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Here is some of the most interesting evidence that I was able to find about the specific supplements that I chose to take to try to clear my skin. It’s a long read, but it has some really great information. I also included little “conclusions” that I wrote at the end of each abstract, in case you don’t want to read the whole thing. However, note that these conclusions are very roughly derived from the actual abstract, so read the abstracts to make sure my conclusions aren’t misleading :)

"The effects of oral zinc sulfate (corresponding to 135 mg of zinc daily) alone and in combination with vitamin A (300,000 international units) daily on acne lesions have been compared with those of vitamin A alone and of a placebo. The number of comedones, papules, pustules, and infiltrates were counted at each visit. After four weeks, there was a significant decrease in the number of papules, pustules, and infiltrates in the zinc-treated groups. The effect of zinc plus vitamin A was not better than zinc alone. After 12 weeks of treatment, the mean acne score had decreased from 100% to 15%. The mechanism for the effect of zinc therapy in acne, to our knowledge, is not presently known

Conclusion: 150mg of Zinc daily. Some improvement in 4 weeks. Complete improvement in 12 weeks.

Plasma vitamin A and E concentrations were determined by high performance liquid chromatography in 100 newly diagnosed untreated patients with acne and were compared with those of 100 age-matched healthy controls. Patients were carefully graded using the Global Acne Grading System.We found that plasma vitamin A concentrations in patients with acne were significantly lower than those of the control group (336.5 vs. 418.1 mug/L, respectively) P = 0.007. We also found that plasma vitamin E concentrations in patients with acne were significantly lower than those of controls (5.4 vs. 5.9 mg/L) P = 0.05. In addition, we found that there is a strong relationship between decrease in plasma vitamin A levels and increase in the severity of acne condition. Patients with severe acne had significantly lower plasma concentrations of vitamins A and E than did those with lower acne grade and the age-matched healthy controls.Based on our results, we conclude that low vitamin A and E plasma levels have an important role in the pathogenesis of acne and in the aggravation of this condition.

Conclusion: Acne sufferers have low levels of Vitamin A and Vitamin E.

Oral vitamin A (retinol) is generally not considered useful in the treatment of acne vulgaris. We conducted a study which showed that retinol was indeed ineffective at the usual doses of 50,000 to 100,000 IU daily. Retinol was highly efficacious in doses of 300,000 units for women and 400,000 to 500,000 units for men, toxicity was slight and limited mainly to skin (xerosis) and mucous membranes (cheilitis). The danger of hypervitaminosis A in this dosage range has been exaggerated. Retinol is a valuable drug for treating stubborn, severely inflammatory acne vulgaris. It is administered until the disease is brought under control, usually within three to four months. Then the dosage is progressively reduced relying on conventional drugs to keep the disease in abeyance.

Conclusion: 300,000 IU of Vitamin A for women until disease is until control. Study found that this took 3-4 months.

Abstract Background: Although hyperseborrhea, follicular hyperkeratinization, Propionibacterium acnes colonization and inflammation are found to be responsible in the pathogenesis of acne, the exact mechanisms are unknown. Vitamin A and E are basic antioxidants vital for health. Zinc is also an essential element for human. But these parameters of the effects on skin are not fully understood. We aimed to evaluate plasma levels of vitamin A, E and zinc in acne patients in relation to the severity of the disease. Material and method: There were 94 acne patients who were referred to our clinic, all new diagnosed, and 56 age and sex matched healthy volunteers as control group. All patients are assessed according to Global Acne Grading System and grouped as mild, moderate, severe and very severe. Acne patients further grouped as group 1 consist of patients with mild to moderate disease; and group 2 consist of patients with severe to very severe acne. The patients with the controls and group 1 with group 2 was compared. Results: The level of vitamin E, vitamin A and zinc were significantly lower than the control group (Table 1,p < 0.001). When the patient group is compared among each other there was no statistically significant difference for plasma vitamin A levels between group 1 and 2 whereas vitamin E and zinc levels were significantly low in group 2 than group 1. Thus there was a negative correlation between acne severity and vitamin E and zinc levels. Conclusion: Our study marks the importance of diet in patients with acne. We offer supportive dietary measures with foods rich in vitamin A and E and zinc in the acne prophylaxis and treatment. Supportive treatment with these vitamins and zinc in severe acne may lead to satisfactory results.

Conclusion: All acne sufferers had low levels of Vitamin A, Vitamin E, and Zinc. More severe acne had even lower levels of Vitamin E and Zinc. Vitamin E and Zinc are especially important in fighting the disease.

