Acne is the worst, am I right? Over the years the uphill battle with my skin has managed to on occasion ruin my mood, my confidence, pictures and even a date night or two. I know that I’m not alone in that though, as acne affects over 40 million Americans. And while there are dozens of lotions and potions that claim to be the cure-all to end all, it’s never the case. How do you know who or what to believe? There’s so much information shouting at you online, on your newsfeed and through the beauty aisles that it can be just downright overwhelming. It’s challenging. It’s stressful; and that itself can be quite criminal for the skin.
So let’s stop agonizing and start analyzing with a more natural approach.
The first piece of advice I want to give is to accept that there’s no overnight solution to fixing your acne issues. I don’t care what the back of any shiny, little bottle says. My next piece of advice is to know that the problem is often as much internal as it is external. You see, when we isolate the skin and try to treat it as an independent organ we end up disregarding a great deal of warning signs that may come from within. We’ll talk more on this later. Finally, and most importantly, don’t ever give up on your journey!
Just a little disclaimer here, I am not a dermatologist. This blog post is merely based off of my personal experience, which has included a ton of trial and error, countless visits to the dermatologist and spending thousands of dollars on “miracle” products and cosmetic laser treatments. What specifically works for me may not for you; because acne doesn’t have a straightforward diagnosis and treatment plan like that. As we’ll discuss, so many different factors can come into play. Ultimately, the answer to better skin is typically an overall approach to whole-body wellness. It’s just likely going to require some experimentation.
But before we jump into the best remedies, let’s first discuss the real causes of acne.
What causes acne:
What actually causes those pesky spots and lumps that we’re tempted to poke and pull at? Like I said, it’s not an easy explanation. But with some simple investigating you can more effectively find the answer to yours. A lot of times it’s due to genetics and the overproduction of oil, which clogs pores. However, there are also certain factors, within your control, that could be resulting in or exacerbating the annoying bumps. A handful of the most common triggers include diet, stress, hormones, gut health, medicines, beauty products and simply not keeping your face and the things that touch it clean enough.
From an internal perspective, acne occurs when an overload of heavy toxins overboard the body. You can actually look to face mapping, and pinpoint where your troublesome areas are, to get a more accurate reading on the cause. For example, if you’re prone to blemishes in between the eyebrows, it’s likely linked to your liver. This may mean you need to cut back on the nightly glasses of wine and instead increase your H20 levels and hours of sleep. My point? Learn to listen to your breakouts, as they will often tell you exactly how to keep them from coming back.
Simply put, acne needs to be treated from the inside out. Topical products can most certainly help to treat symptoms, but they’re only a quick and temporary fix. I think you’ll find that if this has been your only approach, they don’t stop your breakouts from continuously coming back (trust me, I’ve been there). This is because it is almost always a sign of a deeper imbalance. If you want a clear, smooth and glowing complexion long-term you must look beyond the beauty aisle.
Holistic ways to treat acne:
Cut back on dairy, gluten, sugar, and fried/processed foods. Well, for the most part. It’s a good idea to a do an elimination trial of sorts with these items for you to figure out which foods your body may not tolerate well. It could be as simple as making the switch from real milk to nut milk, which is actually quite a tasty alternative. And let’s be honest, eliminating these foods from your diet is overall better for your body and not just for acne.
Check your medicines. If you’re taking any prescriptions, read the label and talk with your doctor to see if acne is one of the known side effects. While I’m not saying to stop taking the medication altogether, knowing if it’s the cause will help you (and your doctor) to better tackle the issue and maybe look for alternatives.
Check your products. It’s also a good idea to go through what’s lining your beauty cabinets and your daily skincare ritual. Your face wash, makeup and even your hair products could be the sneaky culprits. In general, try to stick with products that use minimal, organic ingredients. Even with natural products it may take a few test-runs to find one that that’s a good match. So pay attention to what you are using on your skin and the ingredient/s that are clogging your pores and causing breakouts. Check the labels and do your research. The time is well worth the investment. For example, I personally can’t use any products with coconut oil in them!
Moisturize with organic oils. Products are important to keep those pretty pores hydrated and feed them some extra nourishment. I was always one of those people that stayed away from oils because I have naturally oily skin already. But I later discovered that they’re not all created equal. Oils are gentle (and you definitely need something gentile when your skin is angry), they are moisturizing and have amazing benefits including the ability to reduce scarring, protect the skin from sun damage and reverse signs of aging.
