Back to school can bring back a lot of insecurities along with it, and one of the biggest ones for teens and young adults is acne.
September is Acne Awareness Month, and I wanted to take this opportunity to have a look at the best ways to promote good skin health so that you, or your teenager, can head back into school with confidence-- and better health.
Radiate From the Inside Out
One of the things that is often overlooked is that our skin health has much more to do with our internal health than anything else.
We have taken a largely external approach to skin in our society with skin health, looking to creams, cleansers, or other products as the solution. While these things can be supportive, the root cause always lies within.
Our skin is our body’s largest organ, and like our heart, liver, or kidneys, it needs to be supported with healthy habits.
What Causes Acne?
There are a few key factors that typically cause acne breakouts, at any age.
- Hormonal Fluctuations - This is why we associate acne with puberty, and why many women break out around their periods. As hormones in our bodies fluctuate, they can become imbalanced and lead to a higher production of skin sebum (oil) as well as inflammation and changes in skin cell production, which can be a recipe for acne. Checking on your hormone levels to ensure they are in balance can help with acne linked to hormones.
- Poor Diet - Inadequate levels of certain vitamins and minerals can leave your skin more prone to breakouts, as well as eating a diet high in inflammatory foods like processed, deep-fried, and sugary foods.
- Food Sensitivities - Sometimes you may be eating healthy foods, but eating the wrong foods for you. Any food sensitivities you’re unaware of may be causing inflammation and extra stress on your immune system, digestive system and thus the outside – our skin. Common food sensitivities include: dairy, gluten, soy, corn and eggs. Food sensitivity testing is available from most Naturopathic Doctors.
- Poor Gut Health - Poor microbiome can lead to decreased ability to absorb the nutrients skin needs, and “Leaky Gut” where there are small disruptions in your intestinal lining can lead to bacteria entering your bloodstream and affecting skin health. Check with your health care provider if probiotics or a candida cleanse could support better gut and skin health for you.
- Stress - Stress puts a huge amount of strain on our entire body-- and that tends to show up on our faces. Stress hormones can also lead to further imbalances and inflammation tied to acne breakouts. Find stress-relieving techniques such as yoga or deep breathing exercises and remember to take your stress-busting supplements such as B vitamins, magnesium, Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, and Siberian ginseng.
- Dehydration - Dry skin is actually more prone to acne breakouts than oily skin, as the skin overproduces sebum as a way to compensate. Being well hydrated also staves off wrinkles, and gives your skin the ‘glow’ we all desire. Try infusing your water with herbs or fruit to encourage more drinking!
Healthy Skin Tips
1. Support your Skin Naturally through Whole Foods - The best way to get your essential nutrients is through whole organic foods. Below is a list of skin-friendly nutrients and the foods that contain them.
– cod liver oil, yellow and orange fruits and vegetables, dark green leafy vegetables
– blackstrap molasses, brown rice, brewer’s yeast
– citrus fruits, rose hips, red and green peppers, broccoli
– freshly pressed safflower oil
– freshly ground flax seeds, freshly pressed flaxseed oil, evening primrose oil, wild caught fish
2. Eat Clean to be Clear - Avoid processed foods and sugar, sticking to organic whole foods wherever possible.
3. Choose Clean Products For Your Skin - Many commercially available products contain chemicals such as phthalates and parabens that are not only hard on the skin but often disrupt hormones and cause stress on the liver and detoxification pathways. Consult with our body care staff for clean beauty products.
I hope these tips help you in whatever journey you’re having with your skin, but remember— you are not defined by what you look like on the outside, but who you are on the inside, and skin health is no different.
Here’s to a fantastic school year from the inside out!