Anecdotal reports suggest that using retinoids with vitamin E leads to improvements of some side effects due to isotretinoin. However, vitamin E blood levels have not been reported previously in patients with acne treated with isotretinoin. We aimed to investigate the serum vitamin E levels before and after isotretinoin therapy in patients with acne. A total of 70 patients treated with isotretinoin for acne in our dermatology department were included in this study. The serum vitamin E levels were measured as baseline before isotretinoin treatment. All patients received 0.6-0.8 mg/kg/d isotretinoin. The treatment was finished within 5-7 months while ensuring that the cumulative dose was 120 mg/kg. Serum vitamin E levels were measured again in the last month of treatment. The mean serum vitamin E levels before and after treatment were compared. Forty-six patients completed the study. It was detected that the mean serum vitamin E level was 20.22 mg/dl before isotretinoin treatment. In the last month of treatment, the mean serum vitamin E level was 16.24 mg/dl. Serum vitamin E levels decreased in all patients except three. The mean serum vitamin E level after treatment was statistically decreased in comparison with the mean serum vitamin E level before treatment. Our results showed that vitamin E levels decreased during isotretinoin treatment. We considered that some of the side effects due to isotretinoin treatment might be related to this, and supplementation vitamin E may be useful during isotretinoin treatment.

Conclusion: Isotretinion, and therefore possibly Vitamin A, reduce levels of Vitamin E in the system, and so Vitamin E should be taken when on either therapy.

Successful oral therapy with vitamin A palmitate in acne vulgaris requires 150,000-200,000 I.U. daily for months. Side-effects were evaluated in 22 patients and in addition in 54 patients receiving 400,000 and 300,000 I.U. respectively for 3-4 weeks (SGPT, GGPT, Quick, electrophoresis, creatinine, bromosulfthaleine excretion). The same tests were done in 32 patients, who had received vitamin A palmitate 150,000-200,000 I.U. daily for at least half a year. Clinical experience and the presented data allow the following conclusions: There is no risk of liver impairement when 150,000-200,000 I.U. are given daily over extended periods. Doses over 300,000 I.U. are accompanied with liver impairement. During long-term treatment y-GT test should be performed regularly. Contraceptive advices are recommended.

Conclusion: 150,000-200,000 IU daily do not lead to liver impairment. 300,00 IU or more daily lead to liver impairment. Treatment may take up to 6 month.

All of this research was taken from the NIH (National Institute of Health www.nih.gov) and so I’m trusting that it is not too sketchy. Using this, and a few other sources, I put myself on a supplement cocktail on these doses:

250,000 IU Vitamin A (yes, it’s a lot!)

1,000 IU Vitamin E

250 mg Zinc

1,500 mg Evening Primrose Oil

1,500 mg Borage Oil

For the vitamin A, I make sure to not buy it in beta-carotene form. For vitamin E, I use this doctor’s recommendations: http://bellevueacneclinic.com/role-of-vitamin-e-in-acne-treatment.html

Also, it’s important to remember to take Zinc with food (or else you might throw up…eek) and Vitamin A with some sort of fat, so that your body can absorb it.

p.s. This is what my skin looks like at the moment with makeup. It’s not perfect, but its pretty flat so I’m just worried about redness now.

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Phew! That’s all for right now. Please let me know if you have any questions! I haven’t quite figured out how to work the Q&A function with this theme, so email any questions you have to clearlyminimalist@gmail.com for now.

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As promised, here is a post talking about what I’ve recently discovered as a personal acne cure. As a reminder, I’ve been dealing with this problem for the past 10 years and have undergone two courses of Accutane, and this is the first time I’ve found something that has been comparable to those two courses. I started this on October 21, 2013 after doing some very heavy diet restrictions that worked for a while before my skin problems came back due to stress.

Disclaimer: Check with your doctor before you start a new regimen, since your body and your skin are certainly different from mine. This regimen may pose health risks to your liver and other parts of your body, so make sure you physician always knows about what you’re doing.

During my first appointment with my dermatologist, he informed me that Accutane is a drug used to replace a practice used a long time ago, which was taking Vitamin A to cure acne. People would take Vitamin A in very high doses, which would clear their skin but also cause liver problems. So, Accutane was invented to sidestep the liver problems while still giving patients clear skin. Of course, we know that Accutane actually CAN lead to a lot of health issues, including those of the liver. Knowing this, I went on to do a lot of research about supplements and acne, to see if anyone had safely cured their acne with Vitamin A.

Turns out, studies have been done on the efficacy and risks of Vitamin A, and there is also a lot of anecdotal evidence about it working for some patients. Studies have also been done on a ton of other vitamins and their possible role in curing acne. (Note: From what I’ve read, I really don’t recommend people taking vitamins unless they are trying to treat a specific health concern. Supplements can be damaging if taken for no reason).

