Acne. Sounds worse then nails on a chalkboard, doesn't it? Unfortunately it is one of the most common skin care issues both men and women suffer from. To clear acne is something I have been dreaming for loooong time. Today I will be telling you about everything I learned in attempts to clear acne. Keep reading to learn how to kick your acne's butt and put a shine back on your face.
When it comes to acne, age doesn't matter. Forget about the myth that acne disappears after puberty. Adult acne is the proof that often it doesn't go away or in may be it does, only to return worse than before.
I have put together knowledge and experience, therefore I want you to know that everything in this post is what worked for me and my body personally. I was doing my extensive research to help my skin heal but obviously I am not a doctor. Therefore I encourage you to do your research as well, and should you find something I missed - please share with me; I will be most thankful.
Ready to shine again? Let's begin then!
What Causes Acne?
If you are someone like me who has had acne for quite some years, you have probably come to the conclusion that hygiene doesn't have much to do with the appearance of your pimples.
I mean, this is usually the place to start with - make sure you wash and wash and wash... until your skin loose its natural acidity and reply to you with a backfire of LOTS of sebum. Sebum is the natural oils your skin produces to keep your skin moist and slightly acid. And like everything else, when balance is lost, problems are around the corner.
What does this mean? This means that washing your face too often or using cleansers that strip the natural oils of your face, leads to excess sebum production, and eventually to acne!
Although hygiene and skin care are a factor, they are surely no the main cause of acne. This realization came to me shortly after I had to deal with chickenpox (at the age of 28). Seriously? Like I didn't have enough pimples already! It was a horrible experience both during and after I had the virus. My skin was ruined. Scars, blemishes, wounds and acne.
My clear-acne products weren't showing much of effect so I began seriously to think about alternative measure I could take. My doctor advised me to do a cleanse and get a fresh start after the chickenpox.
That was I great idea, I thought. I did a cleanse and went beyond it. I started reading and watching documentaries about the link between foods and skin health. This led to a huge over-night change in my diet. I said to goodbye to animal products and decided to give my skin a fresh new plant-based start.
'Well, did it help?' - You might ask. You bet, it did! Well, the results did not come over-night. Luckily, I am one very patient person who got rewarded with clear skin and improved over-all health.
And that was my main founding - acne starts from within. Think about it. What is acne? Pimples, spots, blemishes... What is chickenpox then? Pimples, spots and blemishes..., signaling you that something in your body is not functioning well, that you have been infected by a virus. Hm... What about your acne then? What if it is showing you that something inside your body is wrong?
Determine The Causes of Your Acne
To clear acne you should know the cause of it
To clear acne is a step to take after you have determined what actually causes it.
Let's say you have dry skin and use foaming cleanser with sulfates. That is already too bad. Why? Well, your dry patches don't need more washing and drying (foam will strip moisture and natural oils) but instead - more hydration and nourishing.
Treating your dry skin with products that make it even more dry, will activate an emergency process of excess oil production (sebum).
And if you are starting to be confused here, let me picture it
You remember I said that sebum is good and you need sebum to keep your skin healthy and slightly acidic, right? So sebum is good, but as a Bulgarian proverb says (usually I don't like to use it, but it fits this occasion), 'Too good is no good.'
This means that too much of the good natural oils can be too bad for your pores. If you skin produce excess oils, they will most likely get stuck in the pores and clog them. And when they meet the acne bacteria recidivist, which I assure you walks freely and seeks its next victim, your next batch of pimples will be surely on the way.
My point is
Before taking any measures to treat and clear acne, you should get to know your skin type, eating habits, possible disease, hormone imbalances, presence of stress and over-all health. The easiest and safest way to do this is to pay a visit to your doctor. I promise, this is not a step you want to skip. Having regular dermatologist checks will help you cure and prevent your acne.
Determine your acne cause
Below I've put a list for you to check some the possible reasons for your acne. Please note that this is not a checklist so you can self-evaluate the cause yourself, but instead to encourage you to talk with your doctor and do lots of research.
