It is a common assumption, that as we enter adulthood, we leave behind our dreaded blemishes, oily and acne prone skin. For some, this is the case, however, for many others, acneic breakouts can begin or continue well into adulthood. If this is you, you are not alone. A study published in the Journal of Women's Health states that 54 percent of all women aged 25 and over have at least one type of facial acne.

So, what triggers these breakouts and can we do to combat acneic skin and blemishes?

Acne emerges when our skin begins overproducing oil, resulting in our pores becoming clogged with dirt, bacteria and other fragments. In adults, this is also the case, however there are many things that can trigger acne breakouts.

Some of these include:

Hormones

Hormonal acne can be triggered by menstruation, menopause, pregnancy, polycystic ovarian syndrome and increased androgen levels.

stress

Stress itself is not the cause of acne, more so the increase in oils and hormones that are released when we become stressed. Acute stress can cause a couple of blemishes sporadically, however chronic, ongoing stress can impact the skin significantly. This is when the skin reacts, our hormones levels fluctuate and our bodies produces excess oils.

Heredity & genetics

Studies have shown that genes do impact the likelihood of an individual experiencing acne. Genes can affect how we respond to hormonal changes, oil stress and other internal factors.

Cosmetics

Many beauty products on the markets are full of ingredients that aren’t good for our health or our skin, especially if you are experiencing blemishes and breakouts. Using products that contain harsh, synthetic ingredients and skin irritants, paired with existing oil and hormonal fluctuations can create a breeding ground for acne.  

What can we do to manage our skin during these breakouts?

Managing your skin during this time can seem like an overwhelming task, especially if you are unsure of what is triggering your conditions and you’ve tried so many things before.

There are a few simple things that you can be doing to help encourage and promote skin health during this time.

Hormone-friendly foods

Avoid foods high in sugar and starch, especially leading up to your period. These move quickly into our bloodstream, casing a spike in insulin. High insulin levels trigger hormonal imbalances. Instead, opt for complex carbohydrates as these keep our blood sugar stable and hormone levels stable. Consume plenty of plant-based proteins, whole grains, good fats and colourful fruits and vegetables.

Do you drink a lot of coffee or beverages high in caffeine? As good as it tastes, we must be careful with the amount we consume.  Caffeine stimulates our adrenal glands, producing more of the stress hormone; cortisol.

Put a stop to the stress

It’s easier said than done, but there are a few things we can do to learn to manage our stress and prevent it from getting out of control.

We love these top tips from Body and Soul that advise of how to find your Zen again.

Circuit breaker

Get your mind off the problem, it's not going anywhere, but you can. Take the dog for a mini walk. Revisit your funniest emails. Take yourself to a yoga or Pilates class. Meditate. Listen to your favourite song. Google a beach in Tahiti. Make yourself a cup of herbal tea.

Avoid caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant that increases adrenaline in the body, the very hormone you are looking to reduce. Avoid coffee (decaf is OK), colas, guarana, chocolate, and more than 2 cups of tea daily.

Eat small meals often

Maintaining steady blood sugar levels is key to stabilizing mood. Ensure you have a small meal every 2-3 hours that contains protein. For example, a hard-boiled egg and lettuce, some almonds, a can of tuna and brown rice.

Breathe

The more anxious you become, breathing becomes shallower and higher in the chest. Consciously lengthen your breath, breathing deeper into the belly. Count to three on the in-breath, and four on the out-breath.

Talk to yourself

Affirmations are positive, self-affirming messages to self. In the case of anxiety, calming and positive is required. Try "All will be well", or "I always cope, just breathe and relax".

Tell someone who cares

Phone your mum or a friend. Acknowledging you are finding a situation stressful, and being heard and understood by someone who cares for you, even if they can't physically help, will reduce stress levels.

Cocooning

In the moment you feel totally overwhelmed, gently place both palms side by side on your face, fingers gently resting on your closed eyelids. This can help centre you, give you a momentary break and quieten the mind, until you feel more centred and ready to face the world again.

Seek help

If anxiety and stress has become a significant part your life, seek help from a psychologist or counselor, stress is their specialty. You don't have to do this on your own - remember, it's a sign of strength, not weakness, to seek help.

Break the pattern

Some of us are genetically predisposed to acneic skin than others. Determining the triggers of your breakouts is important to best control the condition. When you have a flare up, take a moment to think of the points we have mentioned above; are you feeling stressed? Have you changed something in your diet or beauty regime? These will help in taking appropriate steps in restoring skin health.

Be conscious of your Cosmetics

When dealing with troubled skin it is especially important that you source natural products that are designed to repair, nourish and condition the skin.

Certain ingredients have a proven ability to aid in the repair of acneic skin, some of these include Tea Tree Oil, Sulphur, Manuka Tree Leaf Oil, Nigella Sativa Oil and Green Tea Extract. It is important to choose products with high natural, anti-bacterial properties to prevent and control the spread of bacteria on the skin. Other ingredients like Coconut Oil. Sweet Almond Oil, Aloe Vera, Shea Butter and Natural Vitamin E are recommended to provide nourishment and encourage skin repair.

There are many topical products recommended for blemished, troubled and acne prone skin, it is important to do your research when trying new products to ensure they are not going to do further damage. We feel the best way to care for the skin is by using natural products in conjunction with a healthy diet and active lifestyle. If you’re looking for some products full of the ingredients above we have popped some of our recommendations below.

The health and appearance of our skin can impact our confidence and attitude, but it is important to recognise how wonderful and unique we all are. Don’t be afraid to show yourself a little self-love AND don’t be too hard on yourself, beautiful. If you’re feeling down about your skin, instead of focusing on the negative, point out 3 things that you LOVE about yourself and encourage others to do the same.

I would love to hear your experience and how you have dealt or currently dealing with troubled skin. If you’re feeling brave enough, please share your story below! It is always encouraging for other women to know they are not alone in their journey. Go girl!

Sammy,

and the rest of the Natural Beauties.