Detox Breakouts & Symptoms: How to Tell If It’s Just Detox Acne, Or If Things Have Gone Wrong

It has many different names… healing crisis, detox symptoms, herxheimer reaction.

It’s what sometimes happens when you start making a lot of big health changes all at once, and for a while, things get worse. That means that all the symptoms you decided to get healthier in order to heal, are actually getting worse. Or you’re getting new symptoms you’ve never had before. Or you just plain feel like garbage.

Or, maybe you’re getting more acne and more breakouts!!! (yes, this happened to me at the beginning of my journey to clear skin)

What gives? Why would getting healthy make me feel worse and cause me to break out?

How is this fair?

Well, this is actually normal, and it’s actually a good sign that the changes you are making are having a positive impact on your body. Your body is releasing a lot of toxins all at once, and it’s making you feel bad.

However, it’s terribly alarming. Especially if it involves more acne. So it’s not really a wonder that some of the most common emails I get are from people wondering if the breakouts and other symptoms they are experiencing are just detox reactions or if they’re something to be concerned about. 

Well, everyone will experience these things differently and for different lengths of time, so there is no way for me to give you definitive answers about your particular situation. I can only guess. However, the following is a little guideline that I believe can help you to figure it out:

A Real Detox Reaction Does Not Go on Forever

If it’s a real detox reaction, it should start anywhere from a day or two to a week after making significant positive health changes. It’s more likely to happen if you make a lot of big changes all at once, or you’re doing a strict cleanse.

And it really shouldn’t last for more than two to three weeks at the most. In some rare cases, it could last a little longer (and by this, I mean a heightened experience of the symptoms… it may take longer for the symptoms you had before the changes to completely go away).

So to clarify, if before you started getting healthier your acne was at a certain level, and then after you started it got worse… it should only be a a few days to a week or three before it goes back to it’s former level. And from there it should continue to get better and better.

Detox reactions will never get steadily worse and worse over time. And they always go in waves.

In other words, on the onset of the detox reaction, that should be the height of its intensity. After that, you should find that the intensity and occurrence of the symptoms will come and go (from day to day, or even hour to hour), with each wave getting less intense until it’s gone.

If it keeps getting steadily worse and worse over the course of a few weeks or months, without any break in symptoms, then something may be amiss. I never really quite believe it if you try a new diet or something, and you feel bad for months and continue to be told that “It’s just detox. Push through it”. Listen to your own intuition.

Detox Breakouts Are Often “Different” Than Usual Acne

In many cases, detox breakouts look and seem exactly like your usual breakouts, except just more of them.

But for plenty of people out there, it seems as though detox breakouts tend to be “different” than their usual acne. For example, maybe your breakouts are smaller but in greater numbers than usual (like a lot of small whiteheads, that you don’t usually get). Or people will find that they are breaking out in parts of their face that they don’t usually. For example, maybe you only ever get acne on your chin, but now you’re seeing it on your temples.

If the heightened acne you’re experiencing seems a little strange and doesn’t follow its usual characteristics, these are tell tale signs that you’re experiencing a herxheimer breakout.

Detox Breakouts from External Skin Care

Some people also seem to experience breakouts when they start a new skin care routine, or add in a new skin care product. This is different than a breakout which occurs from switching your lifestyle or diet, which happens from the inside out.

Your skin tends to get used to what is being used on it, and so when you switch to something new, it’s quite normal that you may get a breakout. Your skin is freaking out a little as it tries to find its equilibrium. This is sometimes referred to as an “initial breakout”. All you can do is wait it out and let it pass.

Something else that might be happening is that your skin may be “purging”. Your skin has seven layers, and clogs and infections happen deep in the pore and then work their way out to the surface of your skin where you might experience a pimple. Supposedly, when you get a pimple, it’s actually been brewing for several weeks deep in your skin (I don’t know if this is actually true? But that’s what they say).

So, if a new skin care product is purging your skin, it means that it’s bringing all these deep breakouts to the surface, and when they pass, your skin should be a lot clearer.

Unfortunately, it’s really difficult to tell if what you’re experiencing is an initial breakout, a purge, or just a plain ol’ breakout. Again, if the breakouts are “different” than usual, then that’s a good sign it’s going to pass.

For example, many people go through a bit of a purging period when they start using jojoba oil. Usually this seems to come in the form of a lot of small whiteheads and clogged pores, that goes away after a few weeks.

But since everyone is different, it’s also impossible to tell how long it may last.

However, if I can make a guess, I’d say that any extra, heightened breakouts due to a new skin care product really shouldn’t last more than a month at the very most. Because it takes approximately a month for all your skin cells to completely turn over.

However, it could take up to three months for your skin to start getting super cozy with your new product, and start really wowing you.

I know. That’s a long time, and when it comes to something as disturbingly, alarmingly, panick-strikingly sucky as acne, it’s SO hard to be patient, especially when you just don’t know if something is working or not. In this situation, you desperately feel like you need to do something, and the easiest thing to do is usually chuck aside your new routine and go back to what you were doing before, or try something new.

However, as I said, since it’s normal to get a bit of a breakout as your skin gets used to something new, if you keep switching and switching and switching, it’s only going to shock your skin and turn out worse. Don’t make the mistake of trying too many things in a short amount of time. Choose something (preferably something gentle and natural) and really give it a chance.

Watch Me Talk About Detox Acne in Video

PLEASE SHARE! You guys are way smarter than me. Let us all know your experiences and opinions on detox breakouts, inital breakouts, or skin purges. 

Comments

  1. Annemarie says

    I have read once that a spot takes 2 weeks to form before coming to the surface.. I’ve often wondered if that was true because sometimes it seems like it is and then other times not. Before I heard that, I would think, “oh this blemish must be from that cinnamon roll yesterday…” but then if it would take two weeks to form then that means it would be like impossible to track what it came from lol! But also for me when I switch to something new, skincare-wise, it seems to work really well for the first week or so then I start breaking out.. so I figure that’s all I can take of that nd switch to something else! Good post, this can be real intimidating if you don’t understand it beforehand.

    • Tracy says

      I know, I’m not really sure if it’s true that acne takes that long to form, but I do know that we are usually wrong when we try to figure out what exactly caused a certain pimple! It’s easy to drive yourself crazy worrying about “that cinnamon roll yesterday”. I’ve definitely been guilty of that.

  2. Jordanna says

    Hi Tracy,
    This post came just in time for me. All for a little over a month I’ve been on an organic, dairy-free (besides butter and what little is in kefir), sugar-free, gluten-free diet; using Wedderspoon’s manuka honey and Fran’s jojoba oil; getting good sleep; and exercising (a mix of strength-training and yoga) for 20 minutes/day. Overall, my skin has just looked much more inflamed and the active acne more infected-looking. It’s been demoralizing not to begin to have some relief or see improvement.
    I have eaten organic, whole foods for ages and I’ve always stayed quite fit–granted I also used benzol for ten years or so and ate a ton of white starch, cheese, and some other baddies–but I didn’t expect my skin to worsen quite like this
    Nevertheless, this makes me a little more staid in my expectations.
    Thank you so much for all that you write on here–it has been such a source of comfort (and in fact love!) to help deal with something I have been so ashamed of and “fought” against rather than tried to lovingly heal for so much of my life.

    • Tracy says

      Hi Jordanna, sounds like a classic detox reaction. How soon did it start getting worse after you started all the changes?

      • Jordanna says

        I think things began to seem worse in some ways fairly immediately(whiteheads all over my face) and things have progressed to where my temples, chin, forehead–from third eye updward–and lower jawline are all much worse. Considering some of the comments on here, maybe keeping a log will help (of my diet, what the acne looks like, whether I lost my cool and messed with it, etc.) Also, I see on here that soy could make it worse and I have been eating miso soup and boiled edamame. And I have had to be generally much more abrasive with my skin just using honey and jojoba to get my mineral powder off which I imagine may be inflaming my skin? Not sure quite what to do about that. Is it better to leave some residual powder on there than really to try to work it off?

        Finally, I eat ezekial bread and I also add quite a crazy amount of salt to my food. Could these things be worsening anything?

        Thank you so much for your feedback.

        • Annie says

          I really think soy is screwing with me. But also, I just saw that the seaweed wrap around sushi rolls is one of the highest concentrations of iodide… NOT GOOD. I can’t believe I didn’t think of that. Somehow I just fantasized that seaweed would be presented with sea salt! Last time I broke out I had just eaten something with regular salt, and I swore I’d avoid salt thereafter. Soy and salt are my new focal foods to track. Definitely switch to sea salt and avoid soy and I guess we’ll all be doing a little experiment…

          • Jordanna says

            Thanks Annie! The logging idea I think is really helpful. Just started yesterday, so hopefully things will start to improve and I can get a better handle on the trigger foods!

            • Annie says

              Awesome! P.S. Make sure you’re logging very closely because I just caught an error I’m shocked by…: I’m quite obsessed with the ingredients in my food (have always been, as a recovered anorexic! I really should be better at this!) and yet I just went to purchase my go-to emergency lunch item from this organic grocery store near campus (grad student) … I looked EXTRA closely at the ingredients today because I guess I suspected that I’ve been consuming secret soy… Sure enough, even though I’ve read the ingredients twenty times, I JUST realized it has SOYBEAN OIL. Did not even register before. (Other ingredients are ideal: quinoa, turmeric, sea salt, EVOO, walnuts.) I’ve been eating this thing once a week probably for a good three months: STUPID. I wouldn’t have bought soybean oil and cooked with it, but I let it slide when I’m out and about. Anyway, that’s an example of how we consume a lot of stuff we don’t even quite realize… Good luck to you!

