The Secret that Cleared My Severe, Hormonal, Cystic, Itchy, Adult Acne after 17 Years – Part 2

severe cystic acne to clear skin journey part 2This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of the links, I earn a small commission at no cost to you.

Welcome, welcome! I hope you read Part 1 of this story, because today I am going to pick up the story right where I left off in the previous post. And I will finally reveal the secret that cleared my severe, hormonal, cystic, itchy, adult acne after 17 years! Woot, I am v. pumped to be sharing my skin story with the world. I hope this story resonates with you, and most of all – I hope you find the answers you’ve been looking for to clear your acne for good!

Also, if you don’t remember from last time: buckle up! This ride might be a little longer, and a little bumpier, than last time.

Quick Acne Recap ICYMI

In the last post, I left off with an explosive case of severe cystic acne that had erupted on my face after consistent rounds of dermatologist-prescribed antibiotics, which ironically – were prescribed as a means of clearing my skin. ?

This acne was itchy and painful, not to mention humiliating.

You’ve seen some of my photos in the previous post, but honestly I don’t have a ton of pictures of my skin from this time, because it was almost too painful to see myself that way. It was hard just to face myself in the mirror.

However, my twin sister does. This was her skin in 2012, and mine was similar:

  • L severe cystic hormonal antibiotics fungal acne
  • severe cystic acne after antibiotics
  • severe cystic fungal acne after antibiotics
  • severe cystic acne
  • severe cystic acne on face
  • severe cystic acne on left side of face
  • L severe cystic acne

At this point, we had nowhere to turn except Accutane, so we signed ourselves up. We went as far as getting bloodwork and pregnancy tests done, signing some scary legal documents, and mentally preparing ourselves for the inevitable side effects.

But then we chickened out.

We decided we weren’t comfortable going through with Isotretinoin as an acne treatment, and we never filled the prescriptions.

So now what?

Keep Reading or Watch My Acne Story on Youtube

Homeopathic, Natural Acne Remedies

There was really only one place to go from here – the natural approach. ??

I became convinced the only way to truly heal my skin was from the inside-out. Nothing topical could touch the deep, pitted acne lurking beneath my skin, so treating it topically seemed necessary, but also almost useless. The acne had to be a result of something going on inside me.

After all, what goes into your body must come out, and often it comes out through the skin. Skin can be an indicator that there’s a larger problem happening inside. And I still believe this is true.

I was also convinced that chemicals and medicines were far too harsh, and that everything entering or touching my body/skin needed to be organic and natural. From what I applied topically to what I ingested.

All the Natural Remedies I Tried:

  • Oil Cleansing Method (Using Coconut oil, castor oil, olive oil, jojoba oil)
  • Paleo Diet
  • Whole 30 (We did multiple rounds, up to 90 days at a time)
  • Candida Cleanse (diet protocol)
  • Raw Honey as a cleanser & mask
  • Apple Cider Vinegar as a toner or mixed into masks
  • Charcoal Masks
  • Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice as a toner or mask
  • Turmeric & honey masks
  • Essential Oils for treatment (diluted)
  • Gluten free diet
  • Dairy free diet
  • Eliminated all processed sugar

The Results of the Natural Approach

As I describe to you the results of my natural approach, I want to be careful. I definitely think that diet & acne are related. I think hormones & acne are related. I think stress & acne are related. And I think your overall health & acne are related. But a “perfect diet” could not cure my acne, even though it helped my skin in some ways.

Notably, eating a better diet helped reduce inflammation in my body overall, which helped reduce the severity of my acne. But my acne didn’t go away.

Acne is (in part) Connected to Your Health

That being said, I want to emphasize to those of you suffering with acne, and also to those of you not suffering with acne: take good care of yourself. This includes eating a well-balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruits & veggies, and lots of water for hydration. It’s ok to eat treats & processed foods, but they shouldn’t make up the majority of your diet. Everything in moderation.

Another part of taking care of yourself is managing your mental health, getting exercise, and getting plenty of sleep. Basically, all the things that contribute to reducing overall stress (and therefore inflammation) and balancing your hormones naturally. It’s all connected, and I’d be crazy to say it isn’t.

