Tag Archives: acne

Guest Post: How to Heal Hormonal Acne Naturally

Amie, from Rebelle Nutrition, is a fellow NTP and Beautycounter consultant with a passion for healing the body from the inside out. Like me, she was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired all the time, and turned her health around with the power of real food. She started having way more energy and vitality, but her skin issues and hormonal acne took a bit more work and digging around to solve beyond simple nutrition. So here she is to tell you what steps made the biggest difference and resulted in the radiant, clear skin she has now. I hope her story and advice help you on your skin care journey!

Amie Tollefsrud - Hormonal Acne

Eating real food but still suffering from painful hormonal acne?

Here are the steps you might be missing.

So you’re eating a nutrient-dense, whole-food diet but still have annoying (and painful) adult acne. This was exactly my story a few years ago when I first made the change to a paleo-ish style way of eating. My fatigue, joint pain, and acid reflux all improved drastically, but the one thing I could not seem to get a handle on no matter what I tried, was healing my hormonal acne. It continue to pop up, month after month, no matter how “clean” I ate or how dedicated I was to my “natural” skincare routine.

After about a year of research, trial and error, and intense healing, I discovered 5 key steps towards healing hormonal acne that have worked wonders for not only myself, but dozens of my Nutritional Therapy clients who come to me with the same problem. Keep in mind, these steps are intended for those people who have already made the switch to a nutrient-dense, whole-food diet. Improving the quality of the food you eat is the first step towards healing; after which, I recommend bringing in the “big guns” aka these 5 steps:

1. Don’t guess, test!

Unfortunately, there are plenty of nutrient dense foods that can still cause a histamine response (or “sensitivity”) in our bodies. This is especially true of foods we eat on a regular (or even daily) basis. Without rotation and a wide variety of different nutrients, our bodies can create antibodies to these foods, causing a number of physical manifestations such as joint pain, eczema, migraines, or painful acne. If you are eating a paleo style diet that has removed inflammatory foods like grains, dairy, soy, sugar and other processed goods, it might be time to look into food sensitivity testing. But don’t worry, you don’t need to run out and spend hundreds on expensive testing just yet. There is an easy at home test I like to do with clients, called the “Coca’s pulse test” that measures your pulse rate in response to eating certain foods. Here’s how to do it: 

Pick 1 food that you suspect may be causing you problems (coffee, eggs, milk) make sure it is only 1 ingredient and not a combination of different things (banana bread, for example, would not be able to decipher it is the bananas, wheat, or eggs causing the reaction).

Take your pulse for one full minute, record.

Put the chosen food in your mouth and chew but do not swallow for 20 seconds.

After 20 seconds, take your pulse again for one full minute with the food still in your mouth (do not swallow). Record your findings. Spit out the food and rinse your mouth if you plan to test again.

What are your results? An increase of 6 beats per minute or more indicates a stress response from that specific food, and may mean an elimination protocol may be needed. The higher the pulse increase, the greater the response. (Want to watch a video tutorial of this? Go HERE!)

2. Heal your leaky gut

You might be wondering, but WHY is my body creating antibodies to delicious and nutrient rich foods? The answer: your gut is “leaky”. Leaky gut is the term used to describe the process of increased intestinal permeability; which means that undigested food particles are able to make their way into the bloodstream – instead of being properly digested an used as fuel. This causes the immune system to elicit an “attack”, aka a histamine response or sensitivity reaction (i.e. increased pulse rate). Leaky gut is at the root cause of nearly every health symptom imaginable, and I find that repairing the gut lining is one of the most successful ways to improve a variety of skin related conditions – specifically acne. Some of my favorite gut-healing nutrients include L-glutamine, collagen peptides, plenty of nutrient rich bone broth, and DGL

3. Change up your skincare routine

I’m willing to bet that if you have acne, you’ve already tried nearly every product on the market, am I right? As a nutritional therapy practitioner, I tried so hard to make the oil cleansing method work for me, but all it did was create a mess of my bathroom and make my skin look greasy. When I finally learned about Beautycounter, a company that aims to remove harmful toxins and chemicals from their skincare products (without compromising performance), I was sold. I now consider myself to be a bit of a Beautycounter whore; but when I first started out, there were 3 products that improved my adult acne better than ANYTHING else I’ve ever tried. Seriously.

