Skin Solutions - Acne & Congestion
Acne is a skin disorder common to many teenagers living in the Western
World and in the last 20 years, an increasing number of adults. An
inflammatory disease of the skin, the most common symptoms of acne
include pimples, comedones, whiteheads blackheads, pustules, cysts and
Our Acne & Congestion Solution page gives you the information to start making a real difference to your skin, helping you get in control of your acne.
Products for Acne
When it comes to skincare for acne, no one product is suitable for
all skin issues. Some experience excessive oiliness and congestion, some
drier skin with breakouts and others cystic type acne that nothing
seems to help. Taking different skin types into account, below are
solutions for different types of acne breakout:
Oily Skin with Acne
These products specifically work with issues such as excess sebum, inflamed skin, scarring, congestion and poor skin healing:
Dry/Combination Skin with Acne
These products help to balance combination skin, reduce inflamation
and scarring. They are gentle on skin and nourishing without
contributing to congestion:
Managing Acne Scars
Scars are one of the unfortunate side effects that can result from acne. Dry or dehydrated skin will increase the chance skin will scar so skin nourishment is important to help prevent this occuring in the first place. Once this skin has scared there are natural ingredients that can encourage the skin's collagen to repair including rosehip oil and vitamin C.
These products help to cleanse the body internally thereby reducing the toxic load on the skin:
Mineral Makeup is ideal for acne-prone skin because it supports the
skin instead of causing congestion as liquids are prone to do. As a dry
makeup it reduces bacterial contamination. The key benefits for
congested and acne prone skin are:
- Does not clog pores
- Gives full coverage for skin conditions
- Allows skin to breathe
- Pure minerals are ideal for sensitive skin
For more information about the organic and natural skin care products
that will suit your skin specifically, ask our skin specialist for
advice. E-mail our organic skin specialist
Diagnose Your Acne eBook
Unlike many one size fits all ‘cures’ the ‘Diagnose Your
Acne’ eBook helps you work out the specific underlying causes of your
condition and gives you personally crafted natural solutions to bring
back clear, healthy skin.
The ‘definitive guide’ is provides you with straightforward questions
that allow you to diagnose the specific issues that cause your acne, be
they dietary, lifestyle, hormonal, makeup, stress or nutritional. Once
you have worked out the underlying issues that need changing, the guide
provides you with the safe, natural steps to take on your path to clear
skin. It’s just like having your own naturopathic and nutritional skin
specialist on call.
The huge difference with this book is that it considers acne as a
multi-factorial issue. There is often more than one cause for your acne,
and they all must be tended to if you want your skin to be clear. I
noticed the many clients I have treated for acne have not only developed
great complexions but improved their life in so many other ways:
increased confidence, mental clarity and energy levels just to name a
Inside the book you’ll get:
- An in-depth step-by-step workbook that helps you identify the causes and triggers of your acne
- Comprehensive explanations at each stage of the workbook so you can
not only identify the cause of your acne but also understand how it came
- The best natural treatment options for your acne, taking into account each cause and each trigger
- A workbook for your individual treatment plan and guide
- Dietary and lifestyle recommendations to assist you overcome acne as well as improving your overall wellness
- Skin Super Foods, foods that harm (and why) and foods that heal
- Meal suggestions: when you can cheat and when you have to follow the guidelines for best results
- And much more…
Click here to buy – $27
The development of acne is multifactorial with a number of causes and
exacerbating factors contributing to the onset and persistence of the
condition. These include:
- Sex Hormones – High androgen production is one of the key reasons
acne tends to flare up at puberty or with the menstrual cycle. Androgens
stimulate the production of sebum in the skin’s oil glands. Oil glands
that are blocked by dead skin cells build up sebum creating swelling.
Sebum production can also be stimulated by sweat and humidity.
- Bacteria – A bacteria species Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes) is
commonly found in the pores of the skin. Under normal circumstances P.
acnes is in balance with the skin environment however when stimulated by
factors such as excess sebum and pore congestion the environment is
ideal for bacterial growth. Overgrowth of P. acnes triggers an
inflammatory response, leading to pustules.