              • Jordanna says

                Just saw this. Thanks so much–you’ve been so helpful! And much love and congratulations for recovering from anorexia. I can only imagine how hard that must still be. It’s so very difficult today not to bully our poor bodies and faces into being something else.

                Sometimes it’s hard not to get discouraged with the dietary restrictions, but there are some tasty meals I’ve come up with along the way that meet all the demands, but also make me feel like I’m treating myself rather than punishing myself! For good starch alternatives organic corn tortillas are awesome (fried in a little grass-fed butter with beans, salsa, etc., or just egg, green onion, and hot sauce), tinkyada rice pasta (consistency is awesome after a quick cold-water rinse), gluten-free granola (with kefir, dried blueberries, seeds, etc.), baked sweet potatoes, and brown rice (fried just with a little butter, frozen peas, onion, and egg is especially tasty). Also easy for pastas, etc.: pestos (espec. pine nut, sun dried tomato, basil, and garlic), wine and mushroom reduction, baked onion and eggplant, etc.

                There seems to be a lot of healthy potential in Mexican and Indian cuisine, too (especially with all the lovely spices) so I’m hoping to get more into that. :)

                • Annie says

                  Word. Hey, so I wanted to update because something interesting just happened to me re: detox. I stopped taking DIM (like Estroblock) because I suspected I had a soy intolerance. I decided to go 80% raw in order to fully detox. Well I was right, and I did. I stopped getting the cysts I had developed on DIM, and then my skin cleared for two days and then completely erupted in all of my problem areas, not very irritated but quickly coming to heads and wanting to get out of my skin. Now, just a day before it’s been 2 weeks since I’ve had soy or grains other than quinoa and I’m suddenly clear.

                  • Tracy says

                    Hi Annie – ahhhh okay… very interesting. So the type of soy in Estroblock can be a big problem if you are sensitive to it. I am going to be sure to emphasize that when I do my full on review of it. Thanks for sharing that Annie. I’m stoked you’ve figured it that out for yourself though and are clear! That’s awesome!

  3. Aubrey says

    Hey guys, Like Jordanna said, this is just in time. I read about the caveman routine that Tracy did and I have been doing it for 24 days now. I also have started eating more fruits and vegetable and drinking lots of water and take the fermented cod liver oil now, all started about the same time as starting the caveman. I got more white heads than I ever had before, but they seem to be going away quickly, but more keep coming. Also I have gotten alot more cysts on my chin (this is my major problem area). Everything just seems to hurt alot lately, it’s all very swollen and kind of feels a sunburn… this is different from what I’ve had before so perhaps it is a purging breakout, it makes me feel alot better to read this post though because I was getting worried. Still sticking with it :)

  4. Annie says

    Wow, what a mess of things happen when we try to get better… The comments are already difficult and mine is no better!

    The awesome thing is that I made a connection by logging my food intake: I found something more interesting than food, however… Unless something about my period makes me eat snacky things I wouldn’t usually and that causes it (like roasted, salted almonds and lots of dates)…?

    I went to write in a “food/skin” log that I had begun a month prior. Stupidly, I remembered it as having been more than a month since I’d had any spots, but apparently it was *exactly* one month to the day prior that I began the log for the first time. What had I logged a month ago to the day? Same spot–painful, large, and full of gunk–same place–right cheek. (Then there was another, smaller one within the next day, both the October and November breakouts.) I’d logged my food intake and sleep religiously for about a week afterward.. until I realized I was clear again, and then I forgot all about it…

    I’d also written that day: “3rd of this exact type since August.” So this would be the fourth and fifth… And they come right smack between periods, mid-month… So it’s hormonal to the nth degree. All clear throughout the month and then this insane breakout surrounding ovulation. AGH! I think I need estroblock. I know I had major stress the last few months, which has probably caused this skyrocket of menstruation-related cyclical acne…

    Question: Why the right cheek?? Every one of these big, painful spots has been on my right cheek… It’s eery!

    • Annie says

      P.S. There are other things associated with the period being two weeks beforehand: constipation/poor nutrient absorption or increased needs for certain nutrients/ hormonal fluctuations, etc, then cause the breakout *two weeks later* ?

      I wonder… That makes sense. Because I also had something major stress me out during this menstrual period, so it would make sense that the hormones were all haywire because of the distress, if they weren’t already. Then the hormonal swing was more of an overload when it “came out.” (Wheee…)

      • Tracy says

        Hi Annie,
        Someone else emailed me recently about having acne only on one cheek. I wasn’t sure why that was, but I know that in Chinese face mapping, the different cheeks are connected to different things, so I directed her to the following article that explains the difference. It seemed to make a lot of sense to her, maybe something in it will help you too. Do you happen to have had a root canal or mercury filling on that side of your mouth?

        http://health.yahoo.net/experts/drmao/what-your-face-reveals-about-your-health/

        • Annie says

          Ah, no filling, but, haha… Right cheek: lungs. I happen to be coughing up a lung at the moment. I’m recovering from a viral infection that sprung up the same day I broke out. The weird thing is I happened to have also had a viral infection about a month ago (I’m a grad student–both illness and acne happen more with stress and sleep irregularity, I guess), so who knows… I mean, the truth is, if I have one single obvious health downfall, it’s that I certainly don’t take very good care of my lungs, if you know what I mean… I exercise, but… (Let’s just say I live in northern California and leave it at that.) Maybe it’s time to experiment with that one. Problem is the stress-balancing act…

  5. Drea says

    I changed my diet and went gradually from a benzoyl peroxide lotion and salisylic acid wash to a just salisylic acid acne wash and added honey into my skin care regime. My face had never had bad acne, maybe just one or two a month, then when I started this I got acne bumps on my forehead. Then as I went on, I kept changing my face washes and my face continued to breakout. This continued for months. Now, just recently, I have changed to using soap and water and jojoba oil and sometimes tea tree oil for any big pimples/blind pimples. I already see a bigger difference, although im still getting acne. This article (and your blog) really helped, it helped me understand that changing my face wash too much and using harsh chemicals really isnt helpful.
    *started in August and am just now getting better

  6. Kit says

    Personally, this hasn’t happened to me. I’ve broken out from changing skincare a few times in my life, but that’s always turned out to be because of an ingredient in the product to which I end up being allergic (I have to watch out for cornstarch). Now I use almost nothing for skincare – an occasional makeup wipe or splash of water – and my skin is far happier since I’m doing less to it.

    I have a leaky gut and my skin looks beautiful when I avoid my trigger foods, but if I slip up or cross-contaminate something, I break out painfully overnight. Usually when I start breaking out, for me it’s an allergic reaction – nothing good like a detox :( Oh well.

    • Kit says

      I just realized how little this comment has to do with the article. Sorry. I do hope someone finds it interesting or helpful though.

      • Tracy says

        Hi Kit – I think it’s relevant, because I think that in most cases (well, I don’t know that, but it is one explanation), if someone is breaking out more after switching to a healthier diet, and it’s not a detox reaction, it may be that they are having an allergic reaction to something that they are suddenly eating more of now – since unfortunately, you can be sensitive to anything, even healthy stuff. For example, many people give up dairy and replace it with soy, thinking it’s healthier, but soy is a big allergen and that is actually what is causing their acne. Well, I don’t think soy is healthy anyway, so that’s a bad example, but a very common one

        • Kit says

          Soy is the one that does the most damage for me – deep, painful cysts almost immediately after exposure. I don’t think it’s healthy either, even if someone isn’t allergic. But yeah, I actually figured it out because I tried a meatless, dairy-free diet and my skin FREAKED as a result of fake veggie burgers and whatnot (I’d never touch that stuff now. Yuck.) I didn’t confuse it with a detox, but I could see how someone could.

          • Annie says

            Soy, huh? Wow! This has been super helpful for me, thanks! I’ve obviously heard of soy as a hormonal whack-job, but I didn’t think of it as causing instant zits. The first time my acne went to the level of pain was when I went vegetarian again and began eating a ton of tofu… I don’t eat soy much anymore because I’m definitely not sure it’s safe, but once a month or so I let it slide, usually when someone else is cooking or I eat out–usually in the form of soy sauce and edamame on the same night. I’m putting the proverbial foot down. No-mo, soy.

            • Kit says

              Yeah, I have an IgE allergy to soy – immediate allergic reaction where I need an adrenaline shot – and a lot of IgG allergies as well. The painful breakouts follow about a day after the immediate allergic response. Your experience may not be the same, but I have read a lot of stories like this where someone goes veg, eats some soy products and breaks out like whoa. So it’s a possibility! Soy is a a hard thing to avoid, though, especially if you stay away from soy oil and lecithin, so maybe try getting an allergy test from a naturopath before you put yourself through hell staying away from it :) Plus that way if you have other allergies, you can take out all triggers at once.

              • Annie says

                Yikes! I just realized today I’ve been eating soybean oil on occasion and I hadn’t realized it was an ingredient in one of my favorite “healthy” lunches—bummer! The soy is hard to partial out of anything that comes processed or premade. Thinking I want to go raw just so that I’ll stop eating food other people prepare… It must be so difficult for you to avoid it completely.

