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Today I’m finally telling my acne story, which is a long one, as promised.  For those who are dealing with acne, I’ll be as quick as possible but I believe some specifics and timeframes for activities might be of assistance. And BTW, if you’re new here, I’m Farah! Most people know me from my posts here on natural hair and skin care.

I’ve always suffered from bad skin since elementary school to be precise. I remember my first breakout. I was in the fifth grade and a boy came up to me and said “what’s on your face?” From that moment I became insecure about my skin. To start breaking out from such a young age really impacted the relationship I had with my body. 

It wasn’t until the end of middle school that my acne got really bad; horrible even. Not only did it start popping up here and there, but I also had those under the skin bumps that would rub against something and become a painful bump! It hurt so badly when this happened!

Even into my last semester at university, things weren’t looking good with breakouts everywhere. For years I struggled. What I thought was cystic acne was actually fungal acne. Just the idea that I have fungus on my face was enough to creep me out, but it was also a relief to finally learn how to treat it.

Over the course of those years, I’ve learned that when imperfections on our skin or body are so outwardly visible we tend to loathe our appearance and think that it’s the only trait that others observe. In hindsight, I was quite harsh and self-critical of myself at a time when I should have been loving myself for who I am.

Fast-forward to today, a year after my first bout with acne. I’ve been on a long and difficult road, but I wouldn’t change anything. I’ve learned to pay attention to my body and nurture my heart and soul rather than just my skin.

Fungal acne is much more common than you think. I had it for years, but never realized what it was. My skin would always be oily and breakout regularly, which is much more revealing when your skin is brown like mine. I’d break out mostly on my forehead.

Fungal acne is properly known as “Malassezia Folliculitis”.

MALASSEZIA – (noun) a genus of lipophilic typically nonpathogenic yeastlike imperfect fungi including one (M. furfur synonym Pityrosporum oribiculare) that causes tinea versicolor, and another (M. ovalis synonym Pityrosporum ovale) that is associated with seborrheic dermatitis.

In other words, the fungus known as Malassezia is a fungus that may live on your skin. When and if present, the fungus will feed on the ingredients in certain makeup, soaps, lotions, and skincare, and then procreate- causing a bumpy, uneven rash on the skin, or pustule-filled acne.

I’ve probably done almost every treatment out there, but in all these years I’ve never fully healed my acne, nor those pitted acne scars on my cheeks & temples.. but that all changed a few months ago!

I met Mariama over Reddit who changed my life forever She introduced me to so much knowledge about fungal acne, however, she was also kind enough to give me the rundown on her current skin routine which helped clear up my fungal acne. See more from the Reddit community here.

Her main advice to me was this, ‘Stop using so many products!   I know it sounds silly but before trying Mariama’s routine, I used a whole array of expensive (and chemical-laden) skincare products.  And all they did was irritate my skin and make matters worse.  It turned out that the reason why many of them didn’t work was that they were clogging my pores and encouraging the overgrowth of the yeast Malassezia. 

But how could that be?   Too much of any one thing is never good for you… But in terms of skincare sometimes too much of a ‘good’ product can backfire on you (especially if it’s loaded with chemicals).   It also just so happens that the ingredients in many skincare products are very similar to those that cause Malassezia to overproduce.  

So after Mariama told me to stop using all of my various toners, essences, serums… I was a bit confused by her advice because everything I’d learned about skincare said the more products you use, the better.

In hindsight though, it was so obvious!  I had been fighting a losing battle trying to win the war against acne with chemicals and my skin looked terrible – inflamed, red, and constantly being purged.   The only thing that seemed to help was benzoyl peroxide – which is an effective treatment with fungal acne but can be extremely drying in.  It was making my skin worse in the long run!

So I stopped everything cold turkey, including the BP gel.  Unfortunately, this caused a very bad purge… but within 2 weeks my skin was all cleared up and after 3 months, it’s never come back!  

Skincare Routine for Fungal Acne

So the best way to solve this problem is to strip your routine down.

The two most important things you can do are 1) Cleanse 2) Protect

So that’s what I’ve done.  It was tough at first because I really fell in love with my skincare products, but now my skin has never looked better! Here’s how I got rid of my cystic acne + which products are worth investing in.

Step 1 – Remove Makeup & Cleansing

The first step is removing any makeup or dirt/oil with mild micellar water (like Bioderma Sensibio H2O Soothing Micellar Cleansing Water or Bioderma Sébium Foaming Gel Pump Cleansing and MakeUp Remover). This jumbo bottle will see you through for a long while. It’s gentle, foams very lightly, and does a nice/gentle job of cleansing your skin.

Okay, we’ll keep it simple for now. We’re going straight from cleansing to moisturizing, so serums are for another day.       

Step 2 – Moisturize

It’s important to lock in moisture so your skin can heal itself even better! For that, I love to use Hyaluronic Acid post-cleansing. With your skin still wet (don’t dry it after you rinse your cleanser), squeeze a few drops of The Ordinary’s Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 onto your face/neck/chest and massage into skin.

Next, you must lock in the moisture, for fungal-safe moisturizers you can use CeraVe Moisturizing Cream, FAB Coconut Water, or Bioderma Hydrabo Gel Creme Moisturizer.

Even if you don’t have fungal acne, this routine I would recommend to everyone – whether you’re suffering from a skin condition or not. As always, this is my opinion, and you do not have to follow my advice if you don’t feel it’s right for you. I encourage you to do your own research and to make your own informed decisions when it comes to choosing a skincare routine.