Carolyn Vinnicombe Yachanin struggled with cystic acne for years and tried Accutane and other harsh products to heal herself, not realizing that her acne was a result of interconnected internal issues, such as gut health and hormones. She made the choice to switch to natural remedies and see a practitioner that fit her own needs, which allowed her to learn much more about her body and lead a healthier lifestyle. Read more about her journey below!
Carolyn’s story is part of Rupa Health’s Be Your Own Healthcare Advocate series, where we share the stories of patients who take their health issues and wellbeing into their own hands.
What do you do for work?
I am the creator of Copina Co. and the National Sales & Marketing Manager at a wellness company.
What health issues were you experiencing?
Deep, scarring cystic acne that just wouldn't go away. It started when I turned 25 and went on for a few years afterwards.
How did you go about finding a solution? How many doctors/experts did you see during this time period? Tell us about your journey.
I went to my regular dermatologists and they wanted to put me on Accutane for the third time (I'd gone through tons of acne treatments including 2 rounds of Accutane as a teen). I decided that I'd had enough of the harsh treatments that just didn't work and wanted to explore natural remedies. I began learning about Ayurveda which taught me that whatever was happening on my skin was a reflection of an internal imbalance. I learned about connection between gut health, sleep, diet, hormones, and stress with your skin and wanted a doctor who looked at my health holistically. I found myself a naturopath who specialized in acne. Together we found out that the root causes of my acne were gut health and hormone imbalance issues and took action to solve the imbalances naturally. I also cleaned up my skincare routine and continued eating lots of greens and no dairy in my diet. Progress took time, but my skin slowly began to clear! Today, my acne is almost completely gone, but more importantly I've become a healthier me.
What does it mean to you to "be your own health advocate"?
To listen to your body and take an active role in your own health journey. It means doing your research, finding the doctors that are right for you, and holding true to the kind of treatment you know you deserve.
How long did you struggle before either getting a diagnosis or starting to feel better?
I struggled with acne for years as a teen.
Tell us about your lowest point. What happened, how did you deal with it?
I felt like nothing would heal my acne, no matter what facial or product I tried. When I got engaged, I was thinking about how I'd be on my wedding day. I knew I'd be a happy, confident bride no matter what, but I really didn't want my cystic acne to be there on that day.
What ended up being the most helpful resources or treatments for you?
I think that really cleaning up my skincare routine worked wonders for my face. I'm pretty type A and used to try to hack my way out of my acne with tons of products. That only dried out my face which created more acne. I fell in love with spirulina, matcha, and manuka honey yogurt masks and other natural remedies that helped balance the bacteria on my face while I balanced my gut health with natural remedies from my doctor. They also didn't dry out my face which allowed my acne to heal.
What was the most frustrating part of your journey?
I knew that I wanted to get my own answers and find out what the root causes of my acne were. I'd done my research and knew that I wanted specific functional medicine tests that could test my gut health, food intolerance, and hormones. My regular doctors flat out refused to give me a referral for these tests because they said that there was no connection between my acne and my gut health!
What was a high moment or a turning point in your journey?
It sounds weird, but honestly, finally finding out what was wrong with my gut health and hormones was life-changing. I spent years being prescribed harsh acne treatments based on hypotheticals and felt helpless when they didn't work. The knowledge of what was going on in my body gave me power.
How has this experience impacted or shaped your life today?
It helped me to discover my passion for sharing my own skin health journey and helping others explore wellness and clean beauty on my blog Copina Co.
How are you doing today?
Great! My acne is gone except for the occasional zit and I'm happier and healthier than ever.
What do you do to stay healthy today?
I try to get movement in and sweat each day. I keep a pretty consistent diet with lots of greens and clean proteins and try to laugh a lot and try out lots of new things!
Carolyn now runs Copina Co., a welcoming wellness community for women. There, she shares healthy recipes, lifestyle tips, and more.