23 March 2015

99 problems, but acne ain’t one

I have been waiting for such a long time to write this post! Whenever I was (past tense!) feeling really down about my acne, I loved reading other people’s success stories, and I always knew that if I ever had any measure of success, I would share it with the world. Do I HATE these before pictures? Yes I do. I would feel much more comfortable hitting delete and just pretending they never existed. Consider this paying it forward for all those people who shared their own success stories and gave me hope.

This is going to be a really lengthy post, btw. Prepare to skip forward if you don’t feel like knowing my skin’s entire history.

First of all – ACNE SUCKS soooo bad. So much worse than you’d think if you never had it. I never really had an issue with acne in high school  (I mean, I would get minor breakouts, but I wouldn’t call that acne…I call it normal skin haha)! So I never had a reason to notice or think about my skin. I just remember slowly getting more and more breakouts over time, and then one day I looked in the mirror (when I was 19, so two years after graduation) and was like “I legit have an acne problem…” and from that point on it was pretty much ALL I thought about. One thing people with smooth skin don’t know is that you can’t relax when your biggest insecurity is RIGHT there on your face. It didn’t help that when my acne was at it’s worst people would comment on it ALL THE TIME. Friends, family, and even strangers on the street. For a period of time when my acne was at it’s worst (this was when I was engaged) I literally did not go out in public without somebody commenting on it. Cross my heart. Makeup or not, if I went to work or anywhere in public, somebody would say something to me about my acne. It’s a special kind of humiliation when a complete stranger goes out of their way to tell you how much your face sucks.

My worst experience with this was when I worked in the hospital. I was at a patient’s bedside and a doctor came in to talk to that patient. Instead, he stopped when he saw me to let me know I had a skin problem. (Thanks for pointing that out) After assuring him that yes, I did wash my face twice a day and no, nothing seemed to be working, he asked me if I’ve ever tried Accutane. I kind of stammered on about how I’d heard of it but was really intimidated by the side effects. He said - and I’ll never forget these words: “Ohh yeah it can be pretty brutal. I would never EVER prescribe any patient of mine Accutane because it is so dangerous. In addition to the risks, the birth defects are nightmarish - even if you are a boy and accidentally get someone pregnant!" I relaxed at this point because I thought he was going to encourage me to try more natural methods. Then he said "But YOU really need to talk your doctor about Accutane because I really think you need it." Bam. Kick in the gut.

I really tried everything, you guys. I EVEN went to the doctor (I hate going to the doctor's lol) and was put on a strong antibiotic regimen. I was given all kinds of prescription creams that were so strong they would literally bleach my towels and sheets and clothes. I tried lots of three step systems, different face washes, and multiple expensive masks. All of these things promise results. The only thing I didn't try was Proactiv because I knew it would not work and I was not emotionally ready for the defeat I would feel after my last option did not work. But then, a few months ago, I decided that I would have to face that and I got a couple months worth of Proactiv. Guess what it did? Nothing! I mean, it actually did help a little...but this is what my face looked like after a month of using Proactiv religiously:

Not the results I was going for.

SO. I needed a face transplant. Ha! No, but at this point the only options I had were extremely expensive (as if I hadn't already spent enough money). I'm talking lasers and multiple courses of professional facials. I priced these all out and it is just not feasible.


Research research reasearch. Back to the drawing board. Thank goodness for google! I finally stumbled upon DIY glycolic acid peels. It turns out, Amazon sells 70%, professional grade, burn-yo dang-face-off glycolic acid (this is the one I used). Shady? Maybe. Would I recommend this to somebody who doesn't have a serious acne problem? Absolutely not. Was it worth the risk for me? 100% yes! What was it going to do, make my face worse?? That's a joke.

So let me tell you a little bit about glycolic acid. It's completely natural (which doesn't automatically mean that its safe but whatevs, I'll throw it in there). It's concentrated from acidic fruits like papaya and pineapple. What put me at ease is that it is NOT a deep tissue peel. 70% is extremely strong but even this will only affect the TOP layers of your skin. What it does is just exfoliate and encourage your skin to regenerate faster. Every 30 days your skin is basically replaced. Glycolic acid speeds up that process, and uncovers the new skin faster.

