For beauty obsessives, acne is something of a scourge on humanity and it pushes even the best of us to extreme, sometimes dangerous measures. From putting toothpaste on our faces, to scraping and picking away at our skin and cotton-budding harsh chemicals or neat alcohol on open sores, many of us have tried some relatively unadvisable things in a bid to decrease the number of blemishes.
Then, of course, there are the anti-biotics. A course often of six or 12 months, which can preclude drinking and bring on depression as a side effect, and where's the fun in that?
In this article, we break down and investigate a wide range of treatments - from adjusting your diet, to going for facials, with the hope that you might find the right sort of solution to suit you and your lifestyle. So how can we banish those sore, unsightly bumps for good without using medication?
1. DITCH THE DAIRY
While doctors have bashed dairy for decades, clinical studies have only recently established a link between milk consumption and acne.
"Milk contains testosterone precursors, which cause increased sebum production," says Dr Low Chai Ling. "What's fascinating is that one study found that of all milk, skim milk has the strongest correlation with acne, and some hypothesise that skim milk has less oestrogen than whole milk."
The thing is, switching to organic milk won't remove your exposure. "All milk naturally contains androgens and IGF-1, a hormone that may be a precursor to breakouts," Dr Low says. "There's no such thing as hormone-free milk. Plus, milk contains sugar, a lactose, so it stimulates insulin."
If you just can't bear to banish milk from your diet completely, nutritionists advise opting for nut, rice or oat milks instead - and the same goes for yogurt. "Replacing milk and yogurts with with coconut-based, dairy free varieties will not only help eliminate the compounds that trigger acne, but they have the added benefit of high protein levels which is great for your overall health."
2. DITCH SUGAR
Another recent study suggests that following a low glycemic index diet—that means one with less refined sugars, carbohydrates, and sugar-containing foods—may result in fewer acne outbreaks. "As the glycemic index goes up, it affects insulin production and all the hormones," Dr Low says. "They are all in a delicate balance—your female hormones are in balance with your thyroid hormones, which are in balance with your insulin. When you have more in one area, it's like a domino effect on the others."
Since the dietary acne provoker may vary for every person, nutritionists recommend keeping a food diary outlining what you eat in the days before a breakout to determine what your triggers are. Then you start a very slow re-entry, introducing one new item, like dairy, every six weeks to see what happens on the skin.
3. THE RIGHT FACIALS
It is not an old wives’ myth that facials can attenuate outbreaks. Most of the time, we behave in a reactive fashion, reaching for our tube of acne cream only when the red spot rears its ugly head. Using facials that keep our skin clear of dead cells can proactively help prevent the formation of comedones and pimple lesions. Recent technological advances also see a slew of effective light therapies that can influence the way our skin behaves--- from LED Red found in Deep Red facial that calms and speeds skin healing to I-Clear blue light found in Clear Blue facial that reduces bacterial count on the skin to encourage clear skin. Regularly incorporating facials into your regime mean a clearer face without the need for medications.
Read More: Glow How-Max Your Skin's Mojo(and keep it)
4. FEED YOUR SKIN
"Probiotic rich foods such as oats, chia seeds and sauerkraut, not to mention dark leafy greens like kale, broccoli and cabbage, will help eliminate the toxins that cause acne," say Dr Kenneth Lee. "Foods packed with zinc, like pumpkin seeds, chia seeds and flaxseeds are also great at boosting immunity to the bacteria that causes spots, but it's food that is high in skin-healing vitamin A, such as spinach and carrots, that is even better. Don't bank on expensive treatments and creams - it's best to start from the inside."
5. PURGE YOUR OLD MAKEUP
One of the biggest culprits of bacteria is in our makeup. All our makeup have an expiry date. One good rule of thumb is that the more watery the makeup is, the shorter the shelf life, with foundation lasting only 6 months and eye makeup up to 2 years. Don't forget to regularly clean out makeup puffs and brushes as well. Most ladies do not want to part with their favourite shade of blusher or other cosmetic gems they have accumulated through the years, only to find them an insidious cause for clogged skins.
Read More: What Is Expired Makeup Doing To Your Skin