My skin is terribly sensitive to food. As a teenager I thought is was just bad luck, but after a lot of trial and error found the perfect solution.

In fact, my current passion for health is partly rooted in my previous quest for good skin. Note that this is not a science backed post like with IF and cholesterol. This is based on my personal experiences.

Non-food tips:

  • Don’t touch your skin (especially face) without washing your hands and in front of a mirror
  • if you do squeeze, only if the head is white, and only with your fingertips (but not nails)
  • Don’t shower warm/hot for too long
  • Creams etc can help, but I did better without

Food plan simplified:

  • Cut synthetic sugar entirely
  • Eat low GI foods
  • Drink a lot of water

Non-food practices

Diet had the most results for me, but some habits helped a lot.

First off, do not touch your skin.

I used to mess with my skin a lot, trying to pop zits hoping they went away sooner. They will not. Never touch your face without a mirror, and do not touch zits that have no white head. And when you do, do not use your nails, but squeeze with your fingertips.

Second, don’t shower hot and long.

I love heat, including hot showers. Turns out it washes away skin oils, causing your already dysregulated skin to try to overcompensate by making more. That can clog pores.

Third, creams can help but are not needed.

I used clearing skin creams and such, but they do not address the core issue. They also cause an imbalance on your skin, drying it out etc. Where possible don’t use them.

Fourth, use concealer (make up) if you have to

A small amount of make up can make it easier to forget about your blemishes. Apart from feeling good it makes it easier not to touch them throughout the day.

One day a female friend of mine used some concealer makeup (one of the stick things) because my skin was dry/red. She took 5 minutes to talk me in to it. Next day I got one for myself, best $10 ever.

To the guys out there, get over the whole ‘make up is for women’ things. I’m not suggesting you go all ‘British face’, but a tap of concealer on your face can make life a lot easier.

Acne diet plan

I tried some crazy things. Ranging from eating only golden delicious apples for 3 days to protein shakes for lunch.

Paleo diet for acne

The paleo diet is based on evolutionary theories. This means no grains, potatoes, rice, dairy, added sugars etc.

I agree with some parts, and disagree with others. The bottom line however is that it is a great basis if you want to get rid of acne. For me the most impactful things were:

  • No more grains or grain derived products (bread, pasta, beer)
  • No more potato and rice
  • Absolutely no added sugar, especially liquid (e.g. soda)

Low GI

One of the biggest acne related effects of the paleo diet is the glycemic index. This is the measure of how fast food is absorbed, and the insulin spike they cause.

Things high in GI (bad) are sugars, simple carbohydrates etc.

Things low in GI (good) are proteins, fats and complex carbohydrates.

Curious about the Gi of a food? Check it here.

Funky fasting

It sounds weird, but my apple fast of 3 days worked really well for me. The principle is simple:

  • You can eat only Golden or Red Delicious apples (without skin)
  • You can eat as much as you want, and drink water with it
  • You consume nothing else

It was quite a challenge, but surprisingly worked great for me. I have no science to back it up, but suspect it was a nice ‘reset point’ to continue with my paleo diet.

Skin as a mirror

When I eat something bad, my skin reacts immediately. The next day I get spots. It’s a very good feedback mechanism to keep you in check.

Take it from me however: stick to the program. After 6 months I figured “oh, it should be fine to eat a pizza” and BAM.

Use your skin as a guide to whether you are doing it right…

 

33 Comments

  • Hi Mentor
    I have been suffering from last 2 years and i am fed of with consulted with doctors. Nothing will happening good for me i hope you tips will give smile on my face.

    • Good advices! I love this blog!
      I used to have acne and I tried a lot of things that didn’t work, until I ended going to a chinese acupuncturist who solve my problem. I saw results in a week, you should try this, it’s so easy:

      1. Put some honey in a bowl and add some onion circular slices (cut them thin)
      2. Water bath (Bain-Marie) for 5 minutes. You will notice that the honey is no longer viscose.
      3. Wait 1 minute to cool it, and apply it all over your face. *wash your face and hands carefully before doing it*
      4. While you have the honey over your face you should rest and wait ~5 or 7 minutes until the honey is again viscouse. Wash your face again. And at this point you will notice that your skin is clean and smooth.

      ** I recommend to repeat the process two-three times, you can also use the slices of onion (that were in the water bath with the honey) if you have wounds (they will heal faster). Also remember to wash everything you are using.

      If you have wounds, after washing the honey from your face you should cut some cold tomato slices and apply it over them.
      By now you should be thinking that I look pretty much like salad (:D)
      Nowadays I just apply it twice a week,

      I hope this will be useful (:

  • I am suffering from acne. I consulted general physician. No progress in my skin problems. I am very interested in trying these tips. I hope that will make my skin soft.

  • Your assumption that reacting to a food means it’s bad is probably erroneous in my view. I think that people should be able to tolerate a wide variety of foods without reacting. We are seeing more and more people with food intolerances. When everyone is allergic to half of everything, maybe people finally will stop blaming foods and look for real answers. I think the paleo diet is pretty dumb and based on faulty logic. It’s a theory waiting to be proven effective long term. The best thing I’ve read in opposition it is Matt Stone’s 12 paleo myths, eat better than a caveman. Should be required reading for anyone who is on or thinking about going on the paleo or low carb diets.

