A recent study found that a disheartening 45% of women between the ages 21-30 and 26% of women between the ages of 31-40 have clinical acne.
Unfortunately, we women are not excluded from this frustrating skin condition just because we’ve outgrown teendom. And even if we’re blessed with clear skin the majority of the month, we still get hit with premenstrual pimples and breakouts.
Thankfully, with the right diet, lifestyle and natural treatments, acne is curable and its recurrence is preventable.
But most dermatologists will tell you otherwise. Modern medicine’s approach to acne is highly superficial and relies on chemicals. Even the U.S. government’s womenshealth.gov site states that diet, stress and acne are unrelated. They deny the undeniable connections between both body and mind, and food and health.
Acne is not merely the result of genetics or which soap we use. The skin is a reflection of what’s happening on the inside. Any disturbance to our internal equilibrium will show itself on the outside. Improper diet and lifestyle are usually to blame; either foods or practices that are unwholesome, unsuited to our individual constitution or unsuitable for the present season.
From an Ayurvedic perspective, these factors aggravate the pitta dosha and cause hot toxic buildup called aama, resulting in acne. Whether or not these Sanskrit terms are familiar, the concept is universal. While the wrong diet and lifestyle have fueled their fire and will continue to make acne worse, a diet and lifestyle centered around cooling foods and lifestyle mitigates these forces for a clear complexion.
These ten natural remedies for acne and pimples cool the pitta dosha while supporting the body in eliminating toxins. They honor the role of mind, diet and lifestyle in healing acne for natural, lasting healing. Incorporate them into your daily routine to treat chronic acne or one week before your period to prevent premenstrual breakouts.
1. Cool down with a cooling diet.
The pitta dosha is intrinsically hot and it’s become especially fiery in the case of acne. We can reduce its fire with foods that are inherently cooling like coconut water, cucumber and watermelon. Hot, spicy, sour and salty foods only fuel its fire and should be avoided. I’ve shared a complete list of the foods that will heal and aggravate acne in The Complete Anti-Acne Diet.
2. Support healthy elimination.
Toxic buildup deserves half the blame for acne, so daily elimination is crucial. The Ayurvedic herbal blend triphala gently keeps the bowels moving. It can be taken nightly by pouring boiling water over 1/2 teaspoon and allowing it to infuse for a few minutes. Drink when it’s slightly cooled.
* Triphala should not be taken during pregnancy or diarrhea. Always consult your health care physician before taking any herbs.
3. Seek shade.
Hot sun and hot temperatures aggravate pitta. Keep the body cool by avoiding sunbathing and long bouts in the midday sun.
4. Moonwalk daily.
Bathing in the moonlight is an amazingly beneficial practice for those with high pitta and it’s used as a treatment in many conditions. The moon emits a cooling, heat-mitigating energy. Receive its cooling power by taking a nightly outdoor stroll or basking in the moonlight on full moon days.
5. Get the prana flowing.
We all need daily exercise to keep our prana, or life energy, flowing properly. Yoga is the best form of exercise for acne. It burns toxic buildup, promotes healthy circulation under the skin, reduces stress (an acne trigger) and targets the internal organs where pitta resides.
However, a midday yoga session or workout can aggravate pitta– it’s simply too hot! Instead, schedule an early morning or evening practice. Move at a moderate pace and stop when you’ve reached 50% of your total capacity.
6. Use the power of mind.
The mind is incredibly powerful. We can either allow it to turn against us or we can use it to heal. When I was battling with adult acne, the mirror had become my worst enemy. My frustration surged anytime I saw my reflection. Not willing to let my mind get the best of me, I stuck notes on every mirror in my apartment that said things like “My skin is getting better every day” and “I am beautiful“. My acne literally cleared not long thereafter.
Try this remedy in your own home. Filling the mind with positive healing thoughts works at the physical level. As Deepak Chopra once wrote, “Our cells are constantly eavesdropping on our thoughts and being changed by them.”
7. Use the breath.
Yogic breathing exercises, or pranayama, are very helpful in treating acne. Sheetali pranayama works wonders in aggravated pitta; cooling both body and mind. Just roll your tongue and slowly inhale, then slowly exhale through the nose. Practice 12 rounds daily except in constipation or cold weather. Learn how to practice sheetali pranayama in this video.
8. Avoid irritating cosmetics.
Whenever possible, forgo your makeup routine. Allow the skin to breathe and go about its natural detoxification process. Most makeup contains toxins that aren’t even allowed in many countries and shouldn’t be used anyone. If you do wear makeup, opt for natural, organic products.
9. Hydrate, but don’t overhydrate.
Proper water intake keeps everything moving as it should and aids in detoxification. While some advise drinking extra water in case of acne, we actually need just the right amount; neither too little nor too much. Drink room temperature water sip by sip when you’re thirsty and follow these 11 additional guidelines for a happily hydrated body.
10. Get your beauty rest.
Without proper sleep, we’re more prone to mental stress and physical imbalances. Most of us need 7-8 hours of sleep a night. We should sleep by 10 pm and wake by 6 am to comply with the energetic rhythms of nature, explained here. If sleep is hard to come by try a few of these 15 natural remedies for better sleep.
(This article was also featured in Popular Lately on elephantjournal.com.)
“Acne Fact Sheet.” Womenshealth.gov. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Web. 20 Feb 2015.
Alexis C. Perkins, Jessica Maglione, Greg G. Hillebrand, Kukizo Miyamoto, and Alexa B. Kimball. Journal of Women’s Health. February 2012, 21(2): 223-230. doi:10.1089/jwh.2010.2722.