Should You Take Zinc for Acne? A Story Told by Reddit Comments

Short answer: you probably shouldn’t take zinc to cure acne.

One weakness I will admit I have is that I can sometimes be easily persuaded by other Reddit users. So when I saw reviews like this:

And this:

And this:

I immediately set out and bought 50mg of zinc from my local vitamin shop. And no, I foolishly did not do any additional research. I figured, there was already zinc found naturally in the food I ate, and it was in my multivitamin, and I had heard people say in the past that zinc was good to take when you had a cold — what would 50mg extra of zinc really do to me?

Turns out, even when taken on a full stomach, it would give me extreme nausea. The nausea would last up to two hours. I carried on doing this for about four days or so, until I finally made the connection that perhaps it had been the zinc doing this to me.

So I consulted Google, and found this on Livestrong:

Oops, I had been taking 50mg, plus the 10mg that was already found in my multivitamin. I immediately stopped taking it. Besides, my skin hadn’t gotten any better anyway. Clearly, I should have done my due diligence like the replying user in this Reddit post:

So, readers, please learn from my stupid mistake. Don’t take supplements before doing your research! There’s a chance zinc might work for some, particularly if they are zinc-deficient, but otherwise, my final verdict on zinc for acne is the following:

Life with Cystic Acne: Barcroft TV

I usually view Barcroft TV as the TLC channel of Youtube — rife with “wacky” counterculture lives, most of which are played up for the sake of the camera. But Barcroft TV has also done several body-positive videos. I really like this idea because it visually explains the struggles of someone with an “abnormal” body in some way, while also stating that it’s okay to be different, particularly when it’s something you cannot control.

Many of the subjects in these latter videos have honest and realistic takes on life. And while most, in the end, triumph in some capacity, the sadness and pain they experience to get to that point can sometimes be extremely relatable to the viewer.

In the past two years, Barcroft has made a few videos related to people suffering very extreme forms of acne. But the video I’ve embedded today really hit home for me. At one point, the subject states that she thought her boyfriend would break up with her because of her acne. Fortunately, her boyfriend — now husband — could only express shock toward her concern, because her acne had never even “been on his radar”.

But the moment she explained how insecure her acne made her, to the point of no one wanting to date her because of it, was heart-wrenching for me. I remember feeling the exact same way as her at one point, when my acne was at it’s worst.

I’m glad Barcroft posted this video, normalizing a not-uncommon condition and highlighting the mental suffering involved when you have cystic acne. This girl is beautiful, and has a great personality — and major props to her awesome husband, who can see beyond the skin. Now that’s the kind of partner every girl needs!

Now, on with the show! Click the play button on the video below to watch. ~A

The Vicious Cycle of Makeup

I love makeup: I love what it’s capable of. I love the artistry that goes into good makeup application (which I admittedly don’t have much of, which makes me appreciate the talent even more). I love the confidence and pride it instills in me after I’ve applied it successfully, in such a way that my features have been noticeably enhanced.

I loved makeup a lot when my skin was at my worse. Having cystic acne kept me constantly checking mirrors, shielding my face from others, not making eye contact, and generally just not wanting to interact or interface with anyone, even the people I was very close with, who ostensibly wouldn’t judge or care if I had acne in the first place. Makeup — foundation, specifically, that was full coverage enough to hide the acne — was able to eradicate my fear of going out into the world, perhaps not fully, but to a great extent.

Foundation can make your skin look great. It can make it look smooth and blemish-free, amongst other things. But foundation itself — what’s in it — is still just chemicals and ingredients, both natural and unnatural. Foundation is not your skin. No matter what the label tells you — non comedogenic, natural ingredients only, oil-free, skin-like, etc. — it’s still not your skin. You are putting, painting a foreign substance over and onto your natural human skin. Keeping that in mind, there’s a good chance you may be an individual who is impervious to certain irritants, so wearing makeup is a non-issue for you. But the other half of us has an equally good chance of experiencing breakouts after a full day of foundation. I am in this latter half.

