How I Cured my Cystic Acne & Rosacea

the pure life



This is probably the hardest thing for me to share, but I am sharing this post with you today because I wish I had advice like this to help me through my struggle with how to cure acne. Finding real, honest resources such as youtube bloggers or friends (vs. skincare companies) was always the best advice. I learned how to take this advice from others and turn it into my own “self-healing” program! 

How I Cured My Cystic Acne and Rosacea

First of all, I want to say that I understand. I understand how you’re feeling; having acne is really tough! It’s so easy to feel down and feel “embarrassed” and “ugly”. When I had cystic acne, my face was hurting all the time and my skin was completely damaged. But after some time, I turned it all around. Here’s how I did it:

When I first moved out on my own and started a new internship, I began to see increases in my stress levels. I noticed a rash on my face which I later was told was rosacea. Basically, this consisted of an itchy, red spotty rash on my eyelids, chin and forehead area which was stress-induced. I ignored this and hoped it would go away.

I soon also broke out into cystic acne. This is where I really had no idea what was going on. I picked at the zits, scarred my face and encouraged more breakouts. I went to several doctors, who all prescribed me weird rash creams that just seemed to make things worse. At this time, I was on the birth control pill, used drugstore makeup, ate foods I knew I was allergic and sensitive too (like wheat and cheese) and didn’t exercise very regularly. I was also constantly stressed and lonely. I was angry and confused because I had never had any real problems with my skin in the past.

SO, I decided to take action!

Here are the following things I changed in my lifestyle that have helped cure my cystic acne and rosacea:

Update: read my updated and in-depth post here.

Update: get The Acne Protocol guide here.

  1. Organic, plant-based all-natural makeup.

    Trust me on this one. Most makeup plugs up your pores, so choosing non-toxic and acne-friendly makeup is always a good option. Here are some of my all favourite all-natural makeup products if you’re having trouble finding some!

  2. Go makeup-free. 

    Try and avoid wearing makeup whenever you can (lounging around the house, at the gym, hanging out with friends). You really want to focus on letting your skin breathe and heal.

  3. Stop picking!!

    This is so, so important. Your body can deal with the acne/virus on its own, and picking and popping your zits will only cause scarring, cuts, and infection. Some cystic acne actually spreads beneath the skin, so once you pick at one, it can spread to all different parts of your face. If you’re struggling with scarring, I would suggest rubbing a little jojoba oil on the scars every so often.

  4. Sweat. 

    I used to think sweat was my skin’s worst nightmare, but I’ve actually found it is the complete opposite! Getting a good sweat on really helps your skin rid of any built-up toxins. I always make sure to wash my face with a gentle cleanser and exfoliant right after my workout to avoid any bacteria build-up or clogged pores. Taking a steam shower also does wonders as it helps open up your pores, but be careful not to burn your skin with the hot water. Also, do yourself a favour and remove all makeup before hitting the gym (do you really want your skin to absorb all that makeup!?)

  5. Plant-based, whole-foods nutrient-dense diet. 

    I definitely notice a huge difference in my skin depending on the foods I eat. Certain foods at different times can trigger breakouts or rashes. I took myself through a nutrient-dense healing plant-based diet and noticed such a huge difference. This consisted of 3 months of lots of fresh smoothies, salads and soups. Consuming dairy products was a huge trigger for me, as well as wheat products, so I definitely recommend avoiding those and see how your skin/body reacts in return (don’t mistake this for purging or detoxing, where your skin can break out within the first few weeks of using a new product/following a new diet). Also incorporating lots of skin-friendly foods can help loads (leafy greens esp. dandelion greens, wheatgrass, turmeric, beets, asparagus, avocados, mangoes, papayas, cabbage, grapefruit, berries, lemons). Check out The Acne Protocol for more information on this.

  6. Using all natural cleansers and light exfoliants. 

    I love using all natural cleansers that are locally made. You can find the products I use also here. I found that charcoal-based products did wonders for my skin (this is because charcoal has detoxing properties and can actually pull toxins from your skin). I do a face mask twice a week and a pure raw honey mask three times a week for 30 minutes each.

