Dealing with acne can be a lot like dealing with allergies—and not just because some acne is caused by allergies. Like allergies, you can use all the medication in the world to cover and mask your symptoms. But unless you know the underlying cause of your pimples, the results are going to be, well… spotty at best.
Often, it’s helpful to see a dermatologist. However, in my personal experience, the dermatologist generally just gives me a prescription to deal with the symptoms (such as an antibiotic) and sends me on my way. If you want to know the underlying cause of your acne, you’re most likely going to have to be proactive about finding the trigger on your own.
One of the biggest causes of acne in adult women is hormones. Whether it’s caused by an actual imbalance or just normal fluctuations, almost every woman is familiar with the tell-tale “period zit.”
Acne and PMS is something I personally struggled with for years. I put in quite a bit of time finding the right combination of natural remedies. Every person’s metabolism is different, but here are a few of the supplements and dietary tricks that worked for me over the years.
1. Diindolylmethane (DIM)
DIM is an extract from cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli. DIM may work as an anti-androgen and help to control estrogen production. This supplement is also being studied as a cancer fighter. You shouldn’t take this if you are planning to become pregnant.
2. Beta-Carotene and Fish Oil
Vitamin A is great for the skin, but it’s also fat-soluble, which means it’s possible to overdose on it. Instead of straight Vitamin A, I use Beta Carotene. I also take cod liver oil or fish oil capsules. Fish oil has other healing properties as well. Try having salmon for one or two meals each week, and you may also see a difference in your skin. (If you’re vegetarian, try evening primrose oil or flax seed oil as a substitute.)
3. Green Smoothies and Lemon Water
A freshly squeezed lemon in a glass of water has plenty of Vitamin C as well as detoxifying properties. Meanwhile, you can sneak some extra leafy raw greens into your diet by throwing a handful of spinach into a regular fruit smoothie. The fruit masks the spinach—you won’t even taste it.
4. Acne Lamps
Acne lamps work by using blue and red spectrum lights to kill bacteria on your skin. Some people swear by them. Others say they do nothing. Personally, I like my acne lamp, and I see improvement in my skin when I use it. And, hey, if nothing else, it’s nice to take 10-15 minutes to sit down and relax in front of a light!
5. Detox Tea
When you start looking a little green around the gills, reach for a cup of detox tea. I have my own personal favorites, especially the peach and berry detox flavors from Yogi brand. They help clean toxins from your liver and kidneys, which means less toxins to surface on your skin.
6. Black Salve
Here is one old-school topical remedy that I rarely see mentioned: Ichthyol ointment. This is a drawing salve that pulls pimples to a head practically overnight. Growing up, my parents referred to it as “black salve.” Caveat: it’s oily and pungent! Cover it with a band aid so you don’t stain your sheets. You can find this ointment in the first aid section of most drug stores.