How to Get Rid of Acne
I’ve been there, dealing with frustrating acne breakouts that seem to come up at the most convenient of times. I’ve tried every lotion and potion on the market it seems too, including topical prescription medications that only left my skin red, inflamed and peeling. I’m not sure what was worse - the acne or the looking like I had just baked my face in the sun.
Acne affects men and women, teens and adults. Some of us experience acne in our teens that may go away in our 20s, while others start experiencing acne flare-ups in their adulthood. Acne is estimated to affect 9.4% of the global population, making it the 8th most prevalent disease worldwide. While acne severity can vary, what is undeniable about this condition is that it doesn’t only affect the skin, it can also affect self esteem and quality of life.
If you suffer from acne and aren’t getting the answers you need to remedy the problem once and for all, here are my top suggestions.
Testing is Important (And Often Overlooked)
First off, I believe getting the proper testing done is incredibly important. I mean, we make a point of finding objective measures for other conditions (like testing iron, B12 and thyroid markers in someone who complains of fatigue, for example) yet it’s so common to see acne patients prescribed something and that’s that. No exploration as to WHY the acne might have flared up in the first place, just a quick fix by using whatever topical remedy or taking certain types of food out of the diet. While those things can be helpful, it doesn’t explain the ROOT CAUSE as to why someone developed acne and why it hasn’t been remedied yet. That’s where testing can come provide a wealth of information.
Your health care provider should always provide a well-rounded intake of your health. Acne isn’t just acne, it’s commonly related to other conditions or dysfunction in the body that needs to be taken into account when coming up with an appropriate, individualized treatment plan. Is there a nutrient insufficiency (low vitamin D is positively correlated with acne), hormone dysregulation or gut dysfunction? How much stress does this person have in their lives? This stuff can and should be tested for in order to come up with an informed, comprehensive and individualized treatment plan.
Appropriate Nutrition is Important
All too often I hear people being told that what they eat has nothing to do with their skin health. This is, in my opinion, a dated and old-school mentality that’s not grounded in the current literature. What you eat absolutely can influence the health of your skin. It may not exactly be X food caused Y, but X food influenced upregulation of a pro-inflammatory pathway that caused an increase in oil production and skin “sloughing” (aka hyperkeratinization), creating a breeding ground for bacteria to proliferate and cause acne! A mouthful…
There are a TON of anti-acne diets out there, maybe you’ve tried some of them. Having an appropriate, skin-friendly diet is important to set the stage for healing acne but it’s not the be-all, end-all of the treatment plan. It’s the foundation to build upon. I have some rather specific nutritional recommendations that I found were game-changers for me with clearing up my own acne as well as having been helpful for others. Backed up by the latest and greatest research in the functional medicine world, my Nutritional Skincare Plan is everything you need to know about appropriate nutrition for healthy skin. Added bonus, it’s also full of recipes to get you started. You can purchase your download at our online shop - shopregimenbyjcole.com.
Smart Supplementation Can Be Helpful
Again, I’ve tried with no success over the years with supplements to get rid of acne. It can become a very expensive venture when you’re testing things out to see if they’ll work. Less is definitely more when it comes to a supplement regimen for clear skin and what works for one person doesn’t always mean it’s going to work for another (remember why testing is so important? We’re all individuals so a cookie cutter plan isn’t going to work for every single one of us). That being said, there are a couple key products that I do think are worth adding into any anti-acne plan.
As I mentioned earlier, low vitamin D levels have been positively correlated with acne prevalence. And most of us living in a northern hemisphere are likely to be deficient in vitamin D. In one study, vitamin D levels were inversely correlated not only with acne but with acne severity as well, especially in patients with inflammatory skin lesions. Vitamin D deficiency has been shown to activate inflammatory cascades in the body, leading to an increased risk of inflammatory conditions. The world of vitamin D research is fascinating, now even linking low vitamin D to chronic low grade infections, which is also a relevant topic to acne but one that maybe I’ll save for another blog post…
The recommended dietary allowance for vitamin D for an adult is 800IU/day, with a tolerable upper intake level of 4000IU/day. While this is an appropriate dose that will not cause harm, it’s important to test your vitamin D levels to know if you’re deficient (in which case your health care provider should monitor and supplement you accordingly to raise your levels) or not. Vitamin D is fat soluble so taking too much of this vitamin can be just as dangerous as not taking enough.
I love vitamin C topically to help boost skin radiance and reduce skin redness. The stuff’s amazing when it’s the right form of vitamin C that will actually penetrate the skin and make a difference. Taking vitamin C orally also isn’t a bad idea for acne. Why? Vitamin C can help reduce facial redness by helpful to quench inflammation as well as strengthen capillary walls, reducing capillary “leakiness” and less interstitial swelling of the tissue. Vitamin C is poorly absorbed in your gut when taken orally, so it’s important to make sure you’re taking a liposomal form to enhance absorption.
In addition to helping reduce the inflammation associated with acne, vitamin C can provide photoprotection (ask in, protect your skin against UV sun damage) as well as support collagen synthesis in the skin - two things that are incredibly important for healthy skin aging.
EPA and DHA are the active ingredients of a fish oil. They’re both utilized in mitigating the inflammatory cascade, as well as helpful in supporting healthy hormone production, such as estrogen. When these two ingredients are combined with other skin-friendly products such as GLA, lutein and zeaxanthin, they create a winning formula to reducing redness and inflammation in the skin (also known as chronic low grade inflammation which is linked to advanced aging and poor skin tone).
My absolute favourite product for skin health is Bend Skincare’s Anti-Aging Formula. Not only does it provide an appropriate serving of skin-loving EPA and DHA but it also has those added goodies to further enhance your skin health, above and beyond what a typical fish oil would do.
Work on Managing your Stress Levels
Stress is, in my opinion, one of the most overlooked aspects of health and healing. About 80% of doctor visits are actually related to stress-related illnesses. It’s a big problem and one that we should be making the time to work on.
Skincare is no exception. Elevated stress can trigger inflammatory cascades in our bodies as well as set hormones into a jumbled confusion. When we’re stressed, our adrenal glands release cortisol and other stress hormones to elicit that “fight or flight” response we’re all familiar with. In the wild, a zebra would love this response in order to be able to run away from the lion. The fortunate part about the zebra’s situation is that once the stressful situation is over, so is the stress response and the zebra goes back to a “calm” state. As humans, we carry that stress. It isn’t just a momentary response for us anymore, it’s a chronic state of “fight or flight” that over time can influence other hormones like estrogen and progesterone, as well as our neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. Not only does this contribute to mood changes and increased risks for depression and anxiety but it can also be linked to other inflammatory conditions or conditions related to hormone dysregulation such as adult acne.
While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer on how to manage stress, I have a few suggestions that we can all give a try:
Journal daily. Writing out our thoughts as well as practicing gratitude journaling is a great way to cope with stress and negativity.
Meditate. Whether that be a sitting meditation or mindful movement such as yoga.
See a therapist. Seriously I think we all should. There’s no way any one person should have to figure out all that stuff going on in your head. We all need a little support and guidance to work through it all.
My passion for helping you gain clear skin doesn’t just end here. If you’d like to learn more about what you can do to boost your skin radiance, get started on a comprehensive slow aging (aka the 2019 way of saying anti-aging) plan or heal acne, join our mailing list for even more education and insight.