Since hitting 25 I’ve noticed two things: Facebook has become a feed of engagement announcements and several ladies (myself included) are suddenly dealing with problem skin. I should add the two are not mutually exclusive – but pointing out a new breakout is most definitely dumpable offence.
Hot on the heels of a brief period of probably-the-best-skin-I’ve-ever-had followed the last 6 months; changes in texture, angry breakouts and extensive, stubborn scarring. After three months of trying to control my skin with products, I sought advice from a dermatologist. He suggested antibiotics (which I’d already been taking for 9 weeks with no positive effect) and alluded to taking them for up to a year. If these didn’t work, he told me my options were an oral contraceptive pill or Roaccutane. I’m not adverse to conventional medicine, but it simply didn’t seem like a solution after years of generally good skin. Confident that none of the products I was using were contributing, and after a lot of reading (I found Liz Earle’s Skin Secrets book and the Pai Skincare blog particularly helpful), I decided to take myself off the antibiotics and try supplements.
My diet is pretty good; I cook everything from scratch, eat plenty of vegetables and avoid the foods I know cause me dryness/eczema (gluten) and inflammation/acne (dairy). However there are so many variables, for example depletions of certain vitamins and minerals caused by stress, that I think there’s sometimes a case for supplementation.
I’m not a doctor or nutritionist; this is simply what I’m taking and I’m staggered at how it has turned months of frustration around in just two weeks. After three days of taking the supplements, I realised I was waking up without bizarre rashes and new breakouts for the first time in months, and the strange flare ups that sometimes happened during the day had stopped. I haven’t had a new blemish for two weeks, my skin feels smoother and calmer, and existing marks continue to heal more quickly. My daily stash is currently at 10 tablets, spaced throughout the day (taken in the order below), but as my skin continues to improve I’ll be looking to reduce or cut out some of the tablets.
- Omega 3
Omega 3 is fantastic for reducing inflammation and keeping the skin healthy. Bare Biology are undeniably pricey (I bought in bulk to get 25% off which meant an outlay of about £120…gulp) but are great quality and the tiny size makes taking them a lot more pleasant. I keep the open tub in the fridge to ensure freshness.
Bare Biology Lion Heart High Strength Capsules
Skin is often said to be a reflection of the gut, so I’m doing what I can to keep my digestive system healthy. Good quality probiotics can help with nutrient absorption so, fingers crossed, everything else I’m taking should work more effectively too. I’ve been using BioKult for three years and get fewer colds and bugs since taking them.
Bio-Kult Probiotic Capsules
- Vitamin D3
Everyone knows Vitamin D as the sunshine vitamin, but it’s not so easy to keep levels topped up when you work indoors and live in a not-so-sunny climate. It can help to reduce inflammation and improve mood (less cortisol=fewer flare ups).
Doctor’s Best Vitamin D3 5000iu
One of the best tips from Liz Earle’s Skin Secrets book suggested supplementing with Vitamin A and Zinc to help speed healing and balance hormones. Zinc picolinate is the form most easily absorbed by the body.
Solgar Zinc Picolinate 22mg
- Vitamin A
As both Accutane and Retin-A contain forms of Vitamin A, it’s a bit of a no-brainer that it can have a positive effect on acne; it can help suppress androgens, reduce excess oil and reduce inflammation (can you see a theme emerging here?!).
Solgar Dry Vitamin A 5000iu
- Agnus castus
This is the one supplement I’m dubious about as it is a herbal remedy with not a lot of scientific basis behind it. However, I actually used to feed this (and magnesium!) to my horse years ago to help balance his hormones and keep him on an even keel and it always seemed to work. The theory is Agnus Castus can hamper the androgens which can exacerbate adult acne. So far I haven’t noticed any effects that could be directly related to this, but I’ll keep it up for a month or two.
Bio Health Periagna Agnus Castus 400mg
Magnesium has a calming effect on the nervous system which can help improve sleep…and better sleep = better skin. It also helps to regulate cortisol, which I’ve found really helps where the main culprit of flare ups is stress. As an added bonus, I think this may have played a role in bringing an end to a cycle of nasty migraines.
Viridian Magnesium Citrate with B6
I should mention that on the same day I started the supplements, I introduced Pai’s awesome new Perfect Balance Copaiba and Zinc Blemish Serum*. I’m using this twice a day, often mixed with two to three drops of Trilogy Rosehip Oil, and it seems to be really helping to rapidly heal and calm the breakouts that are still around. It can be dotted on as a spot treatment overnight and has none of the associated dryness, irritation or stinging of other anti-blemish treatments.