’s not any one specific food (assuming you are eating properly). Feel free to get tested for food allergies. Couldn’t say how accurate the tests are, but it’s probably worth a shot if you have the dough and time.
5. Get a shit load of sleep.
Here’s how you learn about sleep: Lights Out
- Sleep a lot (upwards of 9 hours a night)
- Sleep in complete darkness
This is especially important, and can be especially difficult during times of extreme stress. I know because I go through this every year in and around The 21 Convention. It’s important, and in addition to all sorts of fun shit that chronically high levels of stress bring, sleeping less only compounds upon them further.
Get your sleep. You need it, and your face may benefit from it.
Sleep is the currency of high-performance living.
6. Increase your Vitamin D intake (or start taking it if you haven’t yet)
Here’s where you learn about: Vitamin D.
Short story, it’s the single most important thing you should be doing in regards to your health, once eating properly. I say this literally. Getting a lot of sun, and more likely, popping these suckers every day with some fat, is really, really important. This is not a stupid Flinstone vitamin. Take your D3, and get out in the sun as often as possible.
Mark Sisson recommends 4,000 IU a day. I upped my intake to 6,000 IU a day about a month ago. While I can’t attribute the following solely to a slight increase in D3 intake, I did drop ~4 pounds, while my results in the gym continue to climb.
Meaning, I’ve literally made lean gains over the past month, doing everything the same otherwise in regards to my nutrition and exercise regime.
Really. I eat the same stuff every day, and do almost the exact same workout every week, or even less frequently.
Conclusion: I suspect the D3 increase had something to do it [I will also add that I have been tinkering with fasting more than usual over the past month, and overall, eat less on a daily basis].
I will also note that I live in Florida and am constantly in the sun. On days where this breaks 30 minutes, I’ll lower my oral intake of D3 to 4,000 IU. If I break an hour, I’ll decrease it to 2,000 IU that day.
Still alive and kicking.
Note: I can’t find the post, but Doug McGuff had a similar experience when he upped his D3 intake a few months back.
7. Coconut Oil for that big sucker.
Out of all the weird stuff I put on my face over the years – including Pro-Active, which I recommend avoiding like the black plague – coconut oil has been the only thing to ever have any real benefit.
Primarily, in getting rid of that lone wolf, mega huge zit that comes out only when the super-moon does.
Why coconut oil?
Because so far as I am aware, your skin absorbs it pretty easily, and it kills everything – it’s even anti-viral.
8. Sun and salt
When my acne was at its worst, in the middle of high school, the only thing that ever helped was taking my boat out to the beach. This might actually aggravate some cases of acne, but it only helped mine, by giant leaps and bounds, especially if I went two days in a row. It would eventually return, so it was not addressing the source of the problem (directly and intentionally anyway), but it helped for days on end, when it bothered me the most.
At the same time, I suspect there is more to the sun and your skin in regards to acne than D3 production alone. Your skin can literally change color in response to the sun. Don’t count it out for acne.
9. Cold showers
Hot showers can drop your sperm count, and dry your skin out. Consider taking a warm shower, followed by ice cold water at the end for 2-3 minutes. Or just go the whole time on cold. Your skin may thank you later.
As a final point, and if it’s not obvious, I think the signals we give our bodies affect things in ways, and to such an inter-related degree, that no one fully understands how and where what affects what, yet. For all we know, your posture may be the source of your acne.
With that said, if you
- Eat properly
- Get plenty of Vitamin D3
- Sleep a lot
- Sleep in the dark
- Workout once a week
- Stop irritating your face
And try to relax every day…
You will probably get rid of your acne, in a long enough time span, no matter how bad, or who you are.
There’s a chance you won’t, but you would be the exception that proves the rule. In which case, you should see a skin doctor, filter what he says through the above, and then start scouring the internet for answers (chances are your doctor won’t have the answer, but he may be able to point you in the right direction).
It might take a while, but the answer is out there if you have the drive to find it in such a situation. You could also try waiting, assuming you are a teenager or young adult.
Voice crack when you’re a kid?
Yeah that shit ended. Acne might too if you are doing everything else right.
— Anthony Dream Johnson