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Stop struggling with acne: your guide to clear skin

If you're struggling with adult acne, you're not alone.

Adult acne is more common than many realise. You thought that you were done with all those skin problems in your teen years right? Well, unlike teenage acne, which is often linked to puberty and hormonal changes, adult acne can be triggered by a variety of factors, making it frustrating and challenging to manage.

In this blog post, we will look at some of the causes of acne and what you can do about it, without resorting to harsh chemicals, restrictive diets and stress.


Some common causes of adult acne

1. Hormonal fluctuations and imbalances:  Hormonal changes are a primary cause of adult acne. Women often experience these fluctuations due to their menstrual cycles, pregnancy, the menopause, or conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

2. Stress: Stress plays a big part. When you're stressed, your body produces more cortisol, a hormone that can stimulate oil glands and exacerbate acne.

3. Diet: What you eat can impact your skin. Diets high in refined sugars, dairy, and processed foods can trigger inflammation and breakouts. On the other hand, a diet rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals can reduce inflammation, help the skin barrier to heal and reduce oil production and redness.

4. Skincare products: The skincare products you use can either help or hinder your results. Products that are too harsh or not suitable for your skin type can cause irritation and breakouts. We have been led to believe that acne prone skin requires harsh, strong and skin drying products, where as actually the opposite is true.

5. Environmental factors: Pollution and environmental toxins can clog pores and contribute to acne, as can our exposure to synthetic chemicals which lead to hormone imbalances.

6. Medication: Certain medications, including corticosteroids, lithium, and some birth control pills, can cause or worsen acne.

7. Underlying issues: There will be other things going on in the background that are contributing to the acne, such as imbalances in other hormones, detoxification issues, inflammation and if your digestive system is not digesting food and absorbing the nutrients as well as it should be. Your skin is often a reflection of what is going on inside- and there’s no judgment there but it is useful to be aware of that.


Do you find that you make changes – perhaps reducing how much sugar you eat for example and your acne improves for a while and then comes back again?  That will be because these underlying issues need to be addressed. A Nutritional Therapist can help with this.


Practical ways to start managing adult acne straight away

Non-comedogenic products: Use skincare products that are non-comedogenic, meaning they won't clog the pores. This is particularly important for moisturisers, sunscreens, and makeup.

Using natural, plant-based skincare products can make a significant difference. These products are gentle on the skin and free from harsh chemicals that can cause irritation and dryness.

Make sure your diet includes lots of fruits, vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats. Foods high in zinc, vitamin A, and antioxidants are particularly helpful.

Stress management: Find stress-reducing techniques that work for you such as yoga, meditation, and by regularly moving your body then include these in your life every week. You also need to be asking for support and saying no more often, but that’s for another blog.

Take three long, slow breaths before eating your food. This moves our body from fight or flight/stress to rest and digest so that you can properly digest your food and absorb the nutrients that are essential for your skin.

Support your lymphatic system: You need to help the lymph fluid move around your body especially if cystic acne around the jawline and neck is an issue for you. Think dry body brushing and daily movement.

 Case Study: How Sarah got her confidence back

Here is a real-life example of how this approach can work.

 Meet *Sarah, a 39-year-old marketing executive who came to my clinic having been struggling with adult acne for years. Despite trying various over-the-counter treatments, antibiotics, lots of different skincare products and making changes to her diet, her acne continued. The creams prescribed by her GP had cleared it up for a short time and then it came back. They also really irritated her skin. She knew that stress made her acne worse but she was in a vicious cycle with it. She felt completely overwhelmed with all the conflicting advice about acne and felt like she had tried everything. She was frustrated, fed up and anxious.  It was affecting her confidence and her work life and social life.

Nutritional changes: Sarah started by incorporating more anti-inflammatory foods into her diet, such as leafy greens, berries, and salmon and used some of the nourishing recipes and snack ideas I gave her so that she didn’t have to think about what to eat. She also reduced her intake of foods that cause a sudden spike in blood sugar levels and started to eat a lot more protein. We also discussed practical ways that she could drink more fluids throughout her day.

Skincare routine: She switched to a plant-based skincare routine, using our gentle cleanser and the lightweight moisturiser. We also worked on her mindset using health coaching tools to change the thoughts she had about her skin and acne and she started approaching her skincare routine from a place of ‘tackling/treating the acne’ to nourishing and caring for her skin.

Lifestyle adjustments: Sarah started doing yoga once a week to help with the stress and we came up with a plan to ensure she was getting at least eight hours of undisturbed and restful sleep each night. We discussed how else she could manage her stress levels and she started using a mindfulness app.

Results: Within three months, Sarah noticed a significant improvement in her skin. Her breakouts were less frequent and her overall skin tone and texture improved. She felt more confident and happier with her appearance. She also felt less bloated and had more energy.

*Name changed for confidentiality

Frequently asked questions about adult acne

Q: Can adult acne be a sign of an underlying health condition?

A: Yes, adult acne can sometimes indicate underlying health issues such as hormonal imbalances, PCOS, or stress-related disorders. That is why I take a thorough medical history and ask about other symptoms during my initial consultation with my clients.


Q: Are natural skincare products effective for adult acne?

A: Absolutely. Natural skincare products can be highly effective in managing adult acne, especially when combined with a nutritious diet and supportive lifestyle. Reducing the number of products that you are using and focussing on a couple is the best approach.


Q: How long does it take to see results with a holistic approach?

A: While individual results may vary, many people begin to see improvements within a few weeks. For significant and lasting results, it's important to maintain a consistent routine for at least three months. This is why I do not offer one off appointments in my clinic.


Q: Can stress really cause acne?

A: Yes, stress can trigger the release of cortisol, which can lead to increased oil production and inflammation, contributing to acne. Managing stress through relaxation techniques and self-care can help improve your skin. This is a big piece of the jigsaw puzzle that we always cover in my client programmes.


Q: Does drinking lots of water really make that much difference?

A: Hydration is crucial for maintaining healthy skin. Drinking enough water helps flush out toxins, keeps your skin hydrated, and supports overall skin function. If you find plain water boring, you can make herbal infusions to drink which gives it some flavour and help to clear your skin

Adult acne can be frustrating and challenging, but it really is possible to achieve clear skin. Whether you're dealing with occasional breakouts or persistent acne There is so much that can be done naturally and I hope that this blog has shown you that there are lots of practical changes you can make.

If you are fed up of trying to figure it out on your own and going round in circles, then get in touch. I am here to take away the overwhelm, give you a personalised plan and the support and motivation you need to follow it.

Hi, I’m Amy Woodcock. I am a nutritional therapist and health coach specialising in the skin and a natural skincare creator. My company Naturally Grown Health helps Women to transform their skin, look and feel fantastic and get their confidence back, all in a natural way through my skin clinic and my handmade plant based skincare and body care range.

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