How to help acne naturally

You CAN get clear skin again – and you can help acne naturally. But first you need to understand what is going on under the surface…

What processes are taking place in acne?

  1. Hyperkeratosis” – keratin is our skin protein. When too much is produced, thickening and clogging of pores is the result
  2. Sebum-producing glands become over-active, making more, stickier sebum, which contains a different balance of fatty acids.Sebum is a perfect breeding ground for the anaerobic acne-causing bacteria ‘c acnes’
  3. Although we all live with c acnes on our skin, in acne we see a loss of diversity of bacteria with c acnes becoming dominant. Our immune system interprets the c acnes as “foreign” and fights it with inflammation

But WHY is this happening?

  1. What we eat. Too much starch and sugar -> blood sugar imbalance -> excess insulin hormone. This is one reason teens get spots, because we become naturally more insulin resistant in adolescence. Insulin presses the ‘accelerator” on a biological pathway which is associated with growth, including of oil-producing glands. More oil, different oil -> pore irritation -> hyperkeratosis -> breeding ground for c acnes. So healthy insulin levels are a must if you want to know how to help acne naturally!
  2. Over-washing and harsh skincare products. We need oil in our skin to create a healthy, acidic environment for good bacteria. Stripping the oil with harsh and drying acne cleansers, or by washing too often, can strip layers from the skin barrier and raise our skin’s PH, which promotes the wrong balance of bacteria/reduced diversity/formation of biofilms. Tap water is alkaline- even more so in hard water areas – and our skin needs enough time to re-acidify
  3. Imbalances in our gut bacteria. Poor gut health/the wrong balance of gut bugs -> chronic inflammation in the gut -> which passes into the bloodstream and affects everywhere: our skin is no exception! Rubbish diet, food sensitivities, antibiotics, some medications, stress, poor sleep all affect our gut bugs
  4. Not enough of key nutrients.
    Omega-3 fatty acids make skin cell membranes softer and more supple so they retain moisture better for plump ‘dewiness’. If you’re prone to acne – which is an inflammatory skin condition – it’s great because omega 3s are potently anti-inflammatory & will reduce redness.
    Zinc regulates activity of the oil-producing glands: ramping it up when we’re too dry, and dialling it down if we’re too oily. Zinc also helps clear infection faster (remember acne is an active infection). 

So…how come some people can eat crap and have perfect skin?

Unfair, right?! Ultimately, we are individuals. We all have our genetic weak link… or 2 or 3. It basically comes down to how sensitive our skin cells are to hormonal changes and other factors. Insulin is one of the ‘upstream’ hormones that impact our sex hormones (e.g. triggering production of more potent androgens like DHEA, which can causes excess sebum and the acne cycle).

But we CAN do something about it. I’ve never had terrible skin but I have always had some spots since my teens (so 20+ years!).

Here’s how to help acne naturally and how I finally got to a place I can be confident going bare-faced in public and feel proud!

5 key tips

  1. Wash less– once in the evening or max twice a day. Go for super gentle, natural cleansers and the right moisturiser. Don’t over-exfoliate – a couple of times a week is plenty
  2. Ditch the makeup except for special occasions.
  3. Cut the sugar and starch! Get most of your carbs from a rainbow of antioxidant-rich veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes & wholegrains
  4. Get to love oily fish. The ‘SMASH’ fish (sardines, mackerel, anchovies, salmon and herrings) and/or supplement with a pure omega-3 (EPA and DHA) formulation. I love ‘Ultra pure micro filtered EPA/DHA essentials’ by Pure Encapsulations
  5. Take a quality multivitamin with zinc, vitamin E and beta-carotene. I love the ‘Women’s Wholefood Multi’ by Cytoplan

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