Bad skin isn’t just about looks — it can affect your whole psychological state and even be physically painful. Luckily, some of the steps you can take to clear it can help your general health, as well. Beyond these lifestyle changes, there are many different treatment options available at both the drugstore and your doctor’s office.
Method 1: Clearing Your Skin from the Inside Out
1.Make sure you are drinking enough water. If you are dehydrated, your epidermis (the outer layer of your skin) dries out along with the rest of you. As a result, your skin will lose its smoothness and bounce. If you already drink enough water, though, extra won’t really help your skin.
- Make sure you drink at least eight 8-oz glasses (2 liters) each day.
2.Rethink your diet. More and more, dermatologists are emphasizing the connection between what you eat and how your skin looks — from acne and greasiness to fine lines and wrinkles. This isn’t the old-fashioned “chocolate causes acne” warning, though — in fact, dark chocolate contains many of the antioxidants that are at the center of a skin-friendly diet. The latest research focuses on avoiding processed foods and adding in more natural ones.
- Try a Mediterranean diet, which focuses on fresh fruits and vegetables, Omega-3 rich fish, olive oil, and whole grains. In addition to heart-healthy compounds and antioxidants galore, this diet has even been shown to protect against skin cancer. Sources of Omega-3 fatty acids include vegetable oils such as flaxseed, canola,and soybean oils. These are good oils to cook with.
- Some people argue that drinking apple cider vinegar can reduce acne by balancing your pH level. If you’re up for it, try a tablespoon each day.
- Limit your intake of salt, which can cause puffiness.
- Be aware of foods that are high in iodine, like shrimp, crab, and lobster. A buildup of iodine can lead to acne, so dermatologists recommend eating these foods only a few times a month.
- Try giving up dairy. There is no consensus on whether dairy causes acne, but some people have had success with eliminating it from their diets Some doctors trace this possible connection to the hormones found in dairy products, with skim milk seeming to be the worst culprit. Keep in mind that dairy can show up in unexpected places, including many processed foods, where it masquerades as dairy protein.
- Avoid foods that are high on the glycemic index, a measure of how much something spikes your blood sugar. These include things like white bread, pasta, and sweets, as well as sugary drinks like soda and juice.
- Beware of added sugar. You know it’s in candy bars, but would you expect it to be in pasta sauce? Read labels carefully — it’s everywhere. There are over 50 different names for added sugar that might appear on a label (and there may be more than one in a product), including high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice, molasses, sucrose, and rice syrup.
- Limit your consumption of alcohol. Alcohol dehydrates you, emphasizing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and possibly setting off a rosacea outbreak.
3.Address stress. When your body experiences stress, it releases the hormone cortisol, which can lead to breakouts. Stress can also trigger an outbreak of hives, along with many autoimmune disorders. All told, it can affect acne, eczema, rosacea, and more, so do your absolute best to keep it at a minimum.
- In a study, acne and psychological stress levels were evaluated, suggesting that there was a significant correlation between stress and acne, especially males. The correlation may or may not be due to an increase in sebum secretion.
4.Exercise. Getting sweaty helps to increase blood flow, making the process of carrying materials to and from cells more efficient. By exercising, you’ll be helping your blood carry waste—including skin-damaging free radicals—away from your cells. As a bonus, it is also one of the best ways to reduce stress.
- Always shower as soon as you can after exercising to clean sweat off your skin and prevent breakouts.
5.Try supplements. While the efficacy of vitamins in general is hotly debated, some experts recommend taking supplements to improve your skin. While multivitamins can help fill in any nutritional gaps, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Omega-3s, and Biotin are among the supplements sometimes recommended for specific skin problems.
Method 2: Making Lifestyle Changes
1.Take steps to eliminate acne. While acne is often associated with adolescence, more and more adults are also suffering from it. While there are lots of great medications out there, this condition is often so irritating that it requires a multi-pronged attack, starting with some tweaks to your daily routine.
- Always wash your face at night. Between makeup, sweat, city grime, and who knows what else, your skin is begging to be cleaned by the end of the day. This is especially important for acne sufferers. If you find that you’re too exhausted to do this on a regular basis, keep a pack of makeup-removing face wipes next to your bed.
- Change your pillowcases frequently. Products and oils from your hair will transfer to your pillowcase at night. The longer these build up, the likelier they are to cause acne.
- Put makeup on after you have heat-styled your hair. Hair dryers, curling irons, and straightening irons can melt your makeup, leading it to seep into your pores and make breakouts likelier.
- Choose makeups labeled as non-comedogenic, which should not clog your pores. Products like glycerin and hyaluronic acid will help hold moisture in your skin. You may also be able to find products containing salicylic acid in it, which helps treat acne.
- Keep oil-blotting sheets with you at all times. Many acne suferers are also affected by greasy skin. Oil-blotting sheets are a super effective way of dealing with this and won’t take up a lot of room in your bag. They also won’t disturb any makeup you are already wearing or cause any cakiness the way applying more powder might.
