I've had acne for almost 30 years. It started with a few pimples when I was 12 and escalated into cysts when I was 20. A coworker actually said to me, "God, what happened to your face?" "Oh," I wish I'd replied, "I bet you say that to all the girls." What's the French word for repartee you think of as you're walking out of the party, down the steps?
My sister had acne too. She was good-looking until she'd been on meth for about a year, and afterwards lived on coffee, Pepsi and burritos. She blamed her acne on--wait for it--green beans and washcloths.
I should have taken a clue from her diet. My poison isn't Pepsi, but Coke. When I stopped drinking Coke in 2007 to help my stomach, my skin cleared up. It was less dry and flaky, too. So except for falling off the wagon and going through caffeine withdrawal again in 2007, all has been well.
Then I started drinking Coke Zero a few weeks ago. "Since it doesn't have sugar," I thought, "it'll be fine." A crop of pimples proved me wrong. So, goodbye Coke--again. It's back to water, diet rootbeer, diet Dr. Pepper and tea--they don't seem to affect my skin.
My socially inept coworker aside, I've usually gotten compliments on my skin, since I've constantly been doing something to keep the acne in check. In a nutshell, here's my skin care program. It might not work for you, but I don't think there's anything in it that would be harmful for most people.
- 100mg zinc per day
- Burt's Bees Orange Essence Facial Cleaner
- Queen Helene Mint Julep Mask applied at night to pimples
- Neutrogena Anti-Wrinkle Anti-Blemish cream for rare breakouts
- No Coke
- No wheat
- Low-carb, high-fat diet
I also have some good genes. My mom has wonderful skin and looks quite a bit younger than she is. We both have a lot of fat on our faces, too, which makes us look younger.
Here's a rundown of everything I've tried and the results I got:
Prescription and OTC acne medicines:Benzoyl peroxide: no effect.
Cleocin T: mildly effective.
Retin-A: very effective. Really dried out my skin, though.
Accutane: effective while I took it, but made my pores large.
Salicylic acid: effective.
Skin care products:
Queen Helene Mint Julep Mask: dries and shrinks existing pimples.
GNC Hair, Skin & Nail Vitamins: helps prevent acne.
Special soaps for acne: no effect.
Cold cream: too heavy for my skin, especially in summer.
Green beans: well, whatever you have to tell yourself.
Wheat: reducing wheat really helped my skin when I first took this measure in the late 90s. It wasn't 100% effective, but helpful enough that I kept it up through the years.
Low-carb, high-fat diet: this has been great for my skin, but doesn't prevent all breakouts.
Coke: Coke was it.