Acne is something we all have struggled with at one time or another. It hurts, it affects our self esteem, and is not fun!
I like to say that most of acne can fit into one of two categories (or both!)
INTERNAL CAUSES: this would include hormones, liver detoxification issues, puberty, diet, stress, lifestyle, and more.
EXTERNAL CAUSES: superficial layer issues- includes skin care, pillowcases, sweat, makeup, and other causes that physically touch your skin
Let's start with Internal Causes:
We don't give our liver enough credit. Everything we put in and on our body ends up going through our liver. It's primary job is detoxification, meaning filtering out the good and the bad, breaking down different ailments, and so, so much more.
If your body is overloaded with chemicals, hormones, toxins, pollutants, drugs, then your liver is going to be overwhelmed. An overwhelmed liver, means not everything gets broken down. Not everything broken down means your body is going to try to get rid of it in another way. This is a main cause of acne, since your body could be pushing these toxins out through your skin.
A diet high in 'bad' fats, such as from inflammatory oils, can also lead to an overwhelmed liver. This can cause your oil producing glands to over compensate, leading to an over production of your sebaceous glands, leading to acne. The same goes for other inflammatory substances, such as sugar. A diet high in sugar is directly correlated to acne.
As stated above, one of the things your liver detoxes is your hormones. Having a hormone imbalance can lead to acne, because your liver is not detoxing your hormones properly.
The most common hormone imbalances I see that cause acne are:
High Testosterone (and other androgens, which are male sex hormones, found in both males and females). This is a main factor behind why we get acne during puberty.
Most acne caused by hormonal factors is around the jaw line, and is 'cystic', meaning they are deep, painful pimples that are difficult to pop. But, this type of acne can appear all over, too.
So, if your acne is internally caused, what can we do?
Find out what is causing it, duh! - running a hormone panel, doing a diet analysis, looking at other lifestyle factors, stress, etc. Finding out what is causing it will be the first step to fixing it!
Clean up your diet - consume a mix of: grass fed, organic meats, wild caught fish, organic fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates. Limit alcohol + other drugs. Vitamins A + Bs + C + D + E are all great for acne, as well as zinc. I love supplementing beef liver for skin care.
Support your liver - this includes: milk thistle, omega 3s, dandelion root, artichokes, while also decreasing your consumption of sugary + inflammatory fatty foods. This also includes adequate hydration with minerals!
Find ways to support your stress levels -Whether this is journaling, exercise, meditation, adaptogens, find something that helps your stress.
And secondly, the External Factors:
We need to be so conscious of things we are putting on our skin! I promise it will pay off in the end to dive into the ingredients in our makeup, skincare, lotions, sunscreens, and other products we put on our skin.
I like the app: Think Dirty. You simply scan your item and it analyzes the ingredients!
Don't forget, the skin is the body's largest organ, and absorbs what you put on it!
Take a second to ask yourself these questions:
How often am I washing my pillowcase?
Am I using a fragrant, toxic laundry detergent?
Am I washing my face before I go to bed? What about after the gym? Or after work? Do I sleep in my makeup?
Is my diet high in sugary foods? Trans fat? Do I eat a lot of fast food?
Am I constantly touching my face? Do I rest my hands on my face while at work? While sleeping?
Am I constantly picking at my skin? Do I scratch or rub at my pimples, potentially making them worse?
These are the type of questions I ask when discussing acne. Lifestyle factors, like above, can play a very important role in determining the cause of your acne.
Here are some of my top advice hacks for those with more 'externally' based acne:
Opt for a fragrance free, natural laundry detergent (Think about it, your clothes will absorb the fragrance, and could be irritating to your skin! As well as your pillowcase, towels, sheets, and other things that touch your face!)
Find a skin care routine that works for you, and DO IT! This includes washing your face, moisturizer, or other products (such as retinols, vitamin C, etc.).
As hard as it can be, try to break some of the above habits, such as picking at your skin, sleeping on your hands, or other habits that could be leading to your acne.
Analyze all of the products that go on your skin: face wash, lotions, shampoo, conditioner, sunscreen, makeup, and other products. You don't have to throw them out immediately, but if you find that some of the products you are using are pretty toxic, consider swapping them out once they are finished.
Too Long, Didn't Read - Acne is such a complex condition, that can have external attributing factors, internal factors, or both! By cleaning up our diets, supporting our livers, and getting to the root of the issue, we stand a good chance at decreasing our blemishes!