Skin & Diet Changes

For the last two months I have been struggling with the worst acne of my life. I never had it this bad as a teenager or during pregnancy with all of those hormonal shifts, and it is driving me absolutely insane! I’ve also been gaining weight instead of losing (and working out like 6 days a week and eating clean), which is frustrating in itself. My husband told me he feels like he’s dating a teenager lately, the turd.

I finally took 5 minutes to talk to one of the providers in my office this week (I work at a medical center), and she is starting me on a couple of different supplements and a topical cream to see if we can flush out the toxins and get my skin back in balance. The severity of the breakouts vacillates a little throughout the month, and the way it is now is about the best it’s been since this all started in June. I honestly don’t have a photo of my face at its worst because I hate how I look right now, and when I do take photos, I tend to (1) have it covered as best I can with make-up, or (2) use a photo app to hide the zits. It’s vain I know, but GAH do I feel supremely uncomfortable with how I look right now. This picture below is from yesterday afternoon WITH makeup on, and it still looks horrible.


SO…here’s the plan for at least the next two weeks if not longer…

  • Clindamycin Phosphate 1% – I’ll apply this twice daily after washing my face. So far it BURNS, which is insult to injury, because even with insurance this cost me $65 at the pharmacy. Ugh.
  • Metformin – I just started a 250mg daily dosage of metformin at night (for a whopping $4 copay, whohoo!). Ironically enough, I’ve never taken this, because even though I have PCOS, I always used myo-inositol instead of met. I’m hoping as a side effect of this I’ll drop a couple pounds too, ha! If I don’t have side effects at the 250mg dose I’m supposed to up it to 500mg daily.
  • Super Multidophilus 24 (probiotic) – 2 per day.
  • Grapefruit See Extract – Yeast Fighting Formula (to help fight off infections and viruses in my body) – 2 times per day for 5 days
  • No Sugar / No Alcohol – Starting next Monday, I’m going to cut out all sugar (2 servings of fresh fruit per day is okay) and alcohol for 2 weeks to see if this can help reset my body. I don’t eat a ton of sugar anyway, but I’m willing to try anything if it means I can get my face fixed up!

Has anyone else struggled with adult-onset acne? How did you help resolve it? I’m so tired of looking like a teenager!


  1. I actually just bit the bullet myself and bought Rodan + Fields Unblemish. I have been getting cystic acne week after week (also on my chin) and I got so sick of having them and looking like a teenager, too, that I just gave in. I’m in my first week and so far, so good!

    1. I used R+F Unblemish last fall and liked it, but it wasn’t awesome for me. I switched to R+F Reverse and have been using that for months now to help with the dark spots on my face (which have definitely been fading and getting better). I like it as a skin care regime, but the acne is just RIDICULOUS. I’m washing my sheets more often, not wearing makeup when possible, eating clean, wearing my headset at work instead of holding the phone with my cheek, etc. and nothing is helping!

      1. Your skin spots fade as you tan. My cousin who sells R+F told me that and said to not attribute it to skincare unless it happens in the winter. I considered R+F but their chemical use is so frightening to me. But in know it works! Chemicals work!

        1. I started it last November and definitely noticed a difference through the winter months. My spots actually get WORSE as I get tan, b/c they darken along with the rest of my skin!

        2. Weird mine COMPLETELY went away this summer I’m not looking forward to their return

    2. For someone like you who is so food healthy, you may want to research R+F Chemical use. It works very well, but is heavy on Chemical use. I really wanted to like it buy the research was upsetting.

  2. So…… I could have written this post a month ago. I had great skin as a teen and rarely broke out. I still have skin that people comment on often (they say it’s peaches and cream skin…. I don’t see it), but my chin has been breaking out like mad. And my neck…. I never had acne on my neck. So I have been so upset all summer and even before then. Brian attributed it to sweating so much and not washing my face right away, which I’m sure is part of the problem. So i started washing my face right after working out. It got worse. At a complete loss, I tried to ignore it. Then I met a friend of my sister who sells a completely safe line of skin care. I’m always sceptical but I said what the hell. I hate all of the chemicals in cosmetics and have been interested in changing all of my stuff to safe products. I have bought ALL NEW skin care stuff AND makeup and….. My skin has never looked better. Brian is so shocked that he’s trying my face washes (he’s a skincare junkie!!!!). In two weeks, most acne is GONE (I have just two bumps that are almost gone) and what I do get is nothing compared to what I had before in regards to severity and pain.