  7. Maintaining a positive, stress-free environment. 

    I think this ties into the whole topic of self-love, which really is the center for everything! In this post, I talk about my 5 Healthy Habits which help me live a happy and stress-reduced lifestyle. Surrounding yourself with positive people, lots of love and a happy work environment can actually drastically change your skin’s appearance for the better.

  8. Sea salt and sunshine. 

    I am really blessed to live by the ocean, which has really helped my skin recover from living in a polluted city (Berlin, Germany) for a year. In the warmer months, I try to dip into the ocean at least 3 times a week and used a gentle all-natural SPF moisturizer or a bit of coconut oil on my skin whenever I was in the sun for long periods of time. Salt water is naturally anti-bacterial, so go makeup-free in the ocean as much as you can!

  9. Water (are you surprised?). 

    We all know this one, so why do we ignore it!? Drinking 2L of water a day has helped keep my skin hydrated and nourished. Water helps eliminate toxins from the body, so it’s sort of a no-brainer. Find a good-sized water bottle, like this one here and drag it with you everywhere you go, you will see (and feel) such a difference! Try adding fresh herbs like basil and rosemary and fresh lime or lemon wedges.

  10. Be patient. 

    I know this isn’t what you want to hear, but noticing a difference in your skin can take anywhere from a few days to a year! For me, it took a total of 4 months to see a drastic change. Be patient, persistent and positive! Staying positive will truly affect everything else around you (including your diet, wellbeing, and skin!). 

Here is a photograph showing my transition from unhealthy skin to glowing, happy skin! The photographs on the left were not taken at the worst point, but they show clearly how damaged and upset my skin was at the time. In the middle photograph, I was dealing with lots of rashes and breakouts, heavily depending on the foods I ate. The photographs on the right was about 2 months after following all my tips above!

How I Cured my Cystic Acne & Rosacea

How I Cured my Cystic Acne & Rosacea

Disclaimer: Please note that this post was written prior to my R.H.N. designation. As a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, I do not heal, treat or cure symptoms or illness.

  1. julia says:

    Thanks for this article :) I’ve been following you since February and I love all your tips and recipes. I have a bit of acne myself, I’ll try and follow your advices as much as possible and see if it makes a difference for me :) didn’t manage to go all plant based yet and not sure I totally will but I’m including more and more vegan food in my diet and exercising since like April and I do feel a difference in my well being already :) keep posting xxx

    • Hi Julia! So glad you liked the post, I’m so happy to see the response from others going through the same thing. You definitely will get there, and you’ve got such a great mindset already! We are all always growing and changing, so don’t worry about being “perfect”. You got this girl :) X

  2. Cecilia says:

    Big thank you from Sweden!

  3. Angie says:

    I needed this !! Love your posts sisley:)

  4. Alyssa Cuellar says:

    You are so beautiful. You inspire me to want to be healthier. I am 21 and still dealing with acne and it’s frustrating. I hope to be able to change my lifestyle like you did!

  5. Alli Mulock says:

    Hi I was just wondering if there are any stores in Vancouver/lower mainland that sell the kunye products?! Very interested in the body scrub! Thanks!

    • HI Alli :) Kunye does not have a storefront yet, nor do I think any retail locations sell their stuff yet. But if you contact Melissa (@) kunye.ca you can order stuff from her, she’s great and so is the scrub!! Hope this helps xo

  6. Wendy Gillan says:

    The article is quite informative with some of the easy to follow instructions. I think avoiding make-up and using natural products will help a lot. And at the end we need a lot of patience.

  7. Marcela Peralta says:

    Thank you so much for this! I hope that work on my skin, I’m vegetarian and I don’t see too much effect, I have acne ago 6 years and nothing work to me :( I will try this and I will tell you whats happen x

  8. Etienne says:

    Congratulation !
    You had flushing with your rosacea ??!

  9. Sam says:

    Hi !

    I love your blog, thank u so much for this article it really gave me hope…and u are so beautiful !

    By the way, could you give us some update about your diet, do you continue? Do enjoy some “not allowed” food sometimes and are there any effects?
    And finally are u still free from this stupid rosacea?
    Thank u very much xx

    • Hi Sam! Thank you so much for the kind words. So glad you asked. I definitely still eat vegan junk sometimes, and my skin usually breaks out after this, but nothing like the rosacea or cystic acne. I follow a highly plant based diet now with lots of fresh filtered water, and healthy fats like hemps seeds and avocados. Its usually due to a hormonal imbalance as well, so maca powder in my smoothies has been a huge help!! I no longer have rosacea at all :) I am very thankful!! XO

  10. Sam says:

    And what is your cleaning/moisturising skin routine?