For these reasons, I put myself on a vitamin “cocktail” that consisted of Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Zinc, Borage Oil, and Evening Primrose Oil. These are all quite cheap, except the Vitamin E, which ran me about $20 per bottle. I started taking them, and at the 12 week mark, my skin had GREATLY improved. No raised or active bumps, just smooth skin and some serious leftover hyperpigmentation.

As you can see, my skin is really really red from the brutal attack it underwent over the past 12 weeks, but I truly think the worst is over. Also, these marks are just red spots that are healing, they are not really scars (the one gift that the skin gods gave me was skin that does not scar too much).

Anyway, I am now working on healing my skin by putting on Vitamin E oil every night that I get out of the capsules I bought to originally take internally. I’m also still avoiding dairy and sugar as much as possible, but my diet has really loosened up since I’ve started to get clear with these supplements.

I’ll be uploading another post shortly that will give you all more detail about the research supporting these supplements, as well as the doses I use. I’ll also post a few tips on the best way to take the supplements.

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Hello everyone! I’m very sorry to not have posted in a long time, but I was busy coming to and from the depths of skin hell. What I thought was going to be a 4-6 week long regimen trial turned into a 12-14 week trial because that’s how long it my skin to actually improve from the new things I was trying. I am really horrible about documenting my skin when I feel like it’s not doing well, so that’s why I stayed under the radar. I guess I sometimes feel like I have no place trying to help other people with their skin issues if I can’t even keep mine under control.

Anyway, I’m happy to say that my skin is doing WONDERFULLY now and looks as well as it did when I was on Accutane…and it keeps getting better! I’m also very excited to finally share with you guys the regimen I’ve been using, which I’ll write up in another post coming up shortly. In the meantime, thank you for sticking with my blog and here are some photos of me from before I started my regimen:

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The lighting in these photos is really generous, so you can’t see the extent of the redness and the raised bumps that I was dealing with, but you do get an idea of the general awfulness that was happening to my skin!

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So let me just start out by throwing out a big old apology to all of my followers. It’s pretty obvious that I haven’t posted in a while, and I don’t have a very good reason for that. I wasn’t particularly busy or overwhelmed. However, I have been having MAJOR skin issues, and that’s what has been holding me back from blogging.

Everything was going smoothly (ha!) about a month ago, and then suddenly BAM…my skin exploded. I’m not sure why - I was following my diet strictly, and had just been trying new things that I was sure would only help my skin (see my last post). At this point, I’m blaming it on stress - school, work, relationships, and everything.

That being the case, I became pretty discouraged and was wondering why I was bothering with this, and then I even considered going on another (my third!) round of Accutane. But then, for some reason, I changed my mind and decided that I was NOT ready to give up on battling this with natural, healthy approaches. But I also decided that I was done getting a free halloween costume for my face every time I got stressed about life.

Anyway, I’ve put myself on a new, much more intense regimen. And - I think it’s working! It’s only been 2 weeks though, so I’m going to stick it out for at least 4 before I make a judgement and share with you all. So, until then, it will be a bit of a secret!

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Since I’m already having a lazy Sunday morning and procrastinating on all the things I should be doing…I’ve decided to update you all with some (more) new things I’m trying and talk about how the rest of my progress is going.

In my last post, I mentioned that I’ve been working on visualization and changing my sleeping positions, and I think it’s been very helpful! When I started, I had a breakout on my right cheek with about 6 or 7 spots, and they’re all gone now. We’ll see if the progress keeps up, and I’ll have pictures in a few weeks!

Another thing I’ve been doing recently is paying attention to my hairline because really, I’m normally way too lazy to do that. But when I thought about it, I realized that a ton of bacteria, oil, etc. probably builds up on my hairline and transfers over to my skin. I’ve started really focusing on my hairline when I shampoo in the shower, and also when I wash my face in the mornings, just to make sure that area is really clean. Since all of my problem areas are on the peripherals of my face, I figured that this could be contributing to it.

Again, I’ll have pictures up in a few weeks. Have a wonderful Sunday!

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Happy Sunday, everybody!


I really shouldn’t be posting today, as I’ve got a ton of homework to do for my thesis that I haven’t started yet (in case I haven’t mentioned this before - I’m a Philosophy major!). BUT, I’ve made two exciting changes to my skincare routine that I want you all to know about. The changes actually have nothing to do with products or diet, so they’re a little out of the norm for me.

In fact, this first change might make some of you think I’m a little crazy. The change is that I’ve added VISUALIZATION as a part of my daily routine. Yup, that’s right - visualization, as in, picturing certain images in my mind. Now, before you think I’m nuts and unfollow me, just hear me out!

