Acne advice can be so confusing. There’s an endless stream of acne information and products on the market these days and it’s difficult to navigate the truth. Acne problems can span many years, from teenage years right through to middle age. Hormones, diet, stress, medications, even hereditary influences can all trigger breakouts and acne.
As a clinical aesthetician who has treated many acne clients over my 25 years in the skin care industry, I believe acne is a symptom and my goal is always to dig deeper to see if we can determine the underlying problem. Everyone is different with a different history, so the way I treat acne is always individually based.
There are however, some tried and true tips that can help almost anyone with skin problems. Here are some of my favourites that will help keep your acne under control and help you on your way to a healthier complexion.
1.) Keeping your pores free of harmful bacteria
Our skin is our largest organ and it is host to trillions of bacteria. Some bacteria’s are very good for us and important for not only our overall immunity but also our skin’s immunity . These are the good guys and we need them to fight the pimple war! The bad bacteria’s such a propionibacterium (P.acnes) are pathogens and they use the excess sebum as food and like to live in plugged follicles (yuck!). This type of bad bacteria causes breakouts, pimples, cysts and infection.
Products containing alcohol, antibacterial based soaps, creams with synthetic ingredients or sodium lauryl sulphate are not acne safe. They can in fact, stimulate the skin to produce more sebum, reduce skin immunity and cause more breakouts.
What to do?
- wash your hands before touching your face
- Don’t pick your pimples, you’ll spread the bacteria-apply ice instead.
- Always wash your face at night with a gentle acne friendly skin cleanser and appropriate non alcohol based skin toner.
- change pillow cases and washcloths frequently. Bacteria love them.
- clean mobiel phones regularly.
Julie’s top products:
2.) Say goodbye to over the counter facial scrubs
These abrasive scrubs are sold as a great way to remove dead cells on blemished skin. NOT TRUE! They are harsh and abrasive and in fact only scratch the skin, causing irritation,discolouration and potential scarring. They also can open the pimples and spread bad bacteria to other areas of the face. If that’s not enough, they also strip the skin of needed hydration. Time to toss!
What to do?
- Opt for a gel based, non granular enyzme based exfoliant. This can be used twice weekly and will not only rehydrate the skin’s surface, but will effortlessly remove dead cells whilst sanitizing the skin.
- Treat your skin gently by avoiding scrubbing or rubbing the skin with towels. Pat gently.
Julie’s top exfoliating products:
3.) Hydration and purifying should be your priority.
Many acne sufferers think that adding products to their skin will generate more breakouts. Nothing can be further from the truth. Proper hydration is vital for all cells and tissues to renew and function properly. In an acne skin, when the water level decreases, the sebaceous glands (or oil glands) take this as a threat and will pump out more oil to compensate for moisture loss. Proper water based acne products that are infused with healing plants will calm, restore, hydrate and heal.
what to do?
- avoid any alcohol based products. These dehydrate immediately causing further irritation. Apply an acne based hydration gel or preparation focused on repairing and hydrating.
- drink 6-8 glasses of filtered water daily. This helps to flush the liver and kidneys of toxins and waste that the lymph system works hard to eliminate.
- Do not wash face in the shower. The heat from the shower, dehydrates and is very irritating to an already sensitive acne skin. Use cool to warm water only.
- Caffeine, alcohol and smoking are all stimulants and will cause dehydration in the skin. Avoid as much as possible.
Julie’s product choice for hydration and blemish repair:
4.) Time to tone
Toners are a necessity when fighting acne. A non-alcohol based toner is important in your daily skincare ritual as it ensures that all residue/makeup is removed and your skin is clean and hydrated. A good toner with active botanical ingredients will also work to reestablish the proper ph of the skin after the use of tap water.
what to do?
- After showering in the morning and after cleansing at night before bed, spray the appropriate acne based lotion to skin. Leave to dry and then apply other applicable topical products.
