How I Healed Chronic Adult Acne Naturally- And You Can Too!

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Anyone who has had acne knows how debilitating it can be to your life and your self-esteem. Since I was a teenager I had small bouts of hormone related pimples but I never really had acne.

When I turned 28, things changed. I suddenly developed chronic on-set adult cystic acne. I was mortified. I had just moved back to Los Angeles and started taking an interest in my diet again after some years of eating pretty poorly while living in Germany.

I started working in a Vegan restaurant, trying to eat less meat and dairy and diving deeply into the many books, lectures and anything I could get my hands on about health.

I thought, my skin should be looking better not worse!

It got to a point where I didn’t want to leave the house without makeup, which became an issue because of my active lifestyle. I wasn’t going to go to Yoga, the beach or run outside with makeup on but I felt so insecure that I’d spend far too long inside the house debating whether to leave or not. Not to mention how insecure I felt waking up next to my partner and not having makeup on to hide my acne.

Acne was showing me how deep my insecurities were and not being able to hide them because they were directly planted on my face, was heartbreaking to say the least.

I learned so much about myself in this time. I cried, I got angry, I felt like a victim and I felt like a crazy person. My grumpiness about my face became my personality.

I also tried every diet under the sun, believing my acne was mostly coming from something I was eating.

I tried a standard Vegan diet, I tried versions of Paleo diets, I cut out sugar, I cut out salt, I cut out carbs all together. I went raw Vegan. I juiced, I cleansed, I fasted. Sometimes my skin would clear up for a while, but then acne would come back with a vengeance.

I also went to a dermatologist, my raw vegan diet book in hand, searching for a glimmer of hope that she would verify my suspicion that it was my diet. She didn’t. She even told me that my diet had nothing to do with my acne and that medication was the only answer.

I argued with her, refused the medication and left feeling completely deflated.

While I highly doubted it, maybe it wasn’t my diet, maybe it was my skin care routine! Over a period of a year, I tried many different skin care products and routines, some natural and some conventional. Most of them made my skin worse and few of them improved my skin at all.

One day, while I was searching for a new juicer online I ran across a You Tube video from YouTuber’s Fully Raw Kristina and John Kohler reviewing their favorite juicers. I was intrigued by Kristina’s energy and glow. I wondered what she was eating.

This is when I learned about a low-fat, high carbohydrate vegan diet, often known as the 80-10-10 diet. This diet consisted of eating at least 80% whole food, fruit based carbohydrates, no more than 10% fat and 10% protein from fruits and vegetables only. It sounded extreme but this girl Kristina had what I wanted- energy, happiness and glowing skin!

Kristina

 

Fully Raw Kristina 

I started watching Kristina’s videos and learned how she healed a whole host of illnesses with low fat- fruits and vegetables only.

I devoured Youtube Videos from Kristina, John Kohler, Dan McDonald and Megan Elizabeth, completely astonished by their results.

I read the 80-10-10 diet book by Doug Graham and I was convinced to give it a try.

This is also when I found Tara Millen’s YouTube channel, 40 Below Fruity. She was new at the time but I saw a video that truly pushed my skin healing to a new level. In one of her videos she explains her own journey with deep chronic acne and he she healed herself. Apart from following a low-fat vegan diet (80-10-10) she changed her skin care routing completely. Instead of covering up with makeup and using lotions, potions and tonics she gave everything up completely. She said that she stopped putting anything on her skin, except water and that she’d use a dry skin brush before washing.

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40 Below Fruity You Tube Video: Healing Acne & Dry Skin

WHAT??? Stop putting everything on my skin?? This chick must be nuts, is what I thought to myself. Still it made sense and something pulled at me to give it a try.

I packed away all of my skin care products and makeup and vowed to give it a shot for a month.

The reason for doing this skin care and diet routine was simple. I know animal products are not meant to be consumed by humans for a variety of reason and therefore create an unbalance in our bodies, including our largest organ, the skin.

Makeup clogs the pores while lotions; creams and face washes unbalance the natural bacteria on our skin and irritate it. The skin also needs to breathe and has a hard time doing so when it’s covered with products- even when natural.

Skin brushing, opens the pores, takes of the dry, dead skin and stimulates new skin cells and encourages circulation and breathing.

When you think about it, it makes perfect sense.

The first few days and weeks were some of the most awkward, painful moments that I can remember (on such a superficial matter).

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My skin was so dry, it felt like it was going to crack off completely. The acne got worse than ever and my resolve in sticking to the routine and even my new 80-10-10 lifestyle got weaker by the day.

I wanted to give up so badly. I wanted to cover up my face and look like everyone else more than anything and even though I was starting to feel great eating so many fruits and vegetables, I also started feeling very alone.

But I pushed on because I had a feeling somewhere inside me that this made sense and I needed to see it through the month goal I gave myself.

One month later of continuing to eat a low fat, raw, vegan diet, keeping my skin make-up free, lotion free and chemical free while dry brushing every day, I started to see a small improvement. There was a light at the end of the tunnel!

