HOW TO CONQUER THE ACNE MONSTER
Acne affects 85% of teenagers, but did you know that it will continue to haunt nearly half of men and women all the way into their third decade of life.
Acne is such a common condition yet is somehow so poorly understood in society.
Today’s acne treatments focus on ‘strip away all that excess oil’ or ‘tighten those pores’ and even scrubs that feel like they peel away an entire layer (or 5) of skin cells. But do any of these ‘acne solutions’ ever have long lasting effects?
The answer is usually no.
The problem is, most treatment companies don’t tell you what acne is or how it’s even formed. And how are you expected to successfully treat your acne when you don’t even know how it started or why it keeps coming back?
Especially when some of these products can potentially be causing more harm than good in the long run.
SO WHAT IS ACNE?
Acne is a condition where the pores in your skin get blocked (often by extra skin cells or debris). Blocked pores can be a normal part of your skins process, and in a lot of people the simple act of regularly washing your face keeps these areas healthy and acne-free.
In acne-prone people, you unfortunately have an increased amount of sebum (oily substance) which starts to weaken your pores and allows a perfect entryway for the treacherous Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) to enter. For imagination purposes: think of your pores like a strong castle fortress – when the stone walls are being continuously pummeled by extra rain (your sebum in this case), the walls start to weaken and form holes and perfect entry points for invaders to get in. Not ideal.
Before we go any further I want you to be aware that you have your own unique skin microflora (unique blend of micro-organisms such as bacteria that live on your skin and work to protect your skin from nasty organisms that cause infections). Like any microflora, we often have a symbiotic relationship with these organisms (where we both benefit from each other) but it’s when they get access to somewhere they shouldn’t be that they can suddenly turn detrimental. Your P. acnes is one of those guys for your skin.
When these P. acnes get into your pore, they love this protected little pocket in your skin that is filled with extra oil and ultimately decide to set up shop and set up a community there – effectively colonising in your pores. Unfortunately these P. acnes end up triggering an inflammatory reaction in your pore which catalyses a ‘healing response’ by your body in response to this ‘invader’.
This healing response means your skin cells start to replicate at a faster rate and extra sebum is produced as a way to protect your cells from further damage.
Can you see the problem here? This inflammatory reaction/healing response causes your skin cells and sebum to continuously be produced, which piles up over your pore and compacts upon themselves forming a snug little plug, blocking the opening of your pore to the outside world.
You now have a blackhead.
It’s this ongoing inflammatory reaction which brings certain white blood cells to the party, and they produce pus as a by-product while engaging in the war against P. acnes. As this pus accumulates, you get rewarded with a tender, large, pussy pimple.
Guess what the response by your body is?
Continue with it’s inflammatory/healing response to try and neutralise and destroy this invader to restore harmony and peace to your pores – little does your body understand that this is feeding the invaders every wish and the cycle continues.
SO WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Treating the ongoing war topically with creams and washes is still very important, but it’s finding out your root cause is that will produce those everlasting acne-free results.
To find your root cause, I want you to remember the two main points that were the cornerstone moments influencing the production of acne:
- Extra oil production
- Inflammatory reaction
When you get on top of these two points, you’ll be amazed by how much your acne starts to reign itself in.
And just for you, I’ve listed my top 5 methods I use to control that extra sebum production, inhibit the inflammation and conquer the elusive P. acnes.
1. NOURISH THE SKIN
There are three techniques I want you to follow:
Moisturise: Now I know the idea of putting extra oil onto your skin seems preposterous but I promise I’m not encouraging a full on break out. When your skin is dry, you will actually produce extra sebum to compensate. So applying daily and nightly moisturiser to your face with a natural, light moisturiser or oil will send feedback to your skin cells to reduce their own production of oil, leaving you in complete control.
Don’t pick or scrub: I know the temptation is hard to ignore but every time you exfoliate your acne-prone areas, or squeeze that pimple, you are breaking the skin and forming a little wound. Like any wound on your body, a healing response occurs resulting in inflammation and increased sebum production as a way to protect the damaged areas. As a result: extra acne!
