So for whatever reason when the warm weather came I went from having mild acne to the worst cystic acne I’d ever had. It was all over my hair and jawline and even in places I’d never normally breakout like my nose. Although I still get hormonal breakouts on my chin I’m happy to report I’ve completely cleared my bout of cystic acne. It only took me two months using these 20 steps. I hope they help you too in your journey to clearer skin.
1) Cleanse Less
Cleansing too much will over-strip the layer of sebum your skin naturally produces. This can result in dehydrated skin which, in turn, causes more oil production and worsens acne. The beauty industry makes a lot of money out of convincing us that our skin requires constant management and upkeep. Our skin actually does a good job of maintaining itself. The PH balance of your skin is very delicate and disrupting it can result in overproduction of sebum, which leads to acne. So leave your skin alone and try cleansing once every day in the PM. Dry or sensitive skin can also be cleansed with just water. Your skin should not feel dry or tight after cleansing, if it does then your cleanser is too harsh.
2) Change Pillowcases Regularly
Dirt will gradually build up especially on the areas that you press your face against like your pillows. The oils from your face and hair will absorb and transfer back to the face when you lie down to sleep.The build up of this dirt on your face can clog your pores and cause acne.
3) Use antibacterial sprays
It’s important to clean anything that could regular come into contain with your face like:
- Mobile Phone
The very definition of acne is the clogging of pores. So exfoliation to remove the dead skin cells that can lead to clogging can make a massive difference. The best way to exfoliate is by using a chemical exfoliator. Physical exfoliation can often be too rough on the skin and fail to actually remove all the dead skin cells. Rough exfoliators and exfoliating washes often strip your skin too harshly which causes over production of sebum and worsening acne. If you use a physical I’d recommend a microfiber cloth. The most effective exfoliating products are chemical, a few to use on acne prone skin are:
- Salyclic Acid (Oily skin)
- Mandelic (Combination skin)
- Lactic Acid (Dry, sensitive skin)
- Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (Diluted with water)
5) Cut out Dairy
Dairy is one of the most common causes and aggravators of acne. This is because it contains a growth hormone called insuline-like growth factor (IG-F1) which is beneficial for babies and children and is found in breast milk. Research shows that this may have the opposite effect in adults by causing cells to grow and proliferate worsening acne . Dairy contains a large amount of insulin-like growth factor and this is probably the reason why there are so many testimonials that recommend removing dairy from the diet to improve acne.
6) Exercise Regularly
Excess sitting is associated with higher rates of anxiety, depression and disease. Since we know stress worsens acne it’s also worth knowing that regular exercise has been shown to decrease stress, increased energy and improve health. How much you move can also impact your lymphatic system, when it is backed up you can experience symptoms such as acne, dry skin, rashes, joint stiffness, lack of energy and brain fog. Exercise lowers cortisol levels, lowering inflammation in the body which, in turn, prevents acne.
7) Shower Daily
This might seem obvious but it’s important to shower daily, especially if you have body acne. You should also get out of your workout wear quickly after working out and shower after exercise or heavy sweating to avoid the clogging of your pores that can lead to acne.
8) Use a Shower Filter
Unfiltered water can clog the pores and lead to blemish prone skin or worsen your existing acne. “Hard water” basically means there are chemicals and metals within the water that can be tough on the skin. Getting a filtered shower head to remove chlorine, pesticides and bacteria from your water will keep your pores unclogged and prevent irritation.
9) Exfoliate Your Body
Exfoliating the body in the shower is the most effective way to reduce body acne. Make sure you use an antibacterial sponge or loofah, as sponges that hold in bacteria can make your acne worse over time. Soaps that mess with the skins PH can also make acne worse so avoid sodium hydroxide and use product that contain ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, dead sea mineral mud or activate charcoal to purisfy the skin without disrupting its natural balance.
10) Try L-Lycine
Traditionally people take L-Lycine for herpes and to keeps cold sores at bay. L-Lycine helps with calcium absorption, it produces collagen and elastin which aids healing of the skin. L-Lycine also produces antibodies for your immune system and helps with the production of hormones in the endocrine system, which can help prevent hormonal acne. It also helps enzyme production which aids digestion and absorption of nutrients.
