If your skin is a really sore point at the moment my heart goes out to you, it truly does. I know how it feels to try everything and continue to wake up everyday with more blemishes, sore skin, deflated confidence and feeling like it is never going to improve. I prefaced the post with a picture of my skin make up free once it had cleared up because shortly I will post a picture of what my skin was like midway through 2016 and it ain’t so pretty.
Last year I took on a lot, I was training for a marathon, completing my final year of uni and trying to fit in work, classes and clinical placements, I was busting my balls getting my applications together for graduate positions, preparing for interviews, stressed about money, had no social life and was physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted. Stress did a real number on me, manifesting in a number of ways 1. With digestive issues (hence ending up on the low FODMAP diet), 2. Adrenal fatigue 3. Extreme changes in my skin resulting in continual break outs, rashes and inflammation for upward of 6months.
When I was in my most dire state, I was constantly searching for answers, constantly searching the internet for new things to try, all I wanted was options. All I wanted was to be able to fix the problem naturally without having to resort to prolonged courses of antibiotics, hormone replacement therapy or roacutain. Skin issues are complex, and you need to understand the root cause of your breakouts before you can effectively treat it, so enlisting the assistance of a professional should be at the top of the list.
Speaking of lists, I am now presenting you with a list of 50 things to try if your skin is having a crisis (YES 50) because whilst there is no be all and end all solution to fix troubled skin, a selection of these things may help you and/or benefit your current routine. Believe it or not I tried/implemented 46 of the 50 items on this list, and I would have done all 50 had I had the money. My skin issues, as mentioned previously were attributed to adrenal fatigue, impaired gut health and stress, so ultimately items on this list that targeted those areas where ones that worked for me. Some things listed below I still practice daily, others occasionally, and some I stopped, as they weren’t beneficial to my situation. I have placed them into the categories of; professional treatments, supplements, simple things you can do at home, stress management, products and diet. I know how devastating the effects of prolonged skin issues can be on ones self-esteem, and not only that, its damn painful and frustrating, so if I can help even one person with the suggestions in this post then collating it will have been worthwhile.
Disclaimer: Please note I am not a beauty therapist or skin specialist, everything in this post is listed here because I tried it in an attempt to improve my own skin. I have not read evidence based journal articles on each dot point and therefore cannot vouch for the scientific validity of every suggestion but I am merely offering them as avenues to be explored. Therefore, information on this blog is not intended to replace information from health/medical professionals or certified skin specialists. None of the products, treatments, supplements or equipment mentioned in this post is sponsored, all are items I used which were purchased with money from my own pocket. Also, note that the underlying factors contributing to skin changes are so vast and there are so many individual influences that come into play when trying to determine why your skin has thrown a tantrum so you must be patient and gentle with yourself. I know its not easy, and these are words you wont want to hear; but its not going to fix itself overnight. Invest in rest, invest in your skin, fix your skin from the inside out, get to the root cause, take care of all aspects of your well-being and you will start to see a change.
1. See a dermatologist or naturopath (Recommend if you’ve got the $$).
If you can afford to see a professional about your skin then I would urge you to do so, it may be a bit of an outlay at the beginning but by getting some qualified help you’re enlisting a professional support who can tailor treatments to your needs based on their knowledge from years of study and experience.
2. Find yourself a holistic GP (Recommend if you’ve got the $$).
To ensure that the underlying cause of your acne isn’t something that requires referral to a gynecologist, endocrinologist or other specialist to manage/explore. As I said in the disclaimer, there are MANY causes of acne flare ups, if you want to get to the bottom of it and ensure there are no imbalances or complex health issues triggering the acne, then you may need specialist assistance.
3. Try Chinese herbal medicine (Recommend if you’ve got the $$).
If neither of the above two float your boat maybe consider a Chinese herbalist, keep your mind open and explore all avenues.
