Acne is a skin condition that affects millions of all ages. Like the appearance of acne itself, measures taken to resolve this condition vary greatly from person to person—in both approach and effectiveness. Acne certainly has many contributing factors and root causes, but overall we believe that an integrative treatment method is key for successful long term resolution. A thorough Nutritional Aesthetics™ approach to healing acne includes adjustments to diet,a close look at lifestyle and mindset, and topical skincare. Since hormones can be a major factor in the formation of acne, we asked NAA advisory board member, hormone health expert and founder of FloLiving.com, Alisa Vitti to weigh in on the condition. She gave us an in-depth look at some of the hormonal factors behind acne formation, as well as her top treatments:
Healing from Hormonal Acne, by Alisa Vitti
We assume that acne is something we get to leave behind in high school, along with the bad fashion choices and the mean girls, but for many women acne can linger on or even reappear after your 30th birthday. It’s enough to make you want to throw a teen tantrum, it’s that unfair!
Listen, I know your pain. I used to have painful cystic acne all over both my face and my back. I tried antibiotics, Retin-A, Proactiv, every potion, lotion and late night infomercial miracle cure I could get my hands on, and none of it worked. It would take me forever just to leave the house as I carefully tried to cover my acne so I could face the world. Acne can give your confidence a kicking and be a real source of depression. It really isn’t fair, so let’s fix it together.
There are three important pieces of information you need to make note of if you are going to heal your acne.
- Your age. The root cause of acne is different depending on this factor – acne in your 20s typically suggests poor diet choices; in your 30s breakouts can be a part of the pregnancy hormonal rollercoaster or high levels of career stress; and in your 40s it all comes back to declining estrogen production.
- Location. Where exactly it is that you get your acne – whether it’s on your back, your cheeks, your forehead, your chin – will tell you a whole lot about what’s going on inside your body. Each area is linked back to a bodily system, allowing you to pinpoint the flagging organs behind the breakout. Often the culprit is found to be hormonal imbalance, a malnourished liver, or gut inflammation. The key is knowing where to start. “Face Mapping” is a hybrid of modern skincare expertise and the ancient knowledge of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
- Timing. Noticing when you get acne is also a crucial tool for preventing breakouts. Is it before your period or when you’re ovulating? Most acne is hormonal, but some types are more integrally linked to our hormone cycle and can illustrate key imbalances.
Here are my top three recommendations for healing acne:
- Probiotics. Take a good quality probiotic. [NAA note: we recommend a refrigerated probiotic that contains a diverse spectrum of probiotic strains.] Supporting your gut microbiome will help your skin microbiome to heal by reducing inflammation. For more about making friends with your microbiome read this.
- Cod liver oil. It’s not a trendy supplement, but it works. Cod liver oil delivers the Vitamin A and D our skin needs to glow. It’s also packed with EPA and DHA essential fatty acids. Make sure you get the fermented kind of oil, because that retains twice the vitamins of processed oil. Top tip – capsules are easier to take than a spoonful of oil, because it tastes as bad as you might think!
- Cortisol flush. A good clean stress hormone detox, in the way of a burst of sweaty exercise (I like jumping on a mini trampoline in my living room!) or even a really good orgasm, will give you a dewy glow and help to banish stress related and hormonal acne.
Always remember, that once you have the right information about how your body really works, you can start making health choices that finally start to work for you! You can do this – the science of your body is on your side!
As a bonus, we asked Alisa an acne-related reader question posted on her recent Advisory Board feature:
“Is having one or two pimples with each period normal?
Changes in the skin due to the changes in your hormones are a normal part of the cycle. Acne however is a sign of hormonal overload and is not a normal part of the cycle. It’s true that you may become more oily due to the effects of increased testosterone in the luteal phase of your cycle. Whether that results in a pimple or two is up to other factors like how congested your liver, lymphatic system, and large intestines are. If those are sluggish due to pesticide exposure in food, or chemical exposure in your skin care products, then your ability to metabolize hormones will be slower and you should expect pimples. Just as the color, consistency, and length of your cycle can tell you essential information about your hormonal balance, the location of your pimples can tell you where you need to do your food healing work to have a clearer complexion next cycle. Blemishes on the chin, cheeks, forehead, temples, and jawline all point to different systems of the body being congested and needing specific dietary support.
As someone who struggled with severe cystic acne, milia, and blackheads all over my face, chest, and back for a decade, I know firsthand the power of supporting your endocrine function for not only optimal hormonal balance, but for it’s skin clearing and healing benefits!
We extend our gratitude to Alisa for weighing in on this major topic in skin health.
We want to hear from you!
How have Alisa’s three factors—age, location, and timing—contributed to your experience with acne?
What treatments and approaches have been the most successful toward the resolution of your acne, or that of your clients?