Last Updated on June 20, 2024 by Angela Vaz

First off, I need you to understand that acne is a terrible skin condition, and I’m so sorry if you’re going through it, too.

I know what it feels like to look at someone’s transparent skin, and I wish you had that.

I’ve struggled with acne since I was nine years old.

I’m now 31 and feel like I’ve finally cracked the code.

This is my progress in 10 weeks.

Note that I’m still working on getting rid of my hyperpigmentation. Getting rid of the scars takes time. But I’m already seeing results, and in this post, I will discuss everything I have done so far.

It’s taken me a long time to figure out the delicate balance and see better days.

I still break out from time to time (especially before my period), but for the most part, my breakouts have reduced.

In this post, I will discuss everything you can do to cure your acne so you can finally have clear skin.

PLEASE READ: A few things to note:

  • This post is going to help you deal with breakouts. For hyperpigmentation, I’ll make a separate post.
  • This is a no-accutane, no-isotretinoin post. I’ve tried this, and it didn’t work for me.
  • This post deals with curing acne from the inside out. To stop or reduce breakouts, we need to get to the source of acne.
  • It’s a delicate science; everybody’s journey is different so that I will cover many points. If you feel one doesn’t apply, skip to the next.

This is a heavy post.

Because it involves a lot of research and multiple methods I’ve tried over the years.

I have only started seeing lasting results in the last few weeks, so I will review everything that has worked for me.

Now, without further ado, let’s dive in!

This post contains affiliate links, meaning I may make a commission at no extra cost to you if you decide to click on a link and purchase something. Click here to read the full disclaimer.

Why acne is not a bad thing – a short synopsis

I know acne sucks; believe me, I do.

But here’s the thing: our bodies are unique and different from others.

Most people’s bodies don’t have such clear indications that something is wrong.

We are unique because we have a check-engine light.

It means that when something doesn’t agree with us, or our systems aren’t functioning right – our bodies are signaling that to us by inflaming and causing acne.

Acne doesn’t mean we are dirty or have dirt on our faces.

Research has already been conducted to prove that we have less bacteria on our faces since we wash our faces more than people with clear skin.

But acne is more reliant on hormones and other internal factors.

I have a friend who eats absolute horsecrap. I love her to bits, but her diet is horrible. She eats greasy food, orders takeout on most nights, and consumes a lot of alcohol.

She has glass skin. But her overall health isn’t all that great. She is overweight and has trouble maintaining a regular pace when walking.

I’m telling you this because I need you to understand that everybody has different indicators.

And we all need to get to the root cause of the problem in order to improve our health.

Unfortunately, ours is on our skin.

We have to wear our diagnosis on the outside.

In this post, I will walk you through how to fix the insides so that you can naturally stop the breakouts.

1. Go to an endocrinologist (very important)

An endocrinologist is a hormone doctor.

Before you start guessing what could be the problem, see if you have a hormonal problem.

Once this is ticked off, you can stop worrying.

Almost all acne is caused by hormonal fluctuations.

Get your blood work done and then see an Endocrinologist.

Some people have PCOS, and some have more testosterone in their body – this causes more androgens, which results in more body hair and acne.

If you have an iron deficiency or less T3, it could also negatively affect your skin.

As I said, we have to find the root cause of acne and work on it from the inside out.

Your Endocrinologist might tell you to see a Gynecologist if you need further help.

Once you get your bloodwork done, focus on improving your stats.

In my case, I had a deficiency of T3, and my liver enzymes were elevated. I also had high cholesterol.

My doctor told me that I needed to move more.

And working on that actually helped me reduce my breakouts.

2. Flush out your toxins

There are 2 ways to flush out your toxins:

  • Drink a lot of water/herbal teas (no caffeine)
  • Sweat

You have to do both.

Go to this website and find out how much water you need daily – make sure you consume this much water.

When your body is dehydrated, the waste and toxins will go to your skin because they need some way to flush it out.

This leads to acne.

However, when you drink more water, your kidneys will flush out these toxins, resulting in fewer toxins going to the skin.