How to Clear Acne
Now, to the good part. Below is all I learned and did to heal my skin. My acne was basically caused by eating the wrong diet, using commedonic products, not exfoliating regularly, using a thick, oily moisturizer (I have oily skin) and not drinking enough water. But enough about me, let's see what you can do help your skin feel and look great.
1) You Clear Acne with Diet
This is my number 1. I can't stress enough how important is to ensure you eat a healthy diet and nourish your skin from the inside out. This should be done regardless of your skin type and the cause of your acne. Supplying your body with nutrients, vitamins and minerals is the first step to take when dealing with acne.
Perhaps you have tried to clear acne with all kinds of over-the-counter products, only to find out that not long after, the pimples appear again. This is because by smearing your face in fight-acne products you are simply addressing the symptoms, and what you need to instead is to treat the cause.
The ancient Chinese believed that the symptom of an illness itself is not, necessarily, the illness, but the sign of a imbalance elsewhere in the body.
Often the pimples on your face are signals your body is sending to tell you that something is wrong. It could be that you are not getting enough minerals, vitamins or fibers; or that it's time to lower the consumption of sugar; or that rather acidic than alkaline diet.
Here are few thing you can do improve the quality of your diet and so the health of your skin:
Limit or avoid milk.
Milk cows are often given bovine growth hormone (BGH) to increase milk production. This means that milk they give contains the hormone too.
According to this study, when consuming milk, you risk to get your own hormones off balance. Oh boy, do hormone imbalances trigger acne! If you love to generously pour milk into your oatmeal, musli or cereal, try to substitute it with almond, oat or rise milk (they are delicious, I promise;)
Cut back on sugar.
Look, I am not saying you should never ever let sugar near your, but instead opt in for moderation. Try to substitute ad much of the sugar cravings you have with fruits or natural sweeteners like stevia and maple syrup.
Be aware that sugar is found everywhere - in ketchup, BBQ sauce, sodas and energy drinks, flavored yogurt, ice cream. Make a good habit of reading the ingredients list and strive to make good skin choices by choosing the natural-flavored desert over the added-sugar one.
Eat more greens.
Of course all vegetables are healthy and you can't go wrong with your choice. Greens though are something special. I know, you've probably heard countless times how awesome they are and that you should include them in your diet.
And here I am to tell you once again 'Eat your greens!' Leafy greens are very important for balancing your blood pH and skin. Make sure you consume spinach, kale, rucola or broccoli several times a week. They are rich in calcium iron, vitamins A, C, E and K, all of which so important for having smooth and vibrant skin.
Say 'No' to vegetable oils.
Here is a misconception: 'Vegetable oils are heart-healthy and should be your preferable choice.' Well, that is not really the truth. And don't get me wrong - I am all for the 'vegetable stuff'. The problem is that most vegetable oils are highly processed and/or hydrogenated.
Your body needs needs Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats in balance, preferably a 1:1 ratio. Most people consume a way higher ratio of Omega-6 fats, and this definitely has its consequences. Omega 6 fats are easily oxidized with heat or light exposure. This is when these fats are incorporated into tissue like skin cells, the heat and light from sun exposure can increase skin cancer risk.
Moreover Omega-6 are inflammatory fats and we know what this means - more acne. Not only are vegetable oils harming your skin, but too much of them can contribute to chronic inflammation. Instead, you can use organic coconut oil, almond oil, cold-pressed grape seed oil.
Sip on green tea.
Ok, where should I start? It's delicious, it's aromatic, it's cozy, it's healthy! Green tea, in all its forms and kinds, is high in antioxidants and this is your first reason to add it to your skin care arsenal. Antioxidants is what protects you from the harmful effect of free radicals caused by pollution and UV rays.
Moreover, thanks to its high content of polyphenols and their anti-inflammatory properties, the green tea reduces redness, swelling and irritation. Green tea will help you with treating acne and unclogging pores. It also contains anti-bacterial agents which fight against infection and give you smother skin.