When you are someone with sensitive skin, makeup becomes both the savior and the catalyst for your skin issues. I needed makeup to cover up the problems on my skin. But the makeup was also making me break out more, as evidenced when I came home every night, rinsed the makeup off, and came to find out that more spots had appeared.

Even Kendall Jenner isn’t immune!

I was really able to put this to the test over the past month, now that my skin is usually close to 100% clear, thanks to the very powerful Epiduo. Generally speaking, I’ve been going to work without any foundation. But on the days I do wear foundation to work, I come home after eight hours and notice my pores show sign of congestion even after washing the makeup off. Which leads me to believe, for at least half of us with sensitive skin in the world, makeup will only make your issues worse.

But it’s really difficult to go out into the world without makeup, if you’re trying to cover up acne. At the height of my skin issues, I had the suggestion made to me that I needed to wash my face at night. That was such an embarrassing comment to receive — of course I was washing my face at night already! Just washing my skin was not going to cure a hormonal problem!

So, makeup can really do amazing things for your confidence, particularly when you feel you’re at your lowest. But I wish I had been more confident to go out on public without makeup when my acne was at it’s worst, and I really feel for those who are in a similar position as me. I wish the education around acne and what causes it was a little more mainstream in our society, so others wouldn’t automatically assume the sufferer was “unclean”, thus reducing the stigma around it.

I’ll never trash my bottles of foundation, and I’ll never unsubscribe from my favorite MUA’s on Youtube. Makeup is an art — it can accomplish amazing things if applied correctly. But from now on, I’m going to try to go bare-faced as much as I possibly can, even when a small breakout occurs. And I hope, for the new year, that my beautiful readers have the confidence to go out into the world with a look based on what they are comfortable with, and not just what society deems as “acceptable”. ~A

Both of the Georgia Gibbs in this picture are beautiful!

Supplements and Skin Health, pt. 2

Back again with a rant and review of more supplements I’ve tried, and their effects — real, or perceived — on my skin! Again, I am no doctor, so if you would like to try any of these, do so at your own risk. Everyone is different, so your results may not be the same as mine.

Biotin – Type in “biotin” on Instagram and you’ll see a lot of girls with long hair and clear skin holding up a bottle of some Biotin product or another (there’s at least a 50% chance it’s Sugar Bear Hair…). They swear by biotin as the reason their acne is gone and their hair is so long. But if you do a little more research, you might find that most women taking this actually find that their breakouts DRAMATICALLY increase when they start taking this. Myself included. And they’re bad. There’s some anecdotal advice drinking extra water will mitigate any negative effects of biotin, but I tried that for myself, and didn’t find that to be the case.

Biotin has been one of those vitamins that I’ve tried, off and on, over the course of about a decade, for anywhere between 2 weeks and 6 months at a time before I throw in the towel. I’ve always gotten the same results. Fast growing nails, same-speed growing hair, and TERRIBLE acne, even after the six month period. In my opinion? The long, strong nails are NOT worth the effects it has on your skin.

Vitamin C (in pill form) – Vitamin C in my skincare has been pretty darn great for me in terms of getting rid of damage — why not try to take a 500mg capsule every day? Wouldn’t that also help my skin? My personal findings after 4 months are, most likely, it does not; I didn’t notice any marked improvement while using this. I do think I was a little less sick then my coworkers, though. Also, I found out the hard way, if you take in too much Vitamin C, you will get a stomach ache (not to mention, your body will expel the excess anyway).

