How I'm Beating Cystic Acne Holistically

This is the story of how I began my journey of healing my acne, how I stabilized my skin, and how I approach the healing process now. So many of you reached out to share your own experiences with acne after I first started sharing mine. It feels funny to share these photos and stories with you after years of trying to cover up my acne and pretend it wasn’t there. If one person out there reads this and feels inspired to look at their acne a different way, then my work is done.


Having acne can make you feel like you’re alone, but the truth is that cystic acne is very common. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, millions of adult women across the globe (including celebrities) stuffer from cystic acne. Yes, acne is a part of life, but it doesn’t define who you are.  


I’ve had acne since I was in about the 5th grade and spent my teens and college years and was on basically evert acne drug under the sun including oral antibiotics, Spironolactone, and Accutane not once but twice. They cleared my skin for a while, but their effects went away as soon as I stopped taking them. What prompted my recent dive into understanding acne from a holistic point of view is the flare up of cystic acne that began about a year-ish ago when I was 25.  I was vegan and gluten-free at the time and ate a Whole Foods diet and couldn’t understand why this was happening. After all, I put in my time with acne when I was younger. Acne isn’t for adults, right?

My Acne Story

My Acne Story

I went to my dermatologist’s office looking for an answer to my skin issues and the one I got was her suggestion to go on antibiotics or Accutane again. I didn’t know how to solve my acne by myself but I did know one thing: I didn’t want to go on any more acne medication. I instead wanted to heal my skin naturally.


Here’s what no dermatologist ever told me and what I had to learn for myself: there is no magic pill or potion that will cure your acne. Acne appears because of an internal imbalance in your system. It’s up to you to find what’s wrong and find the solution. You can’t solve the imbalance by just switching mediations or healing through food alone. You have to treat it holistically through the right food, proper sleep, stress, control, clean skincare products, and the balancing of your hormones


I started my journey by reading as much as I could about holistic methods of treating acne on the internet and in books, but the best resource that I found was a book on Ayuraveda and skin called “Absolute Beauty”. Reading this book was the first time that I heard anyone talk about acne treatments that weren’t all about just zapping your face with the strongest medication possible. If you’re looking for a deeper dive into the world of Ayuraveda and skin, I highly recommend it, though it is quite a long read FYI.


I found that though I had a relatively clean diet, caffeine, stress, sugar, lack of sleep, hydration, non-natural skincare products, hormonal imbalances and alcohol all played a role in my acne. Stress, for me, was the biggest thing on my list of acne triggers. I was in a big and very trying growth period professionally during the last few years which made my acne flare up. I was subsequently then stressed about having acne which in turn made my skin flare up even more. It wasn’t until I started taking mindful steps to control my stress that I noticed what a huge difference it made in my skin and body.


The good news in this story is that month by month over the last year, I was slowly been able to reverse my cystic acne. It’s still there. I still have zits. I recognize that I’m human and that acne is a part of me that may never be “cured”. I’m happy and feel great and that’s what counts.


I am by no means a skin expert and am not a doctor, but I wanted to share with you things I wish someone told me when I began my acne struggles. Here are tangible steps I took to help me clear my skin

-       Keeping up with eating no dairy and watching the sugar. I no longer ascribe to any specific food dogma and am always trying to find what feels good. For me this month it’s eating for my Pitta dosha and finding balance through food.

-       Switching from coffee to matcha and drinking lots of water

-       Treating alcohol as something for a special, not daily occasion

-       5 minutes of daily meditation

-       Movement in the morning – walks, yoga, running

-       Switching to non-hormonal birth control

-       Finding the right skincare products


Thank you for reading this and for your interest in holistic ways of healing acne! Remember that you’re not in this alone and you’ve got this. I created a Skincare Facebook Group as a resource for you to connect with others who are healing their acne and share tips and support.