Scared of leaving the house and horrified of looking in the mirror are commonplace when you’re suffering from bad skin. Trying to fix it can range from taking on a variety of products to trial and error, tiresome doctor appointments and countless attempts at creams, potions and lotions. But what are the 6 core mistakes people make when trying to piece the clear skin puzzle together?

  1. Straight to the medicine cabinet

The first thing people might start to do when one spot turns into what-might-seem-like-100 is go to the local GP or dermatologist because that’s the first logical step to take (and seeking expert help is definitely the first step to take). But one of the problems of receiving a prescription to fix a symptom, is that the cause isn’t being identified nor treated, making sure the very thing causing your condition isn’t being taken care of potentially leading to a relapse of the condition going forward or even worse, the inability to effectively treat the situation whatsoever.

A holistic GP can help you to uncover the cause of your acne whilst taking into account your lifestyle factors that may be culprits that show on your face.

  1. Lack of a systematic process

Do you have a systematic, long term process for effectively and proactively managing your condition? A lack of a consistent process with follow up can result in short term ‘quick fixes’ that fail to address the cause and real problem over the long term.

  1. The local beautician

Visiting the local beautician who specialises in everything ranging from waxing, nails, hair removal, laser, massage and facial work can unfortunately lead to the wrong impression that generic beauticians are dermal therapists (skin experts). In the condition of acne in particular, you need to see a therapist who is well trained and educated in skin specifically, to help aid your condition. Having a generic facial and a few extractions may lead you to feel like your skin is cleaner, blemish free and smooth (for once!) however, the risk here is that you may have the false sense of security that your beauty treatment is working towards ridding your acne, where in fact unless you’re being treated by an expert dermal therapist, you’re just being treated with a veneer of product that feels nice, but isn’t doing anything under the surface to treat acne. It’s the equivalent of painting over a cracked wall – the paint may hide the flaw, but unless you work to rebuild the wall itself, it’s still broken underneath.

  1. You’re using a well known branded product, so it must be good

Don’t be so sure. Most branded products are just that – brands. Huge marketing and advertising budgets and high quality distribution networks through large retailers, and nothing more mean that branded products can seem like they are developed with high quality ingredients to treat all skin conditions effectively. But selling all products for everyone, means that they are not being specifically designed to treat problem skin. Unfortunately in this case, you’re buying a brand, not a skincare product that effectively treats skin conditions. Most of the OTC (over-the-counter) brands contain chemical compounds known as ‘fillers’ meaning that 90% of the ingredients are inactive and only 10% are active. Just picture the little bottle you might have bought, but only with 10% of the product left in it – that’s essentially all you’re buying. The rest is just ‘stuff’ to fill the rest of the bottle up. Look for a skincare product line that uses walking billboards as their marketing (ie who do you know who has absolutely healthy, glowing skin, this is a better place to start than the beauty counters at Myer).

  1. ‘My diet has nothing to do with my face’

Diet doesn’t cause acne, but it definitely impacts it. Sugar and dairy in particular, are the two main culprits of congesting, and proliferating the bacteria that stimulates acne known as ‘p.acne bacteria’. Trying to wean of these two food groups (I know it’s hard) is a good first place to start if you’re looking for a short term improvement with results. Here are some recommendations:

This may be one of the hardest to do, but starting an elimination diet may help calm the acne down as diet can both impact and inflame acne (it doesn’t cause it). There are 3 core things to eliminate (not all at once):

  1. Dairy: Yoghurt, milk, cheese – swap for coconut yoghurt (or coconut milk with chia seeds, similar yoghurt like consistency).
  2. Sugar: Sorry! No chocolate!! Yes, even dark chocolate. Try Pana Chocolate Raw Chocolate instead (from AboutLife, make sure it does not contain agave nectar in the flavour you choose). Sugar extends to: – Soft drinks (and yes, alcohol) – All desserts (cakes / sweets) – switch for raw desserts including cacao (contains magnesium to help with stress levels) and natural sweeteners like honey, try to avoid the sweeteners at all if possible
  3. Processsed carbs: – White pasta: swap for cauliflower rice (NO gluten free pasta), zucchini pasta is great, use eggplant slices for lasagna sheets (this really does force you to get very very creative in a great way!) – White bread: swap for spelt sourdough

       6. Stress has nothing to do with my skin

I know – stress might seem completely unrelated to skin conditions, but it is.

Testosterone lives just underneath the surface of our skin, and when we’re stressed it converts into a more complex chemical called DHT (dihydrotestosterone). This reaction is stimulated when we’re stressed. The DHT tells our oil glands to create more oil, leading to an overproduction and overflow of oil feeding the p.acne bacteria it’s lunch, meaning more cemented pustules and pimples unfortunately. So when it comes to stress management, it is really important to try to control the situation so it literally doesn’t show on the face or body. This can include natural management techniques like:

– High intensity interval training (HIIT) – getting sweaty and excreting toxins can help manage stress levels

– Tai Chi

– Qi Dong

– Journal writing

In terms of supplements to combat stress that help to manage it include: – Magnesium (you can derive this from magnesium spray or directly from cacao – raw desserts here we come!) – Zinc – you can obtain zinc drops from a natural grocer, but keep in mind it’s best digested with Vitamin C – Epsom salts (if baths are an option) are high in magnesium, and a great way to relax and de-stress.