Collagen Powder – I hopped on the Collagen Craze hype train this year, despite the controversy about whether or not it really works. After researching the “legitimate” sources of collagen powder (must be from a grass-fed bovine for it to actually work — supposedly), I grabbed a small tub of Vital Protein’s Collagen Powder off of Amazon. I generally buy the flavorless powder, and put one scoop in my coffee in the morning. This stuff can get kind of pricey ($25 for 10oz), so I would recommend a first time user get a small container to try it out for themselves before they commit. I can safely say that it did not cause more acne, but I also don’t feel like my skin magically plumped up while taking this. BUT…. I swear my lips are bigger. I have convinced myself that after week two, they seemed to slightly increase in size. And when I ran out of the powder for two weeks and waited for a new shipment, they… decreased. Placebo effect, perhaps? Whatever it is, it’s working for me. ~A

Clinique Moisture Surge 72 Hour Auto-Replenishing Hydrator

On today’s episode of buyer beware and Fake Stuff on Amazon…

I purchased this several times as it’s older iteration, prior to the upgraded title of 72-hour hydrator. I loved that stuff. It made my skin very bouncy, it didn’t pill, and had a very subtle fresh fragrance to it. It was comparable to Clinique’s Dramatically Different, maybe just a bit heavier. I used it day and night, and felt like it truly made a difference in my skin texture. It was an absolute dream to apply.

When the product changed names to tack on five more words, I jumped on Amazon to repurchase the new product. Seemed like the moisturizer had the same intended effect after all, and checked off all my moisturizer needs: “bad” alcohol and oil free. A little pricier, sure, ($39, ugh) but so was it’s predecessor.

A week passes and my package shows up. The jar looks identical to what was shown on Amazon’s website — the seller’s name was listed as “Clinique”, after all, why would it be any different? I open up the jar and woof… a strong smell of paint thinner. And, the gel-cream was white. It’s not supposed to be white! It should be light pink, for both the old and the new versions.

But like the idiot I am, I pressed on. “Perhaps this is the smell of fragrance free?”, I thought. “Perhaps alongside changing the product’s name, they changed the color of the gel?” The end of this story ended in a breakout, two days after stupidly slapping this stuff onto my face. So my assumption is that a fake had slipped into whatever warehouse it was being shipped from. As I went to contact the seller, I noticed a few reviews had recently appeared on the listing with similar complaints. Not the first, and won’t be the last time that will happen to me on Amazon, I presume.

So the second time around I popped into Macy’s to pick this up, as that seemed slightly less risky. This time around, the gel-cream was actually pink and devoid of that… wonderful paint thinner smell. It seemed to me I was finally holding the real deal.

But it didn’t perform the same way the old version had. This moisturizer does not play well with any other moisturizer or foundation. It’s very tacky feeling, and it pills like crazy! For all that tackiness, you would think it was retaining more moisture, but my skin didn’t look or feel “bouncy” at any point while using this.

“Use it as a night cream”, I thought, but while the product is still oil and drying-alcohol free, I noticed it causes my pores to clog up and I’ve broken out from it. The ingredient list is a bit lengthier than the original, but I can’t seem to pinpoint the new addition that could be causing this.

It really stinks that this is no longer a super-great moisture. I love the texture of this stuff still; it’s really satisfying to apply. If only the results were still as satisfying… (oh, and if Amazon would stop shipping out fakes, that would be great, too ūüėČ ) ~A

Perceived efficacy: 1.5/5

Longevity: 4/5

How much I actually like this product: 2/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Yes

Beauty Products and User Subjectivity

I wanted to write a disclaimer on the sidebar about how I am not a doctor or a cosmetologist, I’m simply a beauty product enthusiast, and that all of my opinions should be taken with a grain of salt. Everyone will have a slightly different experience than I did with all of the products I’ve mentioned on this page. But I also wanted to add my personal take on “everyone’s needs are different/everyone is different” and “you should never fully take the advice of someone on the Internet.”

My favorite makeup and skincare YouTubers are Jeffree Star and thataylaa. Jeffree Star is probably my prime example of “everyone is different”. He tries on makeup that he loves, that I generally think is tacky and god awful. Now Jeffree, I’m sure, has sponsorships of all kinds, even if he doesn’t directly promote them. But whether he likes, or dislikes, the product, he makes himself completely clear as to why. His videos allow you to actually see how the product performs alongside his, ah, very opinionated commentary. Whether or not you agree with him, that’s up for you to decide. But I find that his brand of brutal honesty is preferable to most of the other channels that exist, where the creator is seems almost hesitant to mention the drawbacks of the product, likely because they’re trying to upsell in order for you to click their affiliate links.