Charcoal Bar for cleansing (morning and night)

Purifying Charcoal Mask (2-3x a week for a spa grade facial)

Balancing Face Oil for moisturizer (I know what you’re thinking, oil on acne?!? But hear me out- Beautycounter specifically formulated this oil for acne prone skin, to moisturize and balance out levels of skin sebum and actually reduce excess oil production – how cool is that?)

4. Get off the treadmill

I know, I know. This is one that my clients, nor I, wanted to accept. But the truth is, if you have hormonal acne and you continue to do intense workouts in the form of running, cross fit, cycling, or anything that elicits a stress response in the body – this is likely to be a key player in the formation of your acne.

Intense exercise leads to heightened levels of stress in the body, causing increased cortisol output and insulin production. For women especially, this can also throw off the delicate balance of progesterone to estrogen – amplifying testosterone levels and causing increased oil production, clogged pores, and – you guessed it: acne.

5. Zinc supplementation

Zinc is an amazing skin-healing mineral that most of us are deficient in, despite eating a good diet. Zinc has been shown to lower chronic levels of inflammation and prevent acne-causing bacteria on the skin to become painful and inflamed. It also helps reduce the bacteria on the surface of the skin that causes acne, reduces keratin production that leads to clogged pores, and balances hormones by keeping levels of acne-causing testosterone in check. If you aren’t getting daily sources of zinc from foods like oysters or pumpkin seeds, I recommend experimenting with zinc supplementation in the form of zinc picolinate for around 3 months or so (make sure to work with a practitioner). 

There you have it! If you are already eating a real-food diet but still struggling with hormonal acne, I hope that these 5 key steps will be as life-changing for you as they have been for the clients in my practice. 

Want more? Download my free e-book: Acne Free in 30 Days HERE

Amie Tollefsrud is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and minimalist living in Maui, HI. She recently downsized to a tiny house by the beach with her husband, where she spends her days surfing, building her online business, and figuring out how to cook real food without a kitchen. Find out more by visiting her blog, Instagram, or Facebook page.

What Great Grandma Ate / Jean Choi is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Regarding other affiliate links and affiliate relationships: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Thank you for your support and understanding.

Guest Post- How to Heal Hormonal Acne Naturally

Activated Charcoal for Beautiful Skin + Homemade Charcoal Clay Mask

activated charcoal skin

I love activated charcoal! You’ve probably heard of it before for its effective medicinal uses of absorbing toxins or poisons out of the body. Because of its super absorbency power, activated charcoal acts like a magnet inside the body to attach to chemicals so they can be excreted out of the body.

This is also true when it is used externally, which is why activated charcoal is so great for detoxifying and cleansing the skin. Used on the skin, activated charcoal attaches to dirt and oil and cleans out the pores of its impurities so you end up with clean and beautiful skin. 

One thing to mention about activated charcoal is that using it too much can dry out the skin. Because it cleans out the oils from the pores, it can also reduce the moisture you need to keep your skin healthy. This is why you need to be careful so you don’t use it too often. However, when you incorporate it in into your skin care routine sparingly, you’ll begin to see some wonderful changes to your skin like I did.

Benefits of Activated Charcoal for Skin

  • Reduces acne
  • Treats oily skin
  • Decreases blackheads
  • Deep cleans your skin
  • Soothes cuts, insect bites, and skin irritations
  • Evens out skin tone

How to Use Activated Charcoal

1. USE A CHARCOAL CLEANSING BAR SOAP. As I mentioned before, using charcoal too often can dry out your skin. This is why you need to find a high quality soap with a special formula that also contains moisturizing oils.pdp_charcoalcleansingbar_selling-shot_528_613This is my favorite charcoal bar soap which has done wonders for my acne. I only use it about 3 times a week while still oil cleansing the rest of the time, and it’s still so effective in clearing up my face and occasional back acne. Depending on how your skin feels, you can use it as often as everyday, twice a day. Unfortunately, they sell out pretty fast so if you can’t access that link, please subscribe here so you can be informed immediately via email when it’s back in stock!

