When I was a teenager, I was lucky enough that my skin was only really bad for a very short amount of time. It started with breakouts on my forehead, I quickly figured out what a godsend salicylic acid was to hormonal teenage skin, and that was the end of my acne. My teenage skin was impervious to sun, stress, diet…pretty much everything, it felt like. As an adult? Ugh. Sometimes I think my skin has more issues now than it did as a fifteen year old.
These days, using products meant to treat teenage acne don’t really work for me — in fact, they tend to irritate my skin horribly, just because they’re so chemically harsh. I’ve done a lot of reading on the subject (a holistic approach to health and beauty is one of my favorite topics!), and I’ve actually found that any time I’m having a flareup or breakout on my face, I can typically trace it back to one of five big time culprits. Curious what they are? You might be surprised…
1. THE WATER’S TOO HOT.
This happens to me a lot in winter time, when all I want to do is soak under a piping hot shower for as long as possible. The hot water feels great on the rest of your body, but it can wreak havoc on your sensitive facial skin. I often find that if I only wash my face with very lukewarm water for a couple days after a post-hot shower breakout, the blemishes go away like magic. I can’t take credit for discovering this trick though — during a facial, an aesthetician once told me that the kind of blemishes she noticed in certain areas of my face were likely due to water that was too hot. She was right!
2. NOT ENOUGH WATER.
Easily the tip you know about, but still won’t always follow. Drinking water is so essential to good skin, not only because it keeps your cells nice and plump and moisturized (like a plant!), but also because it’s necessary to help transport toxins out of your body in a timely manner. Your liver and kidneys and intestines can’t do their work as well when you’re dehydrated, so you end up retaining all kinds of chemicals, pollutants, and irritating things from your diet in your system, which manifests itself in your skin. Which leads me to the next point…
3. TOO MUCH DAIRY AND/OR REFINED CARBS.
Listen, I love pizza and pasta as much as the next person. But I find that when I overload on too many refined carbs, or too much dairy, or — worst of all — too much of them together (think several days in a row here), my skin absolutely pays for it. When I eat lean proteins like fish, shellfish, and chicken, along with TONS of veggies and fruit and TONS of water, I barely need to do anything to my skin at all — it just naturally glows. Easier said than done, especially lately as work has been busy and Joe and I grab takeout more often than not. But if my skin has been really bad, I find that doing a mini cleanse is just the ticket to reset it. After all, your skin is your largest organ and the way it looks on the outside just reflects what’s going on with your internal immunity. It’s kind of a good health compass, really!
4. LOTS OF INTERNAL INFLAMMATION.
Similar to the previous point, if your immunity is compromised and busy fighting a lot of different battles on your insides, it’s much harder for your skin to do its job properly. Inflammation is a complex subject that can be caused by any number of things depending on the person, their particular body, and of course, the environment they live in, but you should know that most of us have it to some degree (for example, bloating is a form of inflammation, as is cystic acne). Taking a super high quality fish oil tablet and eating a diet that alkalinizes the body can help with inflammation significantly. I find that if I stick to a great diet, combined with a fish oil tablet and some zinc (also good for your skin and immunity), my skin looks pretty awesome.
5. NOT ENOUGH MOISTURE.
Again, this is another big thing that happens to me in winter, and another tip I picked up from a skincare specialist. Oddly enough, if your skin is very, very dry, you can actually get terrible acne. What ends up happening is your skin goes into overdrive, trying to produce more oil to keep your dry skin hydrated. But, much of that excess oil ends up getting trapped under the skin and causes acne. As I transition into colder winter months, if I find myself with an unusual number of breakouts, I’ll try and amp up the volume and type of moisturizers I use (for example, I’ll use Weleda’s Skin Food at night in the winter, whereas it’s too heavy for me in summer. Even the pros swear by it!). Having this excess moisture topically applied to the skin often makes my blemishes go away — no harsh zit cream required.
What about you? What’s a surefire thing that causes a breakout for you, and how do you cure it?