                • Kit says

                  Yeah, it’s actually the reason I took up cooking…soybean oil is in almost EVERYTHING processed. Blech. I got used to it, but it was a rough transition.

  7. says

    This is such an interesting post. I always wonder how far into a dietary change would I see improvement or worsening. Some claim 2-3 weeks for any blemish, but that seems too long. Inflammatory processes can be extremely fast? …Why is acne different? When I lowered carbohydrate intake and increased fat (mostly dairy), I seemed to get worse, but I stopped after just a week. It is a minor problem, but still very annoying.

  8. sam says

    Every time I detox, about one week in, I get terrible red, itchy-burning bumps on my cheek. I once did a pretty hardcore detox that lasted for a month and weeks 2 and 3 of the detox my skin looked alarming as I usually have clear skin. It eventually calmed down but I can only imagine how many toxins I was getting out of my body based on that reaction alone.

    Luckily my naturopath calmed me down and told me my detox reaction was normal and i was on the right track. By the middle of week 3 it cleared up.

  9. Andy says

    Great post! I know this happens to so many people, but I never had issues when doing any detox. There were other issues of course, like hunger or headaches (depending on the detox in question), but never skin problems, so I think I’m very lucky in that regard.

    I know our Bikram yoga teacher said starting Bikram also makes many people have skin problems before their skin clears up. I’m assuming it’s because of the profuse sweating that happens! I’ve run a marathon and been in mixed marial arts for years, and NEVER sweat as much as I did there. Do you think all the sweating I’ve done over the years has helped me avoid the detox breakouts?

    • Tracy says

      Hi Andy,

      That’s great you don’t get skin detoxes. I don’t know if the bikram had anything to do with you not getting detox breakouts – different people just get different symptoms! Obviously you were still detoxing if you got headaches and other symptoms. Anyway – lucky :)

      • says

        Well, looks like I jinxed myself. Took a detox bath for the first time, and got some pretty bad acne that disappeared just a few days later. Weird!

  10. Sampson says

    I experienced surefire 100% DETOX after taking S. Boulardii. Literally half an hour after taking it in the morning, right after waking up, I felt uncontrollable sleepiness and had to climb back into bed. It was a very noticeable detox and I could recreate it any time I took S. Boulardii.

    The first time I EVER took an Epsom Salt bath, I broke out in hives from neck to toe. Prior to that, I never get hives in my life.

  11. Mary says

    I’ve noticed that when I get detox acne it is different from my normal hormonal acne. The inflammation seems to occur closer to the surface and so form a pimple that is quick to fully surface, heal and flake away. For example, if I colon cleanse and then take a probiotic I will usually get a few very small inflammations on my chin or above my mouth, which are usually relatively clear areas for me (whereas the hormonal acne I get follows the typical pattern of this type). I attribute these detox spots to either symptoms of so many toxins dumping into my clean colon (so many stored toxins can now pass through after the cleanse that not all can be eliminated through the colon and so some follow a detoxification pathway through the skin) or to die-off of bad gut bacteria due to the probiotics out-competing the bad guys in the space I cleared with the cleanse. I don’t like it, but I figure it’s a good thing. I usually cleanse when I am getting breakouts unrelated to hormonal acne.

    I’m about to run out of my manuka honey and am not able to get more right for about a week. I’ll be using raw organic honey temporarily…I hope I don’t get a breakout from the product switch!

    • Tracy says

      Hi Mary – thanks for sharing your detox acne experiences. As for the manuka honey/raw honey, I doubt with a minor switch like that anything would happen, and not everyone gets breakouts when switching products anyway. Don’t manifest it by thinking too much about it! :)

      • Annie says

        I’ve been wondering about this, too. I use manuka, but I bought some regular raw honey for when I’m at my bf’s. Problem is, some weeks I’ll spend 6-7 nights there, so I worry that manuka will be a harsh switch… Is it bad to go back and forth or is it just a long-term change, like the first few uses? Wondering if I should just stick with one or the other…

        • Nikki says

          I have actually found a routine with honey that works really well for me… you can try it if you’d like..I use a raw honey mask about 3-4 times a week either day or night for 30 minutes-2hours if i have nowhere pressing I must go. Then the other days I spot treat my zits with Manuka and leave it on anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight–just what I feel based on the condition of my skin that day….this saves me $ bc Manuka is expensive. I use YS Organic Raw honey and the Wedderpoon (sp?) Manuka Honey Tracy always talks about.

  12. Astrid says

    Hi Tracy!

    I have a question! I want to start with the cavemen regimen. But what should I do after I’ve exercised. Should I wash my face with some water? I’m afraid that the sweat will clogg my pores if I dont’t…

    I love your website by the way! It’s been really helpfull!

    • Tracy says

      Hi Astrid :)
      Just pat your face dry with a towel! I know, everyone seems to be worried about sweat clogging your pores. Personally I don’t worry about it… but if you can’t not worry about it, then the caveman might not be for you! It seems this regimen is all about letting go and doing the opposite of what you’d think you’re supposed to do when it comes to skin care

  13. Lorena says

    Hi Tracy,
    Not sure whether I should have posted this in your article on face mapping or here. While I’m not experiencing the same horrendous breakouts I was getting eight month ago, I’m still getting acne regularly. I’ve made some significant changes to my diet/lifestyle, but there’s still so much I need to work on…so I’m not sure if I’m experiencing a combination of detox and regular breakouts (due to the changes I still need to make in my lifestyle); can a person experience both at the same time? Does this make sense? Currently I’m breaking out on my temples, but a curious thing I’ve noticed is that I keep getting a line of about 5-7 pimples on the right side of my face and they always form a pattern that resembles a moon crescent; it extends from my temple down to my chin. It happens all the time..it’s so odd, I don’t know what it could mean. Any thought on this? Thanks!

    • Drea says

      Do you pop these pimples? If you do the bacteria is just getting deeper into your skin and causing them to reappear. That could explain why they keep coming back. If not it could be your skin care regime; If you keep switching products or if your using harsh products. It can also be based on your new diet, maybe you are having a bad reaction to something new (even something that is healthy) you added into your diet.

    • Tracy says

      It could be a lymphatic system thing… I remember when I read about acne caused by fluoride, which moves through the lymphatic system and can come out as acne where the lymphatic system runs close to the surface… anyway, that is a place where it does run close to the surface – along the jaw and under the ears. It’s just a guess. Also, yes, if they come back in the exact same spots, make sure you aren’t popping them, as Drea says… popping and squeezing pimples can definitely make them come back over and over again in the same spots

      http://thelovevitamin.com/2744/could-fluoride-be-causing-your-acne/

  14. Lorena says

    Hmm, I think that may be possible. I was looking at your fluoride article as well as the one on the lymphatic system, and I do seem to exhibit several of the symptoms. I get acne on my temples, chin, cheeks, jaw, and ears! They take forever to go away and leave marks that seem to never fade. I’m also prone to colds (I’m just getting over one). Until very recently, I always drank tap water. I don’t pop/squeeze the pimples (I quit that ages ago). I no longer use commercial products; I currently use manuka honey, jojoba oil, and aloe vera gel from my plant, and it’s working very well for me. Thank you, I’ll look into this more closely.

  15. Hannah says

    Hi Tracy!
    This article is perfect timing for me as I’ve been debating whether or not to keep up with my coconut oil regimen or not (I also read your post dealing specifically with coconut oil, which is actually how I stumbled across your site!). I’ve been using VCO on my body for the last 2 months now because someone recommended it as a way to get rid of my body acne (back, shoulders, and chest. not fun!). After a week, all my acne disappeared. Then the next week I broke out again, this time worse than normal. I knew it was a healing crisis so I didn’t stress about it, but now it’s been 2 months and my skin has barely improved. Based on this post and your coconut oil one, I’m thinking it’s probably time I ditch the VCO and try something else. I know you haven’t tried VCO, but am I right in assuming that it’s not worth me to keep going with it? Two months is such a long time for a healing crisis!

    • Tracy says

      Yes, it sounds like it’s too long… I don’t know what to think about coconut oil! Lots of people just LOVE it for external use, but for many others it just doesn’t work out and clogs pores… yeah I’d say move on.

  16. Lorena says

    Yes, I found a drinking water analysis online for my city and it showed that our average fluoride level is 0.72 ppm (I don’t know that means). Ok, I’m not sure where to go from here. I have a little Brita filter but I doubt that will do anything. Do I start buying my drinking water? I’m so tired of trying to figure out whats causing my breakouts; it’s hard to keep up with all the new things I try and keep track of everything I do…and if it works or not. It’s exhausting and I’m getting discouraged (my wallet is really starting to feel the pinch too)

    • Tracy says

      I know, I hear ya. Well, Melissa from The Cellulite Investigation http://www.celluliteinvestigation.com/ has a free ebook all about acne and fluoride and avoiding fluoride. Go download it and if you suspect it really is a fluoride thing, speaking with her is probably a good idea as she knows more about the little details than me

  17. Heather says

    Thanks so much Tracy for posting this! I just came off of a full body cleanse, and a week before that I cut out wheat, dairy, and sugar. I had a bad inital breakout to the cleanse and then my face started clearing, but now I have tons of whiteheads around my chin and my face is severly red. Was very dissapointed and thought it wasn’t working, but now I will wait it out and see how it progressess. I figured it was detox reaction, but wasn’t sure. I also got sick a week into the cleanse with fever, so I thought something was wrong. Not sure what to do, but wait and let my body heal. Didn’t know cleanses were so hard on the body! Thanks again for being so encouraging! Love your site!