Personally, I love using pomegranate oil or rosehip oil to treat my occasional breakouts these days. Rosehip oil encourages cell turnover and is rich in essential fatty acids and vitamin C, which is a superstar for preventing premature aging. Pomegranate oil is super soothing and antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory, making it great for reducing redness and puffiness right away! You can read all about the different beauty oils out there, how to use them and the right ones for your skin type on this blog here.
Track your hormones. It unfortunately may be your hormones that are causing those breakouts. Do your pimples frequently pop up right around that time of the month? Are they commonly around your jawline? If so, definitely talk to your doctor about certain hormonal disorders it could be and/or possible medications like birth control that could help curb it.
Take probiotics. Gut health is so trendy right now. And your skin health is such a huge indicator of it. Seriously, if there’s an imbalance in your digestive system you will see it on your skin first. Keep your gut happy by including some probiotics in your diet. This could be through a supplement, kimchi, yogurt or kombucha beverages. There are lots of convenient items available!
Keep items that touch your face clean. Cell phones are a breeding ground for bacteria! We touch them all the time and put them everywhere. If you have a job that keeps you on calls often, consider using an earpiece instead of having it rest on your cheek all day. Be mindful about other items that your skin comes into contact with as well and make sure they’re sanitized. This includes things like your washcloths, makeup brushes and even your pillowcase.
Practice gentle exfoliation. Exfoliating a few times a week will help to fluff off dead skin and keep it nice and clean and unclogged. Moderation is key here though. You don’t want to over do it, or your skin will become dry and more susceptible to produce more oil! Be sure to follow up with a toner!
Never go to bed with makeup on. It’s probably been pounded into your head by now, but it’s true. Did you know that our skin actually rejuvenates while we sleep? It’s in major repair mode for all of the damage incurred during the day. So don’t make it work any harder, no matter how exhausted or lazy you may be feeling.
Do weekly masks. Masks are not only relaxing but great for your skin. So it is a win-win. You want to use masks that have anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, to help reduce the infection, inflammation and redness caused by acne. Avoid masks that are overly drying though and test to see your skin tolerance to them. One of my favorite DIY masks for acne is made out of honey, aloe vera gel and pomegranate oil.
Keep your hands to yourself. I admit, this one is hard for me. Just like our phones, our hands come into contact with a lot of things that aren’t hygienic. Unless you’re spritzing on sanitizer 35 times a day, and even then, make it habit to keep your fingers away from your face. This small and simple change could seriously make a huge difference. And no poking or squeezing any spots that do pop up. You could end up spreading bacteria or even break and scar the skin. Leave this to professionals, which takes me to my next point
Get regular facials. Facials increase blood circulation, clear clogged pores and allow for cells to heal and new ones to form. This is a sure-fire way to keep your skin in prime condition. Different types of facials offered may incorporate steaming, deep cleansing, extractions and healing masks. Your esthetician will know what’s best! Just make sure to find an experienced, holistic one that uses natural green products.
Drink plenty of water. Dehydration is the root to so many health issues. When it comes to the skin, it can cause dryness, tightness and fine lines. It can also lead to more oil production, buildup and irritation. It makes sense; water is the fluid that helps harmful substances move through the body, including those acne-causing ones that need to be flushed out. So drink up for glowing skin and to feel better overall. I personally find water to be very bland, so I like to add orange blossom to it. You could also infuse it with lemon, strawberries or any other fruit you like!
Exercise. Just like water, exercise helps to get toxins moving through the system, which are then eliminated via sweat. Getting your heart rate up can also help to increase energy, lead to higher quality sleep and give you a natural rosy glow. Exercise is also one of the very best stress reducers, which I’ve already mentioned can cause acne to flare up. Yoga and meditation in particular are great ways to incorporate some physical and mental activity at the same time.
At the end of the day, just remember that you are the only person who knows your skin and what works for it. It might take trial and error but it will be worth it. I just want to leave you with this thought, as with everything else in life the less and simpler, the better. Don’t try a lot of things at the same time and try not to stress about it because it will just make your acne worse!
What have been your tried and true methods to treat acne inside and out?