Acne can stem from a handful of things, from diet and hormones to genetics and habits. While not all pimples can be eradicated by simply shifting a few lifestyle choices, it’s worth a try. “Healthy lifestyle choices—like having a healthy diet, exercising and limiting alcohol and stress—are most advantageous for reducing the exacerbation of acne,” says Delray Beach, FL dermatologist Dr. Janet Allenby. “Being kind to our bodies, including our skin, is the foundation to healthy, attractive skin,” she adds. It’s all about moderation. More specifically, these are some of the things you can adjust to help reduce acne.
Adjusting aspects of your diet
“Acne can be triggered by different things for different individuals,” says Rochester, NY dermatologist Lesley Loss, MD. It can be challenging to identify which, if any, foods are triggering acne for you, so you should connect with a board-certified dermatologist before adjusting your diet drastically.
While acne can be related to a poor diet, it could also be linked to a myriad of other things. Therefore Dr. Loss doesn’t recommend doing anything super restrictive from a dietary standpoint until you’ve discussed it with your doctor. Skim milk can sometimes trigger acne, as can higher glycemic index foods like sugary snacks and white bread, says Dr. Loss.
Managing your hormones
This is easier said than done and often calls for the guidance of a doctor. “The main driving factor behind acne is hormones,” says Dr. Allenby. She notes that this can be managed medically by an expert. Dr. Allenby points out that what we eat can also contribute to higher hormone levels. “Some of what we ingest such as milk may have hormones which can contribute to acne and should be limited.”
Limiting alcohol consumption
Alcohol is often a culprit when it comes to bodily issues, and skin is no different. “Taxing one’s liver with alcohol is tough on the nice glow our skin normally has,” says Dr. Allenby. It also increases stress hormones, she adds.
Washing your face after exercise
We know we have to wash our face before bed, and most of us also cleanse in the morning. However, there are cases where you should wash your face multiple times a day. Dr. Loss says it’s important to wash your face after exercising “to reduce sweat and bacterial proliferation.”
“Stress hormones tend to increase sebum and inflammatory lesions (acne),” says Dr. Allenby. Dr. Loss notes that she often sees college students break out during finals week. Although it’s hard to reduce stress, managing it can help combat acne. There are a handful of ways to manage stress, from therapy to meditation. Dr. Allenby recommends exercising as a form of stress relief.
Swapping protein powders
Dr. Loss says it’s worth noting that supplementing with whey protein has been associated with acne. Whey is often a fan-favorite for protein-lovers, but she recommends swapping it with plant-based protein when supplementing.
Watching your supplement intake
This one came as a surprise since vitamins are so essential to our health. Dr. Loss says taking too many B vitamins can actually trigger acne.