    • Tracy says

      Hi Heather – totally sounds like a detox reaction to me! Keep going, it will pass soon. And yeah – it’s different for everyone, but sometimes detox can be pretty dang harsh!

  18. says

    Hi Ms. Tracy. To God be he Glory! I wish I could have a copy of all your books. you’re an amazing &inspirational person. I’m from Philippines and I’m a new comer in your blog. God bless– in Christ.

  19. says

    You’re my idol. I’m 18 and I had suffered from very severe severe acne. I wish I could send the pictures. If you wish to Ms. Tracy. It’s very hard to get your knowledgable books. it’s very impossible.

  20. Lindsey says

    Hey, Tracy! I love your website, I only discovered it a couple months ago when I decided to completely turn things around and get rid of all the awful chemicals I was using on my face and drastically change my diet. I’ve been doing the candida cleanse for 4 days now, by the way, and I feel really good.
    At the start of all this for me, two months ago, I had a hard time really finding what was right for my skin. I was oil cleansing, using honey with baking soda, honey with lemon juice, bentonite clay masks, jojoba oil mixed with various antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, not to mention taking a bunch of supplements like omega 3s, zinc, hormone-regulating herbs, etc. So my skin was looking a bit crazy and it was really hard to figure out if it was a reaction, purging, or what. My skin has calmed down quite a bit, but it’s still pretty rough and I get new spots every day. I went to see a holistic esthetician today which I had been very excited about, but it was actually really disappointing. She basically told me I was doing all the right things with diet and supplements, but that if I really wanted to get clear the best thing for me would be some clinical-strength benzoyl peroxide skincare line with all these serums and treatments, all about $134. I don’t want to go back to that. I was wondering at what point your skin really started to balance itself out and those last little annoying things, like roughness or random new spots, started to go away. How long did it take, what were you doing?
    Thanks!

    • Tracy says

      Hi Lindsey,
      Well, this was my experience… when I was trying to get rid of my severe acne, I made huge progress and then after a couple months, it seems like I couldn’t make the leap to being totally clear. So I went to a naturopath and got tested for food sensitivities and got prescribed some natural supplements for my body. And then I got clear very fast. But since then, I’ve still struggled with mild cyclical hormonal acne that comes and goes, but it has still never been as bad as it was when I went to the naturopath with that last stretch of the severe acne. It’s only been recently in the last few months that I feel like I’ve really gotten rid of that mild acne and may have solved it for good…. knock on wood (been using Estroblock, gotten reiki for emotional issues, relaxed a little about food so lowered stress).

      That was my experience, and I know you guys hate hearing this buuuut everyone’s different, so don’t take this as what is going to happen with you. But if you are getting frustrated after a few months because you’ve really stalled, I would recommend seeing a naturopath or natural therapist of some kind.

  21. M says

    Hey Tracy,

    This is a bit off the topic of Acne breakouts, but I thought somewhat relevant in detoxing. I recently started a cleanse called “arise and shine” 14 day cleanse (http://www.ariseandshine.com/) which I was originally was turned on to from Fran Kerr’s Blog in March of 2011. I first did the 28 day cleanse which is the most rigirous cleanse that lasts for one month. I loved it because it turned me onto being a raw vegan for a month and my sense of well being was returned to me. However, the cleanse entails consuming shakes made of a mixture of bentonite clay and psyillium husk, 3 times a day, plus large does of herbs. You can also eat, thus expelling something called “mucoid plaque.” Even when I did the 28 day cleanse I was wary of the idea that such a plaque of mucus really exists, or if it is just a ridiculous theory that these holistic practitioners advocate, and successfully advertise and its really just the mixture of clay and fiber in your digestive track. Either way, I feel I have benefited from the cleanse, and that it helps my anxiety by allowing me to take a break and focus on my body entirely for a few weeks. But I was curious to see from someone like yourself, if you have ever heard of the cleanse, Dr. Richard Anderson, ever researched the cleanse , and your initial thoughts about it.

    Thanks,
    Marissa

    • Tracy says

      Hi M, thanks for sharing your experience with your detox! Was the ariseandshine the one that Fran did that she said was too intense for her? Or was that a different one?

  22. Anne says

    Hi Tracy,

    I have found your website incredibly helpful in learning about the so very many things that can be linked to acne. I’ve signed up for a bikram yoga class, been drinking Kombucha tea like crazy, have changed my face cleansing regime to manuka honey and jojoba oil and have overhauled my diet.

    While I’m feeling proud and excited about the changes I’ve made, I’m currently incredibly frustrated with the detox breakout I’ve got going on. It’s near my ears, chin and along my jaw – which I know is close to where the lymphatic system lies close to the skin. I also know the type of acne I’ve been getting is different than what I normally deal with – so all roads point to a detox. I’ve been doing most of these changes for a month, but the manuka honey and jojoba oil for just two weeks. How much longer should I stick with all this before I allow myself to get too frustrated and to throw in the towel?

    • Tracy says

      Hi Anne, when did the detox breakout start? Has it been going on for a month? did it start after the manuka and jojoba oil?

      • Anne says

        Thanks for getting back to me, Tracy. My breakout started at the end of November, at first I think because I started drinking the Kombucha tea. I began using the manuka honey and the jojoba oil on December 21, and ever since then I’ve been continually broken out. I’ve never had whiteheads before, but they’re popping up. I also get little postures that hurt quite a bit. The break out seems to have moved around in the last couple of weeks, first starting on my left check and now it’s currently plaguing my right cheek and right part of my chin. Everything points to a detox breakout, but since my skin wasn’t this bad before (I would get large postules and many blackheads though) I’m struggling to stick this out. My hope is that if I do, my skin will be even better and will stay better on the other side of these breakouts. My guess is I should give it at least another month. What do you think?

  23. Luke says

    Hey Tracy, I’m 25, and over the last six months I’ve begun to develop acne after having years of clear skin. About three weeks ago I gave up dairy which I thought was a big culprit in my acne. A week after I gave up dairy, my skin got really bad and I think that was the detox reaction you were writing about. My acne got a little bit better a few days ago and now is bad again. is that part of the “going in waves” process you mentioned? Other than that my diet and exercise habits could not be any better. How long did it take for your acne to clear up after making diet changes? Thanks

    • Tracy says

      Hi Luke – it definitely sounds like a detox. Although did you replace dairy with anything? Sometimes people replace it with soy milk but they’re sensitive to soy and it makes them break out even more.

  24. Luke says

    I actually replaced dairy milk with almond milk. I also heard that soy can mess with peoples hormones and worsen acne. I used to eat a lot of yogurt and cheese, but I just stopped eating those altogether, and I never ate ice cream to begin with, so my only real change was going from eating my cereal with cows milk to eating it with almond milk. So does the clearing up process go in waves, and how long did it take for you to get clear skin?

  25. Luke says

    Also I am having big breakouts on my forehead, Where I usually don’t get them, is this also a sign of the detox reaction?

    • Tracy says

      Yep, it sounds like it – if you are getting pimples where you don’t usually get them, it’s usually a sign. And yes, going in waves is also a sign

  26. Mya says

    I have acne that comes in waves and I have been kind of detoxing but I still enjoy my cooked meals, just less of it. My symptoms have been going on for over a month now and still haven’t stopped. Is this normal?

  27. Kit says

    Could a good probiotic supplement trigger a detox breakout? I was doing so well, and a week ago my ND had me start a strong probiotic for my leaky gut. Now I have small rashes of pimples across my forehead and a couple on my cheek, which is unusual for me. So it sounds like a detox, according to the article…Do you happen to know anything about an “adjustment period” for probiotics? I tried Googling it but get so much mixed information.

    • Tracy says

      Yes, I think it definitely could. It could trigger bad bacteria, candida, or other organisms dying in the digestive tract and releasing toxins as they die, which can come out through the skin. A rash of pimples on your forehead definitely sounds like detox

      • Candice says

        Hi,

        I just came across your site! I planned to do a 30 day juice only (veg/fruit – 80/20) ratio. In the first few days I had headaches which I expected, but on Day 3 broke out in hives and itch red bumps/rash..on my arms, legs and torso. I continued through Day 4 and 5 mainly juicing but adding soups, veggies into my diet as I thought I wasn’t adding enough fiber to push things along… But it has been a week and a half later, I am no longer juicing but the itchiness is still there, it is reduced somewhat the intensity but the itchy red bumps are still there. I was panicking and wanted to go to the doctor but I know they will only give me some sort of pill which defeats what I am trying to do. Wondering has anyone experienced anything similar. Is this considered the Heirexmer (sp?) reaction? I have horrible allergies, get eczema as well and have a heightened sensitivity to bug bites – so I am wondering if my reaction is worse due to all these factors and not to mention I jumped straight into a full juice detox and my diet prior included a lot of processed, high sugar, fatty foods? Any thoughts??

  28. Lynn says

    I’m so happy that I’ve found this website! I have been searching for info about acne worsening after finishing the Master Cleanse. I have always had some acne but nothing ever like this!! I commited to the cleanse for 32 days, and it was around day 28 that I began noticing an increase in breakouts on my chin, jawline, and temples.

