Clean Beauty: Clearing Up Acne
Tips.. Tricks.. and SCIENCE on what to do when your skin just won't chill
I’ve been working a bajillion hours aka 70 hour weeks in order to finish projects by their deadlines. This had me running on caffeine, protein shakes and string cheese because that’s all that’s in our corporate fridge! I know, I know.. You’re shaking your head at me but you guys I’m human like you, I get busy and overwhelmed and personal care suffers. My dedication to my health took the back burner for the last two weeks and I can’t believe how much it showed up in my FACE!!!
My skin got super dry, I broke out with 3 craters I almost named but then thought that if I do they might just camp out and stay awhile. My skin is just not its normal dewy, glowy self.
I scheduled my usual facial with Jenny. (If you live in Utah, do yourself a favor and get her contact info from me. She’s a wizard) I went in and she immediately said
“Wow I’ve never seen your skin like this, have you been drinking caffeine?”
It felt like a punch in the gut because I’ve been drinking loads of all natural energy drinks, packed with caffeine. Like a few energy drinks a day to keep the creative juices flowing all. She also asked me if I started eating dairy again… yep you guessed it.. Jenny looked right into my soul and called me to repentance.
Currently downing a gallon of water, throwing back my pre+probiotics and chomping on a bowl of roasted veggies and greens. #Repenting
This blog post is what I WAS DOING to keep my skin super clear and dewy. As usual it’s backed by science and fueled with sarcasm. If you’re here, chances are you are struggling with acne but don't worry you're not alone, in fact you’re one of the 17 million Americans who have acne.
There’s loads of factors that contribute to the development of acne, including sebum and keratin production, acne-causing bacteria, hormones, blocked pores and inflammation.
I’m going to break down what you need to KICK TO THE CURB and what needs to be embraced with OPEN ARMS so that your skin will
C H I L L O U T !
Step 1: Elimination
One huge reason I have everyone start on my elimination, GUT REFRESH is because food sensitivity equals INFLAMMATION. In fact acne, at its root, is an inflammatory disease.
Supported by the fact that anti-inflammatory drugs, like corticosteroids actually work as a treatment for severe acne and the fact that those with acne have elevated levels of inflammatory molecules in their blood, food sensitives is not just your tummies enemy but also your skins.
How does an inflammatory molecule get in their blood? LEAKY GUT! The root of almost all autoimmune issues.
Food sensitivities occur when your immune system mistakenly identifies food as a threat and launches a full blown attack on it. Your body now thinks that's an enemy and goes fully mama bear every time you eat it.
How elimination diets work is it restricts the number of foods that are most commonly trigger foods. On my GUT REFRESH, I took it a step further and included only low FODMAP foods to help level up your healing. After elimination then you systematically add foods back into your diet while tracking your symptoms and looking for patterns.
On my LEAKY GUT POST you can see a list of tests to take as well. THIS ELIMINATION STEP IS HUGE! The number one thing I’d recommend if your acne is a product of your diet.
Sorting out food sensitivities through an elimination diet is my number one, MOST IMPORTANT advice in eliminating hormonal or gut related acne.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news because trust me, I like my ice cream just as much as the next girl but many studies have found a strong link between milk products and acne!
Two studies found that young people who regularly consumed milk or ice cream were four times more likely to suffer from Acne. Insert my sad face here.
There are different theories on why exactly…. one is the extra hormones may interfere with your own hormones creating acne then the antibiotics pumped into dairy may kill the bacteria that is fighting off acnes bacterium and also milk is shown to increase insulin levels which effects blood sugar, worsening acne!
Cow’s milk contains amino acids that stimulate the liver to produce more IGF-1, which has also been linked to acne.
Safe bet? Eliminate or seriously reduce your consumption of dairy and if you’re like me you’ll see that acne clear right on up!!
When you eat starchy carbs, grains and sugar/fructose it creates a surge of insulin and the insulin-like growth factor IGF-1 that I talked about earlier with cow’s milk. This can be a huge contributor to acne.
I’m talking all grains.. Oats, corn and wheat to name a few. IGF-1 creates skin cells known as keratoniocytes which can lead to acne and as a growth hormone it can lead to an excess of male hormones, like testosterone, which causes your pores to create loads of sebum, that oily stuff on your fact that attracts an acne-promoting bacteria!!!
Grains also have prolamins which help protect the grain go in and come out the same but in the process tearing your gut up. These prolamins can make your gut more permeable, which allow partially digested proteins to get into your bloodstream.
This my friends is LEAKY GUT. Once that damage is done you’re more susceptible to all manner of gut bacterial components which can compromise your immune system. A compromised immune system can also lead to an uptick in acne.
Hormonal acne can be a sign of excess insulin from even the least likely culprit, caffeine! Reduce or cycle down your caffeine consumption and see if that helps reduce acne. Caffeine hits your adrenal glands hard which can in turn up your androgenous induced acne.