In May of this year, The Cut (NY Times’ magazine) released an interview that they did with Carol Shaw, founder of Lorac Cosmetics. If you live under a rock and don’t know what Lorac is, let me enlighten you.

In the interview, Carol Shaw was asked about her skincare routine, and what it was that she did to finally get rid of her acne. Shockingly, she replied with “self-hypnosis”, and talked about how she went to some eccentric TV-celebrity’s self-hypnosis classes that she claims cleared her skin of its cystic acne.

While I’ve heard about self-hypnosis and visualization before, I never took it seriously because I didn’t really respect the sources. Now, I don’t know about all of you, but I figure that Carol Shaw has a good head on her shoulders and knows a thing or two about skincare.

Another remarkable claim about visualization that I recently stumbled upon came from David Seidler - who wrote the screenplay for “The King’s Speech” and won an Oscar for it. After being diagnosed with colon cancer, Seidler claims to have used visualization techniques to fight the disease - and now he’s cancer free. You can read more about that here.

What I liked best about David Seidler and what he has to say about visualization is that he is completely aware of how “awfully Southern California and woo-woo it sounds”. It’s so true - when I first read about it, “woo-woo” is definitely a word that I would have used to describe it.

But, if it worked for Carol Shaw and David Seidler (as well as many others), I figured that it really can’t hurt to give it a shot. Plus, I really love the idea of that your body is capable of listening to and repairing itself - “sound mind in sound body”. So, I’ve started doing visualization practices everyday, up to 3 times a day. I try to do it in the morning when I wake up, or right before I fall asleep, but sometimes my mind isn’t cooperative and I snooze off, so I try to schedule a mid-day time to visualize.

Either way, I’ve taken “before” pictures, so let’s see what happens in a month or so! PS. An extra fun fact: Athletes who imagined themselves weightlifting gained half as much muscle as the athletes who actually lifted weights. Pretty amazing :)


On to the second change!


This one is a little less “woo-woo” and actually makes a ton of sense to me. I’m not sure why I haven’t done it before!

For my entire life, I’ve slept on my sides, which means that my face is touching my pillow for about 6-9 hours a day - every day! So, I’ve decided that I’m going to try SLEEPING ON MY BACK! It’s a very simple change, but I have a feeling that it might make a significant difference. My cheeks are the only parts of my face that have issues, and they’re also being smothered and rubbed against by a hot, germy pillow all night (yes, your pillow is hot and germy too!). I figure it’s not enough just to wash my pillowcases consistently, because 8 hours seems like a long enough time for some bacteria to have a fiesta on my face, even if the pillow started out clean.


Overall, I’m decently happy with my skin right now, in that its the best that its been in ages. That being said, I still have a few qualms and issues that are keeping me self-conscious, so these are some attempts that I’m making to get rid of those.

I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts on these changes. Do you think visualization is crazy woo-woo? Have you tried it? What are your sleeping patterns and tips?

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Hello everybody!

Today I wanted to write up a quick tip that I’ve recently discovered and have found so useful.

So, I know that most people hate makeup sponges and swear only by brushes blah blah blah, but I LOVE sponges! Let me tell you why. They give your foundation a great texture, they’re easy to blend with, and they’re disposable so you don’t have to worry about dirty tools.

One complaint that I constantly hear, however, is that sponges will just eat your makeup up because each time you use a new one, some of the makeup is absorbed into the sponge instead of going on your face, which is obviously ineffective.

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So, here is an easy way to make that less of an issue for you!

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Instead of makeup being the first thing you put on your clean sponge, put some moisturizer on there! This way, the sponge will soak up the moisturizer, meaning that your makeup isn’t sinking into the middle of the sponge. You only need a pump or two.

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Once you’ve done that, just use your fingers to rub the moisturizer into the sponge completely (more than I’ve done in the photo) and then let it sit for a minute.


Finally, apply your makeup like you normally would, except make sure that you start with the areas of your skin that need the least amount of coverage. This is because at the beginning, your moisturizer will dilute your makeup a bit, but then it will build up and work fine for the rest of your face.

Another tip: Make sure you don’t use each sponge more than twice! That means one application for each side of the sponge. This keeps germs minimal :)

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Quick update! For those of you who read my last post about the new Trader Joe’s moisturizer that I’m in love with…well, you should know that while my love for it has not diminished, I realized that it is a little TOO light for my skin. My cheeks and chin can get very dry sometimes, and they’ve been peeling a little with this product. I’ve switched to using cetaphil at night, since it’s heavier, and then keeping this stuff for daytime use.

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Hey all!