    It has now been 11 days since I stopped the cleanse, and my acne is so bad it looks like a rash. My entire jawline and left temple are covered in tiny whiteheads, and of course, there are also some big pimples scattered about. I also have some small pimples on my forehead, which I have rarely, if ever, get a pimple in that area. I have been putting peroxide, Witch Hazel, and Clearasil on the pimples and NOTHING is drying them up. I have started to think that this is perhaps a fungus on my face, because it just won’t go away. I’m extremely close to making an appointment with a derm, but I am leary of going on Accutane. But if I have to…

    Since going off the cleanse, I have eliminated dairy, wheat, meat, and soy. Prior to the cleanse I consumed a lot of dairy products and poultry. I also rarely ate fruit, but now I’m eating at least 4 fruits a day, mostly citrus.

    I guess my question is: Have you ever heard of someone’s acne getting progressively worse after finishing a cleanse, and if you have, how long did the acne take to clear up? Are these pimples a sign that something went wrong during my cleanse? Perhaps 32 days completely stressed out my body?

    Thank you very much for any advice/insight you can give me. :) Lynn

    • Tracy says

      Hi Lynn,
      Mmm yeah, I don’t know how I feel about intense detoxes like that. I used to think they were a good idea, but I’ve ready so many things lately about the metabolism, and how stressful not eating is to the body. I can definitely see how after 28 days of a Master Cleanse that things didn’t turn out as well as you thought. I had the same experience after doing a ten day juice fast way back when… I did it to try to get rid of the last bit of my acne, but it made no difference and I was so frustrated.

      My advice is to just eat a lot of nutritious food, get a lot of sleep, and hopefully things will get back to normal and the breakouts will stop!

  29. Lynn says

    Hi Tracy,

    Thank you for your quick response. I also think that my fast was too long. I just remember feeling so energetic, light, and clean, that I just wanted to keep going. Now I’m left wondering if this acne is a release of toxins or a skin reaction from lack of vitamins/minerals during the cleanse.

    I have been eating very healthy foods(lots of veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, quinoa, brown rice, rice protein powder, almond milk), and I also started a probiotic about 9 days ago. As this is a major change from what I was eating prior to the cleanse, I wonder if my body is still detoxing. I will give the acne one more week to clear up (3 weeks total), before making a derm appt.

    Thanks again, Tracy. I really appreciate it. :) Lynn

  30. Amanda says

    I am so grateful for this article. About 2 weeks ago I had ditched all my acne creams and cleansers and began the oil cleansing method with castor and jojoba oil. The first week was magical. The first morning after I immediately noticed the redness and swelling went down and every morning after I was excited to wake up and see the changes, it got better everyday. Then a few days ago I was hit with the worst breakout of my life. I was devastated and wondering if it was a purge or that the routine was no good for me. My gut instinct was that it was a purge because it was not deep cystic acne, just a TON of whiteheads, and they weren’t in my usual breakout areas. Reading the article has given me hope to see this through a little longer, it may be just a detox. Thanks again!

  31. Sandra says

    Hello Tracy! I love your blog and have followed all your advice so far. I even eat a strict Paleo diet, sadly simply changing a few things had not helped.
    When I read about supplements for acne I was very hopeful. I started taking Vitex, DIM, milk thistle and burdock root 2 1/2 months ago. After one month my skin was almost clear! It also helped my PMS.
    But shortly after my skin and PMS worsened again. My skin is no worse than ever, with a lot of big pimples. I can not even cover it anymore.
    I think this is too severe for a detox and it is weird that at first things were going well. Do you have any idea why this happened? I am trying to figure out how to fix this. I did not have acne until after the return of my period postpartum 8 months ago by the way.
    Sandra

    • Tracy says

      Hi Sandra,
      Wow, I’m sorry to hear that! I wish I could say exactly why it is that happened, but I’m not sure. My gut instinct would be to get off the Vitex and see if it improves

  32. Lynn says

    Hi Tracy,

    I just wanted to stop by to tell you that I have finally found an answer to my acne problem. After having bloodwork drawn, it turns out that my thyroid was overactive. I have been taking Synthroid for four years without any problems. Apparently, my 23 lb weight loss caused my current dosage of 75 mcg to become too high. My doctor immediately decreased me down to 25 mcg.

    After researching the symptoms of Hyperthyroid, I discovered that a hormonal imbalance will occur resulting in chin, jawline, neck, and back acne. I have only been taking the lower dose of Synthroid for five days, but my acne is just about gone!!!!

    Besides the acne, I have also had restlessness, insomnia, hair loss, anxiety, and low libido. All of which are symptoms of an overactive thyroid.

    • Tracy says

      Oh very interesting… thank you so much for sharing that Lynn, I always am very interested in hearing about the things that end up clearing people’s acne. Can underactive thyroid cause acne as well? It seems like everything can!

  33. Lynn says

    I’ve read that any time there is a hormonal imbalance acne can flare up. So yes, either hypo or hyper will cause acne.

  34. Kit says

    Omg. I’m just coming off of what I’m pretty sure was the most hellish detox reaction I’ve ever experienced. Last week I started some herbs for liver support. My skin didn’t really get bad (knock on wood), but after a few days I ran a high fever, had a multi-day migraine, was severely dizzy, no appetite, got all stuffed up, ached all over, threw up a bunch, and slept about eighteen hours a day. So… that presumably means these herbs are good for me? I sure hope so. Because this was the most horrible, frightening week I’ve had in a long time. It made me think of this article even though it’s more about skin. I was just wondering…has anyone ever heard of a detox like this instead of a breakout? It didn’t feel like any illness I’ve ever had before.

    • Tracy says

      Hi Kit,
      Detox symptoms can come in all shapes and forms, so this doesn’t sound unrealistic, albeit a bit extreme. It’s gone now though? If it’s gone and not continuing then it could have definitely been a detox. Or you just had the flu??

      • Kit says

        Yeah it’s pretty much gone now – today my fever broke and I was actually able to get up, get work done, eat food, etc. Pretty fast recovery for someone who almost passed out in the bathroom at 3:00 this morning. It was about three and a half days of hell outta nowhere, a few days after starting milk thistle and a cruciferous complex for detox and hormonal balance. I already had the flu this winter and it was nothing like this…I guess I won’t know unless I rapidly start to improve now. Fingers crossed.

  35. David says

    Hi Tracy,

    I recently just started a new regimen (kind of a mix n’ mash of a bunch of things I’ve heard) and I’m really unsure if I’m having a detox reaction. First I started by cutting ALL dairy and started taking an omega 3-6-9 vitamin along with a calcium vitamin. Doing this seemed to clear my cheek acne oddly enough. Then a four days ago I kicked it up a notch and added liquid chlorophyll, vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), and a ski gel made from aloe, witch hazel, tea tree etc… Now at this point I’m getting so many clogged pores on my nose along with white heads and cystic breakouts in that area between the nose and cheeks and within these cysts are quite a few white heads. This is totally not the type of acne I’m used to.

    So I guess my question is, is it a detox reaction or does it sound like my mix n’ mash has gone wrong … :) thanks!

    • Tracy says

      Hi David! If it’s not the type of acne you’re used to, I’m tempted to say it’s detox. But I can’t know for sure, sorry!

  36. says

    I was used to eating anything and everything but i changed my diet 5 days ago and pushing 6 to 7 bottles of water a day plus fruits and vegetables which i never have ate before. I have lost 11 pounds since and now im getting pimples. Im not so freaked out now.

    • Tracy says

      It definitely sounds like detox. Also, how many litres of water is that? You don’t want to go too overboard with water… you can screw up your electrolyte balances with that

  37. Caleb says

    I think 6 liters. I also drink diet green tea. I was drinking 5 mcdonalds sweet teas a day which is crazy. Ive noticed i have alot more energy. I also plan to start juicing in a week or so.

  38. says

    Whenever I re-start my healthy habits, of course it begins with drinking a lot of water. The problem is that just a day or two later, I get numerous red bumps along my jawline that itch intensely. Topical creams helps or Benedryl at night, but they leave dark patches which I guess is from me scratching before I am aware that I am doing it. Is there anything natural available to help with the dark spots? They never get whiteheads.. they almost look like mosquito bites, but it happens any time of year and only on my face.

  39. Aubrey says

    I just had a baby in January and had the worst breakout of my life a month postpartum. It still has not cleared. I have been eating very healthy for the past two and a half months. I do get the flareups and then it starts to clear then flares up again. I believe it has gotten better, but I’ve noticed the same cystic acne flaring up in the same spots over and over. It’s a cycle of about three days inflammation and then starting to clear over and over again. Does this sound normal?

    • Amanda says

      Are you breastfeeding or did you wean from breastfeeding during that time? Im going through the same thing…only it started at 10 months post pardum (when i started weaning). How is your skin now?

  40. David Scott says

    I gave up smoking completely 5 months ago.
    I gave up alcohol, caffeine and all prescribed medications 3 months ago.
    I became vegetarian 2 months ago.
    …then became vegan 1 month ago.
    Around 3 weeks ago, I decided to stick strictly to organic whole foods and a plant based diet…I’m drinking lots of water, exercising and supplementing with vitamins, minerals and extra vitamin C.

    So as you see my lifestyle has been completely changed and is very healthy.. BUT

    I LOOK DISGUSTING !!! :O

    I have been so tempted to resort to my old lifestyle ( when I used to drink booze, smoke and eat what I wanted my skin was great, I looked great.

    I thought things were going to get better, I thought I was going to look great!

    I’m feeling pretty good, I have lots of energy, I’m calmer and feel strong, but I LOOK DISGUSTING !!!

