Conquering My Acne

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I’m guessing you’re expecting a wonderful post about some miracle, natural home remedy acne solution that I’ve found and has cleared up my acne in no time flat. But that’s not the case. Well, I guess that depends how you see it. About 6 months ago, I made the decision to go on Accutane. I actually talked about it in a post once to get second opinions from people. Most of the opinions were negative but I also saw many positive ones. So once I started taking accutane, I decided to keep that info out of my blog so I wouldn’t have other people’s opinions changing my own.

So let’s go back to the beginning. I’ve always had a little bit of acne. Nothing to get super upset about, but enough that I saw a dermatologist when I was in high school, when I was in college, and after college. But it wasn’t until I started CrossFit and was competing, that my acne got out of control. And when I say out of control, I mean it was incredibly painful to the touch. I had bad cystic acne that hurt when I was just putting on make up. But since the acne was so bad, putting on make up was my only choice. I’m not sure if it was CrossFit that changed my complexion, but I’m almost certain it had to do with it because of the changes in estrogen and other hormones.

Anyways, after trying many different home remedies such as oil pulling and oil cleansing, changes to my eating habits, removing fish oil from my diet, consuming cod liver oil, and different essential oils, I decided to try some prescription strength drugs. After trying spironolactone and other prescription drugs as well as topical medication, I was finally at a loss. It had been almost 3 years of fighting this cystic acne that was going to lead to much worse scarring if I didn’t do something about it. So I decided to try Accutane out and my dermatologist immediately agreed.

Accutane is a high dose of vitamin A, that you take on a daily basis. Most treatments, like mine, are around 6 months. Some people have to do multiple sessions, but not everyone. Accutane is taken very seriously by not only the doctor, but also the state. It is a state regulation that you must be on birth control while taking Accutane because the birth defects are so awful. There are also other side effects such as depression, muscle and joint pain, extremely dry skin and eyes, and a whole hell of a lot of other things, but those are the things I experienced. The process is quite tedious. Here’s the process you go through every month: get your birth control (remember, no babies), get your blood drawn so they can check that your liver is just fine, then go to the doctor a couple days later where you have to do a urine test to make sure you’re not pregnant, then you get your prescription, then you have to take a test online all about practicing safe sex, once you pass that test, you can then drop off your prescription to finally get your month supply. Then do this many more times until you are off the medication. Annoying, but so worth it in my opinion.

You may be asking why the hell I’m even writing about this on a paleo recipe blog. Which is understandable. But I want to share my experience with people who are trying so hard to change their diet to fix their body issues, and those things are just not working. The more I’ve eaten paleo, the more I’ve found out how many things can be cured through diet alone. I rarely get sick, I sleep better, I have more energy, my depression went away. So many things can change through diet, but my acne did not seem to be one of them. And if it was, it would have taken me YEARS and many scars to find out those reasons. I’m sharing all this information with you in hopes that if you are ever thinking about taking this prescription drug, you have another opinion. A positive one.

I had a truly positive experience with the drug. Not to say that I didn’t have some ups and downs, but most of my 6 month experience was a good one. Here were some of my symptoms:

  • The worst symptom by far has been dry lips. You know when you get a sunburn and it peels? Well imagine that happening every single hour, of every single day, for 6 months. It was miserable. By far the worst thing. Not having chapstick on hand truly felt like a meth addict not having his drug. Terrible description, but that’s seriously how it felt. I rarely stop biting or picking at my lips. I have a new habit I need to break.
  • Dry skin and red skin. Mostly my face was the only thing that got dry, but it was also my ears, my nose and my hair. So I exfoliated my face daily with one of those soft bristle face rotating brushes. A cheap one. And moisturized a lot. I didn’t stop wearing make up until my skin settled down after the second month, I was too embarrassed.
  • Dry, breaking hair. My hair thinned out and my hair stylist said it seemed to be breaking easily. After 4 months, that passed and my hair got a lot better. Wish it would have affected my leg hair, that would have been cool.
  • My joints and muscles hurt A LOT about 3-5 months in. Workouts were much more uncomfortable to the point that it hurt to walk. That passed after 5 months.
  • Moody and depressed. I got REALLY depressed about 4 months or so into the accutane. I mean, depressed to the point that I couldn’t get off the couch. I couldn’t figure out why I was sad or what was wrong, but I was so unhappy. I fought some depression when I was growing up, so I was more likely to have some while on the drug. It went away with time.
  • Super red face. I’m pale when I stay away from the sun, so my neck and my face were completely opposite colors. Weird looking.

So I’m going to share some pictures with you. Disclaimer: these pictures may be frightening. And I’m sure some mean people out there will leave mean comments that will bum me out, but I want to share with you what a huge difference the medication made. I no longer have any acne, only red scars remain, which should go away over time. If they don’t all go away, I plan on doing some chemical peels and/or laser treatment to get rid of the scars.

first month of starting accutane – frightening (oh hi Laura!!)
2 months in – acne diminished a ton
5 months in – redness began to get much worse but skin kept smoothing out
6 months in – finished with the medication
finished with medication – redness is starting to clam down (with make up on)

In the end, I am incredibly happy with the results of accutane and extremely happy that I went on the prescription. I’m not sure what will happen in the future and if I will have to get back on it, but I know that my acne will never be as bad or as painful as it was in the past. This prescription has done wonders for me and if anyone ever asked me, I would recommend it to them. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it! But remember, this prescription affects everyone differently. Just because I had a good experience doesn’t mean someone else will. Thanks for listening. You’re my favorite. Please feel free to share your experiences, but do not hate on me for sharing my own experience with it. Kthanksbye.

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Oh, Hi! Iโ€™m Juli.

Iโ€™m a food hoarder. And a really bad dancer. If you donโ€™t know me well, you will probably not understand my humor. Therefore, I apologize ahead of time. Thanks for listening to my ramblings of my ever-changing life and trusting my kitchen mishaps. Your trust in me is appreciated.


390 thoughts on “Conquering My Acne”

  1. Hi Juli. I went through two courses of accutane when i was 13 and 17. I had bad, cystic acne as well. The difference was amazing, both times, after taking the drug. Unfortunately, for me, it still comes back here and there. It’s nothing like it was when I was younger, but I am now 37 and it still haunts me. The cystic stuff is mostly on my back and shoulders now, so at least my face mostly just looks the way it did when acne first started. I can live with it and be happy with me. I hope that your journey with acne hell is over. I would not wish this on anyone.

    1. Hey Meg! As you can see from all of these comments, you’re not alone in the continuous fight against adult acne! I would love to introduce you to Rodan + Fields. These skin products were created by the same doctors that created proactive but were created specifically for adult skin issues. It has done wonders for my sister and her adult acne & acne scars!!

      Check out the website here: and shoot me an email at

      We can further discuss what would work for you specifically and I would love to give you a 10% discount with free shipping!

  2. So happy for you! I had PERFECT skin all through high school and early 20s. There was nothing. And then the more I worked out and ate healthy, the worse my skin was. Same as you, big, painful cystic acne all over. It was almost 2 years before I finally got it under control. Now I am so excited for the scars to fade.
    Awesome you have been so open. I was actually reading your old post the other day! You look gorgeous!

  3. I am glad you found something that worked for you! Acne is embarrassing. You obviously are a smart person who knew the pros and cons of Accutane, and you made an educated decision about taking it. I am really happy for you that your skin is better. I hope it never comes back! Down with acne!!

  4. I love all of your post…The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly! Keep doing what you are doing…you are such an inspiration to me!

  5. I went on accutane in high school, and I often tell people that it was hands down the best decision of my life. People have such strong opinions about the drug, especially people that haven’t tried it. I’m so glad you had a very positive experience with it as well!

  6. I took accutane in high school because my face looked a mountain range covered in oil. I can agree about the dry lips part because I would literally have to remember not to open my mouth to wide when I woke up because my lips would crack and bleed (sorry, super gnarly I know). I also was super sensitive to light and a little moody. The end definitely justified the means.

    I agree that if your acne is bad to the point of pain and you’ve tried urrythang else, get after accutane. The drug is great, the process is not.

    Also, invest in blistex, and by in invest I mean go to costco and buy those bamas out of whatever they have, you’ll need/crave it.

    Good luck,

  7. Im so happy for you that you have found a remedy for something that is troubling to you. I think your are beautiful with or with out acne, and I love your whit and that you share so much of your self with your “fans” followers.

  8. Thanks for the post. If anyone is trying to eat a healthy, clear skin diet – it’s you. As much as we need to be informed about our diet, health and environment, sometimes medications are there for a reason. Glad you’re able to step off the meds for a while and hope your system takes over the maintenance!

  9. Wow!!! what a difference, the skin looks flawless! I can only imagine how excited you are! I totally destoryed my face this weekend, i have a wicked bruise from picking at my cheek and i see it when i look down. ๐Ÿ™ boo.

    (p.s… love laura’s shirt!)

  10. WOW!!! Your skin looks fantastic! I’m glad Accutane worked for you. I went through two rounds of Accutane myself about 10 years ago. My skin cleared up 100% for about 6 months, but then my skin started breaking out again. It is nowhere near as bad as before I went on Accutane, though. I still suffer from a couple side effects from the drug, but I knew what I was getting myself into, and it sounds like you educated yourself about it, too. People who haven’t suffered from severe cystic acne just don’t understand the intense physical and psychological pain we endure on a daily basis. Good for you for doing what was best for you!

  11. Juil

    I think you are absolutely stunning !
    I think you have one of the best smiles out there, and could only imagine the impact you leave on the people lifes around you.

  12. You are incredibly brave for posting this, and I have the utmost respect. People that have never suffered from cystic acne do not understand the pain, embarrassment and overall diminishing feelings of self worth that come from it. When I say suffer, I mean SUFFER. People that get one people here and there, would never really understand the fear of going out in public. I worked out a lot too while I had my cystic acne, and would hide my face the entire time.
    I had really bad acne on and off for years that came to a peak at around 22-24 when it became a full fledged cystic onslaught. It was so painful: to the touch, smiling hurt, make-up didn’t work–so forget going to the beach or the pool.
    My doctor put me on spironolactone and birth control, which actually worked for me.
    The next step would have been accutane, but the spiro worked. I’ve been off it for a while now, and now only have regular people pimples on occasion–usually before i start my monthly cycle. I hope to never have to deal with cystic acne again!

    Congratulations to you and I wish you the best!


  13. I has horrible cystic acne that came on very suddenly when I turned about 20. Nothing worked for it. I tried to cover it with make up. I used to work in customer service and random customers would bluntly ask what was wrong with my face. I finally convinced my derm to let me try Accutane. BINGO! That was the answer! I had to take two more courses of it in my mid-twenties. I think my hormones have calmed down since I’ve gotten older, I’m 29 now, so I haven’t had to take it since. But anyway … I commend you for sharing your experience and anyone who has anything negative to say about you taking Accutane has clearly never had to deal with cyctic acne … and the stares and the physical pain … and the emotional pain … and not wanting to leave the house because of how their face looks. You are awesome. F*!k the haters!

  14. You look great!!! I can’t imagine how frustrating your acne was but I’m glad you were able to take care of it. Whatever works for you is all that matters.

  15. Thanks for sharing! I’m an esthetician, so I love to hear/see what ppl are doing. First I have to say, NICE BROWS! haha. But really.
    I’ve had several clients turn to Accutane for their acne. One thing you need to be aware of is a long-term side effect, which I think you can really lessen… my clients reported developing IBS or other stomach issues. So probiotics and fermented foods will be important for your healing process. (Did you know most of our neurotransmitters live in the gut? And when there is unbalance there, one common symptom is depression/anxiety?)
    But good job being proactive and not stopping until you got what you wanted! Every body is different and we all must find our own ways. xx

    1. Couldn’t agree more! You definitely have to protect your gut after Accutane. I learned that lesson years after taking it, I wish I’d known at the time, but I’m taking steps to heal my gut now at least.

    2. same here. accutane, birth control and antibiotics made for a very unhealthy gut. working on that now with ferments, probiotics, bone broth and fermented cod liver oil.

  16. I used accutane when I was a 17. The results where nothing short of a miracle. I am now 43 and only get an occasional blemish during my period. Thanks for sharing your story. I had been wondering if I was Paleo when I was a teenager if it would of made a difference.

  17. I’m so happy this worked out for you ๐Ÿ™‚ I just wanted you to find a solution. I went through the same process (with a different drug) and don’t regret a second of it. Not saying its for everyone but I’m glad I tried it even though I was resistant for so long.

  18. Good for you! You look great! I love it when someone shares a personal experience that can help another person. ๐Ÿ˜€

  19. It’s a very personal decision and I am happy with how the treatment worked out for you! I was borderline going to go on Accutane, but I managed to find an alternative way to control my acne. Now I am just going to get a chemical peel or two to get rid of some final, superficial pink marks. The one thing I will recommend (at the advice of a friend of mine who took Accutane), is to really watch your joints, because you are aware of how this drug can affect them. I don’t do Cross-Fit myself, but I know how intense it can be, so ease back into it and take care of yourself ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Thank you for taking the time to write this post and for sharing your pictures! I have battled acne since junior high and I’m now 34 and still having problems. I switched to a Paleo diet 6 weeks ago and I’m already noticing huge improvements. Unfortunately for me, Accutane didn’t work. I tried it twice and had severe reactions both times that dermatologists have never noted before. I had pustules all over my face and the dermatologist couldn’t understand why. It hurt to open my mouth and the doctor said it looked similar to a case of folliculitis. I’m left with horrible scarring that I really want to get treated with laser/chemical peels provided the Paleo diet continues to work for me. I tried Accutane the first time, had horrible results then we decided to try it again 2 years later at a much smaller dose just to see if it could possibly still work for me. Unfortunately it was the same reaction. Right now I’m left with a lot of scarring and I just hate it. The Paleo diet is helping and I’m also taking progesterone cream because I’ve had bad results with different types of birth control, severe mood swings, weight gain, etc. I think you are beautiful in your before picture and beautiful in your after picture. ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope no one is shallow enough to post a negative comment for someone that was so honest and brave to share her story. You certainly helped me a lot.

    Take care,

    1. Kim,

      I, too, have been on Accutane a few times. I have struggled until recently with breakouts again! I have something that you may be interested in to help your skin. I haven’t been to the dermatologist in quite a while now! Lmk if you are interested!

  21. I used it a few years ago, wouldn’t have traded it. There’s a lot to say for people that live with acne- takes self image to a whole new horrible.

  22. I love that you posted this! *high five* it seems that nowadays everyone is sooo dramatic about being paleo (or ocm or no poo, etc.) that people forget they need to do what works for them and it’s not “bad” if you stray from the way that certain gung-ho folks think it should be. Thanks for sharing!

  23. Thank you for sharing such a personal experience. I finished accutane in July. I admit that I didn’t not have cystic acne like yours, but it was persistent and did not get better with a paleo diet and lifestyle. I am positive that by following a nutrient dense diet while on accutane prevented so many of the scary side effects. I did stop crossfit during the process because of the synovial fluid changes in my joints. Over all the only side effects I expereiced were the dry skin and lips and redness. I was even able to sunbath without any burning.

    For anyone thinking about it or on the prescription… Water is more important than ever! Coconut oil and tallow were my go moisturizers.

    Thanks again for sharing Juli! I felt so guilty taking a prescription for something so many other paleo-doers clear up with diet. It just wasn’t happening for me… Or you either it sounds like

  24. Interesting! I too have suffered from severe acne for a while, which got worse with the painful cystic acne after starting Paleo. I have found mine was hormonal of all sorts, but my naturopath put me on 100,000 IUs of Vitamin A with the disclaimer of NO BABIES. He said as soon as it started to clear up to ween myself off the Vitamin A so now I am completely off. I didn’t have to be on it very long. But I am also taking zinc which made a huge difference. After having all my vitamin/mineral/hormone levels tested he was able to pinpoint what what causing the acne. Glad you got yours figured out. I know what you are going through…it’s the most embarrassing and painful thing ever.

    1. Meghan,
      Thanks for sharing. How did your naturopath end up figuring the root cause? I am planning to go and would like to understand possible paths they take me on.

  25. My husband and my son have both used Accutane and did see great results–the side effects can be rough but in the end it was worth it. it is a little scary taking a drug with a skull and cross bones on it! LOL You look great–happy for you!

  26. I am very proud of you my cousin! And I never noticed that it was that bad…you have always been beautiful inside and out to me. Many hugs and love to you!

  27. Hey girl! I admire you for being so brave and sharing your story! I never had a problem with acne until I turned 25. Adult acne sucks and I’d do ANYTHING to get rid of it. Unfortunately, no health plan = no prescription remedy. I’m not sure what you use now that you’re maintaining but I’ve found Coalface soap from LUSH cosmetics and EAU ROMA toner have done WONDERS for my skin! ๐Ÿ™‚

  28. Thank you for sharing your story.. It’s not easy to expose parts of ourselves that we try to hide from the world. You are inspiring. People are stigmatized for so many things in this world and its refreshing and wonderful to know that we can break down those walls.

    Thank you!

  29. You poor thing to have dealt with this for so long. Thank you for sharing and being so brave by posting pics so that you can help someone else. PS- I would KILL for your eyebrows!

  30. Good for you! Your skin looks wonderful! I had cystic acne as a teen – I understand how painful it is. I have the scars to prove it – or at least I can see them, every once in a while I get “you have such beautiful skin”. Yeah- thats the benefit of being a greasy teen – I am almost 40 an not a wrinkle in sight!

    Try Creme de La Mer for the remaining scaring. Its ridiculously expensive – go get a sample first (the sample will last you longer than you think) a jar will last about a year.

    Now- don’t listen to the mean people! (screw the pale police!) Your body – your choice.
    Thanks for sharing.

  31. Good for you! It takes a lot of guts and courage to post pictures and talk about personal things that don’t thrill you online. I am sure it helps more people than you know!
    I also have been on accutane – twice (8 and 6 years ago). Like you, I tried so so so many things, nothing else worked. As awful as being on that medication was, it was a life saver. I still get an occasional blemish, but my skin is like night and day. I have been eating Paleo for about 2 months, and I do feel like my skin looks better – smoother maybe?
    Anyway – thanks for the always fun blog posts!

  32. Thank you. I have been beating myself up for the last few months b/c I am not seeing all of the magical skin results that are said to come from eating paleo. I eat a very clean paleo diet and have seen so many benefits – but my skin hasn’t been one of them. I’ve been using an all natural skin care line that I truly believe in – and I want so badly for it to work, but I have to admit, going the prescription route is something I am considering doing again. Thank you for sharing your story and showing me that I’m not a freak b/c my skin won’t clear up with paleo or my natural cleansing regimen. I may actually be a freak – but it’s not because of those things : ). You da best, Paleomg!

  33. I’m so happy for you Juli! You bring so much joy to so many people with your amazing recipes & hilarious blog, & it’s wonderful you will start to feel comfortable in your skin again! I myself have been on Accutane & it was the ONLY thing that worked for my acne also! Thanks for sharing your journey! ๐Ÿ™‚

  34. Thank you so much for sharing this, and having the guts to share your photos. I too used Accutane after years of incredibly painful cystic acne, and it was absolutely the right decision for me. 3 years later I am still acne free, and much less oily. My side effects were less severe than yours, but I would have gone through just about anything to get rid of it at that point. Lots of people want to hate and say “oh it’s so dangerous, you should just be happy in the skin you’re in, blah blah blah.” These are obvs people that have never had tears constantly leak from an eye because they had a giant cyst that swelled up and pushed on a tear duct, or cried out of embarrassment the first time their boyfriend accidentally saw them without makeup, etc. (Both real life things for me.)
    As a side note, the redness and scarring gets a LOT better…my skin is still more sensitive to cold and wind now and will turn red under those circumstances, but my scarring is almost gone. I used Retin A micro after the Accutane, and a laser treatment on a particular spot that had recurring cysts, so it was a very dark scar.

    Cheers to you, girl. The haters can kick rocks barefoot.

  35. I’m glad you found something that worked! I struggled with acne for a long time and I know how upsetting it can be. Mine responded fairly well to Proactiv but I couldn’t use it for a long time because it would give me scaly, itchy spots. My acne finally dropped off over the last few years (I’m 33). Not sure if it’s the (mostly) Paleo diet or just age, but I’m so glad to be finally rid of it! Congrats! I’m sure you feel better.

  36. Thanks for sharing your story, Juli! Definitely an amazing difference and I’m so happy for your success.

    I had bad acne as a teenager and went through an Accutane treatment as well. It helped me a lot too.

    A great reminder that we should do all we can to “eat and live clean” but that doesn’t mean modern medicine is not an option.

    Still love your blog — keep up the great work!

  37. Thanks for sharing, my acne was bad too, I’m 19 now, did Accutane when I was 16 – 17 years old. Before that I was using some other drugs which names I can’t remember, but nothing was working. Then I got into Accutane and the results were amazing, altough I had to put up with dry lips and joint pain aswell. Unfortunately I still have a little acne ๐Ÿ™ (but definitely not as bad as before), I’m planning on doing the treatment again in a couple of years when I can afford it (again, I can’t complain though).

