How to Deal with Breakout Prone Skin
Let me be frank here. Whoever said we all grow out of breakout prone skin was making a VERY bold claim. I’m 26 and am still waiting for the day when my hormones decide to grow up and stabilize. For most of us, our faces, bodies, and moods change throughout the month no matter what age we are, and unfortunately, no matter what creams we seem to use, acids we douse our faces in, or how many times we cleanse (triple cleansing is a thing now?! Girl…), we can’t get it all under control. Then comes the looking in the mirror and asking the heavens WHAT AM I DOING WRONG? Sigh.
I’m going to share with you my personal guide to dealing with rebellious skin that basically seems more in tune with the moon’s cycle than my own desires. Here we go. Number 1…
This is my way of staying ahead of the game. Prevention is better than retroaction when it comes to your skin. This is the way I think most people can and should eat cleaner:
~Eat things at the right TIME. In order for you digestive system to fully clean out by the end of each day, you need to not be piling food… on top of food… on top of food. You need to give your body time to fast overnight and fully process everything without producing buildup. Some Ayurvedic practices recommend eating in an eight hour window, two hours after you wake up to optimize digestion. For example, if you wake up at 9 am, eat at 11 am and finish your day of eating around 7 pm. It is recommended that you eat lots of fruit in the morning, very little or no caffeine, save your difficult to digest foods like grains, nuts, and plant based proteins for lunch, and have easier to digest things like vegetables and soups for dinner. Fruits take about 4 hours to digest, grains and nuts 18 hours, and vegetables 6. By the time you eat breakfast in the morning, you want to have fully digested everything from the day before.
~ No dairy. Dairy is very inflammatory and most bodies have a difficult time digesting it. This results in breakouts. You may not even realize it’s been irritating you until you cut it out and see how much better you look and feel.
~Drink lots of water. Blah blah everyone says this I know, but it’s true. In order to flush your kidneys, which remove waste from your bloodstream, you need to drink about 2 liters of water per day. If you don’t, toxins remain in your blood and your skin can break out and look irritated.
~Lower your salt intake. Salt can dehydrate your skin, making it irritated and puffy. When your skin is not calm, it can’t prevent or heal acne.
~Eat more whole foods, and less highly processed ones. I look at prepackaged, processed foods barely as “foods”, but as “products” being sold for profit. I think Mother Nature made foods perfect herself, so try to stay in the produce aisle for the bulk of your ingredients to properly nourish yourself. You may be staying alive eating things out of boxes and cans, but you probably aren’t thriving. Processed foods are stripped of many nutrients and enzymes that aid in digestion and are oftentimes acidic to the body, while we want to eat a primarily alkaline diet.
See an aesthetician
~Visiting an aesthetician (skincare specialist) is something a lot of women in the US don’t place a lot of importance on. We like to try to take things into our own hands. I mean, we have so many options in front of us for at-home skincare and we can test and try them and see what works, so what else could we need? Well that’s actually exactly why you SHOULD. We base our routine on what companies tell us they can do for us, and trial and error. We mix and match all kinds of ingredients and brands without getting an unbiased professional opinion. You might be using the absolute wrong products. Just because your favorite influencers use this or that does NOT mean you should put it on your completely different skin! Go get a professional recommendation. You do with your teeth and body, don’t you? Why not do the same with your skin?
~Schedule routine facials with your aesthetician. She will tell you what exact treatments you need and how often (I go once a month), but I recommend first getting a skin analysis and classic facial with extraction to keep your skin clean and clear. Don’t try popping breakouts yourself! Let the professional do it to clear the pore completely, and to prevent scarring and irritation. My personal “prescription” has been classic facials once/month with microdermabrasion to get my skin smooth and clear.
Be gentle with your skin!
~You may want to get aggressive with your acne/breakouts. Totally understandable! I mean duh you want it GONE. You may have seen or used ingredients like salicylic acid/BHA, which linger in many over the counter acne clearing products. But using these too often or in overly strong formulas can inflame your skin, dry it out, and actually make your acne worse. It’s the same with physical exfoliants. The last thing you want to do is over exfoliate and irritate your skin further. Make sure you use these in moderation and again, talk to a skincare professional if you are concerned with the results you are getting with products you find yourself.
Use high quality products.
~This does not just mean expensive. There are plenty of “high-end” products I would not recommend using. Many are made with glitzy packaging under brand name labels, but are packed with preservatives to last in the storage room of Sephora for 3 years. This is your face! Do you think ingredients that have been sitting there for YEARS are still going to be at their peak efficacy? Probably not. Seek out artisanal, honest brands that have expiration dates around 1 year from production. This usually means fresher, more potent active ingredients that do their job properly.
It could be your birth control
~ On the Nuvaring my skin was perfectly clear, but it heightened my anxiety, so I switched birth control about a year ago. I went with the IUD and it immediately obliterated my skin and hair. My hair fell out like crazy and it caused acne on my jaw and forehead. I almost stayed on it purely because it was excruciatingly painful to have it inserted, but I eventually had it removed (far less painful than insertion fyi). For me, it was a sudden change and I spotted birth control as the culprit almost immediately. On the contrary, have you been using the same birth control for so long you don’t even remember what life was like before you were on it? It’s possible that level of hormones could have been the cause of your breakouts all along. Oftentimes, birth control can improve the quality of your skin by regulating your hormones, but in some cases it can throw them out of whack. If you are having serious skin issues, it could be worth a try to change. Consult your OB/GYN if you have this concern.
I hope some of this helps you on your breakout prevention journey! I know how frustrating it can be, especially those really bad weeks. Just know that there are things you can do and professionals out there who care and can help you. I wish you the best of luck and want you to know that you are beautiful with or without acne, and that you are never alone! Thank you for reading.