4. Get a skin assessment performed at an accredited skin clinic (Highly recommend)
This is an important step to ensure that the products you are using are suited to your skin and are treating the appropriate issues. Having an assessment will ensure you are not spending bucket loads of money on products and treatments that are not tailored to your individual needs.
5. Lactic, glycolic and/or salicylic peels (Recommend if you’ve got the $$)
Glycolic acid helps decrease pigmentation and hydrates dry skin. Lactic acid is similar to but much milder than glycolic acid, making it better for sensitive skin. Salicylic acid seeps into oil secreting glands, dissolves oil secretions and loosens clogs which may be plugging the glands. (Source: http://www.dermatocare.com/blog/Glycolic,-Salicylic,-Lactic,-Mandelic-or-TCA-peel–which-one-is-best,-know-from-a-dermatologist).
6. Experiment with LED therapy (Recommend if you’ve got the $$)
The interaction of light delivered through Light Emitting Diodes is used to activate cell receptors and bring about cellular changes in your skin. Various wavelengths/colours are selected and each wavelength has a specific cellular function. Blue light is selected to kill bacteria assisting in the healing of acne and break out skins. (Source: http://www.soulskin.com.au/services/led-therapy/).
7. Dermal needling (Worth a shot if you’ve got the $$).
Skin needling works to stimulate a natural reaction in your skin to produce more of its own collagen.
8. Probiotics (Recommend if you have gut issues).
For peeps suffering gut issues, the use of probiotics will often improve acne (Source; http://www.worldhealth.net/news/probiotics-skin-health/).
9. Zinc (Recommend)
It helps heal and rejuvenate skin, skin relies on zinc for new cell production and the function of cell membranes, it may also ward off acne flare-ups (Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4120804/).
10. Vitex (Recommend if your acne is hormonal)
Effective in treating premenstrual acne by having a hormone-regulating effect that is thought to act on hormone levels in the pituitary to increase progesterone levels and reduce estrogen levels (Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92761/).
11. B Vitamins (Recommend if you’re vegan or vegetarian).
B vitamins help metabolise food sources, providing nutrients to the whole body. Vitamin B12 helps to regulate your skin’s pigment production and location, preventing the darkening of skin. B vitamin deficiency can result in skin irregularities (Source: http://www.myvitamins.com/articles/nutrition/beauty-benefits-b-vitamins/).
12. Magnesium (Recommend if you’re stressed)
Upping magnesium intake helps us manage stress and anxiety, and by doing so, helps us manage acne. Reducing stress and anxiety reduces circulating cortisol (the stress hormone) which can worsen existing acne (Source: http://www.clearskinforever.net/magnesium-acne/).
13. Silica (Worth a shot)
Silica acts to expel any buildup in the body, which is why it’s considered good for chronic acne, as this may be caused by an excess of toxins. Any condition that isn’t healing as fast as you’d like might be helped by a dose of silica (Source: http://skincare.lovetoknow.com/Acne_Granites_Natural_Treatment).
14. Grape seed extract (Worth a shot)
Antioxidants, including grape seed extract, help combat free radicals in the body which if unattended can cause oxidative damage to cells. Antioxidants help us fight viruses, allergens, and carcinogens and also have anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anti-cancerous and anti-microbial properties (Source: http://www.preventive-health-guide.com/grape-seed-extract.html).
15. Stress & Anxiety supplements (Highly recommend if you’re stressed)
As already mentioned above, stress can play havoc with your skin if you’re already experiencing breakouts. Stress & anxiety supplements will help manage worry, anxiety and nervousness by relaxing your central nervous system and keeping cortisol levels in check. I take Fusion Stress and Anxiety.
