Acne begins to haunt us in our teens and very often continues into our adult years. Why? Hormones play a part in their formation, but skincare, diet and lifestyle play the most important roles. To help you gain your best skin yet, we asked Bridget Carmady, Naturopath & Founder of Clémence Organics, to share her top tips for tackling acne.
- Acne is generally associated with inflammation and so your diet needs to provide anti-inflammatory benefits. The Mediterranean diet is perfect because it is high in antioxidants and has a low glycaemic index. It’s rich in whole grains, low in refined sugar (sugar is known for causing breakouts), contains omega 3s (e.g. avocado, olive oils, fatty fish) and is generally plant based.
- Increase your intake of foods rich in vitamins A, E, C, zinc and selenium. All of these nutrients have been shown to reduce acne occurrence and speed up the repair process.
- Reduce your dairy intake. Studies have shown that high dairy intake is associated with a higher incidence of acne (particularly milk and ice cream).
- Probiotics should also be added to your diet (e.g. kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchee, supplements). Good gut flora can help improve the absorption of key nutrients necessary for healthy skin, including zinc and vitamins A, C, D and E. It also benefits the immune system and is anti-inflammatory.
- Stress can aggravate acne because it affects hormone levels, particularly the key stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol has an inflammatory effect on skin and can contribute to flare-ups. To reduce stress, use daily stress management practices e.g. yoga, meditation, and breathing exercises. Exercise can also help regulate cortisol levels.
- Get some sleep! When you sleep your body goes into repair mode, increasing collagen and elastic production to repair damaged skin. Cortisol levels also decrease significantly as you slumber.
- Spend 10-15 minutes in the sun each day. UV light has been shown to reduce acne by killing bacteria known to aggravate acne. It also stimulates production of the all-important vitamin D, necessary to reduce acne occurrence.
- You want to keep your skin clean and remove excess oil, without stripping it and upsetting the natural sebum balance. To do this, cleanse with a natural cream cleanser, 1-2 times daily. Here's a tip to remember with cream cleansers, they are best applied to DRY skin and then wiped off with a moist cloth. A wet face will discourage the cream cleanser from adhering and doing its job due to simple chemistry - oil and water don't mix!
- It’s important to keep pH levels in check. After cleansing, spritz with a natural rose toning mist to gently astringe the skin and balance pH levels.
- You need to choose a moisturising product that is non-comedogenic (won’t block pores) and contains vitamins A, C and EFAs to help repair scar tissue. A natural face serum containing rosehip or jojoba oil, is ideal; since both these natural oils are ideal. Rosehip is particularly good for preventing scarring and helping heal blemishes, while jojoba is known for its antibacterial properties.
Exfoliation is also important to increase skin cell turnover and reduce scarring. Use a gentle exfoliant 1-2 times weekly.
Please remember, acne is a multi-factorial skin disease with many issues affecting its progression including genetics, reproductive hormone levels/fluctuations, stress, and barrier dysfunction. This article contains general naturopathic recommendations. Individual cases may require specific treatment measures so please seek medical advice if symptoms persist.
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