Beating breakouts isn’t all about what we put on our skin. The epidermis, the top layer of skin and the largest organ of the body (covering roughly 3,000 square inches), is also one of the most vulnerable to what we eat and the environment we expose it to. Read on for 10 small lifestyle changes that make a huge difference in clearing up acne.
Skin-Saving Change No. 1: Get More ZZZs
According to a study in Sleep, the risk of psychological stress increases by 14% for every hour of sleep you lose a night. So what does this have to do with acne? “Stress increases glucocorticoid production, which can lead to abnormalities in skin structure and function, exacerbating conditions like acne,” says Sonia Badreshia-Bansal, a dermatologist in Danville, Calif.
To get your beauty sleep, crank your thermostat down to between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit. French researchers found that a cooler body temperature makes it easier to fall asleep after you’ve hit the sack.
Skin-Saving Change No. 2: Go Easy on the Sugar
Certain foods cause blood glucose to rise rapidly, triggering a boost in insulin and resulting in inflammation on a cellular level, says Badreshia-Bansal. Excess levels of insulin in the bloodstream trigger a hormonal cascade and endocrine response that can lead to the growth of pore-clogging cells, as well as overactive oil gland activity.
A study published in the American Journal of Nutrition found that people who consumed a low-glycemic diet, which included more whole grains, beans, and vegetables, and limited white pasta, rice, bread, and sugar, had fewer breakouts.
Skin-Saving Change No. 3: Hit the Mat
Exercise not only whittles the waistline, but it also reduces stress (which has been found to contribute to the production of acne lesions), regulates your hormone levels, increases circulation that delivers more oxygen to skin cells and carries cellular wastes away, and boosts your immune system. But there’s a fine line -- sweat from exercise can also lead to breakouts via skin irritation. It is very important to remove any perspiration-trapping garments like sports bras, and to shower immediately after working out.
Skin-Saving Change No. 4: Sip H2O
Upping your water intake is a great way to flush out internal toxins and hydrate your skin from the inside out. Though there is no definitive research that shows toxins lead to breakouts, researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia found that having about 2 cups of water significantly boosted blood flow throughout the body and skin.
Your body needs to neutralize and get rid of waste materials produced during metabolism. When the immune system weakens, the body finds itself unable to fight toxic substances alone. This raises the levels of toxins and ultimately, the inner detoxification system gets weak, and you have more breakouts.