    I am a believer in natural stuff! And more importantly, I’m a believer in not accepting things the way they are.

    Good luck! I’m anxious to see how it works out. Remember, you may break out MORE at first as your skin adjusts. I did, Brian did (when he started making his own organic soap ha ha ha!), everyone does. It will calm down in a week or two!

    1. The acne on my neck was how mine all started. It’s disgusting 😟

  3. Way to up the honesty ante! I don’t have acne like that (yet?!) but I do get a massive zit or two a month. Since I don’t wear make-up (other than mascara), it’s impossible to cover up and make it look normal. If you don’t have anything to blend it into… Anyway, I don’t really have any advice, but how frustrating to have that happen all of a sudden like that!!!

  4. On the bright side, your teeth are AMAZINGLY white.(pun totally intended) UGH! Bummer about the acne. Mine fluctuates with my cycles. No matter what I do or what I change, boom, twice a month with hormone surges my little volcanos pop up. I’ve gotten really good though at just leaving them be and for the most part it fades very quickly. If you find something that works, let me know because apart from removing my ovaries, I’m not sure anything will work for me. My sisters and I all inherited the “bad” skin as we age trait….it’s rather unfortunate for us.

  5. I’m caving and going to see my dermatologist about my acne. It’s not over a huge area or constant but it’s cystic so it hurts like crazy. Stupid hormones being wild and making my skin crazy. Mine leveled out when I had the hormonal iud or if I’m using depo shots so I know it’s wild hormone swings. PS – ask your pharmacist which version of the clinda is cheapest. My shelf of products ranges hundreds of dollars (my cost, insurance is a mystery on top of that) so there might be a different form (gel, foam, cream, whatever) that’s more affordable. Good luck finding the magic combo!

  6. Josey I’ve been struggling lately and I’ve never dealt with pimples in my whole life. Apart from the odd PMS one I’ve had clear skin. Mine is 100% hormonal and related to the peri menopause I’m going through. It’s been, rough. The big thing that has helped a lot is zinc supplements. I was massively zinc deficient and that has helped a lot. I’m also as you know trying to go dry for September. Hormones hey! Still possibly us off in our 30’s! But I hear ya. You aren’t alone x

  7. I wouldn’t quit the grape seed oil in only 5 days. Stay with it. But also be aware that all that yeast has to escape somehow. It may get worse before it gets better. I had huge tumors. I took 2 months of oral nystatin and grape seed oil for my yeast issues. My face was a wreck but I felt so much better after and my face is clear now!

    1. Ugh, I hope it doesn’t take that long!

  8. From a girl who has seen a dermatologist since I was a teen, I know acne is hormonal and genetic. Adult acne requires much gentler treatment than teen acne as its a different type. That’s why some have terrible skin and some have amazing skin barely washing their face. Usually you start topically and can move onto oral meds if needed like spirolactone etc.

    I have never had “bad” skin, but I would get cysts on my chin in the past anywhere from once a week to once a month. My dad has rosacea and the treatment is different than acne. I flared up bad around my chin beginning of all my pregnancies, then my skin was amazing until my period came back post nursing no matter what my diet (which is why I know it’s hormonal and genetic based.) I have gotten so many compliments on my skin, but I am super pale and when I breakout it’s definitely noticeable 🙁

    I have a dermatologist still of course and what has worked for me is gentle Cera Ve cleanser and mosturizer (I don’t want to strip my skin with acne products to create more oil) and then I use all scripts…a perscription retinoid at night (a gentle one combined with Clindamycin, Clindamycin alone made me peel and burn and did nothing but this gentle combo while expensive works) and Finacea, a azelaic acid perscription every morning that targets rosacea prone, acne and any pigmentation issues (hyper pigmentation, Melasma etc.) It’s super gentle. I use it twice a day while pregnant instead of the retinoid at night. Oh and yes sunscreen EVERY DAY under a pricey foundation with SPF.

    Some girls are picky about hair, nails or whatever. I am super picky about my skin and good skincare. Oh and a mask once a week helps too!