    The only test I had to do to get the pills was the liver and blood test. Maybe because I’m a male, but definitely worth it.

    You’ve gotten nice results! Again, thanks for sharing!


  38. You look wonderful. I finally went to the dermatologist at age 51, it took awhile for everything I was prescribed to work ,but now I have been told I have beautiful skin and I want to cry. I use retinol and antibiotic benzol topical and a shitload of sunscreen! Best wishes dermatologists are worth their weight in gold!

  39. I had only started to suffer from acne as an adult. It was horrible because I didn’t really wear makeup and now I had to to cover my face everyday and I swear it made it worse. I went to a dermatologist and was also prescribed Accutane. And at that time I’d heard it was the bomb but that it dried you out. I mean DRIED you out! The doctor asked if I was pregnant or if there was a possibility I could be. I asked why and he told me about the deformities it could cause. As I drove from the doctor to the pharmacy I thought to myself “why would I put something inside me that could do that to a baby?” I didn’t want to risk it. All I could think about were residual side effects. Im a worry wort so I just kept thinking that the drug would linger in my body long after I stopped using it and could still affect me. So I just drove home and never filled the prescription. My face still suffered after that and I have some scarring but now I have my beautiful 2 yr old daughter and I plan to have more. I appreciate you’re experience (you look great) and believe me I still contemplate trying it. I guess I’m just a scaredy pants. *sidenote* when I was pregnant my skin was amazing!!!!

  40. I’ve noticed my skin has changed a lot since the beginning of this year. I contributed the break outs to going off birth control (got married and had been on birth control for 6 years) but now that I think about it, the husband and I started Crossfit beginning of this year too! I try to wash my face immediately after WOD, but I still get breakouts. Not quite like yours (no offense) but enough where I feel I have to wear makeup. Looks like the acutane was totally worth it and I agree….it’s a matter of figuring out what works for you! LOVE your blog btw. Husband and I pretty much started Paleo b/c of your delicious recipes.

  41. I am so happy that Accutane worked for you! I took it in my early 20s for my acne and was so happy with the results. Like you, I had cystic acne that was painful to touch and at one point I had 20 steroid shots in my face-one in each cyst-to help them go away.

    The scars have diminished over time for me, though I still notice them literally no one else does. Your skin looks GREAT and I am sure it will continue to smooth out ๐Ÿ™‚

    ANd the description of being without chapstick is spot on! I went through so much Carmex during my treatment, it was insane.

  42. I am curious, when you changed your eating habits, did you remove sugar 100%? Caffeine? Were you getting 8-9 hours of sleep in total darkness? These are ways to naturally reset your hormones and to reduce acne. I did not have a painful case like yours, but I went paleo to loose weight and noticed my face became completely clear as a bonus.

      1. Have you ever tested for food allergies or food sensitivities? It is possible that your acne got worse, not because of CrossFit, but because your diet changed during this transition as well. Could there be a paleo-friendly food that you consume more now than before that’s just not agreeing with you? It’s just a thought… If you’re interested, do a little research on MRT testing.

    1. I know this comment was meant to be helpful, but it is so hard to have acne, and have tried everything, and have someone say, have you tried *insert overly simplistic supposed remedy here*? Believe me, anyone with cystic acne has tried anything you can think of. Telling them to wash their face more or cut out sugar is… belittling.
      Thank you for this post Juli. Best to anyone suffering with this.

  43. Hey! Love you, brave girl, for sharing your story, regardless of what people think. I feel like this sort of stuff is really important, especially in the paleo/”all natural” community — where we’re led to believe that diet can fix almost everything and it’s not okay to reach out for help from classic medicine or doctors or whatever. Sometimes I feel like there’s a wizard/muggle thing going on (yeah, HPotts reference!).

    So happy this worked for you! Keep on being awesome, Juli!

  44. Congrats on your success w accutane! I used in when I was high school bc I had similar cystic acne. It was not without side effects but was worth it! Saved my skin! Of course we would all love to have success from natural methods but sometimes genetics and hormones are so stubborn that medical intervention is necessary. While I fully embrace natural remedies whenever possible we cannot discredit the the amount of good medical advancement has done for a whole bunch of ailments! I can say, ten years later, that my acne does return at times. I still experience breakouts aroun my period or if i wear makeup/lotion that isn’t hypoallergenic & oil free. My advice to u is to continue to be diligent in protecting your skin. Wash immediately after workouts and before bed. Avoid makeup as often as possible. I guess what I’m saying is don’t get complacent bc your skin is better- I’ve made that mistake ๐Ÿ™ So happy for you!

  45. I think you look great and im glad you didnt let other people’s comments get you down…these things, like you said, affect everyone differently. I hope it works and you dont have to go through that again!!

  46. Wow! What results! So happy for you!! I’m glad you had a good experience with the prescription and I hope you never need it again! ๐Ÿ™‚

  47. I have had awful acne for as long as I can rememeber, that seems to be hormonal. I can understand why you would do this treatment. I think you look great! I know how much better I feel about myself when my skin is clear. I like that you were really honest (as you always are) so that others will know exactly what is ahead of them should they choose this.

  48. First, thank you for sharing your story and for being so honest. You are very brave. Second, I am of the opinion that there are some things that nature just can’t fix, which is why God gave us drugs. I appreciate that you tried so many other things first, but in the end you have to do what is right for you. Thanks for your honesty. You are beautiful. I love your blog and come here for the stories as much as the (much used!) recipes. Thank you, thank you!

  49. Hi!

    I’ve struggled with acne since I hit puberty right at the age of 10 or 11. I’m now 19. Unlike you, I began with prescription drugs instead of changing my diet too much. I’ve been on Accutane for 3 separate sessions, but my acne came back after each one. Last fall I began another course of the drug, but my liver couldn’t handle it. Then I began eating Paleo to deal with other health issues without knowing that it could affect my skin at all. Which was good that I didn’t know, because it didn’t affect my skin at all and my hopes would have been dashed. But what I’m finding is that applying lemon juice works wonders. So if you find yourself back with acne, I would recommend trying that as it works to dry out the sebum in my pores much like Accutane did and my skin hasn’t been as good as it is now since being on Accutane. Regardless, I think my acne is here to stay for a while. So if you have any recommendations for me, I’d like to hear them as well.


  50. Juli, thanks for your post. I read your mails on Facebook and thought I’d share my life long experience with acne.

    I’ve suffered with mild acne since becoming post menopausal, these past few years. I was treated 40 years ago by a dermatologist in Jr. High and High School for more sever acne. He gave me tetracycline and sun lamp treatments and many solutions to put on my face.

    Recently I read about Dermadex, a microscopic mite that lives under the surface of our skin and feeds on the oil in our pores. It was reported that in Russia the problem has been cured with sulfur, so I researched this and began taking MSM regularly and found a topical call Prosacia which seems to be working pretty well. Apparently Rosacia can be caused by Dermadex.

    The other thing that is working really well is a Far Infrared Sauna, which is powerfully detoxifying. I purchased mine almost a month ago and my husband agrees my skin is looking much better.

    You are beautiful, and brave, and I love your food blog posts!!


  51. Thank you so much for sharing. I have the same problems @ age 38 and I’ve tried everything short of medication. When I get on antibiotics for other things I always clear right up. Im going to call and talk to the doctor about this. This was the push I needed. Your skin looks great!

  52. I just want to commend you for your courage to talk about this! I struggled with cystic acne for years and it was awful….painful, embarrassing, and frustrating! I finally found out the main causes (wheat allergy coupled with hormone imbalance) and have been able to control it with diet and birth control. It’s liberating to finally be free of it and I’m sure you feel the same! Your skin looks absolutely beautiful and I’m so happy for you that you found something that worked for you!
    Best wishes and thank you for your awesome blog…I love it!

  53. Yes! Accutane was a life-changer for me as well. I’ve been off of it for 4 months now and it’s so nice to recognize myself in the mirror again! Like you, I had tried all the natural remedies and dietary modifications as well and they just didn’t do jack. I figured one good round of accutane was better than being on the pill for 10 more years (the only other thing that got rid of my acne). Glad you found something that worked! It’s amazing what a hit acne is to one’s self-esteem.

  54. Juli you look GREAT!! I used acutane as well when I was in my early 20s and it was the only thing that helped clear up my skin as well! I’m happy for you!!!

  55. GOOD FOR YOU!!!! I’m glad that you found a solution for your skin issues… I’ve been through similar issues to find out that I am very allergic to dairy… skin issues are a horrible issue to live with and unless someone has lived with it themselves it’s very hard to realize that it can be quite dehabilitating… I hope that it stays away!

  56. Kudos to you for putting your story out there. Although paleo seems like a cure-all there are just some things that don’t get fixed and I admire you for putting your story out there and not listening to the negative comments.

  57. I’m so happy you decided to go on it. I had posted to your initial blog about this, really encouraging you to try it out. I too had be incredibly resistant to going accutane but after having severe acne since 4th grade and doing every other treatment under the sun, I finally decided to try it. Best decision of my life. Even if you end up having to do a second round of it (I haven’t had to yet), at least you know it works and you made the right choice. Dry lips were definitely the worst, but I’ll take 6 months of that over having cystic acne so painful you can sleep!

  58. I’m so happy that accutane worked for you! I know how frustrating and self conscience acne can make you! I’m glad you found something that worked for you! Let the haters hate! Keep being awesome! Love you and your blog!

  59. You are a beautiful girl in all your states: acne, no acne, makeup, no makeup…

    Having said that, however, I also want to say YAY and CONGRATULATIONS! I know you’ve worked hard on this with diet and lifestyle, and I’m so happy for you that you found a solution. Great job on weathering the difficulties along the way, too.

    Big hugs from me to you!

  60. Thanks for sharing that. My son eats paleo and had the same problem but had to go through 2 six month cycles of accutane. That stuff is brutal, especially that first month on. But he’s off it now and is much happier with the the results. Take care.

  61. Thank you for your honesty! I too have dealt with acne for the majority of my life. The only time it really cleared up was when I was pregnant with my son which was odd because I have heard that pregnancy usually gives you the opposite results. This year I started following a paleo lifestyle. In the last 3 weeks my breakouts have gotten worse and I blame my diet because in those 3 weeks I have completely gone off the paleo wagon. I am starting the 21dsd today so im hoping to get my skin cleared up again! It seems for me that my diet has a big effect on my skin, I know that isn’t true for others but I’m glad that I found the cause of my breakouts!
    Keep up your blogging and your honesty! I love hearing what others are going through and knowing I am not alone!
    ps- I love all your recipes!!

  62. I used accutane in high school and it changed my life for sure. I experienced all the horrible red drying symptoms you mentioned but over 10 years later I’m definitely acne free, only with some occasional zits here and there. I know it gets a bad rap but it saved my life so I didn’t have to hide behind makeup. Very happy you posted this. Sometimes drugs are the only answer and there’s no shame to that. Very thankful for western medicine!

  63. You put more effort in clearing your acne naturally than most people so I would not feel one bit bad about your decision (if someone leaves a nasty comment) you look great and if you feel better that’s all that matters!

  64. I took accutane for about 8 months last year. After I finished I couldn’t believe I had procrastinated doing it for so long. I let everyone’s scare tactics get to me. I even had my dental hygienist yell at me once because her son had a bad reaction to it and she freaked out when I told her I had started it. But I really didn’t have any trouble. Other than super dry skin the only other symptom I had was achy joints and they didn’t start bothering me until about 5 months in. I think if you do your research and are a reasonably healthy person that’s in tune with their body, you don’t have anything to worry about. I know it changed my life. My self esteem sky rocketed and I probably save a small fortune every month on foundation and concealer. Anyways, I’m glad you blocked out the haters and I’m super happy that you have beautiful skin now! Congratulations!

  65. You are beautiful! Your honesty is refreshing, nice to know that there are options for acne ๐Ÿ™‚ thanks for being so awesome!

  66. Good for you. Don’t let negative comments bum you out. You have done a lot to help people improve themselves, and this is just another positive step in that direction.

  67. So happy for you, Juli. You’re so brave to share those photos and your story. I’ve dealt with my own skin issues and have always tried to be really upfront with everyone about what was going on with that. It’s always nice to know you’re not alone, right? Making the decision to go on medication of that kind is always a tough one. I have psoriasis and have usually been able to control it without any scary medications, but a couple years ago I had a really terrible outbreak and eventually made the decision (with the help of my dermatologist) to go on methotrexate. It was not a fun 6 months, but I’m glad I did and would certainly make the same decision if it happened again. I agree that diet can go a long way, but sometimes it can’t do everything. Glad to hear you’re happy with your decision. That’s really all that matters!

  68. Juli – good for you! I’m sure you will get some ignorant comments but ultimately, you made a decision that has worked for you. I agree that eating and exercise can probably cure about 99% of what ails you – but for the 1% it doesn’t, we shouldn’t feel ashamed or embarassed to look for other (potentially prescription) solutions.

  69. Good for you for finding what works for you! I had cystic acne for a long time as a teen and into my 20’s. I’m 31 now and it will still come back if I don’t keep to my routine. I used Proactive for 10 years and that helped but never really got rid of it all. Now I mix my peroxide cream with my wrinkle cream lol! I never thought that I’d still have this into my 30’s. I’m so glad for you! Your skin looks great and I bet that makes you feel so good!

  70. You look F*%$&#@ amazing!!!!!! And you are the coolest kid in town for sharing your experience candidly and with pictures that aren’t the most flattering. <3 Mandalicious. Let's laugh together soon.

  71. Glad you had a positive result in the end, but sorry to hear you had to go through those awful side effects. I dealt with cystic acne for over 10 years. Was treated with antibiotics off & on for years, tried hormone balancing, all of which *kind of* worked, but nothing totally eliminated it. Finally had a food allergy test a couple of years ago and discovered I’m highly allergic to bananas, pineapples, and pecans. Once I eliminated those foods from my diet, the acne totally resolved. A mild tomato allergy reminds me from time to time that I’m still susceptible to breakouts, especially since I love anything & everything tomatoes, so I tend to load up my system with them occasionally. But otherwise, the food allergy test was a life saver! It was a simple finger stick, got results within a couple of weeks, and it’s made life a lot easier. Hubby also recently had been dealing with terrible back acne, had the food allergy test, discovered several big allergens, but one in particular he ate EVERY day was egg yolks. Now he just does the whites for breakfast ~ acne gone. Just wanted to share, if you haven’t tried already, it might be worth trying… Best of luck. Love your blog and recipes!!!

  72. Thanks for sharing!!! Glad you’ve found a solution that has worked for you! Acne sucks…I’ve had it my entire life and dealing with it is just awful sometimes!

  73. I have been trying different natural remedies but I think after the new year if its there, ill try it out. Mostly, I just wanted to say that its really great what you did by sharing your experience. A lot of people don’t understand that sometimes acne isn’t caused by not having a healthy lifestyle or not taking care of yourself properly. sometimes is just happens and you need a little help. haters going to hate, but just know I am very happy for you! ๐Ÿ™‚

  74. I had really bad acne starting in 6th grade and went on Accutane in 10th or 11th grade I think. I also had a good experience…although I wonder how much it affected my body (my aunt developed permanent joint issues while on it).

    In the end though, I am a different person b/c I was able to go through life without acne. It seems like a small, insignificant thing to worry about – but I feel your pain. Glad it worked out for you!

    (and I just a had a flashback to the dry lips thing….yeah that was terrible)

  75. I’m so happy this worked for you!!!!! My brother had a bad experience on this stuff, but it’s great you didn’t! I’ve been wanting to do this stuff for a while, because I get horrible painful acne, but because I don’t get it daily (just have it most the time haha) they won’t allow me to. Oh well, hopefully with age it will get better!!

  76. Thank you so much for sharing honestly. Your perspective is great, and I find it refreshing that after exhausting your natural options, you didn’t let naysayers get you down. As you stated, so many things CAN be changed with diet and lifestyle that we seem to forget to acknowledge there are limits. Enjoy your new face! ๐Ÿ™‚

  77. Thanks for sharing your experience! I used to deal with bad acne when I was in high school. I remember when my DR suggested accutane and it was a very scary thought to me. Luckily my acne cleared up with some low dose birth control. It’s nice to read (and see) detailed results and side effects. Good for you! I am happy it worked for you and you feel better! You look great!

  78. Hi Juli! I’ve been lurking on your blog for a while and this was a read that I really related to. I had horrible acne in my teens and went on Accutane at 16. I went through all of the symptoms you describe, peeling lips being the worst, and I have to say that now at 27 my lips are finally going back to normal! Anyway, Accutane was a life savor for me. It cleared up my acne and I have been basically acne free ever since (so 11 years!) I’m currently washing my face with coconut oil (from your recommendation) and am loving it! Don’t listen to the negative people, unless you’ve been though it you don’t get it and this is something you don’t regret!

  79. Thank you for sharing your story! I have had a serious fight with acne most of my life and have been debating taking accutane as well. I’m on a current topical regimen and just got off antibiotics. My current problem is just living alone, fairly far away from my family, so I am scared of the possibility of depression. I’ve dealt with anxiety as well, so I know I can recognize it when it comes, it’s just the fear of having to go through it. Anyway, anyone with mean comments can just go away. You’ve inspired me and I thank you for it! =]

  80. I finished 4 months in September after trying to cure with food and a million home remedies for many years. The scarring became too much of a stressor and I didn’t want any more. I am so glad I did it because it sucks going to the mirror everyday and thinking how awful you look.

    I had also eaten mostly Paleo for over a year when I decided to get the prescription.

  81. Thanks for sharing your experience. My daughter went through a round of the treatment as well (last resort) and she had a similar experience as yours. Not always fun experiences, but in the end she was very pleased wtih her results.

    Oh, and don’t worry what weird internet people say. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do for yourself.

  82. I’m so thrilled for you Juli! I remember that original blog post about Accutane and wondered what you had decided. I applaud your choice to tell people about your journey on Accutane… it may help others who are on the fence about this who do Paleo. Your skin looks beautiful!

    I went through a similar experience in high school and college with my acne. I had perfect skin until I was 16 and then BAM! Cystic acne like crazy, concentrated around my jaw, but also literally everywhere on my face. It was not only humiliating, but painful and scarring. I remember staring into my mirror and wanting to claw my face apart.

    I spent so much time trying to figure out how to fix it. I tried everything- salves, creams, Proactiv, internal meds, acne facials, expensive face washes… my dermatologist just kept telling me, “Apply the creams, keep the hair out of the face, drink plenty of water…” Nothing.

    And then came Accutane in April of my senior year of HS. It was a Godsend. Like you, my lips were dry and chapped, my skin was easily irritated, my hair became brittle and the hoops I had to jump through to get the stuff was insane, but my skin started to clear up! By prom at the end of May, my skin was clear enough (for me) that I actually took pictures that night! I got a severe case of sun poisoning that summer when I forgot my sunblock during an outdoor concert, but other than that, I would do it again in a heart beat.

    I had to have another course of treatment during my junior year of college, but my acne was less prevalent at that time and it cleared up very quickly.

    Since college, my face still does break-out, but not nearly close to what it did in HS. I know people who have had bad experiences with Accutane, but to me, it was almost a miracle. I’m so happy that it helped you too. And thank you for sharing your story… it may help someone more than you will ever know.

  83. WOW! I’m so glad you posted this! I’ve been feeling so frustrated with my face. I’ve been having the same symptoms with the cyst like acne that is very painful. It did get worse for me too when I started Paleo, and I have tried everything “natural”. And was feeling bad if I resorted to anything chemical! You just gave me permission by posting this! Thank you! I’m making an appointment today with my dermatologist!

  84. I was one of the accutane detractors when you posted about it 6 months ago. After reading your post, my point of view has changed. I think that you did the responsible thing to try everything else, do the research and then follow the precautionary steps to take the drug safely. Western medicine gets slammed a lot in the paleo world but there really are ways to take medication safelyโ€ฆand it is the right thing to do in many situations. A good diet, well-suited to the individual, is the base for good health and I hope that anyone taking accutane would not just rely on the drug but look at all aspects of health to heal. We (adults) are all responsible for our own health and I am happy that you are open and honest and setting a good example on your blog. Your skin looks greatโ€ฆyou look great!

  85. This is not negative, read the whole thing! When I saw what this post was about I was shocked. I felt a little angry that an opinion leader in the paleo world was promoting this. I have heard awful things about accurate and birth control is so harmful to the female reproductive system. Once I got to the bottom and saw the pictures I realized you really don’t know what you would do until you’re in the same exact position. Right now I say I would never take it myself, but if I had painful acne like that and tried everything you did, I would probably end up making the same decision.. So I applaud you for having integrity and doing what you feel is best for yourself despite what others think. Such a hard thing to so knowing so many are watching and judging.. A true leader!!

  86. Thank you for sharing your story. You look beautiful in all of the pictures and I know it takes courage to share what you are sharing with strangers. I am dealing with acne for the first time in my mid-20’s and it is a very hard thing to deal with especially when it becomes painful.

  87. Good for you! You look great! I too resorted to Accutane. It was scary but I was at my wit’s end with cystic acne. And the Accutane worked. The redness fades after time too.