16. Marine collagen supplements (Worth a shot).
Collagen is one of the main building blocks for cells, tissues and organs. Collagen, amongst other things, gives skin its strength, elasticity and structure. Taking collagen supplements is thought to help support the skins ability to hold and improve its structure. However, there is no solid evidence that taking oral supplements is beneficial (Source: http://cosmedmd.blogspot.com.au/2012/09/collagen-supplements-do-they-really-work.html)
SIMPLE THINGS YOU CAN DO AT HOME
17. Ensure your skin in topically hydrated and don’t over cleanse (Highly recommend)
“It’s a common misconception that those with an oily skin should avoid moisturizers. In fact, it’s vital that even oily skin gets moisture because without it, skin will overcompensate for the loss of hydration [with more oil], leading to breakouts and an uneven skin texture.” ( Source: https://www.bustle.com/articles/24800-20-skincare-mistakes-that-are-damaging-your-face)
18. Change pillow cases regularly (Highly recommend)
Pillow cases act as sponges that soak up make up, sweat, hair products and dirt, and you press your face up against it for 6-8hrs a night. Over time this residue can irritate your skin and block your pores so get into the habit of changing it on the regular.
19. Buy new pillows (Recommend if you’ve had the same ones for years).
If you have had the same pillows for quite some time, consider purchasing some new ones, dust mites and other nasties can fester in your pillow leading to, or worsening, breakouts. (Source: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/08/28/keeping-pillow-too-long.aspx)
20. Facial Steaming (Worth a shot).
An old-fashioned remedy said to keep your skin clean and blackhead-free. By warming your skin to the point of perspiration it helps clean out pores and bring pimples to a head. (Source: http://www.bodyandsoul.com.au/beauty/news-reviews/steam-for-clear-skin/news-story/22ac49919ca71d8064b9b9b1962a13bb)
21. Have a make up free day a week (Highly recommend).
Give your skin a chance to breathe – sans makeup, & chemicals. “Avoiding occlusive skincare products, such as liquid foundations that tend to clog pores, can also reduce unwanted, non-acne skin breakouts,” says Kristel Polder, MD, board-certified dermatologist and skin care expert. (Source: http://stylecaster.com/beauty/why-you-should-go-without-makeup/#ixzz4fM1pIM97).
22. Use minimal products on your skin at the one time (Highly recommend).
Some days I was so desperate to see some difference in my skin I would cleanse it, put on a mask, exfoliate, then tone, then apply serums, then moisturize then spot treat, and if I was home, I would probably wash my face again throughout the day and then do it all again plus 3 other steps before bed. This resulted in further inflammation and aggravation, sometimes leading to very dry skin or rashes, so please don’t go overboard, be gentle with your skin. Keep exfoliation and masks to an every now and then activity, not everyday.
23. Wash make up brushes regularly (Highly recommend).
Bacteria can grow in your makeup brushes and worsen or prolong outbreaks, make sure you wash them regularly. Click here to see how to wash your brushes.
24. Do not touch your face (Highly recommend).
“While touching your face occasionally won’t automatically cause pimples, if you’re putting greasy fingers on congested skin, it will plug up your skin follicles and increase chances of breakouts.” ( Source: http://health.howstuffworks.com/skin-care/daily/tips/quick-tips-does-touching-your-face-cause-acne-breakouts-.htm)
25. Do not exercise with makeup on (Highly recommend)
It will clog your pores and potentially lead to breakouts or aggravate your current breakouts.
26. Do not go to bed with makeup on (Highly recommend)
Instead cleanse, tone, apply serums and/or a retinoid cream (if you use them) prior to bed. Going to sleep with a face full of make up will only clog your pores and irritate your skin.
27. Double cleanse if you’re wearing heavy makeup (Highly recommend).
The first cleanse is to remove the make up, second cleanse it to properly clean the skin. Research shows that skin which isn’t properly cleaned not only looks dull, due to a build up of dirt and dead skin, but that this surface layer can prevent active ingredients getting to where they need to be. (Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3220014/Why-wash-face-twice-bed-Double-cleansing-means-products-work-faster-effectively.html#ixzz4fMBsKEcY).
28. Be patient and persistent (Highly recommend)
It can take months for things to start taking effect, especially when you’re working on things from the inside out. Give each new treatment adequate time to start working before you dismiss it. I know its frustrating, but it will be worth it in the long run.
