How I Healed Years of Chronic Acne + Constant Breakouts: A Personal Story From Grace

Acne. 

We all seem to deal with it at some point in life. 

If you haven’t struggled with chronic acne personally, you probably know someone who has or does. It’s common in our society. And what’s even more common: we’re thrown dozens of acne products to cope with breakouts and get it out of our lives (feel familiar?). 

No one likes having acne, so we tend to jump at the fastest “solution” to get rid of it. Why let it stay on your face any longer than you have to?

That’s how I used to think about acne when I first started experiencing classic teenage acne and breakouts around 13-15 years old. Looking back, it was fairly typical for my age and lifestyle. Just a few pimples that certainly didn’t need to be dealt with in the harsh, extreme ways that I went on to do. 

At the time, I felt I had the worst case of chronic acne from anyone I’d ever seen, and I was willing to do whatever it took to get rid of my breakouts – fast. 

I sought out a dermatologist who then sent me down a long road of nearly a decade’s worth of:

  • Steroid creams for acne
  • Acne antibiotics
  • Conventional "gentle" skincare products filled with chemicals

And with it, skin damage. It never addressed the root cause of why I had acne in the first place. 

Never once did anyone suggest a dietary change, ways to help my body naturally detox, or consider testing to see if my acne could be a result of anything deeper. And I never questioned it because this was “normal.” The acne prescriptions were THE solution. 

I’ll tell you now: none of that is true about acne.

When Primally Pure Entered My Acne Healing Journey 

In 2023, I started working as Bethany’s assistant at Primally Pure. 

If you've been around Primally Pure for any amount of time, you know that it's founded on the belief that skin health is related to full-body health. It's all related. 

PP proves that natural ingredients combined with a holistic lifestyle can truly heal your skin from the inside out. 

The external symptoms are always a signal toward the internal cause. 

At this point, I’d had fewer breakouts and chronic acne flare-ups and relatively clear skin for a couple of years. This was only due to my intense chemical-driven regimen, which consisted of: 

  • Tretinoin
  • Clindamycin phosphate 
  • EltaMD facial sunscreen 
  • Cerave cleanser
  • Cetaphil moisturizer
  • The occasional round of doxycycline (if I was still experiencing breakouts)

Ironically enough, that’s when Primally Pure posted a video of Bethany explaining the reality behind Tretinoin. This video on the reality behind tretinoin brought to light the side effects of tretinoin on the skin, including: 

  • Burning
  • Peeling
  • Redness 

All of which I had experienced. It also mentioned the risks of Vitamin A toxicity that can come with long-term use of topical or oral Vitamin A. These symptoms include: 1,2 

  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Significant organ damage
  • Bone abnormalities

…and more. 

YIKES.

I saw that video as a clear sign to leap over to a Primally Pure regimen instead. I wanted to heal acne naturally. I decided to focus on all-natural swaps and clean ingredients that would be better (aka more gentle + safer) for my acne-prone skin. 

Swapping Toxic Products for All-Natural Ingredients

I didn’t worry that my chronic acne would come back, considering my acne-prone skin had been clear for a couple of years now. I was long past my high school acne issues. 

On July 28, 2023, I went cold turkey and made the leap to an all-natural skincare regimen. I hoped it would heal my acne naturally. I was confident this would be better for my skin, chronic acne, and overall wellness.

In the months that followed, I experienced some severe changes. 

I started using our Cleansing Oil for dry skin because my skin was almost always flaky and dry. I thought my skin was naturally dry but quickly realized it wasn’t. So, I swapped to our Cleansing Oil for normal skin once I realized the flaky, dry skin was just a result of years of acne steroid creams. 

Though my dryness was resolving, within a couple of weeks, I started to experience some acne purging, unfortunately. But experiencing a detox reaction (aka more acne) can be common when you switch from conventional skincare products to natural products.

So, I expected my skin to balance out within a couple of months, maximum. 

Those months went by, but my skin continued to purge. The breakouts were only getting worse. That’s when I asked my boss lady, Bethany, for help. 

Bringing Dietary Change to My Skin Healing Journey

Bethany was the first person to suggest a dietary change to address my breakouts and my new skincare regimen. She encouraged me to give up gluten, dairy, and refined sugar for two weeks to see a change and help with the acne purging. I had always been the person with an “iron gut.” I had no allergies or sensitivities to anything I ate, and I loved that. I wasn’t picky, and I wasn’t hard to cook for. 

Putting myself on a paleo diet would make things a lot more challenging for me socially. I was worried about my personal grocery/eating out budget (could I even eat out?), and just sad for my taste buds. 

Nevertheless, I was down to try the change for two weeks. Anyone can do anything for two weeks. 

Two weeks of dietary change turned into what Bethany and I called my “30-day experiment.” 

Tossing the Toxins + Lifestyle Changes 

We changed more than just my diet to address my breakouts. I also tossed the toxins.

I got rid of all toxic ingredients in my household, like:

  • Cleaning supplies 
  • Candles 
  • Skincare products 
  • Body & hair products 

…and so much more 

I began using only Branch Basics and their non-toxic swaps for cleaning and laundry. I also decided to exclusively buy Primal Pastures meat because the sourcing of your food and what ingredients go into it ultimately matter most. 

