Smooth, blemish-free skin gives a feeling of confidence, but often hormones and genetics make us more susceptible to acne. Though these may be beyond your control, improving blemishes for softer, smoother skin is often just a matter of changing basic habits. Chemical treatments and prescriptions are most commonly advertised for maintaining a clear complexion, but these can often be harsh and expensive; natural methods instead provide desired results in a way that also avoids the side effects and expense of chemical treatments.
Keep your skin clean. Wash your face twice per day, morning and night, with mild facial soap. Look for an oil-free, non-comedogenic cleanser that won't irritate or overdry your skin, such as Eucerin Dermopurifyer, Cetaphil Gentle Skin or Neutrogena's Transparent Facial Bar. Use clean, bare hands to wash instead of a washcloth that may irritate your skin, and pat dry with a wash cloth. Keep hair pulled back while sleeping and avoid touching your face. Oils and dirt on your hands transfer to your skin and cause blemishes.
Avoid behaviors and habits that make blemishes worse. Picking at existing acne can cause infection in pimples and increases the chance of acne scarring. Avoid fatty, sugary foods. According to Dr. John Wolf, chair of dermatology at Baylor College of Medicine, these foods can cause blood sugar and insulin levels to fluctuate and exacerbate acne problems.
Steer clear of oily products near your face. Greasy hair waxes, oily moisturizers and thick cosmetics may make acne worse. Use a light, water-based hair products and pin your hair away from your face. Use a pea-sized drop of oil-free, non-comedogenic and non-acnegenic moisturizer if needed. Choose mineral powder foundation and cosmetics instead of heavy, greasy products.
Limit stress by exercising, talking friends or family members, or listening to music. According to Dr. Denise Metry, an assistant professor of dermatology at Baylor College of Medicine, stress stimulates hormones. This leads to skin glands producing excess oil which causes acne breakouts.
Exercise and eat healthy food to improve skin quality. Exercising regularly improves blood flow, reduces stress and eliminates harmful toxins from your body. Vitamin A keeps your skin smooth and supple. Liver, green leafy vegetables, eggs, butter, cheese and orange and yellow fruits and vegetables contain Vitamin A. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects skin and repairs skin damage, and is found in citrus fruits, broccoli and peppers. Vegetable oil, sunflower seeds, almonds, olives, blueberries and papaya contain Vitamin E, which protect skin and prevent cell damage. Foods containing niacin, such as lean meats, fish, eggs and enriched bread, pasta and cereal also promote healthy skin. Take a multivitamin supplement each day to support nutrition and skin health. Drink at least 64 ounces of fluids every day as well: staying hydrated is vital for healthy skin.
- Baylor College of Medicine; Back to School Stress Can Trigger Acne Problems; April Sutton; July 2005
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Acne; Steven D. Ehrlich; December 2008
- New Mexico State University; A Young Person's Guide to Good Food!; Martha Archuleta; August, 1998
- North Dakota State University Extension Service; Prairie Fare: Nourish Your Skin During Cold Weather; Julie Garden-Robinson
- Baylor College of Medicine; Healthy Foods Contribute to Healthy Skin; Graciela Gutierrez; March 2010
- The World's Healthiest Foods: Vitamin E
- Acne: How to Wash Your Face
- BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images