29. Understand how your products work and apply them in the correct order (Highly recommend)
“Products with heavier consistencies can block lighter weight ones from penetrating the skin and doing their job”. (Source: https://www.bustle.com/articles/24800-20-skincare-mistakes-that-are-damaging-your-face)
30. Alpha hydroxy acid facial towelettes (recommend if you’ve got the $$).
Along the same lines as the other acid based products I have discussed in this post. The ones I use are Dr Dennis Gross – Alpha beta universal daily peel treatments I only use them occasionally as they are expensive, but they are amazing. You can get a sample pack containing 5 treatments from MECCA which might be a better option than buying the large pack straight off the bat.
31. Drying lotion is your friend (Recommend if you don’t already have an effective spot treatment)
Mario Badescu’s Drying lotion helps dry out surface blemishes and balance oil in the skin, made with a blend of calamine and salicylic acid. I love it!
32. Use a simple all natural cleanser and moisturizer, twice daily (Highly recommend)
It is very much trial and error with what products are going to be best for your skin however I use Sukin Foaming Facial cleanser as its a gentle non-drying cleanser that does not irritate my skin and it is also free from harsh chemicals. I also use the Sukin Mattifying Facial Moisturizer as it is quickly absorbed and has a matt finish which I like.
33. Invest in serums (Recommend if you’ve got the $$)
“The most common benefits include hydration, increased nourishment, brightening of the skin, and acne prevention. They also help in strengthening skin cells. While other face creams contain only 5 to 10 per cent of active ingredients, a face serum can contain up to 70 per cent!” (Source: http://www.idiva.com/news-style-beauty/beauty-benefits-of-using-a-skin-serum/21026)
34. Benzoyl-peroxide (Highly recommend during very aggravated periods).
“Benzoyl peroxide has three actions – it kills germs (bacteria), it reduces inflammation and it helps to unplug blocked pores. You can buy benzoyl peroxide without a prescription at a pharmacy. It comes in different brand names and strengths – there is a 2.5%, 4%, 5% and 10% strength.” (Source: https://patient.info/medicine/benzoyl-peroxide-for-acne-acnecide-brevoxyl-panoxyl)
35. Switched to all natural & mineral make up (Recommend if you have sensitive skin).
Mineral based make ups contain added minerals such as zinc, titanium and silica, which are beneficial to the skin, with out the talc and parabens, which are not beneficial to the skin (Source: http://www.acnespecialists.com.au/treating-acne/skin-care-tips-acne-prone-skin).
36. Use a tea tree based toner (Highly recommend).
Tea Tree oil is known for its antibacterial, antiseptic and antimicrobial effects which work wonders in keeping angry skin in line. I use and love LUSH Tea Tree Water, it contains no alcohol so it doesn’t leave skin dry or tight.
37. Always wear zinc based sunscreen when outdoors (Highly recommend)
Some skin treatments, serums and products make your skin more sensitive to UV. By using zinc based sunscreens whenever you are outdoors you are not only protecting your skin from burning, but your skin will benefit from having zinc topically applied and it will also prevent premature aging.
38. Salicylic based facemasks (Work a shot)
Salicylic Acid helps stimulate cell turnover to curb breakouts. I use Origins Out Of Trouble mask – I found it good when my skin had settled a little, however when my skin was at its angriest adding this into my routine was a bit too much and it just ended up drying my skin out.
39. Retinoids (Highly recommend).
Treatments with retinoids and hydroxy acids encourage skin renewal to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and imperfections while evening skin tone. I use and love the Cosmedix Define.
40. Oral contraceptive pill.
When my skin first started playing up I decided to go back on the oral contraceptive pill to see if it made any difference to my skin situation. It didn’t, and I didn’t want to feel chained to the pill in order to keep my skin clear, if it did start working, so after a good 4months I stopped taking it. This is a personal decision and its really up to you to decide whether its something that you will benefit from or not. Everyone’s cycle, gynecological history and menstrual symptoms will be very different so there is no “one size fits all” for this topic.
