- Hormone Imbalance, PCOS, and Taylor's Journey -
Photo taken by Tess Comrie. Back when my skin was at its prime.
Maude founder Taylor here! Today I’m going to discuss my grueling, six-month journey with hormonal acne, and potentially, PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome), although I’m not entirely convinced it’s that. And neither are the doctors. For so long, I was convinced skincare consisted only of what you put on your skin, and little did I realize that there are forces beyond your control that can have damaging effects to your skin. I knew the basics: drink water, stay out of the sun, and don’t smoke. I followed one out of those three, and it wasn’t the first two. Still, I always relied on products for healthy skin, only to find out that what you put into your body is 80% of your skincare routine. Products are absolutely beneficial, but what’s truly important is feeding your skin from within.
I’m sharing my trial because even with the awareness that we have today, the media continues to portray life as this perfectly airbrushed, fictional thing, when in fact, many people are going through something similar in some shape or form. Never has there been a time like this where there is an unbelievable amount of pressure to look perfect. Thank you Instagram. It’s such a curse and a blessing, and I think many of us can agree we care too much about our image on it. Before, 20-year-old girls wouldn’t think of getting Botox or fillers, but now it’s a common practice and almost a rite of passage. I found that even those in the beauty industry suffer from forces beyond their control. I thought I knew a lot about skin after years of doing research on my own (and starting a skincare line on the way…), that’s eventually how I figured out what was happening was not from my products; it was happening from the inside out.
Back in August, I had the absolute worst breakout of my life, and it happened seemingly overnight. I am not exaggerating, it was my bad. Even my husband would tell you that. I suddenly had deep, large cysts and whiteheads, something I’d never experienced to this extent before. Why, oh why? At 23, I thought I was going to be breakout-free for the rest of my life. Boy, was I naive. Sure, I struggled as a teenager up until I was about 19, but had nearly perfect skin from then up until one unlucky month last year. I first attributed to this sudden onset of acne to my diet, then my skincare routine (both of which had not changed), and of course, pregnancy. One week later and we knew that was not the case. What could it be? As someone in the beauty industry, I thought I knew skin better, and I suddenly felt a wave of humiliating guilt that I was not who I said I was. For me, being genuine is one of the greatest traits a human can have, and I feared I had lost it.
Through the duration of my journey, I knew my struggle was entirely internal. You could say it was a gut feeling. Not one part of my everyday skincare routine was altered in anyway, and my diet, albeit not always great, didn’t change either. I felt utterly defeated. I spent nights crying to my husband and mom while constantly canceling get-togethers because I didn’t want to be seen. There were times when I would leave to go somewhere, see my reflection in my car window, and run back inside crying, canceling my appointments or lunch dates last minute. I felt so ashamed that I even cared enough about my skin to let it rule my life this way, but truth is, I’ve always felt a connection between my skin and identity. Even with my skin now clear, I still have pangs of guilt and shame in myself, for some reason attributing my skin to my identity.
I was out of my element. For the first time in my life, I had to buy foundation. Until then, I sufficed off of concealer around my nose and under my eyes. This was all new territory to me. I’m still getting used to wearing makeup, but I’ve realized how much confidence it can give people. I’ve always been one to read labels and ingredients in my skincare, but now I’ve realized the same needs to be done with your makeup. If you are prone to acne, make sure it’s non-comedogenic. Many foundations these days have healing properties, so it’s beneficial to choose those brands. I always suggest: do your research before you buy!
I’m sure many people would have raced to the Dermatologists office, but I have had some experiences which I didn’t want to repeat, so I put going to the doctor as a last resort. In my experiences with doctors, they all would prescribe me “band-aid” medications that didn’t fix the problem from its core. Whenever I have gone to the dermatologist for acne, every one of them wanted to prescribe me an antibiotic. Even though it was likely that they would work in the short term, I knew it wouldn’t fix the problem, so when the time would come for me to get off, my skin would resort back to these pesky, hormonal breakouts. Essentially, it wasn’t a sustainable option, and I didn’t like the idea of ruining my gut health with antibiotics.
By October, I was mentally drained and exhausted because of my skin. My entire business is based off skincare, and I felt like such a fraud. I decided to see an endocrinologist, a doctor who specializes in hormone imbalances, because I always had a feeling it was something to do with my hormones. It was the only explanation I could see. I got every test done in the book, and sure enough, my body was producing too much testosterone, and the doctor diagnosed me with PCOS. PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) occurs when your ovaries produce cysts, making hormones imbalanced and causing difficulty with getting pregnant. The doctor is still not 100% positive I have PCOS, and neither is the doctor I received a second opinion from, mostly because we didn’t do an ultrasound of my ovaries to check if there are cysts, but also because the only symptom I was showing was acne. They said it’s possible the birth control I was on had too much estrogen, and when there is an excess of estrogen, it translates into testosterone, thus, only the acne.
