You’d think spending your hard-earned money on countless products and treatments would solve your acne woes. But we’re here to tell you that treating acne doesn’t require a complicated ten-step skincare routine. Instead, some of the best and effective acne tips are as simple as tweaking your lifestyle habits to start seeing a difference!
Are you suggesting we don’t need to buy skincare products?
Let’s clear the air here. We don’t want to discourage you from investing in skincare products that you know are working well for your skin. But we also know that building a skincare routine that works can cost a lot of money, especially if you’re starting out. We want to let you know that skincare is only part of the battle; the other half depends on how you treat your body internally. Don’t worry if you’re not sure where to start!
You can make simple and easy adjustments, starting today, without opening your wallet!
Effective Acne Tips
1. Curb unhealthy skin habits
Ever notice your reflection in a mirror and start going to town picking at your acne? Not to mention that after your hour-long skin-picking session, you’re left with a splotchy, inflamed, irritated, and bleeding face. While our skin’s generally resilient and won’t suffer from the occasional pimple prodding or D.I.Y. extraction session, these accumulating skin habits can eventually damage our skin and make it difficult to recover. You might even leave your skin worse, with pitted scars, inflammation, hyperpigmentation, or breakouts that don’t completely disappear.
What should you do?
The best solution is to realize your habits and break free from them! Take time to understand any triggers or tendencies for picking at your skin. Do you start touching your skin when you’re anxious or stressed? Or do magnifying mirrors cause the urge to grab your extraction tools to pick, prod, and squeeze at your skin? Notice what these triggers are and act accordingly.
For the face, you can apply pimple patches over open wounds, scars, and angry pimples to protect them every time you touch your face.
If you’re dealing with skin picking on the body, you can wear clothes that make it harder to pick unconsciously. For example, if you have keratosis pilaris on the arms, you can wear long sleeve shirts to protect your skin.
You can also consider keeping your nails short to avoid introducing bacteria to those open wounds and potentially causing infection to your skin.
2. Consider diet
Food is medicine. But in our day and age, we tend to indulge all the delicious options out there without thinking about our body and skin. Fortunately, we can take back control by understanding our body’s responses to certain foods!
How do you bio-hack your acne with food?
If you have hormonal acne, dairy products can worsen breakouts, especially if you’re lactose intolerant. That’s because cow’s milk (especially in the United States) contains insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) and growth hormones. When consumed, these hormones can impact our blood sugar levels, increasing inflammation and acne.
What’s the connection between dairy products and acne?
As much as we’d like to say dairy products can cause acne, the answer is a little complicated. That’s because it ultimately depends on your body and how well it can tolerate milk and dairy products.
If you have any sensitivities to milk casein, whey, insulin, or lactose, it’s highly likely to experience worsened breakouts for your skin. Along with IGF-1, milk also has natural sugars, so the increase in insulin can influence our hormones to overproduce sebum and clogged pores, which then causes acne and breakouts.
Should I completely cut dairy out of my diet to see clear skin?
The choice ultimately depends on you! You can cut milk or dairy products from your diet to see if your skin experiences changes. Be mindful of those changes and slowly incorporate them into your diet.
Once you confirm that milk or dairy products trigger your acne, you can look into other dairy alternatives such as goat’s milk, lactose-free or organic milk, or nut milk.
As for cheese, you can incorporate hard cheeses like parmesan, pecorino, gruyere, and cheddar into your diet.
- Sugars & Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates may be our body’s main energy source, but overconsumption (especially when it comes to foods with simple carbohydrates, refined grains, and sugars) can potentially wreak havoc on your skin.
Excess carbohydrates (especially simple carbs and refined sugars) can spike your blood sugar levels and cause our bodies to overproduce insulin in response. When our bodies begin to produce more insulin than necessary, this could be a sign of a condition known as insulin resistance.
How does insulin resistance contribute to acne?
Insulin resistance acts according to its name: our body’s cells can’t process the glucose we intake from our favorite foods. As a result, the glucose has nowhere to go and starts accumulating in the blood.
So now, we have an accumulation of sugar levels, which can increase inflammation and trigger the release of our androgen hormones, leading to oily and breakout-prone skin.
Does this mean I need to completely cut sugar out of my diet?
