5 Steps For Clear Skin
By Britni Vincent, RD, LD
August 18, 2016
If you've tried everything to clear your skin and nothing's working, I can relate, I've been there! Well into my twenties I had chronic acne and owned dozens of turtlenecks and scarves to try to cover up my skin. After more than a decade of fighting my skin on a daily basis, I tried a more natural approach— eating real food, taking proper supplementation and using non-toxic products—and it worked! Now I'm a nutritionist and get to help my clients, both teens and adults, find the clear skin they so desperately want after following these 5 steps.
- Eliminate dairy. Do an experiment and eliminate dairy for four to six weeks and see if your skin clears up. Dairy is inflammatory for many individual, and essentially acne is inflammation of the skin. Additionally, dairy naturally contains hormones from the cow, which can also promote acne. Canned coconut milk (carton coconut milk doesn't contain enough healthy fat) is a great alternative to dairy in recipes!
- Decrease sugar intake. Sugar causes your pores to secrete a greasy substance that traps acne—promoting bacteria. Many studies have shown a reduction in acne by reducing sugar intake. Not only is sugar found in many packaged foods, but you may not realize that all carbohydrates turn into sugar in your body. Limiting or eliminating processed carbohydrates such as breads, pasta, crackers, baked goods and chips will decrease your sugar intake immensely. Replace those foods with lots of veggies and some fruits that provide the antioxidants your skin loves.
- Ditch toxic skin-care products. Many products on the market only make acne worse. The harsh chemicals in acne products will dry out your skin causing it to produce more oil. Some ingredients in products may also cause inflammation and skin irritation, again potentially leading to more acne. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) estimates 99% of personal care products contain more than one ingredient that has never been evaluated for safety. Scary!
Instead, use products that contain natural oils such as coconut oil, jojoba oil or olive oil. Not sure you found a winner? See how it's ranked on the Skin Deep database. If you're thinking "Why would I put oil on my skin if my skin is already oily?" I had the same thought—but my skin became less oily once I started using oil-based products. Trust me!
- Ensure you're drinking enough water. Seems simple right? Well, most people are chronically dehydrated, which means your skin is dehydrated too. A good rule of thumb is drinking half your body weight in ounces of water each day. (For instance if you weigh 150 pounds you should aim for 75 ounces of water.) Drinking water facilitates cell regeneration and growth, sloughing of dead skin cells, and detoxification. Plus, being hydrated will give you supple skin and help ward off wrinkles-- win, win.
Purified water is best so that you're avoiding chlorine and other harmful additives in your water supply. Do you have a hard time getting enough water in? Try adding citrus, cucumber, a cinnamon stick, berries or mint to your water. Purchase a pretty water bottle or glass— if it's more attractive you'll be more likely to drink out of it. You can always switch up your plain water by having unsweetened sparkling water; just don't let it make up all your water intake.
- Take a good quality probiotic and consume fermented foods daily. In your gut there are the good guys, good bacteria also known as probiotics, and the bad guys, harmful bacteria. Since your skin is your largest detoxifying organ, if you have too much bad bacteria and not enough good bacteria in your gut, that may manifest in your skin as acne. Being born by C-section, not being breastfed, and taking a lot of antibiotics are a few common reasons that your gut can develop too much bad bacteria which can stick around for decades. The good news? Probiotics will help to kill off that nasty bacteria.
Look for a daily probiotic that contains bifido bacteria (bifido should account for 70% of the bacteria in your gut). Bonus points if you consume fermented foods daily such as kimchi, kombucha (side-note, some kombucha has too much added sugar, look for less than 5 grams as a safe amount), sauerkraut, and miso. Probiotics occur naturally in fermented foods. Research as far back as the 60's has found the benefits of probiotics and skin.
So what do you have to lose? Give these 5 tips a try and say goodbye to your acne once and for all.