I fixed my acne from the inside out, and outside in
Would you guess that the most popular post on Empowered Sustenance discusses my journey with natural acne treatments? My post How I Cured My Acne without Chemicals has been read by 2 million people to date.
I’m passionate about a holistic approach to acne, since my own struggle with chronic acne lasted a decade. Only when I addressed my skin through nutrition and non-toxic skin care did I enjoy a clear complexion.
This blog post discusses both internal and external solutions for acne. I credit much of my skincare knowledge to Michelle Ornstein, esthetician to the stars and founder of the organic skincare line Enessa. Michelle has been an Empowered Sustenance sponsor for 3 years now, and during that time, I’ve transformed my skin thanks to her holistic skin care products.
This post is generously sponsored by Enessa. Like always, it is my strict policy to only share content that reflects my genuine experience and I only recommend products from companies that meet my high standards for integrity.
Treat acne from the inside out
What I call the internal causes of acne primarily include inflammation and hormonal imbalance. The root problems behind these two chronic conditions vary from person to person, but share similarities.
1. Get your omega-3s right
You’ve heard about the importance to eat omega-3s, but do you know why these fatty acids play a crucial role in skin health?
Omega-3 and omega-6s are fatty acids that govern, at a cellular level, levels of inflammation. Omega-3s tell the body to anti-inflame, and omega-6s tell the body to create inflammation. In turn, chronic inflammation impairs detoxification pathways, hormone balance, and cell regeneration – all key processes for clear skin.
We need the capacity for inflammation and anti-inflammation, but modern processed diets, due to excessive oemga-6 levels and inadequate omega-3, create chronic states of inflammation.
Increase your sources of omega-3s from nutrient-rich foods including ghee and pastured egg yolks. Nuts and seeds can be healthful foods, but they do not effectively provide omega-3s. Check out my post 3 Things Everyone Should Know About Omega-3s for more information.
2. Identify and reduce sources of estrogen
In our chemical-laden, processed-food culture, we face an epidemic of hormonal imbalance. In particular, estrogen dominance arises when we inundate the body with excess estrogen, and the body can’t detox all the estrogen. Estrogen dominance is a primary root cause of acne.
Xenoestrogens are chemicals that look like estrogen. They attached to estrogen receptors, overburdening the body with estrogenic effects.
Common sources of xenoestrogens include:
- Plastics that leach chemicals into food
- Conventional body care products
- Conventional cosmetics
Phytoestrogens, found in plant sources, also attach to estrogen receptors. Again, they do not act exactly like our own estrogen. Research is highly variable on the health detriments and benefits of phytoestrogen intake. I do not recommend consuming foods high in phytoestrogens, particularly when struggling with acne. Men, boys, and young girls should use more care to avoid phytoestrogens.
Common sources of phytoestrogens include:
- Soy products
- Sesame seeds
The advice to eat a raw carrot daily may sound gimmicky, but I promise this isn’t like those flashy ads that claim, “Eat this one weird food and loose all the belly fat!”
On the topic of estrogen dominance, raw carrots contain a unique fiber that helps detox excess estrogen from the body. I’ve had many readers tell me that, by following the instructions for a daily raw carrot, their PMS has been greatly reduced (PMS symptoms result from estrogen dominance).
The carrot must be raw or coarsely grated, not cooked. Follow the instructions here.
4. Balance your blood sugar
Do you know the experience of desperately craving sugar, only to crash a few hours later after indulging? That is a clear sign you are on a blood sugar rollercoaster. When it comes to acne, the insulin spikes triggered by the sugar highs mean bad news.
First, the excessive insulin contributes to chronic inflammation. Second, this blood sugar rollercoaster eventually creates insulin resistance, which may increase estrogen dominance.
Steps for balancing blood sugar include reducing sources of refined carbohydrates, eating more healthy fats, and working movement into your lifestyle. Please see my post 10 Ways to Balance Blood Sugar Naturally for more information.
5. Get your lymph moving
Clogged detoxification pathways disrupt the balance of the body, fostering inflammation-causing breakouts. The lymphatic system is like the garbage disposal for the body, flushing toxins.
Like the circulatory system, it traverses the whole body. Unlike the circulatory system, it doesn’t have a pump (the heart is a pump) and relies on our own body movements to flush toxins. Special self-massage techniques and a process called dry brushing go a long way in supporting a healthy lymphatic system.
Read my post 10 Ways to Support the Lymphatic System for the instructions.
