There’s no two ways about it, acne sucks. It’s even more embarrassing when you’re an adult and supposed to have grown out of it. The good news is that there is a lot you can do to heal and prevent acne without more creams, chemicals and trips to the dermatologist!
First, let me explain a little about WHY acne occurs so that you can understand better what to do about it. Basically, it works like this:
Clogged Pores -> Inflammation -> Bacteria invade
Usually what clogs the pores in the first place is sebum, or the oil that your skin normally produces to lubricate and protect itself. “Dirt” can also clog pores, this can be make-up, hair care products or even dirt on your hands if you touch your face in the same places all the time.
Once the pore is clogged, a local inflammation reaction happens. This is when the clogged pore gets red, swollen and pus-filled. If some bacteria decide to show up to the party, then it may get even MORE swollen and pussy. Ewww, right?
So now that you know the basics, you can start to see the problems with some traditional strategies for dealing with acne. For example, washing your skin religiously with harsh soaps and detergents may remove the dirt, but it also strips away the skin’s natural lubricant, sebum. In reaction to this your skin secrets even MORE sebum, leading to extra oily skin and MORE clogged pores. Taking antibiotics is another bandaid. It might get rid of the bacteria contributing to the issue, but since they aren’t the root cause of the problem, it doesn’t really fix anything long term.
So how do you get rid of acne naturally?
- Great skin is made from the inside out. Step one is to eat anti-inflammatory diet. Get rid of sugar. Nix common allergenic foods like gluten, dairy, soy and tree nuts. Build your meals around high quality proteins like wild caught fish, grass fed beef, lamb & bison, and pastured chicken and eggs, then round out the rest with PLENTY of vegetables. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to flush out toxins and and keep the skin hydrated. (You could noticeably improve skin quality just by drinking more water!!!)
- Stop washing your face with soap and water. Use something like the Oil-Control Method instead. With the oil-control method you apply a mixture of castor oil, which draws out impurities, and a carrier oil depending on your skin type. Use a hot, moist washcloth to work the mixture into your skin. Then, wipe off the excess and apply a moisturizing oil like jojoba oil. The reason this method works is because when you are no longer stripping away every bit of lubricant your skin makes,and instead moisturizing it, it doesn’t need to replace the oil and slows down production.
- Use natural skin care products with antioxidant ingredients. Have you looked at the ingredients on your skincare products lately? There’s probably a bunch of big, unpronounceable chemicals in it. They chemicals CAN and DO get absorbed by the skin into your body, so if you wouldn’t put it in your mouth, don’t put it on your skin. Not only do natural skin care products ditch the chemical nasties, but they often have fruit and vegetable extracts that are rich in vitamin antioxidants that help decrease inflammation. I love the Carrot Seed Primal Face products from Primal Life Organics as well as the Blueberry White Tea skincare line from Faerie Organics. (Bonus: the Blueberry White Tea moisturizer contains probiotics that help crowd out those bad-acne causing bacteria as well!)
- Manage stress! Stress increases levels of androgen (primarily male) hormones that can increase acne by turning up the rate of oil production. Stress also increases inflammation, which can exacerbate acne. Meditate, do yoga, seek therapy, spend time in nature, do whatever you have to minimize stress in your life!
- Get your hormone levels checked. If you are woman who tends to break out more around ovulation, this is when androgen hormones are high and increased oil production is a problem. This normal response can be even further exacerbated by too much insulin, which is another reason to eat according to the anti-inflammatory diet outlined above. If you tend to break out more in the week or so before you period, there is a problem with your estrogen-to-progesterone balance. In most women this will be the result of estrogen dominance, but you should have your levels checked in case you are one of those women who has too little progesterone.
- Sleep. Sleep deprivation only aggravates inflammation and insulin resistance. Combat both by making sure you get at least 7-9 hours of quality sleep EACH night. You may also want to consider changing your pillowcase nightly to make sure your pores are not getting clogged up with dirt & oils from your pillowcase.