Why for most women, focusing on eating habits rather than topical creams, is the difference maker for living a lasting blemish-free life.
You’ve tried every cream, serum, ointment imaginable – benzoyl peroxide with clindamycin antibiotics, or retinoid creams – which do work, but the pimples still come up. This is because we’re not fixing the problem by any means.
Before jumping to the next therapy, possibly considering Accutane or dropping a few hundred at Sephora (which really is the North Pole at Christmas for make-up lovers), I encourage you to do a full re-assessment of your gut health first – from the foods you’re eating, to how you’re pooping, and being honest with yourself about some of the unhealthy habits, like how much pop, alcohol, and sugary carbs you’re actually having.
When we consume too much sugar – baked goods, fruit juices, and even pastas and breads – we get a spike in two major hormones, insulin and the androgens. These are the hormones responsible for increasing oil and sebum production in the skin, leading to what we call open and closed comodomes (white and black-heads). Through this similiar mechanism of action, dairy, especially in the form of cows milk, can increase the severity and duration of acne. And if you’re not regularly exfoliating your face, we get a build up of those skin layers paired with excessive oil production with bacterial strains we don’t want (there are other strains we do want within probiotics) – we get the red, oily, and sometimes cystic acne.
Heres what you can do to live your best blemish-free life for the long run:
- Take a close look at your diet. Remove all refined sugars which inludes breads and pastas, and remove dairy, especailly cows milk, cheese, yogurt and butter (for now, anyways).
- Remove the alcohol. Or at the least, limit it. Depending on how severe your acne is, it may be worth while removing all together.
- Plenty of water, 2 litre daily baseline is the ideal goal for most.
- Follow an anti-inflammatory diet high in vegetables and quality oils like olive, and add in some supplements such as omega-3 fish oil, turmeric, or ginger.
- Food sensivitity tesing may be worthwhile, or following an elimination diet. Sometimes removing sugar and dairy alone isn’t enough, and other food sensitivities are the culprit.
- Exfoliate your face with a physical exfoliant brush or scrub, but still being relatively gentle as the face is a very sensitive area. Our skin is constantly creating new layers, and we get a build up of dead skin, which can excerbate acne as it traps oil and unwanted strains of bacteria. Physical exfoliate brushes are preferred over the commercially-sold face exfoliate washes with the beeds or pearls (avoid!).
- Consider using a homemade face wash and cream. We know that our skin is the largest organ in the body, and can abosrb anything it comes in contact with, including plastics and chemicals. By making your own face products, you know exactly what is in those, and it is one way to lessen your chemical exposure. I like using either grapeseed oil, olive or coconut as my face product base.
Re-allocate your money from serumes and creams to gut-healing foods and anti-inflammatory supplements, and that is where a real, long-term shift with acne will be seen.
Yours in health,
Dr. Alison Gottschalk, ND