As with everything in life, moderation is key! Unless you know how sugar affects your body, we don’t want to discourage you from completely cutting them out of your diet. If you have a sweet tooth, we suggest gradually reducing the number of sugary foods or drinks and finding sugar-less alternatives.
- Healthy Fats
Did you know that acne-prone skin has higher levels of Omega-6 fatty acids and fewer Omega-3 fatty acids?
Unfortunately, when we consume fried or oily foods rich in Omega-6 fatty acids, especially when cooked using corn and soy oils, acne-prone skin types may experience increased levels of inflammation in the body. The internal inflammatory response can trigger sebum production, which can ultimately lead to clogged pores and acne breakouts.
Omega-3 fatty acids, on the other hand, are shown to reduce the risk of acne by reducing sebum production in the skin. This can help bring our bodies and skin back to a balanced state.
What are some examples of foods with healthy fats?
Since acne-prone skin naturally has low levels of Omega-3 fatty acids, we can incorporate foods rich in Omega-3 to control our sebum levels and lower inflammation. Some foods include:
- Oily fish such as tuna, mackerel, salmon, and sardines
- Chia Seeds
- Brussels sprouts
3. Exercise for acne-free skin
We’re not going to suggest you join a gym! Instead, we encourage you to engage in a daily physical activity for at least 10-30 minutes. For anyone who’s especially going through hormonal-related breakouts, this acne tip can be a great way to reduce insulin resistance and balance out your blood sugar levels. Plus, you’ll get a dopamine boost and feel good after your workout; it’s a win-win!
Tips for making exercise a habit
- Create a vision and start small!
Building a new habit can be a struggle, especially if you’re not used to exercising! Instead of going all out during a one-hour workout routine, you can focus on making minor adjustments. You can start by picking an activity you know works for you. Whether that involves walking for five minutes or taking part in a ten minute low-intensity workout class, the key is finding something you can accomplish!
- Make the process as easy as you can make it
To quote Atomic Habits author James Clear, “if you can find a way to make getting started easier, then you can find a way to make building a habit easier.”
Start off by setting your intentions and simplifying your workout to two minutes, and gradually increase as your new habit becomes more routine. If you’re more of a sit back and watch Netflix or YouTube person, why not try out the free workout videos at the comfort of your home?
- Keep yourself accountable!
You can set yourself a reminder on your to-do list, alarm clock, or even your phone calendar. Instead of worrying over your step count, you can also find ways to squeeze in some walking whenever possible. If you commute for work, get off the bus or train one stop earlier and walk the rest of the way. And don’t worry if you’re too tired to workout during a particular day, you can treat yourself to an active-rest day where you do light exercise or stretching to give yourself a breather.
Also, don’t beat yourself up if you accidentally miss a day or two! Pick up where you last started and keep going!
Have you ever woken up from a deep sleep, looked at your skin, and noticed it glowing? That’s what rest can do for you. Let’s face it: life has too many distractions and temptations to keep us up late at night. But if we’re not getting enough sleep, our skin won’t be able to repair itself.
Tips to ensure your beauty sleep
- Control caffeine intake at night
Hold off on drinking caffeine past 6 PM to ensure a good night’s rest. Instead, you can drink herbal teas with soothing ingredients that help you ease into slumber.
Some relaxing teas to try include low caffeine green tea, magnolia, chamomile, lavender, and mint teas.
- Adjust your lighting
Did you know that your fluorescent lights can impact your sleep? Since the sleep hormone melatonin starts secreting at night, you’ll want to dim your lights at least one hour before bed. This will help your body gradually ease into sleep so that melatonin can kick in and repair your body
- Find ambience cues
Besides dimming your lights, you can “train” your body to understand when to go to bed. You can consider incorporating aromatherapy, setting a regular time reminder, turning on white noise sounds, or climbing onto bed only when you’re ready to sleep.
5. Give yourself some love
Love the skin you’re in! Sometimes, we’re our biggest enemy, and the problems we fuss over are what our mind likes to create. As much as we hate to see another breakout and feel insecure and stressed over it, here’s a reminder to give ourselves grace and love.
Whether that involves taking a walk outdoors, listening to your favorite podcast, or engaging in an activity you enjoy, do something to help take your mind off your worries. Remember, your acne does not determine your value – go forth and make precious memories!
For more information on Effective Acne Tips, check out our video:
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