How the heck do some people not have acne? Is it in our genes or skin care routines? Apparently, yes.
According to Jolene Hart, C.H.C., A.A.D.P, author of Eat Pretty, you can control your genes. In her book, she says: “Quite likely you thought your genes were written in stone; that’s true of your fixed genetic traits like the color of your eyes, the shape of your face, and the dimple on your left cheek. But we also have genes that are involved in the function of our systems — they tell your body how to make the keratin in your hair and nails, for example, or give the blueprint for building new skin cells and collagen day after day.”
So, healthy skin begins from the inside first — whether that’s eating healthy foods that fight acne (salmon, avocado, artichokes), exercising more to improve circulation or de-stressing to regulate your hormones. “Your diet and lifestyle choices influence as much as 80 percent of your genetic expression,” Hart continues.
Part two of the acne solution is how we treat our skin from the outside. Sometimes you can control this (e.g. face wash, masks) — and sometimes you can’t (e.g. air pollution, allergens). You, like me, have probably tried millions of “solutions” — cleansers, prescriptions, injections, pills, lasers — that just… did… not… work.
But do not give up! I found my “cure” in Proactiv, but as soon as I tried Proactiv Plus, my skin broke out again. Go figure. For more ideas, check out these surprising acne cure-alls that former acne sufferers swear by.
1. A simple routine
Kim G., from St. Augustine, Florida, shares, “I have really dry skin and rosacea, which means that my skin gets really finicky when it comes in contact with an irritant. So I keep my routine simple: Philosophy Purity face wash (Ulta, $24) and Mario Badescu aloe moisturizer (Ulta, $24). They clean my face without drying it out and moisturize without any harsh ingredients. I haven’t gone back since.”
2. Apple cider vinegar
Jessica C., an actress and model out of Los Angeles, says, “Birth control cleared up my acne problems. I’ve also heard people say that using organic apple cider vinegar, the Bragg’s brand ‘With the Mother,’ has worked and cleared up their acne.”
3. Essential oils
Aisha C., a medical aesthetician who lives in Ontario, explains, “I would say birth control and anything oil-related such as rose oil or coconut oil helped with me! I liked the oils because they’re natural, they smell great and essential oils are very therapeutic.”
4. Burt’s Bees Herbal Blemish Stick
Valerie L., mother and model in Atlanta, Georgia, swears by Burt’s Bees blemish oil. “It’s all natural and clears acne quicker than anything I’ve ever used.” (Burt’s Bees, $8)
5. Rose water
Julie S., a marketing rep from Orlando, Florida, explains, “I have very fair and sensitive skin. All soaps I have ever tried that claim to be for sensitive skin irritate my face. I had a facial a few years ago and the facialist recommended that I just use warm (not hot) water to wash my face and remove bad pore clogging oil and then use rose water extract as an astringent. Similar to witch hazel, rose water has really soothing properties to it and is great for fair skin. It takes the redness down and is a miracle worker on pimples.”
6. African black soap
Melissa G., a film producer from North Carolina, points to African black soap. “Check it out. It was amazing for my friend’s son. Totally cleared acne. It also heals other skin conditions.”
7. Egg whites
Wanda K., from Naples, Florida, suggests, “At night a vigorous cleanse and then gentle application of undisturbed egg white left to dry as a mask. All night it protects as an anti-microbial and has 40 types of healing and nutritious proteins to remedy chronic acne. Try it for 21 days. It’s fantastic.” Her daughter Erica agrees: “Egg white face mask.”
8. Tea tree oil
Jess F., a recent graduate and city planner, recommends “tea tree oil for a quick treatment, and using tea tree shampoo as a body soap.”
9. Lemon and charcoal
Jacquelynne B., an actress in the southeast, shares, “Lemon does wonders. I am also a big fan of Dead Sea mud and charcoal soap (though it should be used sparingly as it strips your face’s color as it exfoliates). Always wipe your makeup off nightly with a great remover (I like Neutrogena… but I use only natural stuff for the rest), cleanse and moisturize. Tone if you like. Oh, and goat’s milk soap is great for the whole body.”
10. Sugar-free diet
Brian B., from Orlando, Florida, says, “Cut out carbs/sugar and my skin sure feels better!”
11. Plenty of water
Sarah T., a photographer and university student, explains, “I have found that drinking a good amount of water throughout the day makes for a clear face. Also, Neutrogena makeup remover wipes, followed with Clinique Turnaround Overnight Revitalizing Moisturizer as my nightly routine.”
12. Gunilla of Sweden
Beau R., a New York actor, swears by Gunilla of Sweden. This is an organic, cruelty-free skin care brand that has tons of success stories attached to its name.
For most of us, relocating isn’t the easiest option, but Enrique M., originally from Florida, says, “Moved to Japan and now I have no acne — perhaps the high vitamins in fish and low oil intake? Nonetheless, still grateful.”