As if we weren’t stress enough, coffee just makes it worse. In fact, a large cup of coffee can more than double your body’s stress response. It’s not that stress causes acne, but it for sure makes existing acne worse. When you drink caffeine it triggers a stress response of hormones, such as cortisol. This will increase the amount of oil produced by your sebaceous glands. Most people with acne have oily skin but I’m that rare one that has dry skin with random breakouts. I’m going to give you skin care recommendations for both skin types!
Studies also show that those who drink caffeine may also get less sleep. Sleep means more biological stress, which could make your acne worse!
Cycle off of caffeine and see if it helps your skin then if you must reintroduce it then just take it slow and pay attention to your pores. Check what you’re adding into your coffee if that’s your drink of choice because sugar and creamer can also be a contributor.
Excess Added Sugar:
One study found that peeps who frequently consumed added sugars
had a 30% greater risk of developing acne!
Refined carbohydrates are absorbed quickly into the bloodstream, which rapidly raises blood sugar levels. When blood sugars rise, insulin levels also rise to help shuttle the blood sugars out of the bloodstream and into your cells.
However, high levels of insulin are not good for those with acne.
Insulin makes androgen hormones more active and increases insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). This contributes to pimples popping all over your skin by making skin cells grow more quickly and by boosting sebum production!
This is the type of acne you commonly see on the chin and jaw line.
On the other hand, low-glycemic diets, which do not dramatically raise blood sugars or insulin levels, are associated with reduced acne severity.
Step 2: Introduce
Omega-3’s are anti-inflammatory, so when you down these on the reg you’ll be about to reduce your risk of developing acne. What’s S.A.D is our Standard American Diet which includes loads of inflammation causing Omega-6’s. Rumor has it that celebrities eat salmon the entire week before award ceremonies. I like to imagine this is true because #science says that Omega-3's help reduce skin inflammation.
Probiotics are the key to a healthy gut and balanced microbiome, which is linked to reduced inflammation and a lower risk of acne development. They may also help with reducing Acnes Bacterium, the bacteria that can be responsible for most acne! Fun but gross fact is that Acnes Bacterium feeds off of human sebum. Battling the oil through food and the bacteria through probiotics is the perfect duo for fighting acne.
“You aren’t what you eat.. You are what you digest.”
If your food isn’t digesting at the right pace then you might have fermenting food ooozing from your pores. #GROSS
This is obviously a super simplified way to put it but you want to make sure you’re body is breaking food down correctly and at the right pace so that it doesn't sit and rot. Take a full spectrum digestive aid like Digestwel+ to make sure you’re body has what it needs to break down your food, reducing digestion caused acne.
Green tea contains polyphenols that are associated with reduced inflammation and lowered sebum production in the skin! Lower sebum, means less acne. You get more polyphenols in Matcha! Check out my matcha post for the best ICED MATCHA in town.
DIY mask: Mix green tea with honey and brush it on acne or use this matcha stick!
Turmeric is all the rage right now. My Turmeric Burgers were rated #1 Recipe in my Gut Refresh program which includes a paleolithic-style menu. Paleo diets are rich in lean meats, fruits, vegetables and nuts while being low in the anti-inflammatory stuff like grains, diary and legumes. The GUT REFRESH is also a low FODMAP diet, AIP diet and microbiome focused diet which has been shown to drastically reduce fermentation that can lead to acne, autoimmune disorders, PCOS and IBS. Turmeric contains the anti-inflammatory polyphenol curcumin, which can help regulate blood sugar, improve insulin sensitivity and inhibit the growth of acne-causing bacteria!! All these things together really help to reduce acne.
DIY Turmeric Mask: Mix turmeric with honey until you get a paste consistency and spot treat your acne to reduce inflammation. Warning, it does stain so be careful.
Vitamins A, D, E and Zinc:
These lay a crucial role in the skin and in your immune health which both may help prevent acne. I especially love ZINC for acne fighting! I get all of these in my favorite prenatal, you can also snag this one if you want a chewable but just remember it does have sugar and if your skin is sensitive to it then pick the first link!
I also love this supplement to help clear up hormonal acne.
Step 3: Topical
I've never been an advocate for acne specific skin care. They normally dry your skin out, which makes those sexy sebatuious glands overproduce sebum which feeds bad bacteria and breaks you out like crazy. It's this horrible cycle of gloom and doom. They're also chocked full of chemicals that can jack up hormones which can jack up your face. They can also lead to infertility issues which is something I'm not risking during Mark and my #OperationKnockedUp time. Soooo I just haven't been a fan of acne lines.
That was until I did a 4 week trial of Countercontrol. I couldn't use the entire line because my skin is more on the Sahara Desert side but I'll break down for you exactly what I did but then also what you should do if you have oily skin.