Other lifestyle changes I made to heal my acne naturally included:

(The list goes on. I’ll dive into more specifics of my natural acne protocol in the next post.)

Much to my and Bethany’s surprise, 30 days later, my breakouts were still getting worse.

A LOT worse. 

Worse than my chronic acne had ever been. 

Another Bump in the Road of My Acne Healing Journey

How I Healed Years of Chronic Acne + Constant Breakouts: A Personal Story From Grace | Primally Pure Skincare

 

I was frazzled because I anticipated getting engaged very soon, and my skin had never seen a more dismal state. I had breakouts in places that I never used to get acne, and it was becoming cystic and painful. 

What was going on? 

→ Was I allergic to something in my new skincare? 

→ Was my case of chronic acne really just too severe to be treated naturally?

I won’t lie: I was seriously considering jumping back on the acne prescriptions – nearly every day. But I was also so determined to make it out the other side. Otherwise, I would have suffered all of this intense acne purging and breakouts for nothing and be stuck on prescription medication for breakouts for the rest of my life. 

This was something I truly didn’t want because the acne prescriptions and acne creams were not pregnancy-safe. So, if I ever wanted to try having children in the future, I would have had to stop using the prescriptions anyway. Caving to my old acne treatment would mean I’d just have to start this process over again one day.

I did NOT want to live through another round of acne purging. 

The purging was so devastatingly painful, physically and mentally. 

My confidence was shot, and I started to self-isolate – I stayed home from events, stopped making plans, and cried at home instead.

At this point, some of you might think, “Okay, whoa – she’s getting dramatic.”

But chronic acne truly feels SO personal. 

You can’t hide it. Even with makeup, the texture doesn’t change. 

It’s an inescapable health trial when you deal with chronic acne – and I was at such a loss for what to do.  

Knowing that an engagement (and ultimately a wedding) was right around the corner, Bethany and I decided to try a different approach to healing my acne naturally. 

Running Internal Tests to Find a New Healing Plan

Bethany and I went to Taylor Dukes for some internal testing. Clearly, there had to be something going on at a deeper level to cause my constant breakouts. 

My test results gave us a clear direction on how to heal my acne naturally. 

Here’s what we found:

  • Fungal overgrowth
  • Several overgrown pathogens
  • Two parasitic overgrowths
  • Leaky gut
  • Chronic stress

The list goes on. 

My internal health was, as Taylor said, “no bueno.” But nothing that couldn’t be fixed with a personalized natural health protocol! This included a lot of what I had already been changing… Bethany and I HAD been doing everything right. 

But the reality of healing acne naturally is that some of us need even deeper, specific work to heal acne-prone skin and, ultimately, our body. Healing from the inside out TAKES TIME. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of working with a trusted practitioner!  

→ So, did I heal my acne in time for my big life events? Was I free from breakouts? Sort of. 

I got engaged when my acne was at its peak. 

Ideal? No. 

But that was such a beautiful moment nonetheless. I'm so glad I didn't let my acne hold me back from being fully present for one of my life’s sweetest, most pivotal moments.

Here's the truth: My healing journey took longer than expected. It was an emotional + physical rollercoaster, but it worked. 

Healing Your Acne Takes Time + Patience

Here's what I hope you learn from my experience with chronic acne and breakouts (or really any external symptom you're experiencing with your skin):

My story paints the reality that band-aid solutions like acne cream, acne antibiotics, and steroids are really just that: a band-aid solution. I learned that skin problems that go unsolved at the root cause will eventually come back to light. 

If I continued suppressing my acne with harsh acne prescriptions, all my internal issues would still be present, and who knows what would have come to the surface later. 

After what seemed like an impossible mountain to climb at first, I can finally see the top of it. These lifestyle changes to heal my acne naturally are not something I intend to go back on. There’s freedom in the discipline of health. 

My tip to you: Don’t stress, there are healthy swaps for everything. Your body and soul (and SKIN) will thank you!

Your friend + sister through your health journey, 

Grace 

P.S. Stick around for part 2 if you’re wondering what my specific personalized protocol looked like, how you can jump on one yourself, or what I used that targeted my internal health and led to the healing of my skin. I can't wait to share my "after" photos with you guys and revel in the healing that is my story.




Sources:

  1. National Library of Medicine | Vitamin A Toxicity 
  2. EWG | The Problem With Vitamin A


 

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Grace Harvey

Grace is the Executive Assistant to Primally Pure's Founder, Bethany McDaniel. She lives in Southern California and is recently married to her husband, Kevin. Grace is a "recent convert" to the non-toxic life due to her skin + health issues that pushed her to make the switch. She is passionate about education, wanting to be both a resource and an encouragement to those struggling with health issues or questions about clean living. In addition to her work at Primally Pure, Grace hosts a podcast called "Beat the Culture" and hopes to relaunch it in the coming months with a new emphasis on doing things outside of the norm + living for The Lord.