After ten long years of breakout after breakout, I can say with much relief that I have finally found peace with my skin. As most of us experienced, it all started during puberty. I seemed to have it worse than your average teenager, experiencing breakouts on not only my face but my chest and back as well. If only I knew what was in store for me when I turned 20.

Just as I thought I was outgrowing my pimple phase, adult acne hit me full force. I had deep, painful cystic acne in all the previous places but the inflammation became rash-like in appearance on my neck. I was so embarrassed I tried to cover it with heaps of foundation every day. This attempt to hide from reality didn’t do me or my skin any good. I simply irritated my pores more by plugging them up and continued to receive heartfelt yet misguided condolences for catching poison oak on my face. Ouch.

My dermatologist insisted I try a drug like Accutane, but I knew there had to be another way to clear my skin that didn’t involve such harsh chemicals. That’s when the research began. I realized how many different types and causes of acne there are and that the main culprit of adult acne is typically hormones and poor gut health. And so, refusing to continue as normal, I changed my lifestyle. I cut out endocrine disruptors such as dairy and soy, processed sugars and other unnecessary food items that can negatively influence hormones and digestion- replacing such items with whole foods and herbal supplements that were much more nutritious. I started to take my fitness to new levels, incorporating yoga and exercise into my day to day routine. I increased my water intake and decreased my stress through movement, meditation and journaling.

All of these internal practices were critical for not only healing my skin but also improving my overall wellbeing. These newly cultivated habits guided me towards natural and organic products, including my skin care. When I began to actually read the labels and research what went into all of these lotions, creams and serums I was shocked to find so many toxic and harmful ingredients! I didn’t understand how long lists of unpronounceable mystery chemicals could be better than naturally derived ingredients, so I made an effort to switch. As a young person in school, it can be difficult to justify spending more on organic products over easy to find and cheaper drugstore brands, but I discovered that the more I invested in myself and my skin, the less product I needed to see results and feel beautiful. Now instead of buying product after product at the drugstore, I can rely on a nutrient rich skincare system that gives my skin everything it needs.

Along this journey, I’ve realized that finding balance within is the way to feeling beautiful in one’s own skin. No matter if you have acne, sensitivity, dryness or any other skin concern, there are ways to feel confident and empowered as your skin heals itself. Providing your body with love, nutrition and quality care are essential, but be sure to take a deep breath and remain patient and compassionate through the process. There’s no replacement for genuine self love, so treat yourself well and let your inner light shine bright at every age and every stage.