acne healing crisis

Alright, so you’ve decided to do something about your skin.

You may have read Tracy’s 7 Things that You Can Start Doing Right Now to Clear Your Skin, you may be a few weeks into the Bootcamp, or you may have taken the bull by its pimply horns, and you’re now an Academy Gal or Guy.

First things first: well done, you.

And then bam. You wake up in the morning, and you realise with utter horror that there are HEAPS MORE pimples on your face than last night.

And you’re feeling blue.

And you’re exhausted.

What the heck?!

When you start a holistic skin-clearing program, you’re supposed to feel good.

Well, at least better.


What’s going on?!

Don’t give up on the holistic healing thing just yet, friend.

You’re experiencing an initial breakout that sometimes happens when you use holistic treatments.

Also called a healing crisis, a detox breakout, or a purge.

Spoiler alert: It might just be the best thing that’s happened to your skin in a while.

Celebratory Dance Time!
Celebratory Dance Time!

What is a healing crisis?

A healing crisis sometimes happens when things are worse for a while, because you’re actually getting better.

Well, thanks, body.

You shouldn’t have.


I’ll give you a real life-example: you have to know that back home in France (where I’m from), there are bakeries and pâtisseries e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e.

It’s awesome.

Croissants, pains au chocolat, chocolate or vanilla eclairs, macarons… We have it all.

And I love them all.

Especially chocolate things.

Anything with chocolate.

So when Tracy suggested I do a candida cleanse, I freaked out.

In no particular order, the thoughts that ran through my mind were:


“Haha, what a joke. As if an innocent pain au chocolat might be causing my acne.”

“Hell no.”

“I have friends who have worse diets (hello, student life!) than mine, and their faces don’t look like pizzas. Well, unlike me, I guess. But that’s NOT THE POINT.”

What I really meant was: “Noooooooooooo! Don’t take my pains au chocolat away from me!” :’(

Eventually, I realised that a candida cleanse was the ultimate thing I could for my skin, for my body.

So I did it.

And, oh my GOODNESS. It was awful.

Migraines, tummy aches, cysts, clusters of ready-to-pop whiteheads, fatigue.

And worst of it all, I didn’t know what to have for my afternoon snack.

My skin was worse than it ever had been.

And honestly, hadn’t I known a healing crisis might happen, I would have given up.

On the other hand, when I saw how intense my healing crisis, I understood that chocolate hadn’t been doing me any favour.

Oh, NO.
Oh, NO.

So. Back to the point: healing crisis are a good thing, even though they make us feel like crap.

They’re a sign that a deep healing is happening, even though we can’t see its positive effects just yet.

A few things can launch a detox, or a healing crisis:

  • The sudden stop of a negative habit (smoking, coffee, contraceptive pill, sugar, etc.);
  • A head-first jump into a strict diet;
  • Herbs or supplements that give a boost to the liver, like black radish, or artichokes;
  • Probiotics;
  • Acupuncture;
  • Energy healing, like Reiki (ie emotional detox).

Why do I have a healing crisis? Why me?!

We talk a lot about holistic healing in the Academy.

Holistic healing operates in your body like a much-needed spring cleaning in your house.

You know, when you move that heavy piece of furniture, and you realise how much dust and grease and spiders and bleh have accumulated behind it during the winter?

Holistic healing, and its best friend, detox, are the big winners of a long hide-and-seek game they played with naughty toxins, which have to stop hiding in the deepest corners of your body (and often in the connective tissue, in the case of acne), and come back into your blood system.

Obviously, the toxins are not happy to have lost the hide-and-seek game, so they won’t leave without creating minor havoc in the body as your immune system reacts to them: migraines, asthma crisis, fatigue, cysts that take weeks to go away, fever, etc.

The more toxins you have in the body, the stronger the healing crisis will be.

Healing crisis is an important part of the process.

It IS healing.

So just keep going.

You got this.

Signs that indicate you’re going through a healing crisis

A few common occurrences:

  • A healing crisis sometimes happens after a big change in your diet, skin care, lifestyle, emotional health, etc.;
  • It doesn’t last forever. If you’ve significantly altered a significant habit or a behaviour, your healing crisis may last from anything from a few days to three weeks;
  • It comes and goes in waves: a detox reaction doesn’t get worse and worse. It comes, and it gets better, and it comes back, slightly less strong. Two steps forward, one step backward.
  • If you have more than one healing crisis, you’ll find that their intensity decrease. And eventually, they disappear – yay!
  • Often, when a healing crisis is accompanied by acne, it affects new zones. For instance, I often have acne on my upper back when I detox, a place where I never, ever get acne otherwise. Or, your acne pattern will change: a few, big, fat pimples, when usually you have a lot of tiny pimples (or the other way around).

N.B. If your healing crisis is super strong AND lasts longer than 3 weeks, it may be the sign that something is not going well. Have a chat with your GP, if that’s your case.

However, if you’re experiencing unusually bad break-outs and/or symptoms, you’re probably going through a purge.

And remember: that’s a good sign!


How can I avoid a healing crisis?

It is not always possible to avoid a healing crisis.

Because, remember! It is often a necessary step in your healing journey.

However, you can slow it down, or make it less intense: for instance,  by introducing supplements one after the other in your diet (instead of all at once), or slowly reducing how much you smoke/eat sugar.

One reason why you shouldn’t hate your healing crisis (or at least, try to hate it less) is that it can teach you a lot about your body, and yourself.

Let me explain myself.

Depending on your body type, your healing crisis may express itself differently, which often indicate your body’s weaknesses. If you purge…, you may experience…:

… Through the lungs: asthma crisis, runny nose, sore throat, sneezing.

… Through the kidneys: changes in the urinary tract, or a strong smell.

… Through the liver: dizziness, headaches, nausea, joint pain, hot flashes, circulatory issues, palpitations.

… Through the colon: cramps, diarrhoea, bloating.

… Through the skin: acne, rashes, eczema.

… Through the mouth: a coated or white tongue, bad breath.

… Through the eyes: watery eyes, or lots of eye waste.

So, a crisis often manifests itself with one really intense symptom (or more), and a few mild ones.

In my case: heavy migraines.

I guess it said a lot about the state of my liver (it didn’t enjoy macarons as much as I did.)

So what can you do when you’re detoxing?


Just listen to yourself.

If you’re tired, rest.

If you have a headache, dab some lavender oil on the sides of your head, and take a nap.

Go to bed earlier. Create a cocoon of love and healing for yourself. Read, meditate. Be nice to yourself!

Drink a lot of water. Get a massage.

And be patient with yourself.

Be present in your body.

Treat yourself with love.

You’re healing, after all.

That certainly deserves a pat on the back!

Even if you don’t notice the difference on your skin straight away.

Have you ever had a detox experience? What happens in your body? Does the crisis bring up any memories or emotions?

Celine Harleaux suffered from acne for what felt like centuries, and is now blessed with clear skin (well, most of the time).

She discovered Reiki and self-love during her acne journey, and she now believes self-love is THE key to help you regain your clear skin, strength, confidence, and awesomeness.

You can book a Reiki session with her through her website.