    I never had acne as a teen but when I was 21 I made the mistake of taking the birth control, orthotricyclene. I took it for about a year, and had no issues. But when I went OFF it, all hell broke loose! It ruined my hormones and my skin. Suddenly I was developing painful, cystic acne that responded to nothing, and I had no coping skills either, as I had no experience with acne and was no a huge make-up girl. Every day was an art project of applying makeup to hide the acne, which I’m sure made the acne worse! But I had to work, go to school etc. I was absolutely miserable, physically and mentally.

    The side effects of Accutane were not fun but it was worth it (however, I did like the dry hair because mine is normally so greasy I can’t skip a day without washing it). That was over ten years ago and my skin is pretty good, I get monthly break outs sometimes but no cystic acne since.

    Love your blog.

  88. Good for you girlfriend! It takes a strong woman to show yourself in such a vulnerable state! Your skin is looking fab, and good for you doing what was best for you! We are all different, and have to find our own path! I loved you for your recipes before (my hubby too, of course) and love you even more now for sharing this experience! You’re an inspiration!

  89. Juli, I have been reading your blog for about 6 months and have read how much the acne has affected you. I understand, I didn’t have the severity of your cystic acne, but it was enough to become extremely self conscious about it. Luckily for me, I cut out dairy (due to starting Paleo) and my skin cleared up almost immediately. I admire your strength to put this out there to help anyone that might be struggling as well.
    P.S. YOU’RE my favorite Paleo chef and I recommend your blog to everyone.

  90. Your skin looks incredible! This post really hit home for me. I eat clean paleo and I was still getting awful cystic acne to the point where it hurt to even put moisturizer on. I feel like my progression of acne mirrors yours exactly! From occasional teenage acne to this. I was so hesitant to go on accutane because I am a naturalist and tried literally EVERYTHING and nothing worked. I am now into my second month and am so glad I made the decision. I am experiencing joint and muscle pain, and the dry lips is redonk, but between aquaphor and my all time favorite sugar lip balm by fresh (I should own stock in this company at the rate I’m going through it!) I’m getting through it. Your analogy about meth cracked (literally) me up because I freak out if my lips aren’t moisturized. Anyhow I am so grateful for your post because it’s so annoying to me when people say it’s because of your diet and we are proof it’s not! I even stopped eating nuts for awhile because of it! Didn’t help by the way. I love your blog and all your recipes, and posts!

  91. Juli, I am so glad you have found something that works! I totally understand what a blow to your esteem it is to have bad skin and just pray every night before you go to bed that you would just miraculously wake up and have clear, beautiful skin everyone around you has! You look so happy!
    I was on Accutane 3 times in high school. Had great skin all through college and up until my first pregnancy when I was 28. Then I couldn’t get it under control and really struggled with my skin. I didn’t want to go back to the dermatologist so I just kind of suffered through for a few more years. I just discovered Nerium and have the best skin ever! For all of you looking for something to help your skin, especially scarring, discoloration, and redness, you need this! I can’t say enough good things about it!

  92. Juli – I am so glad that Accutane is working for you!

    I have had a very different experience with acne and Accutane. I’ve had to take a course of Accutane twice in my life, once when I was 16, and then again (after years of daily antibiotics and prescription topical creams, etc. that ended up being only temporary fixes, and bad ones at that) when I was 25. Both times the acne vanished during the treatment, but would come back again 3-6 months later, slightly different (different breakout zones) but no better than before.

    I’m now 27, and have been eating paleo for about a year now. While I still have the occasional breakout from stress at work or around my period, my skin is clearer than it ever was after Accutane. Just goes to show that we are all different. I also think that if I had been eating paleo during my Accutane sessions, they would have worked much better for me! Perhaps the combination of the two is key…

    I am so happy that you’ve found something that works for you! You are an inspiration to so many not only in terms of nutrition, but also in terms of your honestly and willingness to bravely put yourself out there as you are. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thank you for your recipes, and for helping us all. Best of luck!

  93. Looks great! I am using a treatment that makes me red, but when paired with the microdermabrasion at ulta that has a calming finish it helps. Highly reccomend it!

  94. Juli, has it also made your skin less oily, post-treatment?

    I’ve had acne since I was a young teen. Still get it all the time now as a 35 year old. I also have a lot of sun damage because I tanned and burned all the time – tanning beds and sun were the only things that partially cleared it up and hid the blemishes and scars.

    The last few years, I now get it horribly on my jaw line, and my neck under my jaw (along with all over my back and shoulders). The thing that drives me crazy, in addition to the actual acne, is that my face looks like an oil slick within a hour or two of cleaning, my pores are huge, and I get a lot of black heads.

    My brother did accutane in high school and I think has liver damage from it, but I’m done having babies and am strongly considering it now.

  95. I know exactly how frustrating acne can be! I wrote a post about mine too. I was able to see some improvements with OCM, but what really helped me was doing a liver cleanse. I am currently taking some Chinese herbs that are strengthening my liver and spleen and have noticed my skin is looking really great. So happy for you and hope your skin continues to look great!

    1. I was just thinking how you said your acne got worse after starting Crossfit. If your liver overwhelmed and unable to keep up with filtering “junk” out it might make sense that sense that you were releasing more toxins from sweating more and that was causing the acne. It’s good that you got in under control now, but I would keep that in mind to avoid it coming back.

  96. Judge not, lest ye be judged.
    Unless people have suffered with acne, they can’t truly understand how horrible, painful, and detrimental it is to your self-esteem. Good for you for doing what you thought was best for you. You look lovely!

  97. Juli,
    I have followed your post and often wondered if you had bitten the bullet with acne and gone the Accutane route. I had recommended you try the spironolactone which I used for years..did not do much of anything long term for me and taking a blood pressure medicine..really?? I am so glad you will not spend the next 20+ years suffering with this disease as I have. At 58 I am finally going to do the Accutane. My hansom son in college at 19 has resorted to growing a beard, I know it’s the lazy stage but I do believe these breakout’s bother him even though he blew off my discussion of doing the Accutane. As a Mom, the minocycline, tazorac, etc, is not going to cure him. He’s going if it’s the last thing I do! You did the right thing, your an adorable, confident, beautiful young lady and your really going to shine now!!

  98. So happy for you! Your skin looks great! I used Accutane for 5 months when I was 20 and it was the best decision ever. I had painful cystic acne like yours and the Accutane really, really helped. I had already tried everything else so it was a last resort. It’s been 13 years and my skin is still in good shape. I’m glad this worked for you!

  99. Julie first I want to say you look beautiful. I’m glad you found something that worked for you. Painful or not it’s important to feel good about ourselves and what we see in the mirror is part of that. I wanted to recommend a treatment for the residual scarring. I don’t have any scaring but am getting to the age where I am starting to see some of those fine lines around my eyes. I started having a treatment done three months ago called a derma pen. It’s performed by a derm or medically licensed esthetician. It’s like a wand with about 11 tiny needles in it. Like acupuncture needles. Tiny. And when turned on the needles move up and down penetrating the dermis. Basically making small punctures all over the face. This procedure is mildly uncomfortable. The more I do it the better it gets. But if you are sensitive they have numbing cream. The derma pen increases collagen production by 100% with each treatment reducing fine lines and scaring. I have only had three treatments at this point but I’m really happy with the results. Good luck!

  100. Juli! I’m so happy for you! I have struggled with cystic acne for so many years – i feel your (literal) pain. Everyone told me that if I ate paleo it would go away. Or if I ate X it would go away. I tried so many medications over the decades with mixed results. Sometimes you just plain have acne. It’s such a hard thing for others to understand – and I do understand. Thank you so much for sharing your story. It helps to educate others about acne and let them know that it’s not anything that we can actually control. Big hug!

  101. Congratulations! I am so happy that this worked out for you.

    I also suffered from cystic acne for years and when I finally decided to take Accutane, it was truly life-changing. Prior to Accutane, I never would have considered leaving the house without a LOT of makeup. After, no problem. It was only after completing my round of Accutane that I realized how much energy I had been using stressing about the condition of my skin. Acne can really exhaust you emotionally and psychologically (not to mention physically, when it is painful like ours).

    And this is not a scary warning, but just a heads-up that after many years of great skin following Accutane, I am now pregnant (with a boy) and my acne is back with a vengeance. Before, I never had acne anywhere but my face; I now have cysts on my back and neck. I am more blasรฉ about it now, because there really is nothing that I can do about it (except go back to wearing three layers of foundation), but I spent a few weeks really upset about it when it started. I will probably be pregnant and/or breastfeeding for the next 4-5 years of my life, so my next round of Accutane is far off, but I admit that I sometimes daydream about it as a “reward” awaiting me in the future. So if this happens to you (if/when you have kids), just be aware that it’s a possibility and don’t stress too much about it.

  102. Congratulations! I went on accutane in college and it has been 14 years since (I’m old). I get blemishes here and there but NOTHING like what I dealt with for the 6 years leading up to accutane. You gotta do you and what is best for your body. Jerks be damned.

  103. In my years during college, I continued with cystic acne that I had during highschool. The big, swollen lumpy kind of acne and what made it really bad for me was I also had it on my back, my chest and even upper arms. This was tough for someone growing up living on the Southern CA beaches. I tried the antibiotic tx’s but nothing made a dent. Finally, I did the Accutane tx and in 6 months all of the swollen bumps were gone, basically for the rest of my life (30 years now). Accutane is a scary, but 6 months cured a problem I had for almost 10 years and continued antibiotics over that time frame did not address. I would encourage anyone dealing with the trauma of cystic acne to seek a good doc and see if Accutane will work for them.

  104. Congratulations. I use something called “Clarifoam” by prescription which helps keep my skin “in check.” And I’m 47!

  105. Hi Juli! You look great!! I’m glad you had a positive experience. Thank you for sharing your story! You’re awesome. ๐Ÿ™‚

  106. Good for you, Juli! Like a lot of other posters, I took Accutane. It was about four years ago, and until the last few months (while dealing with a very stressful work project), I’ve hardly had any acne. It was inconvenient, but so worth it. You look great!

  107. Hey Juli, I’ve followed you for a year + now, but this is my first time commenting. Thanks for sharing your story and pictures. Very brave as always. And I second what Melissa said…you are beautiful in all your states.
    – Cleo

  108. I work in healthcare and there are ALWAYS options. Kudos to you for trying everything before running to the Dr. So many people think that people in healthcare are the “end all be all” and we know all the right answers but lots of times it is simple changes in diet/lifestyle that make the biggest changes. You look great, don’t let anyone try to give you crap about taking the medication either. Obviously, it was the best choice for you as a patient! So many people don’t weigh the risk to the benefit and sometimes sanity is the biggest pay off so congrats! I love your work and you look great!!! Keep your head up, and don’t listen to the haters. The closer to the top you get, the more people are gonna try to bring you down! <3 your recipies!

  109. I have tried everything out there for acne and even went through 2 rounds of Accutane in my younger years. I am now 40 and still struggle with it. I found one cleanser that has been really helpful which I wanted to pass along now that you are done with Accutane. It’s called Black Soap. Look it up and feel free to read about it. I think you might like it as a maintenance cleanser as it helps to prevent acne and dry up anything you’ve already got. I know how frustrating it is to deal with! You look great.

  110. I also had really bad cystic acne in my early 20s. I tried everything Western medicine had. I didnโ€™t know about the diet connection at that time, but I wish I had. I did 2 rounds of Accutane โ€“ the first one was when I was 24, and it was only 40 mgs. The dermatologist I was seeing was too scared about the medication to go any higher. It worked great, but started coming back within 2 years. I found another derm and went on another round when I was 26, this time at a much higher dose โ€“ up to 140 mgs daily, which was just above the maximum amount for my weight. It worked wonderfully, and up until recently, I said it was one of the best things Iโ€™d ever done. The only lasting side effect that I was aware of was dry lips and eyes. The dry lips arenโ€™t nearly as bad as they were while I was on Accutane, but itโ€™s almost 10 years later and my lips still peel and I wonโ€™t go anywhere w/out lip balm. The dry eyes have gotten better. I used to have a hard time being under a ceiling fan because it would dry out my eyes so horribly.

    Itโ€™s only recently, after dealing with some mysterious health issues for awhile and getting diagnosed with leaky gut, among other things, that Iโ€™ve started to realize what lasting effects Accutane has had on me. Shortly after my last course of it, I started getting patches of hyperpigmentation on my face. I thought it was hormone related from a few years of being on the pill (which is a horrible thing to do to your body, by the way โ€“ double whammy that they make you go on it while on Accutane). But after years of being off the pill, the spots just kept spreading, to the point that most of my cheeks and forehead are covered. So I went from having to wear makeup to cover the acne, to having to wear makeup to cover the melasma. At least melasma isnโ€™t painful!! I finally made the connection recently that Accutane caused my leaky gut, which caused my melasma. I finally found a supplement that is helping to heal my leaky gut (zinc carnosine) and Iโ€™m starting to see the melasma begin to break up. Leaky gut comes with a whole host of other issues though.

    I wonโ€™t deny that Accutane was a life saver for me at the time. Though Iโ€™m prone to occasional depression, I didnโ€™t experience it at all on Accutane. I was so frigginโ€™ happy that my cystic acne was clearing up! Now I wish Iโ€™d tried changing my diet first, as itโ€™s been 10 years dealing w/other issues that I didnโ€™t know were caused by Accutane. Obviously you tried that route! Now that youโ€™re off of Accutane (and hopefully off of birth control!), you might consider taking some steps to both get your hormones back on track (fermented cod liver oil and lots of healthy saturated fats are good for that) and protect your gut. Supplementing with some glutamine for awhile would definitely not be a bad idea. Some high quality colostrum (Synertek or Surthrival) would be great as well. Accutane does amazing things for acne, no doubt. Just be aware that it can have some unseen and long lasting effects, but you can take steps now to make sure theyโ€™re minimal.

    Despite the warning, Iโ€™m very happy for you and your clear skin! I know how good it feels!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  111. congrats! i had bad cystic acne and feel super lucky that topical retin-a and paleo cleared it. i would also HIGHLY recommend a jessner chemical peel. my derm suggested i get one when my acne was starting to clear and it’s the best thing i’ve done! i wish i could get them every few months! i had a few cysts developing when i got it and it stopped them in their tracks. i had baby perfect skin for 2 months after! and it definitely helped with scarring! i originally thought it would opnly be good for scarrig but it was actually even better as a treatment! good luck! ๐Ÿ™‚

  112. In high school I had such bad cystic acne that people would ask if i got punched in the face, cause it was so swollen! I took accutane and it definitely helped out, but the long lasting effects are not worth it. I now have Crohn’s disease and believe accutane was a huge contributing factor. Accutane is more than just a high dose of Vit A as you mention, it is also a very powerful antibiotic, that completely messes wioth your gut flora.
    If I could go back I would absolutely trade having acne and trying to figure out a non medical way to solve that, over shitting my pants every day, like now!
    Im glad it worked for you, and I hope you dont see any |side effects” like I have.

  113. Thank you for sharing! I have noticed a huge increase in acne since beginning my crossfit journey. It is the worst around my hairline; so I automatically assumed that it had something to do with the sweat. I immediately shower and wash my face following work outs, but nothing has helped. I have tried all of the different cleaners, but haven’t found anything to help. I may have to look into going on the Accutane. Thank you for the info and for sharing your story.

    1. I’ve been using apple cider vinegar as a toner on my face post workout and its been keeping the hairline acne at bay. Everyone is different, but its worth a shot!

  114. Good on you for taking the initiative with your physical and emotional health. Love Paleo, but that doesn’t mean science can’t help out. Keep up the good work and awesome blogs & recipes!!


  115. Thanks so much for sharing your journey and so glad the Rx worked for you. I’ve been following you (love your writing stye!) and your recipes cuz I just started Paleo over 2 months ago to lose weight before a total knee replacement surgery (which is 2 weeks away, sooo excited!) and I’m hooked. I feel so much better. I have energy, focus, and no more brain fog. I sleep well, all through the night. Now, I’m extolling the virtues of healing the body from within after decades of poor choices. Nothing like a Born Again! Thanks for being one of my top go-to sources and making learning about Paleo and living Paleo an enjoyable experience.

    By the way, NeriumAD night cream works wonders for clearing up discolored skin. It’s only been on the market for two years. I’m happy to send you a sample to try before you buy, if you’re at all interested.

  116. Kudos to you for sharing your story. I have been suffering with some cystic breakouts (hormonal, on my chin) since I started crossfit as well. I recently did a paleo challenge at my box and it cleared up significantly…I think it was dairy for me, personally. I can’t imagine dealing with acne for as long as you have, and I’m so happy that you found something that works for YOU! Thanks for all your wonderful recipes and for being such an honest, genuine blogger! xo.

  117. I am SO GRATEFUL for this post right here in this moment. I haven’t reached th point of trying accurate but I’m about to try birth control to contain this acne. I was about to call my doctor when is saw your post….the stupid guilt I feel for not being able to heal it on my own is assuaged by your honesty. THANK YOU!!!!

  118. Juli-
    I wasn’t going to comment because I saw so many people already reply. I was on accutane when I was younger and I have perfect skin now. I get random pimples when I get my period, but overall I have people tell me all the time how great my skin is. You read such horror stories about Accutane, but I am extremely thankful for it. I admire your willingness to post those before pictures. I’ve been there! I think it’s awesome of you to post this. I had to tell you ๐Ÿ™‚

  119. I went through two cycles of Accutane & had the exact same reactions as you did! I still get (some) acne in my 30’s due to hormonal changes but it’s not NEAR as bad as it was when I was younger. Kudos to you for sticking with it!! You look amazing!

  120. Wow!!! So glad you found a treatment to help with your acne!!! I know you must be relieved ๐Ÿ˜€ I always had great skin until my mid 20’s where i started having breakouts, nothing horrible tho and what i thought was bad cleared up after a few chemical peels. It wasnt until this past spring when i was in a car accident that seemed to spark some stress or something in my body i began to continuously break out…each time getting worse, to the point where i had to wear full faced make up to leave the house which anyone who knows me knows i’m not a full faced make up girl. i hated it! nothing worked, i’m 30 and was beginning to get really down about it. finally went to the derm and they put me on 3mo of doxycylcine for now. i’m sure you tried that. it’s helping a lot, but slowly. once i’m all healed i’ll do chemical peels to help w/ the minor scarring. i feel you!! we talked thru fb briefly about this before and happy you’ve found your cure!! ๐Ÿ˜€ i’m just about done w/ month 1 and hoping i can kick these break outs for good! my derm thinks it was the initial stress of the accident that lead to the first break out (i had facial injuries) and then my own stressing over the breaking out (painful kind like yours) lead to me continuing to break out. cheers to finding out cures! (*hopefully*)

  121. Hi, ive been on Accutane 3 times. I love being on it because it WORKS! the side effects are nothing compared to being able to walk around and show people my face. [Kids should NEVER be given accutane, only adults past 25]. The problem is, even being strict paleo for three years, the problems come back. Not the same, a little different but my skin is still “stupid”. It’s acting up again so im going to try your oil cleasing routine. I am PETRIFIED to put oil on my face. I may start with a test patch first to see how it goes. Did i mention i am terrified of making this mess worse? Well, i am. I have oily skin. With major peeling dry patches. Please please please keep advising on brands of oil to buy and blends. If this saves my skin i will start paying you. No one can understand the hell of bad skin if they have never had it.

  122. i went on accutane at 16 yrs old. the side effects were nothing compared to the daily struggle having acne… depression?? yeah having pizza face was depressing. im 29 years old now and my skin has remained perfect after 13 years of completing the accutane cycle. im so happy for you!!!!! you go glen coco! xx

  123. I have had problem acne here and there and had great luck with Paula’s Choice products (not spam, not any kind of sales pitch, just a satisfied customer). At the least, her beautypedia has wonderful, impartial reviews on many many skin products and can tell you how to get rid of the redness and prevent further acne. You do not have to spend a ton of money on the Creme de la Mer mentioned above.

    Realself has a ton of reviews on different laser and cosmetic procedures. Personally, I’ve had IPL (“photofacials”) done twice with fantastic reductions in scarring and redness. Do your homework and find a place that has good equipment and satisfied customers. There is a lot of different equipment on the market and you can end up burned if you have an inexperienced technician.

  124. Juli you have always looked amazing and you are so beautiful inside and out – but I am glad that you found something that helped you get to where you wanted to be. Congrats!

  125. Juli, i’m so glad you had a great exprience! I was on accutane in high school (about 10 years ago) and it was strict then but it seems to have gotten even more strict, which is a good thing because it’s a very serious medication. I experienced the exact same side effects that you did and it all gets better once the medication is done. i never had to go back on it again, although i sill get bemishes every once in a while, i hope it’s the same for you! your skin looks great! i’m so happy for you! it does wonders for self confidence!

  126. You are incredibly brave for posting this story, the pictures and putting yourself out there.

    Your blog is awesome—not only for the recipes, but for how open, honest and forthcoming you are.

    Congrats on your success!!!