The endocrinologist prescribed me Met Formin, a medication that blocks and lowers teststerone. As fast as my acne appeared, it disappeared, but not without the help of many other factors.
Whether it’s true PCOS or simply a hormone imbalance caused by birth control, I’ve found a routine that keeps my skin clear. My next journey is to work on scarring now that the acne is under control, and as I’m Greek, I’m wildly prone to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH), and scars need to be worked on as soon as possible. To get rid of them, I do the following:
Microneedle: Both at-home with MAUDE’s .75mm dermaroller and In-Office Professional Treatments, to get as deep as possible.
Vitamin C Serum: MAUDE’s Vitamin C + Hyaluronic Acid. The Vitamin C lightens the scarring and gives my skin an overall glow, while the Hyaluronic Acid keeps my skin supple and moisturized. Moisturizer is the KEY to happy, healthy skin. It is a common misconception that oily, acneic skin does not need moisture.
Chemical Peels: I alternate between Five Berry and TCA peels, the latter when I’m wanting a face full of brand new skin. Your skin completely flakes off with a TCA peel, revealing brand new, smooth skin.
Retinol: prescribed by my Dermatologist. This is one of the best products recommended for post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Celery Juice: my holy grail. my life saver. I’ve never been one to go on any special diet, but after researching about the @medicalmedium on Instagram, I decided to experiment with this myself. I drink 16oz of pure organic celery juice every morning on an empty stomach, and I don’t eat anything for 30 minutes after. I kid you not, I firmly believe this flipped my hormones around and healed my skin. I’ve also struggled with depression for the past 10 years, and drinking celery juice has given me just as beneficial results as medication. To read more about the benefits of celery juice, read here.
What’s ironic is that Maude sold dermarollers well before this happened. I had some acne scars in the past, and that’s where I learned about dermarollers and felt the need to share them with the world, but now, they’re all I live for! They have been so helpful at getting rid of my acne scars at a fraction of the price it would cost at a spa. In fact, I had a conversation just over the weekend where a woman was in a similar situation as I am. She had heard the wonderful benefits of microneedling/dermarolling but couldn’t afford the $200 treatment every month for about six months. Instead, I introduced her to our at-home dermarollers and told her to give them a try!
Scarring takes a lot of time, patience, money, and work. I’ve had to give up a lot to work on these scars, such as putting off trying to conceive for a baby and events for Maude.
In the meantime, I’m focusing on rebuilding my confidence with affirmations, as well as eating as clean as I can without going overboard and cutting out everything I personally deem as “bad.” However, I’m still not going to be so laissez-faire about my diet, because to be completely honestly, I used to eat Easter candy WELL into the year. I’m talking July and August. I had never head to deal with diet-related acne, but now I’m convinced there is a relation in some people. The hormones found in dairy have been linked to acne, and while the jury is still out on whether chocolate and other goodies cause acne, I’ve found for myself that they do indeed exacerbate my breakouts.
I began my journey with the outlook that I was a fraud and a failure; the owner of a skincare line who had confidence-crushing, broken-out skin. I now see my situation as a journey to self-love, something I desperately needed to work on. I worry about the future, perhaps my skin getting used to its routine and reverting back into teenage-ridden skin. I worry for the time I do become pregnant, that the breakouts will make me feel disfigured when I should be feeling beautiful and glowy. When that time comes, I feel I’ll have prepared myself the best I could.
However, through this experience I’ve learned to not take life too seriously. I’ve learned that in the end, your appearance doesn’t matter as much as you think it does. Although it happened slowly, I learned to love myself again, and that my skin shouldn’t stop me from being my best self, even though sometimes the only thing I wanted to do was hide away from the world.
I was worried that my final semester of school would include sitting in the back of the classroom and not participating because of my skin, but much to my surprise, no one treated me any differently, and I made some best friends along the way. Sometimes it takes a traumatic event, no matter how small, to truly find out your own worth. After recently losing my Grandpa to his fight with Alzheimer’s, my whole skin situation was put in perspective. In the end, it simply doesn’t matter. We’re going to look back at our younger selves one day and wish we could tell them to be confidence and love themselves. Just you wait! I know I’ve already done that before.
For those in a similar situation as me, whether it’s regarding skin or something else that has lowered your self-esteem, please believe that it gets better. You will find your worth with time and patience, and whatever your problem is, it will slowly heal itself with the proper work.