Written by my Spring 2017 apprentice, Tricia Utley, this post discusses adult acne and how to clear your skin for good!
Over the last couple of decades, I have witnessed adult acne rise to the number one skin care concern among women.
I suffered from this type of “skinflammation” in my early 20’s, so it is really concerning to see this epidemic on the rise. Acne has traditionally been a problem for teens, but more and more is becoming a problem for adults.
If you look at the cosmetic shelves you will see that 99 percent of manufacturers still cater to this theory that bacteria and dirt are the issue. In actuality, acne can occur on any skin type. That’s right! Any skin type! Acne affects those with a genetic predisposition and is a disease rooted in inflammation.
Truthfully, it has more to do with what is going on inside your body than what you are doing topically (mostly!). You may be surprised to know that acne is actually just your body trying to send a message that something is not balanced inside, and if you pay attention you can restore harmony and cultivate radiant skin!
Map Your Acne
Time to face it! According to Dr. Ben Johnson of Osmosis Pur Medical Skincare, there are different types of acne based on the location on your face.
Acne on the jawline (from top of the ear to the corner of the nose and down the jaw) reveals a hormone dysregulation, a condition called estrogen dominance. This can be from birth control, or hormone disruptor chemicals in products such as deodorant, nail polish, fragrant plug-ins in your home or car air fresheners, dryer sheets, and other environmental toxicants. These products have ingredients that mimic natural estrogen and create an overabundance in your body. Removing these toxicants from your environment and upgrading your personal care products to safer alternatives is important if you want clear skin.
Upper face acne is telling a story of what is going on in your digestive system. If you are seeing acne on the forehead this represents the large intestine, the cheeks represent the stomach, and the temple area is the small intestine. This can be a result of gut infections or food allergies and sensitivities.
Another common spot is in the creases of the nose. This represents the esophagus and can mean acid reflux, or foods and drinks like alcohol irritating the back of the throat. If you are experiencing acne in these areas, it is important to find a health professional to determine if a gut infection is the issue. An elimination diet is also a good idea to see if there are specific food culprits behind the acne.
Photo courtesy of Osmosis Pur Medical Skincare
So what’s an acne prone lady to do?
Now that we know where the imbalance is, here are a few tips to clear your skin for good!
#1 Upgrade Your Self Care Ritual
Have your skin evaluated by a Licensed Esthetician to find out your true skin type. This will give you a map of how to balance the skin, and find topical nutrition to aid in healing.
A basic regimen of neutral cleansing and moisturizing with the right products will take you so far. Eliminate inflammatory ingredients like Sulfates, perfumes, scrubbing ingredients and acids like glycolic, and replace them with ingredients like kiwi surfactant, retinaldehyde, papaya and pineapple enzyme, vitamin C and Trioxolane. Masking daily to help the skin get rid of toxins and reduce inflammation is a great ritual to manage this daily load of impurities in the skin.
A note about conventional treatments
There are many problems with the conventional method of using acids, scrubs and benzoyl peroxide and antibiotics.
The first is that they all strip the skin. Typically, you will see a quick result of the skin clearing, followed by flaking redness and then some experience a resurgence of the condition. This happens because our natural defense is stripped and now we have not only an internal cause, but a topical one too. This approach can also age the skin over time. Finally, these products make your skin more sensitive to the sun, which will not only age you faster, but can contribute to brown spots and make your skin more sensitive to facial waxing.
#2 Get the Toxins out!
Our world is becoming more and more toxic. It is hard to imagine that most women apply over 126 chemicals to their face and body every morning according to the Environmental Working Group! (1)
Furthermore, we have been playing with our body chemistry through the use of hormonal birth control for decades now. With the longevity of these drugs, we are now observing that women in their 20’s are in the first generation of women who have had moms and grandmothers on birth control and these ladies are being given their prescriptions younger and younger. These prescriptions not only throw off your natural hormone balance, but also gut health as well.
Acne is an epidemic that is showing up in our 30’s for women who scarcely had more than a pimple or two in adolescence. Many women are prescribed hormonal birth control in an attempt to cure acne (and not for its intended use of preventing pregnancy) and find that either it doesn’t work or it only serves to mask the condition. Become an ingredient detective and avoid products that contain parabens, phthalates, parfum/fragrance, imidazolidinyl urea and PEG or polyethylene glycol as well as many more.
#3 Get to Know Your Body
What is insanely cool about the human body is that it knows what to do when things start going awry. What can’t be detoxed through the liver and excretory system will find other ways out, including shedding through the pores and skin.
While this presents as an unsightly lesion on your face, it just means the body is actually really innovative in trying to remove stuff that is harming you. Start a health journal and record your food, mood and diet. A comedone (acne lesion) takes 28 days or so to form and become a pimple so it can be hard to think back and determine what you were eating or how you were sleeping a month ago. Our bodies are like a river, constantly changing and adapting, so it’s crucial to keep track and create your own personal routines.
While acne can seem overwhelming initially, the tools I’ve just mentioned can be the gateway to having healthy beautiful skin for the rest of your life! Don’t sweat it! Upgrade one thing at a time and learn more about the ingredients you are putting on and in your body. These new self-care rituals and tips can restore balance in your body and don’t have to take any extra time.
Tricia Utley, L.E. is the owner of American Apothecary Skin a holistic skincare clinic in Nashua, NH. She is a Certified Holistic Skin Care Specialist and Holistic Lifestylist who is passionate about women’s health and wellness. Please visit her website for more info on how Tricia can help you!