It’s easy to feel like you don’t have control over your breakouts. But the fact is, you do in most cases, says Andre Nepper, a master clinical facialist at Activo2 Skincare in Johannesburg, South Africa who specializes in converting challenging skin into glowing complexions.
Acne is a “tremendously embarrassing and burdensome problem” for about half of the women who book time for their free consultations. “Many attribute their acne to oily skin, food allergies, or say it’s hereditary. But none of these are absolutes,” says Andre. “Sometimes, all your body needs is the right nutritional balance and proper skincare product.”
So what works? “Natural remedies can be just as effective as prescribed topical products. Possibly more powerful,” says Andre. He sees a lot of frustrated women fresh from the dermatologist with “dry, irritated, usually red, and sensitive skin.” In most cases, they just need to know more about how to use their prescriptions properly—and use way too much, he says. And they’re missing a few extra tips on what they can do in the day-to-day to try to reduce their acne.
To that end, Andre offers some easy things you can start doing today that help heals acne. (Naturally, he’s a fan of getting monthly facials to help clear and calm your skin.) And good news: You should notice a difference in your skin in about 7 days, he says. Here’s how:
- Scale back on your prescriptions for acne. If you’re using prescription topical products, try using them every other day to avoid excess drying. On alternate days, use a very gentle cleanser (Andre likes Activo2 Acne Solution Kit (R499)). This will help balance and moisturize the skin.
- Use a facial cleanser. If you have moderate to severe acne, do not use a Clarisonic or any facial scrub. This can irritate inflamed acne and spread bacteria. Instead, use a facial cleanser that doesn’t abrade the skin as it sloughs dead skin cells and helps purge pores. 1 x 125g ACTIV O2 Skin Breakout Cleansing Bar included in our Acne Solution Kit.
- Eat more carrots. Vitamin A strengthens the protective tissue of the skin and actually prevents acne. It helps reduce sebum production, too.
- Limit your dairy intake. Too much dairy can cause oil glands to kick into high gear, studies show.
- Don’t touch the face or pick. People know not to do this, says Andre, but some may not even realize they’re doing it. If you sit in front of a computer most hours of your workdays, try putting a post-it note on the side of your screen saying “Do not touch face!”
- Add turmeric to your diet. It has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antiseptic properties that may reduce the redness and inflammation of acne. It’s a good reason to order Indian food the next time you go out or try adding this spice to your eggs or stir-fry at home, he says.
- Wash your face no more than twice a day. Use cool or warm water and a gentle cleanser. (1 x 125g ACTIV O2 Skin Breakout Cleansing Bar).
- Use your hands, a baby washcloth (it’s gentler than a regular one), or a cleansing brush for 30 seconds.
- Pat (don’t rub) your skin dry.
- Cut out sugar. Limit it to once a week. Fruit is okay, but try to stick to melons and berries. Sugar is a huge culprit because it spikes your insulin, which in turn revs your hormones and the adrenal glands. So keep the sugar to one day a week and don’t eat much of it.
- Exercise! Sweat detoxifies the skin. Plus, studies find that those who work out at least 3 days a week are more likely to choose healthier foods, he says.
- Consider nutritional supplements. Acne can be a sign that something is nutritionally off in your diet, says Andre. Your skin depends on nutrition, and if your body isn’t receiving it, acne can result. Antioxidants like resveratrol, anti-inflammatories like omega fatty acids, and a good multivitamin can help.
- Clean up! Wipe your cell phone, glasses, sunglasses, keyboards, with a device-friendly anti-bacterial wipe, and launder your pillowcases weekly. It can’t hurt.
- Over-the-Counter Creams and Lotions. Acne Solution Kits or lotions can help clear your skin and also lessen wrinkles. Products made with sulfur can be good for the occasional spot treatment. Benzoyl peroxide is another acne fighter. Use benzoyl peroxide products only occasionally, because they can dry out your skin, Day says. You could also try a milder benzoyl peroxide product.
- Cosmetics. Some cosmetics include salicylic acid, which fights acne. In general, look for skincare products that say on the label that they are noncomedogenic (which means they don’t clog pores) or non-acnegenic (they don’t cause breakouts).