  127. I am so happy for you! I know for the most part what causes my acne (nut butters!!) Yet I refuse to quite them! HAHAHA! I am glad you found something that worked for you and who cares what others think! This about you and your journey, not theirs.

    LOVE your blog, Keep it up!!

  128. Thanks for your story! You should look into the Body Deli products made in Palm Springs. You can order them online, but they are made from Raw and Organic foods. They’ve helped my acne prone skin a lot and have cleared up scarring and large pores along with fine lines.

  129. I’m so happy for you! You look beautiful and confident. Way to go for sharing your story with us and being brave enough to post the pictures!

  130. as someone who also suffers from acne on and off – it always amazes me the community of people out there who suffer from it and I really do believe that you don’t understand how much of a physical and emotional toll it takes on you. Forget not wanting to leave the couch because of the medication you are on…I’m sure most people (including myself) feel like that just looking in the mirror when you are suffering from an acne flare. All I can say as glad you found something that worked for you and 1000% hope that it continues to work wonders ๐Ÿ™‚ As another reader said, I would never wish this on aaanyoneee

  131. Dang girl. you need to be an accutane spokesmodel and get on their payroll! What amazing results an I am SO happy your skin is much less painful now!

  132. Lovely skin darlin’ – I had to do the same.. it wasnt insanely bad but I had to do three months of accutane – and now my skin is perfect. ๐Ÿ™‚ Only a zit or two once in a while but so worth the dry lips for those few months. <3

  133. When I was 25, the same thing happened to my face! It was AWFUL!!! My face hurt so bad and I had little self esteem. I too went on accutane and had the same positive results! It is difficult to go through all the tests but definitely worth it! I think something happens to our hormones around 25. A friend of mine had the same thing happen to her at that age and also had to go on accutane. Crazy.

    I used vasoline on my lips and inside my nose. I had a jar with me at all times! I still do (but just for the lips now ๐Ÿ™‚

    As someone who has been there, you MAY see some acne return when/if you take yourself off the birth control. That happened to me. My dermatologist warned me it would happen and it did, just fyi…

    I am 33 now and I thought I was going to have to get back on accutane again. My face got so bad with the cycstic acne. When one started to disappear, another would reappear, with a friend. I didn’t want to put my body through accutane again, I just couldn’t think of it! So I got myself on a gluten free and dairy free diet and my face (no joke) looks like it did after 7 months of accutane!!! It’s amazing! I know you already eat this way and everyone is different, but it’s what helped me and I am SO SO thankful!
    Your skin look beautiful! I am so glad you are happy with the results!

  134. Thank you for posting this. I have been battling acne for about 10 years now (I’m almost 30) and it gets exhausting wondering if it will ever go away and, like you, have tried many different diets to make it go away. A doctor recommended accutane a few years ago but I was too scared of the side effects and have not tried it as of yet. Since reading this, I am seriously thinking about trying it again. Thanks!

  135. You look great! This is really interesting Juli and I love how open you are about everything. People need mentors like you to bring up the things no one likes to talk about because they’re embarrassed..but really we’re all going through the same battles!

    I have found that microdermabrasions help with my facial scarring from acne. I always get Groupons for these but Maral Day Spa in Cherry Creek is wonderful!

  136. I would first like to apologize for not reading all of the comments, but there are just too many and I want to address one thing…I’m wondering what form of birth control you settled on? I have literally tried every single birth control pill/ring/IUD/whatever on the market. I finally realized that it was the hormones I was reacting to. As we are Paleo ppl here, we know messing with our hormones is bad news…I finally settled on Paraguard (sp?). Yes, there are some side effects…mostly spotting for the first month, but once they went away, I realized that being off of hormones lifted a huge fog, and even my original personality came back. I’m an RN…not just some opinionated blog troll…I really understand the science behind the shit I subscribe to, so if you haven’t considered this particular, hormone-free form of BC, please do.

    1. I have paraguard too! I love it. LOVE it.

      One of the side effects is more painful periods at first, but those were totally manageable and gone after the first year. Definitely worth the hassle to get it – a lot of doctors won’t implant it if you haven’t had a child, so I had to go to another county.

  137. I had terrible acne as soon as I turned 12. We tried everything. I took Accutane twice as a teen, once my junior year of high school and then again in my freshman year of college. It was like a miracle. I remember all the rigamarole of the testing, pain in the butt! And I had the super dry skin and lips too. Each time, the acne went away completely, but it came back fairly quickly after the Accutane doses were over. My doctor said two courses was the max you can do over your lifetime (I don’t know if they changed the rule since 2003). I tried several prescription meds after. Antibiotics worked, but I was allergic to them so I stopped taking them. And then I got married and I stopped using the gel and pill I was taking because they lowered the effectiveness of birth control. So I haven’t had a prescription for acne control since I was 23. Now I’m 29 and I still get acne (and have scarring) but it isn’t as bad as when I was a teen, and I wash my face with something gentle every night and put moisturizer on every morning. It’s not perfect and I still wear makeup almost every day, but it’s ok. I hope this improvement lasts for you! I’ve found that the Garnier dark spot corrector is really good for evening out skin tone and diminishing dark spots. Not cheap, but worth it (and soothing to the skin and less expensive than laser therapy for sure!)

  138. Good for you. Accutane saved my face, chest, and back. I still get smalls amounts of acne on my back where my sports bra sits, but it’s NOTHING compared to how it was before Accutane. One of the best decisions ever.

  139. I just wanted to say thank you so much for writing this and sharing your story. I am in the month waiting period and will start Accutane on the 22nd, and Ive been terrified. I’m 31 years old and just want my life back! No one around me understands why I’m so depressed and upset about it, and all I hear is that “I’m a pretty girl, it doesn’t matter”, but it does matter to me. I’ve never been more depressed or lonely in my life since I got cystic acne a year and a half ago. I finally decided Accutanes side effects couldn’t be an worse than shutting myself off from the world.
    Thanks again, I feel so much better about this journey I’m about to start. Congrats on kicking acnes ass!

  140. You look awesome Juli! I took accutane three times and finally, I feel good about my face! Also, I made your marble cakes last night, and they were gone in minutes. You’re the best!

  141. I don’t have any personal stories or connections to what you’ve been through. I just wanted to make sure I told you how awesome you are for sharing. And purdee. And sweet. And freakin’ high-lar-E-ous!

    that’s all. ๐Ÿ™‚

  142. First, you are SO pretty!

    Second, I’m thankful that you posted this even at risk of “paleo police” judging you.

    I started Paleo to address a health problem, and while it helps with a lot of other stuff and taught me a lot, I have felt a ton of guilt and shame that I wasn’t able to fix the problem just with Paleo. I have felt TONS better since allowing a lil’ medical science into my life, and I’ve realized that no one person or movement knows all there is to know.

    I think we should all use our brains, make thoughtful decisions, and do what works even though there are those who would steer us the other way. If high fives were still socially acceptable, I would give you one. ๐Ÿ™‚

  143. Congrats to you and thank you for sharing!
    I am curious to know if you were on birth control before you started Accutane. The more reading (and experimenting) I do point me in the direction of food. Apparently sugar can have a huge impact on our hormone especially out thyroid. So I find that when I have low sugar …less than 50 Grams of carbs/day, I have zero problems with my skin. It’s just keeping it up is the HARD part ๐Ÿ™‚

  144. Wow Juli! Your story sounds EXACTLY like mine…

    I have tried everything in the book… Topical creams, chemical peels, anti-biotics for over 10 years and nothing has ever seemed to work. I ended up going on spironolactone after numerous tests and blood work last year and that didn’t work for me either. I finally decided that I had exhausted all of my options and Accutane was my last resort. I have now been on it for 2 months and your results have definitely given me hope!

    I actually started paleo about a year and a half ago to try and clear up my acne with my diet… and I have been following your blog ever since! I definitely feel your pain and know how frustrating it can be to eat clean, take care of your skin, and live a healthy, active lifestyle and still deal with acne as a young adult.

    So, thanks for sharing and giving me hope for the future!

    PS I make at least one of your recipes a week and have NEVER been disspointed. Keep being AWEOMSE ๐Ÿ™‚

    – Lindsay

  145. You rock!! You are very brave indeed for posting this and opening yourself up to the hurtful comments from the anonymous internet (but all of us nice commenters will kick the asses of the mean ones if you want!!). I am so happy that you got results that YOU are happy with!! You look beautiful and I bet it feels TONS better!!! Thanks for also touching on that eating “clean” or paleo might solve a lot of things, but not everything!!! There are not many sources that will admit to that and it can leave people feeling discouraged – sometimes it is OK to want/need modern medicine!! Moral of the story (comment?) – keep up the awesomeness, JB!!

  146. Hi Juli,

    Thank you for sharing yet another great post! I love your blog and would not be able to feed my family without it. Literally. ๐Ÿ™‚ Congratulations on finding something that finally worked at healing your skin. I have struggled with acne too and know the toll it takes on ones self-esteem. Anyway, I digress. I just wanted to let you know about a makeup that I’ve been using ever since I discovered it at my dermatologists office. It is called Oxygenetix- you don’t need a prescription, you can order it online and a small amount goes along way to provide coverage and relief for acne prone skin.

    Keep up the amazing work.

  147. 1. Love your honesty.
    2. Love your humor and personality
    3.. Love your recipes

    I’m really glad you found something that worked for you. I have had acne since I was in Jr. High. Since I’m so old, all they ever recommended was “you must not wash your face enough”. As we all know, you can literally wash off your skin and it will not get rid of acne. I’m an old lady now and still have it. I am glad to hear there are products out there that can help people with acne, because the people who don’t have it never understand how debilitating it is.

    Good luck with your journey and thank you for sharing your success with acne treatment. I think you are an amazing woman. Did I mention I love your blog? I do!

  148. I too love your blog & recipes! You inspire so many of us out here.

    I too had used accutane after trying everything else unsuccessfully. It truly was a blessing for me. I feel your pain & also know how cruel some people can be, often not on purpose but still cruel.

    Your skin will continue to improve & you won’t have to worry about breaking out or covering up break outs any more. Now if I could only get rid of all the scarring – I was a terrible picker.

    Keep up what you are doing & continuing to inspire others!

  149. I rarely comment (but like looking at your recipes), but just wanted to throw out that I took accuatane in high school, and it permanently fixed my acne, within a year, bam. Over.

    One of the hazards of the new popularity of paleo style dieting is the immediate zealotry that a lot of people leap to. By which I mean there is some evidence and certainly logic on some of the metabolic stuff (I’m a fan, I’m on board with a lot of it!) – but the anti-modern medicine that can creep up, and the fix-everything-with-natural-ancient-remedies, anti-vax, all that, I think it’s the same mechanism that makes other people religious – it’s just something to believe (without full evidence).

    Anyway, I’m sorry to hear you got so much negative research and feedback, and glad you sifted through it! Some people have side effects (like you experienced – I happened to not, other than some dry skin), but hence the doctor’s oversight. Enjoy!

  150. I had bad acne as a teenager and tried almost every drug there was without results.. Ended up on accutane for 8 months when I was 19 and that cured it completely. My skin was clear for three years and then I started breaking out again periodically but nowhere near as bad as before. I took some minor prescriptions unsuccessfully and a year later started paleo. Fortunately after being on paleo for about 6 months it did clear up my skin! If I eat any large amounts of grains though I break out.. It was a long battle that’s for sure. I don’t believe healthy eating can cure everything. My anxiety and depression certainly hasn’t gone away.

  151. Thanks for sharing your story! I too had really bad cystic acne in college with huge red cystic pimples on my cheeks. I tried everything including proactiv, 2 antibiotics, and was on the strongest Rx cream my doctor had and decided to try accutane even though I read about all the risks. It was the best thing I could have done for my face. It completely cleared my acne up after one round.

  152. Brave post, Juli and congrats. Severe acne is the absolute pits. I went on Accutane in high school after YEARS of battling terrible acne. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. I was a bit freaked about all the birth defect warnings but had two healthy kids in my 30s so I guess it flushes out of your system. So happy for you!!!!

  153. I just wanted to say that I am so happy you shared your story. It’s super real, and I know how you feel. I took Accutane my junior year of high school, and it worked for me. I’m now 20 yrs old and no longer have any trouble with acne. Like ever. It’s all gone. So I am definitely an advocate for Accutane! It does suck while you’re on it, but it’s so worth it! Anyway, stoked about your progress and all that, and can’t wait for more rad paleo recipes.

  154. Hi Juli ! I’ve done Accutane 3 times ๐Ÿ˜€ ! It has always worked – last round was a very low dose and cleared up everything. Congrats for sharing & don’t be scared to do it again. xxx

  155. I’m really happy to see this post, because my son is just finishing up Acutane, and I’ve been beating myself up over whether he could have avoided the drug if I’d just done a better job of feeding him Paleo or oil cleansing or whatever. Congratulations!

  156. Wow! Your skin looks incredible ๐Ÿ™‚ So grad you have found something that works so well for you.

    I know you were off of nuts in hopes that it would help, so I’m curious… Does this mean you will be incorporating nuts back into your diet and your recipes?

    1. no. i eat them occasionally because they really irritate my gut and make me bloated. so when i do cook with them, i usually give that food away. but i’ll still be making recipes with nuts!

  157. Good to hear (and see) there are indeed people that had a positive experience with Accutane. I just stopped taking it a couple of weeks ago because the depression got so bad it was unbearable. All other side effects were manageable (to me), but I just couldn’t handle the depression.

    I’d love to get rid of my acne, but if I have to choose between depression and acne I’ll rather live with acne. So now I’m hoping I’ll find another way to treat it.

    Anyway, I’m glad you’re feeling good now and I hope you finally got rid of your acne once and for all.

  158. I’m so glad you found something that worked for you! You get lots of credit for trying to many remedies! I had some post acne scarring (hormonal after the birth of my son, in my late 20s) and I found some awesome products to get rid of the scarring. I’d be happy to send you my pictures so you can see the difference. Just shoot me an email and I’ll send them to you.

  159. fantastic! i’m so glad you decided to do this. it has made a world of difference for me, even 25 years later, and my son has also experienced its benefits.

  160. Juli! So happy for you! My oldest son is on his 3rd time of taking accutane. The first round of 6 months cleared him right up. Then after being off for a while it came back. Then the 2nd round didn’t do as well…wtf?! So then we just tried doing the cleansing, better diet, blah, blah. Still not good results. He had terrible painful cysts also that would rupture and bleed for hours. Then for this 3rd time around he is on a low dose but he’s on it for a year. As a parent, I hated all the side effects. I left it to my son because it’s his body and his self image. He has scarring also. During the summer he lets the sun get on his bare skin and it’s amazing how the scarring clears up…so get some sun!

    Good for you girl! I’m just so proud that you shared your story and that I could relate to everything you wrote about! I’m sorry I didn’t see your earlier post when you were considering accutane because I would of definitely given you a positive recommendation. BTW, I can’t even tell you how many tubes of lip balm I’ve washed from my son not emptying his pockets. Lip balm is your friend! lol

  161. Thank you for being so open & honest with your experience and pictures. My story is very similar to yours…never had great skin through adolescence/high school, but it got really bad in my 20’s. Tried everything I could think of/read about and finally gave in and did Accutane, although I was scared. It was the only thing that truly worked for me. That was about 5 years ago that I did the treatment. I still have the occasional zit or blemish, usually during my period…but NOTHING like it was before, and no hints of it returning like it was. So worth it to me.

  162. This is a very brave and honest post. I suffered with acne very, very similar to yours when I was in my late teens. I had tried EVERYTHING and nothing worked. My dermatologist talked to my mom and I about Accutane and I decided to try it. I was put on birth control and started taking Accutane.

    It was AMAZING. Yeah it had side effects (I remember my lips were so dry once that the dentist had to stop cleaning my teeth because my lips started cracking and bleeding), but it worked amazingly well. After the 6 months I looked like a completely different person.

    It’s been about 11 or so years since I was on it and I do still get the occasional acne spot, but nothing, NOTHING like what it was. The medication also has no long-term side effects. Once it’s out of your system it is safe to get pregnant and what not. I was worried about that when I got pregnant with my son 4 years ago (I brought it up with my OB and she said that there were no concerns with that), but both he and his little brother are perfectly healthy.

    You will be amazed at how different your skin will be even after you come off of it. You may still get the occasional flare up, but if your case is anything like mine was it won’t be anywhere remotely close to being as angry/painful as it used to be.

  163. Juli,

    Thank you for sharing your story. I think it’s great that you took a risk and put your story out there. So many people are dealing with acne and it’s good to have real role models out there. I’m glad you really took the time to notice your symptoms and to pay attention to your depression. I think some people can be too judgmental and that is too bad. I’m happy it worked for you and I’m glad that you stayed aware during the process because I think that is important when anyone takes a prescription drug. Thank you for sharing and much love to you!

  164. Thank you for your honesty Juli. I was on similar treatment when I was 18 but in Finland it was called Roaccutan. I had tried everything before this; lotions, porions, strong antibiotics etc. This was the only thing that worked for me and then my youth could only really begin. I am now 36 and I still get the odd spot but the cystic acne has never come back. You look gorgeous, enjoy your new skin ๐Ÿ™‚

  165. Thank you for your honesty Juli. I was on similar treatment when I was 18 but in Finland it was called Roaccutan. I had tried everything before this; lotions, porions, strong antibiotics etc. This was the only thing that worked for me and then my youth could only really begin. I am now 36 and I still get the odd spot but the cystic acne has never come back. You look gorgeous, enjoy your new skin ๐Ÿ™‚

  166. Julie… Don’t let anyone get you down over something you did for yourself!!! Paleo is awesome… but there are reasons that they made medicines for things like this… BECAUSE IT WORKS! Glad you found your happy skin ending!!

  167. Hi Juli,
    First time commenting, but this really hit home for me. Acne runs in my family, and I went on Accutane in high school. I had been on everything else, even antibiotics that burned a hole in my esophagus because I didn’t drink enough water with it. Of course, had the dry skin- and I was a swimmer, so the chlorine made it even worse. A huge hassle every month with getting blood drawn, but now I don’t flinch when I have to have other tests or donate! I would recommend it in a heartbeat. I carried 3 tubes of this one specific chapstick that I still have to this day- it’s the only thing that lasts: Dr. Dan’s Cortibalm. Thanks for this post, a balanced life can’t cure everything all the time and I’m glad this could help you.

  168. Thanks for posting this blog. It takes alot to put yourself in a vunerable position. I am sure many people are benefiting from this. I am glad you had great results!

  169. Juli, you look fabulous! So happy for you that you got great results. If you are worried about scarring, I would recommend cosmetic acupuncture- no drugs, no surgery, really impressive results. Martha Lucas is an acupuncturist in Denver and she’s the bees knees when it comes to cosmetic acupuncture.

  170. Thank you so much for sharing your story and I hope that others will find it helpful in taking this medication. You are brave for sharing those photos so don’t let any negative comments bum you out, you look awesome!!!

  171. I had to undergo two rounds of Accutane treatment too, several years apart. That was a long time ago and now I usually get ONE cystic acne bump during ovulation of my cycle. It certainly was a life changer for me. I wouldn’t go anywhere without makeup. Now I am happy to spread on a little tinted moisturizer (for the sunblock in it) and go. I say good for you!

  172. Hey Juli,
    I was on accutane in high school. It cleared up my acne but I did have scars, just like you. They do clear up eventually, it just takes time. congrats to you.


  173. Thanks for sharing your experience. I did 6 months of Accutane about 10 years ago and also experienced the painfully dry lips. The only thing that soothed them was straight up Vaseline. My skin was perfect for maybe a year then the acne came back.

    Your skin looks amazing. I hope it stays that way!

  174. I as well took acutane. I did it when I was I believe 16. Tried everything and nothing worked. Finally a doctor recommended acutane. It scared me to try it but I am so glad I did. It’s hard for some people to understand why some one would go as far as taking something Like acutane but until they truly understand the heartache of having severe Acne they’ll never understand. I haven’t had to do it again and it’s been 8 years now. I still get a few tiny pimples here and there but not like I did. It’s more “normal” now. My side affects were the same as yours dry mouth, redness…My lips getting back to normal has improved over the years but it was I think the hardest part of taking acutane.

  175. I totally had/have bad skin call it acne call it a curse whatever you want. I too had painful bumps all over that never seemed to go away! I have been following your story and I am SO happy your meds worked for you! Recently I have been using natural cleansers that I’ve made (via wellnessmama) and using jojoba oil as a lotion. My skin too will probably never be perfect but its good to know that there are some options out there to make it at least BETTER. I still struggle with looking people in the eyes because Im like omg are they staring at my skin but now that its a little better I have to get over that! How do you deal with confidence issues?! Tons of love!

  176. Wow, what terrific results. I’m very happy to hear that the product worked for you, even though the side effects sound like quite a trial. Congrats, you must be quite relieved!

  177. That is great…I am 63 years old and have had acne since I was 13. After I adopted a gluten free/paleo diet a year ago, acne’s gone. No meds. Not sure if that will benefit anyone else, but I had to tell you.

