Raw Vegan, Dairy-Free Diet Helped My Horrible Acne

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It started late in high school—deep, painful acne, mostly in clusters on my chin. It seemed to get worse and worse, and I just thought, “oh, maybe it’s that hormone thing that everyone talks about.” So I just chocked it up to that.

Eventually, I got frustrated and went to the dermatologist, who put me on antibiotics, birth control, and a topical cream, which it kept my acne at bay—at least for a little while. But easing my acne didn’t come without side effects: the cream would make me itchy, it would burn, and anytime I was in the sun my face would sting. The antibiotics screwed up my digestion, so I was constipated.

Over the course of about 10 years, I tried everything—lotions, potions, serums, creams, pills—and everything came with its own bouquet of side effects. Every time my doctor prescribed me something new, it seemed to help for a little while—but everything would come with consequences, a rash, burning, stinging, digestion issues, and so on. At one point, it seemed like I went through every drug there was. For so long, my attitude was, “I don’t care what the risk is; as long as it’s going to make my acne go away, just give it to me.”

“Acne made me feel inferior—like something was wrong with me.”

Everyone gets bumps here and there, but having severe acne like that, over time, it makes you really self-conscious. If I was having a bad skin day, it would change my personality. I had no confidence. I wouldn’t look people in the eye. I didn’t want to go out and do things, especially when it got to a point where I couldn’t cover it or hide it. Acne made me feel inferior—like something was wrong with me. Like I should be able to take care of myself and can’t, even though, in reality, I was trying so hard to have clear skin—something other people have without even trying. (BTW adult acne is super common. Here are five reasons you might be breaking out.)

I remember at one point, I had been on an acne drug called Accutane that completely clears up 80 percent of people’s acne. Six or seven months in, it just wasn’t working for me, and my dermatologist got visibly angry at this pimple on my chin—he was so frustrated, because he hadn’t seen someone resist treatment so much.

Through this whole process, I never thought about changing my diet. When I first started back in high school, I asked my doctor, and she said there’s no correlation between diet and acne. And I believed it: I thought, I’m a “regular person” and I know…

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