2. DEEP CLEAN WITH A CHARCOAL CLAY MASK. I only use charcoal mask twice a week, and I actually look forward to the days I do them because I’m obsessed with the way it makes my skin feel afterwards. It’s such a simple routine that yields really great results. My skin looks so much better, clearer, with reduced pore sizes and blackheads.

Just a note: your skin may feel dry and look red right after you use the mask, so follow up with a high quality moisturizer. The redness should go away after a few hours so I like to use the mask at night before I go to bed so I can wake up to improved skin tone and quality.

You can see my DIY method of using charcoal clay mask below, but if you don’t want to make your own, I highly recommend this Purifying Charcoal Mask. It’s top-notch quality with its mineral-rich mix of kaolin clay and charcoal, and you can feel a huge difference in your skin from just 1 use.

Are you convinced yet that you need to start including activated charcoal into your skin care routine? If not, give this homemade charcoal clay mask a try and I bet you’ll absolutely love it!

Want to learn more about safer skincare, product recommendations, and beauty tips?
Join my Safer Skincare Facebook group!

Safer Skincare FB

activated charcoal skin

activated charcoal skin

activated charcoal skin

Homemade Charcoal Clay Mask
Prep time
Cook time
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  1. Wash your face as usual and dry it thoroughly with a towel.
  2. Using a plastic or glass container** and measuring spoons, combine all ingredients and mix until a paste is formed. Add more apple cider or water if the mixture is too thick to spread.
  3. Apply and spread the charcoal clay mask on your face in a thin layer, avoiding your eyes and your mouth.
  4. Leave on for 15-20 minutes until the mask dries.
  5. Wash with warm water and follow up with your favorite moisturizer.
  6. Use every 3-7 days, depending on how your skin feels.
*If you hate the smell of apple cider vinegar, you can just use plain water for this recipe.
**When using bentonite clay and activated charcoal, use glass, ceramic, or plastic with your utensils and containers. They both lose their effectiveness when they come in contact with metal.

What Great Grandma Ate / Jean Choi is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.
Regarding other affiliate links and affiliate relationships: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Thank you for your support and understanding.

Homemade DIY Activated Charcoal Clay Mask Skin Care

6 Common Causes of Adult Acne

causes adult acne

I’ve had my fair share of acne and uneven skin tone in my early 20s on my face and on my back. If you told me to pose in front of the camera without make-up 3 years ago, I would’ve had said, “hell no.” The fact that I can confidently show my bare face (photo above) on the world wide web is a huge accomplishment for me. Slowly, but surely, I was able to improve my skin quality and tone over the years by addressing what I was putting in and on my body.

Unsurprisingly, skin issues are one of the most common health complaints I hear from people, besides digestion. Tens of millions of Americans suffer from acne, rosacea, and rashes that they feel self-conscious about all the time. Although many do not consider their skin problems a “health issue,” skin conditions like adult acne are a depiction of what is going on inside our bodies. It’s our body’s way of telling us that there’s some kind of inflammation going on inside, and once we address the root cause of the problem, our skin can clear up as well. Depending on birth control pills, acne-reducing drugs, topical creams, and antibiotics should not be a long term solution to clear up your skin. Most of these can actually cause imbalances in the body that cause digestive and hormonal problems after continual use. They only work by treating the symptoms instead of addressing what’s causing these issues.

So how do we address the root cause? Here are 6 common causes of adult acne:

1. Food allergies and/or sensitivities

When your body reacts negatively to a certain food, it’s causing inflammation in the body, specifically in the gut. Food allergies and sensitivities are strongly correlated to leaky gut syndrome, in which your intestinal wall is damaged enough that inappropriate food particles leak through into the bloodstreams. These particles then travel to various parts of the body and cause inflammation, even on your skin. When you can’t figure out what’s causing your acne, I would first look at food sensitivities. Dairy is a common acne-causing culprit, but other common food allergens are: gluten, eggs, grains, soy, and nuts. Trying an elimination diet to see if the symptoms improve may be a great place to start.

