Have you ever heard the saying “you are what you eat?” It’s true! Well, technically you are what you absorb, but we don’t need to get too specific! Nutrients from your food provide the foundation of the structure, function, and integrity of every cell in your body. From your skin and hair to your muscles, bones, digestive and immune systems. Your skin is also your largest organ and gives us the powerful ability to understand what is going on inside of our bodies. Having acne or other skin concerns is a sign that something internally isn’t functioning optimally. Instead of slathering on a bunch of products to your skin, I suggest you focus your efforts internally. This will help you achieve long last results. Without further ado, my top 10 tips for clear skin!
You’ve probably heard this a thousand times on every “top tips for clear skin” post on the internet. But that’s because it’s just so important! Your skin, and your whole body, LOVES water! Your body is roughly 60% water after all. Water is needed for every chemical reaction that occurs within your body. Water helps ensure waste is properly eliminated through your bowels, it hydrates your skin (I think that one is a given!), allows for effective liver detoxification, and so much more.
I carry this giant water bottle with me everywhere I go! I aim to drink around 3 liters a day, but it varies depending on how active I am and the time of year. A good rule of thumb is to drink at least half your body weight (in pounds) in ounces. So, if you weigh 150 pounds, you would want to drink at least 75 ounces of water throughout the day.
2) Pack In The Vegetables
My 8 year old self would cringe at the sheer amount of vegetables I manage to put into my body every day. I rarely touched a vegetable back in the day, but having such severe acne forced me to give them a chance! Cucumber, broccoli, carrots, kale, spinach, cabbage-your skin will thank you no matter what veggies you have. Generally speaking though, the darker the better since they contain more carotenoids and flavonoids which are phytochemicals your skin loves. Cruciferous vegetables in particular contain a compound called sulforaphane, a potent inducer of phase 2 liver detoxification. One thing I recommend to all of my clients is to greatly increase the amount of dark green vegetables they consume.
3) Ditch the Dairy
Dairy milk is produced by a previously pregnant cow. It contains growth hormones and other substances that are needed to help a calf grow into a roughly 2000 pound cow. Just like your mom produced milk for you after you were born, a female cow produces milk specifically for her baby after he/she is born.
Whether your dairy has added hormones or came from antibiotic free pasture raised and grass fed cows or not, dairy is not meant for human consumption. These hormones can create imbalances within your own body and lead to excess inflammation and acne. There are so many amazing alternatives these days to all of your favorite dairy products anyway! Treeline and Miyoko’s make some of the best non-dairy cheeses in my opinion. Plus, there’s tons of non-dairy milks, ice creams, butter, cream cheese these days, so who needs dairy?! Only the cows 😉
Why oh why my dermatologist never recommended I give up dairy during the hundreds of visits to her office, I don’t know. (Ok, I have a few ideas). But, the consensus is pretty clear that dairy is not going to contribute positively to the health of your skin! You don’t have to worry about quitting all at once, though. Gradually swapping dairy products for their non-dairy counterparts will go a long way! You will find that your body adjusts and you will no longer have any desire for cow’s milk anyway.
4) Cut back on processed foods
This one is important for a few reasons. One of which is due to the high amount of omega 6 fatty acids in processed foods. Omega 3 and omega 6 are two essential fatty acids. Your body can’t make them so you must obtain them from food. Processed foods often contain a higher percentage of omega 6 fatty acids, which are inflammatory, than omega 3’s, which are anti-inflammatory and AMAZING for your skin! It is important to have a proper balance of omega 6 to 3. You ideally want the ratio to be no more than 4:1, but most Western diets are hovering closer to 20:1. Try upping your intake of omega 3 rich foods such as walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, or wild caught alaskan salmon if you do not follow a strictly plant based diet.
Another reason to avoid processed foods (foods that aren’t in there whole, natural form) is because they can feed the bad yeasts and bacteria in your gut. Heavily processed foods (think cookies, chips, certain breads etc.) contain refined grains and sugars that contribute to an overgrowth of harmful pathogens in your gut. Focus your meals around whole, nutrient dense foods with a variety of color to feed the GOOD bacteria in your gut.
5) Don’t Fear fruit
Number five of my top tips for clear skin is to not fear fruit! While processed and refined sugar is definitely something you want to avoid, natural fruit sugar in its whole form is not! Every cell in your body functions optimally when supplied with adequate glucose- a monosaccharide (simple sugar). The sugar from whole foods has a much different affect on your body than refined sugar from a doughnut, cupcake, or refined grains.
Fruit also contains a variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and photochemicals such as polyphenols and flavonoids that are needed for cell turnover, proper detoxification, gut health, and other processes that are vital in the overall health of your skin. Berries, mango, citrus, and apples are all examples of fruits that are amazing for your skin.
