Hello everyone. Today’s guest post comes from Steven Barker who regularly reviews acne treatments on his website Acne Treatment One.
Many acne sufferers have noticed a connection between environmental factors like stress, diet, humidity, skin care products and their acne breakouts. There has been some indirect evidence connecting these environmental factors to acne, but until recently there were very few hard facts to back it up. In 2003, a study linked acne breakouts in college students to stress over upcoming exams whilst a 2007 Australian study showed a direct correlation between high sugar diets and acne. These studies both show that genetics alone are not to blame. Doctors believe that a poor diet and stress can affect our hormonal system and cause adult acne whilst other factors like humidity and oil based makeup can clog pores and promote the formation of new blemishes.
The typical western diet is filled with sugars and refined carbohydrates. This type of diet was found to cause insulin spikes that led directly to the secretion of hormones like androgens and growth factors (which have both been directly tied to acne). When foods are processed and stripped of their fiber, they are more quickly absorbed by the gut. This can cause blood sugar to shoot up very quickly. When blood sugar shoots up, the body produces an insulin spike to counteract it. When insulin spikes, androgens and growth factors are also produced. This can lead to more breakouts.
It is possible to avoid these insulin spikes by switching to a diet of vegetables, fruits, proteins, and carbohydrates that are unprocessed. A recent study showed that when the subjects remained on a “low glycemic index” diet, their acne improved by 50%. So, for some people, acne might just be a result of poor dietary choices although a mix of genetics and environmental factors may also be to blame.
Another important finding is the direct connection of cow’s milk to breakouts. Researchers found over sixty different hormones in milk including testosterone and growth factors. These hormones are present in greater amounts during puberty and are believed to be responsible for acne during adolecence. Even milk from cows not treated with hormones, contained significant amount of acne causing substances. There was also some evidence that people who avoided milk products were less likely to have severe acne although more studies are needed to show how much dairy can cause skin problems.
An environmental factor that can contribute to acne is heat and humidity. A hot, humid climate can cause the skin to swell due to extra blood flow. This swelling can reduce the size of the pores, making them more likely to become clogged. This swelling, combined with the salts and acids from sweat can block pores and lead to more acne breakouts. If you live in a hot or humid climate it may be important to wash your face more often. The build-up of salts and acids from perspiration should be cleaned off to prevent this type of acne from forming.
One contributor to acne that most women don’t consider is make-up. Certain types of make-up or moisturizers can clog pores and lead to breakouts. Oil based products like liquid makeup are more likely to clog pores, while powdered make-up is not as likely. Women that use makeup daily may consider “Noncomedogenic” brands. This means that these make-ups do not contain ingredients that are known to clog pores, like petroleum based products. It is also important to clean brushes and other make-up applicators. Over time they can become breeding grounds for acne causing bacteria and may bring on more breakouts.
Environmental factors like diet, stress, makeup, and even humidity can lead to more breakouts. The good news is that with some lifestyle changes you may be able to reduce the severity or frequency of your acne. If you notice that certain events like bingeing on sugary foods or using a certain brands of makeup can bring on skin problems, change it right away. It may take up to 2 months to see results because acne takes time to form.