Adult acne can be a frustrating and confidence depleting. While antibiotics and oral contraceptives can appear to improve such problems, they often have undesirable side effects and in some instances may even mask the underlying cause of breakouts.
We believe in treating acne inside and out. This guide addresses the main triggers of blemishes, which include clogged pores, diet, and hormone imbalances. The beauty of this holistic routine is that it won’t take long for you to reap the benefits. You can expect clearer, smoother skin with fewer breakouts in as little as two weeks.
Stage 1: Week 1 - 3
When treating acne topically (from the outside), the goal is to decongest pores, remove surface bacteria and balance oil production. Here are the products that should be in your anti-acne arsenal.
- Cleanse and unclog: Cleansing is essential to any anti-acne regime, however the quality of your formula is critical. A gentle milky cleanser that is "non-foaming" is imperative when it comes to controlling acne. This means that skin is not stripped of its acid-mantle, which acts as a protective barrier against microbes and toxins that can trigger breakouts. Antimicrobial coconut oil is the base for our No.1 Belle Frais Cleansing Milk. It also contains salicylic acid, which helps to unclog pores and balance oil production. Citrus and fruit extracts help balance sebum levels, while wattleseed refines pores and cucumber extract soothes angry, inflamed skin.
- Tone and balance: While toning is often a forgotten (or skipped) step in skincare protocols, it’s crucial in any successful anti-acne regime. Not only does it provide an extra level of purifying to remove problem-causing bacteria, but it ensures the pH of the skin barrier is normalised, protecting against eruptions and irritation. Our No.2 Citrus Rhapsody Toner Mist contains may chang and calendula extracts, which provide antibacterial and pore-refining action along with citrus extracts that control oil production of oil. Fig, guava and desert lime hydrate, soothe and nourish.
- Hydrate and soothe: Those with acne-prone complexions all too often skip moisturiser for fear that it will make skin greasy. However, it actually has the opposite effect. Proper hydration helps balance sebum production, ensuring that the skin doesn't overcompensate for dryness by producing excess oil. & Soothe Me Balm is the perfect hydrator. It’s in a base of aloe vera with soothing extracts such as cucumber, chamomile and calendula. The gel provides oil-free hydration while healing, calming irritation, decongesting pores, and reducing the appearance of redness and scarring.
Stage 2: Week 4+
Now that oil production is balanced and pores are refined, the treatment goals turn to reducing the incidence of breakouts, purifying and nourishing.
- Detoxify and control hormones: An imbalance of hormones can often be what perpetuates the cycle of breakouts and clogged pores. Our & Sleeping Beauty Purifying Mousse is a detoxifying sleep mask designed for use three times a week. Australian pink clay and volcanic zeolite draw out impurities and unclog pores. Avocado oil penetrates to the deeper epidermis layers to stop the conversion of testosterone into DHT (one of the hormones responsible for overactive sebaceous glands), balance sebum production and reduce greasiness.
- Exfoliate and purify: Regular exfoliation purifies and keeps pores clean. Using a natural formula like & Desert Lime Flawless Micro-Exfoliant ensures skin is not stripped of its natural (beneficial) oils. Rice enzymes and wattleseed slough away dead skin, refine pores and promote cellular turnover, while desert lime increases hydration and supports collagen production.
- Nourish: As mentioned, hydration is paramount to a healthy, clear complexion. Look for a lightweight formula with nutritive oils that absorb well into the skin. No.4 Vanilla Silk Hydrating Lotion provides a synergy of protective oils—rich in fatty acids, AHAs and antioxidants—that penetrate deeply into the skin to nourish sans greasiness.
- Protect: An antioxidant-rich serum is fundamental to any skincare regime. No.3 Exotic Goddess Ageless Serum assists in hydrating, firming and preventing hypersensitivity. Hyaluronic acid, which holds 1,000 times its weight in water, provides oil-free hydration for balanced, supple skin. Kakadu plum has the highest level of natural vitamin C of any plant in the world. It also offers antimicrobial benefits and has long been used to treat acne and heal wounds. White tea extract reduces skin sensitivity to UV light.
Ingredients to Avoid
Sadly, in many cases, the products we use to combat our skin concerns can be the very cause of them. These are the acne-triggering topical ingredients you should avoid in your skincare routine:
- Sodium laureth sulfate: Sodium laureth sulfate (commonly added to face wash to make it foam) is what gives skin that squeaky clean feeling. Unfortunately, it strips skin of its natural oils, causing overproduction of sebum, which can lead to clogged pores and breakouts.
- Synthetic fragrances: Synthetic fragrances are a major source of irritation for most skin types and are shown to trigger redness, irritation and inflammation.
- Mineral oil: Mineral oil is known to clog pores. It sits on top of the skin, creating a film that traps acne-causing dirt and bacteria beneath.
- Alcohol: Alcohol is an active ingredient in everything from cleansers and makeup removing wipes to acne treatments. The problem is that it's exceptionally drying and irritating. It breaks down skin's natural protective barrier and can actually exacerbate blemishes.
- Silicones: Silicones—found in many mattifying or smoothing products (e.g., primers, cosmetics and moisturisers)—can cause congestion and clogged pores.
- Preservatives: The types of preservatives found in most beauty formulas, including parabens, ethylhexanol and even those claiming to be natural, are among the most common irritants. Instead, we use sodium anisate (derived from aniseed) and sodium levulinate (a cellulose starch) to keep our products stable.
- Look after your liver: The liver is one of the most important organs in dictating the health of our skin. Acne is a sign that your liver is overloaded with toxins. Drinking our No. 1 Green Goddess Detox Tea is an easy way to support this vital organ. It contains an abundance of herbs including milk thistle, schizandra and dandelion root that work to detoxify and repair your liver, getting to the internal cause of your acne woes.
- Stock up on fiber: Clear skin starts with a healthy gut. Fiber is crucial for maintaining digestive function, balancing hormones and combating acne. Some of our favorite fiber-rich foods are lentils, almonds and flaxseed.
- Avoid sugar, dairy and alcohol: Skin is very sensitive to changes in insulin. High levels stimulate sebum production, which leads to breakouts. Surges are triggered by consuming sugar, dairy and alcohol (hence why you often get blemishes after an indulgent weekend). If you reduce your intake of these foods, your skin will thank you. Stick to a low glycaemic index diet to improve blood sugar and insulin control. Consider herbs such as gymnema, goats rue and chromium for oily and acne-prone skin linked to PCOS and hormone imbalances.
- Opt for functional foods: Upping your intake of certain nutrients is a wonderful way to reduce acne. Here are three of our favorites:
- Zinc: Not only is zinc responsible for moderating sebum levels, it's also effective at balancing hormones, regulating insulin and reducing the body’s inflammatory response to bacteria. Zinc-rich foods include garbanzo beans, seeds (hemp, pumpkin, sunflower), oatmeal, tofu, and spinach.
- Vitamin A: Vitamin A is crucial when it comes to a healthy complexion. It's responsible for the natural shedding of the skin cells, which helps keep pores clear. Up your dose of Vitamin A by filling your plate with pumpkin, sweet potato, carrot, apricot, squash and dark leafy greens.
- Fermented foods: Probiotic-rich fermented foods are shown to improve acne by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. Sauerkraut, miso and kefir are musts. You can also take a probiotic supplement to strengthen your microbiome.
- Hormone harmony: Regulating hormones is an important factor in controlling acne. Our No. 4 Golden Glow Tea contains red clover and licorice, which work to support hormone balance, plus lymphatic herbs burdock and cleavers to detoxify and cleanse. Upping your intake of fibre also helps.