Adult Acne: what is your skin telling you?

Probably THE most common question I get asked in clinic is this: ‘why is it that some of my friends can eat whatever they like, party all night, use crappy skincare and they rarely break out, when all I have to do is have an off week and BAM, it shows straight up on my face’?

I explain to my clients, that some of us live our lives through our skin. If you are nodding your head right now, then you know exactly what I mean! For some of us, our skin is our Achilles heal. And you are not alone, in the USA acne is found in 54% of women and 40% of men.

Now let’s go back to those jammy b*&^s who are getting around like frat boys with their clear skin. Their lifestyle still has consequences.  There is a massive imbalance internally, which will show up in another form sooner or later. It just might not be in the form of breakouts.

Our health is like a credit card, if you keep racking up the debit, then you are going to have to pay it all back with interest sooner or later. And that interest is a bitch.  Some people get a nasty cold every time they get stressed or run down, others get headaches or get a funny tummy when life is a bit full on.  Everyone is different,  it just shows up in different ways.

I know that with my skin history (my breakouts started at 21), that if I get out of balance in my grown up life, then it is going to show up on my face. Guaranteed.  Do I sweat it? Do I micromanage everything I do and eat, and live like a nun? NO. I live like a conscious, fun-loving, food-loving, health-loving renegade.  Did I have to work a little harder when I was clearing my skin, yes. But I am on a longer-term program now, and I love it!

Over time, I have learnt to understand my triggers, love myself heaps with good nutrition & balance, and watch out for my red flags. And this is the key to resolving adult acne. And living and loving your life without fear.

Adult acne is a bit like the red light in the dashboard of your car. Now, I don’t know much about cars but I most certainly am not going to ignore that red light whilst I am cruising down the freeway! Would I pull my car over and change the bulb of the light in the dashboard?  Noooo, that would be crazy right?! I am going to take that car lickity split to a mechanic, and get him to pop the hood and find out what is happening in the motor. Yes. And that is exactly the same as our skin.

Acne is a beautiful and highly motivating red light, that shows clearly that something is out of balance with our motor – our internal health.

Recognising that, and even learning to be grateful for that red flag is what I am talking about. What I’ve found in clinical practice, in helping many people with adult acne is this:

There is always a biochemical cause, and usually a few of them. Especially if we have been ignoring that red light for a while, and shushing it with medication and synthetic hormones, instead of popping the hood and fixing that darn motor.

I will say again: YES, there are biochemical causes! These can show up in your life as:

  • Coming off birth control
  • Stress (this is a biggie)
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Blood sugar imbalance (insulin sensitivity)
  • Genetics (so unfair!)
  • Digestive imbalance
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Lack of sleep
  • Lack of hydration (I’m talking cellular now too)
  • Crappy chemical laden cosmetics

Adult acne is not usually caused by having ‘oily’ skin. In fact, most of the people that I have treated have something called ‘Acne Tarda’ which is a dry acne. Check out my article on ‘Skin Type’ to learn a little more about this.

So what’s next? Well it’s time to stop (how often do we stop?) and do an audit of our balance. Some ideas (to have a ponder of):

  • How much stress is in my life?
  • How long has it been there?
  • How much sleep am I getting?
  • Am I fulfilled with my job/relationship/path in life?
  • Have I been generous to my sacred body by feeding it clean foods?
  • Do I practice stress reduction?
  • Have I had any pathology taken recently?
  • Do I move my body each day and sweat regularly?
  • What is my history with medications and synthetic hormones?
  • Do I eat fermented foods?

I could keep going… it’s just an idea to get your started. The next step is recognising that healing our skin is a beautiful opportunity to re-connect and honour ourselves deeply. We can heal our skin, and also feel more energized, healthy, vital, powerful and HAPPY along the way.  Sounds yummy huh!

Now some of you will have already done all of this, and more. You will feel like you are out of options. This is not the case. There is always room to find out more. That is the beauty of seeing a professional, and getting some functional diagnostic testing (FDT) taken. FDT is different to most of the tests you would have had done with your doctor. These tests still helpful, but they are showing a clinical range based on an unhealthy population. Like I said, there is always a biochemical cause.

Would I ever change my acne history. HELL NO! The reason being, that it has powerfully shaped every part of who I am, my strength, being ok with vulnerability, learning and learning and learning about nutrition, lifestyle, stress reduction techniques etc.  Acne helped me to be the best version of myself and I am eternally grateful. Most of all, my history with acne keeps me aligned with honouring my body. I treat my motor like a Lamborghini and keep myself in balance, every day.