- Cosmetics and medications – Contact with oily substances such as
mineral oil, rich creams or make up and petroleum based products can
trigger or exacerbate acne. Cosmetics can also cause skin irritation
which may flare-up acne. Certain medication such as stero
ids can also
stimulate acne production.
- Stress – There is some indication that stress can exacerbate acne by
disrupting hormone levels and suppressing the immune system.
- Dietary Factors – There are a number of links between diet and acne.
Diets high in trans fats, simple carbohydrates and sugars promote
inflammation in the body, which aggravates acne. A high glycemic index
(GI) diet is also associated with insulin resistance and increased
production of androgens.
- Insulin levels – High insulin levels occur when the cells that
usually take glucose up from the blood become resistant to its effects.
The pancreas responds by producing more insulin creating a cycle that
can lead to an increase in acne, as well as weight gain and hormone
- Nutritional Deficiencies – Zinc, Essential Fatty Acids and vitamin A
are important skin nutrients. Deficiencies in any one of these can lead
to skin problems. Skin that is dry and inflamed or congested with
whiteheads or blackheads may be deficient in EFAs. Skin deficient in
zinc can scar very easily which is often the case in chronic acne.
Adequate levels of zinc in the skin will help with skin repair and
reduce ongoing scarring. Acne and rough or thick skin are also possible
signs of a vitamin A deficiency. A visit to your naturopath will help identify low levels of any nutrients.
Acne Prevention Tips
With acne, the key is prevention — stopping acne
before it appears. So as soon as the first signs of appear start acne treatment. This will help to reduce the likelihood of worsening breakouts, scarring or permanent skin damage. Continue with treatment once your skin is clear as this will help to prevent further breakouts.
Skin hygiene is paramount when it comes to managing acne. Frequent
touching the site of acne can lead to P. acne being transferred to other
sites on the face or body. Picking or squeezing blemishes or blackheads
can lead to scarring. Good hygiene practices help to minimise
irritation, scarring and bacterial transfer. Some useful skin-care
suggestions to help minimise acne include:
- Don't over-wash your face. Wash your face once or twice a day. Washing at night helps to remove environmental grime, oil secretions,
creams and make up. Washing in the morning removes debris and dead skin
cells produced during the night. Use a mild natural soap such as Remedica Anago Facial Cleanser or foaming cleanser like Treasured Earth - Lemon & Mango Ginger Cleansing Gel that won’t dry the skin
out. If your skin feels tight or dry after washing it is an indication
that the skin’s protective barrier has been significantly disrupted.
This can lead to over production of sebum (oiliness).
- Wash your hands before touching your skin to reduce the chance of infection.
- Avoid picking or squeezing pimples as it can spread bacteria under the
skin and cause skin damage, increasing the likelihood of scarring.
- If you have oily hair or pimples around your hairline, wash your hair daily.
- Avoid make up or face creams that are greasy or oily.
Rest & Relaxation
Stress affects our lives in all ways, some motivational and positive,
others subtle and more insidious. While not historically recognised as a
contributing factor in skin conditions, there is now growing body of
evidence to show that stress has potentially harmful effects on the
Stress can affect our appearance in a number of ways including
increased perspiration, brittle nails, dry, thinning hair and sensitive
more reactive skin. Where there is an existing skin condition, worsening
can be seen in the following ways:
- Acne lesions and breakouts become more inflamed, last longer and take longer to heal
- Increased incidence of congestion and oily skin due to sebum production
- Increased sensitivity to irritants and infections agents
Taking the time to incorporate some simple stress reducing techniques
into your daily routine will help improve the condition of your skin:
- Avoid excessive consumption of stimulants such as coffee and soft
drink. One caffeine-containing drink per day is ample. For those that
are particularly sensitive, drink green tea instead of coffee.
- Alcohol and smoking suppress the immune system. Smoking has many
detrimental effects on the skin and so is best avoided completely. In
moderation, alcohol consumption may help reduce stress however it is a
fine and individual line, so stick to physician guidelines – one
standard drink per day for women and two for men over the age of 18. In addition, try to
go without at least 2 days per week.