Just a little update on me and my skin today. I mentioned in my previous (I think?) post that I had gone on a bit of a drinking/junk food binge with friends recently, and I was waiting to see what happened. Well…something definitely happened! 5 or 6 smallish spots appeared on my cheek and sides of my chin yesterday. Ouch. ):

Obviously, this is a really important lesson for me. Even though it’s a bummer, it just further confirms for me what I know about my skin: it’s directly related to my diet! And it helps keep me motivated to stay healthy.

Other than that, today was the first day of my last day of college! Hopefully I can still update just as frequently and post pictures of my skin soon.

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So, confession: last night I definitely went out with my friends and definitely had too much to drink. Not that I was belligerent or anything, but I did have 5 drinks over the course of the night. Given that I’m not 100% sure how my skin responds to alcohol yet, this isn’t a very good thing. Although I stuck to rum-only drinks (rum comes from sugar, not wheat, which is good), I’m worried about what the inflammatory properties of alcohol might wreak on my skin. My skin is looking great right now (I’m hoping to show you all soon!) and everything is under control, but we’ll see in a few days how it responds to this mini-binge of mine. I also ate an onion ring or two, as well as some fries with a bit of sauce that I’m pretttty sure contained dairy. So, quite a few slip ups all around.

What about you guys? Do you have any tips for staying healthy when going out with friends? I’m getting pretty desperate looking for a way to not miss out on good times with people but also keep up my health.


In other news….

I want to do a quick product review of a little gem that I found last weekend when I went home to Seattle. It’s a facewash & moisturizer set called “Nourish” from Trader Joe’s that I’m now pretty in love with.

Antioxidant Facial Cleanser and Moisturizer

The moisturizer touts itself as being “suitable for all skin types, dermatologist formulated, fragrance free, and no parabens.” The fact that it’s fragrance free already makes me happy, since fragrances can be really irritating for your skin and just generally bad for you. Here is a list of some of the ingredients I appreciate in this product: aloe vera, shea butter, vitamin E, vitamin B5, vitamin C, pomegranate, ginkgo leaf extract, coffee seed, chamomile extract, green tea leaf extract, vitamin K, vitamin A, and vitamin D3. See? Awesome!

Although I haven’t started using the cleanser consistently yet, because I’m trying to get rid of my old one, I really did like it the few times I did use it. It claims to be non-drying and an “All-In-One” formula which includes an exfoliant. Some great ingredients: oat amino acids, vitamin B5, vitamin A, vitamin D3, vitamin K, vitamin E, vitamin C, and green tea extract.


Both the moisturizer and the cleanser are also cruelty-free, which I really appreciate from any company I purchase from. Another thing I really love is that both of them are very light and leave your skin feeling soft and fresh. With a simple formula and no harsh ingredients, they’re like an upgrade from something like Cetaphil or Johnson/Johnson without the price tag! Each bottle is only $6!

Since I live 5 hours from the nearest Trader Joe’s and also like to travel, I know that I won’t always have these two products handy and know that many of you won’t have access to them at all. That’s why I still recommend other simple products to replace these - but if you can get your hands on them, definitely do!

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Say No to Grapefruit?

Hi everyone! My apologies for the hiatus. I took my husband on a spontaneous trip to Vegas for his birthday and we just got back yesterday. We had a great time, but I’ve fallen behind on my blogging. Oops!


Before I left for our mini-vacation, I went out and purchased 3 or 4 grapefruits from our local grocery store. I hadn’t had grapefruit in ages and had a craving for it. Of course, it’s also packed with Vitamin C and other goodies, so that was an added bonus.


After I’d eaten one or two of them, I started to remember why it was that I hadn’t eaten them for a long time. A few years ago, my mother freaked out and told me that I couldn’t eat grapefruit because I was on birth control (Yaz). Initially, I started taking birth control as a way to help my skin (which it didn’t), but then as pregnancy prevention. So, since some of you out there might also be trying birth control to solve your skin issues, I wanted to write a post about birth control + grapefruit.


So, is grapefruit really detrimental to someone using birth control? Fortunately, not really. Isn’t hasn’t been shown to lower it’s effectiveness at preventing pregnancy (if that’s something you care about), and I can’t imagine it having anything but a positive effect on acne (unless you have a citrus sensitivity, which is certainly possible). The one way which it can hurt birth control pill users is “its chemicals may change how your body handles estrogen or interfere with the enzymes that break down certain drugs” - which translates to more intense side effects. By keeping your grapefruit intake on the low end, you don’t need to worry about this.

However, if you’re taking something other than birth control for your skin, such as an antibiotic, then seriously avoid grapefruit. This is especially true if you’re on Erythromycin. While I can give you a list of reasons why you shouldn’t be on an antibiotic for your skin, I’m sure that many of you still are or plan to be, which is why you should try to be as safe as possible about it.