Most acne lines can strip skin of both bad and good bacteria, leaving it red dry and irritated, Countercontrol treats the main causes of acne while maintaining skin’s healthy microflora to keep skin balanced AF.
You know how passionate I am about your microflora! Your skin isn’t much different then your gut. You NEED the good guys to battle out the bad. Like I mentioned earlier sebum is the food for acnes bacterium so you want to make sure you limit it. You can do it with food above but double your efforts with topical products.
Unlike proactiv or other acne lines that just slaughter everything on your face, Countercontrol is formulated without potentially harmful ingredients such as harsh surfactants, benzoyl peroxide, and sulfur found in loads of conventional acne products.
I've been LOVING their spot treatment during my not so Chanelle Cozette'esque weeks filled with stress. There's two ingredients specifically that I love in it.
Rosebay willow which helps reduce irritation and decrease sebum production.
Natural salicylic acid from wintergreen helps exfoliate dead skin cells and restore the imbalance of bacteria to a healthy level. Salicylic acid kills acne causing bacteria, it gently exfoliates, unclogs pores and reduces the overproduction of oil.
These plants are also potent sources of antioxidants from polyphenols, similar to those in green tea and also flavonoids with all sorts of antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties!
Oily Prone Acne:
Clear Pore Cleanser: Effectively removes oil, makeup, and other impurities without harsh surfactants that can strip skin of moisture. The formula contains jojoba beads to gently slough away dead skin cells, purifies pores, and aloe vera to soothe.
Instant Matte Toner: This mattifying toner removes residual impurities, eliminates excess oil, and minimizes the appearance of pores.
All Over Acne Treatment: This daily, all-over treatment helps clear existing blemishes and addresses the main causes of acne to prevent future breakouts from forming. In addition, it contains phytic acid (from green rice), an antioxidant that refines skin texture.
SOS Acne Spot Treatment: This is a must-have in everyone’s medicine cabinet for unexpected breakouts! No joke this was the one item when I cleaned up my personal care that I just couldn’t find. This spot treatment legit works and it uses the max strength of salicylic acid without over drying the skin.
- Matte Effect Gel Cream: It’s a cream-to-gel formula that helps your skin stay moisturized but also controls oil for hooourrrsss. I like this especially for hot days where I seem to look all sorty of greasy. I have normal to dry skin but still loved that it didn’t dry me out like other acne products have. I only used this on hot days though just in case it dried me out if I used it daily.
Ps if you get the entire line you save 10% and they offer a 60 Day no-questions asked return policy!
- Cleansing Balm: This multi-tasking balm is brimming with uses and benefits. I had never used a balm as a cleanser before but I don't think I'll go back. It's like a moisture mask and cleanser in one.
- Rose Mist: Organic coconut water with hibiscus flower betals and bulgarian rose. I know it sounds fancy and that's because it is. I also use this for when I wear makeup to set my powder and it's so gosh dang refreshing!
- Countermatch Adaptive Moisture Lotion: It's this lightweight lotion that adapts to my skins unique moisture needs. Not only does it provide up to 24-hours of hydration — it actually adjusts hydration levels throughout the day for a smooth look and feel and radiant glow.
- SOS Acne Spot Treatment: This is a must-have in everyone’s medicine cabinet for unexpected breakouts! No joke this was the one item when I cleaned up my personal care that I just couldn’t find. This spot treatment legit works and it uses the max strength of salicylic acid without over drying the skin.
- Dew Skin, Mineral Sunblock: Sheer coverage, super-charged with SPF protection.
Having a non toxic tinted moisturizer with a mineral SPF is amazing on its own. It also includes black currant, peony flower root extract, and vitamin C to enhance skin brightness and sodium hyaluronate to help brighten and moisturize my skin!
- Overnight Resurfacing Peel: Formulated with 15 botanically-derived acids, its a leave-on AHA/BHA peel improves skin texture and minimizes the appearance of pores, fine lines, and dark spots, acne scars without irritation or over-drying. Glycolic, lactic, and malic acids clear away dull surface skin cells, while hyaluronic acid and essential fatty acids soothe and nourish to reveal a brighter, more youthful-looking complexion. THIS PRODUCT IS MY FAV OF ALL TIME!
Shea Terra Organics Rose Hip & Carrot Perfecting Serum: The serum is formulated with rosehip seed oil, which is rich in vitamins that help fade acne scars and anti-microbial linoleic acid, and carrot seed oil, which stimulates cell growth and cleanse the skin of toxins.
This blog post was a result of my #GUTGIRLGANG's questions on Instagram! If you have any more questions on how to get your skin to chill then feel free to ask below.
I just love your guts!!
Chanelle Cozette Doyle
*This post is not sponsored. When you purchase a product from my pink links I do receive commission from the company you purchase from, this does not impact the price you pay!! This allows me to continue to provide you with free & fabulous content. Thank you for your support! Xo