Tangent: My husband and family were soooo worried that I was considering this. Everyone really wanted me to see a doctor but first of all, I HAD seen doctors and I get extremely frustrated going back again and again and again to finally find something that helps. It reminds me of back when I was like 10 and had to get some warts frozen off - twice! And those suckers STAYED on my arm. Then I did some research on my own, and found out that if you simply cover warts with clear fingernail polish for a week or so they will go away. Bam -warts were gone. If you have any more questions about why I don't trust doctors completely, read this article. I'm not saying all doctors are crazy either. But their word is NOT gold and I pretty much take all doctorly advice with a grain of salt.


I know my skin really well, and it is tough. My skin has taken yearssss of abuse by really really powerful creams and topical medicines and it doesn't even notice. So I know that my skin is not sensitive whatsoever. I did not dilute the 70%, but I would absolutely dilute it if I did have sensitive skin.

  1. Dilute, if desired.
  2. Prepare a bowl of 50% water and 50% baking soda. This is not optional. Baking soda is very basic and you will need to use it afterwards to neutralize the acid.
  3. Put petroleum jelly on the sensitive skin of your eyes and lips, juuust in case. I skipped this step one week and I got a burn on my lower eye lids that resembled a sunburn. After a few days it was fine because, like I said, glycolic acid only affects the top layers of your skin, but still! 
  4. Wash your face and use toner (and tie your hair back).
  5. Use a cotton ball or your hand to apply the acid to yo face. I just pour a little bit in my hand and apply it with my fingers (then dip my hands in the baking soda mixture). I would use a cotton ball, but I don't want any acid to go to waste being soaked up in a cotton ball. But do what you want.
  6. It's going to burn. It starts off as a tingle and then starts to burn slightly. This is very uncomfortable, but not unbearable. Obviously if it's extremely painful for you, you should rinse it off immediately. 
  7. The first time you do this, only leave it on for like 30 seconds. Trust me, that's enough. 
  8. Rinse your face off and make sure as much of the acid is rinsed off as possible before using the baking soda rinse! If you use the baking soda while the acid is still all over your face, you will get the same effect as when you mix baking soda and vinegar. This will not feel nice on your raw skin.
  9. Get handfuls of the baking soda mixture and rub it allll over. Make sure there is no acid still left on your face. I kind of drag this part out and use the baking soda to exfoliate now that I'm pretty comfortable with using the glycolic acid, but I didn't do that at first.
  10. Use a nice moisturizer. I use a tiny bit of coconut oil (its antibacterial!)
  11. For an hour after I do this, the areas where the acid was applied are bright red. But after that hour you can't really tell I did anything, my face just looks a little red and extra shiny from the coconut oil - and it feels really sensitive.
  12. The next day: my skin feels a little sensitive, and looks a little red but is mostly just normal. It never peeled or seemed to dry out, but I heard that some people's skin does. 
  13. MAKE SURE TO USE SUNSCREEN. You should already be doing this, but I thought I would mention it because it's especially important with such raw skin.
 Remember this selfie? Well, the night before was the night I had accidently burnt my lower eyelids with the acid. It hurt to have the makeup on it so eventually I just washed it all off and put some soothing burn cream on there. I actually went to the party looking more like this:

My eyelids were very red, it hurt, and they peeled a little. Looked and felt just like a sunburn. PS - this was after two or three peels if any of you were wondering. You really have to do a serious of at least 4 or 5 to see any results.

I repeated this once a week for 5 weeks, stopped for two weeks, and then took my after picture to see if my skin had made any progress. I intended on writing more about my every day routine and products I use, but wow this post is already long so I'm just going to continue that in a later post if any of you are even interested.

After pictures, taken after 5 weeks of peels and then two weeks off:

My skin is not perfect by any means but I don't have ANY makeup on in these pictures. Nobody is commenting on my acne anymore and I don't have to use 4 or 5 foundations to cover my face when I go out - tinted moisturizer does just fine! Good luck to anyone struggling with acne - if this doesn't work for you I really hope you find something that does!