Julie’s top products:
Our food choices have a lot to do with our skin health but still some mainstream medicinal professionals say what we eat does not cause acne. Holistic doctors, who study functional medicine know that is simple not true. Today we know that food allergies, intolerances and sensitivities can cause skin problems. It’s not that a chocolate bar causes acne, it’s the sugar and all the additives. Sugar is inflammatory an causes insulin to spike and that in turn causes an increase in sebum production. All dairy products contain hormones. This confuses our own hormonal system which sets the stage for inflamed skin. Ready made meals, iodine rich foods; even healthy kelp can irritate an acne prone skin. Cakes, cookies, pastries, caffeine and alcohol are all substances with no nutritional value and in the end will cause more skin problems. Gluten can be a trigger for acne sufferers as gluten releases histamines in the body, creating inflammation.
what to do?
- reduce sugar intake, replace with healthier options such as coconut sugar.
- increase green leafy vegetables as these contain alkalising minerals that help heal inflamed skin.
- enjoy healthy proteins but avoid heavily saturated fats found in red meats.
- avoid eating high fatty foods like chips, fries and pastries etc.
- limit wheat and gluten and opt for spelt or buckwheat grains
- increase fruit intake. Dried fruits are ok sparingly.
- replace dairy with almond milk or coconut milk. Reduce all cheese.
- reduce coffee- it’s highly acidic, dehydrates and acts as a diuretic.
- ditch energy drinks- full of caffeine and sugar. A skin sin!
- green drinks made fresh are amazing for acne skin. They reduce inflammation and heal.
7.) Do you need supplements?
Often, acne can be due to nutritional deficiencies and if you’re not getting enough from your diet then supplements can be a great way to make these additions. The skin is dependent on proper vitamin and mineral assimilation and often hormonal imbalances, stress, medications and illness can deplete these reserves. The most valuable supplements for acne are Vitamin D, Vitamin B5, Omega oils, probiotics and zinc.
what to do?
- Take a Vit D supplement. Vitamin D contains peptides that support the immune system in fighting off acne causing bacteria. It also regulates and balances oil production. If living in climates with long dark winters, then a D supplement is very beneficial.
- Vitamin B5 supports skin health as well as supporting our nervous system. If stress is a trigger for your acne, than this vitamin should help.
- Omega oils support skin, heart and brain health. These fatty acids help to reduce excess oil production and help inflammation. While many omega oils are manufactured from fish, I recommend using plant base omega’s only. Choose a gamma-linoleic omega 6 oil, made from evening of primrose, sea buckhorn or borage.
- Zinc:- scientific studies show that people with acne have lower levels of zinc in their bodies. Zinc is an essential trace mineral and plays an important role in balancing your hormones and accelerates the production of Vit A in the skin. It also works as a natural antibiotic without destroying the gut flora. Best source of zinc for acne skin is Opti-zinc which contains zinc monomethionine, which has the best absorption rate. Always take with food and begin with 25/30 mg.
8.) How healthy is your gut?
I’ve left the most important tip until the end. For a permanent acne cure, we must go deeper than just addressing the bacteria balance on the skin. Our gut health and micro flora balance both have a huge effect on our complexion. Chronic low grade inflammation caused by past bacterial infections and virus’s, antibiotic use, chronic stress, improper diet and hormonal imbalances can cause a condition called leaky gut syndrome. The gut lining becomes compromised causing an altered digestive function and a possible overgrowth of bacteria and candida. This overgrowth can spread to the skin causing a build up of excess skin cells. This excess creates clogged pores and becomes a breeding ground for bacteria such as P.acnes (remember that bad guy?) to thrive which results in inflamed pimples and cysts.
what to do?
- Good bacteria are good for you. Increase probiotic rich foods such as kefir and fermented foods into your diet. (tip: follow Julie’s fermented food workshops)
- Add a probiotic supplement to your diet.
- healing bone broth is excellent for digestive issues.
- Have regular professional skin treatments implementing micro current and blue light therapy to heal and reduce inflammation.
- Sugar feeds inflammation-first in the body, then later on the skin. Be careful.
- Leaky gut syndrome is connected to acne. Do you also have digestive issues?
- focus on an alkalyzing, plant based diet. Think green!
If you or your teenagers suffer from acne or skin problems, help is available. If you are looking for a consultive, natural and therapeutic approach to healing the skin, contact Julie Jones. All acne treatments are customized to your skin and acne type.
This will include personalized home care products. Bi-monthly skin treatments, follow up phone conversations and email support, when needed.
My priority, is your healthy skin.