As I write this blog post, I’m absolutely terrified that I spoke too soon and my acne is going to flare up again. Anyone whose suffered from acne, understands the toll it can take on your self esteem. My acne flared up again around June 2014 and was a steady nightmare until about April 2015. I “cured” my previous bout of acne using birth control. I was on birth control for 7 years and got off it around January 2014. I detail my acne journey and the side effects of birth control in a previous post here. After realizing in hindsight the impact birth control had on my body and the fact that it isn’t a sustainable option (if you ever plan to start a family), I was determined to finally fix this acne NATURALLY, once and for all. This meant, no prescription medication, no Accutane, but instead, trying to find the root cause. This approach requires a lot of patience, but I believe that’s what’s required for long term results.
I still have minor breakouts from time to time, but gone are the pimples popping up on my face every other day.
So how did I get rid of my acne naturally? I’m sorry to tell you, but there’s no magic wand or potion. To cure it, you have to take a holistic approach.
1) UNDERSTAND YOUR ACNE
When you are having a bad breakout, you tend to spend hours on google researching what to do. Through this research, I found myself gravitating towards face mapping. Most people have acne in certain areas. Mine was primarily on my cheeks. According to Chinese Medicine Face Mapping, acne on your cheeks is related to digestive issues. What was boggling my mind however was that I didn’t understand how I had digestion problems as I eat quite healthy.
Once you begin to understand your acne, you can then start identifying what is causing it.
2) CHECK IF YOU HAVE A THYROID PROBLEM
I recently found out that I have hypothyroidism (under active thyroid). This means that you’re prone to gaining weight due to your metabolism slowing down. I did notice that I was very lethargic, always cold and not regular. Despite having enough fiber and leafy greens in my diet, due to my thyroid, my body wasn’t breaking down the food. Once I started taking my thyroid medication and my thyroid levels began to normalize, I found that I was digesting my food a lot better and my acne began to clear up.
3) AVOID SUGARS & REFINED CARBS
If you suffer from acne, chances are your hormones are unstable and what you eat can really send your hormones on a joy ride. Sugar is horrible for you on many levels – it’s said to be as addictive as crack and heroine as it sends the same brain waves as do these addictive drugs. I now avoid refined sugar and only eat natural sugars – fruits/dates/etc. I indulge in dessert time to time, but not daily like I used to. Sugars and carbs cause spikes in your sugar levels, which triggers your body to make a burst of the hormone insulin to help your cells absorb the sugar. Clinical studies have shown that insulin may play a role in acne, where people who were put on a low glycemic load diet (low sugars and carbs) versus those on a high glycemic load diet, saw significant improvements in their acne.
4) AVOID DAIRY
Did you know, that we are the only mammal that continues to drink milk after infancy, and one that is from another mammal? Ever wonder why more and more people are becoming lactose intolerant? I believe that everybody has some form of dairy intolerance.
Milk is meant to grow babies, and as a result, is full of anabolic hormones – the sames ones body builders use to grow big muscles – which causes acne. Dairy is full of male sex hormones (various forms of testosterone or androgens) and increases insulin levels, similar to sugar and carbs.
5) BUY ORGANIC
We also have hormones in the foods we eat – especially in the meats. Try buying your meats from a local butcher where your meat is locally sourced and confirm that it’s hormone and antibiotic free. Even our vegetables and fruits are filled with hormones to help produce in masses. Buying organic can get very costly, so I recommend using a hiearchy. Always buy hormone and antibiotic free meats and then refer to David Suzuki’s guide of The Dirty Dozen & Clean 15 on what produce to buy organic.
4) TAKE A FOOD INTOLERANCE TEST
Even though you may not have an allergy according to an allergy test, you may be intolerant to foods. If you’re intolerant, it impacts your ability to digest and can have other impacts on your body. See a local Naturopath and get a food allergy test done to find out if you’re eating anything that your body is intolerant to. I recently found out that I’m highly intolerant to eggs and dairy – and boy was I eating a lot of it! By eating these things often, my body is unable to break down the foods, causing digestion problems and thus likely further aggravating my acne on my cheeks.
5) DRINK LOTS OF WATER
Detoxify your body by drinking plenty of water. Drink 2-3 litres of water daily. Our skin is our largest organ and the toxins have to be released one way. Acne is a common way for your skin to detox. Drinking water gives your body another way to detox.
6) GET ENOUGH SLEEP
Sleep resets your mind, body and soul. It aids in digestion, in balancing your hormones and helps with your stress levels – another huge cause of acne. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep every night.
7) KOREAN SKIN CARE REGIME
No amount of skin care will fix your acne, but it will help manage your breakouts and help with repairing your skin from the damage breakouts can cause. The Korean Skin Care Regime focuses on hydrating the skin so that your skin doesn’t produce more oils to keep it hydrated thus over producing oils and causing clogged pores and pimples. It also has steps that help with skin regeneration that help with blemish control. Once my acne had subsided, I found this regime really helped with smoothing my skin out, shrinking my pores and reducing the frequency of breakouts. For full details on this regime, check out a detailed blog post I did earlier here.