By Kali Kushner
When I was in high school I couldn’t wait to finally “grow up”, I wanted an apartment, a car, a job, my own dog, and most importantly at the top of all my adult “wants”, I wanted clear skin. I always had a little bit of teenage acne in high school and for whatever reason when I looked at myself I felt it was severe. That was until I turned 20 and actually developed severe cystic nodular acne. In a matter of months my skin went from relatively blemish free to a canvas covered in pimples and marks. Without any changes in diet, skincare, or lifestyle, I wasn’t exactly sure what brought about my sudden surge of acne and began to feel lost, isolated, and confused. I remember looking around in my college classes, taking note of everyone’s skin, and most of the time being the only one in the whole room with noticeable acne.
Of course I’d spend hours every single day researching how to get rid of acne, finding those washes and creams that Ive already tried ormost of the advice would pertain only to teenage pimples. That was when I realized I was a full on adult, this wasn’t normal acne anymore, this was adult acne. That being said… it was a whole other ball game. I began to completely shift my focus, restart my research and relearn everything I thought I knew about acne to really find out what causes it.
It goes without saying adulting is hard work. It seems the older we get the more responsibilities we inherit as well, full time work, making car payments, buying a house, having kids, even just making ends meet to pay bills at times can seem impossible. It’s no wonder all these things add up and when you stress out, well you breakout.
To make matters worse when you breakout, you stress out becauseyou arebreaking out and then things just seem to spiral out of control in a vicious cycle. When your stressed your hormones get all out of whack, your adrenal glands make the stress hormone (cortiso)l and a bit of testosterone is created as well. This can be a huge driving force causing the oil glands to overproduce oil (which we all know is a huge root cause of acne).
It’s all about balance, namaste. As you age your hormones begin to change, in fact they change pretty frequently with every life stage. Unfortunately health related issues like high levels of testosterone or PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) may be to blame. PCOS is a condition where the ovaries are enlarged with small cysts on their edges, and it creates several notable side effects like acne, obesity, excessive hair growth, and depression.
PCOS has become increasingly common in young girls and awareness is skyrocketing on social media platforms like Instagram with people like @leefromamerica sharing their stores and being huge advocates in natural healing.
Listen to your gut instinct! There’s a balance of good (probiotics) and bad bacteria that live in your digestive track. When this balance gets thrown off by stress, poor diet, or lack of sleep the bad guys start to take over. Even prolonged usage of antibiotics can throw off this delicate balance, interfering with digestion and producing toxins. I
n the long run this can lead to intestinal issues, digestion issues, and even leaky gut syndrome. This is bad news for acne sufferers as it can increase levels of inflammation, create food allergies, increase stress or emotional problems, and begin a nutrient deficiency due to incomplete digestion. The scary part is that most of these symptoms go unnoticed or are sooo minimal that they are brushed off by most acne sufferers!
Back at it again with the ermmm hormones? From my experience if I’ve learned anything it’s that acne is like 70% hormones, 15% diet, and 15% skincare. Of course my opinion on that is always shifting but hormones always take up a hugepart, they’re basically at the root cause of any breakout so if they’re frequently changing of course your skin is going to freak! If you are going through huge life changes like menopause or are pregnant, your hormones are going through significant changes to support the type of living environment your body needs. Even periods create an imbalance in hormones, leading to that stubborn monthly breakout.
Wait, you can wash your face toomuch? Yes, yes you can. Unfortunately that 12 step routine morning and night that kept your face spot free when you were 16 may not be what you need when you’re 23. Again, as you age everything is constantly changing so we can’t expect to continue using the same skincare routine and see results, we have to change along with it!
I didn’t think twice about washing my face less than twice a day, that was always the standard and what was recommended by my dermatologist, but after forgetting to wash my face a few times (oops) my skin actually looked and felt healthier. Turns out if you have sensitive or dry skin, washing once a day and keeping skincare simple may actually benefit you more in the long run compared to those harsh cleansers and scrubs filled with irritating ingredients.
So it’s not the stereotypical foods like greasy pizza and chocolate that cause acne, but foods that create a spike in inflammation like dairy and refined carbs can have a profound impact on your skin. Acne sufferers already naturally have higher levels of inflammation (IGF1) so when something like dairy or refined carbs is consumed it canwors cause an excess of insulin or inflammation, resulting in cystic acne.
In addition, as we age it is possible to develop food intolerances where our bodies can process foods we used to eat the same way. Either way, the best diet you can eat if you are acne prone is one rich in low glycemic index, anti inflammatory, and antioxidant rich whole organic foods.