    Thank u ?

    • I use raw organic coconut oil, just about the size of a small pea :) It works great, is naturally antibacterial and totally affordable! For cleansing, I use Dr. Bronners almond soap and a face exfoliator. I will be doing an updated post soon! X

  11. sam says:


    Thank you so much for your answer, people don’t know how lonely we feel when we first experience the flushing etc.
    Mine is more mild redness and flushing ( sorry for my English, I am French ;) )
    I am beginning to change my diet, it is incredible how our body can improve thanks to diet changes…

    I wanted to know if you had some rosiness/redness still or did it go away?
    I plan to do some laser maybe because of the small veins the flushs left on my cheeks…

    Finally do you experience sun sensitivity or redness when you exercise or not anymore?
    I am a bit anxious that my skin will stay sensitiveto sun/warmth even after healing. I love the sun,, sauna and karate, and today I can’t enjoy them anymore…

    Again thank you very much for your answer :)

  12. Candice says:

    Great info! So you are basically vegan and gluten free? I’ve tried a million all natural, organic, etc. products and nothing has helped, so I’m fairly certain I have to change my diet. I love dairy, spicy foods and all the things I shouldn’t be eating! Ugh! Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Hey Candice! I’m glad you liked the post! Yes, I am vegan and mostly gluten free (used to be strictly gluten free). Diet definitely has a huge impact on our skin as it is one of our detox pathways, so I’d recommend taking a look at your diet for sure! Also another thing that really helped me is adding more healthy fats into my diet to help balance out hormones, such as hemp seeds and flax seed oil. Xx

  13. sou says:

    Hi !

    Thank you so much, you helped going through rosacea.
    Your skin looks great now!

    I have more redness than bumps, especially on my chin, cheeks, nose and a bit around my mouth, I wanted to know if you had redness too, and if you got rid of it too?


    • Hi love! I am so glad I could help :) I didn’t really have much redness but I would suggest addressing any possible allergies…a nauropath could help with that, and I’m sure they could figure out what was causing it! Also addressing hormone imbalance, making sure you are consuming enough healthy fats in your diet (avocado, nuts, flax seeds, coconut, salmon and eggs if you eat those..) XO

  14. Pia says:

    Hi!! Just came across your article and I felt so relieved. I was recently diagnosed with rosacea and seb derm! And i was that girl who probably had 1 pimple, once every 2 years, had almost no pores at 36, lazy no make up person which i always got compliments for having great skin from strangers and then boom! I never thought I could be vain up until I got this. My confidence has gone down I know but at least I got a very supportive bf. Your article makes it feel more like we can take it by the bulls’ horn and still live our life, unlike some advice which made me felt a dementor just sucked out all the fun cos of how difficult their new life sounded. Anyhoo, have you completely eliminated dairy? I’m on a gluten free diet now for a month, learning to make my own yeast/wheat free bread and only have greek yogurt but would still have some bumps once in a while. It has been very hard for me to pinpoint my trigger foods. The only thing that makes me scared is if i’m allergic to cheese!! I’m also surprised (happy surprised) that steam is great for you cos most of what I have read was “stay away from steam!”. I was only diagnosed last month when i was bothered when i had more than 3 bumps on my face and i was red, i have olive skin. After reading this gave me more hope than I had for the past month reading god knows how many articles now. Thank you!!!

    • Hi love,

      I am so happy this post has helped you and made you feel more confident :) It’s really frustrating to have acne/rosacea, I know. Everyone is so different, but I truly believe if we follow a nutrient-dense, plant-based, close-to-nature diet and lifestyle, your body and skin will thrive optimally. I am hoping to update this post soon, or post more about skin issues, because I’ve learned a lot more about acne over the past year. Let me know how your journey works for you. And yes, I have completely eliminated dairy, I now follow a vegan diet :) Let me know if you have any questions. X Sisley

  15. wai yan says:

    the photos u posted. Are u wearing any make up int the last one or is it really better now?

