5 Natural Hacks for Managing Acne
The biggest organ in your body isn’t your heart, stomach, liver of lungs. It’s your skin! Were you aware that human skin makes up about 16% of our body mass and takes up about 20 square feet of our body’s surface?
Your skin tissue is unique—it serves protective and nourishing purposes that benefit your entire body. The skin on your face, however, is a bit special: its various glands and pores create a softer and more sensitive surface. And it’s often the skin on our face that can make us feel self-conscious when acne and breakouts decide to show up to the party.
If you struggle with acne, you’re not alone. About 45 million Americans find themselves dealing with regular acne, and for many, this still happens after puberty! Acne can arise from hormonal imbalances, stress, diet changes, and more. Even if you’ve struggled with chronic acne, you can arm yourself with paths to clearer skin. In this blog, we’ve outlined five methods to zap acne naturally.
1. Drink more water
Increasing your CLEAN water intake is beneficial for nearly every facet of your health. Additional hydration aids your body’s daily digestive, immune, and circulation processes, and without enough water, toxins build up in the body. Oftentimes, these toxins are expressed through acne and stubborn breakouts. Even more so, if you find yourself with chapped lips or rough, dry skin, more water intake is the first step to managing dry skin.
A good rule of thumb for how much water you should drink requires a simple calculation. Take half of your body weight and drink that amount in ounces! For instance, for standard activity level, if you weigh 140 lbs, you should aim to drink ~70 oz of water per day. This comes out to about 4.5 standard 16 oz water bottles a day. BUT—more is not necessarily better as excess hydration can wash away precious minerals and lead to other issues not covered here.
And make sure the water you drink is clean. If you do not have a house filtration system, grab a tabletop one. This one has been third-party tested to be one of the best for removing contaminants and is quite affordable.
2. Keep yourself and your environment clean!
Good hygiene is key to healthy skin. Cleaning your face and body is core to a breakout free complexion, but ensuring different parts of your environment are cleaned regularly is also important.
For starters, gentle facial cleansers are great for healthy skin. Creating a 10-part skincare routine isn’t necessary to attain clear skin, but if you’re struggling to identify a cleanser that’s best for you, chat with your dermatologist or doctor for their recommendation. In the meantime, rinsing your face with water after any hot or sweat-producing activities is great for preventing acne. I’m a fan of the Environmental Working Group recommendations on skincare products as they rate products based on the level of how-do-you-spell-that chemicals. Here are several EWG verified facial cleansers that are gentle and effective for your baby face:
Additionally, keep tabs on the cleanliness of your pillowcases, makeup brushes, and cell phone. Anything that touches your face needs to be regularly washed for general good hygiene practices and to prevent acne.
3. Remove certain foods from your daily diet
Your gut’s health is one of the strongest influences on your skin’s health. Certain foods, such as processed, sugary, bad fat-laden foods and dairy, have been shown to increase breakouts. Typically, highly processed or foods with dairy create hormonal imbalances that are expressed in the skin via a new whitehead or painful cystic acne.
A simple way to figure out which foods may be triggering your breakouts is by doing short-term elimination diets. Go without the food which you suspect may be causing breakouts (continue to ensure you’re still eating enough food and have a balanced diet). If you find yourself with fewer breakouts after several weeks, it may very well be that you have sensitivities to that food which are expressed on your skin!
4. Eat more antioxidant rich foods and zinc
Antioxidants are substances that remove various oxidizing compounds like free radicals which can be harmful to your health. Common antioxidants are vitamins C and E, carotenoids, and selenium—many of these are found in everyday fruits and veggies! Zinc is a mineral which can function as an antioxidant as well.
When you eat more foods with antioxidants and zinc, you’re equipping your body with the resources to decrease the damage from free radical exposure. This is especially helpful for the health of your skin, as heavy free radical exposure contributes to general inflammation and can lead to acne. Research recommends increasing antioxidant exposure to decrease oxidative stress from free radicals.
Eat more raspberries, carrots, pecans, blueberries, spinach and grapes to increase your antioxidant load. Most fresh fruits (especially berries) and vegetables are great in this regard.
5. Manage your stomach acidity
As mentioned earlier, your gut health has a HUGE impact on your skin and what you eat shows up on the outside. This is especially important when considering your stomach’s pH level. Your stomach’s acidity is measured through pH, and when the pH gets too high (your stomach isn’t acidic enough to effectively break down foods), various digestive issues can arise. When the digestive system isn’t functioning well and toxins are building up in the body, we often see that in the skin.
There are a few simple ways you can manage the acid levels of your stomach. Having more fermented vegetables can be hugely helpful—try out some kimchi, sauerkraut or pickled ginger. And on that note, ginger in any form is a huge help. Grate it into your curry or make some homemade ginger tea. Ingesting a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or having lemon juice more frequently can also help with stomach acidity and consequently, your skin health.
Freeing your skin from chronic acne can sometimes feel like an uphill battle, but these small lifestyle changes can vastly increase your skin’s overall health!