I’ve suffered from acne-prone skin since 15 years of age.  

If you’re like me you would have tried every product, salon treatment and skincare regime under the sun.  From supermarket brands to harsh chemicals like benzoyl peroxide, designer skincare, peels, microdermabrasion, laser treatments and more. Many of these claimed to be ‘natural’, yet when I looked a little closer I found petrochemicals, silicones, plastics, alcohol and more.  Most treatments seemed to irritate my skin, making it red and scaly.  Some seemed to clear it up for a time but then my acne would flare up worse than ever.  Eventually I started having allergic reactions to most chemical-laden products leaving me no option but to stop using them altogether.

What was going wrong?

I didn’t realise it at the time but these chemicals were undermining the natural function of my skin.  The body is designed to function in a specific way.  When this natural function is interrupted, the body is triggered to overcome this interruption in attempt to return to homeostasis.  So the chemical products were constantly waging war against my skin when I applied them and my skin was constantly under stress.

Furthermore, I had never found out that acne actually comes from the inside, not the outside. Having acne isn't about having dirty skin that needs constant washing and cleansing. It's about balancing hormones and ensuring you have all the ingredients for healthy skin. There's much to talk about with regards to acne and hormones so that will be addressed in the next post. In the meantime we can still benefit from topical skin treatments that enhance the natural function and health of our skin.

So which products actually work?

What works is to apply substances that enhance the natural function of the skin and assist return to balance.  In my journey to find these I tried many natural products.  There are some wonderful formulations available from Wild Nature, Botani, Antipodes, Edible Beauty and more but I have found that the simplest regime is the most effective (and the cheapest!).  This is my daily skincare regime...

How I care for my skin

I follow the same regime morning and evening:

1. Cleanse

I apply Manuka Honey with a rating of 16+ UMF (250+ GMO) or more to my skin, on rising.  You may need just a little water to help it spread (I gently massage the honey onto my face with wet hands).  You only need a 5c piece worth as this stuff is strong.  Leave this on as long as possible (I like to make a cup of tea and prepare my breakfast before washing it off).  If you only have a few minutes that is ok too.  
How it works: The unique manuka factor (UMF) found in manuka honey is a powerful antibacterial that helps to clean up any excess proliferation of bacteria in your pores.  The hyrogen peroxide found in manuka honey helps to clear dead skin cells from pores, improves scarring and promotes oxygen and blood flow, which accelerates the healing process.  Additionally manuka honey is a rich source of nutrients and antioxidants.

2. Tone

I use filtered water mixed with 2.5% vitamin B3 (niacinamide) powder and spray it on my face after cleansing, avoiding my eyes.  I use a cotton pad to spread it evenly, ensuring to cover all areas where I am prone to clogged pores, breakouts or blackheads.
How it works: niacinamide is anti-inflammatory and is also thought to reduce sebum production, thus reducing blackheads
Bonus: niacinamide also decelerates the aging process by improving the surface structure of the skin, smoothing wrinkles

3. Moisturise

I moisturise my skin by massaging about 5 drops of jojoba oil into my face.  
How it works: Jojoba oil is actually a wax, not an oil and is almost identical to the natural wax esters found in our skin. This is why jojoba enhances the natural function of our skin and penetrates deeply, hydrating, reducing inflammation and fighting infection.  This is also why it does not go rancid, like most oils.  In addition to anti-inflammatory compounds, jojoba contains powerful antioxidants and many nutrients that feed the skin. 
Bonus: jojoba improves the appearance of wrinkles, pigmentation, uneven skin tone and scars.

4. Scar treatment

I treat my scars with aloe vera gel mixed with methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) powder.  I put this on every morning and night, after the jojoba, and avoid my eye area as it can cause irritation.
Methylsulfonyl-what?  MSM is a sulfur-containing compound that occurs naturally in plants.  It is hard to extract from plants so the powder form is made in a lab but it is identical to that found in nature.  
How it works: MSM provides sulfur, which is used to make collagen, connective tissue and antioxidants.  These help to create new, supple tissue, filling in old scars and healing recently-formed scars.  The aloe is a great carrier as it reduces inflammation, moisturises, fights bacteria and assists the healing of recently formed scars.

What if I wear make-up?

If you like to wear make-up be sure to choose a non-toxic one such as edible beauty, Antipodes or Inika.  Adjust your nightly routine as follows:
1. Apply the jojoba, massage it in to face and rinse off with warm water.  Repeat if necessary.  You can also use it on your eyes to remove mascara with the help of a cotton pad.  
2. Use the niacinamide toner
3. Apply the MSM & Aloe gel
4. Use the manka honey as a spot treatment on pimples - leave on overnight

I hope you love using this skincare routine as much as I do!

All the best on your health journey,

Josephine

 

If you are looking for the best solution to your acne problems, book a consultation with naturopath Josephine Cabrall at Brunswick Health, Melbourne.

 

References

Berardesca, E, Cameli, N, Cavallotti, C, Levy, JL, Piérard, GE & De Paoli Ambrosi, G 2008, ‘Combined effects of silymarin and methylsulfonylmethane in the management of rosacea: Clinical and instrumental evaluation’, Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 8–14, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18254805

Burlando, B & Cornara, L 2013, ‘Honey in dermatology and skin care: A review’, Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, vol. 12, no. 4, pp. 306–313, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24305429

Draelos, ZD, Matsubara, A & Smiles, K 2006, ‘The effect of 2% niacinamide on facial sebum production.’, Journal of cosmetic and laser therapy : official publication of the European Society for Laser Dermatology, vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 96–101, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16766489

Hunter, SM, Langemo, D, Thompson, P, Hanson, D, Anderson, J, Oh, IE, Paulson, R, Rustvang, D, Dorman, S & Roth, DL 2013, ‘Observations of periwound skin protection in venous ulcers: a comparison of treatments.’, Advances in skin & wound care, vol. 26, no. 2, pp. 62–6, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23337645

Khanam, N & Sharma, GK 2013, ‘A critical review on antioxidant and antimicrobial properties of Aloe Vera L’, International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research, vol. 4, no. 9, pp. 3304–3316, http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/articles/90210619/critical-review-antioxidant-antimicrobial-properties-aloe-vera-l

Ranzato, E, Martinotti, S & Burlando, B 2011, ‘Wound healing properties of jojoba liquid wax: An in vitro study’, Elsevier Ireland Ltd, Journal of Ethnopharmacology, vol. 134, no. 2, pp. 443–449, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21211559

Reuter, J, Jocher, A, Stump, J, Grossjohann, B, Franke, G & Schempp, CM 2008, ‘Investigation of the anti-inflammatory potential of Aloe vera gel (97.5%) in the ultraviolet erythema test.’, Skin pharmacology and physiology, vol. 21, no. 2, pp. 106–10, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed

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