I’ve gotten a deep cyst or two every single period I’ve had since giving birth until this period. This time I had zero cysts.
What did I do to manage to avoid period-connected cystic acne?
Here’s what I’ve changed from 4 weeks ago to now:
1) I cut out dairy completely (not sugar, or gluten – just dairy!). I had no intention of making an impact on my skin, I was just trying to get my baby to stop fussing at the breast.
I’ve always thought that a) dairy did not have a big impact on my acne (that sugar was my real acne trigger) and b) that I wasn’t consuming huge amounts of dairy.
When I cut dairy out however, it became clear that it was a HUGE percentage of what I was eating. More often than not, our picture of what or how we’re eating actually differs quite a bit from reality.
It can help to keep a food journal to get the true story.
NAC + REISHI
2) I added in liver/skin support in the form of a NAC supplement and reishi supplement. Again, I wasn’t trying to do anything for my skin! What prompted the addition of these supplements was:
I wasn’t getting good quality sleep with a newborn. Getting poor sleep can have a huge negative effect on our body’s detoxification pathways. I was waking up feeling groggy and hungover even though I wasn’t drinking.
NAC is a supplement that, although I am not a doctor, I think all new mothers should discuss with their doctor about taking. It has so many benefits for helping with postpartum issues (but I’ll focus on how it can help with acne in this particular post).
NAC helps replenish glutathione, arguably your body’s most powerful antioxidant – and one that is critical for skin health.
It’s also essential for fighting cellular damage. Some researchers believe it may even contribute to longevity. These benefits extend to signs of aging on the skin.
NAC also plays an important role in your body’s detoxification process. It can help prevent side effects of drugs and environmental toxins so effectively that doctors regularly give intravenous NAC to people with an acetaminophen overdose to prevent or reduce kidney and liver damage.
Liver detox is major for keeping the skin clear, and I plan to go deeper into why in another post, but suffice it to say, certain hormones that can cause hormonal acne to flare up are often partially made problematic by an under-functioning liver metabolism.
Animal studies (no people studies yet, but!) show that NAC may stabilize blood sugar by decreasing inflammation in fat cells and thereby improving insulin resistance – this is huge for people with acne since many acne sufferers have issues with insulin.
When insulin receptors are intact and healthy, they properly remove sugar from your blood, keeping levels within normal limits.
Last, (but definitely not least) NAC and glutathione also boost immune health. This has positive consequences for skin health, and I don’t know a single mom who doesn’t need an immunity boost!
In the past, I’ve been drawn to reishi for stress support, and that’s why I went back to it this time. I’ve been struggling a little with postpartum anxiety and insomnia.
Reishi is said to help with depression, fatigue, anxiety and insomnia and when taking it in the past, I did notice a decrease in stress.
It is also said to help improve liver function and balance hormones in the really mild way that adaptogens are known for, and this may be why I’m seeing an improvement in my skin during a historically acne-inevitable time.
Preventative Spot Treating
3) I started using Zen Physic not as a spot treatment but as a nightly preventative.
I get acne in very specific predictable areas – my chin right below the corners of my mouth and right around the base of my nose.
I do advise against using ZP all over your face, unless you are just adding a little to a facial oil and applying it thusly diluted.
I just began to spot treat around my usual problem areas even though there are no blemishes at about day 16 of my cycle (if day 1 is the first day of menses).
I’m really surprised tbh that I haven’t gotten any noticeable acne this period.
Usually, despite my best efforts and even if my skincare is on point, one or two blemishes ALWAYS sneak through!
I will update this post next month ALTHOUGH I’m slowly introducing the dairy ladder to see how my now 5 month old daughter will respond, so I don’t think I will be this strictly dairy free next month – fingers crossed.
I have to say, initially going dairy free was soooo hard but now I’m totally used to it. I’ve found some amazing products that are dairy free but amazing substitutes – would you like me to do a post about them?