So Iike many other people on this forum, I've had an interesting (read: frustrating) skin experience. I had mild acne when I was around 13, so I started Proactiv and I swear to god my life was like one of their damn commercials. My skin was gorgeous, luminous, and totally problem-free - even if I occasionally slept in my makeup. I didn't worry about my diet or irritation from makeup, and people would regularly compliment my complexion.
Enter my 18th birthday and my Freshman year of college....almost overnight my face erupted with widespread, painful cystic acne that would NOT go away. At first I assumed it was some sort of weird, delayed hormonal reaction so I decided to wait it out. After a couple of months, I began trying new skin products, including prescription-grade topical medication like Retin-A, Differin, etc. These only dried out my skin, and my breakouts (I feel like a more dramatic word is necessary, though) proceeded to become worse. Finally, after about 6-7 months my doctor put me on birth control (Ortho Tri-Cyclin). Fast forward another 9 months of trying different brands and my skin was notably improved, but not perfect. That was fine with me.
For about 5 years, I was on birth control and I continued to have hormonal breakouts around my period, but things were much more under control. Then, I moved overseas and my birth control was not available so I decided to hedge my bets and try going off it. And it worked! For about two months, my skin actually improved! I also found, just as an aside, that I lost about 12lbs, my mood was much better and my period had returned fairly quickly. Woo hoo!
But 3 months after I went off it I needed to take Plan B, which was a DISASTER for my skin. about 3 days after I took it, I once again erupted in hormonal, inflamed cystic acne. I waited to see if it would clear up on its own after my body processed that huge surge of hormones, but things were not improving. The only thing that seemed to be helping at all with the pain and inflammation was Ibuprofen, but we definitely should not be taking NSAIDs long-term, amirite? My doctor wanted me to go back on birth control, but I had really had enough at this point of hormone treatment. I did some research online and decided to try 50mg of zinc supplements (did you know that most people with acne are zinc deficient?), along with cod liver oil capsules (the recommended daily dose on the bottle).
HOLY CRAP THIS STUFF IS AMAZING. Within 36hours of taking the zinc and cod liver oil, the cysts were noticeably less inflamed and I had developed no new ones. It has now been about 5 days since I began the supplements and my acne is almost gone, my skin is well-hydrated, and I have experienced no side effects. The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars is because it's been less than a week, and I want to make sure that no side effects pop up. Seriously though, I would highly recommend it for anyone feeling hopeless about their skin and fed up with hormonal and topical treatments. If you want to confirm that you're Zinc deficient (which might be a good idea, considering that it can build up in your body and become toxic), you can ask your doctor to run a blood test. You can also get zinc from foods and I would obviously advocate for a healthy diet, but supplements might be a good option for people who need an extra boost during breakouts. Good luck, everyone!