Those who have a susceptibility to acne will often resort to dietary changes, improved hygiene and other methods to improve their skin. Unfortunately, many of these habits can exacerbate existing acne and even lead to further breakouts. In order for an individual to successfully improve their acne-prone skin, the habitual changes that are made must be rooted in evidence-based science. Although word-of-mouth advice and cosmetic reviews can be excellent sources of product information, they are often simply anecdotal accounts. These reported experiences are subject to a number of confounding variables, which leaves their recommendation shaky.
The best way to control acne outbreaks is to reduce one’s susceptibility to the factors the cause blemishes. Improving diet in accord with scientifically-derived food choices, preserving the skin’s natural barrier by limiting facial washing, choosing products based on their unique evidence of success and understanding the role of metabolism in acne are of vital importance. When these changes are incorporated into one’s daily life, acne outbreaks cease and skin improves drastically.
Best ways to improve the condition of your Acne-Prone Skin
Acne has been proven to have distinct dietary roots. The work of Dr. Cordain, a prominent nutritionist, documented the effects that milk, lectin-containing grains and high-glycemic carbohydrates have on acne flare-ups.
As many know, when sebum output is too high, sebaceous glands become clogged and bacteria can begin multiplying in the enclosed space. Cordain’s work came to the conclusion that increased sebum production is the result of chronically elevated insulin levels. Insulin acts as a potent inhibitor of sex hormone binding globulin, or SHBG. When SHBG levels in the serum are reduced, androgen compounds become elevated. These androgens over-stimulate sebum production by binding to androgen receptors in sebocytes. This activity occurs most prominently during puberty, as androgen is high, insulin resistance is increased and sebum production begins. Therefore, acne sufferers should avoid high-glycemic meals that cause a large, sustained release of insulin. High fructose corn syrup and refined sugar are two of the most insulinogenic substances found in modern diets.
The etiology of acne also involves structural changes to desmosomes, which are extracellular glycoproteins that bind skin cells together. When these binding agents malfunction, skin cells become stuck together too easily. The result of this clumping is a clogged pore, or microcomedone. This type of acne is the precursor to other forms, including pustules and papules. Dr. Cordain’s work displayed the direct role that dietary lectins have on desmosomal function. Lectins can be found in a variety of grains and legumes, such as wheat and beans. Avoiding these foods is an excellent idea for those who have acne-prone skin.
Although the exact cause of milk-induced acne is unknown, the high degree of correlation between dairy and acne cannot be denied. Multiple studies have demonstrated that lactose-containing products increase sebum production and lead to acne lesions. Avoiding all dairy, including products low in lactose, such as hard cheeses, should always be one of the dietary changes incorporated into a skin care regime.
Reducing Face Washing
Few people understand how the epidermal barrier works, and even less recognize the inherent disruption that basic substances, such as water, cause to barrier function. The stratum corneum, or SC barrier, is a complex of free fatty acids, sebum and unknown elements. What is known, however, is that the SC barrier is acidic in nature, and the usage of powerful bases can bring down this barrier for up to 14 hours.
Some individuals will utilize multiple water-based cleansers throughout the day. This kind of activity prevents the SC barrier from replenishing itself. When the stratum corneum is lowered, microbes of all kinds have much easier access to sebaceous glands and clogged pores. Considering this process, it becomes easy to understand how overly-vigilant attempts at hygiene can make acne worse.
Those with a susceptibility to acne should limit the amount of times they wash their face. Even once a day might be too much for some individuals. Each person should establish their own washing schedule, but the number of washes per day should not exceed one. Further, the usage of basic substances in cleansing cycles, such as baking soda or any milk-based substance, should be avoided.
Choosing Products Wisely
Cosmetic reviews can go a long way in picking a cleanser, moisturizer and/or exfoliating agent. It’s often best to consider buying from a place that offers a variety of options, and not partial to one product. Acne sufferers will often outline their experience with a particular product on forums and discussion boards. Understanding these reviews can prevent costly purchases and errors. For example, if a person discussing a particular product seems to have a certain level of acne, keep their skin quality in mind when assessing their review. Those who are susceptible to larger outbreaks have different skin than those who only get one or two pimples a month.
Other Metabolic Concerns
Although changing food choices is a great way to begin improving skin, several other conditions can be present that can cause delays in skin quality amelioration. For instance, acne and a family history of diabetes can translate into a high probability of insulin resistance. When this condition is present, even small releases of insulin do not make their way into cells. Whether insulin is elevated abnormally by diet, or insulin remains in blood due to insulin resistance, the resultant increase in sebum production and acne breakouts is the same. Individuals who are experiencing insulin resistance should look into improving their metabolism by engaging in high intensity exercise once or twice a week.
Polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, can also cause insulin resistance. This illness affects females and can often manifest as increased androgen production. In much the same way that increased serum insulin results in elevated androgens and sebum output, PCOS can also cause flareups. This activity has also been known to occur more prominently during menses.
The proper management of body fat is also very important to epidermal function. When visceral fat is too high, insulin resistance increases. Reducing body fat through exercise and proper diet can drastically improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the production of sebum. Combining acne-reducing dietary changes, such as the exclusion of dairy and wheat, with high intensity exercise is an excellent way to lose fat rapidly.