What about acne?

My story

My skin has been a source of shame for me for most of my life. Sure, I know other people who had it worse. But that didn't make having pimples any easier. I had a daily ritual of sitting on my counter top diligently picking at every whitehead, soon to be whitehead, blackhead… every little thing. I’d squeeze things I’d already squeezed a few times over. And I wasn’t alone. 

I remember hanging out with my friends in the bathroom while we pick at our skin. Curse our pimples. Exchange makeup tips to cover them up. Recommend cleansers, toneres, spot treatments, and even dermatology prescriptions. 

While the makeup would cover the zits, I'd often look like a cake face. And the products were mostly a giant waste of money. 

I have a distinct memory of begging my mother to take me to the dermatologist after I developed severe acne on my chest and back. Living in Florida, tank tops and bikinis were worn almost year round. I felt so embarrassed about my skin, sometimes I didn’t want to leave the house. Or I would slather a concoction of bronzer and concealer and prayed no one noticed the lengths I went to detract attention from my “gross” skin. 

The internet said, “It’s hormones! There ain’t a cure. Suck it up, cupcake.” Yet I still tried anything I could find from the local pharmacies to natural remedies to birth control to expensive prescriptions/treatments from the dermatologist. Some things helped. Some things had side effects even worse than the acne. 

I thought once I got older and my hormones settled, things would get better. 

They didn’t. 

While my skin improved when I went to college, I couldn’t even imagine what I would look like if my skin was truly blemish free. By then I had perfected the art of covering up my imperfections, and was living a life where I always had my “mask” on. So did my other girlfriends. I got used to my imperfect chest and back. I settled. 

One day I was talking to one of my friends who seemed to put the least amount of effort into her skin’s hygiene, yet seemed to have flawless skin. I had assumed she was one of the *lucky* ones. She said she only used water and oil on her skin. 

…. What? I was dumbfounded.

I only bought oil free makeup because, well, oil clogs your pores.... Right? Oil made me look like a grease monkey. I thought oil was the enemy.

But she got my attention. 

I had long wondered why this mystery of acne hadn’t been “solved.” It seemed like such a common ailment for people - and not just teens. If washing our faces was the answer, why wasn’t it working? 



So, I did some research. 

While soap has been around since 2800 BC, it hasn’t been used for daily bathing until the 20th century. The basic function of soap is to break the barriers between oil and water. This makes sense when we are washing oil off of a pan. It’s sticky and much easier to wash away when the soap has broken down the oils. Makes sense, I guess. 

This means any product that suds or soaps the skin is removing our skins natural oils (sebum). 

As someone who has become quite holistically minded over the years, this got my attention. If the body produces these oils, it must be for a reason. So, what is the role of the sebum?

  1. It keeps the skin moisturized. 

Acting as somewhat of a waterproof barrier, the sebum keeps too much water from getting into your body or losing too much through the skin. Given the water repelling nature of oil, this made sense to me. 

  1. It protects the skin from bacterial and fungal infections. 

This got my attention. A fundamental understanding I had about acne was that it was caused by bacteria and clogged pores. I thought sebum was the problem. Yet it appears sebum is naturally antibacterial? 

So, I dug deeper. 

While excessive sebum production can clog pores, healthy amounts of sebum do not. And the most important discovery of all… 

Our skin’s microbiome lives within the sebum. 

The microbiome refers to the microorganisms in a particular environment. Emerging science is discovering more and more about the importance of these little critters, especially within our gut. 

In fact, microbes outnumber our human cells 10 to 1. 

When scientists first made the connection between microbes and disease, it spurred a lot of panic. Many people took the approach that we needed to disinfect our environments, and took a “antibacterial” approach to life. 

In reality, only about 5% of bacterial species are pathogenic.

We are discovering that probiotics (microbes that are supportive to us) are essential in being protected from pathogenic (disease causing / “bad” bacteria). If we are constantly “disinfecting” or wiping out our microbiome, this leaves us vulnerable to pathogenic bacteria. 

The bottom line is that by supporting our skin’s microbiome we build natural immunity to the types of bacteria that are known to cause acne. 

And we support our skin’s microbiome by supporting the skin’s sebum. We support the skin’s sebum by not stripping it with soap. 

Yet, we still need a way to remove the buildup of debris and excess sebum. We just need to do it in a way that leaves the sebum in tact. 

That’s where oil cleansing comes in.

Oil cleansing cleans the sebum without removing it completely. The biggest difference is that it is a waterless and suds free way of cleaning. We instead use the humble rag, wash cloth, or even toilet paper. Go ahead and try it for yourself. Throw some makeup, dirt, or even charcoal on your skin. Take some oil on a white rag, and wipe clean. The rag will be dirty and your skin will be clean! 

While you can use any kind of oil for this experiment, the type of oil matters when it comes to supporting your sebum. There are many types of oils with many types of viscosities. Our skin is made for a very particular balance of oils, wax esters, and omegas. 

When I first started oil cleansing I looked up some recipes online and made a few blends. I got good results, but my skin often either felt a bit dry or too greasy. Also while my acne improved it never completely healed. 

I wondered what exactly our sebum was made up of, and if I could somehow make an oil blend that matched our skin’s sebum. 

Two years later, The Anti Soap formula was born. 

Using 11 different organic plant oils I finally cracked the code. My skin completely healed. And so have countless others. 

But don't take my word for it - try it for yourself!