Welcome to Part 8 of the Holistic Nutrition for Clear Skin Series – all about acne, skincare, and clean beauty products (plus important lifestyle habits that can help keep your skin clear) .
We’ve covered a lot in this series – nutrition and nourishment for clear skin, the root causes of acne, why conventional treatments might not be ideal long-term solutions, how stress affects acne, how exercise affects acne, and also why self-compassion and self-kindness are essential to the clear skin journey (plus the practices you can take to build self-compassion). The majority of the discussion has been about taking care of your skin from the inside-out, because good health and clear skin starts on the inside.
That said, its important to think about how we take care of the skin from the outside too, and to consider what we put on and around our skin, and how that might impact acne. I’m not a dermatologist and I am not a skin care scientist, but I do feel comfortable giving you the following clear skin recommendations…
Use the Best Natural/Non-Toxic Skincare Products You can Find (that you like and can afford)
Part of the journey to clear skin means supporting your body’s natural detoxification efforts – recalling that detoxification difficulties are one of the root causes of acne.
How does skincare play a role? Consider the number of products you use daily: cleansers, serums, moisturizers, makeup, body lotion, soaps, shampoos, and more. It’s a vast number of products, and each product has its own list of (largely chemical) ingredients – some recognizable, some not. Shifting your skin, make-up, and bodycare lineup over to more natural products can reduce the number of toxins that your skin and body have to deal with.
Now, I know there can be lots of greenwashing out there, so finding good organic, natural, eco-friendly products isn’t always an easy task. Consider referring to the Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Database for some quality outside information. If you’re skin is starting to clear (through the efforts of nourishing eating and stress management, for example), you might also try making some of your own products! Maybe after a while you’ll find that all you need is a little organic argan oil – no other ingredients required!
Just remember with this that you are trying your best – when you struggle with acne, skin care is a big thing and trying new products can be stressful. Make your changes one at a time. This helps in identifying if a product works for you or not, and it helps with the manageability of the process. Skin care simplicity is my goal, truth to be told, though I’m still not a “one product” kind of gal. I do have a few product recommends at the bottom, so check those out if you’re wondering where to start.
Frequently Launder/Change Fabrics that are Close to your Skin
This might seem obvious to you or it might not, but think about the fabrics that are close to your skin on a regular basis – scarves, collared shirts, sheets, pillowcases, towels (especially face towels), etc. These should be laundered on a regular basis, especially if you notice breakouts along the jawline and chin. I also recommend using a fresh pillowcase every night for sleeping – you can use one side, and then the other side, and then get a new one. If you wash your sheets once a week, that means you need about 4 spare pillowcases. I think that’s nice too if you use any kind of topical acne cream and don’t want to wreck your good pillowcases. Changing your face towel every few days (or laundering it weekly) is a good idea too.
And while we’re on that note…
Consider Using a Natural Detergent
If you are having any skin reactions at all and you can’t seem to find a source, consider changing your laundry detergent. Some skin irritation might be to a chemical or ingredient in the detergent! I definitely like clean sheets and nice smelling clothes, and I also like feeling good about the soap I’m washing my clothes in. Try to find a product that strikes the right balance for you (between cleaning power, smell, eco-friendliness, etc) and contains ingredients you are comfortable with. And note again, that reducing toxins in your life, wherever you can, contributes to your body’s overall capacity to detoxify and gives it a little less to deal with, which is only beneficial for promoting clear skin.
Treat Your Skin to Regular Face Masks
I’ve talked before about using raw honey to make an awesome acne skincare mask, but I also recommend different products for different seasons. Anything with clay in it is wonderful for more humid summer days, and in the winter (or perhaps year round) you might like something more clarifying, with AHA acids or glycolic acid, to support regular, active turnover of skin cells (the more you can prevent clogged pores, the better for your skin). Don’t underestimate the power of a face mask to give your skin a little boost. I find it de-stressing too.
And of course, don’t forget these other skin hygiene guidelines (you might know these ones already):
- try not to touch your face
- wash your hair and keep it clean, particularly if it touches your face/forehead
- try to avoid picking at your skin (agh, I know, very hard)
- avoid really harsh exfoliation with physical exfoliators (which may only ‘scratch’ your skin and allow more places for bacteria to enter) and just generally be careful exfoliating if your skin is really red and irritated
My Skincare Product Recommendations
MAJOR CAVEAT: I don’t really believe in universal product recommendations as such, because I think every person’s skin is different. Remember my theory that for every 9 people that LOVE something for their acne, another 1 person will find it makes things worse? Yes, I think that applies to skin care products as well.