    Carbohydrates aren’t the enemy either. If your car doesn’t burn fuel properly you don’t just stop putting fuel in it and say that fuel is bad for cars. There are only three macronutrients after all. Plenty of long lived healthy cultures rely on carbohydrates, including high GI, without incurring the problems people are trying to solve today by cutting them out. Cultures that don’t rely on carbs are the great minority for lots of good reasons. Everywhere you look in the health community, people are mistaking mishandling of a substance by the body or malfunction of a system with the deeper cause of these malfunctionas and not looking deeper to find out why it’s all going whack. I like the concept of your site. I found it while looking to see if the domain name skillcollector was taken. Doh!

    • Hello Steven,

      The thing with diets is that the original idea gets distorted once it goes ‘mainstream’. People who don’t know their biology take the ideas and try to explain them without understanding, messing everything up.

      Paleo for example is not about eating like a caveman, it is about eating things compatible with the biochemistry that resulted from evolution. From that starting point, a whole new spectrum of discussions start about what that diet is.

      Carbohydrates are not evenies, but high GI is. I challenge you to show me a high GI based culture without health issues. Especially with regards to a high Glycemic Load.

      While a commend your response for being thought through, I disagree with your premises.

    • Actually if a fuel is bad for a car or makes it run bad we do say the fuel is bad. Just because you can eat it doesn’t mean you should.

      Food should be fresh or flash frozen, not instant or out of the box. The preservatives are awful for our bodies and are not natural. Before the 1960’s acne only started becoming a prominent issue in the modern world. Many tribes that are still unaltered by modernization only see 6% of teenagers having acne.

      • Indeed. Good point on the fuel.

        Fresh and frozen are indeed better than most preserved stuff, depending on the stability of the particular nutrient you’re measuring.

        The best hypothesis so far is that blood sugar spikes are to blame.

  • I feel like acne is my biggest flaw and it’s making me suffer because you don’t see my high cheekbones or hunter green eyes, you see my zits and that’s a problem. I use Apple cider vinegar and lemon juice and that works overall but any other suggestions are so welcome.

    • PLEASE KNOW THAT THE ONLY CURE FOR CYSTIC ACNE IS THE MEDICATION ACCUTANE. PURE AND SIMPLE! All of my family, including myself, suffered from cystic acne and tried everything. Diet does not cure acne. The only cure for the deep, cystic acne is ACCUTANE. It’s a 5 month regiment and you must be on birth control if you’re a woman. Believe me, it’s the only cure and worked for all of us. Go to your dermatologist and hopefully your insurance will cover it.

      • First off, please don’t caps like that. It hurts my eyes.

        There is a difference in ‘general’ acne and disease-level acne. Medical interventions are used for medical issues. In which case they are great.

        The accutane you describe is a substance that reduces fat production by glands, thereby often helping in severe acne. it is however a last-resort from what I’ve heard.

        For many people the issue with acne is that their body’s homeostasis is disturbed. If your glands are going haywire, something is up.

        Of course if your face is permanently inflamed with acne talk to a doctor, no question. But in many cases diet can be root cause.

        I speak purely from experience and the science I’ve read along the way.

        The beauty of fixing your diet is that it often works, and if it doesn’t then you improved your health in different areas anyway. Can’t be said for most drugs.

      • Plz only use accurate as a total last resort. A main factor in acne is what we do to our GUT. And jumping on the medicine bandwagon is partly to blame. Your skin is trying to tell you something: It is detoxing and the last resort for your body to rid itself of toxins. Sweat more, eat clean and hydrate massively.
        And try a MAPs diet for goodness sake. Heal your GUT and your likely candida overgrowth!

      • You do know that ACCUTANE is incredibly bad for you, right? When I was in high school, my doctor suggested it to me, and then he dropped the nifty fact that it causes cancer in test rats. They test this stuff on poor animals for a reason, and its not because a bunch of scientists care if rats have acne.

        mmm. I’d so much rather get CANCER than have a skin problem. People need to realize that putting their health at risk for vanity’s sake is a little bit messed up. Who cares if you’re a pretty teenager or young adult, if you die at 40? nobody on their death bed looks back and says, “oh, at least I was pretty.”

        For anyone looking at ACCUTANE as a solution to a vanity problem,I implore you to do some research before blindly slathering this carcinogen all over your skin.

  • Can chicken cause breakouts?
    I find that the very next day after eating chicken, my otherwise-insignificant-acne gets reddish and obvious. HELLLLLP!

    • Not as far as I know. Perhaps the chicken you eat is seasoned with something you react to? Many out of the box seasonings can contain stuff that skin in sensitive to.

  • So I’ve been reading about the paleo diet for some time now and what I keep stumbling upon is people who don’t seem to understand what the glycemic index is, but still build their diet plans around it.
    I’m not saying food with a high GI is good nor bad, I’m just saying GI doesn’t work the way you describe it at all.

