It’s one of the most common skin conditions, affecting an estimated 1 in 10 people worldwide. And you’d think by now there would be an official cure, but acne isn’t understood very well and scientists still don’t really have one.
You can, however, help prevent acne and breakouts by really understanding how it’s caused.
WHAT IS ACNE?
Let’s just get this out there right off the bat –your skin needs oil. It’s a misconception and an oversimplification to say “oil causes acne”. The issue isn’tthat your face produces oil, but rather the oil in your pores gets trapped byexcess oil, dead skill cells, or bacteria. This causes inflammation and pimples on your face, neck, back, and shoulders.
HOW CAN I PREVENT IT?
1. Drink water and green tea
Clear skin starts with hydration, so make sure you’re drinking plenty of H2O. Actually, go grab a glass of water right now. I’ll wait.
Also, fun fact: green tea has been called the healthiest beverage on the planet. Among a myriad of impressive health benefits, green tea reduces inflammation and is great for managing other acne symptoms.
2. Wash your face
If dead skin cells and bacteria are clogging your pores and trapping oils, the easiest way to help prevent acne is to clear away the dead skin cells and bacteria. Cleansing your face before bed (and after any sweaty activities) goes a long way, but don’t forget to moisturize after. If you dry out your skin, your glands will overcompensate by producing way more oil, and then you’re right back where you started.
3. Limit your sugar intake
Here’s the thing with sugar. If you consume a lot of it in one sitting, your insulin level is going to spike. Insulin contributes to acne development by making skin cells grow faster and therefore causing a higher production of oil. Cutting down on the pop and junk food will help keep your breakouts at bay.
4. Watch your refined carbohydrates intake
Studies have shown people with acne consume more refined carbs than people without acne. And – no surprise – refined carbohydrates increase insulin levels. Some of the worst culprits are pasta, white bread, white rice and rice noodles, pizza, or anything delicious that makes life worth living. (Just kidding, healthy food is delicious too - please don’t send us hate mail!)
5. Move away from milk
We’ve all heard plenty of times that cow’s milk isn’t actually all that good for you, and add acne to the list of problems. There isn’t an exact reason yet, but scientists have a few theories on why cow’s milk is associated with acne. One reason could be that the sugar in the milk causes a spike in blood sugar and insulin levels, which, as we all know and have mentioned ad nauseum in this article, is bad for acne. Another reason could be the hormones in the milk from pregnant cows are triggering the overproduction of oil, just like back in junior high when everyone hit puberty and were suddenly plagued with breakouts.
TO KEEP IT REAL
You may have noticed most of these tips are diet-related, but it’s probably not necessary to go full throttle and kick those foods out from your fridge. A healthy balance between the “iffy” foods and foods rich in nutrients is a good way to go, and you’re more likely to maintain that diet for longer than if you were to immediately change how you eat.
And hey, everyone gets acne at some point. It’s kind of inevitable, and it’s definitely annoying. But at least if you understand how it’s caused, now you can help keep it under control.