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How To Clear Acne Naturally Without Losing Your Mind
Continuing to get breakouts everywhere can become really frustrating. While there’s no magic pill to prevent acne, there’s a lot you can do to keep your skin clear. I used to be obsessed with beauty and skincare products because I wanted the perfect (read photoshopped) skin I saw on tv and in magazines. I never realized that a lot of these products were actually aggravating my skin and making it worse, leaving me feeling insecure and miserable!
I’m not going to lie and tell you that I never get any breakouts anymore. BUT, when I stay consistent in the tips I’m about to share with you my skin is at its best!
Why Do You Get Acne?
Acne isn’t just for teens. You can get zits your whole life!
Acne occurs when excess skin oils, dead skin cells, bacteria, or hair blocks the pores in your skin. When pores are blocked, they either turn into things like blackheads or become inflamed and turn into pimples or cysts.
Some things are generally thought to cause acne. These include:
Possible Acne Trigger #1
Most of us start experiencing acne when our hormones start raging during puberty. Fluctuations in your hormone levels, like around your period, switching birth control pill, menopause, are all possibilities why you could be experiencing acne-prone skin. Increased levels of growth hormones may also affect acne.
Possible Acne Trigger #2
Some families are more prone to acne than others. If your parents had acne, chances are you will as well. This, however, does not mean you have to live with it because it can be treated!
Possible Acne Trigger #3
This may sound strange to some, but the body and mind are connected. Stress has been shown to affect our hormones, digestion, respiratory system, immune system, and even more bodily systems. Failing to balance out your stress levels, whether that be physical or emotional stress, has an impact on your skin and can even lead to or aggravate acne.
Possible Acne Trigger #4
There are certain medications that cancause acne. Never stop taking medication without consulting with your doctor. Do however speak to your doctor whether acne is a side-effect and possibilities to ease them like changing
Possible Acne Trigger #4
You most likely have heard that vitamin deficiencies or specific products like dairy can cause acne. Simply put, whatever you may have read we just do not know whether diet and acne are related yet.
Although many studies fail to prove a direct link between nutrition and acne it is too early to discount the effect of diet. It would make sense that certain products affect acne but it is very difficult to research
Possible Acne Trigger #5
Skincare & Beauty Products
This was mindblowing to me. Some things you can do to help these products from triggering acne is applying and removing makeup without irritating the skin, going makeup-free whenever possible and selecting products that are fragrance-free AND non-comedogenic (will not clog pores).
Ingredients are listed in the order of amount used starting from the highest amount. If any of the comedogenic ingredients in the infographic below are within the first seven ingredients on the ingredient list of a product you are choosing, you may want to reconsider.
Why Choose More Natural Products?
When we use products, they are often inhaled or absorbed through our skin and make their way into our bloodstream. Personal care products typically contain a dozen or more potentially hazardous synthetic chemicals. What is even more troublesome is that ingredients can be hidden by lumping them together in the generic category “fragrance”.
Testing by EWG shows that “fragrance” often includes chemicals associated with hormone disruption and allergic reactions, as well as substances that have not been assessed for safety in personal care products. Then they wash down the drain and go on to impact the ecosystem and potentially harm aquatic life, wildlife, and plant life.
Whenever I can I will use simple and more natural ingredients for most things in my life from personal care to cleaning my home. But, I don’t believe natural is always best. There are plenty of products available that are 100% natural and they wreak havoc on your skin by causing irritation.
Irritated Skin = Acne
So how do you prevent your skin from getting irritated? The tips below should help you on your way to getting clear skin.
20 Expert Tips To Get Clear Skin
Clear & Acne-Free Skin Tip#1
Stop Buying Into Acne Myths
As a scientist, I sometimes find it very difficult to have conversations with people about health because so many of the beliefs we have are actually myths. Understanding how to get clear and healthy skin means knowing the difference between fact and fiction.
Here are a few myths busted:
- Zits and impurities (like blackheads) aren’t caused by dirt or touching your face.
- A sunburn won’t clear up your skin.
- A perfect diet won’t necessarily clear up your skin.
- You may pop a pimple responsibly.
- Bacteria on your skin is not the cause of acne.
- Acne is not contagious!
- Don’t listen to just any dermatologist. Find those that are specialized in acne.