Next, there’s thataylaa. I also like her for her honesty, and her head-on approach with to dealing with cystic acne: she put her makeup-free face on display for thousands of viewers at it’s very worst, and demonstrated how to use and find makeup for people with similar skin issues. It helped that she had similar skin tone/eye color/hair color as me. As a result, much of my Amazon and Ulta shopping was fueled by her recommendations.

I found Catrice Prime and Fine finishing spray through her! It worked magnificently — until I broke out, read the ingredient list (yep, after buying it, of course… my fault), and noticed it had benzoyl alcohol in it. No, it wasn’t at the very top of the list, so the chances of it being an irritant were slightly less, but I still felt weirdly jilted. I mean, didn’t she know benzoyl alcohol is a common adversary for those who suffer from cystic acne?! How dare she! In the most petty way possible, I felt disappointed in her.

Then I opened my bathroom closet a few days later and realized that my favorite self-tanner had alcohol denat listed somewhere along the second line. But I loved that self-tanner! I was never going to give it up! Double-standards galore. I digress: it made me realize that everyone’s needs and likes are going to be different. Thataylaa probably wasn’t having issues the same way I was with the finishing spray, and why would she? She isn’t me.

So when you read any review, or watch a video that demonstrates the product, just keep in mind. Your results are probably not going to be the same. A popular product won’t always be guaranteed to work for you, just the same as a lower-rated product might be your personal holy grail. I’d take a guess and say that 98% of reviewers are not professionally certified in any way to give a completely accurate dissertation (including myself!), so digest those reviews accordingly. ūüôā ~A

Skincare “Restart” Tips

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

Since I think all of my readers are amazing and I want you all to have perfect skin, I wanted to write a quick little post about some self-care items, regarding starting your skincare routine when it becomes a little too much.

Your skin changes — over seasons, months, and years. Sensitivities change. And sometimes that means the products you’re using, no matter how well they were working before, simply will not comply. Or sometimes, you’re just plain ol’ doing too much! 

Product overload: I personally tend to go a little crazy when I’ve ordered a bunch of new skincare products. Somehow convinced that every single one of them is a miracle item and that they’re all 100% going to play well with one another and that…. well, that just doesn’t happen. Recently I did this with Derma E Vitamin C (acids usually induce an initial breakout) and CosRX Galactomyces (clogs my pores, personally). Bad idea. Solution: Slow down. Go back to basics with your skincare routine, and add the products in slowly, one at a time! 

Skin Sensitivities Changing Naturally: There doesn’t even need to be a trigger, or even a “known sensitive ingredient” that causes sensitivities in a very large population. Currently, I’m having the weirdest problem with Neutrogena’s Hydroboost. This is normally my go-to HG moisturizer. But lately? It’s not hydrating enough, in fact, my skin’s been itching a bit after application. Weird, right? Am I allergic to dimethicone now, or something? I have no idea what’s going on. Maybe it’s just winter, and my skin needs something a little thicker. But I’m not ready to give up on it just yet. Solution: if you were using a product before with success, shelf it for awhile (or throw it out and buy another one later). See if it works after 3-4 months. If it’s still not working, it might be time to find another product.

Acid or Antiseptic Overload: Be wary of your acid, retinoid and benzoyl peroxide usage. These are all great and the exfoliation can give you visible results quickly, but it can turn on you just as fast. Your skin can become dried out, irritated, burn, or break out. I have a tough time with BP, because I think it works the best for reducing or preventing breakouts entirely, but I’ve discovered that my skin really isn’t interested in tolerating it more than “every other night”.
Solution: Build up your acid usage slowly. If your skin becomes irritated, decrease usage, and add in extra emulsifiers/heavy moisturizers to add moisture back into your skin. 

My ultimate “back to basics” routine:

Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day! ‚̧ ~A