- Exercise can significantly reduce stress levels. The release of endorphins following exercise increases feelings of happiness and wellbeing. In addition it increases circulation and therefore nutrition to your extremities, including your skin.
- Meditation or breathing techniques. Meditation reduces
cortisol release and increases immune function – ideal if you are
suffering from a skin condition. If you are a beginner, take a class in
Buteko breathing or follow a guided meditation.
Dietary Influences on Acne
A recent Australian trial conducted at RMIT University, Melbourne,
has shown that a low glycaemic index (GI), high protein diet improved
symptoms of acne including the number of facial lesions. It also reduced
the causative factors associated with acne such as high androgen levels
and insulin resistance. The diet consisted of 25% of energy from
protein and 45% of energy from low GI carbohydrates such as fruit and
vegetables, grains and pulses.
Interestingly acne is seen as a condition associated with Western
diets that are generally higher in saturated and trans-fats, high in
simple carbohydrates and sugars and lower in healthy protein sources.
Acne vulgaris is seen in up to 79-95% of the adolescent population in
Westernised countries. Non-Western diets, which are traditionally high
in low glycaemic foods, do not have the same association.
Foods to Enjoy
Dietary recommendations that will support skin health, help to normalise hormone balance and reduce sebum production include:
- Consume Fish regularly: Fish is an excellent source
of protein and essential fatty acids. Protein is important for skin
healing. Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) help to keep skin flexible and
hydrated as well as promoting skin healing. Deep Sea fish are the best
source of EFAs including tuna, salmon, anchovies and sardines. A fish
oil supplement may be a good idea if fish intake is less thank twice a
- Eat Lean Animal Protein: Lean red meat and organic
chicken are good sources of valuable protein that is essential for skin
healing and repair. A palm size serve of animal protein 2-3 times a week
will help support skin health.
- Eat plenty of Fresh Vegetables: Vegetables are low
GI and full of antioxidants and trace nutrients that help to heal and
repair the skin. Betacarotene (a precursor to vitamin A) is found in
vegetables including carrots, spinach, sweet potato, kale, green leafy
vegetables and red capsicum. Regular fruit consumption is also
- Purified Water: Drink at least 8 glasses of water
per day. Water promotes healthy digestive habits and helps to flush
toxins out of your body. Water is also essential to keep your skin well
- Go for Whole Grains & Legumes: Whole grains are
rich in fibre, low GI and nutrients. This promotes sustained release
energy and reduces inflammation. Zinc, important for skin healing, is
found in whole grains along with sunflower & pumpkin seeds, beef,
egg yolks, ginger and lamb.
Foods to Avoid
- Processed Foods & Sugar: Foods high in sugar
increase the body's production of insulin, promote inflammation and can
cause or exacerbate acne. Ensure that the following foods make up no
more than 10% of the diet: cakes, lollies, processed flour products,
white bread, white rice (with the exception of Basmati), fruit juices,
baked goods, and trans or hydrogenated fats.
- Soft drinks & diet soft drinks: Soft drinks are
full of sugar and often caffeine. The phosphorus and sodium in soft
drinks can lead to skin drying and the carbonate can cause digestive
disorders. Drink water, herbal teas, and vegetable juices instead.
- Dairy: There is some research that suggests that a
high consumption of milk and dairy products may be linked with acne. One
study reported in the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology showed
that milk was positively associated with acne in teenage girls.
Suitable milk substitutes may include soymilk, rice milk, almond milk
and fresh goat's milk. Read more about this topic at the Vitale Blog: Milk & Ance - what's the link?
A healthy, low GI diet is important in the management of acne, both
in teenagers and adults. In combination with good hygiene practices and
natural, healing topical treatments, acne is a condition that can be
managed effectively before resorting to medications.
E-mail us to request a copy of our Clean Skin handout. Or for more comprehensive dietary and detox programs for acne and skin conditions see Karen Fischer's Book "The Healthy Skin Diet".