11) Avoid Silicone Products
Silicones clogs up the pores as you sweat by creating a barrier on the skin. Although this barrier can be great for making sure makeup glides on smoothly, it can lead to the clogging of pores. So make sure you avoid products containing silicone and try to clean makeup off before exercise, especially if it contains silicone.
12) Get Good Sleep
Getting less than 8 hours of sleep can spike your insulin levels and lead to worse acne. It’s also worth trying to go to sleep and get up at the same time every day, I wrote an entire post on getting good sleep if you really want to know how to improve the quality of your sleep.
13) Get food sensitivity tests
Allergies are one of the most common causes of acne. Regularly consuming foods you are allergic to can cause bacterial problems in your stomach and can cause an array of systems that are often mistaken for lime disease or chronic fatigue syndrome. If you are someone who gets sick all the time or experience stomach pains then an allergy could be the cause of your bad skin and fatigue. It’s really worth getting tested for allergies and sensitivities for the sake of your own health.
Step 14) Get your hormones checked
Hormones and hormonal imbalances are a massive cause of acne. If you’re acne is mainly around your chin and jawline it’s worth getting your hormone levels and thyroid checked to see if the cause of your acne is an internal imbalance.
14) Improve Digestion
There’s a reason doctors refer to the gut as the root of all disease. When food goes undigested it spreads bad bacteria to the rest of the body and can cause disease. Your skin is an elimination organ so if your intestines are full of bad bacteria this can show in your skin. The theory in chinese medicine is that breakouts on the forehead suggest poor digestion, so if you have these or if you experience problems with your digestion then try to increase low stomach acids by:
1. Taking Zinc
2. Consume foods rich in fiber
3. Have Hot Tea/Drinks with Meals (Iced tea slows down digestion)
4. Avoid processed foods, refined sugar & soda (they inflame and weaken your intestines)
5. Avoid processed breads and pasturized dairy (they stick to the intestinal wall and build up)
6. Avoid antibiotics
15) Increase Digestive Enzymes
Several diseases can impede the body’s ability to release enzymes like celiac disease, Chron’s and diabetes. Even chronic stress can decrease the enzymes our intestine produce. Symptoms of enzyme deficiency include bowel troubles, skin rashes, acne, eczema, headaches and joint pain. Increase enzymes by:
1. Eating more raw (or lightly cooked) fruits and vegetables to your diet.
2. Drink a vegetable juice/blend in the morning
3. Chew your food (your gut has to work less the more broken down your food is)
4. Add ginger to meals
5. Take HCL Supplements
16) Drink Green Tea
Green tea is a proven antioxidant which is not just for all kinds of illness but also for acne. Studies have shown green tea has anti-cancer effects against breast and prostate cancers, these cancers are connected to IGF-1 and sex hormone levels that interestingly enough, cause acne. Epidemiological studies show that 3-6 cups of green tea per day show good results. Green Tea contains EGCG, a powerful antioxidant. Often bottled teas contain little EGCG and are high in sweeteners, I’d recommend sticking to brewing green tea bags or leaves. Brew tea longer to extract more EGCG from your tea.
17) Take Multi-vitamins
Although I’d recommended changing your diet to really see a real impact to your skin to your skin, it’s also good to add nutrients wherever you can. Taking supplements can ensure you are receiving all the essential vitamins such as vitamin A, B12, C, D, E, Zinc, and essential fatty acids like Omega 3, 6.
18) Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is a fantastic acne treatment solution. Applying 5% tea tree oil gel appears to be as effective as 5% benzoyl peroxide for treating acne. Tea tree oil works more slowly than benzoyl peroxide but is less irritating to facial skin. Apply this twice daily to reduce acne severity, results have commonly been found to appear within 45 days of consistent application.
This is my secret sauce, magic in a bottle, a miracle cure! Seriously though, Sudocrem does wonders for reducing the appearance of acne overnight. I apply it over any blemishes before I sleep and when I wake up my skin looks significantly clearer. Sudocrem smoothed sore of inflamed skin and is recognized for its healing properties, so no wonder it reduces acne redness and helps those nasty spots heal faster.
So those are my 20 steps you can take toward clearer skin. As someone with acne I know it can be a dampener on your self confidence. Sometimes acne is hormonal or even genetic so make sure you also see a dermatologist if your acne is impacting the quality of your life or your self-esteem. For me these steps helped me go from having moderate acne to mild acne, so I hope they help you achieve clearer skin.