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Improve Your Skin
Photo: Sean Carpenter
Got blackheads on your face or maybe a few pimples on your neck? Don’t panic. You’re not alone. Those glossy pictures of perfect, unblemished faces adorning your favorite magazines don’t tell the whole story. Surprising as it seems, acne in adults is not all that uncommon.

No, it’s not just a reflection of your cleansing habits. Stress is an issue that affects the skin, although moving to a deserted island is probably not an option. The condition of your skin is more likely a reflection of your diet and lifestyle choices.

Diet? “Hey, there just isn’t enough time in the day to eat properly,” you say. But you want to look healthy, right? Then consider this two-step approach to healing your skin. Let’s begin on the inside.


Mareen Kennedy Salaman in her book All Your Health Questions Answered Naturally (Maximum Living Inc., 1998) claims many things can cause adult acne; including too many male hormones, food allergies, and even stress. Skin is often a reflection of the health of our internal system. To change the health of our skin requires changing ourselves from the inside out. To do this we need to look at the following aspects: diet, stress levels, and water intake.

Salaman says, “If your urine is yellow, the body is eliminating waste that is too highly concentrated. You need more water to flush it out.” If toxins can’t be removed via the urine, your body looks to its next-best avenue—the skin. Keeping a container of water near your desk is sometimes enough. If you don’t like plain water, add a lemon slice or drink flavored waters. Avoid carbonation because this can cause other problems.

Stress – When stress levels are high, your skin will often respond with acne flare-ups. Taking walks, hanging out with friends, and just remembering to breathe calmly can be helpful. When you catch yourself tensing, try to find out what is causing your stress. It wouldn’t hurt to add more fun to your life either.

Zinc – Salaman also claims that zinc can work for the good of many people. Dr. Robert Cathcart III prescribed zinc to his patients—teens and adults—starting with 50 mg. of elemental zinc three times a day with meals. He then increased the dosage to 100-150 mg. with each meal and saw good results. Within12 weeks his patients taking the zinc improved their acne by 87 percent.

You can find zinc naturally in sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, torula yeast, blackstrap molasses, maple syrup, and brewer’s yeast.

Fats – According to nutritional experts, our diets are out of balance in the essential fatty acids arena. Maybe you’ve heard that flaxseed and olive oils—monosaturated fats—are good for your heart. Now we know that these fats are healthy for your skin, too. You can take capsules of borage (a plant), evening primrose or flaxseed oils. You can also grind your own flaxseed and add it to yogurt or bake it in a cake. It must be ground to get the benefits. Those slippery seeds have a way of passing right through your digestive tract.

Hormone Therapy – Birth-control pill use can worsen or improve acne. According to The PDR Family Guide to Women’s Health and Prescription Drugs (Thomson Healthcare inc.), it’s the progestin (not natural progesterone) in birth control pills that causes the effect. A sudden onset of adult acne may be a sign of hormonal imbalance or drug toxicity (usually from steroids), according to well-known physician. Andrew Weil. He recommends getting a medical checkup to rule out these possibilities.


Many products are now on the market that previously have been available only by prescription. Dermatologists have prescribed Retin-A, or retinol—a form of vitamin A—for years. It’s now available in lotions—both combined with alpha hydroxyl or other ingredients, and sold as an anti-wrinkle cream. These products are effective for both healing scars and preventing blemishes.

However, Dr. Weil recommends the old standby benzoyl peroxide. He also suggests trying the herbal treatment calendula, commonly known as pot marigold. It isn’t a true marigold, but an ornamental plant sold in most nurseries in the spring. It can be found in health food and some vitamin stores. Used topically, it’s found in creams, lotions, and tinctures.

Gentle exfoliation can help keep your pores unclogged by removing dead skin and stimulating new growth. Just don’t aggravate the skin too much. This can cause damage to the tissue, making the problem even worse.

It’s said that the skin you have today is a product of your life two weeks ago. All of these solutions take time to bring about results. Start building tomorrow’s healthy skin today. If problems persist, see an expert.

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By Janet West. Reprinted with permission from Vibrant Life, May/June 2006. Copyright © 2006 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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