    Spots, pimples, white heads, swells, dark under my eyes, grey pasty skin – I seen myself in the mirror when out shopping and it upset me for the rest of the day.

    I suppose this is the healing crisis you talk of – How long does it last ? :)

    • Tracy says

      Hi David,
      I’m so sorry to hear things haven’t gone in your favour! I don’t think it’s a detox if it’s been going on 5 months, but.. well.. when in your journey did the acne begin and get worse?
      While I can’t say exactly what the problem is… here’s a few ideas:
      1. a vegan diet is not for everyone… some people do really bad on it and it can ruin their health.
      2. You could be eating a lot of something that you’re very sensitive/allergic to that you weren’t before… like for example, sometimes people eat a shit load of soy after switching from a meat based diet, and that causes them problems
      3. your new lifestyle is severely stressing you out

      • David Scott says

        Hi Tracy, thanks for responding.

        I haven’t been properly following a strict diet for 5 months, but gradually changing things. I have been on my current whole food and plant based diet for around 4 weeks now.

        The spots started slowly, but then last week they kind of exploded onto my face. ( I’m over exaggerating sorry ) For me though such noticeable skin problems is something very new to me.

        - I should add that I have been losing a lot of extra weight from around my abdomen.

        Thanks for your thoughts Tracy, I will take them on board.

        • Tracy says

          Hi David,
          That’s another thing that could be it…. sometimes when people lose weight, they break out because often many toxins are bound up in fat… when the fat dissolves, those toxins get released and for some people can result in breakouts!

  41. Emily says

    Hi Tracy,

    I’ve already been on a fairly healthy diet full of veggies, nuts, some fish/chicken/eggs and very little wheat gluten for about a year now. Since the beginning of May though I have been slowly phasing out all of my potentially “toxic” (full of chemicals) household & personal care products for natural/organic/more simple alternatives. The hardest of these has been to give up my regular face-wash as well as a topical cream I was prescribed for my mild acne about a year ago (around the time I changed my diet). Since my skin has been pretty great for the past year, I was super hesitant to cut them out but finally got brave enough a week ago and started following the manuka honey/jojoba oil routine you have posted about in the past. Since then I’ve noticed more, very small bumps on the sides of my forehead and in the mouth/chin area (like small blackheads & whiteheads). Just wondering if you think this is indeed a reaction to the switch in products & also wondering what your biggest tips are for not WORRYING about breaking out, or not WORRYING ABOUT WORRYING about breaking out (since I understand that stress doesn’t help acne!) :).

    • Tracy says

      Hi Emily,
      It does sound like a reaction to quitting the facewash and topical… it should even out soon. As for not worrying about worrying about breaking out.. lol… it is a tricky one, for sure. I might write a blog post about that.

  42. Stephanie says

    Hi Tracy,

    I am writing you because I am going crazy and I need some advice.

    I have acne because I went off the pill 6 months ago. I always had clear skin as a teenager but i experienced my first bad breakout in my early 20s because of the pill I was prescribed. My dermatologist then prescribed me Diane 35 and I have now been trying to go off this pill for years without any success since i always end up with major breakouts on my cheeks and every single dermatologist told me to get back on it. But this time i decided i would not give in…

    the problem is now not only do i have breakouts but my hair is greasy for the very first time of my life (I always had dry hair and skin before) and it is falling off a lot…
    This time round i prepared myself for another breakout and started taking supplements a couple of weeks before i went off…
    unfortunately, 3 months later I started having the first pimples.
    i saw a naturopath early june and she suggested that i start a dairy and gluten free diet which i did. I started eating much more veggies and fruits and almost everything i eat is organic. I also do more sport and use jojoba oil and essential oils like tea tree and lavender.

    On top of that, i started taking 3 weeks ago detox plants but then I started having a huge, huge breakout on my left cheek which was so far clearer than my right cheek. It is now clearing but I have a similar breakout on the right cheek now… exhausting…

    My detox symptoms were overall hard: insomnia, HUGE fatigue, back pain, joints pain, etc. but these breakouts are getting to me.
    I feel like i am sacrificing so much (I cut out alcohol too and can’t even appreciate having a simple glass of wine when i go out with friends or eat good bread -i am french so try to image…) but I don’t see much improvement… or just a little…

    So, my question would be, do you know anyone who started a detox program because of acne caused by the pill or by going off the pill? Even if everyone is different, I would like to know if detox works the same for people who have pill-related acne… and what is the average time before it starts getting better?…

    Many Thanks!

    By the way, it seems that my liver has a problem. My Gamma GT level is 3 times higher than the normal rate.. my naturopath thinks it’s because of the pill…

    Sorry for the long post :)

    • says

      Hi Stephanie,

      Tracy is away without internet access and she asked me to answer her comments in the meantime.

      You said you have some liver issue going on: Milk thistle is great for people suffering from hormonal acne, especially because it has the ability to help your liver to work properly. It flushes excess hormones and toxins from the liver, aids in hormonal balance and stimulates liver regeneration and cleansing. It is one of the most powerful herbs you can use for a liver cleanse. Make sure you take 1-2 capsules that contains at least 150-200mg of silymarin daily. I think, in this case standardized capsules will be most effective, but you can certainly try the tincture or tea as well.

      Milk thistle works great in combination with DIM (Diindolylmethan). It isn‘t easy to get your hands on it in Europe, but ‘Hirundo Products‘ is selling it in a few European countries. Maybe in France as well?

      And here‘s an article about how to get rid of female hormonal acne:
      http://thelovevitamin.com/6855/treat-female-hormonal-acne/
      Personally I wouldn‘t try vitex though. It might cause or enhance depression. Read this:
      http://www.henriettesherbal.com/blog/vitex-not-pms.html

      And please try to EXERCISE regularly. It‘ll help your body to get rid of those toxins faster!!!
      You should expect that it will take you about 1 – 1 1/2 years for your hormones to adjust completely after coming off birth control. But we are all individuals and it may not take you that long… :D

      Lots of love!!!

  43. Stéphanie says

    Many thanks Svea for your quick answer and all the info!! :)
    It feels good to be able to share my feelings about this issue.

    Wow, 1 year to 1 year 1/2…. god, I went off only 6 months ago… I presume i have to be very, very patient.

    I started taking milk thistle about 7 or 10 days ago but I am not sure what DIM is and if i can find it. But I will see if i can lay hands on it.
    If not, I will do without it. I already take so many other supplements, changed drastically my diet and exercise more so i am afraid I may have to wait a bit longer to see improvements…

    Thanks again for your support and all the best!! :)

    • says

      Hi Stéphanie,

      I know, it sucks, but your body needs a little time. Give it the time.

      It‘s hard, but try not to focus too much on the appearance of your skin. This is extremely difficult, but it helps. I swear ;) ! And if your diet is stressing you too much, try to be a little less strict. Make some exceptions. Your skin won‘t get worse, if you‘re on a healthy diet most of the time. For example, I LOVE pasta, and I eat it every once in a while. I really enjoy it then!!! And that makes me happy :D .

      In general, stress and emotions matter more than you think and are hugely toxic to our organism and our skin! Please read this article as well, it‘s pretty interesting ;) :
      http://thelovevitamin.com/8382/skin-trying-to-tell-you-something/

      And here‘s another good read (this amazing ebook is totally free!!!):
      http://www.grossbart.com/

      Have faith in all those people that are trying to help you. They all want you to heal.

      Lots of love!!!! xoxoxoxox
      Svea

  44. David says

    Hey Stephanie, I’m so sorry that you are having skin problems.

    Take it from someone who has tried most things to alter my health / appearance .. and after being so sick of all the contradictions that I read on all websites.. realised that nothing is true.

    Everything is relatively true.

    After years stressing about my diet and lifestyle, I now do anything I want. I live by the rule ” nothing is true, everything is relatively true, all things are permitted ”

    I can feel and look great by eating anything and doing anything – it’s all a state of mind Stephanie – stop stressing and start living…

    Eat, drink and be merry ( all things are permitted ) :) x

    • says

      Hi David,

      yes, stress can really be a major trigger. It‘s great to hear that your easy-going lifestyle has helped you so much. ;)

      • says

        @ Stéphanie

        Tracy had to backup her site (her layout was completely messed up) and lost a few comments, including your reply to David….

        We’re really sorry about that. :(

  45. Stéphanie says

    Hi Svea,

    thanks for telling me, no problem. I was telling David that his remarks made sense to me and I was thanking him for his support. :)

    First of all,congrats to Tracy for her wedding! These are great news :)

    Now, regarding my acne problem, sorry to bother again, I am really starting to worry. Like I said I started my gluten free- dairy free (didn’t have much dairy anyway) diet early June.
    Then I took some detox plants (artichokes, etc.) and I had late June some sort of detox breakout. It was huge and very traumatizing…

    i tried to be patient et waited for this to go away. The thing is, by the time things were getting better, I had my periods… and there we go, huge breakout again. One cheek was getting better and better, but now i can see that another breakout is coming on this cheek…

    All these new breakouts are worse than those I had before the detox… I don’t know if they are better nor not than the initial detox breakout but they are pretty bad anyway…

    Is it possible to have different waves of detox breakouts (mostly with hormonal changes)? I don’t know anymore if what i have if “just” my acne getting worse with time or my body detoxing…

    This is really, really, really depressing and i now cry everyday when i see my face.