That being said, there are a few products that I really like and that I’ve returned to time and time again. A few are brand products, and a few are just basics that you could purchase in any brand (note: I have NO affiliations with these products or vendors whatsoever – they’re honestly just products I like and have been using for a long time).
Natural Skincare Products (Brands)
- Andalou Naturals Turmeric & C Serum. This serum is very light and gentle. I don’t find it quite enough for the winter, but for all other seasons it works for me. Sometimes I add a drop of argan oil, for extra moisture.
- Andalou Naturals Argan Stem Cell Recovery Cream. I use this at night, and I find it moisturizing without being too heavy. I add argan oil to this too, in the winter.
- Andalou Naturals Acai + Kombucha Oil-Free Moisturizer. I don’t always have this on hand, but I like it as another light, moisturizing option that doesn’t make my skin oily. It has this lovely smooth feeling on my skin. I add argan oil to this too (or another organic skin oil) – have you noticed how much I like adding skincare oils to things?
- Herbivore Blue Tansy Resurfacing Clarity Mask. I like this for natural exfoliating. It has a bit of a sting, so test it first and see how your skin does. I find it reveals a nice glow, and even though it stings a bit, it’s also kind of calming.
- Skin Essence Organics Fresh Facial Cleanser. My skin wasn’t always able to handle this product, but once it calmed down (through the use of key supplements), it really likes it now. I look forward to washing my face in the morning, this feels so good. I use this cleanser year round, actually, summer and winter, just in the morning. And, Skin Essence Organics is a Toronto company! So kind of local (for me, anyways).
- rms beauty “Un” Cover-up– most people love this, and I do too. It’s a good match to my (pale, pink-ish) skin, it has good covering capacity, and it has never made me breakout (there are a range of colour choices, don’t worry). And, the one little pot lasts a very. long. time.
- Alima Pure Mineral Makeup – I’ve been using this for years – the blush and skin powder, mostly, though I have few shimmer powders and eye colours as well (which I use on occasion, for special events). I find the makeup lasts a long time, it doesn’t make me break out, and the colours are very pretty and natural.
- Adrien Gagnon Acnea Topical Cream – yes we all need an acne cream in our arsenal, for both prevention and spot treatment. I consider this a compromise in the search for natural products – it isn’t as ‘clean’ as, say, using an essential oil, but it’s better than some of the other acne creams out there. And it works better (for me at least) than any of those creams ever have, without that terrible skin stinging feeling. It can be very drying, though, so starting with minimal applications is best. The tube also lasts a very long time, since you only need a very small amount.
General products to consider (not brand specific):
- organic argan oil – a few drops in your moisturizer in winter can help a summer product become sufficiently moisturizing for a cold winter (if you live someplace with a cold winter)
- raw honey (for the abovementioned raw honey glow mask)
- Manuka honey – manuka honey makes an awesome low-key morning face wash (it isn’t necessarily make-up removing which is why it might not be perfect for at night). You can rub it on, wait a few minutes, and rinse it off and then you’ve done a wash and a mask in one!
- clay powder for face masks – try Moroccan clay, Rhassoul clay, Bentonite clay. You mix with a little water, and voila. A ready spa face mask.
- turmeric – add to your honey mask for an extra glow (just not too much for too long or you’ll face will be dyed yellow).
- sunflower oil – sunflower oil makes an awesome body moisturizer, especially when you’re right out of the shower. I just buy the organic kind at the natural food store and use it on my skin. You could try almond oil, avocado oil, or more specific skin oils like jojoba or apricot kernel oil.
- brown sugar – makes a very nice body scrub and is really pretty cheap!
- himalayan pink salt – also makes a lovely healing body scrub, as do epsom salts or sea salt or any kind of salt (just remember the guidelines about scrub caution – if your back or chest skin is really struggling, be cautious with your scrub. I sometimes think scrubs are good for prevention, but perhaps not perfect for while your skin is actively breaking out).
If you have any questions or thoughts, let me know if the comments! Also share any products that have worked for you!
My very best to you in your clear skin journey.
© Emily Joldersma, R.H.N. Eat Well, Live Vibrantly
Looking for more ways to get clear skin? Grab a free copy of my e-book here. It’s all about easy daily actions for clear skin, balanced hormones, and vibrant living.