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Healing acne

I’ll be honest: one of the primary reasons I became interested in the raw food diet/lifestyle in the first place was because of the vibrant, glowing skin that so many raw folk seem to have. All these forums always seem to say that raw eating leads to smooth, soft, glowing skin.

Now, I realize I’m being a little impatient here. I’ve been eating about 75% raw for about 5 months, and I only just went 100% raw on May 19. The same day that I stopped drinking alcohol and coffee. But I still have really terrible, painful, ugly adult acne. Deep, red, throbbing cystic acne, that I’ve suffered from throughout all of my 20’s (about 8 years – strangely, I didn’t have bad acne as a teenager, but this developed later). As much as I strive to be an all-natural girl, I just don’t feel comfortable going without makeup because of this condition. It causes a lot of stress in my life (which, in turn, probably makes the acne worse, in a perpetuation cycle).

Right now I’m working on a 3-pronged approach: 1) patience while I stick with a 100% raw diet, and trying to reduce my fat intake. 2) drinking lots of water 3) massaging my skin with coconut oil twice a day, while thinking messages like “love” and “health.”

I’m wondering if anyone can give me any other advice as to healing acne naturally? What cleansing and moisturizing products have worked for you? What type of diet has worked for you? For those of you who have overcome acne through a raw lifestyle, how long did it take? Are there any special foods I should be eating and/or avoiding?

I will really appreciate any insights and experiences that anyone can provide. Thanks!



  • I overcame my acne, which was lifelong, simply by kicking out dairy, caffein, wheat, and cutting way down on meat (I’m not a vegetarian, but don’t eat much of it). After that I went mostly raw too, further improving my skin. It takes a few months of patience, something I know is hard to come by. If your acne is along your jawline, it’s very possible it’s due to hormones being out of whack, meaning you might also have menstrual issues like heavy or painful periods. I did a 10-day Master Cleanse and that was great for my skin too.

  • Hi there. Well, I became a raw vegan about two weeks ago, but before that I lived purely of cereals and some veggies, no dairy, no sugar… nothing processed. i had to wait 6 months to have a smooth skin. Then I made an experiment, I tryed dairy again, a week later: Super Acne! So basically what you need is patience =) Good luck!

  • Our daughter has got the worse and strangest looking acne. She has had it in her hairline since she was two yo. But now she is getting ready to turn ten. Somewhere between the age of eight and nine, it spread to other parts of her face. Her forehead was covered. I have seen people with awful acne, but none that every resembled anything like this. (they are all over her forehead like you would not believe, but that is not what is strange about it. It is the appearance. Some look like little pin pricks deep under the skin. Others flame up and look so painful to touch. Where the pin prick looking ones are the skin is smooth. I have not ever seen acne like this.)

    Anyway, we started drinking Green Smoothies on April 2, 2007 and her face started to clear up. I was so happy. Beautiful, clear skin and not a mark left on her face. After a week of drinking green smoothies we began to eat Raw. But over the year, her acne has returned. I am still watching and try to learn what helps heal her skin. Lately, it is starting to clear up again. What we have been doing SPROUTS! I have noticed a lot lately, that anytime we put sprouts in our green smoothies and salads, her face shows a tremendous improvement over night. If she has had sprouts at sometime during the morning, my husband and I can even see a difference that evening. So, what have we been doing a lot of lately….good old salads with lots of sprouts!!! Sprouts in everything! Results…clearer skin…more and more every day.

    I believe the key is in the Greens with lots of Sprouts!

  • Simplyraw, I’d recommend you keep a food diary for your daughter so that you can keep track of whatever it is that’s causing such skin upset. It worries me that what can be seen on the skin is a reflexion of the insides, so it’s not just an issue of esthetic, but overall health.

  • Carmentina -

    Thanks for your concern and advice. I fully agree with you, that our skin is a reflection of the insides and our overall health. I also agree with your advice about the food diary. I wanted to let you know we are already on that. Please know I really appreciate your caring words of concern and advice. lol

    Thanks! :)

  • If you search the forums, then you will find other suggestions on clearing acne.

    At the end of the month, I am going to try blessed herbs for my acne. I will let you all know if that helped.

