Like any skin condition, acne can be pretty gosh darn annoying. Date night? BAM, pimple. Period due? BAM, breakouts. Erryday? BAM BAM BAM.
But, also like other skin conditions, acne is usually a pretty good sign that something's out of whack within.
As we covered recently, acne is the most common of all the skin problems. Acne is characterised by the presence of blackheads, whiteheads (pustules), red papules (small red, bumpy pimples), nodules and / or cysts. And the problem can get worse because of what's happening both in and beneath our skin.
So, maybe it's time for an inside-out skincare overhaul? Yeah, probs. Here's how:
1. S K I N C A R E. Let's review your skincare regime. If you're wanting to get acne under control, there are three major boxes we want ticked.
Firstly, we want to kill any acne-causing bacteria. Natural options include Tea Tree oil, which has been proven to kill p. acnes (VIT - very important target), and LED light (we recommend popping along to Jolimont Skin Clinic or Mi:skn Clinic).
Second, let's remove any dead skin or other particles that could potentially cause our pores to become blocked. Physical 'scrubs' are a no-no - mainly because they can end up doing the blocking pores themselves (um, hypocrites much?), but because they can also cause more damage than they're worth by scratching and irritating the skin, worsening the problem. A liquid exfoliant, containing AHAs and BHAs, is the way to go!
And, finally, let's balance our skin and the oils within. I know...oil on oily skin, I must be craaaazy. But it makes sense. If we're tricking our skin into thinking it doesn't need to go batty and create excess oil itself, that's a pretty cunning plan. Jojoba is one oil that I love to use for skin complaints, as it's deeply nourishing and repairing, but also absorbed into the skin very easily as its buildup resembles that of our skin's natural oils so similarly. I also love to use Rosehip oil to prevent and heal scarring, and a little Coconut oil for its antibacterial properties.
2. S T R E S S L E S S. Stress basically causes stress hormones like cortisol to run wild in your body, causing inflammation - a major cause of acne. So you've gotta get that stuff under control, and ASAP.
Hormones like cortisol are triggered by a perceived 'fight or flight' response, and a lot of us are consistently in this state because of the busy lives we lead...even though we're not facing up to a lion all that often in day-to-day life. This 'fight or flight' response can be seriously enhanced by things like caffeine.
Yoga, meditation, breath work and journaling are all beautiful ways to calm the mind, and thus calm those stress hormones too - give them all a try, and see what works best for you!
3. B A L A N C E. I'm sure that at at least one point in our lives most of us have become familiar with hormonal breakouts (ugh!). They're pretty painful, appear around the mouth, lower cheeks and jawbone, and they're usually quite cystic. You know the ones. Yeah, well hormonal imbalances are another trigger for acne, and another important trigger to get under control. This means that a detox or dietary overhaul, a visit to your GP to review your oral contraceptive, or a trip to the naturopath to look at any issues surrounding your hormones, may be required. Drinking lots of water and upping your intake of I3C (that's Indole-3-Carbinol if you were wondering), which can be found in the brassica vegetable family (broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, we're looking at you), and maca is a good general starting point for hormone balance.
4. C L E A N E A T S. Bid gluten, dairy, sugar, fried and processed foods, and alcohol and coffee goodbye. I know, I know - changing your diet is pretty darn tricky. But keep in mind that beauty begins within, and that no so-called 'miracle' skincare product is going to work without addressing what's going on beneath the surface...and your diet is an incredibly powerful starting point. The above groups of foods are the root of evil primarily because of their ability to cause inflammation and hormonal imbalance - aka cause or worsen acne. So that overhaul might sound hard, but by gosh will it be worth the effort in the long run - eliminating even just refined sugars/carbs, trans-fats and iodine-containing foods can make a BIG difference!
Oh, and if you're not drinking your 2L of pure water each day - WTH r u doing, srsly?
5. S U P P L E M E N T S. Depending on the root cause of your skin woes - and I'd highly recommend seeing a naturopath to help work out what is going on in the murky waters below - there are some supplements that are generally very helpful for acne sufferers.
There's a high incidence of acne in zinc deficiency. Zinc has been proven to both kill acne-causing bacteria and reduce inflammation, and with so many people deficient in zinc there's almost certainly a place for it in your natural medicine armoury.
Probiotics are full of good bacteria to fight off the bad stuff in your gut, the hub of your body, and improving the good vs. bad bacteria balance here can have a huge, positive flow-on effect to the other areas of the body - including the skin.
Omega 3s and fish oils have great anti-inflammatory properties, making them a suitable supplement for many inflammatory conditions and for cases of acne or other skin concerns.
Oh, and Vitamin A (aka retinol) and E, plus Selenium? Also great!
Clearing skin can be a daunting task. But it's possible. Now go forth with your beautifully breakout-free skin, and knock em dead, kid!