Primally Pure Guide on topical solutions for how to get rid of acne

This post is the last segment of a 3-part series on how to get rid of acne. Click here to read Part 1, and find Part 2 here.

Often when we think about treating acne and other skin concerns, our mind immediately goes to the products we apply: lotions, serums, scrubs, etc. As we’ve been focusing on holistic factors that can help bring healing to acne from within, it’s finally time to take a look at those topical products that will help us on our journey of saying goodbye to acne.

Before we begin, let’s state the obvious. Skincare can be SO confusing.

The shelves lined at the drugstore or department store can be overwhelming and misleading. Services at medi-spas promise instant results. Ingredient lists are endless and hard to understand. Packaging is enticing and airbrushed advertising is deceiving.

How does anyone make a decision when it comes to products, packaging, promises and price points? (All the while, your acne isn’t getting any better and you’re still standing there, confused as ever.)

We want to help bring some clarity to the situation – and most importantly, to your skin (getting back to the basics of our skin, how it works and how to best care for it). Creating a foundation for truly healthy skin – this time, from the outside in.

It’s called skinCARE for a reason. Let’s care.

Let’s care about our skin with compassion, not aggression, working with the intelligence of our skin using ingredients that actually nourish, strengthen and protect – instead of breaking down our skin health with harsh chemicals, toxins and treatments that may appear to create a rosy glow (temporarily), but ultimately cause inflammation, premature aging and depletion of essential nutrients.

We want to educate and encourage our community to commit to using pure, unprocessed products that promote clear skin without compromising the skin’s integrity or the way our incredibly brilliant (and biggest) organ was intended to function.

Our skin plays an integral role in our health as a whole. Let’s touch on how intricate and powerful this part of our body is, rather than minimizing it’s function as merely for the sake of appearance. Our skin is indeed stunning, yet it’s purpose is so much deeper than simply what we see in the mirror. We’ll try to simplify it’s complexities a little bit…

The Skin’s Many Functions

  • Secretion – Produces sebum (a fatty substance that smooths the hair shaft and skin) which acts as a natural moisturizer and protective barrier against bacteria. Sebum (oil) production really is a positive thing – I promise! But when out of balance, over-stimulation of sebum results in oil-rich and acne-prone skin and lack of oil causes dryness and sensitivity.
  • Excretion – One way the body removes waste, toxins and harmful substances (or garlic). 😉
  • Protection – Acts as a defensive barrier to keep out chemicals, bacteria and other harmful substances, while keeping water and other necessary nutrients intact – preventing dehydration, injury and sun damage.
  • Absorption – Topically applied products can penetrate past the skin barrier through the skin’s layers, hair follicles or sweat glands and into the bloodstream. The composition of the product and the specific area of the skin to which it is applied can both affect the skin’s ability to absorb and the product’s capability to penetrate. (Doctors even administer medicine topically through ointments or patches as they’ve found that treatments can be more effective that way – evidence that what we put on our skin truly does affect our health as a whole.)

Ingredients to Avoid

Now that we’ve discussed how brilliant and beautiful our skin is and how it has been created to function, we’ll cover some effective tips to remember when transitioning to a more natural approach to treating acne.

But first, here’s a simple challenge for you: gather all the products in your bathroom and makeup bag you put on your skin. Look at the label of each bottle and the extensive list of ingredients you are applying (and inevitably absorbing) on the daily. If you haven’t made the switch to natural + non-toxic products yet, this might be a bit alarming.

Sadly, the majority of products on the market are misleading as their labels promise one thing but their ingredient list proves another. Many contain parabens, synthetic ingredients and other chemicals known to disrupt hormones which can actually cause acne to worsen.

Feeling helpless or overwhelmed? Don’t worry – you don’t need to throw out your entire stash right this second. Switching to safer + more natural products is a process, one that takes some time to fully adopt and understand. But as you become more aware and educated, you’ll feel empowered to make positive changes in the purchases you make and products you apply.

Here’s a simple list we’ve compiled of a few harmful ingredients to avoid.

