It is no secret that unfortunately, I wasn’t blessed with perfect skin. I have been struggling with acne for quite some time, so it’s no exaggeration to say that I’ve tried everything from drying drugstore products to supernatural soaps and expensive high-end brands to prescription drugs. Literally everything. However, I did not experience long term positive results until I began to look further into the whole acne issue. Even though I was looking for the “Miracle Product”, along with other people in my shoes, that in a blink of an eye will erase all the ugliness on my skin, I couldn’t find it. Because there is no such thing.
There is a conscious, irritation-free, personalized skin care routine that helps a lot, but it’s also just a small slice of the whole picture. (Likewise, if you are looking for is the ultimate anti-wrinkle moisturizer or the perfect cream for your dry / oily skin, know that in most cases this will not be enough. Unfortunately, the thing is much more complex.) A beautiful skin is not solely up to the religious application of the products on your bathroom shelf, but your entire lifestyle. Now, I am sharing with you what lifestyle and skincare changes have really brought me long-term results. I am not saying that I never have a single small zist on my skin today, but most of the time my face is clear, which is amazing, as I achieved it naturally.
Not all of them will work for everyone, because just like our bodies, our skin is completely unique, but I think there are some general “rules” that will most likely bring you closer to that healthy, radiant skin you desire.
I ELIMINATED IRRITATING AND COMEDOGENIC INGREDIENTS
When I started shopping beauty products not only by looking at the packaging, price and scent, but also tired to understand what the strange phrases after INCI (Ingredients List) mean, a whole new world opened up to me. In a paragraph, I won’t be able to teach ingredient list analysis right now, but I highly recommend you to invest some time and energy in learning about ingredients. And always, always check what the product actually contains before you fall for any marketing bullshit.
Irritating components that I avoid (non-exhaustive list) are alcohol (alcohol Denat, Ethanol, Benzyl, isopropyl alcohol etc with the exception of fatty alcohols eg. Cetyl, Cetearyl, setaryl, lauryl, myristyl alcohol), sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), perfumes (fragrance , perfume) and essential oils (eg bergamot, grapefruit, mint etc.). The comedogenic (potentially acne causing) ingredients are mineral oils (petrolatum, mineral oil, paraffin), coconut oil, beeswax, cocoa butter, shea butter, lanolin, algae extract, Isocetyl Stearate, Isopropyl Isostearate, Isopropyl Myristate and others. Obviously, parabens and other artificial and unnecessary chemicals are also a NO for me, but I always keep myself to that rule that the top 7 ingredinets of the INCI list should not include any of those mentioned above. Towards the end of the list, if there are 1-2 more problematic components, that considered less risky, but of course, the nicer the INCI list, the better. I often check the Krémmánia and EWG for verification because I don’t know everything by heart either.
I QUIT DAIRY AND SOY
Research has clearly not yet proven that dairy products exacerbate acne, but there are plenty of reports that, as they have been eliminated from their diet, their skin condition has dramatically improved. I am one of those who can only confirm this, partly thats the reason why I have not consumed dairy products for years. (And partly because my stomach doesn’t like them either). I gave up butter at the latest when I realized that this dairy product I adore would also break me out. The predisposing effect of soy to acne is also a later discovery for me ( I have poured soy milk into my coffee for years, as it makes the best froth among plant milks). One year ago I stopped drinking it completely, and my “bacne” (acne on my back) has cleared up as well. Since then, almond milk has been my favorite.
I REDUCED THE CONSUMPTION OF NUTS, SEEDS AND FATTY FOODS
Oil and fat are huge triggers for me. If I eat too much fried foods, anything covered in oil, or too much nuts and seeds (even nut butters like peanut butter), the next day’s inflammed breakout is guaranteed. Unfortunately, chocolate also has the same ugly consequences, so sometimes 1-2 cubes of black chocolate the maximum I allow myself (luckily I’m not a big chocolate lover).
I STARTED DRINKING FRESH COLD-PRESSED JUICES AND HERBAL TEAS
It’s almost unbelievable, but in a day or two I can already see it on my skin when I incorporate freshly squeezed vegetable and fruit juices into my diet. That’s why I regularly make a larger dose with a juicer at home, which I drink for 3-4 days every morning. If I do not have time, then I buy juice from juice bars because I know how good it is not only for my skin but for my whole body. I also really believe in the cleansing, skin-enhancing effect of herbal teas, so I have a huge supply at home. From an acne standpoint, I swear by nettle, green tea / matcha , yarrow, frankincense, dandelion and this Ayurvedic Nimba tea blend .
I BEGAN SUPPLEMENTING ZINC, MAGNESIUM AND BETA-CAROTENE
Among supplements for me, the biggest change in reducing acne was the use of zinc, magnesium and beta-carotene (vitamin A). Of course, beside a balanced nutrient-rich diet. I don’t take them every day though. I usually take zinc for a month and then for a month I switch to beta-carotene. I start magnesium usually in the second half of my cycle to counteract the overactivity of the adrenal glands and prevent the appearance of hormonal breakouts. Nowadays, instead of capsules, my faves are magnesium bath salts and this body lotion, because through skin this important mineral absorbs even more efficiently. By the way, according to surveys 80% of the adult population is magnesium deficient, which can cause frequent headaches, mood swings, tiredness, irritability, sleep problems and muscle cramps.
I UNDERSTOOD THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE GUT AND THE SKIN
Which I wrote about in a blog post already. Those 10 tips I shared I try to keep myself to, as maintaining a healthy gut flora is essential for beautiful skin. One of these tips is to incorporate fermented foods and some sort of good quality probiotic supplement into your diet. I really like this Biosa Flora one (definitely not because of its taste :D). It does not contain a lot of good bacteria, but it has heaps of skin rejuvenating, antioxidant rich fruits and herbs in it (eg red grapes, blackberries, black cherries, black currants, elderberries, nettle, etc.)
I STOPPED PICKING MY SKIN
This is a bit of a reminder for me now, because unfortunately in my ‘gloomy’ or stressful days I still can’t stop it completely, but it’s much (much!) better than 10 years ago when I was able to create terrible wounds on my face in half an hour, even where there was absolutely nothing before. And I know I’m not alone with this. That is why I would like to write a separate blog post about it, because it is such a pivotal point and can really make a lot of damage to your complexion if you start picking it again and again. You spread bacteria, the wounds heal with scars and slowly fading pigmentation, and in the worst case they can even get infected (unfortunately I’ve already been to a doc because of it… not much fun.) So guys, dim the lights, use a candle or somehow create semidarkness in the bathroom and don’t look too closely at your skin in the mirror! 😉
I could go on with these practices, as acne is a such a complex issue and almost everything has an impact on its development, but I think these are the most important changes that have helped me keep them under control. I hope there are some that will work for you too! 🙂
Have a nice day!
* The links in this article are not sponsored or ‘affiliate’ links, I just really like them and wanted to share them with you. 🙂
Photo: Regina Tóth, Unsplash