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Acne - causes & remedies

Date Posted:15 March 2023 

Acne is caused by four main factors, which are excess oil production, dead skin cells, clogged pores and the presence of bacteria on the skin. Natural skincare can help those with oily or acne prone skin manage their skin better, without using harsh chemicals.  


Acne is the most common skin condition in Australia. While it can occur at any age, acne is often associated with puberty when hormones change and cause the pores to become clogged. Acne sufferers often struggle with keeping their skin clear because there are many factors involved in maintaining clear skin. For example, hormones, diet and stress all contribute to acne flare ups, but luckily there are solutions for each of these factors that can help you prevent acne or treat your existing breakouts! But, while there are many factors that can contribute to the formation of acne, there are also products that can help you treat it. In this article, we'll discuss some of the most effective acne products on the market today.




Hormonal changes that occur during puberty are the most common cause for acne. For some however, this can last well beyond adolescent years. Hormonal acne is characterised by clustering of blemishes around the jawline, or acne that gets worse in women around certain time of the month.

Hormones are a factor in acne because they affect the oil and sebum production in your skin. When levels of androgens increase, it can create more sebum production which leads to clogged pores. This can also happen if you're taking birth control pills or other medications that contain hormones like steroids or testosterone.



A poor diet in someone with acne prone skin is a recipe for disaster. Dairy, sugar and processed carbohydrate foods (white bread, biscuits, chips) are among the worst for flaring up acne.

Acne is often a sign that you need to eat less dairy and more fruits and vegetables. Dairy products can cause inflammation, which leads to acne. They also cause constipation and bloating, which can make your skin break out even more because of trapped toxins in your intestines (or "gut").

The best way to prevent acne is to avoid foods that cause inflammation in the body like gluten, dairy and refined sugar. This includes processed foods that contain these ingredients as well as certain condiments and sauces on your plate.

If you're looking for some good news about your diet, know that eating more fruits and vegetables can help reduce inflammation by providing antioxidants like vitamin C or beta carotene (the stuff that makes carrots orange).

Key recommendations for acne sufferers:

  • Avoid gluten and dairy products as they can cause inflammation in the body.
  • Incorporate anti inflammatory foods include avocados, berries, sweet potatoes, kale and quinoa.
  • Eat clean - focus on whole foods that are high in vitamins A & C which are great for clearing up acne fast!
  • Avoid refined sugar (including artificial sweeteners) as it will spike your insulin levels which leads to more acne breakouts.



Nutritional deficiencies 

Essential fatty acids (omega 3,6,9), zinc, vitamin A and vitamin B5 are among the most common nutritional deficiencies amongst acne sufferers.

Vitamin A is an important nutrient for maintaining healthy skin and preventing acne. However, too much vitamin A can cause dryness and irritation, so it's important to get it from food sources rather than supplements. Foods high in vitamin A include dark leafy greens like spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, mangoes and bell peppers.

Vitamin C helps with collagen production and promotes healing of open wounds. Foods high in vitamin C include citrus fruits like oranges and pink grapefruits as well as leafy greens like kale or collards.

Omega 3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation in the body which helps clear away excess oil from the skin's surface naturally without drying out the top layers of skin (which can cause more breakouts). If your intake of omega 3 is low, you can always add omega 3 supplements to your diet.

Start by making sure you have a healthy balanced diet to avoid nutritional deficiencies. It is worth seeking professional advice from a qualified nutritionist in order to optimise your nutritional needs. 


Poor gut health 

We've all heard that gut health is important for overall health and wellness, but did you know that it can affect your skin, too? While acne and gut health are two separate things, they are often related. When your gut is out of whack, your skin suffers as a result.

Here's how:

  • When you have poor gut health, it can cause inflammation in the body. This inflammation can lead to acne breakouts on the face, chest, back and even shoulders. It can also make existing acne worse.
  • When you have poor gut health, it can disrupt your skin's natural ability to fight off bacteria and other invaders. This makes your skin more susceptible to developing pimples and blemishes when exposed to dirt or germs for extended periods of time (like when you're using public transportation).
  • When you have poor gut health, it can also lead to an imbalance in hormones which can exacerbate existing acne problems or cause new ones to develop on areas of the body where there wasn't any before (like underarms or around waistline).  

Try these tips for keeping your gut healthy and helping your skin glow:

  • Eat probiotic foods like yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, or kefir.
  • Take a probiotic for inner health or eat fermented foods every day.
  • Eat more fibre! It helps feed the good bacteria in your gut and makes waste easier to digest so that it doesn't hang around too long (which can cause bloating).




Stress can accelerate any disease state, and acne is no exception. Stress may come from work, school or relationships and other factors that you don't have control over.

Stress hormones are produced when you are stressed out or anxious about something that has happened to you in the past or might happen in the future. These hormones cause acne by increasing the production of sebum by your sebaceous glands (the oil producing glands under your skin), which leads to clogged pores and whiteheads/blackheads around these areas of clogged pores on your face or back.

