Nearly 85% of people have acne at some point during their life, which means that if you’re reading this, chances are you’ve had acne in the past or are currently coping with a breakout. The bad news is that acne isn’t just a teenage problem: although it usually starts in puberty, it can affect adults well into their 30s, 40s, and sometimes even 50s.
It can be caused by a wide range of factors, including a hormonal imbalance, oily skin, menstrual cycles, stress, unhealthy eating, and exposure to environmental toxins. The good news, though, is that there are plenty of steps you can take to clear up problematic skin. Here’s a look at some healthy ways to effectively banish acne and irritated skin.
Drink plenty of water. It sounds suspiciously simple, but drinking water eliminates toxins in the body while ridding your skin of dirt and oils. So how much water should you be aiming to drink each day? A good goal is to drink half your body weight in ounces every day (so if you weigh 120 pounds, you would want to drink 60 ounces of water, or just under eight 8-oz cups). If you spend a lot of time on-the-go, try carrying a water bottle with you so that you’ll remember to stay hydrated.
Eat a healthy diet. Along with water, this is another way to treat acne from the inside out. You can eat certain healthy foods to reduce current inflammation as well as the likelihood of a future breakout. Foods with vitamin A, such as fish oil, carrots, broccoli, and salmon help regulate skin cycles so that you don’t get oils and acne-causing proteins stuck in your pores. Turkey, almonds, Brazil nuts, and wheat germ all contain zinc, which helps calm irritated skin during a breakout. Additionally, vitamin E and vitamin C work synergistically to help calm your skin and reduce redness. Try citrus fruits and tomatoes for vitamin C, and pick up some sweet potatoes, nuts, avocadoes, or leafy greens for vitamin E.
Avoid foods that make acne worse. If you’re in the middle of a particularly bad breakout, try cutting out dairy, as the growth hormones that are in a lot of milk make acne worse. Try almond or soy milk as a healthy alternative. You should also avoid foods with a high glycemic index, such as white bread, potatoes, and sugary drinks, as these seem to cause acne breakouts in some people.
Practice good face-washing habits. Wash your face at least 2 times a day if you’re experiencing acne. Splash on a bit of cold water first, as this helps tighten the pores. Next use a cleanser or a mild soap and rinse with warm water. Try to avoid soaps with a very alkaline pH; these can irritate and dry out your skin, which can make acne worse. Look for facial cleansers that have at least one of the following ingredients:
- Salicylic acid: helps clear pores and reduce swelling and redness
- Sodium selfacetamede: interferes with the growth of bacteria
- Benzoyl peroxide: exfoliates skin and kills bacteria
When you finish rinsing off your facial cleanser, splash some cold water on your face. Using warm water actually opens up the pores and exposes them to bacteria, so you’ll want to finish off with cold water to tighten up those pores again.
Get a deep cleansing facial. This last tip involves spending a little bit more money than some of the others, but if you really want to treat yourself (and your skin), many spas offer deep cleansing facials that keep pores free of excess oils and blackheads. Some spas, like Chicago’s Thrive Med Spa, offer facials specifically for teenagers and adults who are prone to acne and utilize anti-bacterial masks and cleansers like salicyclic acid.
Whether or not you’re currently dealing with acne, it’s important to actively take care of your skin to avoid future breakouts. Healthy living promotes healthy skin, so make sure you’re eating a well-balanced diet, staying hydrated, and washing your face with non-irritating cleansers. Your skin will thank you.