  • Parabens: Low cost chemicals that mimic estrogen, potentially disrupting the endocrine system, causing reproductive and development disorders.
  • Propylene Glycol: PEG compounds are petroleum-based and classified as an irritant. PEGs have been known to cause toxicity, sensitivity and to suffocate the skin.
  • Fragrance: Synthetic chemicals created in a lab that can trigger allergies and skin irritations.
  • “Bad” Alcohol: Alcohols to avoid are methanol, isopropyl alcohol, propanol, benzyl alcohol and alcohol denat. Due to their extremely drying effects, stripping the skin of it’s natural protection barrier – leading to an increase of inflammation and acne causing bacteria.
  • Harsh Astringents: Majority are made with bad alcohols (see above), harming the skin’s hydration levels. Rather than removing essential nourishment from the skin with aggressive astringents, nourish and rebuild the skin’s barrier to keep acne at bay.

Ingredients to Use

  • Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils: Extracted from plants, these oils are potent and powerful in helping to heal the skin and promote overall health. Rather than using synthetic fragrances, experience the pure aromas as well as the added benefits of essential oils. Try tea tree, thyme, lavender, or cypress (all of which can be found in our Fancy Face Serum) to help detoxify, soothe + calm, balance oil production and minimize scaring.
  • Nourishing Carrier Oils: These oils regenerate and supply the skin with nutrients and essential fats while being highly effective in carrying the positive effects of essential oils into the skin. (For anti-inflammatory benefits, restoring balance, supporting and healing skin on a cellular level, look for tamanu oil, kukui nut oil, rosehip oil, pumpkin seed oil, coconut oil or jojoba oil.)
  • Hydrosols: Pure botanical extracts created from steam distilling plant materials that offer multiple benefits in restoring and balancing skin. Unlike harsh astringents and harmful alcohols, hydrosols hydrate and replenish the skin’s protective barrier. (Calm inflammation, reduce redness and rebuild hydration with orange blossom, lavender, rose or chamomile.)
  • Animal Fats: Acne often occurs because of a nutrient deficiency or imbalance. And when we only use plant-based products on our skin, we’re missing out on a slew of nutrients only found abundantly in animal fats. Tallow (high in fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K) gives skin the nutrients it needs to stay healthy + balanced, and emu oil (known for its robust anti-inflammatory properties) can be extremely effective in fighting acne and other inflammatory skin conditions. Both of these animal fats can be found in our Beauty Cream.

What we slather on soaks in – so here’s an example of some products/ingredients that will keep skin + your whole self healthy.

  • Cleansing: Dissolve impurities and keep skin detoxified, balanced and clean. (For thorough yet gentle cleansing, try the oil cleansing method.)
  • Hydrosols/Toners: With plant extracts and hydrating properties, they soothe, balance and nourish. Apply after cleansing and throw a bottle in your bag to replenish your skin whenever it needs a pick-me-up. (Our Complexion Mists make the perfect gentle + moisturizing toners, and our Everything Spray is a powerhouse acne-fighting toner with the additions of apple cider vinegar and tea tree oil.)
  • Masks: Clay-based with added herbs and natural ingredients to purify, refine, detox, deep cleanse and heal. (For an effective homemade mask, blend antibacterial and healing french green clay with manuka honey!)
  • Serums: These contain concentrated skin superfoods with potent levels of effective essential oils and ingredients to treat specific skin concerns. (Customers love our Fancy Face Serum for treating acne.)
  • Moisturizers: Necessary for rebuilding hydration levels while allowing the skin to breath and heal. (Our Beauty Cream is a great option for acne-prone skin, as is plain tallow or emu oil.)

[A note on scrubbing!] As we take a natural, compassionate approach to treating acne, exfoliation is a part of skincare that is often misunderstood and therefore, misused. Refining and rejuvenating the skin is necessary when it comes to keeping skin clear of buildup and dissolving dull surface cells. However, excess exfoliating, forceful scrubbing and abrasive ingredients sets the skin on high alert as it thinks it’s being injured and then hyper-reacts causing imbalances, inflammation, acne and premature aging. Rather than scrubbing the skin into a state of panic and overproduction of oil – proper, gentle exfoliation helps to naturally nudge the cell rejuvenation process along. Purifying clay masks, essential oils and vitamins help to stimulate cell renewal and keep skin smooth and refined.

Acne doesn’t have to be something you just accept as your skin’s fate or an issue you have to fight with intensity or aggression. Your skin is brilliant and absolutely beautiful. Allow yourself to receive care and compassion in every area of your life, and pure, non-toxic skincare is a simple way to start.