Welcome to Acne Bootcamp. This camp is set in stages. It is important that you do everything in order and that you don’t skip steps. Each step builds on the other one. This means that when you start a step, you need to keep following the rules of that step until the end of the bootcamp.
This bootcamp indicates some products and supplements to be used. You must use the exact products listed. They have been chosen carefully and there is a reason why certain products are listed and others are not. Reasons will not be explained in this document. This is bootcamp. You know, sit down, shut up, do what you’re told…but in all frankness if I explained every single step this would turn into a novel. So really, truly, just follow the directions exactly. You’ll thank me later.
Choose a day of the week when you will take a picture of your face to record your progress. The picture must be taken at the same time on the same day each week. Most people prefer Sunday morning.
Week 1 and Week 2
Welcome to your new skin care regimen. For the next two weeks you are not allowed to use any skin products except the ones listed here. No makeup. No moisturizer. No sunscreen. No acne treatment products. The next two weeks will be spent balancing your skin.
Stop taking any supplements that you are taking. From here on out you may only consume the supplements, vitamins, or herbs indicated in this bootcamp guide.
Buy a pack of 20 or more 100% cotton washcloths like this one so you have a clean washcloth to use every time you wash your face. Having 30+ means you only have to launder them every other week.
Morning: Wash your face with Mario Badescu Acne Facial Cleanser. Massage it in for 30 seconds with your fingers. Leave it on for another 60 seconds. Rinse off. Take a clean 100% cotton washcloth, thoroughly soak in water, and scrub your skin in little circles for 30 seconds.
Evening: Wash your face with CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser for 30 seconds. Rinse off. Take a clean 100% cotton washcloth, thoroughly wet it, and scrub your skin in little circles for 30 seconds.
You may now begin adding appropriate products back into your skin care.
If you use sunscreen on your face…
If you use a moisturizer…
If you absolutely must use a moisturizer, you may only do so once a day. Whether that’s morning or evening is up to you. Starting now, the only moisturizers you may use are: Avalon Organics Vitamin C Renewal Rejuvenating Oil-Free Moisturizer or Alba Aloe & Green Tea Oil-Free Moisturizer.
If you use a makeup primer…
Stop. You may not use any makeup primers until the end of the camp.
If you use liquid foundation..
If you use mineral powder foundation…
Mineral powder makeup users may use any brand they wish. However, some people have reported a sensitivity to bismuth, which is contained in many mineral powders, so if you want to play it safe, try bismuth-free Neutrogena Mineral Sheers.
If you add in any of the above products…
Your evening cleansing regimen must change slightly from Week 1. If you are not planning to add any products, then simply maintain the cleansing regimen from Week 1.
Morning: Same as Week 1.
Evening: Wash your face with Clean and Clear Essentials Foaming Facial Cleanser Sensitive Skin for 30 seconds. Rinse off. Wash your face again with CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser for 30 seconds. Rinse off. Take a clean 100% cotton washcloth, thoroughly wet it, and scrub your skin in little circles for 30 seconds.
Replace skim or low-fat milk with whole milk. If you can find it near you, try a brand called A2 milk which does not contain the harmful A1 protein. This brand is typically sold in health-oriented stores such as Whole Foods.
Refrain from drinking milk as a beverage. From now on, dairy milk should only be used for cooking or as an addition to other foods (ex: pouring some milk on oatmeal).
Replace low-fat yogurt with full-fat yogurt. Choose unsweetened varieties if you can stand the taste.
If you use soy milk, remove it. Appropriate substitutes are unsweetened almond milk or rice milk.
Replace margarine and oil-based spreads with butter. This is not as easy as it sounds. In most grocery stores there are about 10 brands of margarine for one brand of pure butter. Even some packages will say “butter” but if you look at the ingredients you see it’s been mixed with soybean oil. I use Challenge Whipped Butter for spreading and pure stick butter for cooking.
Additionally, it would be best if you changed the oils that you cook with. We want to avoid the most common oils such as soybean, corn, and canola oils. Listed here, from best to worst, are some better oils to use in your food:
I have linked to some oil brands I like for reference, but in this case you may use any brand you like.
Remove sugar and caffeine completely from your diet. This includes sugar substitutes such as aspartame / Nutrasweet, sucralose / Splenda, and Stevia.
NO soda. Not even “diet” soda.