Brittany Sanchez said...

Your skin looks so beautiful. I am sorry people are so cruel! When my husband and I first began dating he had to go on acutane because he had systic acne which ran on his dad's side of the family. It was brutal watching him undergo the treatment. He was always sick, he had to stay out of the sun, and his mood would swing all over the place. It's a terrible, terrible treatment for your body, but it worked for his acne and the only thing we are fearful of now is whether or not it has affected his ability to have children. He regrets taking the medication and I strongly disagree with the medication even being legal. I'm so glad that you've found something that is natural and working. No matter what Laynah you are a beautiful person with a heart of gold. <3

Rachel said...

Thank you for sharing! Acne is seriously the wooorst. I recently had to start taking the pill again to get my hormones in check. Thank goodness it finally worked! -♥- Rachel (For the Birds)

Rebecca Jo said...

Its something I battled with my whole life - even worse as an adult I think... but luckily, when I gave up meat, my acne cleared up like 98% - only having outbreaks during wonderful one time a month.

Kimberly said...

That's so great that you found something simple that works for you!!!! And I can't believe how cruel people can be. I'm so sorry you had to deal with that! For the record, I've always thought you were gorgeous :)

ashleynicole @ [real life, real love] said...

First, idk why that doc was so worried about accutane. It's only bad if you're pregnant, so if you use 2 forms of birth control (or abstinence, since I did it when I was single) you would be fine. I was fine. Anyway, I just had to throw that out there because I LOVED my accutane experience.

Second, I CAN'T BELIEVE complete strangers commented on your face! That is so annoying and rude! My dad used to comment on my face before I took accutane, and it was always out of love, saying stuff like "we really need to get you to a dermatologist" but man, it always felt like a slap in the face.

And third, I am SO HAPPY for you that you found something that works for you :) :)

Shyree said...

Ugh I can't believe that doctor said that! Actually I can, because I've had my fair share of doctors thinking they are all knowing and can say whatever and call it fact experiences. But that doctor, I really want to punch in his stupid face. This is a great post! Thanks for sharing your skin clearing secret. I tried some milder glycolic acid type things months back and they did wonders for the scarring on my face.

Elena @ baby Ridley bump said...

Wow, what a difference that made on your skin! It looks so beautiful! I have never had much of an acne issue, but I know people who have and I know that it can be pretty debilitating, especially when it comes to people being just plain rude. You look amazing girl! Always love and appreciate an open honest post like this one!

Olivia Monopoli said...

Aw I'm sorry to hear about your acne troubles. I think everyone goes through it in their life. I usually have fine skin if I wash up but every once in awhile, a whole bunch will pop up and it's such a pain to get rid of. But I'm happy that your last method worked! Your skin looks amazing and I hope you're happy :) Thank you for sharing your success story!!
Olivia | Her Name Was Celebration

Ashley @ ladyacray.blogspot.com said...

Gosh I would have CRIED if I was approached at work about my skin! Your after photos look beautiful! My husband had really bad acne and went through everything it sounds like you went through. His cure was plain-old-Aveeno-soap-bar. It's a bar you get in the face soap area and he's got me hooked on it :-) Just thought I'd share, but it looks like your regimen is totally working for you!

Natalie Britton said...

Thank you SO much for this post! Since taking Estrogen and Progesterone supplements, I've been battling with acne big time recently, too. I actually just went to have a glycolic peel yesterday and am already seeing results. Your skin is gorgeous now!

Circus & Bloom

Jennifer Tanksley said...

Thank you for sharing this! Acne can be an embarrassing thing for someone to admit or talk about. I know I had adult acne as well, and it is embarrassing. What worked for me was to stop overusing all these products and to just use a Clarisonic and Purity face wash everyday. That is it. Doing this dramatically improved my acne and skin tone!


Kay R. said...

Go you!! Your skin looks amazing now! SO glad you found something that works for you :)

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