I still get the odd pimple and nine out of ten times, it’s during a time when unmanaged stress is high (which sometimes causes a chain reaction of poor sleep, not eating well, and falling off the bandwagon).
As you may know, acne cannot be treated only from the outside. There are a variety of factors that affect our skin – genetics, hygiene, skin care products, sleep, diet, hydration, exercise, stress, hormonal changes, food sensitivities, and more. So, you have to take care of your body inside and out in order to get clear skin, and that’s what my approach is with my patients who are coming in for skin and/or hormonal conditions.
Here are some lifestyle tips for clear skin:
- Take care of yourself and manage your stress/anxiety by doing something that you enjoy
- Get good-quality sleep
- Improve your digestion – your digestion and skin health are strongly connected!
- Nourish the body inside and out – your skin needs nutrients internally and externally to function and heal properly. I see too many women in my practise who are living off dairy, wheat, and refined sugars. It’s important to get lots of vegetables, healthy fats, fibre, and protein.
- Exercise regularly – good for circulation, hormones, and healthy blood sugar levels
- Optimize your hormones – hormones can affect your skin in a variety of ways such as increased sebum production, oiliness, dryness, acne, rosacea, change in elasticity, and more. And hormones themselves can be affected by so many things such as diet, sleep, stress, exercise, digestion etc.
Topically, here are some things I use myself and recommend to my patients regularly:
- Gentle moisturisers with nourishing ingredients such as sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, camellia oil, seabuckthorn seed oil, and oats. Oils are actually great for the skin since they have lots of vitamin and minerals, and they help lock in moisture; you have to pick ones that are non-clogging like the ones mentioned above. At night, I simply mix sweet almond oil or camellia oil with a drop of seabuckthorn seed oil to moisturise my skin. Opt for a gentle toner such as rosewater, helichrysum distillate, or good old green tea instead of witchhazel, which can be quite drying.
- Sulphoraphane/sulforaphane ointment on active acne. This is an antioxidant extracted from broccoli that protects against UV damage, decreases inflammation, and will help your skin heal quickly*.
- Honey-cinnamon-nutmeg paste for active breakouts. All these ingredients are antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory. Mix them all together so a dark paste is formed and dab on to the affected areas.
- Lavender essential oil for active breakouts. I opt for this instead of tea tree since it smells nicer, acts similarly to tea tree oil, but also calms the nervous system down and repairs skin tissue*.
- Frankincense essential oil for scars.
- Castor oil for active acne and acne scars after cleansing and moisturising your skin.
– For active acne, I take 2 drops of castor oil and combine it with 1 drop of lavender essential oil and dab this on the affected areas.
– For acne scars, I take 2 drops of castor oil and 1 drop of frankincense essential oil rub this into the scar.
I leave this on overnight and wash it in the morning. Take note that castor oil can clog pores but it is a wonderful anti-inflammatory.
* Sikdar S, Papadopoulou M, Dubois J. Cosmet Dermatol. 2016.
* Ben Djemaa FG, Bellassoued K, ouari S, El Feki A, Ammar E. J. Tissue Viability. 2016.