As a Holistic Nutritionist and Acne Coach, acne is an incredibly passionate topic of mine. I have helped thousands of women clear their acne. I have had my fair share of acne struggles (see image below) and I understand the pain, frustration and confusion that comes along with suffering from acne.
If you’ve found yourself googling “how to clear my acne” or throwing hundreds of dollars on skincare products – look no further. I’ve got you covered!
How I Cleared My Cystic Acne
I personally have suffered from cystic acne, rosacea, fungal acne and more. I get it – I’ve been there. These are some photos of me at age 21, during one the most mentally challenging and transformative years of my life. My acne clearing journey not only helped clear my skin, but it also helped me grow into my most beautiful self and allowed me to discover my full potential in all areas of my life. It’s a journey I’ll never forget.
The photos below document the day I decided to start my acne clearing journey (it truly had been way worse than this). The photo in the middle documents about ~2 months into my acne clearing journey. The photo on the right is around ~4 months into my journey.
I want to share with you some lessons I learned on my acne clearing journey. Here are some of the best tips that I give my readers and clients. Before we dive into those, I want to share with you a few reasons why you might be experiencing acne.
Why You Might Have Acne
Acne occurs because of an inner imbalance in the body. There is always a root cause for your acne. Here are some reasons why you might be dealing with acne:
- You are genetically-prone: most people who struggle with acne have genetically acne-prone skin. This does not mean you have to live with acne for the rest of your life, but it does mean you are likely be more susceptible to it if your body is out of natural balance. This is why we can’t compare our skin or healing journey to others’ – we all have different genetic makeups, diets, lifestyles and stress levels. The good news? Watch this quick video explaining acne and genetics. My job is to educate my clients on how to manage and prevent future breakouts.
- You are having digestive issues: almost all of my clients struggle with gut health issues, and that’s because our gut is responsible for absorbing & delegating nutrients, removing harmful waste products like toxic substances and harmful excess hormones. Our gut microbiome plays a significant role in metabolizing estrogen, immune health (our skin is a part of our immune system) and so much more. Working on gut health helps to clear up acne immensely.
- You recently came off the birth control Pill: post-pill acne is common due to androgen rebound (where your androgen hormones surge when you stop hormonal birth control, trigger sebum production and contribute to inflammation and breakouts), but it’s also important to address inflammation, nutrient deficiencies and balancing of your natural estrogen-progesterone ratio to avoid post-pill acne.
- You are having cravings and you get “hangry” often: if you experiencing cravings for sugar, bread and sweets, and if you easily get “hangry” when you skip a meal, you might be experiencing imbalanced blood sugar. A spike in blood sugar can trigger sebum production and, therefore, lead to clogged and inflamed pores.
- You are stressed: I mean, who isn’t? If you aren’t properly addressing or managing your stress, the high cortisol can lead to increased sebum production and adrenal issues, both which can contribute to acne. There are several ways to manage stress via diet, supplements, lifestyle and mindset.
- You have bacterial overgrowth: This is heavily connected to gut health, but an important connection. If you’ve struggled with any kind of yeast (candida) or bacterial overgrowth (for example: travel sickness, strep infection, etc.) it could be connected to your acne. When we have an overgrowth or infection, this signals and inflammatory response to the body and therefore our skin. It’s important to address this from a root cause perspective, not just with antibiotics which could make your gut more susceptible to these incidences in the long-run.
To understand the other reasons why you might be experiencing acne, grab your copy of The Acne Protocol, my guide for clearing acne naturally.
Here are 3 of my favourite ways to reduce stress to help clear acne:
- Jogging – this helped me immensely in my acne-clearing journey. A light jog around the neighbourhood boost endorphins helps to clear the mind and supports the lymphatic system (helps keep skin clear).
- Deep breathing – take a few deep breaths throughout the day significantly lowers stress. These deep breaths signal our parasympathetic nervous system (our “rest and digest” mode) which helps our body slow down, absorb nutrients in the food we eat and manage cortisol.
- Chamomile tea is my favourite calming herbal tea when I’m feeling stressed. It’s a great one to sip on before bed when you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed.
Acne is complex, but the journey to clear skin doesn’t have to be!
What is the Best Diet for Acne?
As a Holistic Nutritionist, I am incredibly passionate about fighting acne through food & nutrition. Food plays a beautiful role in body balancing and clear skin. Here’s what you need to know.
- Avoid restrictive dieting: food fear plays a big role for many who suffer from acne. Restrictive dieting could actually make your acne worse. Instead of removing food groups or trying the newest diet trend, instead, consider this…
- Eat real, whole foods. Focus on a plant-heavy diet with lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy fats and protein at every meal.