2.Soothe eczema. Eczema’s classic itching, dryness, and rashes come from a weakness in your skin’s barrier. It can’t be cured, but you can take steps to control it. Many of these are strategies to avoid irritating the skin further.
- Avoid hot water, which dries out and irritates your skin. Rinse dishes in lukewarm water, and turn the heat down in the shower. You also might want to consider showering only every other day to cut down on dryness and irritation.
- Avoid potentially irritating fabrics and styles. Cotton is cool and lets skin breathe, making it a good bet, especially in the form of loose, flowing garments. Some companies even make clothing like this specifically designed for eczema sufferers. Wool and synthetic fabrics, by contrast, can be itchy and cause overheating. You’ll also want to make sure that you wash your clothes with unscented detergent before wearing them.
- Sleep with a humidifier. You might find that your condition worsens in the winter, when heaters pump hot, dry air into indoor spaces. Sleeping with a humidifier in your room can lessen the dryness, itching, and flaking you might face.
3.Combat psoriasis. Like eczema, psoriasis can be characterized by itchiness, dryness, and irritation. Unlike eczema, it is caused by a buildup of excess cells that form scales on your skin. To treat it, you need to come up with a way to prevent these cells from accumulating.
- Avoid triggers. Certain factors can cause or worsen psoriasis. These include stress, smoking, alcohol, medications like lithium and beta blockers. Some of these are easy to eliminate, but reducing or getting off any prescription medication requires a discussion with your doctor.
- Shower daily. Since water can help with cell buildup and irritation, psoriasis is the opposite of eczema this way. You should still avoid hot water and harsh soaps, though. For an extra-soothing experience, take a bath with bath oil colloidal oatmeal, or Epsom salts.
- Topical treatments for psoriasis include corticosteroid, vitamin D analogues, calcineurin inhibitors, anthralin, and topical retinoids.
- Phototherapy from natural sunlight is also therapy for psoriasis. Brief daily encounters with sunlight may help psoriasis, but you can overdo it and extended exposure can cause it to worsen.
4.Wear sunscreen to prevent brown spots. Brown spots are the discolored splotches of skin that most commonly appear on your face, chest, and hands—the places that tend to get the most sun exposure.
- If you’re worried about breakouts, look for products with labels like “oil-free,” “non-comedogenic,” “won’t clog pores,” or “breakout-free.”
- Sunscreen should be broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher.
Method 3: Exploring At-Home Treatments
1.Try over-the-counter acne solutions. The most common anti-acne ingredients available over-the-counter are benzoyl peroxide (which controls bacteria) and salicylic acid (which controls skin cell buildup).
- Be sure to introduce one product at a time, and start with the lowest strength out there. It may be all you need, but even if it’s not, these products can be very drying.
- Even after your skin adjusts, you shouldn’t be piling on product after product. This is irritating, expensive, and ultimately counterproductive.
- Use a gentle cleanser on your face instead of soap and be cautious when using an exfoliant. Excessive scrubbing and washing can make acne worse, so be gentle and pat dry — don’t scrub.
- Don’t forego moisturizer. If you have oily, acne-prone skin, you may feel that moisturizer is your enemy, but this is a mistake. If you’re using a lot of drying anti-acne products without moisturizing, your skin will overcompensate by producing more oil, leading to more breakouts. Look for moisturizers specifically made for acne-prone skin.
2.Treat eczema with combination treatments. Control itching with topical anti-itch medications or antihistamines. Work on repairing your skin barrier with a good moisturizer and hydrocortisone cream.
- Choose the right moisturizer. Your first instinct might be to go for lotion, but its high water content won’t work for people with eczema. Instead, look products labeled as “ointments” and “creams” that contain products like petroleum jelly or mineral oil and few or no additives. Eucerin cream is often recommended by doctors to help restore your protective skin barrier.
- While you’re there, visit the first aid aisle to find hydrocortisone cream and oral antihistamines.
3.Try brightening creams to address uneven skin tone. Several new products on the market promise to fade brown spots and other irregularities, including acne scars. Look for products that contain the following ingredients:
- Arnica flower extract
- Alpha hydroxyl, glycolic, salicylic, and kojic acid
- Vitamin C
4.Look for creams like Mederma to help fade scars. Pharmacists recommend that you apply it a few times a day, taking the time to massage it in. Both the cream itself and the rubbing motion can reduce scarring.
5.Try natural solutions. Some people do not like to use products with ingredients that they do not recognize, but natural remedies are not necessarily any more effective, and they might be just as harsh. Try a variety of approaches to see what works for you.
- Natural products can be helpful for acne, but make sure they contain ingredients that have been proven effective. These include tea tree oil, alpha hydroxyl acid, zinc, green tea extract, and aloe vera.
- Try a garlic compress. Steep garlic in warm water, then dip a washcloth in the solution and use it to wash breakout-prone parts of your face.
- Take advantage of honey’s antibacterial properties by dabbing it on a pimple at night.
- Crush up mint leaves—or use mint oil—to soothe redness and irritation.
- Place tomato slices on your face to help to draw out impurities.