  178. Congratulations! I was on Accutane for a year and half when I was 19, and I basically saw the same miraculous change as in your pictures. Since I’ve been off the meds, I can probably count on both hands the number of times I’ve washed my face that wasn’t directly related to sunscreen, sweat, or makeup. I just don’t need to. It was a few years before I adopted a GAPS diet, and I definitely had some lingering side effects from it, but with your diet, I’m sure you’ll undo any of the negative effects from it in no time now that it’s over!

  179. So brave to share your story, looking at you now you would have never thought that you had skin troubles! I get occasional bouts of acne, usually stress related (which doesn’t help the situation) and it’s just such an influence on your life. So glad that you took it all in your stride and sought the help you thought would most benefit you. You are beautiful!

  180. I, too, used accutane in my early 20’s. Sounds like our stories are similar. It was the best thing to happen to me and my confidence! I am 41 now and face has maintained beautifully.
    I use Obagi now which I swear by. Ask your dermatologist about. Love it!
    Happy for you! I know you will feel more confident in everything you do! Yay!

  181. I was on Accutane in highschool and it was one of the best decisions I ever made. Everytime my birthday or Christmas came around I was dramatic and would say, “I want something you cant give me! Clear skin!” So I know exactly how you feel! My skin has been clear up until the past year when I got off birth control and started trying for a baby. Now I’m pregnant and my skin is completely freaking out. Hormones make your skin do crazy things.

  182. I was shocked to come across this topic on an Paleo site and was SO relieved to read your story. I can relate to everything. I started Paleo 10 months ago and did a sugar detox…my acne changed. I started getting the terrible cysts. I’ve tried everything to clear it up and it is a big downer when I how people’s skin clears up after going Paleo.(Good for you guys! I’m really happy for you! I am.) But I’m glad I’m not alone.

  183. Thank you for sharing your photos, I know that had to be scary, but it’s appreciated to have real, honest opinions and experiences and results when considering something like this. You ROCK, Juli!

  184. Great post Juli. I took accutane 3 times during my teenage years and for me it was always a short-term fix (good for up to a year and then it always came back). In my late 20’s I researched the internet and found that sulfacet, a topical prescription drug that was prescribed many years ago, worked for a lot of people but went out of favor for newer drugs over the years. I asked my GP to give me a prescription and it worked so incredibly well for me and was the first product that was a permanent ‘cure’ for me. Several of my friends and coworkers tried it after my success and they had the same results. Just a suggestion. I liked it because it was topical and didn’t have any side affects and MUCH cheaper than accutane – bonus!

    1. Kit, Yes, I’ve also used a sulfacet drug that helped immensely for several years. Back when I was a teen, the pharmacist actually made me a compound of sulfur and salicylic acid (aspirin) and that one worked awesome compared to the mixed cream sulfur a they have now. He actually had to grind up the aspirin and mix with the yellow sulfur. So, maybe if flare ups happen again, this might help you, Julie, to keep it under control, a sulfur and sulfacetamide cream ๐Ÿ™‚

  185. Cystic acne is the worst. I cry uncle when I have one, so I can’t even imagine what a whole face full of them would be like. I’m so glad accutane worked for you! The dry lips sound maddening though.

  186. I am also three years into a battle with cystic acne, but after doing the research, I was determined to fix it the natural way and get to the root of the problem. Acne does not happen in isolation-it’s a sign of an underlying imbalance or deficiency. Clearing out the acne with chemicals covers up your body’s cry for help. Accutane is not just vitamin A-if that were the case it would not be so closely monitored, and people could recreate it’s effects with high doses of A supplementation. As well high-dose vitamin A supplementation is dangerous because it depletes your vitamin D (among other things). Both accutane and birth control wipe out your beneficial gut bacteria, which makes you susceptible to illness, autoimmune, and skin conditions, as well as the same for your future children (who get their first gut bacteria from you-immunity lies in gut bacteria).

    I don’t judge you for your decision-I have shed many a tear over cysts and I understand they are painful. I do, however, disagree with your choice to promote the drug to your large and impressionable audience. You are an amazing cook, but people look up to you for nutrition advice, and your support for this drug could unfairly sway people’s opinions and prevent them from doing proper research themselves.

    I encourage everyone to see a holistic practitioner (NTP, MNTP, DO, CNC) to get to the root of their acne issues. Had I not persisted in going the natural route, I would not have discovered that I have a gene mutation (MTHFR) preventing my body from processing folate, and I could have had children with spina bifida. Within a week of supplementing folate my acne has almost completely subsided, and I know it won’t come back now that my body is receiving the nutrients it needs.

    1. I agree 100% with the need to investigate MTHFR mutations. My lips peeled constantly for years. Now I know it’s a methylfolate deficiency. It’s miraculous what methylation protocols have done for me mood-wise and energy-wise too.

    2. I couldn’t agree more. A few years ago I did 2 rounds of acutane b/c I was sick of suffering from cystic acne & pustules and I wanted quick results. I regret not doing the research b/c I suffer from digestive issues til this day and reading some of post confirmed my suspicion.

      Now. Acutane does work SHORT term. For a about a year my skin was flawless but about 6 months post treatment , my skin broke out even worse.

      Since I had been laid off from work this forced me to research natural methods and find what was causing my acne. Acne is purely toxins trying to rid themselves from the body.
      I realized my acne was caused from toxins and poor digestion & taking acutane was making it worse b/c it was screwing up my digestive system even more.

      I began doing full body cleanses with green foods, fruit and natural supplements only for 28 days every season.
      I also tried different natural products like sea salt, lemon juice, turmeric, bentonite clay, ACV, raw honey etc.

      I did this until I figured out which products gave me the best results and bentonite clay was the BEST hands down. Bentonite draws out all the impurities from your skin & you can literally feel it pulsating.

      My skin got worse before it got better b/c all toxins were being released, but the clay was healing my skin at the same time.
      As my skin improved I got tired of mixing concoctions and began researching natural beauty products.

      I decided to try MyChelle Dermaceuticals, which is a life saver and I use Mychelle till this day.
      I’ve always been advised to keep my skin exfoliated b/c of my acne, but I never realized how important this is until recently.

      I now exfoliate 3-4 times a week w/ MyChelle Incredible Pumpkin Peel, which I swear by and continue with bentonite clay mask twice a week,
      My skin is acne free and I get an occasional break out but NO cyst and when I see something coming, I break out the clay for spot treatment.

      I highly recommend cleansing, because acne is defiantly internal and all though you may currently eat a clean lifestyle whatever your previous diet was could still be affecting your skin.

      Switching over to a paleo life style has helped A LOT too and BTW your site has made it so much easier and fun!

  187. You’re awesome. I’m all about dietary cures and gut healing helped me noticeably, but not enough no matter what I did. I grew up (12-21) with cystic acne and terrible self esteem. I took Accutane at 21 and just started it again for the stubborn mild acne that came back a little. It was a lifesaver for me. Don’t listen to any criticism. People who have never been there are pretty much incapable of understanding, and many don’t even bother trying. You look gorgeous. Congrats.

  188. Congratulations on the great skin! I recently found the products that work wonders for me too and for the first time since I was a kid, I no longer wear makeup. I didn’t think that was possible because I had such terrible post acne scarring. Lucky for me, the products I use helped a ton!!! I love being confident in my own skin without wearing foundation.

    Let me know if you’re interested in taking care of the scarring.

    Also… Thank you so much for this blog!!! I’m new to paleo and your recipes and real life stories have helped keep me on track.

  189. Congrats Juli you look amazing! I’ve had acne as long as I can remember face, back, chest, neck. It was cystic during my teen years then it went away, which was an awesome time. It’s now come back. Annoying as shit to say the least. Didn’t really get better with paleo and working out like I hoped but I’ve always been healthy and active so it wasn’t much of a surprise. You’ve motivated me to go see my doctor because I shouldn’t have to live like this any more and I’ve never even considered Accutane because of the side effects but it might be worth a discussion at least.

    People don’t get it and they don’t need to. You’re awesome and you did what was best for you.

  190. Over the years my husband has tried many prescription and over-the-counter acne medications, including Accutane. He told me that there were many bad side effects to most of them. Some issues with Accutane: can cause baldness (which he didn’t get, but a friend of ours did) and serious skin conditions.

    Over the past year he’s switched to pantethine and pantothenic acid (both supplements, without the need of a prescription) and now he swears by them. His skin has cleared up even more than when he used to take Accutane, and he no longer has dry skin problems or pealing.

    You might want to check them out and see if they work for you. There are many brands out there, and you can find them online or in drugstores.

  191. Hey Juli good for you for hanging in there and really glad that things got better with your skin. I know that EVERYONE is going to be all “ewwwwwww gross OMG I would never do that in a million years” but I have PCOS and therefore adult acne espesh around my period, and my skin has REALLY improved since I started using two natural remedies – coconut oil as a moisturizer, and for a toner…urine. Yep!!! I had tried it in India about 10 years ago when I was backpacking there and got inspired to try it again on my 38th bday when I was turning into Dorian Gray and getting obsessed with any signs of ageing. For reals, it is SO good for acne, eczema, psoriasis, rashes, etc. And urea, which is distilled from pee, is an ingredient in most face creams anyway cause it smoothes and softens your skin. It’s basically a Paleolithic beauty treatment! I pee in a container in the morning and apply urine to my face with a cotton ball, wait 5 minutes and reapply, then rinse with water after 30 minutes, and moisturize with a dab of coconut oil before putting on my sunscreen and makeup. My skin looks awesome lately! And no it doesn’t stink though i would probably not kiss anyone while treating my face! So I would tell all you girls and guys to stop spending money on expensive moisturizers and creams cause guess what, they don’t actually penetrate your epidermis enough to do anything major, and coconut oil is cheap and not chock full of chemicals. And you have an endless supply of pee!

  192. I remember taking Accutane back in high school. Along with a hand full of other medications. I think they put me on BC before even putting me on accutane. But I feel your pain. That is how I looked through out high school. Talk about a blow to your self esteem. I still have some craptastic skin going on, but right now its basically the rosey cheeks, roscea I believe. Im actually looking to talk to my dr soon about it

  193. I’m glad the accutane worked for you! I took two treatments in high school. The worst symptom for me was definitely the depression. I often found myself crying for no reason at all. Although I still have more acne than I’d like to have my face is much better! I’m definitely glad I took the accutane. Best of luck!

  194. I was on acctane when I was 16, had acne on my chest arms and back. Very emotionally upsetting to have to watch everything I wore to be sure it didn’t show. I remember having to get blood tests cuz triglycerides can rise while using and I had one doctor tell me if I got pregnant, they would turn out to be monsters cuz of birth defects, nice doc! Anyhow I’m 47 now, have had 2 normal children. The only thing for me since taking acctane is my left eye watered all the time, and it still tends to, but not as bad. Glad it worked so well for you also!

  195. The dry lips and Chapstick, lol…I was a teen in the 80’s while on accutane. We wore lipstick…fuschia lipstick. I had to have lipstick on all the time. I have been called the lipstick queen, yay..I still have to have it, though not fuschia! And have to wear Chapstick to bed, A habit I picked up 31 years ago while on accutane ๐Ÿ˜€

  196. I think it is incredibly weird that you had THE.SAME.EXACT.ISSUE I did when starting crossfit 6 months ago. I never had acne, like one breakout exactly a week before my period, ever. Then once I started Crossfit, my god, the carnage. My right side of my face went bat-shit crazy. My cheek area, along my jawline, and forehead. I have been battling it ever since, I have used Retin-A, proactiv, and ambi cream to fade the red spots because I have extremely sensitive and pale skin and every blemish leaves behind a red/dark mark for a year, no joke.

    I am a devout vegan, so I didn’t change my diet to paleo weirdness (even though I subscribe to a blog called paleomg, haha. Mostly because I <3 your attitude and style of writing, I ignore the recipes as a whole, no disrespect, but I've been vegan for 11 years and don't plan on changing that anytime soon, I have successfully put on about 30 pounds of muscle in the past year on brown rice protein shakes by sunwarrior).

    I am not glad you have a similar issue, because it sucks donkey, but it is helpful to see how you have dealt with it, I haven't had cystic acne, and I'm so sorry you had to deal with that. I just wish I knew what correlation to crossfit it had, disgustingly dirty gyms/changes in hormones due to olympic lifting, etc. Though I lift extremely heavy on my own for a long time without the breakout situation.

    1. I have monthly breakouts right around when my period starts – when progesterone falls and estrogen begins to rise. I read something a while back that these breakouts can be caused by testosterone being high *relative* to other hormones–progesterone in particular if i recall correctly. Weight lifting definitely increases testosterone – which for the most part is great – more energy, more muscle definition, and a higher sex drive. But acne can be a down side ๐Ÿ™

      Great post Juli. Nice that you shared your story so bravely, and that you have such an awesome community of people around you to chime in to share and support you!!

  197. I join with everyone else in commending you for addressing this topic; acne is very difficult to deal with, and for some people the Rx route is a good option. I’ve dealt with acne since my teens and am now in my early 50s. I didn’t have the cystic type, but have had breakouts forever. Just wanted to let you know that I found some mostly organic products that work well for me — Lerosett by Gunilla of Sweden (some spas carry it and you can order online). They have aloe-based cleanser, toner, and moisturizer and a natural clay mask that really does make a difference when you use it regularly. They don’t dry out your skin like just about every other acne product out there. My skin is in much better shape since using these products. I also used Skinceuticals Blemish+Age serum, but seems like I can do without it when I keep to the Lerosett routine. Good luck! And I do love your recipes!

  198. Thank you so much for sharing! So brave of you to post pictures up! I have dealt with cystic acne myself and was always so terrified to try accutane because the side effects frightened me so I finally found a natural solution I was happy with using raw honey as a cleanser and coconut oil mixed with aloe vera as a moisturizer and my skin has never looked better in my whole life! (I do give a lot of credit to being paleo though) I am so happy to see such good results happened for you! Congratulations! aaannnnd im completely obsessed with your website. you make my day all the time ๐Ÿ™‚

  199. I have been on various immune suppressants and noticed that my skin was breaking out more often, worse than previously, and was taking forever to heal. I tried all kinds of remedies that didn’t work or just made my skin burn like fire. Finally, two things seem to have made a difference for me: occasional bleach baths (1/2 cup OR LESS of bleach in a full bath tub) and twice daily showers and shampooing/conditioning. Apparently, I already carried a high bacteria load on my skin but my body had always dealt with it ok until the immune suppressants beat me up. I had cystic acne that came up on my chin that caused my whole face to swell and required a trip to the ER for IV antibiotics. That was scary.
    The dermatologist off handedly mentioned the bleach baths but I was skeptical. After research, I realized I could take them only when I felt like the cleansing regimen wasn’t keeping up with the bacterial load. The concentration is no more potent than a swimming pool but you bathe in it. The first time you do, you might be disgusted by what remains in the water when you’re done. I even wash my hair in it and then rinse with clean water and condition it because I get bad breakouts on my scalp–worse than on my face.
    The twice daily showers/baths are done with very mild cleansers and I follow with coconut oil if my skin seems to be drying out. I’ve found that the dry skin seems to be uncorrelated with the breakouts and the coconut oil just restores the moisture balance. Plus with its anti microbial and antibacterial properties, the coconut oil actually helps keep the skin in balance.
    That’s my two cents on what has worked for me under my unique circumstances. I appreciate you telling your story because I do note that the more I work out, the more my scalp and face break out without following my cleaning regimine–and even still while following it. I thought all along that I must be doing something wrong. Now, I see that it is a quite common occurrence.

    Thanks again for sharing!

  200. Juli,

    You’ve always looked great! Glad you found something that worked for the acne. I know how much it bothered you because you were honest enough to share it with us here. Thanks for the always honest, usually hilarious stuff.

    If anyone ever bullies you, here or anywhere, get me a name, handle, scent, anything and I can make this kind of thing happen :

    I’ve got the resources, abilities and mean streak to make that happen ๐Ÿ™‚

  201. I also had a good experience with Accutane. My freshman year of college the acne was very severe (not a fun time when meeting so many new people and dealing with self-esteem issues already). I was so glad to have something finally make a difference. Lately, I seem to be breaking out more which is unfortunate. I’m not sure if I would ever undergo such a harsh treatment again. But at the time it was definitely worth it. I experienced the dry lips/face but not other symptoms thankfully.
    Also – You don’t haavvvee to go on birth control. Abstinence is always an option = )

  202. Holy crap do you have a lot of comments or what, I had to swipe my scroll bar on the iPad about 20 times!! Anyway, I took accutane for six months when i was 21… I still remember the dry lips….and I had to get regular liver function tests….but the results were awesome, I am now 36 and can’t recall a bad breakout since the treatment (and often get “what nice skin you have”comments) …so…yay for you!!

  203. I’m new to your site – LOVE it — and this was a great post! I went on Accutane for the first time when I was 15 and then again at 26. Both times I hoped it would last FOREVER but it didn’t but it did help for several years. I am now 47 and still have problems with acne and cysts but not continuously. My dad is 78 and HE still has cysts so I’m sure I’ll deal with it on some level forever. The BEST thing I’ve done for cysts in the last 7-8 years is have a Smooth-Beam laster treatment at my dermatologists office about 2x a year – – for me that has helped me as much if not more than Accutane.
    Also I had all the side affects you had too – -the dry skin and lips suuuuuuucks. When I was 15 my mom was more worried about how or if it would affect my future children …. happy to say I have 3 perfect kids (teenagers!) two of which have already been on Accutane as well. Worked miracles on my daughter (she was 16) but my son had to shorten his time on it because it was affecting his liver (ironically he did/has done CrossFit the whole time too!). And truthfully the old-wives tales are true for me – – stay away from chocolate, fried foods and don’t touch your face!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  204. Sammie, honey–please learn to read. In paragraph 4, sentence 5, Juli wrote, ” It is a state regulation that you must be on birth control while taking Accutane because the birth defects are so awful.”

    Therefore, Juli did, indeed, “haavvvee” to go on birth control. It was not optional.

  205. I’ve had great skin all my life except for two times – the first when I came back from studying abroad in Hong Kong (and thinking about it, I realize I had also just started a new birth control at this point… maybe that’s why I broke out)? and the second was this Spring/Summer (changed birth control again). I had AWFUL cystic acne – it hurt so much and no matter what I did it didn’t stop.

    This time, my derm told me it was hormonal and would clear up in 3-6 months. After a month of just being embarrassed about my face and in pain, I marched back in and asked for Doxycline which is what cleared up my acne the first time. It’s a really powerful antibiotic and really makes you nauseous, but with it, 0.4% Retinol gel, and a sulphur face wash… my face is finally back to normal, just a little red where the cystic acne used to be – same thing happened last time.

    I also went out and bought all new make-up… it was expensive, but it is an Australian brand called Napolean Perdis. It’s all-natural and made of mineral powder… their concealer even has hydroxy acid or whatever is in acne medication. I love it and totally recommend it.

    Sorry for the novel – just wanted to let you know YOU AREN’T ALONE!

  206. So happy for you Juli. You tried so many different approaches and made an informed decision for yourself. I’m sure that you would have equally shared this experience had it not worked out and it’s that authenticity that brings us all in. Thanks for sharing.

  207. Julie,

    I am so happy for you! I know it has been an on going thing for you, and I hope now that it’s gone, it never comes back!!!


  208. Have you tried neem oil soap? It’s all I use now on my face and my body and my skin looks great.I order it from camamu soaps. i love it! Love your blog!

  209. I simply had to post a comment for this story! Thank you so much for sharing your experience.

    I too did acutane and had to do two doses of it, taking about a year break in between. I tried very hard to control my acne myself by eating properly and eliminating/introducing things into my diet. I also tried things like Reiki to balance chakras and yoga to de-stress however nothing seemed to work for me. Many people gave me a hard time about the drug and one person said I was ‘taking the easy way out’ (easy, as if!). After years and years of struggling with low self-esteem because of my acne, I finally felt it was time to kick it in the butt even if it meant 6 months (in my case a year) of uncomfortable living. After the first dose my acne was better but never totally gone. After a year in China I came home and decided to do another dose. The second time around wasn’t as hard because I knew what to expect.

    I’ve been acne clear now for 2 years and my self-esteem has improved tremendously! I eliminated dairy and gluten from my diet about 2 years ago and have been paleo for a year. When I eat gluten/dairy on occasion, I will get a rash on my neck (and many other symptoms) which indicates that I have some type of sensitivity. So I will continue to stay away from the two if it means feeling and looking good ๐Ÿ™‚

  210. I’m so happy for you, Juli! You look great, and you probably feel so much better. I’ve been battling acne for the past 4+ years, but I’ve also been trying to get pregnant. Once we’re done with babies, I will seriously consider this option. I’m so glad you found your solution, even if everyone else doesn’t agree.

  211. So, I’m crying. I’m weird, I know, but I have been beating myself up for almost a year on whether to try accutane. Your pictures resemble what I have gone through for all of my adult life. Yesterday I turned 31. I’m so over this acne crap. But why do I feel like a sellout for wanting to try it? Like it’s the easy way out? After taking so much time and all of the effort to research and clean up my eating and take the paleo-primal plunge…I feel like a cheat if I do it. But I want the acne GONE!
    Thanks for posting this!