Cleanse: I’m sure this seems like the obvious one – and it is! Research shows washing your face twice a day with a cleanser that has a skin-friendly pH and mix of ingredients that help promote regular oil production, healthy pores and luscious skin, was the best way to regain control of that acne.
I particularly love mixes that have a range of essentials oils like tea tree and geranium, herbs like aloe vera, gotu kola or calendula, and nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin E and vitamin B3.
2. REGULATE YOUR HORMONES
Testosterone makes your pores ‘sticky’ making them easier to clog and increases sebum production while oestrogen actually reduces it.
So getting your hormones checked out can go a long way to reducing the problem. And while testosterone is a big player (and I’ll explain the influencing factors controlling testosterone production in the sections below) xeno-oestrogens are becoming even bigger players in today’s world.
The problem with xeno-oestrogens? They inhibit your own natural oestrogen.
Xeno-oestrogens are exogenous oestrogens found in the environment which don’t have the amazing benefits of your own naturally produced oestrogen but actually block your oestrogen from exerting all its benefits on your body. Including inhibiting oestrogens wonderful sebum reducing effect.
Xeno-oestrogens are found in plastics, perfumes, cosmetics, etc, and although their levels are small in individual doses, they will accumulate over time and start affecting all oestrogen pathways. – resulting in unbalanced testosterone and minimal beneficial oestrogen, meaning acne can go crazty
So use glass containers, natural essential oils and cosmetics free of all the nasties – refer to my toxin free resource on the freebies page.
3. STABILISE BLOOD SUGAR
High blood sugar triggers a cascade of unfortunate events that eventually results in increased testosterone.
And as stated above, testosterone drives sebum production, leaving you with an oily face and clogged pores…and eventually acne.
The common culprits that cause a blood sugar spike are your refined sugars in desserts, sweets, soft drinks, etc and general sugar.
Reduce your intake of overall sugar and when eating food high in carbohydrates, combine with a source of fat or protein such as avocado, hummus, nuts or seeds, to reduce the rise in blood sugar.
Another culprit is dairy, specifically A1 casein. Casein causes a blood sugar spike and triggers mTOR which is associated with increased sebum production. Reduce dairy intake or switch to A2 dairy.
4. OPTIMISE ELIMINATION
If you’re not going to the toilet regularly to poo or pee out the waste your body has accumulated, then it has to find the next available exit.
Unfortunately your third main elimination organ is your skin.
Make sure you are drinking 2L+ of water a day and enhance your liver’s detoxification & elimination ability through cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, dandelion root & leaves, burdock root) – this will ensure appropriate removal of any toxins that may cause inflammation in the skin and worsen your acne.
Chronic stress will worsen your acne in two ways:
1. Elevates cortisol: when your body goes into stress mode (whether that be a tiger chasing you or simply feeling swamped under your to-do list) your stress hormone cortisol is released.
Cortisol does amazing things to pump your body up for fight or flight mode and one of those things is elevate your blood sugar level so you have plenty of fuel available to supply a prolonged energy high (brilliant if you need to run a long distance away from that tiger or stay awake to finish an assignment before a looming deadline).
Unfortunately this spike in blood sugar will also drive increased testosterone production and – you got it – increased sebum production. Hello oily face and acne.
2. Stimulates sebum follicle: stress has this nifty trick that is also super annoying – stress activates the receptors within your sebum follicle (your oil gland) to increase skin cell replication (hello clogged pores), sebum production (hello oily face), and promotes inflammation in your pores (hello acne) This all leads to the formation of your blackheads and whiteheads.
Find your perfect way to wind down and de-stress. This can be anything from meditation, walking the dog, getting out in nature, reading a book or even watching your favourite Netflix show. Reigning your cortisol back into a healthy rhythm will go a long way to not only help your acne but many other aspects of your health!
There are many potential causes of acne and ways that it continues to flourish, and my above explanation covers only the most common ones. So hopefully adapting my top 5 recommendations can put you on the right path to having skin you are super proud of.
If you find you are struggling to control your unruly acne, I have an arsenal of amazing herbs and nutrients specifically indicated to help get that acne under control. Feel free to inquire about a consultation today, so that your skin may glow and you can feel amazing too!