    Firstly, the GI does not indicate how fast or slow a food is absorbed, nor how much insulin your body releases in response to it, nor does it have to do with the contained proteins and fats in a food. It simply indicates the foods effect on your blood sugar level after consumption in comparison to either glucose or white bread, but in total, NOT per time.

    Secondly, the GI is determined by the effect of 50g of carbohydrates of a food, it doesn’t take into account the amount of carbohydrates the food contains per mass. You seem to know about this, since you mentioned glycemic load in another comment here, but you don’t say a word about it in the article or the video.

    Thirdly, the GI is very vague and shows huge differences depending on how the food is processed, what food you consume it with, from study participant to study participant and even from day to day with the same study participant. This fact alone makes it rather unsuitable for any advices on diet.

    My 2 cents, best regards.

    • Thanks for the comment James,

      1st point: blood sugar spike is a function of absorbance speed. We mean the same thing. It’s about how fast the food is absorbed as or converted to. Also, blood sugar spikes spike insulin (obviously) 8unless there is a disorder. See graph.

      2nd point: No. Simply no. It’s about the AUC of the blood sugar spike. Not amount 50g equivalent of a food’s carbohydrate contents, that makes no sense. See wikipedia for good explanation: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glycemic_index#Determining_the_GI_of_a_food

      3rd: Not vague, just diverse. Absorption speed (or rather blood glucose spike as a result of the food) is determined by many factors, thus obviously the body responds different in different circumstances. That doesn’t make it unsuitable for dietary structure. At all.

      Have a nice day 🙂

  • The best possible lifestyle change you can make to have healthier skin and just generally become a healthier you is to change to a plant-based lifestyle! Animal products absolutely destroy your health (and the planet!)

    • Not really. I agree plant based is better for the environment, but there is nothing wrong with good meat with regards to acne.

  • Many very good points. For many it is trial and error. At 33 I was diagnosed with rosacea, and working in a school as an adult it was like living threw my high school years all over again. Not fun.
    Off to the dermatologist I went, and at first they gave me a cream and a steroid. I no longer need the steroid and only the cream when I slip. By slip I mean eat certain foods, or have a high stress day, which usually leads to touching my face often.
    Over all I think it’s a great guide. One thing I would suggest is keeping a log of what you do and eat that day. Then the next morning is your face worse, better, or the same as the previous. Also, I was told to use a facial sunblock spf 30 or higher, making sure it is a non greasy formula. Good luck to all with these issues.

  • I’m suffering from acne problem since from 3 years i consulted many general physicians and even dermatologist but nothing made a difference, i will surely try these points hope the results be positive..

  • I had acne way into adulthood, until I changed my diet! Get rid of processed foods, fake fats and sugars. I’m a plant-based eater, but quality flesh that’s raised well in small amounts shouldn’t cause acne. Look up an elimination diet and begin to find which foods are a problem for you. Peanuts cause cysts for me within 24yrs. I’ve added a comprehensive food enzyme before each meal….no more GERD or heartburn! I had “chicken skin” my entire life, until I eliminated most grains”! My skin n is now smoother than my grandchildrens’!
    Keeping skin clean without harsh cleansers is essential, it must rebalamced too! Purchase two things….a bundle of those very inexpensive white washcloths (10-12 million n a pack) and 3 or more white pillowcases. Do not reuse washcloths and change your pillowcase very well often, because once you remove the offending bacteria from your skin, you much keep it off. Wash and sanitize these items regularly! I also keep paper towels in the bathroom for quick wash ups.
    Be very careful when your around others with acne…. I worked at a school and I believe I was reinfected on several occasions!
    I do believe there is some initial help in using witch hazel as an astringent and it also calms you skin.
    Don’t screw up your entire system with antibiotics or you will have additional digestive problems that will haunt you for years! If you have already…get to n probiotics along with enzymes, to get your body function Ning properly again!
    Your skin is your largest organ…what goes in, more than not, shows up on your skin!

    • This doesn’t allow editing…and the program did some very strange autocorrects of its own accord!!! I can’t get back in and change them….sorry! You obviously don’t need millions of washcloths 😀

      • Aah yes, the curse of autocorrect…

        Thanks for your story, I’m sure many people will try your tricks out!

  • No one mentions this issue, but it helped when my kids were teens. Change to a clean pillowcase every night, or every 2nd day, if you flip your pillow over on the 2nd evening of use.
    Do not put your face down on a surface with potentially old, rancid body oils, then rest it there for 6 to 10 hours. Treat yourself and your skin well!

  • My issue is a bit different then acne. I have pin holes which some would say large pores, but I have been and done everything from microneedling, CO2 Laser treatment, every kind of experience and not so expensive face cream and NOTHING has helped. The bigger pin wholes are on my cheek bones and my nose not to mention my cat scratched the tip of my nose and I made the mistake of letting the skin grow into the scar. Of course I notice my flaws more so then others and I have always been very conscious about my face. I thought for sure when I did the CO2 laser 2 years ago my face would be baby smooth, especially reading and doing a lot of research on this procedure prior to doing this painful procedure. If anyone has any information or advise with my situation I would so appreciate it.

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