Clear & Acne-Free Skin Tip#2
Stop Spending Money On Miracle Cures
There is an ever-growing amount of products that claim to give you the perfect skin from elaborate skin routines with special cleansers, masks, creams to vitamins. They make it seem like their product is based on the newest scientific research and will be the cure for your ‘imperfections’.
Unfortunately, no matter how beautiful their packaging and convincing their claims there is no cure for acne. You need to tackle the factors that cause acne from developing in the first place, and even the best treatments out there do not cure but try to control acne.
Clear & Acne-Free Skin Tip#3
Stop Jumping From Product To Product
We all want clear skin, and we’re willing to do just about anything to get it. After finding a simple routine and/or treatment that is based on solid science you have to use it consistently for a decent period of time. Even when you are busy, tired or forgetful, you’ve got to give it enough time to work!
Stop wasting your hard-earned money by jumping from product to product and never getting results. Do research! Always know what you put on your skin and keep it simple.
Clear & Acne-Free Skin Tip#4
Take Off Your Makeup Girl!
Taking off makeup is NOT the same as washing your face. If you do wear makeup make it a habit to take off your makeup every night before washing your face.
Simply apply a teaspoon of oil in gentle, circular motions using your fingers to break your makeup apart. You will look like you’re about to join in for Halloween! After the makeup has completely loosened up, take a reusable makeup cloth to gently remove.
Clear & Acne-Free Skin Tip#5
However, washing your face more than twice a day or using a harsh soaps, towelettes or scrubs that strip the skin completely or cause micro-tears in the skin often makes acne worse.
I wash my face with a gentle saponin cleanser every morning and evening because it doesn’t dry out or irritate my face and cleanses thoroughly.
- Wet your face with warm (not hot) water.
- Apply a mild cleanser in a gentle, circular motion using your fingers (not a washcloth).
- Rinse thoroughly and gently dry by patting your face with a towel.
Clear & Acne-Free Skin Tip#6
Treat Acne Correctly
Whether we are talking about facial acne or body acne it always starts the same way.
A pore collapses in on itself and the walls of the follicle stick together, preventing sebum (oil) from escaping. Inside sebum lives acne bacteria. Normally, the oil in the follicle is released to the surface taking the bacteria with it. When the pore is blocked, however, the bacteria can’t go anywhere and multiply. This causes inflammation and voila… a blemish!
Treating your skin in between washing and moisturizing can help prevent acne by either killing the acne bacteria or preventing the collapse of the pore. Just make sure you are using tested and true products based on solid science and not things like scrubs or peelings that burn. These will cause irritation or micro-tears in the skin and worsen acne.
Instead of a scrub, consider a chemical exfoliant, such as an AHA or BHA. These dislodge excess dead skin, allowing it to be gently wiped away.
Check out the entire skin routine with active ingredients that I’ve included at the bottom that works for me.
Clear & Acne-Free Skin Tip#7
I know plenty of women who don’t moisturize on account of their oily skin. What they don’t know is that dry skin is irritated skin, which can actually cause acne!
Moisturizers help your skin stay hydrated but many contain oil, synthetic fragrance, or other ingredients that could irritate skin or cause acne. To help prevent pimples, use fragrance-free, noncomedogenic moisturizers after you wash your face.
Clear & Acne-Free Skin Tip#8
Apply Makeup Like This
When it comes to preventing acne most of us have heard that going bare-faced is preferable to wearing makeup. This is true because makeup itself can be a cause of acne. However, many of us with acne-prone skin enjoy wearing makeup so it is important to make better choices regarding makeup.
- Choose sheer, water-based, non-comedogenic makeup (see checklist above for ingredients to avoid)
- Apply makeup using your fingers instead of beauty blenders and such. You can use brushes for powder-based makeup but use gently. Rubbing irritates the skin.
- Remove makeup correctly as described earlier.
- Check expiry dates on your makeup often and do not use when expired. It may still look great but it will inevitably grow bacteria over time that will do more harm than good.
- Clean your makeup brushes!
Clear & Acne-Free Skin Tip#9
A lot of people develop bumps or acne after a shave. This happens when you’re using shaving creams/gels, razors or a shaving technique that irritates your skin.
Shaving gently with sharp, non-irritating razor might help to prevent acne. It exfoliates the skin and stimulates cell renewal, which may help prevent pores from becoming clogged. Make sure to use a non-comedogenic shaving cream or gel to prevent skin irritation leading to more acne.
You can also make your own shaving cream using plain jojoba oil or use a gentle facial cleanser that doesn’t clog pores!