Drinking water also improves blood circulation, which helps deliver essential nutrients and oxygen to skin cells while removing waste products.

Good circulation supports overall skin health and can reduce inflammation, which means… less acne!

If you are exercising, you will need to consume more water. But do not overdo it, as this can strain your kidneys.

Now, how do we increase sweat?

3. Exercise (crucial)

If you’re not an active person, don’t fret.

I’ve been there.

I’ve been a couch potato all my life, and it’s only recently that I started taking my health seriously.

I hated moving when I started.

But within 2 weeks of moving, I began to feel better.

Some of the benefits of moving your body every day are:

  • Sweat Detoxification: Sweating during exercise helps flush out toxins from your skin. This has reduced my acne (intensely), and sweating enables clearer skin.
  • Collagen Production: Physical activity stimulates collagen production, which can help maintain skin elasticity and reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
  • Natural Blush: The increased blood flow during exercise can give your skin a natural blush, making you look more radiant.

So sweating not only helps get rid of acne, it also helps you age slower.

You’ll genuinely feel better when you move your body.

It actually counteracts tiredness and lethargy. I’m not kidding.

Do anything you love – dancing to YouTube videos (I do this), lifting weights, or simply going for a walk.

Just focus on moving.

And instead of trying to do 100% all at once, show up.

Show up every day – being consistent is what is going to make the most significant difference to your acne.

I know this is a tricky step, so maintain a diary and try to be consistent with working out.

I’m not kidding when I say that exercise actually made the most significant difference to my acne.

4. Maintain a food diary (to learn what foods are causing acne for you)

Everybody is built differently.

For some people, dairy and sugar lead to breakouts.

For me, it’s soy, caffeine, alcohol (except Jagermeister), most seafood, and very hard spices like cloves, cardamom, etc.

Being an Indian, this kinda blows because most of our food has these spices.

I do not (and cannot) drink coffee but regularly inhale the aroma when my partner brews some for himself.

I have learned to love tea, chai, and any herbal tea. I’ve even made a dedicated tea counter in my kitchen.

I’ve maintained a food diary for over 3 years, and it’s been hard giving up so many foods, but if you want to clear your acne and help your body heal, you have to make these hard choices.

Maintaining a food diary will help you learn which foods cause breakouts. I am currently using this food diary.

You may notice that certain foods cause hard and painful cysts while some other foods cause small pustules.

You must avoid foods that cause painful cysts (lasting 1-2 weeks) at all costs. This basically means that your body cannot even tolerate a little bit of that ingredient.

5. Consume adaptogens

When you stress, you increase your body’s production of cortisol (which is a hormone that can cause acne).

Adaptogens are natural substances, typically herbs or mushrooms, that help the body adapt to stress and restore balance (homeostasis).

You can also meditate, journal, and exercise to help decrease stress. But if you have significant anxiety, then consume more adaptogens.

Here are a few adaptogens commonly used to help with acne and their specific benefits:

  • Ashwagandha: Helps reduce stress and balance cortisol levels and has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
  • Rhodiola: Supports the body’s stress response, reduces fatigue, and has antioxidant effects.
  • Holy Basil (Tulsi): Balances hormones, reduces stress, and has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Maca Root: Balances hormones and boosts energy and endurance.
  • Turmeric (Curcumin): Powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, supports skin health.
  • Reishi Mushroom: Enhances immune function, reduces stress, and has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

So, try adding some of these ingredients to your meals so that you are helping your skin from all angles.

However, if acquiring the ingredients is difficult, you can buy capsules on Amazon.

Please read the reviews before purchasing.

6. Eat cruciferous vegetables (to heal your gut and regulate your hormones)

I know, I know.

You’re tired of hearing people say, “Eat your veggies.”