NO Crystal Light or similar drinks.
NO fruit juice or lemonade.
NO energy drinks.
NO green, black, or white tea (herbal teas are fine).
NO candy, cookies, ice-cream, or other desserts. No “sugar-free” desserts either.
NO adding sugar to your food.
NO workout supplements or protein powders.
NO weight-loss or protein shakes (SlimFast, Ensure, Muscle Milk, etc.)
NO weight-loss or workout granola bars (Cliff bars, Luna bars, Sunbelt bars, etc.)
Week 6 and Week 7
Do nothing. Do not skip to the next step. Do not think you are an exception. You’ve made a lot of changes in the last month. During these two weeks, make these changes a habit.
Do not spend this week obsessing over your skin. Many of you will see ZERO improvement at this stage. Some of you may even be breaking out more often. Stay strong.
Evaluate your skin. Take a good look at the pictures you’ve been taking each week (you did remember to take pictures, didn’t you?).
Do you see significant improvement? Then you may simply continue the regimen from the past weeks until your skin is completely clear. Congratulations. Keep taking your weekly picture until you achieve your goal. However, if you believe you have hit a plateau, then come back and continue the steps in the following weeks.
Do you see little to no improvement, or has your skin gotten worse? Then we need to take some extra steps in the weeks to come. Brace yourself.
You’re still taking your Vitamin D3 every day and Betaine HCL with each meal, right? Keep that up, but we’re going to add in a few more supplements. It can get a little tiring to take multiple supplements every day, but stick with it. If you’re on the go a lot, store your pills in this handy box and keep it in your backpack or daybag.
Men, this is an off week for you. Continue the regimen. See you next week. Take your weekly picture!
Women, now is the time to evaluate your birth control. If you use any sort of pill, patch, shot or implant birth control it may be negatively affecting your skin. (If you are not sexually active or only use condoms, then you may continue the regimen and we’ll see you next week.)
There are only a handful of birth control options that can be used while you have acne. Changing what you use may be a difficult step but it is necessary if you still have acne at this point. Please talk to your general physician or gynecologist about changing your birth control to one of those on the list below. If none of these options appeal to you, your only other choice is abstinence or condoms.
- Yaz (pill)
- Yasmin (pill)
- BeYaz (pill)
- Ortho Tri Cyclen (pill)
- Ortho Cyclen (pill)
- Diane-35 (pill)
- Dianette (pill)
- Belara (pill)
- Non-hormonal copper IUD (implant). Most common brand is the ParaGard. (Mirena and Skyla are NOT hormone-free and must be discontinued.)
Do not continue to the next week’s regimen until you have started your new birth control.
Increase your saw palmetto dosage to 640mg a day. If you experience headaches, dry mouth, or any other side effects, make sure to split your dose between breakfast and lunch.
You have now hit the 3 month mark. Congratulations on your hard work so far.
Your next step is to replace white or refined grains in your diet with with whole grains. Pasta and bread should be made from whole wheat, rye, oat, or rice-based flour (also see this comprehensive list of whole grains). Replace breakfast cereal with oatmeal, cream of wheat, or grits. Choose whole wheat tortillas for burritos or enchiladas. Use whole grain buns for hamburgers or hot dogs.
At this point we are mostly playing a waiting game. It takes a great deal of time for your body to internally adjust to all the positive changes you have made. Don’t be discouraged, but internal changes happen very slowly—it can take up to a year before you have perfectly clear skin. Your greatest asset is consistency in the regimen and a boatload of patience.
My skin is clear—now what?
Congratulations! You finally are enjoying “normal” skin free of pimples, cysts, whiteheads and any other acne-like bumps. Don’t let your guard down just yet, however. Those of us with chronic acne are genetically flawed—we don’t get the luxury of a permanent cure. You will have to maintain some of this regimen in the years to come if you want to keep enjoying clear skin.
The strictness of the maintenance regimen varies for each individual. My general advice is to maintain the supplements and most of the diet changes. Do not deviate from the approved list of sunscreen if you are a daily sunscreen wearer. Maintain the cleansing regimen. Be very careful about changing any of your skin products, such as cleanser, moisturizer, and makeup. If you do change a product, only do so one at a time and carefully observe your skin over two weeks to note any side effects.
If you experience a relapse, return to a strict adherence of the regimen until you clear again. Good luck!