Read more about grapefruit and drug interactions here and grapefruit/birth control here.

Personally, I still plan to start eating grapefruit once or twice a week, but make sure you’re aware of the ways that grapefruit could personally be affecting your prescriptions and health!
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My Accutane Review

(Reblogged from literallyamurderer)

When this came up on my feed, I had to take a second and laugh at the sheer accuracy of this statement - this is totally the type of attitude I had when I was on Accutane and having to get my blood drawn every month.

It also got me thinking about Accutane and I felt like I should do a sort of summary and review of my experience with the drug. Hopefully this helps any of you who are thinking about taking it or are currently on it!

My Accutane Story:


When I first took Accutane, I was about 15 and had decided to go to the dermatologist after not having been for a long time. By this point in my life, I had tried multiple drugs and topicals to treat my skin, and nothing had worked. And, of course, my skin was getting worse because of my age and lack of experience dealing with the whole mess. When my derm suggested Accutane, I had no idea what it was, but he explained that it was the closest thing that modern medicine has to an acne cure. Unlike other acne treatments, Accutane is the only one which does not require maintenance - when it works, it does so by clearing your skin over a course of several months, and then you stop the drug: no indefinite prescriptions, daily creams, etc. Being a desperate teenager, I took the plunge then and there, and was taking the medication the next month (women have to wait one month to allow for blood work to be checked out).

After I did a full-dose, 6-month long course, my skin was clear, just as promised. However, a month or two later, everything started to come back. After struggling for a while, my derm and I decided to start a second course, which also lasted 6 months. Given how utterly stubborn my skin is, the results once again did not last, and I was back at square one.

So, speaking from these experiences, I bring you my general Accutane tips & advice!

  • There are a lot of horror stories that go along with Accutane, but you will probably be okay. I say this because I know that people like to take to the internet to rant about Accutane and how it doesn’t work and how it gave them horrible side effects. All of these things may have been true for those people, but the drug is also relatively safe and the odds are that you will only experience minor side effects. Of course, talk to your doctor to make sure that you are aware of all of the possible side effects, that you aren’t predisposed to having worse side effects, and that the risk of side effects is outweighed by the possibility of a better quality of life for you in particular. Personally, I had very few side effects (chapped lips, dry eyes, etc.) and these were definitely worth taking a shot at the drug.
  • Every day is your special day when you’re on Accutane. To minimize side effects while on Accutane, pamper yourself! Make sure you are drinking a ton of water, constantly applying lotion & Aquaphor where necessary, doing moderate/low pressure exercise, and you’re eating as healthy as possible. Talk to your doctor about the specific diet you should be on during Accutane to keep your triglycerides low and your body feeling better. Also, do not drink alcohol - even a little! Although you may think you can get away with drinking, just stick it out and your body will thank you for it later.
  • The suicide/depression link is unclear. Although a correlation between Accutane intake and depression/suicide has been noted, there has not been serious study into whether Accutane actually causes depression. Since teens and adults with acne are more likely to be depressed as a result of anxiety and unhappiness about their skin, there is already a heightened suicide risk amongst them, and many dermatologists (including mine) think that there is probably no link between that and Accutane. That being said, make sure you have people in your life who are close to you and can support you if you find yourself in a tough situation and think that Accutane may be causing it.
  • Your skin will not be happy, and it will not heal. Although actual blemishes and lesions may be disappearing from your skin real quick, that doesn’t mean that the redness and scars go away with them. In fact, Accutane will make these things worse by cutting down your body’s natural ability to heal. If your skin is scar-prone (mine, fortunately, is not), then you need to be especially careful. Even though my skin was entirely clear of any active lesions, I still needed to wear foundation every day because the dark spots left over on my skin were very noticeable and were not healing at all. For this reason, I never felt like I had really, truly clear skin at any point during or after my course. This isn’t the case for everyone, but keep it in mind as a possibility, and help your body out by eating foods that help its healing process (foods rich in Vitamin E and Zinc, for example).
  • Think of it as neither a first resort, nor a last resort. Some patients and dermatologists approach Accutane as the absolute, final strategy for clearing their skin. Others don’t see this as being necessary, and will go for it before trying other options (seriously, some docs will try to prescribe it to you as soon as you walk through their door). However, I don’t think that either of these ideas are very good. For some people, waiting to try Accutane as a final result will mean that they have mangled skin by the time they take the drug, since they are very scar-prone. For other people, they might take Accutane even though a little Retin-A and a better lifestyle could take of their problems. When deciding when you should take Accutane, be realistic about your hopes and fears with it, weigh that against your current quality of life and other options you’ve tried, and then make an informed personal decision.
  • Even though it’s strong, it’s not the strongest thing out there. Coming from someone who has taken two courses without any significant, lasting results, I believe that for some of us, Accutane is not going to be the strongest option. I’ve found that a clean, restricted diet and rejecting all topical medications has brought me success. Even though most people might think “If Accutane didn’t/doesn’t help me, then nothing will”, I haven’t found this to be true, so don’t put all of your hope into it as though there aren’t other options. Keep trying!