Clear & Acne-Free Skin Tip#10
The Problem With Home Remedies
I use natural ingredients for a LOT of things including personal care and cleaning my home. However, while home remedies may seem like a great alternative they are unlikely to clear up acne and can even worsen it. You’ll find all sorts of home remedies including anything from baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, toothpaste, honey, and much more.
If you do decide to try one of these be super careful and avoid irritating or hurting your skin.
Clear & Acne-Free Skin Tip#11
Change Your Sheets!
Outside dirt and such does not cause acne! With that being said, it is not a bad idea to limit your exposure to dirt, bacteria, leftover hair products, etc, on your pillowcase and sheets. Change and wash your pillowcases and sheets in hot water with a gentle and fragrance-free detergent once a week.
Clear & Acne-Free Skin Tip#12
Stress Less Honey!
According to research stress can cause your body to produce more oil-stimulating hormones. Although stress doesn’t necessarily cause pimples, it can make acne more likely and make it worse. Using relaxation techniques may prevent and help speed up the healing of your acne.
Some simple options to reduce stress include:
- Plenty of rest and quality sleep
- Practicing meditation, mindfulness or yoga
- Getting a massage
- Eating a healthy plant-based diet
- Exercising regularly
- Aromatherapy is great for relaxing, calming and uplifting!
- Talking to a loved one or therapist
Clear & Acne-Free Skin Tip#13
Try Essential Oils
In addition to essential oils being wonderful for emotional benefit, you can also use them on your skin.
Melaleuca essential oil, also known as tea tree oil, is a popular natural solution for pimples. According to the Mayo Clinic, it may “reduce the number of inflamed and non-inflamed lesions.” Use it sparingly because too much will dry out and irritate the skin.
Frankincense essential oil is known for its rejuvenating effects as well as anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It’s great to use if you’re suffering from skin issues like acne, scarring and is even used for its anti-aging properties. This is a very precious essential oil which you’ll find in many, many skin care products.
Lavender essential oil is known to soothe inflamed and irritated skin and can be a wonderful addition to add as an anti-bacterial force for beautiful skin. It also works by helping you stress less, calm anxiety, soothe emotions and help with falling asleep.
When it comes to high-quality essential oils, less is always more. Apply a drop to the inflamed area as a spot treatment or add a drop or two in your daily cleanser or moisturizer.
Prior to using essential oils on your face, Always do a patch test first to see if it irritates your skin. Apply a few drops on your forearm, and wait up to an hour. If you have a skin reaction discontinue the use of the essential oil or heavily dilute (50/50) and try again.
Don’t confuse fragrance oils with essential oils. Fragrance oils are synthetically made, most often include all sorts of additives, cannot be taken internally and have no therapeutic properties. Make sure that you only use oils that are 100% natural, pure and third-party tested.
Clear & Acne-Free Skin Tip#14
Regular, moderate exercise may be beneficial by reducing inflammation, promoting wound healing, and reducing oxidative stress.
Fun fact: sweat does not cause acne! In fact, sweat caused by exercise contains the chemical dermicidin which has antibacterial properties that actually kill acne bacteria.
However, certain products or habits where the skin is repeatedly touched or rubbed can lead to acne, such as:
- Tight hats
- Constantly touching your face/skin
- Tight-fitting clothes
Don’t stress out about it too much, but try to leave your skin relatively untouched when you can and wear loose-fitting clothing during your workouts. It is also advisable to shower after the gym using a gentle non-comedogenic soap and water that isn’t too hot.
Clear & Acne-Free Skin Tip#15
Gently brushing your body with a dry brush that has soft bristles can stimulate the underlying skin to replace cells more quickly, which may help prevent pores from becoming clogged.
Make sure to keep your brush clean of bacteria by cleaning it once and a while. I like using anti-bacterial essential oils like melaleuca and a gentle soap to keep it clean.
Clear & Acne-Free Skin Tip#16
Other Products That Trigger Acne
Have you noticed that you’ve been breaking out a lot more than usual lately?
Products like body wash, shampoo, conditioner, and even laundry detergent can contain ingredients that could clog pores or irritate your skin and lead to breakouts on your face and body.
Considering using products that don’t carry harsh chemicals, are fragrance-free and use non-comedogenic ingredients. Also always make sure you rinse the shampoo and conditioner out of your hair completely before washing your face and body in the shower.