You may also want to consider reducing stress levels if they're high enough that they contribute to increased production of cortisol - a hormone released when we experience psychological stressors like anxiety or depression. High levels of cortisol can lead to breakouts because it causes our skin cells' natural oil production process (known as sebum production) go into overdrive so they secrete excess oil onto our faces which clogs pores with sebum build up!

Try practising yoga and/or meditation to reduce stress levels. Having a regular bath and some 'alone time' can also reduce stress levels and help you sleep better.  


Tips to improve acne prone skin

1. Cleansing

Following a proper skin care routine is essential for managing acne prone skin. When it comes to choosing a cleanser for acne prone skin, there are a few things to consider. Stay away from chemical laden acne products, as these often strip the skin of the natural protective oils. Despite what you may think, taking away too much oil can be counterproductive and actually make matters worse. In fact, the ideal face wash for oily skin is one that is gentle and nourishing.

The best acne wash will be gentle enough to use on all parts of your skin, including your eyelids. It should also contain ingredients that help soothe irritated or inflamed skin. Some people find it helpful to use an acne wash before bedtime or after exercise, as this helps remove excess oil from the skin and prevent breakouts.

You may also want to try one of some acne facial products. Salicylic acid (BHA) in The Jojoba Company Enzyme Radiance Mask is sourced from white willow bark and works to treat acne and breakouts by deeply cleaning pores and regulating oil production.

Of course, most people who experience acne on the face also experience acne on the body. This means that it’s just as important to consider your oily skin when choosing body care products. An acne body wash is one that won’t clog pores and will also gently purify and heal congested skin to prevent things like back acne. An acne body wash should be gentle however and not full of harsh stripping chemicals.



2. Exfoliation

Exfoliation is another crucial step in any good acne skincare routine. Regularly using a natural exfoliator removes the dead skin cells on the skin and prevents clogged pores, which are big contributors to acne. A face scrub is a great option for exfoliation. The tiny particles in a natural face scrub remove impurities and build up. We suggest you use a face scrub and a separate body scrub. As the skin on the face and décolletage is more delicate than other areas of the body, it is important to stick to gentle exfoliators that won’t damage the skin. This acne exfoliator contains magnesium salts which exfoliate toxins and impurities to help clear acne and problem skin.

Acne gel is another great product, aimed at fighting the acne at its source. It contains ingredients that are able to kill bacteria that can cause acne, such as salicylic acid, which helps in reducing the amount of oil on your face, and witch hazel extract, which has exfoliating properties. The gel is applied directly on the skin and will help to clear up your skin within a short period of time. It works by reducing oil production in the skin, which prevents clogged pores from forming.


3. Moisturising

Moisturising is just as essential for acne prone skin as it is dry skin. Adding moisture to oily skin is what helps prevent the excessive oil production that happens when the skin feels it needs to compensate for dryness. For acne prone skin, we suggest choosing something light as heavy moisturisers particular in the evening can feel uncomfortable for those with oily skin. Vanessa Megan is one of the leading brands for organic skincare that’s directed to your unique skin’s needs. Vanessa Megan acne moisturiser is great for those wanting a day cream that will hydrate without the thick moisturiser layer. Another great option for nourishing oily or acne prone skin is jojoba oil. Jojoba oil is actually the wax esters from the jojoba plant. It shares the same molecular structure as the sebum our skin produces. This means jojoba oil can penetrate the deeper layers of the skin and actually restore balance to oil production – over time reducing breakouts and excessive oiliness.  



4. Sunscreen

The next thing to consider in your acne skincare routine is sun protection and, if you choose to wear it, makeup. A natural sunscreen is a must when it comes to protecting all skin types. We should all be wearing SPF daily on our faces and bodies – yep even in the cooler months. UV can be high despite it not being sunny and the sun is the single biggest contributor to poor skin health and faster skin aging. That said, those with oily skin can find that sunscreen doesn’t settle into their skin and instead feels like an oil slick. We’ve found the best sunscreen for acne prone skin in Australia. Yep the Eco By Sonya face sunscreen is by far the best acne sunscreen as it’s not overly thick, won’t cause breakouts and rubs in with a semi matte finish. This sunscreen is great under makeup too.


5. Makeup

If you do have acne prone skin, the most important thing is to keep your skincare routine simple. Makeup can be helpful in hiding blemishes, but it's also easy for makeup products to clog pores and make acne worse. So try not to use too many different products at once, and stick with light coverage when possible.

Speaking of which, what is the best foundation for acne prone skin you ask? Well, the best foundation is the one that stays on, doesn’t get shiny and is natural and not pore clogging. We’ve found the Zuii Organic powder foundation is the best acne foundation as it’s easily buildable and isn’t liquid, making it great for oily skin types.  


Final thoughts

Now that you know the causes and remedies for acne, it's time to start making changes in your diet. Make sure to eat plenty of fruits and veggies every day to keep your skin healthy and glowing!