Blackheads, whiteheads and blocked pores are usually caused by a
combination of factors. Excess skin oil, sebum and toxins that are
expelled through the skin are often an underlying issue. In addition
dead skin cells, pollution, occlusive make up and dirt also play a role
by filling up pores already opened by sebum and oil production. For skin that is congested rather than breaking out, the treatment and products used are different.
Treatment of of Blackheads
So, how to get rid of blackheads and congested skin?
Well squeezing them out is not the answer. This technique will just
lead to further skin irritation and possibly damage and scarring to the
surrounding tissue. Rather than removing blackheads by squeezing, the
best way to get rid of them is by attacking the source of the problem.
1. A good cleansing routine:
Cleansing the skin of daily dirt, grime and pollution is essential. A
good cleansing routine is a very effective way to remove blackheads, as
it will help wash away excess oil and dead skin particles. Use a gentle cleanser as harsh and overly-drying cleansers will only make the problem worse
by causing an increase in sebum production.
2. Regular gentle exfoliation: regular use of facial exfoliants or scrubs will help clear dead skin cells that block pores. Removing the top
layer of dead cells will also allow your moisturiser or serum work more
effectively as it comes into contact with live skin cells rather than
3. Light Moisturisers:
moisturisers that use waxes, butters and petrochemical oils will be
more likely to contribute to congestion in skin that is prone to
blackheads. Please note that waxes and butters are perfectly suitable
and definitely beneficial for those with dry or dehydrated skin but for
those with congested skin, choose lotions rather than rich creams. If
you have combination skin and suffer from congestion as well as dry
skin, use oil based serums or hyaluronic acid to increase moisture
content in the skin without contributing to further blockage.
4. Salicylic acid and glycolic acid in high
concentrations are common recommendations for skin congestion and while
they might be effective in the short term they can cause significant
problems and can be counter-productive to softening and dissolving
blackheads as they can dehydrate dry, normal and combination skin. In
addition, those with a history of use of high concentration glycolic
acid can suffer redness and irritation at a later date when exposed to
even mildly acidic ingredients such as ascorbic acid. However, lower concentration AHAs and salicylic acid, such as found in retail brands is also effective.
It may take a little longer to see the results but it doesn’t have the
same potential for adverse results.
Lauren, Brisbane: I just wanted to say a big thank you for all your advice – it has made a
huge difference! My skin has completely cleared up and hasn’t looked
like this for over 10 years! More importantly, though, I feel so much
more healthy – my digestion has improved dramatically, I no longer feel
sick or bloated, and I have loads more energy. Even my moods and stress
levels have improved, and I don’t get sick anywhere near as much as I
used to (I used to catch every bug that was going around). I had
forgotten what it felt like to feel healthy every day!
- Jana from Vitaleblog.org: I don’t normally add comments, but
decided I would share my thoughts on some products I purchased from you
a few weeks back. I am one of those who is gradually changing to
natural as I run out (too expensive otherwise) and I am now using the
Remedica African products and love them!! The Black soap face wash is
brilliant - its the best clean I have ever had from a product. I have
normal/oily skin with large pores, but my skin is a bit sensitive too,
and I could never find anything that was gentle but strong enough to get
the ‘rubbish’ out of my pores – I could literally see the build up in
there, it was gross. I was getting pimples along my jawline, but after a
couple of days of using the black soap face wash, they were almost
completely gone! I use it on my shoulders and top of my back too with
the same result! I am thinking of trying the Minerelle make up too,
sounds like it might help with the pore build up.
Rebecca in an e-mail to Vitale: I am taking the Grants Liquid Chlorophyll, Complexon
Antioxidant Tea and cleansing my face with Remedica Black Soap daily (as you
have suggested for people with acne). I have even, with reluctance, reduced my
sugar, milk and caffiene intake (love my cuppa teas), have improved my diet, im
taking a multivitamin/ vit C/ flaxseed oil, and have been drinking lemon juice
with water most days. I feel that those simple changes have worked together to
promote healthier skin over all. My eyes are brighter, my acne is going away,
and I have so much more energy without having to rely on coffee all day.
For more information about the organic and natural skin care products
that will suit your skin specifically, ask our skin specialist for
advice. E-mail our organic skin specialist