Acne is super annoying.
I had an intense struggle with it from ages ten (yes, ten) to eighteen, and I know firsthand the toll it can take on your confidence, happiness, and self-esteem.
And people who have never had to worry about it probably won’t understand.
I tried everything during those nine years: skin care systems (raise your hand if you have ever felt personally victimized by Proactiv), face masks, toothpaste, the works. The things that seemed like they should have worked absolutely did not.
So I dug a little deeper.
Finally I found some solutions that actually worked, because they went to the source.
1. Cut way back on dairy
This is a solution I found unintentionally.
For about a year in high school, I ate totally vegan. No cheese, no milk, no butter, no meat. Some of my reasons for that were health related, but I had no idea that it could be beneficial for my skin.
My face cleared up noticeably within a month. It became noticeable to me way before then, but around a month is when people started to comment on how much better it looked.
Nowadays I’m noticing that eating more meat doesn’t really have an effect on my skin, but eating more dairy usually makes me break out.
Turns out, there have actually been studies done on this matter. What they’ve found is that the inflammatory nature of dairy, combined with the added hormones found in cow’s milk and extra proteins added to skim milk, especially (seriously, if you struggle with acne, stay away from skim milk), means horrible, horrible things for your skin.
2. Get enough zinc
This little tip took me YEARS to find.
Zinc is important for about a million different functions in your body, but the one I want to talk about in this post is the treatment of acne.
Yup, zinc deficiency can mean worsened acne.
If you aren’t eating 10 servings of peanuts every day or getting a daily dose of oysters, you might have a zinc deficiency and it might be a good idea to consider taking zinc in vitamin form.
Don’t go overboard on this, because too much is also not good. You should aim to get about 9mg per day.
3. Don’t over-wash your face
This seems counter-intuitive, I know, but once a day is usually enough.
Try washing your face only at night and splashing your skin with some warm water in the morning to reactivate your cleanser and moisturizer from the night before.
4. Check if your skin care system is addictive
So many moisturizers out there these days are addictive, meaning that if you stop using them or miss a day…you’ll break out.
The first time I noticed this was using Proactiv, and a quick Google search told me that I was far from the only one. Every now and then I would miss a dose of Proactiv and my skin freaked out.
I noticed it again, this time in college, using Clean and Clear’s dual action moisturizer. I had it paired with Neutrogena’s oil-free grapefruit acne wash cleanser (which I still use today and super recommend) and I noticed that anytime I used any other moisturizer…I broke out. Hmm.
Nowadays I don’t trust any specially-made moisturizer at all. I had a friend with beautiful skin tell me that she just used generic, unscented body lotion as moisturizer. Now I do the same, and it works like a charm.
5. Take fish oil and a multivitamin
Fish oil sort of “fills in the gaps” for you nutritionally (to an extent, of course) if you are deficient in some area. Multivitamins do the same. I don’t take either of these every single day, but a few times a week will do some good things for your body, which will inevitably help out your skin.
6. Stay hydrated
This means more than just drinking water, although that’s super important.
It also means eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Herbal tea never hurts, either.
If you’re drinking a lot of caffeine, ask yourself if it might be worth it to cut back a little, since caffeine has dehydrating effects.
8. Sweat it out…but wash your face afterwards!
Getting in a good workout that leaves you with a sweaty face is REALLY good for cleaning your pores from the inside out, which can be awesome for acne sufferers since a huge cause of acne is clogged pores.
That said, sweat itself isn’t very good for your skin, so just make sure you have a way to wash your face soon after.
9. Keep calm
Stress is another one of the main reasons for breakouts. I know there probably isn’t a way for you to avoid stressful situations at this point in your life. They’re just inevitable.
What you can do is take some time, even if it’s just 5 or 10 minutes a day, and claim it as your relaxation time. Lots of people recommend meditation. If you’re a Christian, prayer is great during this time. Do some yoga, journal, think about what you’re grateful for, take a bubble bath, light some candles and listen to calming music–whatever “calm” means to you, do that. It will do wonders.
10. Make sure your foundation is skin-friendly
And a lot is not.
There are actually very few brands that I trust with the sensitive skin on my face. Here they are:
- Physician’s Formula
I will probably never buy foundation from anyone else, and even with those brands, I generally look for products that promise to actively help my skin, not just not hurt it. I’m also super aware of when I’ve had foundation for awhile. It’s the only makeup product that I actually replace in the recommended time frame. That’s because if you use makeup long enough, it starts to collect bacteria. And, oh yeah, BACTERIA is one of the main causes of acne.
If you couldn’t tell, I don’t trust foundation at all. 🙂 But that’s only because it can be the thing that has the biggest impact on your skin.
If all else fails, wait it out.
Chances are, if you’re reading this post you’re fairly young. Your acne will get better with age, as your hormones figure themselves out. I promise it will.
Or, if you tried all of the above and your skin still can’t get its life together, try going to a professional.
I know it’s tough, but you’ll get through this!
And in the meantime, remember that your beauty and worth don’t originate from clear skin.
Until next time,