Got Acne? 3 Ways to Naturally Knock Out Zits
Generations ago, acne was mostly an adolescent nuisance,
tapering off after puberty. However, nowadays, acne is becoming a lifelong
affliction as more adults experience regular breakouts. So what's causing this
uptick in acne? Most dermatologists point to poor diet, stress, hormones and
the environment as culprits.
For many of us, relying on expensive prescription acne medications for the rest of our lives sounds very unappealing. So do the myriad side effects caused by conventional treatments: excessive dryness, skin irritations – even cancer and birth defects. Luckily there are a number of natural and effective ways to treat acne. Here are three ways to safely clear your skin.
Improve Your Diet to Battle Acne
Although many dermatologists still believe that there is no link between acne and diet, recent studies have indicated that what you put in your body often matters just as much as your topical skincare regimen. So what foods should you avoid? Many acne sufferers see great improvements in their skin by reducing (or eliminating):
- High glycemic index foods
- Iodine-rich foods (e.g. shellfish)
- Processed foods
A well-balanced diet filled with foods rich in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and Omega 3s will not only improve your skin, but also improve your overall health.
Avoid Acne-Causing Hormone Disruptors
Did you know the majority of acne sufferers are women? I suppose it's no surprise considering fluctuating hormones can wreak havoc on the skin. If your breakouts are primarily located on your chin, neck or jaw line then you most likely suffer from hormonal acne. Unfortunately, maintaining balanced hormones is becoming increasingly difficult in Western societies. Our daily lives are filled with endocrine disrupting chemicals* found in water, food, beauty products and more. So what can you do to reduce your exposure? Here are few simple changes:
Buy a robust water filter for both bath and drinking water. Tap water and water bottled in plastic tend to be filled with toxic chemicals that mimic hormones.
Trash beauty products with chemicals like parabens and phthalates. For a list of chemicals to avoid in beauty products, read Abe’s toxic cheat sheet.
Eat an organic, plant-based diet. Conventionally raised produce, meat and animal by-products are filled with endocrine-disrupting chemicals from pesticides, herbicides and fungicides.
*For a complete list of commonly found hormone disrupters, reference the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen List of Endocrine Disruptors.
Apply Anti-acne Plant-based Products
Surprisingly, many plant-based products have been found to be just as effective as prescription medications at treating occasional or chronic breakouts (including painful cystic acne). Plus they usually cost much less! Here are some natural alternatives to conventional facial products:
Essential Oils as Topical Treatments.
It may seem counterintuitive to add oil to an already oily, acne-prone complexion; however the antimicrobial, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties found in many essential oils, such as tea tree, tamanu, jojoba and clove are effective at treating and preventing breakouts, as well as reducing the appearance of acne scars. Caution: some essential oils need to be diluted before application.
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) Toner.
For the acne-prone complexion, ACV toner helps balance your skin's natural pH, which in turn normalizes the skin's oil production. ACV also helps dissolve dead skin cells, keeping your pores free and clear of acne-causing debris. To make the homemade toner, mix equal parts raw, unfiltered organic apple cider vinegar with equal parts filtered water. Store in a small bottle and apply to skin with a sterile cotton ball.
Honey Face Wash.
Google "honey" and "acne" and you're certain to come across testimonials from members of the "honey club," a.k.a. individuals who swear by the acne-fighting properties of honey. Not only does this sweet substance moisturize the skin, it also boasts antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that keep breakouts at bay. To wash with honey, simply moisten the face with warm water, apply a quarter-size amount of raw, organic honey to the skin and then rinse the sticky residue away. Note: Honey won’t remove makeup, so make sure to apply only to makeup-free skin.