5 Secret Acne Triggers
We all know that things like dairy, sugar, and stress can certainly trigger acne. But did you know there are several hidden acne causes? Many of the things we eat, drink, and do every day can be directly correlated to your acne. Whether you suffer from an occasional breakout, or you have painful cystic acne, you need to read this post AND watch my YouTube video on this topic!
1. Artificial Food Dyes
Get over the rainbow,... like now. It’s not just the sugar in processed foods such as candy and cereal bars that are causing your blemishes. Artificial food colorings such as Red#40 and Red#9 can bring on adult acne. These food dyes, which are derived from coal tar by the way, are highly inflammatory to the body. Just as they turn your favorite candy red, they also turn your skin into a red, inflamed, and irritated mess.
Fake colorful food doesn’t just impact your skin - synthetic food dyes have been linked to several types of cancer, hyperactivity, and severe allergic reactions. Artificial food dyes are scary stuff - Europe banned the use of food dyes back in 2010 after a highly incriminating study was published in the Lancet.
In Chinese medicine, we refer to acne as ‘damp toxic heat’ - think of a damp, sticky swamp with garbage floating on it during the hottest day of summer and you can kind of get the idea. I can’t think of a better way to describe a zit, actually.
Peanuts are, unfortunately, little zits waiting to happen. From a Chinese medicine perspective, peanuts produce even more heat and dampness in the body because they are difficult to digest. From a Western medicine perspective, peanuts are full of inflammatory triggers such as Omega-6 fatty acids as well as aflatoxin, a toxin created by fungi. I know, peanut butter is good. But if your acne is out of control, skip peanuts, peanut butter, and anything containing peanuts and have some almonds or cashews instead.
If you want to know more about acne and foods, get my FREE Guidebook to Acne-Causing Foods in my resource library HERE
3. Energy Drinks
I’m talking about everything from ‘energy soda’ like Red Bull, etc. to seemingly innocuous concoctions such as Vitamin Water. What’t the culprit? Vitamin B. Sure, most energy sodas and electrolyte waters contain enough sugar and artificial food coloring to give you acne (see #1 above). But it’s the Vitamin B that’s the final straw here.
Vitamins b6 and b12 can cause breakouts in those with and without a history of breakouts because these vitamins alter the bacteria growth on skin. Altered bacteria growth means you can suddenly become more susceptible to bacteria causing a breakout than you otherwise would have avoided. Skip the energy drinks and pretty colored waters - your skin’s bacteria balance is a delicate affair that you don’t want to mess with.
Biotin, aka B7 or Vitamin H, naturally occurs in foods like eggs, bananas, and nuts. It is also the starring ingredient in many vitamins and supplements targeting hair, skin, and nails. However, there is little scientific evidence to support its alleged beauty-boosting claims. What is clear, however, is that biotin can trigger and exacerbate acne.
Your body requires very little biotin (less than 30 micrograms per day) and if you’re eating food, you are likely getting plenty of biotin. Your body also recycles biotin, which means an actual biotin deficiency is extremely rate. Most hair, skin, and nail formulas (as well as multi-vitamins) contain well over 300 times your daily requirement of biotin. All this excess biotin can lead to a deficiency of vitamin b5, because biotin and b5 compete for the same absorption receptors in your intestines. Because b5 regulates the barrier function of the skin’s surface, the excess of biotin is leading to your acne flares because it reduces your absorption of b5.
Conclusion: unless you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or otherwise directed by your healthcare professional that you need biotin supplements, skip the biotin no matter how much Kylie’s instagram ad promises it will give you long hair and great fingernails.
5. Your Yoga Mat
Wait, I thought yoga was supposed to be good for me? It reduces stress, helps me relax, and gives me a good workout. So why is there an acne trigger in here? It's not the yoga, it’s your yoga mat.
This acne trigger isn’t just for germaphobes. Think about it: you walk into a common locker room (likely in bare feet), then you walk through the studio into the yoga room, where you step onto your mat. Then you put your hands on your mat, and you probably use your hands to wipe your sweat away several times in class. Later, your instructor will ask you to lie down on said mat, and you might even put your face onto your mat. After class, you roll up your mat, toss it in your trunk, and do the same thing tomorrow. Do you see where I’m going with this?
Yoga mats are like little bacterial breeding grounds - which means acne city for your face. Combined with excessive biotin and vitamin b intake (see #3 and #4 above) and a compromised skin barrier, you could be in for some major breakouts. Some good yoga mat hygiene rules: always wear shoes in the locker room and around the studio, clean your mat and towel thoroughly after each use (don’t rely on rented mats or even borrowed towels to be anywhere near clean or sanitized), let your mat air-dry between classes as much as possible.