This is a subject that I can relate to! I have struggled with adult acne since I was in my 20s. Before that, I got the typical teenage acne (stray pimples here and there), but not the obnoxious cystic acne and painful, long-lasting pimples that I started to get later. It seemed like there was never, ever, a day that I wasn't ashamed of some unsightly blemish that had crept its way onto my face. I got so tired of constantly trying to cover them up when I went out in public, which only made them worse.
Yes, I do think diet can play a part in controlling or even elminating acne, but
there are other factors that help, too.
I am in my mid-40s now, and still deal with adult acne - but I have finally almost eliminated it. That being said, I have tried just about everything out there for the past 20-25 years except for Accutane and a few other hardcore products that seemed to be potentially dangerous. I will also say that it's hard to know whether it's the fact that I'm approaching menopause (not there yet) that has finally helped to clear up my face or the fact that I have finally discovered what works for me. Either way, I'm going to continue to do what seems to be working for me. This being said, though, my mother had cystic acne well into her early 60s.
Some of these things might seem redundant to you or things that you've heard before over and over, but I'm sharing what I'm doing right now. I hope that it is helpful to you and anyone else and welcome any other insight on this topic.
I will also say that I believe that people like you and me have definitely inherited our predisposition to acne. What this basically means is that while diet and other lifestyle factors can definitely help improve our acne, the neighbor next door could be breaking all of the rules we have to follow and still have perfect, blemish-free skin. For someone like that, their skin is going to be great regardless of what they do. It's not fair, but unfortunately it's just the way it is. On a positive note, we might possibly end up healthier in the long run because of all the healthy lifestyle changes we've had to make to help clear up our skin. They may or may not be doing these things, but whether they do or don't it doesn't seem to make a difference.
For people like us, there are definitely certain factors that make a difference in improving our skin, but what works for me may not work as well for you. I am not a doctor or especially knowledgeable about skin, but after doing tons of online research and trying things out for myself I am definitely more informed than I used to be.
The biggest factors contributing to acne seem to be hormones & sebum clogging pores.
1. Drink lots of water. Even if it doesn't help clear your acne, it is good for your body to be flushed out. It helped me to flush out a few pounds of junk weight, as well. The first few days I started drinking lots of water I was heavier on the scale, but by day 3 or so, the scale consistently started reading lower. Drinking all of that water may help flush out the extra fats that could potentially contribute to acne.
2. Consistently swipe your face throughout the day with Oxy Max pads. They have a 2% salycylic acid formula that seems to help keep the pores unclogged. Right now, in the dead heat of a humid summer, when I am exercising a lot, I swipe my face with these pads several times a day (sometimes 6-8 times). Buy these things in bulk! Keep your hands away from your face, and swipe with these pads after you've been talking on the phone.
3. For some reason the cheap hotel soap or lye soap works well on my skin for facial cleansing, better than other products that are designed for acne. I found this soap that you can buy at Cracker Barrel called Grandma's Lye Soap. I don't know why it works, but it does. My best friend, who also struggles with acne, found that Head & Shoulder shampoo (regular formula) works well as a facial cleanser for acne-prone skin, as well. I've been using it lately and I'm not breaking out more.
4. If you are a female, don't wear liquid or powder foundation unless you absolutely HAVE to. Save it for the times when you will be in the public eye a lot. Otherwise, you will find yourself breaking out often. I have been going naked on my face for 2 years now when I am not working or around alot of other people. At first I didn't like how splotchy my face seemed to look, but remarkably, my skin starts to look better over time without any makeup at all, even with the larger pores that I have. If you feel that you can do it, I would recommend trying to go bare as much as you can get away with, even when you go out in public. Use the other makeup like lipstick, eyeliner, mascara, etc. to your advantage. When I do have to wear makeup, Cover Girl's Oil Control liquid makeup formula works best, and I put it on lightly so it doesn't cake. Many women swear by the mineral powder makeup - what I have tried does not keep me from breaking out. I will start breaking out eventually if I continue to wear it. Maybe I haven't tried the best brands.