    I have noticed that if I eat inflamatory fruits (sweet, tropical fruits), then I have a bad breakout.

  • I would start with keeping a very careful diary of what foods you eat might that cause the acne to worsen. Also, I would find a more natural way of cleansing the skin and skip the soaps, detergents and moisturizers. They are bad and can only cause harm. Get a clean, cotton cloth(no softers used and make sure it is well rinsed in the wash machine) and rinse your face with cool water and wipe gently(don’t scrub) with the cloth. That is all your face needs, not scrubbing and shredding and dousing with moisturizers. Your body will provide all the natural, fresh skin oils it needs.

    As you already know, cystic acne is not a matter of cleansing, so don’t go haywire trying to find products, natural or not, to put on it. Pay attention to the diet, stop wearing make up(I know this is very hard) and give your body a chance to heal, hon. It can take a long time. Your body needs time to figure out what is going on and to stop attacking itself.

    I notice my own acne becomes horrible, painful and acidy/burning, when I eat walnuts. I don’t know why. I can eat a few every couple of days, but if I try to eat an ounce, omg, awful. So keep your foods simple and easy so it’s easier to keep track in your food diary of what is an irritant and give your body’s immune system time to sort it’s stuff out. After a few weeks of the diary and water only cleaning, then reevalutate. (If your skin gets really greasy, you might try a very mild solution of baking soda in clean water, splash lightly on skin and rinse).

  • a naturopath suggested 2 things to me when i asked: 1) saunas 2) morning urine (i’m not kidding!): it has something in it that helps your skin heal. i guess that’s why we use it for snake bites right?

    HOWEVER, something i’ve been doing has cleared my skin almost completely and miraculously (ok, it was just a little “detox” skin trouble, but it was seriously bothering me)!!! i have been eating mostly fresh fruit (lots) and greens (lots) and some veggies. but no overt fat. fat is in small quantities in the least obvious things: spinach, even watermelon! and i did not believe it could be true, but cutting it out almost completely and getting my calories from fruit (i’m on day 4) is like a miracle.

    i actually woke up this morning startled by the smoothness of my skin when i touched it… and when i looked in the mirror i’d NEVER seen it so healthy.

  • p.s. i did also notice improvement when i cut out dairy & meat (4 years ago) and when i went raw (1 year ago).

    p.p.s. the reason this surprised me SO much is that it went against everything i’ve ever read about fruit (that it will MAKE you breakout from detox)

  • I am breaking out right now impressively, but I don’t eat very many greens, just a ton of fruit. I feel like in my case the breakouts have to be detox related. I’ll try to eat more greens and see if that helps.

    I notice that I break out pretty bad once a month…then my skin mysteriously clears and then I break out again the next month. Maybe hormones? My period skipped me again. This is the second time it’s happened since I’ve been raw.

  • pianissima….i’ve broken out a little (definately detox), but i’m amazed by the creamy smooth texture my skin has taken…

    as most of us are aware it is the ‘good fats’ that are responsible for good skin, the best of which seem to be found in fruits and veg, perfectly packaged in optimum proportions

  • pianissima, it’s interesting to hear you say that! i’ve had the opposite reaction to fat—lately i’ve been ingesting a daily dose of coconut oil, too much actually, and i get uncomfortably full, but the upside to it is that my skin has never been softer, glowed more, or had more even skin tone. In addition, I apply it topically. OK, I’ve also been drinking A TON of water and coconut water, so perhaps I can’t necessarily pin my increasingly lovely skin (if I may say so myself) to only the coconut oil, but it does look like the oil didn’t hurt.

  • autumnides—i think it’s all relative to what your diet was before. any improvement, or omission of something unhealthy is going to help out.

    moth—if i don’t eat greens i feel AWFUL! i definitely need the greens, and a LOT of them. =)

  • ok. i had another thought: it looks like i am getting about 25 times the amount of vitamin A that i need. that could also be contributing to my skin healing… hmmm…

    (i’ve been eating a LOT of watermelon… super charged with vitamin A)

  • I went raw mainly because of my acne and got really frustrated when it got worse the first couple months. I did a couple of fasts (enemas during the fasts), started walking everyday for an hour, got lots of sunshine, minimized my fat intake and just sort of tried to not focus on my skin. Within a month my skin cleared. I couldn’t believe it. I’m not sure what helped the most but I guess you just have to look at everything holistically. Maybe my skin wouldn’t clear if I was missing one element of my regime..you never know. ohh and eat lots of greens :) good luck!