It’s strange to be writing about this so many years later, because I have to tell the story in the way I understood things at the time, which led to how I decided to treat my skin condition at that time. And during this natural phase, I still didn’t have the full picture.

Overall, I made changes for my health that have lasted even to this day, and I’m better for it. But even after all the extreme diets and natural treatment methods, my acne persisted, as you can see below:

Remember, those pics of my sister (above) are from 2012. These are my own from 2014, more than 2 years later:

brooke before cystic fungal yeast overgrowth candida acne

The Time It Takes To Heal

After the natural attempt failed to completely heal my skin, I was forced to face my reality: my skin was most likely permanently damaged by the intense cystic acne of my early twenties. I didn’t just have acne anymore. Underneath it, I had hyperpigmentation and pitted scars, too. It was not a pretty picture.

If you’ve been through skin conditions like this, you may understand the emotional & mental trauma that is a side effect of severe acne. Read my take on it here.

And so I began to work on accepting that I would always have acne.

Learning about Skin Care Ingredients

During the years of 2008-2014, I watched a lot of Youtube, especially beauty gurus. One of my favorites was Caroline Hirons. I liked Caroline because she was real & genuine. She had the wisdom & the confidence that only comes with age, and she (plus her family) had worked in the beauty industry her whole life.

I started to learn more about skin care from Caroline Hirons. More about the ingredients in products, more about acids & actives. And I decided I would start treating my skin in a new way. I wasn’t going to focus on simply clearing acne anymore. I was ready to graduate to a big girl skin care routine.

What I thought was Clear Skin

And gradually, my new approach began to help my skin. I bought better quality products with actives aimed at restoring, moisturizing, brightening, refining, shrinking pores, anti-aging, etc.

I learned how important it is to hydrate my skin and wear sunscreen.

And over the course of years, I thought my skin was clear. At least, compared to where it had been, it was clear. To me, clear meant only having 20 active papules/pustules, plus hyperpigmentation from the latest batch of healing pimples – rather than 80 or 100.

Eczema, Cheilitis, Dermatitis, Oh My!

But this story wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the lip rash from hell, the eczema on my hands and arms and neck – itchy, scaly rashes that had plagued me nearly as long as my acne had.

Don’t worry, this is the last stop before we get to the big reveal of what finally cleared my acne and my eczema problems.

If you’re experiencing cheilitis (dry, scaly, itchy lips) or eczema like this, I did a full blog post on it. Read it here.

The Big Secret to Clear Skin

My gosh, this acne journey is a long one! I’m not lying when I say it took me 17 years to figure it out. And my biggest hope in writing these posts on clearing my acne is to help you figure things out much sooner than I did.

So if you’re still reading, I’m glad! But after reliving some of the worst years of my life, I am ready to tell you the gosh dang solution to clearing my skin. And I’m sure you’re ready for it.

So here goes..

Why is Our Skin Always Like This?

Below is a picture of my sister’s skin in 2018. The acne (for both of us) had never gone away, and when she took this picture in 2018, it had started to increase in severity again.

This was the thing about our skin: it had done some healing over the course of 6 years. But we always found that the majority of skin care and makeup products we tried would make our skin worse. And our skin also wasn’t the texture of normal skin. It was bumpy, rough, textured, and forever clogged and congested.

We had gotten good at taking unsolicited skincare advice from friends, family, & even perfect strangers, well aware that it didn’t matter what they said – nothing worked for us. Trust us, we had tried it all. Nothing effing worked.

So we accepted recommendations as graciously as we could and then got back to figuring things out on our own.

The #acne on Instagram

Sometime in 2018, my sister was searching through #acne on Instagram and saw mention of something called fungal acne for the first time.

For the purposes of keeping this story from spilling into a third post, I’m not going to dive deep into fungal acne. Instead, check out these other videos and articles I’ve made on the topic.

But if you haven’t guessed it already, fungal acne was our answer.

Fungal Acne or Malassezia Folliculitis

I’ll be honest with you. At first, neither my sister nor myself were totally convinced our acne was actually a result of fungal acne (caused by the overgrowth of the yeast malassezia furfur). And if you go researching this topic, you’re going to meet a lot of naysayers.