Clear & Acne-Free Skin Tip#17
An unhealthy diet has always been linked to acne. While many studies fail to prove a direct link it is good policy to practice eating a healthy, balanced diet with lots of:
- lean protein
- whole grains
Clear & Acne-Free Skin Tip#18
Limit Time In The Sun
Allowing some sun on your skin may dry out pimples and make you feel great short term, but it causes major problems long term. Frequent exposure to the sun is very dehydrating and can cause your skin to produce more oil which can lead to blocked pores.
It’s also very important to wear sunscreen to help prevent skin cancer. However, many sunscreens cause breakouts because of their oily nature. Wear a non-comedogenic, oil-free sunscreen that is light on the skin and protects.
Clear & Acne-Free Skin Tip#19
This Is How To Pop A Pimple
As tempting as it may be to squeeze that eye-sore on the tip of your nose, be careful. Popping pimples may cause bleeding, severe scarring, or infection. It may also increase inflammation and clog surrounding pores, make the problem much worse.
If you do insist on ridding yourself of skin imperfections use this video to do so responsibly.
Clear & Acne-Free Skin Tip#20
Some people need a little extra help when it comes to clearing up acne. If you’ve tried over the counter products or the skin routine I’ve given below and aren’t getting relief, a dermatologist can prescribe oral medications or medicated creams.
A dermatologist is a doctor who specializes in skin conditions, so they can also help you to find out the causes and triggers for your back acne. Make sure to find a dermatologist that is specialized in acne.
My Acne Preventing Skin Care Routine
I tend to have the best skin when I follow the above tips paired with this facial skincare routine. When it comes to overall skincare, I’ve found that even the most natural beautiful looking products have actually made my skin worse. After looking for a LONG time with varying results I’ve come to a routine that I am very happy with.
You’ll notice that I do both acne prevention and anti-aging, so if you’re just looking for one or the other than by all means just do that!
Acne-Free Skin Care Routine Step 1.
At night I will remove my makeup with some good coconut oil or jojoba oil before washing my face. In fact, no matter how late I get home I rarely skip completely cleaning my face. It’s made a world of difference in my skin and I always regret when I don’t.
Acne-Free Skin Care Routine Step 2.
Cleanse Twice A Day
Acne-Free Skin Care Routine Step 3.
Day 1: Fight Impurities and Congested Pores
- 1 drop of Salicylic Acid Solution
- 1 drop of Niacinamide + Zinc Serum
- 1 drop of Plant Derived Squalane
- Spot Treatment: I will sometimes spot treat with a small amount of pure Melaleuca essential oil
- Optional: Once or twice a week I will use a Glycolic Acid Toner in the evening after cleansing and before using this impurity routine to further clear and improve skin tone.
- Always: Plenty of sunscreen!! Check below why this is crucial when using acids on your face.
Day 2: Complexion Smoothing and Rejuvenating (Anti-aging)
- 1 drop of Buffet peptide serum
- 1 drop of Granactive Retinoid serum
- 1 drop of Squalane oil or Rosehip oil (rosehip oil is wonderful and has anti-aging properties but sometimes it causes impurities for me, so I use it sparingly and only when my skin is dryer than usual).
- Optional: I will often include a drop of Frankincense Essential Oil mixed in with the oil because I’ve found it helps my skin look better. It has anti-bacterial properties and is also used in many skincare products for cell rejuvenation.
- Always: Plenty of sunscreen!!
Once or twice a week I will use this amazing AHA + BHA peelingto gently exfoliate (bye bye dead skin cells) and helps bring new skin cells to the surface. It works wonders to smooth out complexion and prevent pores from clogging.
Note on sunscreen
Using sunscreen is even more important when using acids on your face because they make your skin more sensitive to the sun’s rays. Find a good one and just do it! You’ll thank yourself later trust me.
Currently, I am using The Ordinary’s Mineral Sunscreen because it doesn’t clog my pores and protects my skin well. However, I am waiting to try their invisible UV filters with antioxidants, because their mineral sunscreens do tend to leave a white film that makes me look super pale if I don’t rub it in well enough.
New Routine Warning!
It’s important to know that with any active ingredient that affects skin behavior, there can be a purging period during which breakouts are normal. It is also important to know that when using new products your skin may require up to a month to adjust.
Which Tip Will You Try? Do You Have Any Other Tips?
Do share! I am always learning and would love to hear from you. So if you have any great tips or products to share, do let me know in the comments below!
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