  • my skin looks about 25 times better than it did when i wasn’t raw, but definitely not perfect yet! the thing thats really helped me (besides raw food and lots of water and sleep) has been applying coconut oil topically. seemed kind of counterintuitive (i.e. oily skin=no oil applied topically) but its amazing how much it works.

  • i read somewhere that it’s good to let your skin breathe once in a while (say, for about 7 days), meaning to give it a break from oils + moisturizers. i’ve tried this when my breakouts were at thier worst and it’s helped to diminish them, even overnight. it’s not a long-term solution, but i’m guessing that just like the insides of our body, when your facial area needs to get it’s ‘detoxing’ done, it may help to get oils/moisturizers out of it’s way for a time.

    if you suspect that it is hormonal (or that it gets worse during that time), try taking the herb ‘red clover’ in tea or supplement form. milk thistle also works well as a cleanser for your body and skin…

    for me it helps to think in two terms when dealing with acne: 1. cleansing or clearing your skin/body, and then 2. building up your ‘beautifying nutrients’ (for lack of better term)... these would include fats, antioxidant superfoods,etc. and the miracle i’ve found for glowing skin: fresh aloe vera. if nothing else works, this certainly will improve your all around look. + please don’t skip the fats. they are wonderful for your skin!

    one last thing you may wanna try is omitting all grains from your diet. this worked for me.

  • My skin has got uber bad over the last few months – I’ve been raw 9 months and had acne for 14 years now! I’ve just ordered the 80/10/10 book and tomorrow is Day 1 for me avoiding nuts, seeds, fats (minimally) and cacao.

    I’m really hopeful it works because I’m at the end of my tether!

    I’m going to try coconut butter tonight as loads of people have said it’s great for skin!

  • I haven’t posted on this subject in a while, but I wanted to let everyone know that I’ve been using jojoba oil on recommendation from someone on another forum. Jojoba is really similar to the skin’s natural sebum so it absorbs well, fights bacteria, and feels really great. Apparently coconut oil can be really drying, particularly if you’re in a cold climate, so jojoba is a better skin care product for many people.

    I really love it! My acne is still there, but I think it will still take months of being fully raw and using only natural products on my face for it to clear up. I have also been using the jojoba on my hair instead of styling products. I have really long curly hair, and I just lightly coat my palms with the oil (after washing and conditioning) and rub my hands through my hair. My hair is very soft and my curls are controlled. I switched to jojoba because I was afraid that my unnatural hair products might have been contributing to my breakouts.

    I will update again after some time on the jojoba and 100% raw to let everyone know how my skin is going.

    lollypolly, please let us know how your skin fares on the 80/10/10 diet!

  • my husband went to see a naturopath for his acne. he had a whole food panel done on his blood to see what he was allergic too. it was pretty random stuff like flax, bananas, garlic, beans, peanut. in 6 weeks of not eating anything he was allergic to his face was clear. so, it might be worth checking for. his allergies were not present in any other form other than acne.

  • well you are definitely doing the right thing by going raw! i agree with amberablue that you may want to do further research into the elimination of fats… personally i’ve found them to be excellent for my skin, but of course we are all different. i also am someone who did NOT have success with coconut oil… in fact, i rarely break out, and when i used it on my face a couple of years ago for a period of time, i broke out SOOOOOOO badly. so that may be another case of works for some not for others. (i do love it on my body though) also, while i believe sending energy to your skin is a good thing, i would really encourage you NOT to massage or rub your skin at ALL, particularly if you have cystic acne, i assure you it will only push the infection in deeper. only touch your face when you must, and if you decide to put anything on it, use a tiny amount, and pat it on very gently. also, echoing others, as difficult as it is i know to let go of, makeup is really one of the worst things you can do for your skin. if you really must use makeup, you may want to look at the mineral powder foundations out there… many of them are all natural, and they really allow your skin to breathe!

    and i think bitt’s suggestion of visiting a naturopath is a good one… sounds like her husband had amazing results with it!