For every person (such as myself) spreading the word about #fungalacne, there is another person (most notably popular Beauty Influencers & Youtubers) saying that fungal acne isn’t real.

The argument goes like this: fungal acne isn’t real acne because it’s actually a rash resulting from yeast overgrowth. Real acne is bacterial, not fungal. To which I say : poo, poo!

Here’s what happened to mine and my sister’s skin after we started treating our acne like fungal acne:

These results came without any harsh chemicals, prescriptions drugs, anti-fungals, dermatologists, or expensive products!

The Missing Puzzle Piece in our History with Acne

So why did we suffer from such severe acne? And why hadn’t we ever been able to cure it?

I believe it was two-fold. Firstly, the use of antibiotics to treat our acne led to an overgrowth of another fungus – a yeast called candida – internally. I believe a candida overgrowth was causing the cystic acne to erupt deep within our skin’s surface from the inside. And secondly, we used horrible products on our skin’s surface to treat the acne.

That phase of using coconut oil, jojoba oil, and other natural products to clear our skin? Holy $h!%, my friends – you DO NOT WANT TO DO THAT. Those lipids directly feed the malassezia yeast.

Not to mention, every foundation, moisturizer, mask, or makeup product we used also contained ingredients that fed the malassezia yeast.

The Eczema/Malassezia Connection

Want to know another mind-blowing fact? Malassezia, the same yeast that causes fungal acne, is also the same yeast that causes skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, cheilitis, dermatitis, etc.

Why in the heck had no doctor ever mentioned this as even a remote possibility in all those years spent in the dermatologist’s office? I’m not kidding! And that’s so freaking insane to me.

But ultimately, it was this connection between my lip rash from hell and our acne that convinced my sister and me that we were INDEED suffering from fungal acne. At least, we had nothing to lose by trying to treat it!

Why the Beauty Industry Denies Fungal Acne

As I mentioned earlier, fungal acne is starting to become mainstream, but there are still those who want to deny its existence and its effect on skin.

Do you want to know why the beauty industry really doesn’t want to admit fungal acne is real? Because if you know the truth about fungal acne, then your whole approach to makeup and skincare changes.

You won’t be able to use the same products anymore. In fact, you won’t be able to use the majority of skin care and makeup products that exist on the market today. And if you can’t use Naked Eyeshadow Palettes or NARS Orgasm Blush, then Beauty Youtubers (and beauty editors everywhere) are out of a job.

There, I said it. But decide for yourself.

The Truth about Fungal Acne

Here’s what I want you to know about fungal acne:

  • Fungal acne is an overgrowth of the yeast called malassezia, which lives naturally on skin.
  • Malassezia yeast feeds on your sebum (oil), and it also loves certain other ingredients such as most lipids, esters, and fatty acids.
  • Most makeup and skin are products contain ingredients that feed malassezia yeast.
  • Fungal acne can look like papules and pustules (this is opposed to a commonly held belief that fungal acne appears as a skin-colored rash consisting of small bumps & appearing on the forehead).
  • Fungal acne can exist on your skin at the same time as bacterial acne.
  • Fungal acne is more common in hot, humid, and tropical climates.
  • Fungal acne usually (but not always) itches.
  • If you have taken antibiotics or steroids in the past, you are more likely to have an overgrowth of the yeast malassezia.
  • You can cure your fungal acne by using better makeup and skin care products!
  • You should do your own research on fungal acne. Search Google Scholar for scientific articles regarding fungal acne or malassezia folliculitis.

How to Clear Your Fungal Acne

from fungal acne to clear skin guide

Most of the articles on my blog are dedicated to the topic of fungal acne skin care and fungal acne safe makeup, as are most of my Youtube videos.

In order to treat your fungal acne, you’re going to want to eliminate the products containing ingredients that feed the malassezia yeast. You’ll also want to use active ingredients to fight the yeast and get the overgrowth under control.

If you want to fast-track your results, I’ve made a guide that details the exact methods, products, and routines I used to clear my skin. I lay it all out for you so there’s no guesswork in going from fungal acne to clear skin.

Share The Word About Fungal Acne

What did you think of this post? Does this sound anything like your acne journey? If it helped you, will you share this post with someone else who may need to know this life-changing information?

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my fungal acne skin care story part 2