2) You Clear Acne with Natural Skin Care (DIYs)
The skin care industry has a million products that clear acne. No brainer, right? Well, not really. See, acne-treatment products often questionable ingredients that do more damage than good to your delicate facial
I used to think that the higher price I pay, the better the quality I get. The price however is only an indication that the brand spends a lot on ad campaigns. On the ingredients label of most conventional products (regardless of their price) you will read: artificial fragrances, artificial colors, sulfates, phthalates, etc.
The worst part is that even religiously reading the label can't save you every time. Why? Well, some companies have 'trade secrets', meaning they are not obliged to list every single ingredient.
The good news is that you can just wander over to your kitchen pantry and with only a few natural ingredients, you can make a wide range of skin care products from exfoliating face scrubs and homemade face masks to cleansers, toners and moisturizers.
DIY Skin Care
It's not a hard task to sense I am a big DIY lover, practitioner and advocate. I have always had a thing for oils but I was using them once in a while, randomly and very illiterately. Not long time ago I had to deal with pimples, blemishes and scars from chikenpox. That was a 'great' occasion to explore the DIY skin care world and Pinterest was a great door to enter this world through.
I read books, blogs and studies, watch videos and tried a lot of delicious recipes. Some turned great, some not so great. Anyway, I ended up using ONLY products made with natural ingredients and made by myself.
Getting started with making your own skin care products could be overwhelming and pricey. However, once you get to know the oils and butters and clays, and supply yourself with a few basic ones, you will see that using them is easy, fun and in the long run cheap.
DIYs To Clear Acne
If I convinced you to give DIY skin care a try and to treat the stubborn pimples and clear acne for good, then check a few of my favorite natural, toxin-free, safe and effective remedies below:
Turmeric Face Mask - Treat Acne, Wrinkles, Spots and Dark Circles
Baking Soda Acne Mask – Get Clear Skin With This Simple Remedy
3 Simple Methods Rose Water Can Help Cure Acne
Easy 5-minute Rose Sugar Face Scrub For Smooth And Supple Skin
Easy DIY Green Tea Moisturizer With Mango- And Shea Butters
Lavender & Clay Detox Face Mask
3) You Clear Acne by Detoxing Your Environment
When it comes to skin-related issues and especially acne, experts encourage us to detox both body and skin. And with no doubt, detox is a great thing do once every 4 months. There are so many awesome detox smoothie recipes out there, to get your skin clean and glowing again. Check my 3 faves: the Turmeric skin-booster Smoothie, The Pink Goddess Smoothie for Gorgeous Skin, and The Glowing Skin Green Smoothie.
When talking detox, we focus on what we eat and drink. However, toxins are not only in our food and beverages. Here are a few things you can do to purify your environment and detox your life:
Wash your makeup brushes.
Half of the fight against acne is keeping the pores clean and shedding dead skin cells and the other half is reducing the amount of acne-causing bacteria on your skin. And guess what are your makeup brushes and applicators - they are bacteria magnet.
Most sponges are meant to be used damp, meaning you wet them before dipping them into your foundation. And by default sponges keep the moist inside them which ends up and developing bacteria and mold. Imagine tapping your face with something so abundant in bacteria.. every day. Yuck!
Therefore, they require frequent cleaning. Yes, that means every time you use them!
Change your pillowcase often.
When you sleep, you sweat on your pillowcase. This happens regardless of your skin type. Furthermore you shed dead skin cells on your pillowcase, which can be transferred to the facial skin overnight. See, that's gross! I try to change my pillowcases once every week, but you can do it even more often.
Bonus Tip: Use non-toxic detergent. To scent your bed sheets and pillowcases, use essential oils. Some of them are antiseptic and can help encourage a better night sleep and relaxation.
If you live in a country or state where the air is dry, the odds are that your skin is dry too and can't stay moisturized for long. Dry weather affects not only the skin - hair and nails can suffer too. For those blessed to enjoy the glorious climate of Florida, won't be a surprise to hear that humidity is a friend.
What humidifiers do is basically to mimic this climate and infuse the air with moisture. Turning on your humidifier before bed will help your skin remain hydrated during the nigh. Moisture and hydration in your skin is vital for soothing dried skin.
Invest in shower filter.