- Consider alternative treatments like creams containing aloe vera or Oregon grape and foods or supplements that include Omega-3s. While none of these has been proven effective, they are safe and might be somewhat helpful.
- Vitamin E has long been a popular natural treatment for reducing the appearance of scars, but there is no real evidence to support this claim.
Method 4: Seeing a Dermatologist
1.Don’t let yourself suffer from acne. If over-the-counter solutions just aren’t working and you can afford it, save yourself years of frustration by scheduling an appointment with a professional. Your dermatologist will likely prescribe some combination of the following:
- Birth control pills for women, which works to control acne by regulating hormones. Your dermatologist might prescribe this herself, or she might recommend that you seek a prescription from your gynecologist.
- Antibiotics like doxycycline, minocycline, and tetracycline
- Topical treatments like sulfur, azelaic acid, dapsone, and benzoyl peroxide
- Accutane (Isotretinoin), a Vitamin-A derivative that is taken orally. Accutane is only prescribed in the most severe cases, as it requires very strict commitment and comes with many side effects and potential health risks.
2.Reduce irritation from eczema. Your doctor will probably prescribe a topical corticosteroid (to control itching and irritation) first, but if that doesn’t work, there are several other options you can try. Be persistent — it can take time to find the right strategy. Less common treatments include the following:
- Reparative creams
- Oral antibiotics
- More aggressive corticosteroid treatments
- Exposure to natural or artificial sunlight
3.Pursue similar treatments for psoriasis. Although eczema and psoriasis are different conditions, dermatologists often treat them in similar ways. Psoriasis treatments aim to slow cell growth and remove scales, generally falling into three main categories.
- Topical treatments like corticosteroids, synthetic vitamin D, and retinoids.
- Light therapy involving either daily exposure to small amounts of sunlight or targeted treatment of affected areas.
- Drugs that reduce inflammation (like methotrexate) or control the immune system (like cyclosporine).
4. Ask about serums, chemical peels, bleaching, or laser treatments to treat brown spots. While you’re at the doctor’s office, be sure to rule out any potentially serious health problems — what looks like an annoying dark spot to you might look like a potentially cancerous mole to your dermatologist.
5. Discuss light therapy with your doctor. Another possible treatment for acne is light therapy. Exposure to blue light can kill the bacteria that causes red, swollen (inflammatory) acne, and exposure to pulsed light and heat may also help shrink oil glands.
- Your doctor may need to apply photosensitizers to your skin before treatment to make it more sensitive to light.
- Possible side effects include redness, crusting and peeling, changes in skin tone, and pain.
6. Consider more aggressive ways of treating scars. Remember that your dermatologist has expertise in many different areas. He will know what treatments are right for you and, if necessary, can refer you to a plastic surgeon.
- Try a chemical peel for acne scars. These treatments work by getting rid of old skin cells, allowing new ones to take their places. Their strength varies, from light peels that you can get on your lunch break to deep peels that must be done under anesthesia and require several weeks of recovery. In all cases, make sure you consult with your doctor beforehand and follow their instructions to avoid serious side effects afterwards.
- Explore laser treatments. For some, over-the-counter treatments won’t be enough. You will need to talk to a dermatologist about this. He will know whether you are a good candidate for laser treatment and, if so, what kind of laser to use. Even so, the scar will likely never disappear completely.
Method 5: Intervening with Makeup
1.Aim to diffuse rather than cover. You may have tried to cover up pimples with layer after layer of foundation, concealer, and powder. Unfortunately, this strategy can actually make the blemish more visible.
- Instead, think about light-diffusing makeup, which will make your whole face look more luminous and will distract attention from pimples or other imperfections.
- For pimples that are begging for concealer, use a concealer brush to dab just a tiny bit right on top of the pimple, then set with powder.
2.Think about the color wheel. Remember what you learned in art class — colors opposite each other on the color wheel can balance each other out. Today, this same logic has been applied to skincare products. The newest products will make you look balanced, not like an extra on Star Trek.
- If you’re worried about a sallow complexion, look for purple-tinted primers.
- If redness is a problem, try a green-tinted product.
3.Don’t just cover up your problems—treat them at the same time. These days, many makeup products pack a wallop in the skincare department, too. Find the product that addresses your particular issue.
- Acne sufferers will find products that contain skin-clearing salicylic acid, tea tree oil, and other compounds.
- Mineral makeup contains zinc oxide to treat acne and will sit on top of pores rather than clogging them.
- You’ll also find products geared toward treating uneven skin tone, fine lines and wrinkles, and more.
4.Don’t exacerbate the situation while you’re trying to cover it up. If you’re applying makeup with dirty hands and/or brushes, you risk making acne and other conditions worse.
- Wash your hands before applying makeup (and touching your face in general).
- Wash your brushes every two weeks to avoid oil and bacteria buildup. There are a number of products on the market just for this purpose, but soap and water will also do.
- Your makeup becomes bacteria-ridden, too, so replace it every six months (three months for mascara).
5.Give yourself a day off. If you’re wearing makeup every day, your skin doesn’t have a chance to breathe. Take a break so you don’t get caught in a cycle where you keep needing even more makeup!