    1. I forgot to add, if you get a cyst, get a cortisone shot ASAP. When done correctly they work within 24 hrs and take away the soreness, but more importantly, cysts can last for weeks/months on their own and scar. I credit my early derm appts and shots to not having any acne scarring from my chin cysts (luckily I would rarely get them elsewhere.) Hope that helps!

  9. My skin is bad too. When I did Whole30 last spring, it took a couple of weeks of no sugar and the zits went away entirely! I also like Paula’s Choice skin care line which is much less expensive than R+F and works better for me.

  10. I have never had issues with the skin except big pores,which can nothing be done about,but i would suggest you to drink more home-made lemonade since it is known that lemons are good for internal detox and skin. From time to time, i also drink a glass of water with red apple cider vinegar (tea spoon). Dont drink it all immediately, but during the day. Finally, i wash my face with sodium bicarbonate and coconut oil, but in your case, i wouldnt use oil, just sodium with your facial cleanser. Apples are also excellent for skin, but organic.

  11. Acne is awful! I had perfect skin until I was 18 and then got hit with adult acne it took years and a lot of different products to find what worked for me and get it under control to now just the occasional zit (as long as I dont skip twice daily face washings, if I slack off falling asleep in makeup I definitely pay for it)

    One thing I didnt realize for years of my acne issues (and no derm had pointed out somehow) was the pore clogging oils in my drugstore moisturizer. Im not sure why oil free is the exception among them but is seems to be. With naturally really dry skin and some extra drying from different topical treatments, I was slathering on a bunch and part of my acne was caused by that. In the years since I started using non comedeginic oils that are actually good for your face and wont clog pores, some even have antibacterial properties to help fight acne. I started using emu oil and it was finally after years of thirsty skin, something that could moisturize my face adequately, tho a bit greasy. I now use emu some still, argan oil, grapeseed oil, rosehip oil, but my absolute favorite is squalene oil which is made from olives and very good for your skin.

    Topically I tried quite a few and the one and only basically miracle worker to clear up my skin is the RX Klaron lotion (sodium sulfacetamide lotion) Lotion, 10% When I first used this years ago I could tell in the first week things were way improved and it was going to be my finally found solution. Its not hard on the face at all and is actually also used for rosacea so it is much much gentler than what it sounds like you have now. Klaron you can put over your entire face with no discomfort. Strangely I feel like not that much of the skincare community know about it, and it seems to be less of a commonly used acne topical that many. When I list Klaron as my topical to a skin therapist when I go to for facials, peels, etc. They often dont know what it is and have to look it up. If you google it you will see lots of people say it was the thing that turned their acne around also.

    I started getting peels (professional and home level) pretty often when I was making strides wiping out my acne so those helped too, but I think Klaron as a topical and a non comedeginic oil made the most difference. Ill send some pics if you are interested in an anecdotal before and after from a random reader 🙂

    I went years and years living that life of not allowing an unedited pic of me be seen before editing out the zits and now I dont have to be that person anymore, Truthfully Im still pretty amazed by it because I didnt think I would ever approve of a non edited candid showing what i really look like. I owe it to peels, klaron and really great non comedeginic oils.

    Hopefully this helps you some! Definitely do some looking into klaron reviews across the web and making sure your products arent getting the bad kinds of oil on your face. Good luck!

  12. I don’t really have any advice, but I’ve also been dealing with it and it got worse over the summer! I have always had issues with blackheads and the cysts-y pimples, but this summer I’d look in the mirror at the end of the day and see several white heads. Ugh. I chalked it up to hormones and a crappy diet. And I definitely fell off the water wagon this summer.

    I’ve started using the Aveeno Smart Essentials facial scrub and have noticed a small improvement. I’m trying to drink more water, and I’m going to be going back to meal planning for myself next week.

    It’s not fair though. I was always told acne was a teenager problem :o\

  13. This is so challenging – I had bad acne as a teenager and I will always remember how it felt. It must be so frustrating. I love paula’s choice beta hydroxy acid toner – it helps me immensely – and I use josie maran argan oil face cleanser and moisturizer. Wishing you luck that you can get this figured out soon.

  14. ugh! I had teenage acne that went away then came back with a vengeance in my 20’s. I ended up taking Accutane to get rid of it. Don’t recommend that route though, so hopefully you can get it under control with this regimen.

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