  • I’ve tried alot of these things and it has certainly helped… i.e. giving up dairy, getting hormones checked out. another thing that i do to help things along is use hydrogen peroxide as a toner. i had read on some natural healing site that it was good for acne so why not? the first round was terrible, i think because i was putting it on and leaving it on. it would pull all the bad crap out of my face, but it would just sit there, so my acne got worse. when i thought about it more, i started just putting it all over my face just before my shower. i really wet my face with it and i can feel it tingling, sometimes i get little white spots. then after a minute or two i wash my face in the shower. i didnt notice a difference for about a month since my face had to heal, but i wasnt getting any new breakouts. nowadays i still get the odd one, but no where near as bad as i did before. and it’s just a quick wipe that only takes a second.

  • Hi Vilde-chaya,

    I thought this link may help you. http://www.acneyoda.com/buy_now.html

    I’ve suffered from acne for years. When I moved to Germany I was absolutely desperate to get rid of it. New city, new life, new skin! Anyhow, I spent copious amounts of time on the internet trying to find solutions and I stumbled across this ebook (link above). Out of pure desperation I ordered it. Funnily, it was my first online purchase ever. Anyhow, it work wonders for me. I’m pretty positive that it’s all raw.. ( cant remember now) but he does recommend kefir in one of the steps. As I am allergic to all dairy, I skipped the Kafir and had fresh organic sauerkraut mixed with the recommended oils.

    Being on the raw diet was the next natural step after taking the information from this book. He did not suggest it at all, but I am not a big fan of supplements, never have been, and this book tells you to take a hell of a lot of them. I did this for a while, until I thought I was stable and then moved on to higher health.

    Please check it out. There are heaps of forums written about it. Out of all the comments I’ve read, I only read one negative one, and I think it was from a young boy who really couldn’t commit to the hard regime it introduces.

    Anyhow, It was wonderful for me. I hope it helps someone else out there.

    Good Luck.

  • At 40, my acne got much better when I gave up dairy and got rid of my candida. Google Candida Spit Test and check it out!

  • Raw, unfiltered Apple cider vinegar is a natural way to restore the ph balance of your skin. I agree Raw is the way to go in the long run, but there might be a lot of toxins coming out through your pores. ACV will help. :)

  • You are all so full of wonderful, insightful advice! If there’s any one piece of information I have gathered about healinga acne, it’s that it IS possible for everyone, but is also completely different for everyone.

    I am really interested in the idea of consulting a naturopath and having tests done for possible allergies. I will also avoid the massaging and try the ACV (I’ve actually heard about this before, so I often include it in my salad dressings).

    Thanks for all your great advice. I will keep you posted.

  • I use a supplement by Nature’s Plus called DIM. It has been wonderful in balancing my hormones and is made of vegetables-can’t go wrong there!

  • I got a test done and discovered citrus was an issue for me (including tomatoes). Apparently citrus can cause a lot of cystic acne.

    I am currently following the principles of 811 in that fat + fruit sugar = bad acne. As I couldn’t do without the fruit the fat had to go. It has meant however that I’m craving more heavy based cooked foods. I’ve just dropped my 100% raw to assist me with this.

    I still can’t overdo fruit but at least I can have more than 1 portion a day which is what I had gone down to…

    I also take pills from my naturopathic doctor which seem to work in fits and bursts.

  • I got my acne under control about a year and a half ago using a neutrogena product but now that I’m raw I occasionally get acne during my time of the month. It really sucks and I’d like to keep it from happening. From what I’ve gleaned here I think I can try a few new things to get it under control.

    I haven’t noticed my skin getting any better with raw food but I still use my regimen and moisturizers because I have naturally really dry skin. is olive oil alright to put directly on the skin for moisturizing? can I use aloe too? I’m afraid to stop using my regimen but I”m wanting soft skin. any suggestions?

  • My 13 year old was plagued with a horrible acne problem. She eats SAD. She finally agreed to do a 5 day water cure, where she measured out 1/2 her body weight in ounces of water and drank this daily. On the 3rd day she showed up for breakfast with a clear face! Nothing but water! It’s free! Don’t knock it until you try it, OK? www.watercure2.com.

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