Are you well over your teen years and still struggling with stubborn acne? If so, you’re not alone. Millions of people still deal with pimples and breakouts well in to their 20s, 30s or even 40s. And if anything, adult acne is even more frustrating, more embarrassing – and more difficult to clear.
As someone who struggled with stubborn acne for years, I know how incredibly frustrating it can be. I tried everything to get clear — pills, lotions, antibiotics, skin care. They would work for a while, then my acne would come back. This went on for years! I missed out on a lot of fun because I hated how my skin looked. My confidence took a dive, too.
But after a lot of trial-and-error, research and persistence I finally discovered how to clear and control my acne. And I realized that I had one goal: to help other people finally get smooth, acne-free skin too.
If nothing has worked, it’s not your fault. Acne is largely a genetic condition. If one of your parents had severe acne, chances are you will too. It’s also triggered by hormones, stress, diet and other lifestyle factors.
Most people treat acne with a lotion, cleanser or topical medication. Dermatologists prescribe a regimen of antibiotics and other drugs that you continue to take for years.
However, if you have tried these treatments with little success, it’s not your fault. The truth is that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to treating your acne. That’s why switching to a different acne medication or trying a new moisturizer rarely does the trick.
But don’t worry — it’s entirely possible to clear and control your adult acne. The good news is that it’s entirely possible to get clear even if nothing has worked before.
During my own journey to clear skin, I discovered that treating acne takes a comprehensive, whole body approach.
While the right skin products are important, a healthy, balanced body is even more crucial.
There are certain vitamins and herbs that help relieve the root cause of your acne—and that’s key to helping you finally achieve the smooth, clear complexion you crave.
Here are the top five on my list:
SKIN LOVING NUTRIENT #1: VITAMIN A
Acne is a genetic condition that accelerates cell turnover in your skin (a process called retention hyperkeratosis). Acne-prone skin sheds up to five times more dead skin cells than normal. These dead skin cells start to build up and clog your pores.
If that’s not bad enough, these layers of dead skin react with the bacteria on your skin and create a sticky layer to form under your skin. This creates what’s known as a microcomodone. That’s the beginning of a breakout.
So, if you slow down cell turnover, you can stop excess dead skin cells from clogging your pores. And that’s where Vitamin A can help!
Vitamin A slows down this cell turnover, so dead skin cells stop clogging your pores. It’s also an antioxidant that acts as a natural anti-inflammatory, so it can help reduce redness and swelling.
Since it’s difficult to get the therapeutic dose of vitamin A through diet alone, it’s best to take it in supplement form.
SKIN LOVING NUTRIENT #2: ZINC
Zinc is an important part of every health regimen – but this essential mineral works wonders for relieving stubborn acne, too.
Zinc is an effective natural anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial which protects against harmful bacteria on your skin. It also breaks down a compound called “substance P”, a nerve chemical that causes oil production when your body is stressed.
So, if you tend to break out during times of stress—zinc can help!
Zinc works particularly well when teamed with vitamin A and the next mineral on our acne- fighting list:
SKIN LOVING NUTRIENT #3: OMEGA 3 FISH OIL
Omega-3 fish oil is rich in compounds known as Essential Fatty Acids (EFA) — which are great for the health of your skin. They act as natural anti-inflammatories that help soothe inflammation caused by excess sebum and bacteria.
What’s more, they also fight off the action of PGE2 and LTB4 — two inflammatory chemicals that trigger acne breakouts.
Fish, flaxseed oil, and avocados are great sources of Omega-3’s. But you’ll get the most benefits for your skin by taking it in supplement form.
SKIN LOVING NUTRIENT #4: CHASTE BERRY VITEX
In women, hormonal acne typically manifests along the jawline and chin. If this sounds familiar, an herb called Vitex should be a part of your acne-fighting arsenal.
Vitex agnus castus, also known as Chasteberry, is a “woman’s herb” that’s been traditionally used to relieve menstrual pain, PMS, bloating and other menstrual symptoms. We recommend Vitex because it promotes a healthy hormone balance – and that’s key to getting clear.
Hormonal acne is triggered by elevated levels of testosterone and other androgens along with an imbalance of oestrogen and progesterone levels.
Vitex works with the pituitary and hypothalamus glands by increasing the production of luteinizing hormone and inhibiting the release of follicle stimulating hormone. This helps beat back the acne-causing levels of androgens, while encouraging a rise in progesterone.
Vitex can help promote healthy balance of these hormones faster than what your body could do on its own. Healthy hormone balance means clear, healthy skin!
SKIN LOVING NUTRIENT #5: PROBIOTICS
Did you know that your digestive health is directly linked to skin health? It’s true! When your digestive system runs smoothly the rest of your body does too—and your acne can improve.
Your digestive system is where your body absorbs nutrients from the foods you eat. It helps eliminate toxin from your body. It’s also where most of your immune cells live.
A struggling digestive system means toxins aren’t eliminated out of your body. Poor digestion also weakens your immune system and increases inflammation throughout your body. And you see it with breakouts, redness, dull skin and more.
One of the best ways to get your digestive system back on track is by taking a probiotic supplement. Probiotics feed your gut with the “good” bacteria it needs to get rid of toxins, reduce inflammation and balance your intestinal tract.
Probiotics are especially important if you take antibiotics. While antibiotics wipe out the bad bacteria…they eliminate good bacteria as well. A probiotic supplement that contains a mix of both lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium can quickly re-establish healthy intestinal balance and eliminate acne and digestive problems fast.
BONUS: THE ONE POPULAR SKIN VITAMIN YOU SHOULD NEVER TAKE!
Biotin (Vitamin B7) is a popular ingredient in Hair, Skin and Nails supplements. It’s also found in many multivitamins, nutritional drink powders, and even your shampoo and conditioner.
Conventional wisdom says that biotin can prevent your hair from becoming dry and brittle, so they recommend taking extra biotin to help your skin, hair and nails look soft and lustrous. But here’s a dirty little secret: Biotin happens to be one of the biggest offenders when it comes to triggering acne!
One of the best acne-protecting vitamins is Pantothenic acid, also known as Vitamin B5. Pantothenic acid helps protect your skin’s natural barrier and protect against acne. However, Biotin can stop your skin from absorbing this skin-loving vitamin, and that can lead to acne flare-ups. There is also anecdotal evidence that excess biotin can make your skin feel oilier.
Biotin is naturally produced by the body. It’s also easily available through diet, so it’s not necessary to take extra amounts. The right supplements can help treat acne from the inside-out As someone who has battled acne, I understand how tough it is. Sometimes it seems as if you’ll never have clear skin!
But I can tell you — judging by my own experience as well as the experience of our clients — that even the most stubborn, painful acne can go away if you treat it the right way. And taking acne-clearing herbs and supplements are a giant step in the right direction. They feed your skin with the essential nutrients it needs to start getting clear and staying clear for decades to come.
Jessica Gremley, founder of Natural Acne Clinic in Wheat Ridge Colorado, is a Medical Esthetician, Certified Acne Specialist, Laster Specialist and Healing Diets Practitioner. After decades of struggling with stubborn hormonal acne, Jessica combined her knowledge of herbal medicine, diet, nutrition and skin care to create a holistic acne clearing program that has a 95% success rate.
Blog author Tracy Raftl used to have severe acne — now she teaches thousands of women how to take back control of their skin through natural, holistic, and mind-body methods.