Ever since I was a teenager, I have had to frequently battle acne. During my middle school and high school years, my acne was pretty terrible. I had huge pimples on my face, on my neck, and sometimes even on my back and upper arms. This did not do any favors for my self-confidence as an adolescent.
Now, as an adult, my acne is much better, but I still get breakouts. In my case, I think this is largely genetic, as my mother struggled with adult acne, as well. However, I have found that certain lifestyle factors make my acne better and some make it a whole lot worse. When I avoid the things that I know will make my skin break out, my complexion is much clearer.
The following are nine daily things that may be making you break out.
This one is definitely true for me. When I’m feeling stressed or anxious, my skin immediately freaks out and I find at least one new pimple — often more. The connection between stress and acne is scientifically established. For just one example, upon researching this connection, the authors of a 2003 study published in JAMA Dermatology wrote, “Changes in acne severity correlate highly with increasing stress, suggesting that emotional stress from external sources may have a significant influence on acne.”
Eating foods high in refined sugars may be making your acne worse. If you’re prone to acne and you often snack on cookies, cake, candy, baked goods and chocolate, you’re not doing your skin any favors. As the authors of a 2009 review published in the International Journal of Dermatology explain:
“Regular consumption of foods with a high glycemic index elevates serum insulin concentrations, which may stimulate sebocyte proliferation and sebum production, suppress SHBG concentrations and raise androgen concentrations, and contribute to acne.”
Processed foods often contain sugar (or it’s even less healthy relative, high fructose corn syrup). On top of that, they’re full of additives, preservatives, stabilizers, emulsifiers and other chemicals that can mess up your hormones and your skin. On processed foods, the authors of the 2009 review mentioned above assert:
“Two reports have suggested that acne prevalence increases as populations adopt a Western diet through migration or cultural change. Reports of northern Canadian Inuits made no mention of acne until acculturation with their southern neighbors and subsequent increases in soda, beef, dairy products and processed foods, after which the acne prevalence increased.”
If you’re allergic to a certain food, even mildly allergic, it may cause your skin to break out. Common culprits include dairy, wheat, processed oils and spicy foods. If your skin is breaking out and you suspect a certain type of food, try cutting it out of your diet for two weeks and see if your complexion improves. If so, you may wish to say goodbye to that food for the long haul.
Lack of sleep
Throughout my life, I have noticed that if I don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis, my skin starts to look pretty horrible. Sleep is important for every system of your body and it’s important for clear skin, as well. If we don’t get enough sleep, it’s been found that we experience significantly more stress. With stress often comes acne.
Chemical-filled skin care products
Many of those skin care products you find on store shelves are laden with chemicals. Some of these may actually make your skin worse and could encourage breakouts rather than heal them.
Chemical-filled hair care products
Many shampoos, conditioners and other hair care products are filled with chemicals, as well. If you use these in your hair, they can trickle onto your skin and clog your pores, potentially leading to breakouts.
If you live, work or drive in bustling urban areas, your skin is likely exposed to a lot of environmental pollutants. All of that smog and exhaust can get into your pores, leading to frustrating acne.
Popping your pimples
I admit that I am a frequent pimple popper and this is often my downfall. This extremely addictive habit is really bad for your skin. It can lead to scarring and can encourage new pimples to form. I’m really trying to quit popping mine. Taking it one day at a time.
How to treat your breakouts naturally
- Eat a plant-based diet of whole, nutritious foods from the Earth.
- Skip the sugar and processed foods and watch for any foods that may be exacerbating your skin problems.
- Make sure to get at least seven hours of sleep each night. For many people, eight hours is preferable.
- Take steps to manage your stress. Meditation, yoga and regular exercise are all wonderful ways to accomplish this.
- Get rid of chemical-filled face washes and moisturizers. Instead, use pure castile soap to wash your face, and moisturize with organic extra virgin coconut oil. I use coconut oil on my face and neck every day, and it works wonders. A little bit is all you need; rub it into your skin well so it doesn’t look greasy.
- After you exercise or are out on a hot day, wash your face with witch hazel.
- When showering, wash your face and any acne-prone areas last. Exfoliate gently with a washcloth.
- Don’t pop those pimples! Stay strong!
Do you have any other tips for reducing breakouts naturally? Please share!
— Tanya Mead