So, there are my tips. If you have questions about Accutane or any other issues, just shoot!

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Zinc!

Happy Sunday everybody!

I’ve had a lazy start to my day, just sleeping in and lounging around. I put in a ton of hours last week into my job as well as physician shadowing, so I’ve been trying to catch up on the zzz’s this weekend.

I also had a pretty bad diet binge (well, I consider it bad) last week, which included fries, alcohol, chocolate, cheese, and a cookie - all after I had tried to reintroduce dairy into my diet, which turned out to be a big no-no. Needless to say, I’m now paying for it and my skin is freaking out. Luckily, I got refocused on Tuesday, so things are calming down now. I’ve even started a food log to keep myself on track, so let me know if y’all would like a peek at that sometime!

One thing that I’ve been meaning to post about is treating your skin with vitamins and supplements.As I’ve talked about before, it is very important to me that whatever skincare routine I’m on, it has to be easy, simple, and accessible. I want to be able to travel without worrying about international pharmacies, go camping without a massive bag of products, fall asleep after a party at a friend’s house without having an anxiety attack about my makeup. If you’ve had skin issues for a long time, or even if you haven’t, this is probably important to you too!

For that reason, I’ve been a bit hesitant to go on a full vitamin or dietary supplement kick. Many vitamin brands will claim better quality over other brands, and I don’t want to be stuck buying super expensive, exclusive supplements that require shipping, etc. So, with that in mind, about one month ago I began searching for supplements that I could add to my routine, obtain locally, and not have to spend my entire paycheck on. And that’s when I found….

ZINC!


Zinc has quite the following when it comes to happy customers. Here are just a few examples from Makeup Alley that got me excited about trying it:

"After discontinuing birth control, my skin was never the same and I was always getting big, nasty, cystic zits. I started taking zinc and adopted other skincare changes and after about a month, my skin had improved a lot! I stopped getting the cysts, had fewer clogged pores, and even felt less oily"

"If you have struggled to manage acne, you should try zinc. I’ve had acne my whole adult life and this is the product that has given me clear skin and ended my reliance on products such a Neutrogena On-the-Spot. This decreases oiliness, GREATLY reduces blackhead, and has totally eliminated my acne."

"I’ve been on Retin A Micro and Differin for years and have gotten maybe 85% clear - which is a major improvement for me. However, it wasn’t until I started taking a 50mg a day zinc supplement that I’ve become 100% CLEAR. As in, no oiliness (my skin is now combination as opposed to oily), no breakouts, fewer blackheads. The biggest improvement I’ve seen is in my monthly hormonal breakouts on my chin and cheeks, and also the complete clearing of my cystic acne."


So, how does zinc work?

  • Zinc helps the body heal, which is the first reason that it works great with skin problems. By repairing damaged tissues, lesions will take less time to repair themselves, which always a good thing.
  • Zinc helps to alleviate inflammation in the skin. Since a big part of acne is that the lesions are inflamed and irritated, this can be a big life saver for the skin. By reducing inflammation, you’re reducing the size, redness, and number of lesions on the skin.
  • Zinc keeps the skin hydrated and soft. A sign of zinc deficiency is dry, cracked skin.

In some studies, zinc has actually been shown to be as effective as antibiotics. For only $5 a bottle and with all-natural ingredients, that’s quite a deal!

If you think you’re ready to try adding a zinc supplement to your diet, here are some guidelines that can help you decide the best way to do so:

  • Make sure that you’re taking a sufficient amount. Most people will buy 50mg pills and take them 1-3 times per day for up to 12 weeks. After that, you should cut down to about 15mg per day as maintenance. Here is more information about dosing for acne from the Mayo Clinic.
  • Include some sort of copper supplement. Zinc can deplete copper in the body, and the last thing you need is a random copper deficiency. An easy way to do this is to take a multivitamin with copper in it every few days, or to go buy a simple and cheap copper supplement. You should take 1mg of copper for every 15mg of zinc.
  • Stick with the program for at least 8-12 weeks. This is the amount of time that most changes to a routine need in order to make an improvement in your skin. Even if you’re feeling discouraged - don’t give up! Of course, if you’re having adverse side effects, discontinue use and talk with your physician.