5. I take Glucomannan supplements. They absorb extra fats/toxins in your body. I take them about an hour before I eat. They have helped me lose weight and seem to clear up my skin.
6. I take Vitamin C supplements. They are the only vitamins that I take. I have heard that you can't overdose on them, because your body flushes out what it doesn't need. I take 1000-3000 mg a day when I remember. Vitamin C is a natural healer.
7. I drink spearmint tea - two bags a day. Drinking this made a very noticeable improvement in my skin. If you google spearmint tea you will see that not only does it help with acne, it helps regulate hormonal cycles and can help with pcos. It can even help with excess facial hair. I have read where it didn't work for others, but it definitely works for me.
8. Raw apple cider vinegar (with the "mother"). Sounds disgusting! If you plug your nose and drink a Tbsp. mixed into a cup of water you can usually manage to down it. Supposedly, raw apple cider vinegar cures a lot of ailments and helps with a lot of issues. It is supposed to help make your skin clearer. Besides drinking it (it cleanses out your digestive system) you can use it as a toner for your skin and use it as a hair rinse. It even helps with bad breath! When I have nasty breath first thing in the morning I drink a cup of water w/ the vinegar and a while later my breath feels much fresher. Right after I drink it I feel like I smell a bit like a salad w/ Italian dressing, though.
9. Get enough sleep. This one is huge. I am living proof that when I get less than 6 hours of skin, my skins completely suffers. As early as later that day I can feel the big underground cysts start to form under my skin. If you can't get enough sleep one night do your very best to get a nap later in the day. Sleep just might be one of the most important things you can do for your skin if you're acne-prone.
10. Stay away from sugar and refined carbs. I used to think I was "allergic" to chocolate, because my mother said that she was and she had hormonal cystic acne all the way into her early 60s (unbelievable, isnt' it?). She was convinced that every time she ate chocolate she broke out and it seemed that way for me, too, but I finally learned that chocolate was not the culprit.
The fact is, when I eat lots of (or even a little) junky sweets it takes a toll on my skin and I gain weight. Yet I can eat quite a bit of dark chocolate (used to only like milk chocolate but I have learned to love dark chocolate the best) and I don't break out from it - ever!
11. Eat as many foods as possible that have high amounts of fiber. The glucomannan (mentioned above) helps tremendously, too. Eat as many raw vegetables and fruits as you can stomach. I swear, it seems like if I eat a whole bunch of raw veggies one day, the next day my skin seems to look much clearer and more radiant. You can also take psyllium husk capsules or powder if you are not allergic to psyllium. The fiber from the veggies and whole grains and psyllium, etc. help to clean out your intestinal tract and seem to help clear up my face, too.
12. Get exercise. The act of sweating, helps release the toxins and oils from our skin. Just make sure that you are wiping off that excess sweat as much as possible with acne pads or good soap; because otherwise, you will break out badly. It has happened to me more times than I want to admit.
13. I use a mix of essential oils - one equal part lemon, tea tree and lavendar in a formula that I apply directly to my skin. I never would've guessed that "oils" would help clear up my skin, but they seem to have helped.
14. Eating nuts and fish and other foods with Omega 3 fatty acids. Eating these good fatty foods seems to help draw out the bad fats and release them. I hate fish so I either take fish/flax oil capsules or eat a lot of walnuts/almonds, etc.
15. I have been applying accu-pressure to myself as well as trying out reflexology techniques. I don't know if they're helping my acne, but they are definitely helping to make me more relaxed and that brings me to the last thing I'll bring up - anxiety and stress. That definitely can bring on more pimples. When I've had a fight with my husband, a few days later extra pimples start forming. I have had to learn to chill out as much as possible and engage in as many relaxation techniques as I have time for. A glass of red wine doesn't hurt either.
One more thing! I try to remember to change my pillowcase as often as possible. The oils collect on the pillowcase, and can help clog up your pores again. Buy 3-4 spares and change them out every 1-4 nights, if possible. I don't always remember to do this, but it is nice to sleep on a super-clean pillowcase anyway.