A common plague of women and men alike, whether they be pre-pubscent, post-natal, or otherwise is that of acne. Acne and other unpleasant skin conditions are common and easily overlooked as “normal”. For those who want treatment for their skin, the options are slim and usually very damaging to the body. Rather than taking acutane, birth control, antibiotics, or using a slew of toxic washes and creams, consider the following regarding skin health:
Acne is an indication that there is a toxic condition in the body. The root cause is usually poor diet, as the Standard American Diet (SAD) is high in low-nutrient inflammatory foods that cause imbalances in the body. Exposure to environmental toxins is also indicated. The skin is the bodies largest eliminatory organ. Acne can simply be an indication that the body is attempting to release toxins out of the body, is suffering from an imbalance in healthy bacteria, has compromised gut health, or hormonal imbalances. Acne can also be an indication of poor hygiene, food sensitivities, heavy metal toxicity, and stress.
How to have clear, healthy skin
The first, and most important thing you can do to have healthy skin and improve conditions of acne is to eat a clean diet. A plant-based whole food diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds is best. These foods are high in nutrients and antioxidants that not only give the body the building blocks it needs for superior health, but aids the body in it’s natural detoxifying process and healing. The skin is an indication of how the body is on the inside. If the skin is inflammed by acne or otherwise you know the body is inflammed within. The best way to get to the root of the problem is to create a healthy, alkaline and anti-inflammatory condition within the body. Foods such as sugar, refined oils, dairy products, processed foods, gluten, and non-organic eggs/meats are often a source of inflammation for many and this presents quickly in the skin. If you’re unsure where to start to clean up your diet, you can read my book “The Medicinal Power of Food”. Check it out, here.
Our body relies heavily on water for every single function in the body. Most importantly, water helps us to flush out unwanted waste and toxins that we encounter just through living. Dehydration often results in recycling toxins through the body. It also leads to dry skin conditions that are unpleasant. The skin is a very large organ and requires a lot of hydration to keep ALL of it smooth and supple. Drinking water also ensures that toxins are eliminated properly through the bowels or pores via sweating rather than being pushed through the skin as acne. Aim for 150 oz of pure, filtered or distilled water each day.
Exercise is an often overlooked, but important aspect of skin health. One reason being that exercise is necessary for moving the “lymph” or toxic waste stored through our lymphatic system. Our blood stream has a heart which pumps it through the body allowing it to regenerate. Our lymphatic system however, does not have a mechanism to help it move toxins through the body. Exercise allows this to happen. Exercise also helps you to sweat, which releases unwanted waste through the pores of the skin and helps to purify and clean the skin while also balancing the bacteria on it’s surface when paired with proper hygiene.
Don’t suffocate the skin with makeup
Although it may be difficult to do, removing conventional drug store foundations and other skin-suffocating make up products from your routine are a must. These are often filled with toxic chemicals that are damaging to the skin, as well as clogging pores that are important for the skin to breathe and eliminate. Often wearing foundation actually creates an acne problem, and it is a vicious cycle to stay on top of. When I weaned from foundation, I simply reduced the days I wore it one by one, trying to stick to only spots until I could bear my bare face. By implementing the other suggestions in this post, acne should clear up over time. Most importantly – I truly believe our faces are so beautiful how they are and don’t need to be covered up even if our skin isn’t in perfect condition. There are also many great, non-toxic make up companies out there that provide light foundations that will have a less acne-producing effect.
Avoid harsh, toxic soaps and other hygiene products
Most hygiene products on the market today are chalk full of toxic, endocrine disrupting chemicals that are not only damaging to the delicate bacterial balance of the skin, but the health of the entire body. Many of these chemicals have been shown in studies to cause cancer, disrupt hormones, cause infertility, and damage gut health. These chemicals kill the healthy bacteria on the surface of the skin which is necessary for warding off bad bacteria, viruses, fungus, and other invaders. Healthy bacteria is necessary for healthy, balanced, glowing skin. The skin is also extremely porous and absorbent, so anything we put on the skin will be drawn into the blood stream, wrecking havoc on other areas of the body. Teenage Kyra was a pretty big fan of “cotton candy” smelling lotion, as my middle school boyfriends can attest… So I understand the difficulty in removing these products from the routine. Instead try the following:
Cleanse & hydrate the skin naturally
The skin doesn’t require much to be cleaned, as it has it’s own mechanisms in place to help it clean itself. B.O. (body odor) is actually often due to eating unhealthy or an imbalance of bacteria on the skin. Adhering to the above suggestions can remove bad body odor. All you really need is filtered water, as well as a gentle, non-toxic soap such as a castile (hemp) soap. I enjoy Dr. Bronners castile soap diluted for removing dirt, sweat, or makeup. Otherwise, I have found that just water alone is sufficient! You can use apple cider vinegar on a cotton ball as a simple, effective astringent. Witch hazel, and lemon juice are other natural alternatives.
The skin is a naturally oily surface, so it actually responds quite well to natural oils (for most people). I have found that water, and then hydrating with a little coconut oil each evening before bed leaves my skin very healthy. Coconut oil can be a little drying for some or oily for others. To experiment, try other natural oils like olive oil, almond oil, or jojoba oil, which all act differently on the skin for different skin types.
Natural exfoliation as needed
I find that about once every week or two I have a build up of dead skin that needs removing. I have enjoyed the following simple recipe for exfoliating:
- 1/4 c extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil, melted
- 2-3 tbsp sea salt or pink himalayan sea salt
Mix ingredients together in a small bowl. After rinsing your face with warm water, gently exfoliate the skin by rubbing hands softly in circular motions around the face. Avoid getting the scrub in your eyes. When you’re done, rinse the scrub off and pat your face dry with a towel. This will also naturally hydrate your skin.
Dry brushing is a great exercise that helps to move lymph through the lymphatic system, improve circulation, scrub off dying skin, exfoliate, and bring blood to the surface of the skin for healing. Although it isn’t recommended to use a normal dry brush on your face (the natural bristles are quite brash), I wanted to suggest that dry brushing the body helps to improve the over-all condition of the skin. It’s best done first thing in the morning before a shower, working in circular motions from the feet up, always brushing toward the heart.
Some other simple, less intuitive tips for improving skin health are: getting a full nights rest, reducing stress, deep breathing, cleaning pillow cases regularly, and avoid touching your face.
Herbs to improve skin health
Herbs are gentle, natural alternatives for skin products and are very healing for the skin! It is easy to make a tea and use a cotton cloth to wash the face, or simmer herbs and place your face over them for a nice facial steam. You can also put teas in a spray bottle to spray on your face as part of your routine. Some good soothing herbs for the skin are: red raspberry leaf, chamomile, lavender, aloe vera and jasmine. Anti-microbial herbs for a more serious acne condition are: tea tree, lemon balm, and lemon.