Two-three months later my skin healed to the point that I all I had left were scars and no new breakouts.

Over the course of six months, my skin and scars became clearer, more consistently than any other time in my life.

I started eating cooked food again after three months, as I was working on a new boat and found it very difficult to maintain the 80-10-10 lifestyle. I stayed Vegan (and still am) and kept my fat intake low, while choosing my foods wisely and keeping up with my skin routine.

I also started counseling with Disease Avoidance Specialist, Don Bennett of Health101.org and he insisted on me getting my Vitamin D levels checked. When I did I found out that I was dangerously low on Vitamin D and that could have major consequences for my skin and hormone health.

I started taking a therapeutic dose of Vitamin D shortly after and believe this is also a contribution to my skin balancing itself.

Additionally, and equally as important I changed my lifestyle to make sure I was getting enough sleep, water, and exercise each day.

Two years later, with consistent effort with my diet, supplements and lifestyle change my skin is consistently clear. I still get a round of small breakouts and maybe a cystic pimple every six months or so but as a whole I am enamored with my skin. I am thankful every day for the experience I had with acne and what it taught me about myself. It was also the catalyst for me to dig deeper than I ever imagined with my health and create a healthy lifestyle that I truly love and cherish.

 Makeup free photos!


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Angela

26 Comments

  • jamie says:

    Thanks for sharing your story! Just curious was it specifically the half diet or did you find you had any triggers like wheat/caffeine/soy/dairy?

    • angelaorecchio says:

      Hi Jamie,

      Eating high carb and low fat is ideal as is, eating more raw fruits and vegetables. When I first started the HCLF lifestyle I went three months fully raw, following the 80 10 10 diet. I also got my Vit D levels tested and found out I was low. I started taking a therapeutic dose of Vit D as directed by Don Bennett at Health101.org. I believe a combination of this, in addition to not wearing makeup or using any products on my face definitely cleared up my skin. Now, I don’t follow 80 10 10 to a T, however, I have continued everything else (skin care routine, fitness, water, sleep and Vit D) I now eat more fat than I did in the beginning and my skin is still clear for the most part. If I eat too much fat over a period of time, I do get a breakout or two. The cleaner you eat the better for your skin!

  • jamie says:

    Sorry meant to say HCLF not half feet.

  • nico says:

    Hey!!

    So you still do not use ANYTHING on your face..just water+brush?

    Your face is amazing!

    Do you ever incorporate rice/grains in your diet when you mention cooked? Do any vegetables or fruits you notice to maek you break out?

    Thanks for sharing this story! amazing

    • angelaorecchio says:

      Hi Nicole,

      Thank you for the compliment! I still do not put ANYTHING on my face except water and a clean dry brush. I even use bottled water if the water is too harsh. My skin is just too sensitive. I do eat grains, rice and quinoa mostly. No vegetables or fruit noticeably break my skin out, however, oils do and if I’m eating too much fat in general. Once, recently I was cooked a veggie burger that supposed to be Vegan and ended up having cheese in it. My face became splotchy and red over night on one side. It’s amazing, the body needs consistency and when it gets what it wants, it rewards us 🙂 I hope this helps. All my best, Angela

  • Aphrille says:

    Hi Angela!
    I had a similar experience, but mine wasn’t adult acne.
    I had been raw vegan for 2 years till 2 weeks ago that I decided to add potatoes and rice and soups (no salt, oil, garlic or onion), and I’ve been breaking out lately, like so much. In those 2 years, I was fruitarian as well for 8 months, but my fat intake was really high, even though I developed a lot of cellulite, my skin was really clear and smooth (no acne at all).
    I decided to go low fat, that’s why I added starches and Im getting just terrible results 🙁
    Why do you think is this happening?

    • angelaorecchio says:

      Hi Aphrille,

      While I can’t know for sure, it obviously sounds like it has to do with the big change in your diet. If you’re lowering your fat, you could be detoxing the oils etc from your skin. If that’s the case, I’d drink more water, get more sleep, dry skin brush and make sure my skin can breathe by not putting any makeup or soaps on it.

      It also could be that you’re reacting to the starches. If you’re happy with adding the starches back in, then maybe give it another month and see if you adjust.

      Or, you could get rid of the starches and eat more low fat raw vegan and see how that goes. I know it can be frustrating but keep trying and keep a positive outlook! You will figure this out!

  • Claire says:

    Hi Angela. Great post, I loved it. My skin has been horrible since sixth grade and I guess it could have been the hormone changes and all, but I really do not want to be putting any synthetic hormones or medication into my body. I find this post so helpful because it would be so great to live a healthy lifestyle and have great skin. I am such a foodie and pray that I will be able to commit to this lifestyle.

    • angelaorecchio says:

      Hi Claire,

      I completely understand how you feel. I have been watching a lot of Dr. Morse’s videos and I have concluded that the reason I started getting acne when I went Vegan was because my body actually started detoxing then and my kidneys, adrenals and lymph system could not keep up with the demand. When your body can’t deal with getting rid of toxins it pushes them through the skin. This will clear up when your body balances for sure. Also, if you’re a true foodie you will LOVE this lifestyle because it’s real food for humans and everything about it beautiful especially when you get over addictions and start to really taste the food for what it is. I struggle with this still but I have glimpses of it and it gets easier too. All my best. Hugs!