Treat acne from the outside in
Now that we’ve addressed the internal causes of acne, the external causes must be examined. Even with blissful hormone balance and a pristine diet, an ineffective (or non-existent) skincare regimen will often lead to breakouts. Topical skincare will not make much of dent in hormonal acne (rely on nutrition for that), but it goes a long way in reducing breakouts caused by clogged pores and bacteria.
The goals of an acne skincare regimen include:
- Unclog pores
- Clear acne by reducing inflammation on the skin
- Balance sebum
- Stimulate cell renewal
6. Cleanse and tone with active ingredients
The purpose of nighttime cleansing is to remove makeup and pollutants, leaving the skin fresh for its nightly regeneration. Morning cleansing gently removes the dead skin cells that have been replaced overnight, and dissolves excess oil.
I used to crave that squeaky-clean-skin feeling from facial cleansers, before I learned that the harsh foaming ingredients were stripping my skin of protective oils. Enessa’s cleansers remove impurities without stripping the skin.
The beloved Bergamot Purifying Cleanser features calming bergamot oil, along with Red Seaweed and Bladderwrack to stimulate circulation and eliminate toxins. Gingko Biloba and Roobios Leaf extracts are rich in minerals and aid in collagen production.
Toning is a chance to introduce highly active, acne-preventative ingredients to your skin. Don’t miss this opportunity! I adore Enessa’s Tea Tree HydraClear, which fights acne with anti-inflammatory essential oils and anti-bacterial herbal extracts such as goldenseal and Reishi Mushrooms. It also adds moisture, without feeling heavy.
7. Balance sebum
If you struggle with extremely oily skin, you may have experimented with every oil-controlling primer under the sun without success. I gave up on products targeted at excess sebum until I tried Enessa’s Juniper Sebum Control.
First, it contains active ingredients to combat acne, including an extract that has been shown in studies to reduce pore appearance and skin inflammation. Second, it includes a unique honey-based polymer that breaks up sebum on the skin. It doesn’t dry out the skin, but rather reduces the oily appearance of the skin.
8. Exfoliate gently
Exfoliation helps decongest pores and prevent breakouts. However, excessive and harsh scrubbing disrupts the delicate acid mantle on the skin. I love these two solutions from Enessa, which I use once a week.
- Seaweed Bio-Exfoliant contains mineral-rich Dead Sea Salts, seaweed powder and flaxseeds. It also works as a spot treatment, due to the anti-bacterial properties of the sea salts. I’ll dab it on a breakout and let it work for 5-10 minutes before removing it.
- Replenishing Moor Mask is incomparable to any other mud mask I’ve used… and I’ve used a lot. It works to restore skin pH, and leaves my skin baby soft.
9. Don’t fear the right skincare oils
If you’ve been battling oily skin, let me tell you something that may blow your mind…
Your skin needs oil. That’s why it produces oil! However, when we strip our skin of its natural oils – or when we mummify it with too much oil – we disrupt the delicate sebum balance.
The key for acne-prone skin is introducing non-comedogenic oils, in combination with other hydrating ingredients.
- One of my favorite Enessa products is the lightweight Seaweed Nourishing Gel-Cypress. Featuring tamanu oil, a true cell regenerator, along with neem and essential oils, it helps to control oil production and calms skin.
- Moringa Balance Elixir is another lightweight oil elixir. It absorbs beautifully, thanks to the balancing jojoba oil and skin-nutrient-packed moringa oil. Black cumin seed oil lends anti-inflammatory action.
10. Spot treat with anti-inflammatory ingredients
When it comes to treating existing breakouts, anti-bacterial essential oils in the proper formulation work like no other spot treatment. If you are sick of benzoyl peroxide drying out your skin, let me introduce you to the miraculous solutions from Enessa.
- Clove Acne Control is my holy grail skincare product, and the product which made me fall in love with Enessa four years ago. It specifically targets cystic acne. For me, it reduces the inflammation and redness of a cyst overnight.
- Rescue Blemish Control is a powerhouse anti-bacterial remedy for surface blemishes, featuring neem, jojoba and a blend of essential oils (such as Manuka, Tea Tree, Cajeput).
- Michelle formulated the Turmeric Blemish Gel as a spot treatment without the oil texture, and I love it. The pure herbaceous fragrance is enough to prove it is heavy-duty plant action in a bottle. Turmeric extract works it anti-inflammatory benefits on the skin, while additional anti-oxidant plant extracts purify, restore and refine the skin.
Have you used natural skincare and/or nutrition changes to treat your acne?