    1. i TOTALLY felt like a sell out for going on it. that’s why i never talked about it. but it was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. everyone thinks they have the answer because it worked for them, but not all people deal with trying everything and being at a loss. other people don’t get it unless they’ve dealt with absolutely horrible acne. accutane gives you the opportunity to not be at a loss anymore and you shouldn’t feel bad about that.

  212. I am curious, for those with cystic acne, are you on birth control/hormones? I had bad cystic acne throughout my 20’s and was on the pill that entire time. In my early to mid 30’s I stopped taking the pill and had completely clear skin. I am 36 now and started taking BC for 2 months and developed the cystic acne again, back, neck, face, etc. I have promptly stopped taking it, recognizing that it must be the hormones that is giving me acne. I have a good friend who has been on the pill since high school and she too suffers from very bad cystic acne. So, I am just curious what others experience has been…

  213. Hi Juli! I really enjoy your blog and recipes, but I’ve never commented before. Anyway! I took accutane as a teenager and it really helped me. My acne was terrible and very painful. It was all over my face, back and chest. I could tell a difference in the first week using accutane. I had very dry skin and lips and I got the WORST SUNBURN OF MY LIFE while on it. Seriously, blisters, extreme pain, peeling like wow. But I would absolutely do it over again (maybe be a little more vigilant about sunscreens this time). I don’t know if I was moody or depressed, I was a teenage girl, so who’s to say? It’s been about 15 years since my treatment and I’ve had some flare ups with acne but nothing like when I was a teen. So I’m glad that you found that it works for you. I think you’re lovely and I love your blog. ๐Ÿ™‚

  214. I have struggled with acne my whole life and I have pretty embarrassing scars to show for it, which still bother me every day. It’s calmed down, but I still have flare ups. You are so brave to post these pictures and it is amazing to see how your skin cleared in such a relatively short period of time. I’m sure you feel set free with clear skin! I know I feel like a different person when my face is clear.


  215. Thanks so much for sharing your story and your amazing results Julie! Accutane definitely works! My girlfriend’s daughter had horrible cystic acne when she was in high school and it really does affect your self esteem! Ashley experienced great results like yours and had a lot of the side effects you’ve mentioned as well.. Once she was done she actually started using Unblemish from Rodan + Fields. Ashley is had great results going forward with Unblemish. At first she was hesitant to switch from the skincare her Doctor prescribed but when the Doctor looked at the product, she confirmed that the active ingredients were the same as those that were in her prescribed skincare. I’m a consultant for R+F and the skincare is clinically proven. I have a range of users from young high school athletes who use Unblemish to older women who get perimenopausal acne (so not fair that we have to experience menopause and acne!) as if one isn’t enough torture. We also have a tool (our AMP MD) that helps reduce acne scarring. I am not trying to sell anybody on this because I’m a consultant. I just feel like I need to share this as it’s helped so many!! Check it out…and check out these results photos:
    Unblemish could be a great option to try before Accutane or after to keep the acne at bay.

  216. I am so happy you shared your story. I have taken Accutane as well and it really helps. The process is so hard, but worth it. I hope it lasts for you!

  217. That’s great that you have cured your symptoms! As for the cause, have you looked into polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)?

  218. Thank you for being so brave and posting this. I can truly relate because I’ve struggled with acne for 10 years now and it’s the most frustrating thing ever- I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. I’ve been through 2 rounds of Accutane (one when I was 12 and again at 19) and I can attest that the drug does wonders. Even after that plus the changes in my diet I still struggle with it, but it’s not nearly as bad as when I was younger. And I’m still addicted to chapstick ๐Ÿ˜‰ Here’s to hoping one round is enough for you, your face looks fantastic!

  219. I really appreciate your honesty! I have had an uphill battle with acne and it is finally getting better. I am almost 27! I don’t feel so alone now! I am glad you found a solution that was best for you! ๐Ÿ™‚

  220. I went on Accutane 4 years ago after suffering for most of my life with cystic acne. My quality of life is much improved and I finally can feel comfortable with myself. I am very proud of you for taking the necessary steps to combat your skin issues. Well done! And–you look beautiful. I am very happy for you.

  221. Hi Juli,

    Long-time lurker, first time poster. First things first, hello from London, secondly I love your blog.

    My wife suffered from Acne as a teenager until she went on the contraceptive pill at around 16. She was on it for around 16 years until she decided to come off a couple of years ago when we wanted to start trying for a baby. Anyway the only thing that happened (if you get my drift) is that her Acne returned! She had test upon test, it turned out her thyroid was knackered. Through a matter of elimination/more tests/ trial and error with pills, her thyroid is now apparently balancing itself out and the Acne tends to be a few biggish spots every now and again and is not constant, her body has not started working properly yet but we are now hopeful.

    The thyroid is KING. I know a lot of women who it transpires and sometimes initially unknowingly suffer/ed from thyroid problems and they have varying symptoms. Unexplainable weight loss, weight gain, hair loss, brittle nails, lethargic and so one and so forth.

    Apologies this was not meant to be a post about thyroids and fertility but they all linked and doctors are only too happy to treat the symptom and not the cause and certainly in the UK they hand the contraceptive pill out like candy. Whilst treating the symptoms of Acne they are potentially setting their patients up for far more serious problems down the line.



  222. When my son was 15, he was starting to get acne pretty bad. He was devastated cause he wanted the girls to like him . haha. Took him to dermo and they gave him something that started with an M. didn’t work. So they gave him acutane. The doc gave him a huge lecture on not letting any girls get ahold of it cuz it could cause birth defects if they got pregnant. He was very careful and the only side effects he had was the dry lips (would not be without chapstick) and his face was red. He is 37 today and has beautiful skin. I know there was talk of taking it off the market and he said if his kids would ever have problems, he would go underground to get a hold of it. It is certainly an answer to the problem and every time I would see someone with bad acne, I always wanted to tell them about it.

  223. I never leave comments, but this post just made me want to say “YOU’RE AMAZING”!!! I had a baby 7 months ago, and while I’ve been battling acne since I was 12, my skin went bonkers with all the crazy pregnancy hormones. Since I’m in my baby making years, I can’t do Accutane again, but I remember when I was 21 how wonderful my skin looked after a 6 month course of it. The worst side effect for me, was terrible bloody noses!! Like you know how you felt without your chapstick…that’s how I felt if I didn’t have a stash of Kleenex in my pocket to absorb a bloody nose at any moment of the day!! YIKES ๐Ÿ™‚
    I’ve been doing the #30daysofthanks this year, and today I am very thankful for you! I am so appreciative of your witty posts, your amazing recipes helping me get back into my pre-preggo clothes and your honesty about your battle with acne. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who needs to put makeup to go to the gym ๐Ÿ™ I’m hoping that with the Paleo diet (especially the no dairy) my skin clears up a bit more, but if not, I’m sure I’ll be back on Accutane once I’m done manufacturing tiny humans.
    I wish you all the best!
    Your fan,

  224. Hi Julie! I went through 2 cycles of accutane in high school (that was 15 years ago) and I havent had more than 1-2 pimples since (and thats usually around your period). While the dry lips and redness suck at the times, its SO worth it.

  225. I usually never post, but wanted to thank you, as many have. I have a friend that had severe scarring after many bouts with medications and acne. She’s done 2 things to get rid of acne and scarring – gluten free diet (not paleo… yet!) and Nerium creme, it was truly miraculous. By the way, I don’t sell the stuff, but use it, and it does help my skin alot. Just thought I’d mention.

  226. I have never had issues with acne, but this reminds me of my own personal struggles with my weight. I have been Paleo for the past 5 months and I have completely cut out the carbs for the past 2 months. I have lost a little bit of weight, but not much weight. It’s really frustrating because I know how hard I’ve been working to eat right and to work out. I keep getting the “you just need to do this” from people who work less hard and have much better genes than me. Eating Paleo has helped me have more energy and has decreased the joint pain I used to have. However, the Paleo diet isn’t the magic cure for everything and I think it’s brave to put out that out there on your site. I think it’s more than appropriate to put this on your Paleo blog. Thank you for reminding us that it’s okay to be a human being, but not to give up doing your best.

  227. Hello y’all. I’ve been following your recipes for the last few months and really enjoy your attitude, personality, and all your posts. Thanks for helping me stay healthy. I must agree with the other posts, that you my friend are gorgeous! I never would have known you had acne had you not posted about it. A previous post-er Barb F mentioned that her friend used Nerium AD. I was going to mention it to you myself. It has changed so many of my friends lives (I’m not being dramatic). It works on all skin types and problems. Please please please try it out if your skin doesn’t lose the redness. I’ve used it for over a year and won’t travel without it.

    Thanks again for all you do. You are gorgeous all around ๐Ÿ™‚

  228. Hi Juli,

    Thanks so much for posting this. This actually brought tears to my eyes because I know how emotionally draining having this type of acne can be. I’m currently in the same place you were when you were just starting accutane. I have literally tried everything and I’ve been leaning towards trying this medication. I really appreciate this post for the positive opinion. Thank you.

    P.S. I’m SO happy for you

  229. I was on three rounds of Accutane in my mid-twenties. It was a miracle! But the real reason I am posting is because I had a slightly delayed side effect I didn’t see anyone else comment on: TONS OF CAVITIES!! Surely I can’t be the only one??!!I literally drank gallons of water a day, living in Phoenix and being on Accutane. And, of course, brushing & flossing. It just wasn’t enough to keep the bad bacteria at bay with such a dry mouth. It didn’t click until the 2nd dentist’s visit with another 4 new cavities. They asked if I was on any meds that cause a dry mouth, since my diet was low in sugar and I had good oral hygiene. AH-HA!!!! I guess there are some special mouthwashes that help to combat this, for anyone considering use of Accutane. ๐Ÿ™‚

  230. I have a friend who took accutane when she was young and I remember her warning big time about this drug’s side effects. please do some research and try to do more natural things.
    For example (Stinging) Nettle Tea really helps to clear up acne.
    there are a lot of natural remedies out there and i hope that you’ll give those a chance.
    Good luck, Monika

  231. Its nice you shared your story, now I’m sharing mine. After going on a round of accutaine similar to yours when I was 15 or 16, today, at 31, I no longer have my large intestine due to accutaine use. Accutaine led to the development of crohns/colitis, which is a nasty, horrible disease. While the doctors can’t directly link this disease to its use (there is no family history of it), it is a side effect of the drug, and it is not worth it at all!!!!! While not everyone who takes the drug has this issue, I can assure you that I would rather have an acme scarred face than have had to face a cancer scare and an ileostomy at age 31. Please consider this before you take another round. There are plenty of cases out there similar to mine.

  232. There’s a bajillion comments so I don’t know if this has been mentioned, but . . .

    The workouts are 1000000% causing it. Let me clarify, any workout consisting of heavy lifting often will do it. This is because lifting raises testosterone and androgen (male hormones). Acne is caused by elevated levels of androgen, and/or lack of estrogen. Estrogen also produces collagen.
    Also, age is a factor. I’m almost 30 and JUST NOW my acne is mellowing. I still gotta be on my game but, I don’t need to act like a meth addict because it has been 16 hours since I washed my face and GAWD KNOWS what happens after that 12th hour.

    Anywho, don’t worry overmuch. Accutane, especially in older (not teen) people tends to have longer results. Also, just going on simple birth control may help, as it will balance out the male/female hormone ratio.

    Oh and why you should listen to me? I am a Medical Aesthetician with over 6 years experience and thousands of hours of schooling. Not to mention a SEVERE cystic acne sufferer since I was 8, (I did mention I’m almost 30, right?)

  233. My poor baby was on accutane for the 6mths month and she was severely depressed, etc like you experienced. (supposedly a common side effect). Unfortunately, she’s in the 10% that gets it again. She doesn’t want to go through another round. It has helped though, not as bad as before she did the accutane. Your face looks great and will calm down even more as your system clears out. Very Brave to post this pictures and you’re still beautiful with or without acne…just so you know!

  234. Hey, if one person READS THIS it’s worth me posting. Every time I see an article on acne, I read it. I’m curious about all the different things people try, and I usually have to add my 2 cents. I started getting acne when I was 11 and would still have it, but I finally found a program that worked. I say “program” because it involves completely cleaning out your skincare products, cleaning up your diet, and doing other things to help your skin. I go through Skin Therapy Studio out of Kalispell (google it). I am in no way affiliated with Erin Blair or her business, just a super happy customer who’s heart breaks every time I see another acne sufferer. It blows. I know all too well. If your willing to try Accutane, which I fortunately didn’t because it sounds horrible, its worth getting a hold of Erin first. Can’t be any worse, right? The best part, is her program is for the most part natural. Yeah.. that’s right, no creepy chemicals. Good luck with your skin journey ๐Ÿ˜‰

  235. Hi Juli, I’ve never commented on one of your posts before (although I read your website all the time) but this one hit home. I took accutane 3 times while I was a teenager (yes 3! more than you’re supposed to need) and every time it came back, not as bad as originally but I’ve always suffered with it. At the age of 26 I finally found something that is like a miracle, I never have so much as a spot anymore…bone broth!! I think I must have been suffering from a leaky gut and not even known it. If yours comes back you should try that first ๐Ÿ™‚ Anyway you look amazing and I bet you feel great too. You are so courageous to post your “before” pics and open yourself up to mean people…I could never deal with that! Congrats because I know how great it feels to finally have clear skin.

  236. Your skin looks great! I went through two cycles of Accutane in my teen years and let me say, your skin will keep getting better for years to come. I get no more cystic acne and an occasional zit on my period but that is it. The scaring will diminish and the redness will fade. I’m 5 years removed from finishing my last cycle and my skin looks great. I always tell people to not be scared of it because its the only thing that consistently helps with cystic acne. Well that and being dairy free. Good luck and enjoy that baby smooth skin!

  237. Thanks for sharing! I admire your courage to share your journey with us through pictures. That’s not easy.
    Your skin looks absolutely incredible! I’m so happy that you found something that works for you. Sometimes natural remedies aren’t always the answer even though we want them to be. Science is a wonderful thing! Besides the cosmetic advantages how great it is that you won’t have to experience that pain anymore (from the cystic outbreaks).
    You look amazing girl!

  238. I loved your post! And the responses you’ve been getting look very positive! I didn’t have time to look through them all to see if anyone else had mentioned this as a possibility, have you ever been tested for Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)?
    I am 26 and between the ages of 19 and 23, I had horrible acne. I had always had a little bit growing up – my skin was never perfect – but instead of getting better as I got older, it got significantly worse. It was horrible! I started on paleo when I turned 23 and was feeling great about most things in my life – energy, body, sleep, etc. Everything but my skin! It was so embarrassing. Anyway, I also decided to go on Accutane. I’m assuming you must have gone on birth control as well prior to starting the treatments (due to the horrific birth defects possible on the drug) and must not have seen the results I did, but my acne immediately began to clear up once I was on BC. This was strange because I had been on BC earlier in my life and it never really helped. Anyway, based on how my skin was doing, I decided to keep with the BC and not follow through with Accutane. That was the plan until I heard really scary things about the type of BC I was on. So, I got off the BC quickly and my skin got worse than ever before. I ended up seeing a dermatologist, who was giving me laser treatments to help, but it was painful and the progress was slow-moving. While in the waiting room one day, my mom was reading an article in some magazine about PCOS and how it can cause acne in young women. Basically, PCOS is a hormonal imbalance where a woman’s body creates more testosterone than it should. The acne is generally caused by male-patterned hair growth, which turns into acne on women (which I suppose is preferable to a beard!). Though I do have some icky hairs on my chin from it. Nothing some electrolysis can’t fix! Iโ€™ve being treated with birth control and itโ€™s working great. I get an occasional breakout (usually around that time of the month), but nothing like how it was. Iโ€™m not crazy about birth control being the main way of treating PCOS, but it has definitely helped. Anyway, it’s definitely worth going to an endocrinologist to determine whether you have it. I haven’t tried getting pregnant yet, but I’ve read that it can cause issues in that arena, so itโ€™s always good to find out the reason you may be having the acne breakouts. Knowledge is power! Anyway, congratulations on your skin – it looks beautiful.

  239. Congrats on the Accutane! I did myself about 3 years ago. I’m 28 and in my early 20’s started having major acne problems very similar to yours. I too let all the negative comments scare me into putting off acutane for a long time but I’m so glad I did it. I still have flare ups every now and then, but cutting out dairy and cutting back on sugar has helped me to control it after my acutane course. Since my acne is mostly hormonal, it will always be something I will need to keep in check, but acutane gave me back so much self confidence and showed me that acne is something that can be beaten and not to give up. I’m so glad you ignored the haters and did what you felt was best for you. Good job!!

  240. Hey girl, I am on it too, for my second time. My lips are a wreck. I reapply chap stick every 5 minutes- I have to have it in my bra when I do Cross Fit. I have some tips for you now that you are off. Look into LIRA Hydrofusion Serum (I get it from my esthetician) -they use natural exotic ingredients and this particular thing creates a water barrier on you skin so it holds moisture in. I am not trying to plug products here but this one is important though pricey. I’ll show you pics if you email me of my skin before and after. YOU HAVE TO FOLLOW UP WITH RETIN-A.. I didn’t do that the first time and that is why I am on my second round 3 yrs later. A retin-A routine for the rest of your life will preserve your new skin. Also, I use this cool CC cream that eliminates the redness. What’s the name… um .. oh its right here
    Anyway, there’s no shame in busting out the big guns- cystic acne in and of itself is depressing and ruins your self-esteem. P.S. I LOVE THAT HUMMINGBIRD “BREAD”.

  241. I did accutane when I was younger! It worked like a CHARM!! And the best part? When I stopped, my acne was gone for GOOD – Well, I am knocking on wood right now, but I stopped using it when I was 13 years old and I am not 26… So that’s a GOOD SIGN! Your skin looks PHENOMENAL right now! I love the photo changes, while this is a Paleo Blog, I know you hit home for a lot of ladies (and maybe even men too)!

  242. Congratulations, I did the same at 25 and do not regret it. Was the only thing that worked and my acne was as bad as yours. Keep up the coconut oil on your face, that will make a difference. BUT, the dry lips you’ll have for life. I’m 35 now and cannot go without my rosebud salve.

  243. Glad you got your acne cleared up. I too tried everything under the sun until I went and forced the doc to give me accutane. It was an awful first year of college going through two treatments and having my face look like it was snowing dead skin but totally worth it in the end.

    Also, thanks for the food blog. I love it and regularly cook from it.

  244. I am so happy you found something that works ๐Ÿ™‚

    My daughter is 11 and has a friend who is 12/ 13 with bad acne. Over this past weekend the girl tried to take her life, from the teasing and such from other kids about her face; just breaks my heart hearing that.

  245. Good for you! I fought horrible acne as a teenager and then again and even worse as an adult. I know exactly how you felt. I never wanted to go out or do anything. I was lucky that spironolactone helped me but we definitely talked about accutane. I think it is great you did it and that you talked about it as sometimes I feel in the Paleo community that any medical treatments are frowned upon even if it helps. I did do chemical peels and I have to tell you it made a WORLD of difference. I definitely recommend them if you feel you need them. Congratulations on taking control and good job!

  246. I support your choice and am glad it worked for you!

    Yes, good diet and natural treatments are the preferable first lines of attack. But sometimes, they just don’t cut it. Not taking advantage of modern medicine when alternatives don’t work is foolish IMO.

    Accutane isn’t something to be taken lightly (and you clearly didn’t), but it does have its place. I’m happy you have conquered your acne!

  247. Juli,

    Thanks for sharing your experience with acne/accutane. I’d love to see more posts about how your skin does now that you have completed treatment, as I’m considering giving accutane a try myself. I realize that everyone is different, but it is helpful to hear about what can to expect from a real person, not just a doctor telling you about it (and I’m a medical student!).

  248. As a naturopathic medicine student, I always look for natural and safe remedies for my patients that ‘first, do no harm’. There are several herbal remedies and botanical herbs out there that do wonders for skin, BUT even I will agree that sometimes a strong pharmaceutical approach is needed. Although Accutane isn’t Plan A or option 1 in my books, it can work wonders on skin after all other avenues have been exhausted. I congratulate you on your beautiful skin and your bravery and honesty in this post.

  249. Juli,

    You look fan-freakin-tastic. And I have to give you huge kudos for sharing your journey because you’re a much braver woman than I am. I think I have burned or shredded any pictures of me during my accutane course. I was 13 when I took it and even though it felt like one of the hardest things I did at the time (damn, kids are mean), looking back I can say it was one of the best things and thank my mom for letting me.

    It’s 15 years later now and every once in a while I get a small breakout from stress or monthly hormones, but when I keep it in perspective, it’s nothing. The 13-year-old in me will freak out and want to hide under the covers, thinking it’s all coming back, but I’m lucky that it never has. Despite being a total girl sometimes, I’d say it helped my confidence immensely.

    Good for you woman. I’m glad you took the risk and had a positive experience.


  250. You looked beautiful before and you look beautiful now! I took Accutane twice myself. It cured by cystic acne. Before Paleo, I still experienced occasional break-outs (not cystic like before though). But those have vanished and my skin has NEVER looked better! Thanks for sharing!

