Anyone who’s ever suffered from acne knows how frustrating it can be to get breakouts under control once and for all. Improving acne also requires patience because finding the right treatments can take some trial and error — and then it can take up to eight weeks to see results. The proper skincare regimen is the best foundation, but don’t let these sneaky acne-causing culprits derail a clear complexion!
If you experience acne, you may want to think about your skin the next time you reach for a cookie or a piece of candy. Research has confirmed that high glycemic index (GI) foods prompt the body to produce a hormone called insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). The higher the level of IGF-1, the more severe the acne because this hormone tells the body to produce more sebum (oil) — and it makes pores appear larger as well. Consider this: Some studies have shown that simply switching from high GI foods to low GI foods may help reduce acne by 30 to 50 percent.
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Though the link between dairy and acne has not been as extensively proven as the link between sugar and acne, there’s enough evidence to warrant staying away from milk, cheese and other milk-based products. Switching to organic may help.
3. Coconut oil
It seems everyone is using coconut oil these days, and I have many patients coming in who are using it topically on their skin. Although coconut oil contains lauric acid, which kills acne-causing bacteria, putting the oil straight on your skin often triggers acne. (It should not cause acne when eaten.) Argan oil is high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, so it is a great option for aging or irritated skin.
4. Hair conditioner
Think about it . . . When you use hair conditioner, it gets along your hairline as well as on your neck, chest and back as you rinse it. Most conditioners are chock-full of pore-clogging ingredients. These ingredients may smooth the hair and give it shine, but it does no favors for acne-prone skin. Always remember to wash your face and other blemish-prone areas after rinsing out the hair conditioner.
We all know that smoking is bad for overall health, but it can make acne worse, too. One study published in the British Journal of Dermatology found that acne was more frequent and severe in those who smoke — and the more a patient smokes, the worse the breakouts. Just keep in mind that smoking has also been associated with wrinkles, skin redness, a grey complexion, poor healing and skin cancers, so acne is just another reason to quit smoking.
Dr. Leslie Baumann is a board-certified dermatologist, New York Times best-selling author and CEO of Baumann Cosmetic & Research Institute in Miami.