By now, you have probably read your fair share of skincare articles that tell you that one of the keys to nipping acne in the bud for clear, radiant skin starts with a healthy inside. For the most part, this information is very accurate – if you’re fueling up on empty calories that are riddled with preservatives (chips, soda, fast food, etc.), not only are you going to feel terrible, your skin will start to look and feel that way too.
Filling up on fresh produce, drinking plenty of water and upping your protein intake creates balance in your diet and can also help you attain that vibrant, clear and youthful complexion that every skin-savvy gal wants.
But is cutting out junk food enough to battle breakouts?
The bad news: there are a ton of acne triggers that we expose ourselves to on a daily basis – even some that don’t seem like they have anything to do with skincare at all (just check out #2 on our list below).
The good news: these triggers can be completely avoidable!
Read on to learn about these unexpected acne-causers and what you can do to help rid your lives of them.
1. You may be feeding a minor food allergy.
Sure, you may follow a sensible diet, but if you are still experiencing breakouts on a regular basis, it may be time to look at what you are filling up your plates with. The most common food allergens associated with chronic skin conditions, mainly acne, are gluten, dairy, caffeine, alcohol and sugar. If avoiding these allergens altogether seems like an impossible battle you aren’t willing to take on, I get it – I find myself daydreaming about cheese on a daily basis and I wouldn’t even be able to write this article without my morning java. The good news is, just because you’re sensitive to one of these common food allergens doesn’t mean you’re sensitive to all of them. Try nixing one allergen at a time for two weeks to see how you feel and how your skin reacts. Keep a food diary during these trials and take note if you ended up breaking out after you re-introduce that allergen back into your diet.
2. You’re using the wrong toothpaste.
See, I told you. Mind BLOWN. But just hear me out. If you experience unpleasant bumps around your lips, then you may need to look at your toothpaste as the culprit. “Common ingredients seen in mainstream toothpaste formulations, such as fluoride and sulfates, have shown to be potential triggers in an acne-like condition around the mouth, known as perioral dermatitis,” says Daniel Clary, L.E., C.O.E. and the Director of Global Education at GLOWBIOTICS MD. We suggest sticking to more natural toothpastes that don’t contain these ingredients. And before you get upset about us taking your whitening toothpaste away… have no fear, there are plenty of natural toothpastes with whitening capabilities out there!
3. You’re disrupting your skin’s natural pH.
Just like you, your skin needs balance to stay happy and function properly. The next time you cleanse your face, take a look at the ingredients listed on the bottle. If you see the words Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or Sodium Laureth Sulfate or their abbreviations (SLS or SLES, respectively) then it is time to say goodbye to your cleanser. Cleansers with sulfates will make your skin extremely alkaline and will throw off its natural pH which can trigger inflammation when your skin is exposed to environmental factors. Look for a cleanser that is 100% sulfate-free to help your skin maintain proper pH, hydration, vitality… and happiness.
4. Bright lights, big city… bad breakouts. Let’s detox to retox!
Living in a city like LA or New York, or a highly-congested area of any city, you are going to be exposed to more pollutants than the dwellers of suburbia. Even if you maintain a proper diet, you still need to up your detoxification game to rid your body of harmful toxins.
Here are a couple of tips to help you get the process started:
- - Try practicing yoga a few times a week. Twists help aid in the detoxification process – plus they feel really good!!!
- - Take regular Epsom salt baths to help draw out toxins as your body absorbs vital magnesium. Aim for 3 to 4 times a week. I like to take my Epsom salt baths after my yoga workouts since they aid in muscle recovery and also help you stay “zened out” even after Savasana.
- - Use treatment products or masks that are specifically made to purify your skin. Try using this daily treatment that includes Chelasyn, an ingredient that helps detoxify the skin; once or twice a week, use a purifying clay mask to help gently draw out daily environmental toxins. May I suggest doing a mask while taking an Epsom salt bath? Sounds like heaven!
- - Apply a sun shield every morning before going outside that is rich is protective zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
5. Your skincare routine hasn’t changed all year – or ever.
Remember that saying, “Variety is the spice of life!”? Well, the same thing can be said for your skincare regimen. We are constantly reminded to eat seasonally by health & wellness experts for optimal health, but did you know that you also need to switch up your skincare lineup seasonally too? What your thirsty and wind-chapped skin needs in the winter is wildly different than what your sweaty and sticky skin needs in the summer. Heavy creams that are cold-weather appropriate may be too rich for your skin in the summer and can cause breakouts; your lightweight, oil-absorbing hydrator may not be moisturizing enough to withstand frigid temperatures and can also cause breakouts if your skin gets irritated enough.
And while we’re on the subject if switching up skincare products, if you’re still under the impression that the Benzoyl Peroxide-loaded face wash you used in high school to combat breakouts is appropriate to use in your 30s and 40s, you are wrong. Just like your skin requires different vitamins and nutrients as the seasons change, as you age (gracefully, of course), your skin’s needs also change. Instead of piling on harsh topical acne fighters that will only anger your skin, try using a gentle acne cleanser with 2% Salicylic Acid, and an oil-absorbing hydrator to maintain balance.
Denise Prichard has been an avid beauty, health and nutrition writer for over five years - specializing in wellness, skincare, yoga & meditation, and clean eating recipes. She graduated with a degree in English from Arizona State University in 2010 and currently runs her own blog, Fueled by Vegetables, a project that stems from her passion of living a healthy, joyful life and encouraging others to do the same. She believes that beauty comes from within and can be achieved through a health driven lifestyle. Denise practices what she preaches as she is a certified yoga instructor and enjoys sharing her love of yoga with others, blogging about beauty & skincare tips (she is the skincare model for her company’s brand videos), inventing yummy and nutritious recipes and of course hanging out with her rescue dogs, Eleanor & Stevie.