If you have acne, what you really have is a problem with detoxification. Simply put, your body doesn’t do it well enough and needs a little extra help. The skin is part of the body’s detoxification system, and the best ways to treat acne help support detox.
Think of acne as a helpful sign from your body. If your face looks out of balance on the outside, it’s a sign that things are out of balance on the inside, too.
My 25 Best Strategies to Treat Acne Holistically
Below is my list of 25 strategies to treat acne that I learned over decades of dealing with it. I’m guessing you’ve already heard about the more obvious ones, such as managing your stress better and keeping your hands off your face. These are the less-obvious tips I wish I’d known years ago.
- Don’t obsess. Ever heard of the Law of Attraction? Simply put, the more you obsess about acne, the more you will get. The one thing I wish I could go back in time to tell my teenaged self? This is it!
- Drink plenty of water that does not have chlorine or flouride in it. Both of these chemicals can hurt your thyroid, which can then cause more acne.
- Support your liver, which is your body’s main acne-fighting friend. Drinking dandelion tea is a great way to do this, as is drinking hot lemon water first thing in the morning.
- Eliminate sugar and quick-digesting carbs. They’re bad for your blood sugar, which is hard on your liver.
- Take a break from alcohol, which is also hard on your liver.
- Take probiotics to help heal your gut.
- Cut out gluten, dairy and soy, the main dietary offenders. Consider other food sensitivities, too; for me, it’s peanuts. Which is so sad, because I love a good PBJ.
- Eat beets and leafy greens, especially before your period.
- Drink green juices (be careful of kale and spinach juices though if your thyroid is struggling at all – those should be eaten cooked).
- Eat apples. They’re detoxifying too.
- Eat a raw carrot every day. Something about the fiber in a raw carrot helps soak up extra estrogen, leaving less work for your liver.
- Get more sleep. I am always amazed how a nap can soothe a breakout.
- Take DIM. I haven’t yet had the chance to try this supplement because I just found out about it and I’m still breastfeeding, but it’s supposed to help a ton with hormonal acne.
- Take chlorella. Such an easy and safe way to detox – has made a tremendous difference in my skin, even keeping breakouts caused by my cycle to a minimum.
- Use magnesium oil on your skin after you shower. Magnesium is very important for hormone balance, and most of us are deficient. It’ll help you sleep better, too!
- Stop using anything antibacterial on your face. This goes against the grain, but hear me out. We need healthy bacteria in our guts to keep the bad bacteria in check, and the same is true for our faces. Our skin has beneficial bacteria living on it which help to keep the acne-causing bacteria under control. When we use harsh antibacterial chemicals, and even essential oils like tea tree, on our faces, we are killing off the beneficial bacteria and doing more harm than good. There are a few new probiotic skin care options now on the market. I’ve tried this one and really like it, even on my face. I noticed a difference after just one day.
- Don’t put any chemicals on your face that you wouldn’t want to eat. Because anything you put on your skin gets absorbed into your body. For years I was a product junkie. Now I know that most beauty products are chock full of nasty chemicals which contribute to the body’s overall toxic load, also causing acne.
- Consider breaking up with makeup, at least foundation. The texture and tone of your skin will very quickly improve and before long you won’t even miss it. I use concealer on any problem spots, but getting by with less makeup is kind of liberating. And, since I don’t have makeup to remove, I don’t have to bother with cleansers drying out my sensitive skin.
- Only wash your face with water. I use a clean cotton wash cloth and warm water in the morning which gently exfoliates but doesn’t strip my skin. That’s it.
- Put oil on your face. Here’s another one that goes against the grain, but in my extensive experience with acne, oily skin often needs more oil than it’s getting. If you have oily skin, you actually have extremely sensitive skin. Your skin is trying to protect itself. I recommend jojoba oil (I mix mine up with a few drops of frankincense essential oil in it to help aid healing) in the morning, and rosehip seed oil (also with frankincense) before bed. If your skin is extra sensitive, you might also try tallow balm. I should also mention that you might want to avoid coconut oil as it can be comedogenic.
- Treat spots only, not your entire face. I like this spot treatment which I just discovered. It really does work quickly to shrink an inflamed pimple. I think it’s the heat of the cayenne working homeopathically to counteract the heat in the pimple. For something you can wear under concealer, try this one which uses sulfur and is safer to put on your skin than salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide.
- Put dirt on your face. Sort of. I sometimes use a bentonite clay paste to soothe a pimple overnight. My favorite way to accomplish this happens to be one of my favorite natural toothpastes.
- Take apple cider vinegar to help balance hormones which will help to keep your skin clear.
- Check out face mapping to find out which specific areas in your body might be struggling.
- Work up a sweat. Since your skin is a major part of your body’s detoxification system (which is why you break out in the first place), sweating will help flush out your system. I hear infrared saunas are amazing to help with detox, too (can’t wait to try this once I’m done breastfeeding). Skin sometimes gets oilier when your body is trying to flush out toxins (such as before your period when there is extra estrogen to process) so giving it a chance to sweat will help speed up that process.
Treat Acne Like the Helpful Sign it Is
The tips on this list are intended to help you treat the underlying issues causing your acne, not to simply mask the symptom. To learn more about getting to the root cause of what is causing your breakouts in the first place, I highly recommend checking out Lauren Geertsen’s book, Quit Acne. She blogs over at EmpoweredSustenance.com and she’s fabulous.
Please post in the comments any tips you’ve found to treat acne holistically!
Special note: If you can’t stop picking at your acne (I’m so guilty!), there might be more going on than you think. You might have a body-focused repetitive behavior (BFRB) on your hands. More than just a bad habit, it’s rather like a cousin of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Read more about it here.