    I am not only upset because my face is worse than before i started my supposedly healthy journey but because I am loosing hope and feel like all i am doing is simply useless. I am wondering if this is not making things worse and to be honest I am starting to hate this diet. I have so many frustrations now because I am not enjoying eating anymore, I don’t go out so much any longer because I am tired and embarrassed and I don’t see the improvements or when I think I do, it starts all over again…

    Plus, I lost so much hair too and it is so oily now. I used to have really beautiful curly hair with so much volume, now it looks so thin and ugly, with no volume… all because of this awful pill…

    I feel like i am not myself anymore. I am normally a quite confident person but I just hate the my own reflection… i just can’t stand the idea that it could last at least 6 or 12 more months like that… I can barely stand one single day that passes by… I don’t want to give in to going back on the pill, but right now, it’s really tempting…. I feel trapped no matter what…

    Thanks for your help!

  46. Stéphanie says

    PS: I did read in Tracy’s post that detox reactions came in waves, but i initially understood that these waves were right away after the first detox reaction… mine happened a month ago and things are getting bad again because of my hormonal cycle…
    Could it be a new detox wave.
    I forgot to say that I started drinking aloe vera every morning days ago, I don’t know if this could be causing another breakout… anyway, as you can see i am confused and my naturopath is on holidays… :)

  47. yasser toresse says

    Hi Tracy ,I’m 21 years old ,I’m an acne sufferer , I almost tried everything ,a week ago I discovered this ANTI-candida diet ,and i decided to try it in order to heal my acne ,since the 5th day my acne is getting worse ,sometimes I feel like weak and have headaches ,and sometimes I feel great no headaches …, is this normal in an Anti-candida diet ? or should I stop this diet ? thanks for your help.

      • kelsey says

        I was wondering how long after starting a detox do you start to breakout? I am starting highschool this month and i am so tempted to pick up something from the dermatologist.
        I am also still pretty young is this targeted towards more adult acne? and thanks again! I love your blog.

        • says

          Hi Kelsey,

          adult acne or teenage acne or other skin issues – this will help on the long run: eating a very healthy and balanced whole foods diet, reducing sugar intake, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, trying to avoid stress and avoiding harsh topical treatments. Treat your skin with love, it‘s not an enemy you have to fight against. Soothing and calming sounds better, doesn‘t it? Try something like oatmeal or honey for cleansing and natural oils and/or floral waters or aloe vera (if you‘re not allergic to it) as a moisturizer. Just search this blog for “natural skin care“ articles.
          When (or if !!!) any detox symptoms will occur, is not predictable. We are all different individuals. Our body has enormous self-healing properties, so try to believe in it. Stressing out about your skin surely won‘t help. But trusting in your body’s natural ability to do its job can be very healing in itself :D

  48. Kelsey says

    Thanks for your help and support :).
    I am adjusting my diet although it is
    hard sugar is in everything!
    Wish me luck ;)

  49. Therese says

    Hi Tracy,

    Thanks for this post!
    I had acne pretty bad as a teenager but went away for several years until this summer (I am 20). I always break out a little in the seasonal change, but it never went away this summer. So about 3 weeks ago, I decided to change my diet to something healthier to clear my face up. I cut out dairy, most wheat unless it’s whole-grain bread, processed foods and unhealthy sugars. About a week in, my acne got way, way worse.

    I’m assuming this is detox acne, but while my skin has gotten a little better, I’m still getting breakouts like every other day. My skincare routine is pretty simple, some raw honey to cleanse morning and night and OCM in the evening (castor, jojoba and a few drops of tea tree oil). Besides the breakouts, my overall complexion is better than what it was, but I’m not sure what to do about the diet — any thing else I should do? Should I let up on the detox a little?

    Besides the acne, I’m having fatigue, bad headaches, cold flashes and just feeling “off” since the detox. My hair texture has even changed, used to be wavy now it’s stick straight! My body type is thin and tall — before the diet I was eating like every 2 hours, and I’m a protein metabolic type.

    Thanks!

    • Tracy says

      Hi Therese,
      Definitely sounds like detox acne. If it is, it will pass soon. If you don’t want to deal with such strong detox reactions, you can ease out of it and change your diet more gradually :)

  50. Nothing says

    I feel your pain, do you ever get the feeling that it is all just so complicated and there seems to be contradictions around every corner ?

    What is good for one, won’t be good for all.

    There are infinity aspects to include in any possible scenario and this is why…

    Nothing is absolutely true
    Everything is relatively true
    All things are permitted
    (if you truly understand and believe the above statement, you truly will know nothing and nothing is god)

    Subtle, silent, overlooked, unseen, unheard, without form.

    My skin looks great just now and I feel awesome… would you like to know my secret ?

    Nothing.

    That’s the big secret, there is no big secret…. enjoy your universe, because you create it.

    x

    • Tracy says

      At first I thought this was a spam comment (because often spam comments are written in this strange poetic way). And then I read closer… and I realized that you are speaking some serious words of wisdom here. Truth, friend.

  51. Limor says

    Hi Tracy and fellow commenters,

    I’ve really enjoyed the post and the comments. It’s just good to know you’re not alone with the acne/testing problematic foods/breaking out/wondering what is wrong and what is right this time :).

    So here’s my story, in short:
    My acne has been on and off for about 6 years, about a year ago I tried homeopathy and that worked wonderfully for me, but since then my skin has gone back to being acne-prone — not as bad as it used to be before the homeopathy, but quite bad. Mostly back acne, and some on the face and neck. I do not eat dairy at all but I do drink soy milk, and eat lots of veggies, fruit, and grains. Recently, I went to an iridologist (diagnosis through patterns in the eye) and she actually said that my body reacts badly to fibers. Which means that almost everything I eat is bad. I wasn’t sure if I should trust this information, but I decided to give it a try. I decided to cut off wheat while I’m at it.

    So, for the past 2-3 weeks I’ve been eating very little fibers (so mainly cooked veggies and only some fruit, no granola or grains for now) and no wheat – only eating spelt bread. The first thing I noticed right away was that I was way more energized and less tired in the mornings, which is so not me (I also gave up eating before bed, which may have also been the culprit). My face and back seemed to clear up a bit but nothing especially noticeable. Then, about a week and a half into it, I had quite a bad breakout and thought the diet was not working at all. So last weekend I was feeling pretty discouraged and had some pasta, which I haven’t had for two weeks or so.
    And no, in the past few days, all of a sudden my face and back have cleared up. I even went to work today without makeup, which I never do.
    The problem is that it’s so difficult to isolate the reason for improvement. I’ve also had something very stressful going on until lately, and my period ended a week ago – so it could be that. I’m just wondering if it could be the wheat thing, in which case it might make sense in a backward sort of way that having a bit of pasta helped (sort of like a tiny dose for a drug addict? :)).

    I just scheduled an allergy test with a naturopath, so I hope that’ll also help clear up the confusion (no puns intended :)).

    • says

      Hi Limor,

      thank you so much for your insights ;)
      This was extremely interesting to read. I think it‘s a good decision to do an allergy test with a naturopath as well, so you‘ll know for sure if the fiber was bothering you or gluten or something else. It‘s great to know that your skin looks awesome right now. :D

  52. megan says

    Hello found this really interesting, I have been bombarded with spots since I have changed my diet really quite annoyed that i got a negative when I thought I was doing something good, but this was almost 9 months ago and they seem to be getting worse they have started to become a little bit painful and more aggravated :/ dont really no what do it is starting to get me down tbh what got me through was i thought that maybe they will go xx

  53. LeahB says

    Hey Tracy,

    I recently went to the naturopath and after about a million dollars I left with a bunch of supplements. Nothing I have heard of before. My face was pretty bad when I went to see her but about a week after it exploded. Probably the worst breakout in many many years. I am hoping and preying it is a detox or a purging thing, but how am I do be sure? I have these weird small bumps on my forehead that I’m terrified are going to turn into big pimples soon and I never get anything there! My cheeks which are usually ok exploded and my chin is a disaster zone. Tons of whiteheads. tons. I’m kinda losing faith and wondering how long I can put up this. It has been one week since the really bad breakout and I’m still getting whiteheads but definitely not like I was last week. Does this sound like detox?? When will it be over? It’s awful!!!

    • Tracy says

      Hi Leah,
      Yikes, well it sounds like a detox to me, especially if it’s calming down a little now… it will probably go in waves until it peters out. Hang in there, the worst of it is over, I’m sure. What’d he/she give you?

      • LeahB says

        She gave me noni pills which I take 12 a day, some sort of detox powder that I make a drink out of, reversatrol, zinc, a multivitamin and a thyroid supplement because I think I have a sluggish thyroid. I guess my only option is to wait it out because I would really love to see if it actually works or not!

  54. Tracy W. says

    Hi. I’ve been taking vitex for about 4 months now and have seen no improvement in my hormonal (did saliva test to confirm) acne. I try to add estroblock about a month ago and had a horrible reaction (cried constantly) so I stopped that. A week ago I started Liv-tox and my acne is much worse! Is this a detox reaction? Have you heard of anyone breaking out worse from Liv-tox, etc?

  55. Jing Ramos says

    hi i did a chlorophyll liquid intake for a month now and my acne breakout is too painful, reddish and covering my right chin. this has not happened before. please help. should i stop drinking it?