6) Balance Your Microbiome and Heal Your Gut
Ok, this is one of the most important tips for clear skin. I could write an entire book about this topic alone (maybe some day I will!) and how crucial gut health is for skin health. I’m going to make a bold statement and say that oral antibiotics should never be used in the treatment of acne. While antibiotics are incredible and vital in times of serious infection, they do more harm than good to the very organs needed to maintain clear skin when used irresponsibly. Antibiotics for acne generally only work short term. However, as soon as the antibiotics stop, the acne returns. This is because the antibiotics kill off both the good and bad bacteria.
In addition to killing off all the good bacteria in your gut, antibiotics can damage the lining of your intestines and lead to what is known as “leaky gut” or intestinal permeability. Additionally, the majority of your immune system is located in your gut, and a well functioning immune system is crucial to maintaining clear skin. One thing I focus on with all of clients is repopulating the gut with good bacteria and repairing the gut lining. This prevents harmful microbes, undigested food particles and other toxic substances from entering the bloodstream.
If at any point in your life you have taken oral antibiotics for any reason, you may want to consider supplementing with a probiotic to help restore balance in your gut. In addition, parasite cleansing and colon hydrotherapy have been transformational for my skin. You can read more about my parasite cleansing experience here.
7) Love Your Liver
Your liver is your BEST FRIEND when you’re dealing with acne. Loving your liver is probably my absolute top clear skin tip! If your liver is not working at full capacity, your body will not be able to process and eliminate excess hormones, metabolic waste, environmental pollutants, and other toxic matter. Eventually, toxic material will build up in your body. In order to save itself, your body will try to eliminate waste through your skin. Supporting detoxification does not mean you need to embark on a juice cleanse. While this can be useful in certain situations, or for a short period throughout the year, there are much gentler ways to support both phase 1 and phase 2 liver detoxification without fasting. I outline several easy steps in this post.
You may have heard there is no need to “detox” because your body already does this on its own. That is absolutely true, but this neglects the fact that we are inundated with so many chemicals and toxic materials and our bodies can’t keep up. From car exhaust, to synthetic hormones, toxic beauty products, pesticides, processed food, heavy metals and more, our livers have a LOT to deal with! Additionally, supporting your gut and liver will be incredibly beneficial if you are dealing with hormonal imbalances or just came off of birth control and have acne as a result. Hormonal imbalances are generally symptoms of deeper gut and liver issues, so focusing on these two organs/systems will go a long way in balancing your hormones.
This clear skin tip is, without a doubt, one of the hardest (in my opinion). I mean, how can you NOT stress when you have painful, red acne staring back at you in the mirror?! It’s tough, I know. But it’s also incredibly important. Stress increases levels of inflammation in your body. Additionally, when your sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system is chronically activated, your body is unable to “rest and digest” as it would in parasympathetic mode. In times of stress, your body will focus its energy on vital processes. Those that are not necessary for survival (such as healing your skin, detoxifying, and properly digesting food) will be neglected. Crazy how emotional turmoil can manifest as physical illness, right?! Take some time to relax, do something you love, and give your body the time and space it needs to heal.
9) Move Your Lymph
Your lymphatic system is like your body’s sewer system. Think of it kind of like your circulatory system, only without a pump. Your lymphatic system consists of lymph nodes, which you have about 600 of in your body, including in your face. They carry a fluid called lymph through your body which contains white blood cells, waste, proteins and other matter. The only way to get the waste moving and eliminated from your body, is for YOU to move! Exercise, yoga, sweating, dry brushing, rebounding are all great ways to get your lymph moving. Otherwise, your body will try to push the excess waste out through your skin.
Your body does most of its healing and regenerating while you’re sleeping. Without adequate sleep, specifically deep sleep, your body can’t repair properly. We should be aiming for 7-9 hours of sleep a night, and ideally be in bed by 11 PM. This will ensure adequate time for detoxification and regeneration of our tissues and cells. Skimping on sleep can increase your levels of inflammation and stress hormones, therefore aggravating conditions such as acne.
Change your pillow case often and clean your makeup brushes! These two items can become filled with oil and bacteria and can irritate already aggravated skin. I suggest changing your pillow case every few days and washing your makeup brushes once a week.
If you enjoyed reading this post with all my clear skin tips, leave a comment below so I can do more in depth posts in the future! These tips provide a very brief overview of how to heal your skin. Most people will need to dig a little deeper in order to achieve fully clear skin that stays clear.
I know it’s much easier said than done to make changes to your diet and lifestyle. Click here to subscribe to my email to be notified when the CLEAR SKIN EBOOK becomes available!