41. Facial Cleansing Brush (Highly recommend).
The “Spin for Perfect Skin” facial cleansing device effectively removes dead skin cells on the face and body and promotes cellular rejuvenation at the same time. It allows for a deeper and more thorough clean than what is able to be achieved by using your hands alone and it gives great results. I use the Skin for Perfect Skin model from Vanity Planet - I’ve found the pressure and durability is really good, although I dropped my last one and that was the end of it…. so be careful with it.
42. Practice activities that promote relaxation (Highly recommend)
Researchers have found that wounds, including acne, are much slower in healing when a person is under stress. Slower healing of acne means that the pimples stay longer and are more susceptible to increasing in severity. Lower your cortisol levels (the stress hormone) by burning essential oils, walking outside, utilising meditation, using sound therapy, reading, immersing yourself in nature or doing any activity you find calming. (Source: http://www.healthline.com/health/stress-acne#overview1).
43. Swap some of your high energy/demand activities for more chilled ones (Highly recommend).
Because well…. you need to chill, give your body a chance to rest, recover and lower those stress hormones as above.
44. Drink more water (Highly recommend).
Toxins, bodily waste, and even bacteria can be trapped within your skin without adequate hydration to flush them out, which can increase your likelihood of acne (Source: https://yoderm.com/pimples/does-drinking-water-help-acne).
45. Cut or reduce dairy (Recommend if you have gut issues).
Dairy, even organic and varieties without added hormones, all contain natural hormones that can lead to acne. Remember, dairy only comes from pregnant cows, so you’re taking in the hormones from both the male and the female involved in the reproduction experience and the milk that is the result.
46. Give medicinal mushrooms a try (Highly recommend)
Medicinal mushroom aid the body in constructing a powerful immune system, promoting hormonal adaptability and generally bringing the body back to a state of homeostasis. Different blends provide differing benefits & I highly recommend Super Feast – my favourite blend is He Shou Wu, which aided my adrenal restoration (Source: https://www.superfeast.com.au/)
47. Up your intake of fresh fruit and vegetables (Highly recommend).
Fruit and vegetables contain powerful antioxidants that help fend off free radicals in the body that, as mentioned earlier, can cause damage to cells within the body. The wider variety of fruit and vegetables you include in your diet the more you will reap the benefits. See this link for a list of foods that are especially good for your skin.
48. Cut down sugar intake (Highly recommend)
Frequent sugar intake increases hormones that stimulate sebum production and skin cell growth. Inflammation is another critical factor in acne. Studies have shown acne patients have higher levels of inflammation than those with healthy skin. This depletes antioxidants and leaves the skin vulnerable to inflammation, making it more likely that you get acne. Increase in inflammation is the reason food allergies, gut problems, and some foods aggravate acne. Sugar is bad for inflammation. Indulging in sugar can also feed Candida overgrowth that may indirectly cause acne. (Source: https://www.acneeinstein.com/does-sugar-cause-acne/)
49. Incorporate bone broth into your morning routine (Highly recommend if you have gut issues).
Broth has a high gelatine/collagen content which supports gut health and the amino acids in bone broth help reduce inflammation. As the broth works to settle and repair the gut lining it allows good bacteria to flourish, enlivening the skin. Bone broth also provides the amino acids needed for collagen production. Collagen keeps the skin smooth, firm and reduces wrinkles. (Source: https://wellnessmama.com/23777/bone-broth-benefits/)
50. Sip herbal tea blends formulated help skin (Highly recommend)
Tea, which is rich in antioxidant properties, can help keep your skin hydrated, reverse the effects of UV damage, and reduce inflammation. (Source: http://www.womenshealthmag.com/beauty/teas-for-better-skin)
WISHING YOU THE BEST OF LUCK X