In my experience, zinc is most effective when it comes to hormonal acne - however, it may certainly help other types of acne as well, given all of it’s skin benefits. I started taking it when I had a horrible hormonal breakout along my jawline as a result of being lazy with my birth control and forgetting to take my pills. Even though I don’t think my birth control helps my skin AT ALL, I think that taking it inconsistently makes it much worse. After taking the zinc for about a week, the breakout was gone and my skin was healing quickly. I’m continuing to take 50mg a day, but will probably bump that up to 100mg soon (I’ll update you if I do!).

How about you? Do you take zinc? Have questions about it? Shoot me a message!

sources:

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/zinc/NS_patient-zinc/DSECTION=dosing

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-982-ZINC.aspx?activeIngredientId=982&activeIngredientName=ZINC

http://www.jtad.org/2007/3/jtad71302a.pdf

http://health.howstuffworks.com/skin-care/information/nutrition/zinc-benefit-skin.htm

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-75093/How-I-clear-acne.html

http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/acne

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LGL Vegetable & Egg Hash

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Good morning, everybody! I have been up since 5am today and am therefore in a terrible mood, so I thought I’d do some blogging to cheer me up a bit. I’m in a bit of a hurry though (I’m shadowing a physician today for 9 hours!), so I just wanted to post a quick recipe that I used to make some breakfast for myself today.

As a college student with a tiny kitchen that I share with 4 other people, I have neither time nor money for extravagant cooking of any sort. I’m also on a very strict diet for my skin, hormones, and fatigue, which includes: no dairy, (almost) no sugar, low glycemic load foods only, no gluten, no chocolate (going to try to bring the chocolate back in soon though!), and very very few grains.

Last week, my skin was completely clear and I decided that perhaps I could put dairy back in my diet and see what would happen. I decided to try yogurt, since it’s fermented and there is less lactose in it, so it’s probably great for my skin, right? WRONG. I had Greek Yogurt 3 days in a row, and then bam: breakout. Milk is full of hormones, and not just the added ones. Cows that are pregnant are producing hormones like crazy, and there is no need for us to consume those. If you don’t believe me, check these out:

American Academy of Dermatology Association: http://www.aad.org/dw/monthly/2012/acne/diet-and-acne#page2

Huffington Post (Dr. Hyman): http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/do-milk-and-sugar-cause-a_b_822163.html

An excerpt from the second link:

"Here’s a short list of the 60-some hormones in your average glass of milk—even the organic, raw, and bovine growth hormone free milk:

  • 20α-dihydropregnenolone
  • progesterone (from pregnenolone)
  • 5α-pregnanedione
  • 5α-pregnan-3β-ol-20-one, 20α- and 20β-dihydroprogesterone (from progesterone)
  • 5α-androstene-3β17β-diol
  • 5α-androstanedione
  • 5α-androstan-3β-ol-17-one
  • androstenedione
  • testosterone
  • dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate acyl ester
  • insulin like growth factors 1 and 2 (IGF-1 and IGF-2)
  • insulin”

So, with all these things excluded from my diet, and still being a broke college student, sometimes its hard to eat well and feel full. However, I’ve started to get better at it by planning my meals ahead of time and buying filling foods. (By the way, I spend about $360 a month on groceries for TWO people).


Here is a recipe I came up with because breakfast is always the hardest meal of the day for me. It’s quick, easy, and low glycemic.

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You’ll need:

Oil of your choice

Asparagus

Onion

Mushrooms

Sweet Potato

Egg

Marinara Sauce

Garlic Powder, Basil, Pepper, Salt (to taste)


hint: Microwave the sweet potato before you put it on the frying pan so it’s partially cooked and you save yourself some time!

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My Regimen

In case y’all are curious….

Products I’m Currently Using:

  • Purpose Gentle Cleanser from Johnson & Johnson, $6.50 morning and night
  • Cetaphil Daily Moisturizer, $8 morning
  • Neutrogena Clear Face Sunscreen SPF 30, $12 when necessary
  • Vitamin E Oil or Olive Oil, only to remove eye makeup
  • MAC Matchmaster Liquid Foundation, $34
  • Yaz for Birth Control, $0 daily
  • Mia from Clarisonic, $120 nightly to remove makeup
  • Generic Zinc 50mg, $5 nightly
  • Generic Probiotic, $10 nightly

Products I’ve Used Before:

  • Accutane x2
  • Tretinion/Retin-a
  • Clindamycin
  • Benzoyl Peroxide
  • Salicyclic Acid
  • Oral Antibiotics
  • Differin
  • Spironolactone
  • Probably a bunch of stuff I can’t remember…