I struggled with acne my whole life and it took a lot of time for me to figure out how to take it under control. Acne formation is a very complicated process and there are a lot of things that can accelerate it. I have found these major triggers that you might want to follow if you're prone to blemishes.
Stress and Lack of Sleep
Reduce your stress. Do whatever it takes. Stress, one of the major acne triggers, is caused by the wear and tear of day-to-day living and changes that take place in your life, both good and bad. Moving is comparable to the death of a child in its ability to cause extreme stress.
Sleep seven uninterrupted hours per night on a consistent basis. Night shift jobs, broken sleep, social media and cell phone notifications, sleeping with infants or small children, late night time management, insomnia, hormonal changes in mid-life, long plane trips and crossing time zones are factors that lead to severe physical stress, making it harder to clear acne and lighten dark circles.
Detergent must be FREE of perfumes and dyes: Don’t wear new clothing before washing a couple of times in fragrance-free detergent (no softener sheets). Look for white bottles that say Free & Clear, Free of Perfume & Dyes, or Free & Gentle. Safe bleach: Clorox 2 for Colors Free & Clear. Safe fabric softeners: Fragrance-free liquid Downey in the white bottle and chemical-free “dryer balls”.
Change your pillow case every day or two, launder in “free & clear” products in white bottles with an extra rinse cycle if possible. Purchase several and choose white if you will be using acne products.
Avoid laundry additives, enzymes, chlorine bleach and fabric softeners,including fragrance-free dryer sheets, which leave a waxy residue that can clog pores and irritate skin. Use 25% less detergent, and wash 25% less clothes at a time. If possible, run an extra rinse cycle. Launder all new bedding and clothing before use! Anything imported, especially jeans and scarves, are sprayed with toxic fungicides, pesticides, and formaldehyde, and must be washed a few times before wearing to avoid body acne, infections, rashes and skin discoloration.
Workout wear should be cotton and laundered in fragrance-free detergent with no fabric softener. Shower after perspiring with sulfur soap or BPO wash.
Diet and Supplements Can be Acne Triggers
Avoid iodine: Dairy products (milk in coffee beverages, cheese, ice cream, sour cream, Greek yogurt), processed foods, take-out food, frozen dinners, fast food, canned food, soft drinks, salty snacks, seaweed snacks, salted sunflower seeds, salted nuts, canned, packaged and restaurant soups, ramen noodles, tomato juice, V-8, seasoned salt, iodized salt, salty condiments, high-sodium sports and energy drinks (except Vitamin Water), sushi wrapped in seaweed, Chinese food (salty sauces, MSG, soups, soy sauce), American Mexican food (cheese, sour cream, refried beans and salted tortilla chips), processed meats (lunch and deli meat, hot dogs, bacon, franks, hot links, sausage) and condiments containing kelp, MSG and/or iodized salt.
Peanuts, peanut butter, peanut oil and wheat germ contain androgenic hormones and can cause breakouts. You can enjoy other nuts, as long as they’re unsalted. Try low-sodium almond butter, cashew butter, etc.
Supplements can be acne triggers, especially biotin, maca root, CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), seaweed, kelp, blue green algae, spirulina, chlorella, iodine, testosterone precursors (DHEA and andro), creatine, protein drinks that contain whey, casein, kelp, and seaweed, green detox drinks and more.
Acne-safe supplements: Iodine-free multi-vitamins, zinc monomethionine or picolinate (always with meals), enteric-coated fish oil, flax seed oil, krill oil, MSM, probiotics, calcium citrate (with magnesium and vitamin D), vitamin C complex and B-complex. Safe protein powders: Sunwarrior Classic Protein and Paleo Egg White Protein. Can’t sleep? Try Estrovan Nighttime®, Alteril®, valerian root and melatonin. Check with your doctor before taking supplements, especially if you have health problems or are taking prescription meds.
Skip dairy, the biggest acne trigger: Cheese, milk, ice cream, sour cream, Greek yogurt, protein powders that contain whey and/or casein and dairy-rich coffee drinks. Dairy is linked to acne, allergies, eczema, psoriasis, weight gain, digestive problems, water retention, high blood pressure, bloating, puffy eyes and many other health problems. Learn more here. Concerned about calcium and vitamin D? Eat lots of dark green veggies and take supplements with calcium citrate, magnesium and vitamin D. On cereal, try ice-cold almond, coconut or rice milk. If it’s GMO-free, soy milk may be better than cow’s milk for some, but it contains hormones, is processed to taste better with added sugar and fat, can cause allergic reactions, and be difficult to digest.
Fish and seafood from polluted water can cause persistent skin problems, including a rash-like acne. This doesn’t seem to happen in better restaurants. If your acne is treatment-resistant and rashy, try eliminating fish and seafood from your diet for a while.
Avoid seasoned salt and iodized table salt, which contains iodine and MSG. Try a blend of iodine-free sea salt, Mrs. Dash Table Blend, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, paprika and cayenne pepper.