The Ultimate Acne Guide To Heal Your Skin

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Acne is arguably one of our worst enemies. She loves to drop in uninvited when our skincare routines are going well. She’s the surprise guest we can’t get rid of, even when we’ve hinted that we’re tired. We have no choice but to cater to her needs. But what do those even look like? 

Fighting acne can certainly be a tricky problem to navigate and the cause of it can often come from many factors beyond our hormones. That said, Dr. Camille Howard Verović, a certified dermatologist helping thousands of Black women along their skincare journeys, and Afya Ibomu, a holistic nutritionist and skincare expert, weigh in below. 

What is the main cause of acne? 

“Acne is a multi-faceted condition, and its manifestation may vary from person to person,” explains Dr. Howard. It’s tough to say where exactly acne comes from because the cause can be one or many different factors. However, face mapping is a holistic way to discover its root cause. “If I’m getting breakouts on my forehead, for example, it could be related to my bladder,” says Ibomu. From there, we can look into the dietary and lifestyle changes needed to “cleanse out our bladder.”

Best dietary practices 

It’s time to stop eating at our favorite fast-food restaurants and drinking sugary drinks. Both experts agree that minimizing processed foods is the best way to combat acne. “These can cause spikes in blood pressure levels, which may contribute to acne breakouts,” says Dr. Howard. She also suggests eating whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. “These healthier food choices can provide your body with the nutrients it needs to function optimally, including achieving healthier skin,” adds Dr. Howard.

Should I take acne-fighting supplements?

To our surprise, both experts agree that acne supplements aren’t the best option for minimizing acne due to lack of data. If you’re still interested in implementing extra dietary practices to your diet, Ibomu stands behind the intake of natural ingredients. “MSM [methylsulfonylmethane] is great topical because it reduces the hormones that cause acne. It also helps release black and white heads,” says Ibomu. MSM is also proven to be an anti-inflammatory and stress reliever– two key components that can cause acne. 

Flax seeds can also be used for fighting against breakouts. “1 tablespoon of flaxseed a day can help to reduce hormone levels that can cause acne.” Be sure to purchase ground flaxseeds for easier consumption. Additionally, red reishi mushrooms are also highly recommended by Ibomu to tackle inflammation and reduce high blood pressure levels, which can improve the skin’s problematic areas over time. 

Can I use face oils? 

When it comes to oils, they can vary from person to person. Dr. Howard believes we should avoid thicker oils like coconut, mineral oil, and shea oil, as well as oils with thicker velocities like castor oil. On the other hand, Ibomu believes that coconut oil can be harmless to those fighting acne and even reduce inflammation. At the same time, she says it’s important to be mindful about how much oil you put on your skin. Ibomu recommends only using a small amount after cleansing. No matter what, testing products and seeing how your skin reacts over time is best. If an oil causes breakouts on your skin, remove it from your regime and try a different one. What works for someone might not for another. 

What you should know before buying skincare products

The beauty aisle of any store is similar to being a kid in a candy store. With so many well-marketed products, it’s easy to think that all product promises are true. The reality is that not all skincare products are created equal. Some may even set us back further than we started. Dr. Howard suggests keeping things simple when it comes to choosing skincare products. “Focus on one or two acne-fighting ingredients when selecting a product, then focus on skin barrier support,” she says. 

It’s also important to note that acne-fighting products can, at times, be harsh on the skin and lead to a damaged skin barrier. This damage happens when the frontal layer of the skin is damaged creating a drying and uncomfortable feeling. Implementing products like SkinFx Barrier Support Moisturizer can help strengthen the skin barrier and prevent future damage. Additionally, “choosing too many skin care products and incorporating them all simultaneously is often a recipe for disaster,” says Dr. Howard. As tempting as it is to engage in that trendy “10-step skincare routine” on TikTok, it’s best to stand on the sideline. 

What you should know about wearing makeup

Acne or no acne, we all love a good makeup look. Although it is mainly advised to minimize makeup or avoid it altogether, realistically, we will want to have a beauty moment from time to time. It’s okay to wear makeup, but just like skincare, we must be selective about the makeup we use on our sensitive skin. Ibomu is all about investing in clean makeup products that can help you feel your best while being kind to your skin. She says, “Bare Minerals, ILIA, and Pacifica are some of my favorite beauty brands. These brands are clean and can be trusted on the skin.” Iboma also mentions that these brands are great for people of color and provide a variety of neutral tones. 

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