  251. I took Accutane in my early twenties. I experienced the same side effects to include nose bleeds. I tried everything topical before that and nothing worked. Accutane is absolutely a miracle drug! I remember thinking to myself at one of my lowest points before taking it, ‘if I had three wishesโ€ฆ’โ€ฆa clear face honestly would be one of them. ๐Ÿ™

    I have to say that even now, in my early thirties, I have to take a daily antibiotic, doxycycline 100 mg, to prevent acneโ€ฆ.but my acne has NEVER been as bad or out of control as it was before Accutane! You look amazing! I think you made the best decision for your skin..seriously. You look great! ๐Ÿ™‚

  252. If I’m repeating what others have already said, sorry (:
    Too many posts to read through. I’m 33 and struggled with acne on and off from 13 until now. I did 4 rounds of Accutane over the years, oral and topical prescriptions, natural remedies etc. i was clear all through my pregnancy and my daughter is now 18 months. I just started getting acne and little bumps and after reading about hydrogen peroxide thought id use it like an astringent. It works great, and my skin is clearing. It heals them practically overnight. Just a tip for others to try.

  253. Hey There.

    You look great. It’s awesome you posted this.

    I had a problem with my skin for a while and I tried not pairing fats and carbohydrates at the same time. I know that sounds completely insane but I only ate meals that were protein/fat or protein/carb and my skin got better as well as my digestion. I could eat nuts again without getting terribly bloated. I did that for about 6 months and then slowly started eating them together again. I try to do it sparingly, but you’ve got to enjoy yourself so I have not cut it out completely. It was hard at first but then I found a groove. It seems you’ve found your solution, but I was so surprised by changing this little thing that I thought I would mention it. Thanks for all your awesome blog posts!

  254. As someone who has also had acne for a long time (8 years), I feel your pain and I’m happy that this is almost over for you. I congratulate you on sharing this in the Paleo sphere – something that most would bash you for since most claim Paleo fixes everything. F*** looking like a ‘sellout’, this isn’t a cult or religion and people should realise that. Wer’e not drones of some poetic caveman story, we are people in a modern world who need to realise that we have greater power and control. Stop fighting everything and let life flow. I almost feel sorry for people who are so obsessive (not dedicated, obsessive) about every single morsel they consume. Again, we are not drones we are free spirits with our own unique journey in life.

    What worked for me in particular, is letting go of all food obsessions (stress) and drop the Paleo diet almost completely. Within weeks my skin stopped breaking out in hormonal (male) jawline acne and is 95% clear. I even get compliments now! Don’t get me wrong, I still eat real food, but my macros have changed dramatically (I was also underweight) and I’m inclined to believe that (for me) Ray Peat research points in the direction of health, way more than Paleo ever did. I almost hate the fact that I ‘went Paleo’ for over 3 years which made me hypothyroid and I’m only now after 6 months starting to recover completely. (no drugs)

    Also, for skin regeneration, try snail serum. It’s the best thing I’ve ever put on my skin and I too have tried all the natural remedies. In fact, it’s the only thing I use on my skin now. (BIOCUTIS Bioskincare) Topical Niacinamide mixed in (Vitamin B3) will also help redness, as may taking it internally.Derma rolling may help scars too, but do your research. I wouldn’t suggest ANYTHING other than 0.5mm. Smaller needles won’t penetrate the dermis and larger needs can do more harm than good and also requite professional assistance.

  255. Your skin looks amazing! You are SO brave you posting pics online. You look beautiful. I am currently on Accutane and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Anyone can talk about the evils of Accutane but if they have never dealth with severe acne then they just won’t ever understand. You have to do what is best for YOU! Way to be honest and share—you’re beautiful and I LOVE your blog. Best wishes.

  256. Thank you, Juli for sharing your painful journey. I too started to have severe and painful cystic acne when I began Crossfit. I have tried everything under the sun except for prescription meds. I have always followed your journey and have been comforted to know that such a beautiful, successful woman has experienced the same thing as I.
    I am happy that accutane has been successful for you. To help your body repair itself you may want to try Gelatin from grassfed animals. I started it a week ago and my acne has improved! It is also a joint/muscle rebuilder. I found it through Paleo blogs. I make jello and also put it in my coffee/tea. The green can for putting it in your beverage and the red can for making jello.

  257. First, let me say I LOVE the guts you have. Sharing a story like this is never easy. Mad respect my lady.

    Second, I wanted to share something with everyone as well! My sister has had acne issues since she was in high school as well. I recently introduced her to UNBLEMISH by Rodan + Fields and she has finally had a break through! Rodan + Fields was created by the same doctors that created ProActive, and it is specifically for adult acne issues. Not only does it treat acne, but it also works to clear post-acne marks.

    Now that your skin is clear, you could also look into the AMP MD roller. This roller breaks up acne scars and has been called “the best spent minute in skin care” by the today show.

    I would LOVE to talk to you about giving our products a shot! Check out our website and shoot me an email of this seems like something you’d be interested in!

  258. While I understand why people use products like Accutane, I would like to share my experience for anyone who may be looking for information before going down the road of using medications.

    I have had acne since I was a teenager. I had temporary episodes of “decent” skin in my early 20s but by my mid-20s I was having pretty consistent cystic acne. There were always lots of painful bumps on my chin and jawline. Occasionally they were on the side of my nose and forehead. As soon as one went away, another one would take it’s place in a slightly different spot. They never came to a head and even after they “went away” there was still some hard lumpiness under the skin for a long time.

    Around the time I was 30 years old, I started cleaning up my diet for unrelated reasons. It was actually in response to taking a community-based education course called “Living Smart” which helps people make more environmentally friendly decisions and actions in their everyday lives. In addition to focusing on things like renewable energy, alternative transportation, etc, it also covered how one could minimize throw-away packaging, chemical products, and other pollutants.

    Anyway, I started cutting out processed food products to avoid the packaging waste. I bought produce from local organic shops, grass-fed meat from our local butcher, and bulk nuts, dried fruits, beans, grains, etc from a local whole food store. In avoiding packaging waste, I was eating almost no dairy, soy, crackers, bread, snack foods, candies, etc. I also quit using perfumes, lotions, fabric softeners, and heavily fragranced products and switched to bathing with liquid castile soap and using homemade coconut oil deodorant. This dramatically cut down the toxic load my body used to be under on a daily basis.

    One segment of the Living Smart course that was less focused on the environment and more focused on creating a “healthy you,” introduced me to Green Smoothies. This intrigued me and I started reading glowing testimonials online from people who had cured lots of health problems with green drinks. I decided to experiment and I drank a green smoothie every morning (leafy greens, green herbs, chia seeds, fruit, water, avocado, and ginger) and a fresh fruit/veggie juice every evening (any or all of carrot, beetroot, celery, silver beet, cucumber, fennel, lemon, apple, ginger). To further my experiment with a “nutrient dense” diet, I ate a big leafy green salad with my dinner every night, cut out coffee and tea, and cut out added sugars (including honey and molasses). I also started trying to be in bed by 11 p.m. each night for a good night’s sleep. I continued my workouts as normal. Instead of feeling deprived, I actually started experiencing fewer cravings and my moods evened out. This kept me interested in continuing, irregardless of what was happening to my skin.

    While I was still battling acne, I noticed that my skin was having a healthier glow, which was nice. Over time, I started noticing that the pimples I was getting were smaller and not quite as painful. When one went away, another one wouldn’t immediately crop up in the same place. In a sense they were becoming more spread out. I started resisting the urge to pick at them. I quit using acne products. They became more “normal,” more like pimples with a whitehead instead of cysts. Lots of these could be dislodged with a very gentle squeeze after a shower. The lumpiness under my skin started going away. Then one day I realised that I hadn’t had a cyst in quite some time and even the small bumps were becoming fewer and far between.
    For the first time in my life (since childhood) my skin was smooth and clear. I don’t even have the proverbial “one or two around the time of my period.”

    This wasn’t a quick fix. It took at least six months of this consistent (and I emphasize “consistent”) diet and lifestyle to see the changes in my skin. I wasn’t just removing offending foods, I was also actively adding all the “good” stuff to my diet as well (lots and lots of greens and colourful veggies). And, eventually, when my skin had calmed down, I did start eating small amounts of blackstrap molasses, dark chocolate, and dried fruit. I just tried my best to keep away from processed foods and personal care products.

    After about 9 months of this lifestyle, I fell pregnant with my son and proceeded to have an acne-free pregnancy. Once he was born, I thought for sure that the acne would come back with the sleep deprivation and having less time to prepare my smoothies and juice. To my surprise, my skin stayed looking pretty decent (if you don’t count the dark under-eye circles). ๐Ÿ˜‰

    However, to deal with the sleep deprivation, I eventually started drinking a coffee with coconut cream and sugar every morning. And then one day, when he as about 6 months old, I noticed I was waking up with painful bumps on my chin here and there. So I cut out the coffee again and tried to get in at least a few smoothies and juices in a week. The bumps stopped.

    All this to say, I believe most people can probably fix their skin problems naturally. I don’t think it’s easy or straightforward and I know it’s not quick. But, I wanted to put my story out there for anyone who finds it helpful and wants to explore nutrition/hormone/allergy issues for him or herself.

  259. Hi!

    I too have taken acutane for my acne but my skin was only clear for about 6 months after I stopped the treatment and I ended up having to go back on the pill. I went off the pill last year and have been trying to fight it naturally and am failing pretty miserably.

    Just a heads up that acutane does not work forever for a lot of people. I am now working on sorting out my underlying hormonal problem that I know is the root cause. Also acutane ruined my digestive system, which may have been a blessing in disguise because its one of the reasons I found paleo in the first place and started improving my eating habits and lifestyle. I used to be able to eat whatever I wanted and feel ok afterwards and now even some healthy foods make be bloat, have horrible gas, and feel very ill.

    I believe one day I will nail down which foods specifically are triggering my skin, I don’t care how long it takes, I refuse to go back to drugs. I would never recommend anyone to take acutane from my experiences. Just my opinion of course, I really do hope it stays clear for you, it really sucks to expose your body to all that stuff just to still end up with the same problem.

  260. I’m so glad you can feel good about your skin! I was surprised to read your post, mostly because I thought Accutane was taken off the market. I used to work for a dermatologist and Accutane seriously saved a young patient’s life (she was severely depressed from her severe acne, which cleared up from this medication!).

    I had the same problems with acne as you described. It hit until I turned 30. It occurred mostly on my cheeks and neck. It was embarrassing. I thought about meds from my dermatologist. I tried Retin-A on other topicals but they did nothing. I came across Lerosett online. The clay mask fixed EVERYTHING. I still use it nightly to maintain clear skin. I HIGHLY recommend the Lerosett mask to clear up cystic acne if you ever flare up again. ๐Ÿ™‚

  261. Hi! Quick question: did you have to limit your intake of vitamin A foods while on accutane? Like sweet potatoes, squash etc. if yes, how did you fuel w/o those carbs?

  262. Thank you for sharing this post, for both the acne side and the depression side. I completely understand why you chose to go the pharmaceutical route. Cystic acne is super painful and it looked like your cheeks must have been killing you. You’re beautiful! I’m happy that you can pull your face up and feel confident in yourself!

  263. Thank you for sharing, my son is currently on Accutan and heading into his fourth month. So far he is not showing any signs of depression, your story has reminded me to keep a close eye on him.
    Our family is loving your recipes. My daughter has Down syndrome and has a lot of problems with digestion. Our change, however slow, to Paleo, has had great results. My first dabbles with Paleo, an old book,were more flops than hits So far all of your recipes have been great and there are requests for repeats.

  264. Thanks for sharing your story. I always wanted to go on Accutaine but the Dr’s never thought my skin was bad enough. Last year I was dealing with terrible painful acne and in addition to going to a dermatologist I looked into home remedies and I found (and still use to this day) Apple Cider Vinegar keeps my skin pretty nice. For those who are interested, mix 4 parts water and 1 part cider vinegar and I rub it on my face 2x a day (morning and night). Not sure why, but it keeps my skin really nice. At night use it and will also wash my face, and in the morning I will do it before I shower/wash my face. I stopped going to the Dr’s and stopped taking the meds that were not working in the first place.

    On an unrelated note, this is my favorite Paleo food blog.

  265. You go Juli! Let the haters hate… you are beautiful and you have to do what you need and what works for you. I’m glad it did! What is your skin care regimen now?

    PS, I use your recipes all the time. Don’t you ever ever EVER stop making recipes or my life will be over. K? Thanks ๐Ÿ˜‰

  266. you look wonderful, and I really appreciate your honesty. brave of you to share photos and shame on anyone who says anything unpleasant. you rock.

  267. Good for you ! Acne is a horrible thing to have and I know your confidence was taking a hit. I am so glad that things are going better for you !!

  268. My bad acne went completely away when I stopped eating meat and dairy, which is definitely not Paleo. Now, understand that I do eat meat now, just very little, but no dairy. I equate the clearing of acne to eating cooked fats far more sparingly.

  269. It could be an allergy. I developed acne as a form of contact dermatitis in response to equine fly spray present in my environment. My dermatologist thought it was acne, then rosacea… as soon as the fly spray was out of my life, my acne went away. It was difficult to determine what was bothering me, but once you find it, your skin will be clear. Unfortunately, it can be anything from shampoo, an ingredient in make-up, laundry soap, etc. Best of luck!

  270. Have you tried drinking chicken stock? Without skimming any fat off? I know it sounds weird, but my skin just glows when I drink three bowls of chicken stock a day and I have had bad adult acne. I think it has something to do with the gelatin content. Glad the accutane helped!

  271. Juli, wow what a gorgeous girl, enough said!

    I did want to add, I struggled with the same deep cystic acne in high school, completely connected to every stressor I had. I did start on DepoProvera after I was told I had a bicornate uterus (somewhat related, no normal cycles…), but once on the Depo, everything acne-wise calmed down. I stopped the depo to have my daughter, and feared it would all come back, acne and angry acne at that. Not the case. Sometimes that purge of hormones with a pregnancy, or the drug that stops all uterine activity, is all that is needed. Just a thought if the baby makin’ days come in to play.. bonus ๐Ÿ™‚
    Keep it up girl, you are fantastic, but I think you know that. ๐Ÿ˜€

  272. Juli!!!!
    I was a smoker for over half my life (pack a day for 15 years), and quit. I thought my skin would look amazing after. It wasn’t until I added chicken bone broth that people started telling me I have the most amazing skin (who me????) and that I look ten years younger. I am only 34 – That’s a huge compliment. I know the bone broth does good things for my skin because it takes less than two weeks of not drinking it to get a zit. I HATE making it, mostly cause I HATE going to the store for chicken feet, and HATE being home to simmer the thing for over 24 hours. But it’s soooo worth it. Only a cup a day. Maybe even every other day. Like my skin looks better than primer concealer foundation and powder worth it. I’d give it a shot. If you have a pressure cooker, I guess you can make it way faster.

  273. Juli, thanks for sharing your journey — like so many of these commenters, I’ve been following along (and sharing the pain). I had severe cystic acne on my face, chest and back after getting off spironolactone when we were trying to conceive.

    Back and chest improved toward the end of pregnancy, but terrible face breakouts endured. Now six months post-partum and still breastfeeding, rx meds are still out. Like you, I know diet won’t fix the acne. I’m as paleo as I’ve ever been — and have been totally and soy-free since our son was 3 weeks old (he has an intolerance), and have seen zero improvement.

    The only thing I can safely get away with is a benzoyl peroxide face wash from the dermatologist. It helps but skin is by no means clear. It’s so encouraging to read you found a solution. I’ll be dealing with this for awhile since we plan to have another baby, and daydream about the days of spiro + Retin-A, which worked like a charm pre-baby (+ doxycycline before my wedding). I can’t say I’d never try Accutane when all is said and done; I know how painful — literally and figuratively — severe acne can be. Good for you for finding something that worked. Sending all the best!

  274. So my husband was on accutane when we were in highschool (and not married…). it did wonders for him as well, his skin is still beautiful 15 years later. only rough thing is that he ended up with clinical dry eye that he needs to take medication for daily, but since starting those meds he’s been in much better shape. For me – i never had bad acne when i was young on my face, but did have it on my back (terrible). Birth control fixed/controlled it. When i went off b/c to get prego with my son, the acne came back with a vengeance. i already eat gluten and dairy free by necessity, and i tried SO MANY THINGS to help control it and nothing worked. So my Dr. gave me an rx for a topical benzoyl peroxide/clindamycin ointment that i’ve been using for 4 months as well as told me to take 4000 IU of vitamin D per day. This combo has done AMAZING things for my face. like you, i still have a few scars, but NOTHING compared to what i had going on a few months ago. it’s magic. so talk to your doc about adding in extra vit d as well, and see if that helps you keep your skin controlled! being from Canada and having Celiac disease i’ve got the shit end of the stick when it comes to vit D availability anyway, so it doesn’t hurt to take extra in my case! you look great! Also, your block rocks my world. going to make your pumpkin pie for xmas dessert this year. boom!

  275. Juli I am so glad that you shared your Accutane experience!!! I’ve done it twice now, once at 16, with amazing results that lasted until I was 21. At 26 my skin got so bad again I did another round but only made it through 3 months before I had to stop due to the awful side effects that DID NOT effect me when I was young. My guess was I could tolerate a lot more pain for beauty when I was younger! Or that my body chemistry has drastically changed and I could no longer tolerate the side effects (highly likely). Anyway I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to rid yourself of acne, for us acne sufferers it’s all a personal journey, and it’s a different one for everyone! I still have chronic dry lips from my first round of Accutane. The only thing that ever helped my chronic dry lips is La Mer lip balm, which is $50 a tin, but it’s so worth it.

  276. I have moderate acne flare-ups, mostly from eating dairy. So, I’ve been soaking my feet in epsom salts because my magnesium levels are so bad. Lo and behold, my acne started to go away!!!! And my face didn’t feel so oily. Just wanted to share what worked for me.:)

  277. I totally get your mindset about acne. I had Few here and there when I was young but it started getting really bad after college. Cystic acne too…I took prescriptions for years and finally decided to go on accutane. My skin was great for a while and then the breakouts started again. I went back on topical meds. Then i decided that I didn’t want to use chemicals on my skin or in my body. After researching what accutane and other drugs do to your body I couldn’t continue. I think those drugs actually made my skin worse but not until a while after I took them. It ruined my gut and caused SIBO and parasites in because it was weak. I’m now working with a naturopath to heal my gut and rid myself of all the other issues. But I can tell a huge difference when I eat sugar and a few other triggers like coconut (huge trigger). Good luck with your skin and hopefully you won’t have to use accutane again. Try some super gut healing foods and supplements to make sure you stay healthy!

  278. Juli, i would never have guessed you struggled with this issue! You seem so self confident on your blog. Thanks so much for sharing your struggles as many of us go through this fight feeling alone and less than worthy. I have been on accutane too and i can relate to ALL the symptoms you experienced! Accutane was not a cure all for me and diet changes never helped me but i have for the time being, found a topical that is keeping things from getting out of control. Good luck with everything and continue to be an inspiration for many.

  279. Ok, so adult acne problems…. can I get an amen? Completely lame that I am still getting scarring breakouts at 29. Anywho, I have also been struggling with hair thinning since college. I tried Vitamin E, Biotin, changing eating habits, fish, prenatal vitamins… nothing helped. My stylist recommended this three step Bosley shampoo thing (white bottle with blue graphics). I am about a solid month in and already I have baby hair sprouts on my hairline and part. If the Accutane is thinning out your hair, this may be something you want to look into.

  280. Thank you so much for sharing your experience! I went through the Accutane process when I was in high school and while the “during” period of time was miserable at times (dry skin, redness, peeling, tendency to sunburn, muscle aches, etc), the “after” period of time has been completely worth it. I’m so glad that there are others out there who have had a positive experience with Accutane. As with all medications, it works better for some than others and I’m glad to hear that there are others out there who had an overall positive experience as well!

  281. Try elimination of soy in your diet. Yes… it’s in everything. It is a plant estrogen (phytoestrogen) and will give you breakouts. Taaadaaaa. xo Sally

  282. You look great! I had cystic acne when I was a teenager. Thankfully (uh, unfortunately?) my older brother and sister had already been through it, so my dr. quickly got me on accutane and it was a LIFE SAVER. I went from seriously deep and painful cysts to clear skin in 6 months. The dry skin was brutal, but worth it.

    I’m 30 now and still get some acne (little guys that if I treat early are no big d) but NOTHING compared to what my sister (who passed on accutane) gets, nor do I have the scaring that can be left from the big, painful cysts.

    Speaking of, in this COOOOLD Colorado brutal weather, to help my Retin-A skin (as I said, I would still have the occasional blemish; Retin-A takes care of…and any fine lines too boot!) heal and stay smooth and pale instead of red and flakey I love Osmia Organics “restoration serum”. Local CO company that uses all natural and mostly organic ingredients. If you’re still feeling a bit red, worried about scars, or dry this stuff is a god send.

    Good luck and congrats on getting out of the cystic acne cycle!