  56. Demia says

    Hi! I have used detox pills for 2 weeks, and now i have had terrible breakouts on my T-zone, should I continue or discountinue taking my detox pills? Thanks :)

    • says

      Hi Demia,
      yes, I think you should discontinue the pills, at least for now. Whenever you deciede to take them again, start at a very low dose or take them every few days only. You can up the dose/frequency later as soon as your body gets used to the detoxing effect. After having done the detox for a few weeks, wean the pills off. Detoxing is nothing you have to do continuously. Just do it every once in a while.

  57. Demia says

    Hi again, Tracy! Do u know how long this detox reaction (breakouts, acne, whiteheads) may last? Based on ur experiences, how long this reaction will last till ur skin back to normal? Really need ur help :( thank you..

    • Tracy says

      Hi Demia, it would depend, but probably not more than a couple weeks to a month at the most. And as I said, they should kind of go in waves

  58. sonu says

    Hi Tracy,

    Thanks for this website, it gives a lot of information about detox diet and skin issues related to it.

    Let me tell you about my issues, I had a major food poisoning couple of time few years back and was on high antibiotics. After that I started having constipation, foul gas and started breaking out only on my cheeks.

    Presently I have been seeing nuropathic doctor have been taking probiotics, intestinal cleaser and some vitamins.

    My question is I have started breaking out more on my cheeks and back, does that has to do with the detox diet?

    Another thing that I have found is dairy and sugar gives me bad breakout….but when i got my glucose level checked it all came normal…..any guidance that you can give me that would be highly appreciated….:)

    • Tracy says

      Hi Sonu – yes sounds definitely like a detox breakout, stick with it. It’s normal for things to get a bit worse before getting better when you start fixing up your diet / gut. As for dairy and sugar – well they are both directly related to androgen hormones – extremely common foods related to acne issues. Minimize them as much as possible particularly while you’re healing your gut! You may be able to tolerate them a little better later on

  59. Sonu says

    Hi Tracy and Debbo,

    Thanks for your prompt reply and concerns…. I never had any type of surgery done before… The only thing that has ever happened to me is major food poisoning couple of times which the doctor either treated with antibiotics or injections when it went out of control.

    Constipation, gas, bloating, breakouts all started after that. I became sensitive to sugar and dairy. I had all types of tests done but nothing showed up. My immunity and vitamin D came really low in one of the reports but that’s all. Intestinal cleanser and vitamins that I am taking currently is helping me for sure, so I am hoping to get rid if all these issues soon.

  60. Sarah from sweden says

    Hey Tracy!

    I’ve started to use natural products almost one month ago, I use a detox cleanser (Giovanni dtox cleanser step 1) rose water as a toner and then I use different oils like jojoba oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, rosehipseedoil, trea tree oil on my spots, argan oil etc. everyday I use one of these things, I remember that I got breakouts the second day after using new natural skin care. And it has been 4 weeks now and my breakouts just getting worse. I wake up to a new one everyday. They just pop up next each other on my chin, cheeks and my forehead (small red ones) I’m in need of help because I don’t know what to do anymore!

    • says

      Hi Sarah,

      maybe you are just using too many different oils without giving your skin the time to get used to one of them? Or your skin doesn’t like the cleanser? Small red pimples often indicate that your skin doesn’t get along with a special skincare ingredient. Go figure which one it is…
      Anyway, I have made the experience that sometimes not moisturizing at night (just cleansing) makes a huge difference and helps to clear even stubborn breakouts. Could be worth a try! ;)

  61. Brazil says

    So about 2 weeks ago, I stopped using my oral and topical prescription acne medicine because I did not want to harm my skin so I switched to natural skin care. I use rose water as a toner and wash my face with dr. Bronners in the evening. I moisturize with coconut oil and argan oil. I also started taking omega 3 supplements and an Ayurvedic blood cleanse pill that a lady at the store said would help. The first week, my acne got slightly worse, but the 2nd week, I got the worse acne I have ever had. I usually never get them on my forehead and now it is totally covered, but some of my normal pimples have dissapeared. I ordered some manuka honey and apple cider vinegar to help. Should I stick with it? Or change it up? My mom is pressuring my to go back to the prescriptions because she said my face looked a lot better.

    • Tracy says

      Hi Brazil, yikes, sorry to hear this! It could definitely be a detox reaction from the new health stuff, but it could also be your skin reacting and withdrawing from the prescriptions, which is normal to go through rough patches after that and needs time to work itself out. It’s up to you what to do – your skin probably did look better on the prescriptions at this point, but you may not want to be reliant on them forever in which case you have to come off them at some point and go through this. Sending love to get through this whichever way you choose x

  62. Gwen says

    Hi Tracy !

    I’ve followed your blog for a while now, your articles are so interesting and helpful !

    I don’t know, but I might have a “detox” reaction : I’ve done twice in a month foot reflexology appointments (chinese medicine). I have 3 appointments planned. The last one will be on May.

    I had my appointment last monday, and last week I began to have a lot of small pimples under my skin, on the forehead. I usually ONLY have red spots (inflamed) on my chin and around my mouth. I still have them but a little less red than usual.

    DO you think that could be a detox reaction ?

    I also have dermatitis (dandruff) on my scalp, and whereas it was better last week, it started to go like crazy since yesterday…

    The reflexologist told me she worked on my feet to help evacuate the toxins, boost the lymphatic system and help with my stomach and ovarians. I’m on the birth control since 2008 (YAZ).

    I’m thinking about weaning off the pill on June if nothing’s better. I’m on an anti-acne pill and I have developed acne for 1 year and a half, I never had acne before !!! But I had a difficult year (emotional problems). Maybe that’s the reason ? I don’t know ^^

    Thanks for your answer!

  63. LeahB says

    Hey everyone,

    I just wanted to let everyone know my story real quick. I had what I thought was awful acne about ten years ago and I went on accutane and I was completely clear for 10 years. About a year ago, I started getting maybe 5 pimples at a time and I was horrified. Cried a lot. Man, was I crazy. Haha. I would go back to that at any time! Anyway, when I started getting a few pimples I decided I wanted to do it the natural way which is how I found Tracy’s website, who is amazing and I don’t mean disrespect by this post. So I did the candida cleanse for 30 days, did the honey wash and pretty much everything there is… I did. And I tried all this for about 6 months. But nothing seemed to work. So I went to a naturopath and spent well over $1000 and my acne went from 4 pimples to about 100 (no lie) in about a month. I kept with it thinking it was the detox but it just got worse and worse. I would think this is the worst it can get and BAM! It would get much worse!!!!! It got to the point where if I happened to accidentally look in the mirror I would cry. It affected my relationships andmy face hurt!!!! It literally would just pound all day long. It was a awful. I ended up taking about 6 ibuprofen a day because it was so painful. It was awful. I am now on accutane after fighting it for about a year because I was so sure that I could fix it naturally. And I am so happy with my choice and I kick myself everyday for not going to the dermatologist sooner because even though my face has zero pimples now, I am covered with deep, red marks. Some even pitted. So I guess what I’m saying is, the natural thing is awesome. However, maybe it doesn’t work for everyone. So if your acne gets to the point where you go to the clinic for the flu and the doctor prescribes you something for acne (yep, totally happened) then maybe it’s time for the dermatologist.

  64. Ying says

    I’m 20 years old this year and having acne problem since 13. I have been changing many skin care products and my acne problem still persists. Recently, I’m on levothyroxine as I’m having goitre. I just started this medication for 3 days and I noticed breakout. So I’m thinking of quitting the medication until my exam overs… As I knew that my stress level will be tremendously high for these two weeks till my exam finishes. I just came across Tracy’s website and I’m determined to have a clear skin by the holistic approach that she mentioned. I planned to start it on my sem break, which will be 3 weeks later. Just asking, will it be effective if I’m not following precisely the approach you mentioned? For example, sticking to my skin care products? As I feel insecure without them. I really hope to clear my skin and stop going dermatologist ( u will have no idea how many thousands my mum had spent on me for dermatologist appointment)

  65. Sarah says

    This is fascinating. I gave up a daily cup of coffee about a week and a half ago (felt like I was dying until about a week had passed; now I’m symptom free!) and immediately noticed a reduction in cystic acne. I was getting these deep under the skin ones on my cheeks and chin, and I thought it was mostly hormonal. Turns out it might be a combo of hormones aggravated by caffeine. What’s weird is that I only ever got whiteheads at the beginning of my acne journey (can I call it that?) back when I hit puberty. At the end of high school and into college they tapered off and turned into cystic acne. I was getting one of these cysts at least once a week. Now, nothing. Just a few whiteheads cropping up here and there – all coming to a head quickly and scabbing over just as fast (also, thank you manuka honey!). I’m thinking this must be the detox at work. (I also gave up dairy which wasn’t hard because I made the switch to almond milk a long time ago and really only ate cheese as of a week and a half ago. Not to mention I’ve been drinking about 3-4 times as much water as I normally do, and I’ve been walking every evening/doing yoga in the morning.) So, in short, I think there are good things happening here. The hard part? Not picking. I was good at not picking cystic acne because honestly it was too painful to touch most of the time. Whiteheads are another story. They’re just begging to be poked and prodded! It’s a difficult habit to break!

    Thanks so much for this website! It’s been so helpful!

  66. Sascha says

    I started seeing a practioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine a week ago. We have done acupuncture twice and i started a herbal regimen with him 3 days ago. My acne has been getting worse, breaking out in red bumps on my forehead and painful lip zits and regular acne has worsened as well. I usually break out in multiple bumps everyday. Should I continue with this?

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