- The worst foods to eat for acne are conventional animal proteins (high in hormones like cortisol), cow’s dairy (increases sebum production), refined/processed sugars (damage the microbiome) and inflammatory oils like canola oil (increase inflammation).
- Some of the best foods to eat for acne are plenty of organic vegetables, seeds, healthy fats like avocado and fruits high in Vitamin C. I love using herbs and superfoods to help support acne, like green tea and turmeric.
To understand more about the best diet for acne, be sure to check out The Acne Protocol Bundle, which includes a list of acne-fighting foods and 33 staple tried-and-true recipes designed to promote clear skin and fight acne.
What are the Best Supplements for Acne?
This is a very important part of clearing your acne. Have you found yourself purchasing a supplement online late at night because you saw an influencer raving about how it “changed their life” and “cleared their acne”? Yup, I’ve been there too. However, this can often be more dangerous for your skin than good.
- Do a supplement audit – why are you taking the supplements you are? Is it because you saw someone post about it on Instagram or because you truly have a good reason for taking it?
- Make sure your supplements are good quality. Poor quality supplements like this one and this one are almost always loaded with unnecessary additives like sugars, artificial flavours and harmful ingredients that could make your acne worse. Plus, the actual supplement will likely be difficult for your body to utilize or absorb due to its low-quality sourcing. Make sure your supplements are third-party testing & from a reputable, well-researched brand. With supplements, usually, you get what you pay for.
- Avoid these supplements (usually triggers for people with acne-prone skin) unless recommended to you by a practitioner who knows your health information: Vitamin B12 (unless deficient), algae-derived omegas, iodine & biotin, whey protein powder
The Best Supplements for Clearing Acne
The best supplements for acne are the ones that will support the unique root cause of your skin problems. So, this will look different for everybody. However, here are a few of my favourites that might work for you!
- Probiotics are essential for healthy skin. The research around the gut-mind-skin connection is outstanding and really shows us how important our gut microbiome health is for fighting acne and keeping skin clear. Choose a probiotic that is third-party tested and high quality, like this one.
- Magnesium is a supplement all women should be aware of! Some studies show that around 80% of women in North America struggle with meeting their magnesium requirements. For example, If you drink tap water with fluoride in it, you are more at risk for magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is essential for hormone balancing, healthy sleep and more. These all play a huge role in clearing acne. It’s important to discuss supplementing with magnesium with your practitioner (or read the supplement section in The Acne Protocol), as different forms of magnesium are used for different purposes.
- Zinc is a popular mineral used to fight acne. Zinc supplementation can be used to help speed up the acne clearing process, but just like magnesium there are many different forms. Read the supplement section in The Acne Protocol or include zinc-rich foods like free-range organic chicken, pumpkin seeds (my favourite!), chickpeas and when you’re feeling fancy, oysters.
If you want to learn more about which supplements you should take to fight acne, depending on your specific root cause, you can find all the information you’re looking for in The Acne Protocol Bundle.
What is the best skincare for acne?
Skincare for acne can be confusing, but it doesn’t have to be.
Our skin contains an outer layer called the skin barrier, which helps to protect the skin and maintain a healthy level of hydration. On the skin (around your hair follicles) your sebaceous glands secrete sebum, your skin’s natural oil production, needed to keep your skin’s biome regular and blemish-free.
If your skin is too dry or too oily, this means your skin barrier is weak. This also means that your sebaceous glands are either under-producing or over-producing sebum. This can cause problems in the long run, like blocked pores which lead to inflammation of the skin and acne.
The most common mistake I see with my clients is people “overdoing” their skincare routines. Here are some things I recommend avoiding:
Which skincare products to avoid when you have acne
- Avoid using too many harsh ingredients like acids, exfoliants and chemical peels as to not damage the skin barrier.
- Avoid using pore-clogging ingredients.
- Just because a product is natural and organic does not make it acne-safe.
- Just because a product is acne-friendly does not make it non-toxic or safe for your hormones.
- Keep your skincare routine simple – avoid using too many products at once. This can overwhelm your skin and weaken its’ ability to function properly on its’ own.
What is the best product for acne?
My favourite skincare product of all time is raw or manuka honey. I love honey because it is gentle on the skin. It’s also packed with nourishing properties that help fight acne & keep your skin’s natural balance.
My favourite way to use honey is as a gentle face cleanser or a quick honey mask (10-30 mins 1-3x per week).
If you’re interested in learning my step-by-step guide to clear your acne, make sure to check out my signature ebook, The Acne Protocol.