If you’re up to date on Ask Abbey content, you know that I spent the last two years suffering from hormonal acne. It started out as a zit here and there on my chin, but before I knew it I was never without some sort of breakout on my chin or jawline. More often than not, the breakouts were cystic and they HURT. If you’ve dealt with this or are currently dealing with this… I feel your pain!
I spent months and months researching how to cure my skin. Through vitamins, topical products & improving my diet, I finally have clear skin again! (Knock on wood).
Make sure to listen this podcast where I explain hormonal acne in depth and all the things that worked for me when clearing up my skin, and read this blog post so you know the vitamins that I take every single day to help prevent breakouts.
One hormonal acne related topic that I haven’t discussed in a ton of detail yet is diet, and the role that the foods we eat play in the overall health of our skin. I’m sure you guys have heard the advice “eat a healthy diet” in order to prevent breakouts. But that’s vague af in my opinion and could mean a million different things. Thankfully, I’ve spent tons of time researching and experimenting with this topic so I can sum it up for us quickly here today:
Any foods that cause hormonal fluctuations and inflammation in the body can trigger breakouts.
The two biggest culprits of this? Sugar and Dairy. Especially when they’re fried, processed, etc. UGH, right?
You might be thinking you don’t eat much sugar because we immediately think of sugary candy and desserts when we hear the word “sugar.” But sugar is hidden in SO many things. This is why I always preach reading your labels & asking questions about the menu at restaurants. You’d be surprised at how much sugar you’re consuming without knowing it.
Of course, sugar and dairy are not going to cause the same reactions for everybody, so I tested it out for myself. I went completely sugar (besides fruit) and dairy free for an entire month. And guess what happened? Yep, zero breakouts.
Even though I was excited that I finally figured out the root cause of my breakouts, I was also super bummed. Eating this way was not sustainable for me. I felt extremely deprived and I felt like I could never go to restaurants with my friends. If you know me, you know I’m a huge foodie & I absolutely love trying new restaurants or baking healthier versions of my favorite desserts. Eating this way took the fun out of living a healthy lifestyle for me & completely removed the “balance” aspect from my life. I was being so restrictive!
So here’s what I do now:
I’m more mindful about the amount of sugar and dairy I consume. I’ve noticed that sugar is much more of a contributor for me than dairy is (i.e. my skin flipped out around Christmas time with alllll the sugary desserts that I normally don’t eat).
I make sure to keep sugar & dairy to an absolute minimum during the week because I know that I love to grab drinks, dinner, brunch, etc. with my friends on the weekend and I want to be able to enjoy that more freely.
BUT the weekends also aren’t a free for all for me. So here’s some of the things I do to make sure I’m not consuming crazy amounts of sugar or dairy on the weekends:
- Eat lots of skin foods. I make sure to eat healthy fats, leafy greens, adequate amounts of fiber, and drink lots of water. All of these things help to keep our skin healthy and free from breakouts!
- Ditch the sugary cocktails. Ask for margaritas and mojitos without simple syrup! They still taste great, but no added sugar (and no painful hangover).
- Be wary of salads. A lot of times these are actually loaded with added sugar. Candied nuts? Essentially candy. Vinaigrette? Most likely has a crap ton of sugar in it. Don’t be afraid to ask your server to remove or substitute things!
- Ask for unsweetened milk at Starbucks. You may think you’re helping your skin by asking for a dairy free milk at the coffee shop, but oftentimes the Almond Milk & Coconut Milk at Starbucks are sweetened with sugar. I always ask the barista if they have an unsweetened version. If the barista looks hesitant or unsure, I literally ask if I can see the label. Not kidding. You might feel annoying, but it’s YOUR skin. Do what you need to do to protect it!
- Keep 2/3 of your daily meals healthy. Going to an Italian restaurant with your friends tonight? Keep your breakfast & lunch healthy with minimal amounts of sugar and dairy. I find that if I eat an unhealthy breakfast (donuts, pancakes, other sugary treats), I’m so much more likely to eat junky foods the rest of the day. This is going to spike your blood sugar levels and trigger those hormonal fluctuations and inflammation. Try to keep yourself in check. If you’re having a hard time with it, literally look at your food before you eat it and ask yourself if it’s going to help or hurt your skin.
If you make sure to do those things & are diligent with your skincare and vitamins, you will be in great shape. It may feel like a lot of work, but trust me, trying to clear up swollen, irritated breakouts is MUCH worse.
I hope this helps! As always feel free to reach out to me if you need some extra guidance. I’d love to chat!
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