Our Guide To Treating Acne Holistically
Acne can be an emotional issue for many of us. Breakouts of sore, red spots on our skin can cause not only discomfort but embarrassment too. The way we have come to see acne is as a message from our physical body - something is out of balance and acne is our body's way of sending an SOS. A message that's hard to ignore.
Rather than rushing straight in with harsh topical treatments, such as benzoyl peroxide or petroleum-based products, it's worth stepping back and considering what is out of balance. How can you get to the root cause of the acne to successfully treat it, balance your body and hopefully ensure that it doesn't return?
What Causes Acne?
Acne is a state of inflammation in the body, and it can be triggered by different things in different people - hormones, stress, gut dysbiosis, bacterial issues etc. Certain people are also more prone to acne than others when they make excessive amounts of keratin protein, which then clogs their pores more easily.
Some acne has a genetic factor, but by working on balancing your hormones, clearing your pores and eating a clean, organic, low-allergenic diet, it is possible to keep inflammation and acne under control.
Common Acne Triggers
- Food sensitivities can distress the gut and cause inflammation in the body, which can show up on your skin. Gluten and conventional dairy are the two biggest culprits, but eggs, nuts, nightshades, sugar and other foods can cause gut inflammation too.
- Coconut Oil, Shea Butter and Omega 6's oils in both your diet and in your skincare, can lead to acne and clogged pores. Avoiding an excess of hydrogenated seed oils and omega 6 in your diet, while also avoiding Coconut Oil, Shea Butter, Palm Oil and Seaweeds in your skincare is an important factor for maintaining clear pores. Choose skincare that won't clog pores.
- Hormone imbalances are becoming common on a frightening scale. Caused by sugar and starch-rich diets, processed food, medications, birth control, chemicals and plastics in our environment. Hormone imbalances lead to inflammation, insulin resistance and a whole heap of physical issues, including acne.
- Stress can trigger acne too, and as a society there is so much going on in our busy and often overwhelming world that everyday stress can play havoc with our skin.
- Surprisingly supplements that we are taking at overly high levels (more than 100% RDI) can also affect our skin. Watch out for Zinc, Vitamin D, Calcium, Ashwagandha, Biotin, B12 and Niacin, which can all trigger hormone surges and can affect facial and body acne, specifically near the chin and lip, under the jaw, by the ears, and even in the hairline. If nothing is calming your acne, it's worth looking at your supplement usage to ensure it's not playing a part.
Tips For Treating Acne, Holistically
Acne is not a lost cause, and nor does it require heavy, abrasive skincare or medication to get to the root cause and address the issue. Remember, it's an SOS from your body, a cry for help because something is out of balance, and is your body's way of getting your attention.
Very often it's healthy, mindful lifestyle changes that will help you get to the root cause of your acne while also improving your overall health, wellbeing and energy levels.
So where to start?
- Consider keeping a skin diary for a month or so. Write down what you're eating, what stresses are popping up, any medications or possible triggers that could be affecting your skin. You probably already have an intuitive sense of what could be underlying it.
- As food sensitivities are a major cause of skin issues, consider trying an elimination diet to find out which foods could be a trigger. We love Alejandro Junger's 'Clean Diet' and 'Clean Gut' books as well as Will Cole's 'The Inflammation Spectrum' book for getting started with elimination diets and detoxing.
- Consider testing your vitamin, mineral and hormone levels to see if there could be imbalances here that are affecting your health and skin. This can be done via your doctor with blood tests and will give you a fantastic starting point in terms of what you need in your diet and supplements too.
- Focus on managing stress in your life. This is easier said then done, considering the times we live in, but it is possible. Meditation, yoga, spending time outdoors in nature, keeping a gratitude diary, having daily spiritual and mindfulness practices etc. These will all help to manage stress. We also love using HigherDose's PEMF mats and Sauna Blankets, not only to aid healing and detoxification but for de-stressing too. Wim Hof's breathing techniques are also quick to do and are an excellent way to de-stress and calm the body and mind in just a few minutes.
- Ensure your skincare and make up routine is supporting healthy skin. Remember that blemished skin is already sensitive and inflamed so choose cleanly formulated products, and avoid using irritating and potentially toxic chemicals and ingredients, such as preservatives, synthetic fragrance and pore-blockers such as Shea Butter and Coconut Oil. Use tepid to warm (not hot) water when washing. Choose gentle exfoliants that help to clear away excess keratin production each day - go for gentle scrubs and friendly acid formulas. Using a combination of physical and acid exfoliants works best to tackle the excess protein and release the clogged pores. Ensure you don't spend too much time touching your face, that you always take off make up thoroughly before bed, keep pillows clean and wash your face off after workouts too.
We know that acne can be awful to deal with, and that it is something that can really hit self-esteem hard, but our viewpoint is that it can be solved naturally without harsh interventions that could further damage skin and hormonal health.
If you can work on establishing a health skincare routine and eat a nourishing, clean diet, and stick to these consistently you should see results quite quickly (usually within 3 weeks).
Should you not be able to resolve it yourself, we recommend seeking the support of a functional medicine doctor or holistic practitioner.
The products that we have suggested below are great for gently and effectively caring for your acne-prone skin and helping to cleanse and regenerate it without stripping.
DETOX AND SOOTHE
We also love HigherDose's V4 Sauna Blanket for deep detoxification, and their PEMF Go Mat for recovery and healing.