  283. I had minor acne as a teenager. It cleared up for a few years, for the most part, and then at the beginning of this year, I started working out. Like 5-7 days a week. I lost weight and was in great shape, but my face suddenly looked (and felt) horrible! I got it on the sides of my cheeks, just like your photo shows. It looked pretty much exactly like yours. I would wash my face after veery work out and started applying OTC treatment, to no avail. It made me so depressed! I remember actually choosing to stay home instead of going out because I felt so low about it. And like you, I used globs of make-up to cover it, which only seemed to make it worse. Well, I fell off the work-out bandwagon about 3 months ago. The good news is that since I haven’t been working out (pretty much ever), my face has cleared up COMPLETELY. Bad news is I’m starting to gain back that little bit of pudge that I had before my work-out addiction. =( I have no doubt that there has to be a correlation. So, either be skinny/in-shape or have a clear face. Apparently, I can’t have both. Stupid body doing stupid stuff.

  284. Thank you for sharing your struggles with acne, especially adult acne… I have battled the same blemish issues for years, years, years and more years. I too have tried EVERYTHING, dermatologists, paleo, expensive acne solution kits, oil cleansing method and NOTHING was able to keep the acne at bay. It’s been just as bad as a 40 something adult as when I was 15. I too talked to my dermatologist about accutane but never tried it. About 10 years ago, I discovered proactiv, it changed everything. Acne disappeared in days and about once every two years I get one pimple, not bad! Every now and then I go through a thought process that I should worry about wrinkles, buy some expensive wrinkle combatting kits, break out and go back to proactiv. It’s not natural, not paleo friendly but it works for me. It even controls the acne for my teenage son!

  285. This is awesome! I love that you are willing to put yourself out there so that other people can benefit from your experiences. Glad it’s over for you, Juli!

  286. Hi Juli!

    I just wanted to thank you for your courage and sheer honesty with this post. I personally haven’t experienced sever acne in my life, but I have used prescription anti-depressants and can relate to worrying about the Paleo stigma around Western medicine. While I too have been able to solve so many issues merely by diet and lifestyle changes, I think it is an important message to put out there, that sometimes for some period of people’s lives it is necessary and completely OK to make an educated decision about using pharmaceuticals.

    Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for all your incredible posts. You are so much fun to read! I love how it seems like your personality really shines through your posts. I’m always laughing out loud when I stop by your blog (which might be a daily basis…!) Keep up the great work!


  287. Wow, what a journey. Thanks for sharing. I suffered bad acne when I moved from Australia to Canada (not much sun in Vancouver and lots of clouds). It can be so miserable. I have found the absolute best thing for dry lips is papaya ointment (caricature papaya). I use Lucas’ Papaw ointment as does almost everyone you have ever met from Australia! It is cheap and hands down the best stuff! It can also be used for diaper rash, scalds, sunburn, all sorts! Good luck.

  288. You’re awesome! I have never struggled with acne but I have stuggled with our health issues and it takes a lot of courage to keep trying things when all you want to do is give up hope and curl up into a little ball! It is amazing how diet choices affects things! I just discovered a soy intolerance that has been reeking havoic on so many things that I never even thought about.

    Congrats on your victory and moreso your courage! Love reading your blog! I feel like if we met randomly at Starbucks or Zumba class we could babble about broccoli and how to find cream of coconut in a small town that thinks organic means eating the feed you give your livestock ๐Ÿ™‚

  289. Congratulations on your clear skin!! So liberating! I also was on Accutane, worked for me but I still had acne following, just not as bad. Birth control was my next fix, until I decided birth control is not a life long fix. I went to my naturopath and he fixed me up, I am pretty much acne free and I’m taking liquid vitamin A and spectro gel to wash my face. Sugar is my biggest enemy, I break out like a teenager. I totally suggest a naturopath for a healthy fix if needed in the future. Thank you for sharing your story! ๐Ÿ™‚

  290. Thanks for sharing, Juli, and congratulations on finding something that worked for you! I, too, tried to fix my increasingly troublesome adult and cystic acne with diet and, if anything, it got worse as I got more and more stressed. Finally, I sought help from a dermatologist. I’ve had great success with spironolactone and Aczone gel/cream (non-irritating and good for redness/rosacea-type acne). Hope things continue to go well for you!

  291. I did it in 2007. My skin wasn’t that bad, but I was sick of waking up everyday with a new zit or 3, usually on my chin. I also had incredibly oily skin. This was all before even thinking about Paleo, so perhaps I wouldn’t have done it, but who knows… It was a great decision, even with all the bs that went with it. Shh..I got my prescription for birth control but realized no one checked if I took it so I stopped that after a couple of months (condoms alone always worked fine for me before and they have continued to). Just wanted to say that if you’re looking for a lot of good skin info (though I disagree with a few things), check . That website vastly improved my acne before Accutane, and there’s nothing else like it out there. I find it’s mostly it’s good for knowing which ingredients really aren’t helpful for skin (like essential oils, harsh cleansers, etc) and understanding basics. Really enjoyed your post.

  292. Hi Julie,
    Thanks so much for posting this. I struggle with Psoriasis and take Methotrexate for it. After being Paleo for 5 months my health was so improved and my head full of Practical Paleo medical advise, that I decided to go off my meds–only to have my entire body break out in psoriasis the worst ever, just totally disgusting! So I gave up and went back on meds. I’ve been feeling ashamed like I’m not doing my Paleo correctly. But sometimes Western medicine is the way to go. Thanks for sharing

  293. I’m glad it worked for you. For what it’s worth, I have used high dose Vitamin A… I read about it on an acne forum a few years back and was recommended in lieu of Accutane. Just something you might want to look into. My acne was not THAT bad but bad enough to bother me. The vitamin A works wonders for me (I did 25,000 iu for 3 months) and I use organic jojoba oil for a moisturizer, which counteracts any drying effects. On the other hand, I had a friend in high school who used Accutane and it worked great for her, and she was very happy with it.

  294. Accutane is amazing. I went on it when I was 11, crazy right? I am about to go on it again. They told me that the acne would probably come back, since I was so young when I first went on it. I hit 30, and all of a sudden my face decided to think it was a teenager again. I am 32 now, and have decided to go back on Accutane. It is definitely a much different process this go around. I am so excited!! The pros for sure outweigh the cons. BTW, I just love your blog.

  295. Hello, i got acne too. Most on my forehead. I have read that you can get acne from Protein powder. Iยดve tried it and that was the solution of my Problem. ๐Ÿ™‚

  296. Have you ever tried topical vitamin c? I’ve had some struggles with my complexion in the past, as well. I just mix in 1/16th of a tsp of l-ascorbic acid powder with my moisturizer and it keeps my acne at bay. It can also be an effective anti-aging agent; especially if you’re an avid tanner. One side note, I am a male, so I’m not entirely sure how it will blend with makeup. I suppose it’s always worth a try? I’ve heard horror stories about long term side effects of Accutane.

    I also had great success with benzoyl peroxide. More specifically, the regimen from (no affiliation) worked miracles on my skin in regards to break outs. I ended up discontinuing use when I noticed some premature aging from all of benzoyl peroxide.

  297. I had mild acne in high school on my face. It cleared up when I turned 20, but I started breaking out on my back and arms pretty badly. It would be ok, but I live on a beach lol – you can’t live your life wearing t-shirts. I tried everything from not conditioning my hair, taking meds, creams, etc but to no avail. It just got worse and more painful. I was looking through vitamins one day for an unrelated reason and saw zinc… something clicked. I had learned about zinc before being important to skin health. I bought the supplements then spent a week tracking my zinc intake. Dismally low and difficult to get up. Started the supplements and ALL CLEAR NOW. Amazing. I never thought it would be so effective or simple, still blows my mind.

  298. I am 56 yrs old and as a teen only had occasional breakouts. I really don’t know when…but if I think back I can track my first problems with cystic acne around when I was pregnant with my first child…and off and on till another two pregnancies in my mid thirties. But…i do know during those times I was very health conscious and took supplements. I have discovered (and read of others) that I am sensitive to the binders, glycerin, silica etc in the supplements…only after getting lazy and not filling my large one month pill box…then I had dental wiork and needed an antibiotic and thought I needed a probiotic…yup…cystic acne again…then fast forward….eating yogurt…it’s suppose to be good for you…duh…probiotics….cystic acne. Doing well…find a health drink…Kombucha…start drinking it…cystic acne..,and this tajes me several months for it to click! Never thought about the liquid and probiotics in Kimbucha! So…be ware of supplements and dairy!

  299. I get the occasional painful cyst-type acne (I am in my mid 20’s and this is a recent development).I have pretty sensitive dry/normal combo skin and other treatments I have tried have just made me peely and flaky.

    I have been using Citrus Clear Control products for a month. At first the treatment was a little drying so I went to using it every other night and now I am applying it every night following it up with the moisturizer. My skin is DEFINITELY clearer. It is still a little irritating every once in awhile but I have not had any peeling/redness. It definitely stops the cyst-type acne from coming back.

  300. Good for you! I also was on Accutane years ago for severe cystic acne. It is a very powerful prescription but when you suffer from severe acne it is so worth it. Your self esteem alone goes up. I still have an occasional break out but nothing like I used to have. I am loving your recipes! Keep up the good work!

  301. Glad Accutane worked for you! your skin looks wonderful. I”m 40, have 2 kids and thought i’d outgrown my lifelong acne issues. i’d been good all through the two pregnancies! anyway, i’m currently on my EIGHTH course of it!!!!!! usually did a 6 month stint at 80 mg a day; but this time we’re trying 20 mg a day indefinately! i’m still waiting for the 20 mg to kick in and it’s been 3 months. Thankgod it keeps working! good luck to you…….

  302. Hi, I’m new to your website and Paleo . I haven’t gone full paleo yet but i am slowly getting there. This post caught my attention because I too suffer from acne. At times it has been pretty bad. It is now under control wit Sprionolactone, but I know it is not a cure. And since being on it my oiliness has decreased significantly and my acne is down by 80% i get some minor zits but nothing major. i have gotten a couple of cysts since starting a yr ago . I’m happy with the results. I know that when i stop taking this medication my skin will most likely go back to the way it was before. I had very oily skin with regular acne flareups as well as cystic acne. Most of my acne has been on my jawline and cheek area, none on my forehead. I know my acne is hormonal. I got bloodwork done and was told I have elevated testosterone. I once considered Accutane but was not sure if i would be a good candidate since my acne wasn’t severe. I mean when we look at ourselves in the mirror we are our own worst critics. Anyway I hope to clear my acne by eating healthy and working out regularly . In return I hope to regulate my hormones. I had no acne until i hit my 20’s. I attribute it all to hormones due to bad lifestyle habits. Mostly overeating crap, and heavy drinking. If my acne doesn’t clear on paleo and regular exercise then I will once again consider Accutane. I’ve heard mostly horror stories and some positive. I am glad Accutane worked for you and that your acne is now under control. Thanks for the post. I’m anxious to try your recipes btw, I’ve heard they’re great

  303. First of all, I hope no one left you mean messages about your skin. If they did, they obviously don’t read your blog and know how amazing you are and how much you help other people! That looks so painful, I can’t imagine how awful it was to try and “live with” that. I am so glad you have found some relief!
    Second of all, I had no idea that they would go to such lengths to make sure you are not pregnant when going on a medication for your skin. I wish they would enforce this kind of testing on stupid people because there are way too many stupid people producing! Ok, that’s my rant for the day. Love you Juli!

  304. You’re going to think I’m just totally nuts, but I did some research and found that buttermilk is one of the greatest beauty products ever. While my acne wasn’t as severe as yours, I noticed instant improvement in my skin when I started washing with (and/or leaving on) buttermilk. I literally use a paint brush to apply it before bed. Breakouts stopped, skin smoothed, scars lightened… If you ever feel like you need a little something, give it a try! I’m glad the accutane worked for you! I was always too afraid to try it!

  305. I did Accutane in high school and despite all the crazy side effects and some hair loss that never really came back (I had enough so that it isn’t a big deal) I have never once regretted it! You don’t realize what a hit your self esteem takes when you are nervous about what people are thinking when they look you in the face. Good for you!!!

  306. Juli, I have followed your blog for almost two years now. I discovered it after beginning our paleo lifestyle. I LOVE your recipes and your humor. ๐Ÿ™‚ I remember seeing this post about your acne and using accutane. I am so happy that you were able to find relief with a long time problem. I developed acne while pregnant with my fourth child 4 years ago. I stuck to the “natural” side of skin care for the most part, holding my hopes out that eventually something would work. Some things made it even worse! I was ready to recycle grocery bags by using them to cover my head! This last Christmas, I received a line of skin care called Beautycounter. It took all of 5 days for my skin to clear up! The products are 100% SAFE and non-toxic to our bodies, and they feel absolutely wonderful going on. I just thought you MIGHT be interested in checking it out…possibly. I, at least, thought I’d share what I have found. I put my website down for a place you can look at what the company is all about. Have a wonderful day!

  307. Hi Juli,

    I just recently stumbled upon your blog after joining a Paleo challenge at my local cross fit gym. First, I want to applaud you for being so brave to post those before and after pictures. I hope you know how gorgeous you are!! I went on accutane when I was a teenager, around the age of 19. It was horrible, I had all of the same symptoms as you. But when it was all over with, it was absolutely life changing. Its been 12 years now and while I will always get the occasional pimple from time to time, I never get those horrible cystic, deep and painful acne that I used to get. A lot of people are shocked to find out I was on accutane, and think it was probably unnecessary – but thats only because they don’t know how bad it was! I’m glad you went with your gut and toughed it out. Good luck with everything!!

  308. Julie, you rock. I am so happy that you found something that works for you. I have taken accutane and the 1st 2 times it worked beautifully, remission of acne for two years each time. My acne has come back bad and no amount of paleo, elimination diet, juicing, whatever has stopped it. Reluctantly considering another course (my derm wants me to use topicals but my eczema seems to be worsened by them),

    Thanks for sharing that sometimes holistic is not the only way to go

    Hugs from NY


  309. Accutane is the only thing that ever really helped me. And I tried it all, non-natural and natural alike. I nearly gave myself an eating disorder trying dietary and holistic fixes. You’re awesome. Power to you for living life your way.

  310. I was researching carrot extract today and found myself on this site while searching paleo in tangent with accutane(I’m a survivor too(1994)). I just wanted to add a couple notes and opinions in case someone else finds there way here too. I would not reccommend accutane to anyone, but rather teach proper nutrition. I could make this comment enormous(it will be) but am trying to keep it short and to the point.
    When you have acne, you are seeing your bodies presentation of what it’s been consuming(I would say for the last 1 – 2 years). In fact everything you see on the outside is a presentation of whats going on inside. Fragile nails/hair, dry/red/flaky skin, etc…
    My opinion and I’m just a nobody, but if you have acne or said exterior ailments above, your immune system(to begin with) is likely compromised to some degree.
    I don’t know much about, I’m just a passerby taking my time trying to educate the world.
    1. Remove processed sugars/grains(flour/corn/rice/starch).
    2. Use natural oil soaps, almost all mainstream cleansing products contain sodium laurel/laureth sulfate, which is used to aggravate skin dryness for lotion testing.
    3. Check out (auto-immune diet)(I learned/am learning a lot from Sarah)
    I started a quest and haven’t finished it yet(I’m dragging my wife and 3 kids behind :)) When I was a young lad, I was ignorant and chose to use accutane. If I could travel back in time and raise myself as a child, I would have taught myself why you eat healthy foods, and how eating affects and effects you, and changed the world, well, maybe.

    Food affects you,
    Food has an effect on you.
    Heal the inside, Heal the outside. It just takes time. Thanks for your time.

  311. Wow, just wow! Very happy for you. As a lifelong intermitant acne sufferer (I am 51–cystic acne started when I was 18) I understand your pain, emotional and physical, and frustrations. I am fortunate (?) that I respond well to antibiotics and never had to go the accutane way though have had several discussion with dermatologist over the years about whether it was “time.” I generally have a few good years between bouts and thought when I went paleo that I would be done for good. Boy was I wrong when my ok skin went f-ing crazy last fall!! I am in menopause and was told it was a last hurrah from my ovaries-yay. I tried and tried to get it under control on my own. I am also an IBS sufferer (due to all the antibiotics perhaps??!!) so I didn’t want to start the antibiotics up again. I ate super clean, no sugar, pure cleansing products, etc etc etc……..! Nothing worked and it got worse and worse. Sometimes you have to get out the big bad guns and do what you have to do. Hopefully by being careful you can protect your gut along the way. I did not know how to do that when I was younger so hence the damage.
    Anyway, I love your posts and you are so very very kind to share this experience with everyone. I am sure because of you there will be many happy shiny faces out there.

  312. Hey Juli,

    I’m sure you get a million comments a day, but I figured I would comment anyway in case you have time to respond. I’m at a complete and total loss with my skin and my story seems almost identical to yours. I should be enjoying thanksgiving and instead I’m sitting here bummed out and wondering why the fermented cod liver oil hasn’t kicked in yet and I have three new spots today. Are you still happy that you went on Accutane? Has your acne come back at all? Would you still recommend it? Thanks so much.


    1. extremely happy i went on it. i had a bit of acne come back and i’ve been taking spironolactone and that’s gotten rid of the little i have. i still get one or two zits around my period but nothing like i had before. i highly recommend accutane. i wish i would have done it earlier instead of just being miserable

  313. Accutane works, as long as you take it….for me, I took 3 courses. I am almost 40 and have horrible acne, that began as soon as I stopped taking the Accutane, which I took in my early 20’s. I will be cutting wheat, gluten, dairy, and sugar from my diet.

  314. Hi Juli,

    This post is what finally gave me the courage to try Accutane. Like you it’s been working wonderfully, but I’m also suffering form a very red face. How long did it take for the redness to go away for you? And (if you don’t mind me asking) which birth control did you use?

    1. you’ll have redness probably the entire time. my redness went away about a month after i finished accutane. i use beyaz! good luck with it all, the redness is such a pain!

  315. Hi, I was also on accutane in my late 20s (I’m now 39) and it was definitely successful. I really admire you (and love your recipes!) and think you’re so brave for posting your story! I was so unhappy and embarrassed when my acne was bad. There were times I wouldn’t even leave the house! It was such a terrible time and after trying many remedies, as you did, accutane was the only answer. I’d like to say I kept the photos from before so I could know how far I’ve come, but I didn’t. Shredding them was almost therapeutic in a way and helped me get out of a yucky depression. Now I use hand-made products that I love and keep my skin happy ( Thanks for sharing!

  316. Thanks for sharing your story. I went on Accutane in my mid teens (I am now 34). It did wonders for me back then. I had bouts of acne off and on since then, was on birth control from the time I started Accutane until I was about 31. Still continued to have breakouts, but never as severe as during my teens. About a year ago, I decided to see a Naturopath Dr. She tested me for things my “regular” Drs never tested me for. Turns out I had a HUGE hormone imbalance (and probably have had one since puberty). I have been taking various (natural) supplements targeted at balancing hormones (in my case, lowering estrogen and raising progesterone). That, along with eating a mainly paleo-focused diet, I believe has attributed to not having ANY outbreaks in the last year. I am curious- have you ever been to see a Naturopath Dr?

  317. Hi Juli! Thank you for this post; I’m a regular follower of yours and I came across this particular rant because I’m in a similar situation that you were and I’ll be starting my first (and hopefully only) course of isotretinoin soon. I’ll be following my usual paleo-based diet but I was wondering if you made any other special considerations regarding diet while you were taking it? I saw you mentioned above that you tried to limit vitamin A foods, but anything else? What about adding fermented foods to combat some of the gut-related side effects? Thanks again ๐Ÿ™‚

  318. Julie,
    Thank you for sharing all of your posts on skin care epecially your personal experience with accutane. I went on accutane in my late twenties after trying pretty much everything. The accutane helped me in my skin care struggle. I started crossfit style workouts about two years ago, but now I am considering yoga and other less intense workouts. I feel these intense workout are impacting my overall heath. I love your blog and all of your posts! Keep up the great work!

  319. simone berstein

    I have been struggling with acne for almost 2 years now and after cleaning up my diet by eliminating dairy and all animal products my skin did clear up a ton!

    However, I would still get really bad small flare ups after having such bad cystic breakouts. I started using Made from Earth’s Acne Control Products (Face Wash & Moisturizer). I can not stress enough how much all of these products have changed my skin but especially the Made from Earth Control Acne Wash.

    I have tried numerous skin products soaps, masks, EVERYTHING but this one is really the most amazing and has by far the fastest results.

  320. If you could go back would you do accutane again? My doctor wants me to go on it next week but I am nervous about my gut and the other health risks. If you could go back would you have chosen a different path? Or are you happy with it?

  321. I have been suffering from a similar acne experience but I am hopeful right now that it’s getting better with spironolactone. Next step is Accutane if the spiro isn’t working.
    Anyways…. when your acne healed and you started doing treatments for the scarring, what did you find was the best treatment for getting rid of the scars left behind?
    Also, thank you for sharing your acne journey! It’s so nice to know others go through the same experience and come out the other side with gorgeous skin. Your skin just looks so amazing!

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