  16. Morena says:

    Hi, great post! I have been suffering from bad slin since teenage time. My skin is white and sensensitive and I have never went to a derm because I knew that my skin is just so.. so 10 yeaes past and I was diagnoses with rosacea (already 2 years ago). It was first small piece on the one cheek, now my both cheeks are very red with couple of pimples. I blush more often than ever before!
    I don’t eat junk but I have never stopped eating meat, probably just for 20 days and I haven’t noticed much difference..
    I use for cleaning only oil, I cannot handle creams, it just doesn’t feel good. I don’t wear make up, just from time to time on pimples to hide..
    I wonder whether I will have white skin ever again or will remain red. I hate it when the summer comes and all my friends want me to go to the beach. I haven’t told them about my problem..
    What do you think helped you the most?

    • Hi, Morena

      How frustrating for you – I’m sorry to hear that. I definitely think that taking dairy out of my diet was the most effective, as well as exercising (sweating) daily and drinking tons of filtered water (1L before noon). Foods like sugar, red meats, some nightshade vegetables like red bell peppers may have an effect on your rosacea. I recommend going to see a naturopath! :)

      Best, Sisley

  17. Brad Pitt says:

    Did you avoid any junk food and snacks in your diet?

    • Yes I avoided all junk food and snacking was kept minimal and clean, lots of fresh fruits and veggies, chia seed pudding, smoothies, homemade popcorn etc. No processed foods!

  18. Kay says:

    Thank you so much for this post! I have rosacea myself with pimples like red pustules pimples and started being careful with my diet and also drinking a smoothie with wheatgrass powder and spirulina powder as well. I hope it will eventually clear up I feel so horrible although I try to go makeup or should I say foundation free . I use this brand called REN skincare what do you think about it? Anyhow thank you so much ! Big cold kisses fromMontreal ! Xoxox best, K

    • Hi K ! Thanks for the lovely message. Oh yum, wheatgrass powder is so delicious. I actually am not familiar with REN skincare, but I’ll look into it. Love from Vancouver, Sisley

  19. Moumita says:

    I have cystic acne and regular large pimples. Struggling with acne for years and have been trying everything! Dermalmd Blemish Serum stinks, but only use it at night or when on extreme cases, under make up. It’s a blessing. Try!

  20. Arcadia says:

    Thank you for your post!!!! I actually have rosacea type 2 and I hate seeing the pimples spread and take over my face completely :( it bums me out. It spreads fk my neck and chest and it would spread more of o didn’t take antibiotics…. but I want to be healthier for myself I don’t want to be dependent on medications. Do you ever eat any animal product anymore? I let go or red meat but I feel soooooo so limited being vegan. I can’t just be pescatarian? Lol, help please :(

    • Hi! I personally am not vegan anymore – more on this here: https://thepurelife.ca/no-longer-vegan/ – I definitely encourage you to listen to your body. That means, if you feel like your body needs animal protein, then eat animal protein :) I always recommend QUALITY over quantity. Rosacea is super tough, but hang in there! Try to focus on alkalizing the body (getting in a ton of greens) and following the simple tips in this post. I hope this helps xx

  21. Gerald says:

    I’ve struggled with acne and rosacea since I used to be 11 years old and I’m now 30. I’ve always just targeted the acne however now not the rosacea piece of my skincare, however in the past few years I’ve tried several treatments to reduce redness with little luck. With the use of Dermalmd serum for rosacea within just a few weeks, I noticed a huge distinction in my skin!! I find that I rarely have to reapply to cover up during the day to touch up any red spots and if I do, it’s much less than before I started using dermalmd serum. I use it 2x/day – morning and night. One jar lasts me about 3-4 months, but totally worth the money!

  22. Jodika McKinley says:

    Question, would you say that living by the ocean made a drastic change? Cause I do everything you say, yet I break out. I live in a dry desert climate. However whenever I am costal, I seem to rarely break out…. I am seriously consider a move from prairie to coastal.

    • Hi, Jodika! This is actually an older post and was written prior to my holistic nutrition training. However, I personally notice a huge difference in my skin when I live near the ocean (and swim at least 1-3 times per week). If you have any more questions, feel free to email me at sisley@thepurelife.ca :)