Owning a shop that curates the best in natural beauty means clients often come to me saying, “Help! Fix my skin!” After the number of years I've spent in the industry, one would assume I had the magic solution. Unfortunately that's not the case — problem skin takes time and patience to resolve and clear.
Acne, the more common and difficult condition to treat, is the one skin issue my clients have the hardest time with (probably because it can really wreak havoc on one’s self-esteem). Unfortunately, the stress that comes with feeling insecure can also be associated with an increase in break-outs. But wait! Relax. There are some simple measures you can incorporate into your lifestyle to help you achieve clearer and more radiant skin.
1. Take stock of how much dairy you're consuming.
How much dairy do you eat and drink? Not to vilify the cream in your morning coffee or that scoop of after-dinner ice cream, but food sensitivities and allergies (especially to dairy) often make themselves known as pimples on your face as your body fights to rid itself of substance that doesn't agree with it. Not only that, but conventional dairy products are often full of hormones (not to mention sugar) that can lead to acne.
You don't have to give up dairy in your diet, but if your acne is severe, think about whether it's more important to you to have clear skin or eat cheese. You can also try switching to non-dairy "dairy" in the form of nut milks and cheeses.
2. Check for diet sugar and processed foods.
Ask yourself how much of your food comes out of a box and how much of it you're actually chopping! Refined sugars and carbohydrates all promote inflammation in the body and can promote acne. Start a clean-eating regimen and incorporate hormone balancing foods that are rich in fiber, like nuts, seeds, cruciferous vegetables and leafy greens. All this extra fiber aids in eliminating toxins, and less stress on your liver means clear, healthy skin.
3. Simplify your daily skin care routine.
It's easy to assume the more products you use on your face, the better they'll work and the nicer your skin will be. But it's much more likely that your daily skin care routine is actually making things worse, not better. Of course you need to cleanse every day to remove bacteria, debris and dirt, but harsh detergents found in most conventional cleansers disrupt the acid mantel your face is so desperately trying to maintain.
Instead, try oil cleansing (yes, oil!) or look for natural ingredients in your products like lavender, witch hazel, green clay, chamomile and will bark. Steer clear of foaming agents like sodium laureth sulfate as they'll just strip your skin of what it's naturally producing.
4. Don’t skip the moisturizer.
This is a golden rule of mine for those seeking help clearing up acne. Though it might seem counterintuitive to add more moisture to skin that seems oily enough already, break-out prone skin is often actually dehydrated and the body is struggling to produce more oil to replenish what it's lacking. Help your skin by using a nightly moisturizer, preferably an oil as they have a molecular structure comparable to the sebum we naturally produce so they won’t clog pores. Look for serums that have jojoba or argan oil and have grapefruit, bergamot or lavender essential oils added.
5. De-stress in a way that works for you.
And finally, look after yourself! That includes incorporating stress-relieving activities into your daily life, like yoga, meditation, sex and baths. There's anecdotal evidence that stress is linked to an increase in acne but you really don’t have to twist my arm to get me to indulge in a bath. I love using the time to visualize what I am looking to achieve in my life.
Clear skin is attainable. Just be patient with yourself and the remedies you choose. Listen to your body and be confident that you can embrace these changes. You'll feel happier with yourself and in control.