What you wash your face is important. That is why we covered the ingredients to avoid when choosing a cleanser and washes. So far, so good. How about the water you use to wash your skin. Show filters help you clean your water of heavy metals, chlorine, and bacteria. All of these can contribute to dry, irritated skin, which we know know leads to excess sebum production and acne-prone skin.
4) You Clear Acne by Moving and Sweating
'Nothing happens until something moves.' Same rule applies to your skin.
To clear acne, improve your circulation
To stay healthy, your skin needs certain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. If you don't supply your skin with these nutrients, your complexion will certainly suffer. And what can make this even worse is waste products and impurities not being transported away from your skin.
Luckily, regular exercising helps to prevent these problems by getting your blood pumping and encouraging a steady circulation which to supply the skin with nutrients, and to carry waste products and toxins away from your body skin.
To clear acne, sweat the impurities out
You might think that sweat makes acne worse but as long as you keep wiping it off your forehead and wash it off thoroughly after workout, sweating can actually help you kick your acne's butt. When you exercise, the sweat helps you get rid of toxins, support your liver and even fight premature ageing.
Tip: When you sweat, water leaves your body, so make sure you get a good amount of water beforehand.
5) You Clear Acne by Stress Management
We kinda accept that stress is part of our lives and often ignore it. Our bodies are capable of dealing with stress as long as it is not experienced too often or prolonged time. When stress becomes a chronic state, though, we are facing a major challenge.
When you are in a state of fear, anxiety, depression or anger, your body produces a hormone called cortisol. If you keep being under stress, you will keep producing this hormone which will take your endocrine system out of balance. And we already learned that hormone imbalances cause acne... big time. Couple this with the fact that acne itself is a stress trigger and here we have a vicious cycle.
So to clear acne you need to reduce stress. Here are a few ways to do it:
Practice Yoga and Meditation.
This post won't be enough to name all the benefits of getting into the routine of daily practicing both yoga and meditation. I will try to keep it short though 🙂 Talking from my experience, yoga and meditation can tackle stress by uplifting your mood and inviting mindfulness and self-compassion in your life. By regularly getting yourself to experience emotions like love, joy and gratitude, you will keep stress at bay. Yoga and meditation encourage you to prioritize yourself, to give yourself a break and to connect with God/The Universe/Your Higher Self.
Get enough sleep.
Sleep. It's like food and air - we need it. When you don't get enough sleep, your body produces cortisol. In the list of damages cortisol is capable of is damaging collagen, the protein that keeps skin smooth and elastic. Moreover sleep deprivation causes your skin to secretes more sebum, which usually results in breakouts. For some people enough sleep is 5-6 hours, while others can't start the day right unless they get at least 8 hours. Do whatever rocks your boat and make sure you get your beauty sleep.
Book massages and facials regularly.
I am guilty of this one. It seems that I never 'find the time' for a massage or facial. We are so busy and caught up in our jobs and responsibilities, that we often neglect our own needs. And yes, massage is a need 🙂 When you get a massage, your body releases serotonin and dopamine, also known as the hormones of happiness. Who says no to happiness, duh! So here is my encouragement for you, which is also a reminder to me: Book massages, woman!
I really want to stress that whatever change we strive for, we should remember one thing: change takes time. Seriously, don't get discouraged and demotivated because your acne didn't go away after 2 smoothies and 1 clay mask.
To clear acne takes time. If you adopt a healthy diet and sustainable skin habits, your acne should start to clear up.
Why say sustainable? Well, don't know about you, but I tend to get over-excited about new things and make big plans about how much things I am going to the 'right'. Unfortunately long to-do lists are such a turn-off for everybody. And the last thing you want with your clear acne promise is to send it to hell. So keep the things simple and be patient. Patience is a virtue, they say.
And a last tip from me in this post is to really observe and monitor your skin. May be you can keep a journal about the what you eat, drink and put on your skin. This will make it so easy on you to spot what triggers your breakouts.
Clear acne mission took me almost a year. I hope my post will motivate you to take action and help you take the right measures to get healthy and smooth skin (even faster).
Stay tuned and take skin care!