But certain veggies (like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts) help with acne. Here’s what they do:

  • Detoxification Support: They contain glucosinolates, which enhance liver function and help detoxify the body, reducing the burden of toxins that can contribute to acne.
  • Hormonal Balance: Cruciferous vegetables can help balance hormones, particularly estrogen. Hormonal imbalances, especially elevated levels of androgens, can increase sebum production and lead to acne. By helping regulate hormone levels, cruciferous vegetables can reduce hormone-related acne breakouts.
  • Anti-Inflammatory Properties: These vegetables contain anti-inflammatory compounds such as sulforaphane. Chronic inflammation is a critical factor in acne development, and reducing inflammation can help prevent and heal acne lesions.
  • Rich in Antioxidants: Cruciferous vegetables contain antioxidants, vitamins C and E, and various phytonutrients. Antioxidants help protect the skin from oxidative stress and free radical damage, which can exacerbate acne and other skin issues.
  • High Fiber Content: The fiber in cruciferous vegetables aids digestion and helps maintain a healthy gut microbiome. A healthy digestive system and balanced gut bacteria are essential for overall health and can indirectly impact skin health by reducing systemic inflammation and improving nutrient absorption.
  • Vitamin and Mineral Content: Cruciferous vegetables are excellent sources of vitamins and minerals essential for skin health, including vitamins A, C, and zinc. Vitamin A helps regulate skin cell production and turnover, preventing clogged pores. Vitamin C is crucial for collagen production and skin repair, and zinc has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.

Incorporate a few of these veggies in your lunch and dinner daily, and note how your body starts healing.

It’s a slow process, but it works.

Most importantly, avoid processed sugar.

Cutting out sodas, sweets, and chocolates is hard, I know.

But the trick is to do it slowly.

For instance, I switched to milk chocolate instead of ice cream after every meal. Eventually, I started craving dark chocolate and increased my strength to 70%.

My palate eventually adjusted to less sweet foods.

I now can’t eat milk chocolate – I find it too sweet.

Likewise, try to sweeten your meals naturally. For instance, if you eat oats, add bananas, berries, or dark chocolate chips instead of sugar.

These small changes will start making a world of difference!

7. Maintain a straightforward, simple skincare routine

You may want to decrease fine lines or tighten your skin and look more youthful.

Stop.

Don’t do everything at once.

If you’re suffering from breakouts, your first step is to decrease your acne.

So, only focus on that.

Once your acne has reduced or stopped, you can work on fading the scars, tightening your skin, or looking more youthful.

But for now, focus on just getting rid of the breakouts.

The simpler your skincare routine, the more sustainable it is.

Remember, you are building a habit – so keep it simple.

This is my skincare routine that works for me:

Occasionally, when I notice that I’m developing a breakout, I’ll just apply benzoyl peroxide gel (5%) on the area on clean skin and forego any serum/treatment.

Benzoyl peroxide drastically decreases the inflammation, so the pimple doesn’t get bigger and goes away quickly.

8. Drink spearmint tea

Add spearmint leaves (or teabags) to hot water – drain it, and drink it daily.

I make a whole pot and casually sip it while I work.

I only recently read about this, which has helped my acne tremendously.

Spearmint has so many benefits:

  1. Hormonal Balance: Spearmint has anti-androgenic properties, meaning it can help reduce levels of male hormones (androgens) in the body. This is helpful for people with PCOS.
  2. Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Spearmint contains anti-inflammatory compounds that can help reduce inflammation, which is a critical factor in the development and severity of acne.
  3. Antioxidant Effects: Spearmint is rich in antioxidants, which help protect the skin from oxidative stress and free radical damage, supporting overall skin health.
  4. Antibacterial Properties: The antibacterial effects of spearmint can help reduce the proliferation of acne-causing bacteria on the skin.

All these points work on solving the issues inside your body—they clean your system from the inside out.

Doing this will decrease the inflammation in your body and help you reduce breakouts immensely.

You can target hyperpigmentation and smoothening your skin later.

Angela is a 31 year old Illustrator and Blogger living with her 2 adorable labradors in Bangalore, India. She has a degree in Psychology and Human Relationships from the University of Toronto. When she's not writing her heart out or drawing, you'll find her sipping chai and reading non-fiction books.

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