2. Digestive disorders.  

This is strongly related to food allergies and sensitivities, but digestive disorders like SIBO (small intestinal bacteria overgrowth), candida, parasites, yeast, and dysbiosis are all related to the leaky gut syndrome. If these conditions are not treated and are prolonged, they can affect other parts of your body with symptoms like drowsiness, depression, recurring UTIs and yeast infections, muscle and joint pain, fever, and skin conditions like acne, dryness, and itchiness. If you suspect any of these digestive orders, I highly recommend you work with a naturopath or contact me to address them properly.

3. Conventional skin care products and cosmetics 

Lotions, face wash, make-up, and even hair care products that you can find at drug stores are filled with chemicals and toxins that not only compromise the quality of our skin, but also cause hormonal and toxicity issues in the body that lead to a host of diseases. While they may feel like they are working for a short time, when used long term, harmful substances in these products can build up in our body and our skin, clogging up our pores and leading to various skin conditions. Remember that our skin is our largest organ and it does absorb all things that we put on it. I’m a follower of the rule: don’t put anything on your skin that you wouldn’t eat. For a list of safer skin care products, check out EWG’s Skin Deep database to reduce the toxins that enter your body. You can also try out the oil cleansing method and bentonite clay masks for a more natural way to clean your face.

4. Stress  

Your body can’t go through the process of healing in a stressful state, and will actually increase the level of inflammation. When stress hormones are elevated, changes occur in the body so your body can get into its fight-or-flight state. Your blood pressure drops, your heartbeat increases, and blood rushes to your limbs so you can run away or fight. These physical changes and hormone fluctuations are caused by the elevation of cortisol in the body, which also increases the production of oil on your skin. This overproduction of oil clogs up the pores, not allowing your skin to breathe, which increases the risk of acne and skin conditions. To reduce this risk and to improve your health overall, it’s important to practice stress management through breathing, meditation, relaxation techniques, and taking care of yourself.

5. High sugar consumption 

Like you needed another reason to cut out sugar in your diet, right? But it’s true. High carb and high sugar intake spike up your insulin and cortisol levels which creates a sudden surge of inflammation in the body. This leads to the breakdown of collagen and elastin, prematurely aging you from inside out and worsening skin conditions like wrinkles, acne, and rosacea. One of the most common testimonials I get from the participants of my RESTART sugar detox program include how much their skin has improved in just a few weeks of giving up sugar. I highly encourage you to reduce your sugar consumption not just for your skin, but also for your overall health as well.

6. Lack of healthy fats

Healthy fatty acid deficiency is so common these days, and it may be a huge contributor to various skin conditions. Eating high quality fats can help us absorb Vitamin A, D, E, and K better, nutrients that are crucial to keep our bones and skin healthy. Also, a healthy balance of fats is essential in keeping our inflammation in check. We need enough Omega-3 fatty acids, as well as high-quality saturated fats (mmm butter), to reduce the overall inflammation in our body. However, many Americans are either on a low-fat diet or consuming way too much Omega-6 and trans fats which are highly inflammatory. And you bet this elevated level in inflammation will affect your skin as well. Avoiding vegetables oils and trans fats, while increasing your intake of fats from healthy animals is a great step to improving your skin and your health. I would also consider regularly consuming wild-caught fish or supplementing with high quality cod liver oil.

Adult acne can be quite frustrating and annoying, but by taking the right steps to improve your health and address the root cause of where they are coming from, you can heal your skin from inside out. I’m not saying I now have perfect skin. I still struggle with acne now and then, but now I know where they stem from. Usually, it’s when I eat too much sugar, or if I’m particularly stressed from work or lack of sleep. Just knowing the root cause empowers me to easily figure out what imbalances I’m experiencing and how to fix them, so I can then reduce my acne as well. Taking the time to find out what’s really going on in your body is well worth the effort, and you’ll find that the results will last much longer than any over-the-counter products or prescription drugs.

What Great Grandma Ate / Jean Choi is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.
Regarding other affiliate links and affiliate relationships: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Thank you for your support and understanding.

6 Common Causes of Adult Acne