  • Sarah says:

    Love your story! I have had horrible acne my entire life on my back, chest, and face. The first thing I ever did that actually helped was birth control. Fast forward 6 or 7 years down the road and I started thinking how bad it must be for my body to be constantly controlled by artificial hormones, not to mention my skin wasn’t totally clear, and I was still breaking out more than I wanted. I wanted a way out, but needed a way to care for my skin after the hormones wore off. After some research, I decided to go vegan. A year later, I am still vegan and have most recently been experimenting with HCLF with great results. Soon, I will be ready to try and get my body off birth control. But I’m not going to lie, I’m absolutely terrified. It has been my security blanket for so long. I feel at this point my body is trying to detox and I’m not allowing it to, so this is something I must do. Soon 😀

    • angelaorecchio says:

      Hi Sarah,

      Thank you for the comment! That is wonderful to hear about your progress. Getting of birth control can be scary because of the changes your body will go through but so worth it in the long run. Just go slow and be patient with yourself and your body. I’d just tell myself everyday that I’m healing and I trust my body to do what it takes as long as I’m giving it the proper nutrition, sleep, water etc. There is always a silver lining. Cleansing can be tough but incredibly rewarding at the same time. Good luck & take care!

  • heather says:

    Omg i love what u wrote in the comments about the body needing consistency and about too much fat and oil can cause breakouts, ive been eating high carb low fat vegan and the other night i was craving vegan chocolate cake and i “cheated” and the only “bad” thing in the recipe was like a cup of olive oil-no lie a few days later my face broke out sooooo bad like huge pussy pimples and blackheads everywhere i was so mad. Never again seriously. Never. Again.

    • angelaorecchio says:

      Hi Heather, sorry to hear about what happened! I’ve been there! However, the longer I eat a clean Vegan diet, the less my body reacts when I do eat them on occasion.

  • Marie-Eve says:

    Thanks for your post… It might help me with my breakouts! I was just wondering what king of brush do you use? I don’t have a lot of money to invest! Thanks again!

  • Jessica says:

    Do you know how many grams of fat a day you typically consume? I’m trying to quantify how many grams a day is considered low-fat.

    Thank you!

    • angelaorecchio says:

      Honestly, jessica I don’t. I work on a boat where options are often limited so I eat lower some days and higher, other days. Low fat in medical text books is 10% of your overall calorie intake over a day, month or year, however you add your calories. 10% in a day would be around 1/4 -1/2 of an avocado depending on the size of the avo. Or you could eat a bit of nuts and seeds like tahini for example. You can plug everything into chronometer.com and and see how things measure out.

  • Em says:

    Great post. I know you said you don’t put any lotions on your skin and so was wondering how do you protect your skin from the sun?

    • angelaorecchio says:

      Hi Em,

      Great question. Coconut oil has SPF 15 and I only go out uncovered for a short time. Then, I cover up as much as possible and get out of the sun. I have olive skin and don’t burn easily so if you have fairer skin you might have to adjust. I do use a more natural sunscreen such as Zinc if I have to. I especially put it on my nose, ears, hairline, shoulders and upper chest.

  • heidi says:

    I am so excited to learn of this diet. I have been vegan for almost 4 years and suffered from very painful acne all my life. I recently went on birth control to try to help and I feel horrible. I eat a lot of oil and processed vegan cheeses/mayo/soy products. I am going to give this a try!

    • angelaorecchio says:

      That is fantastic Heidi! You will change your life. Just please be gentle with yourself and realize it’s a beautiful journey that often takes time.

  • Samantha says:

    Hi Angela,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story! I have been a HCLF vegan for one month now and already seeing HUGE improvements in my skin. However I am still consistently getting breakouts. Basically I went from 30 pimples on my face to now about 8-10. I did not do the fully raw, but eat just fruits, veggies, and starches (rice, quinoa, beans). Do you think the couple months of fully raw was critical to getting clear skin? Or do you think cooked food is okay as long as it is no fat?

    Thank you for your help and advice!

    • angelaorecchio says:

      Hi Samantha,

      That is fantastic news about your improvement. I don’t know if your acne will clear up completely eating cooked. When I went back to eating low fat cooked my skin continued to improve. I do see break outs if I eat too many salts or oils. For me, I truly believe it has to do with not weighing down my kidneys and liver so I can cleanse properly as well as keeping my skin balanced by not putting anything on it. I hope you continue to see improvements and be patient, you’re doing the right things!

  • Jenny says:

    Hi Angela.

    Your story truly inspires me. I have acne but can’t get rid of it, though I am using skincare products for acne. I have to try this raw eating I like eating whole raw fruits and veggies anyway. I will watch videos of Kristina too for other tips. Thanks!

  • Alicia Moore says:

    Raw fruits and vegetables do help to fight acne. And it is healthy for skin too.

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