Acne is caused by both internal and external factors.
The internal factors include hormonal balance, sleep, stress levels, and digestion. I’m not going to get into that in this article, but if you’d like to read more about how to improve hormonal acne with lifestyle changes you can read this article.
The good news is that the external factors are much easier to fix.
I’ll get into them now:
By eliminating products with irritating ingredients and paying attention to the pH of your skin, you can easily maximize how healthy and beautiful your skin is without making any of the more difficult lifestyle changes.
Stop using detergent on your face
Look at your cleanser. It should be made with saponified oils or just oils.
If you see Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or any ingredient that sounds similar to that, then you are using a petrochemically-derived detergent on your face, which is far too harsh for your delicate facial skin.
In fact, often times what happens when people use a detergent-based cleanser (which is almost all of the cleansers on the market), the detergent removes everything from your skin. This stripping includes the good oil your skin produces to protect itself from the environment.
So for a little while in the morning after cleaning your face, your skin will feel very clean, even tight.
Then by about 3 PM, your skin will start to over-produce oil to compensate, and your skin will get oily by the end of the day.
It is possible (and very easy) to balance your oily or combination skin, but you have to change the cleanser you use.
You should be able to understand the ingredients on the label of your cleanser. For example, here are the ingredients we use in our cleanser:
Counterbalance the pH of tap water to get rid of oily skin.
There should be no alcohol or astringent in your toner. If you don’t know which ingredients are astringents, go to http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ and type in the name of the ingredient in your database.
If you scroll down the page a bit you can find a breakdown of each ingredient and why it's safe or dangerous.
The purpose of a toner should be to bring the pH of your skin back down into the low 6s or high 5s after exposing it to overly alkaline tap water. Putting anything on your face that is too alkaline will dry your skin out.
This can also help balance oily and combination skin.
Toner can also be very nourishing if made of Rosewater or Cucumber Water.
Clear your skin by tossing any products with these irritating ingredients.
Lastly, look at your serums, moisturizers, and masks, and get rid of anything that contains alcohol, mineral oil, or coconut oil. All of these are very irritating to your skin and are causing your skin to break out.
Alcohol- Found in toners, cleansers, acne serums, masks, and moisturizers. It dries out the skin causing long-term damage and continuing the cycle of oily and combination skin. The ingredient label may not say alcohol directly, but if the ingredient ends in “-ol” or “-al” it’s an alcohol. Alcohol is generally used as a preservative and benefits your skin in no way.
Mineral Oil- Found in serums, masks, and moisturizers. Mineral Oil is used as a cheap base to add other nutrients to. It is derived from petroleum and is very irritating to acne-prone skin.
Glycerin- Like Mineral Oil, Glycerin is also used as a base for moisturizers, masks, and serums. The problem is that Glycerin is very sticky, and it attracts dust and dirt, which clogs your pores. It’s used because it is considered a humectant but there are better ways to hydrate the skin!
Coconut Oil- Found in serums, moisturizers, and endless DIY recipes for every skin condition you could imagine. The problem with Coconut Oil is that at body temperature, the molecule is too large to penetrate the skin and instead clogs pores and causes breakouts.
If you already have a clean skincare routine for acne-prone skin and are ready to address some of the internal issues that cause acne, check out our post “3 ½ Lifestyle changes to make if you have hormonal acne.”