Acne and breakouts are not just a teenage phenomenon but affect many people later in life too – including me! With the potential to affect mental health as well, I really encourage anyone struggling with skin concerns to speak to a professional because there is often something that can be done to help. There is a lot more you can do with nutrition than I can explain in this blog post so please do get in touch if you’re struggling, or speak to a dermatologist or, of course, your GP.


My first tip is to find the root cause of your acne or breakouts. Is it hormonal? It is due to your digestive health? Is it an intolerance? Is it stress? The problem is that you can eat a ‘perfect’ diet but if you’ve still got imbalances going on at a cellular level, it’s going to be really hard to improve your skin.


Now onto the nutrition tips!


  1. Vegetables (yes, I know, this is my top tip for pretty much everything!)

Simple and effective. Eating more vegetables (aim for at least 7 80g portions each day) will increase the fibre in your diet, and fibre is essential for helping to bind up toxins that might otherwise find their way out through another detoxification organ… your skin! Acne and breakouts can often be linked to poor toxin elimination. Fibre is also fantastic for your gut bacteria – we’ll come to those guys a bit later. Veggies are also a fantastic source of anti-inflammatory compounds and antioxidants which help to limit damage to cells from free radicals and repair the skin.


  1. Don’t be afraid of fats.

Fats have been unfairly demonized but they are essential for skin health. Not only that – they are the building blocks for sex hormones such as oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone, as well as stress hormones like cortisol. Why is that important? A really common factor in acne and breakouts is an imbalance in hormones. Do you ever notice more blemishes around your period? Or breakouts when you’re in the middle of exams or a busy time at work? You can thank your hormones! Eating plenty of healthy fats can help to balance those pesky hormones – nuts and seeds, avocado, olive oil and oily fish (e.g. salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, herring) are great sources.


  1. Balance your blood sugar levels.

Have you ever been told that chocolate causes spots? Well that’s not strictly true. Neither is the saying that sugar causes spots. What might cause them is imbalanced blood sugar (which admittedly can be caused by eating too much chocolate and sugar!) Three balanced meals each day, including some protein, some fats, some complex carbohydrates and plenty of vegetables is the simplest way to keep your levels balanced. Processed snacks (like biscuits, cake, crisps) and fizzy drinks other than water are likely to knock them out of balance. For some people, caffeine has that effect too.


  1. Look after your gut.

There is a scientifically proven link between your gut and skin. The bacteria in your gut can communicate and even influence your skin – meaning that if they’re not happy, it’s quite likely that it might show up on your face! On the other hand, a healthy gut flora can be anti-inflammatory, reducing signs of acne and breakouts. Prebiotics and probiotics are a great way to help the friendly strains of bacteria – but I always advise caution with these in anyone who has any gut symptoms as they can sometimes exacerbate them. Prebiotic foods feed the bacteria and include asparagus, onion, garlic, unripe bananas, Jerusalem artichoke. Probiotic foods contain live bacteria and include live yoghurt, kombucha, kefir, miso, natto, tempeh, sauerkraut and kimchi.


  1. Support your liver.

One causal factor involved in acne and breakouts – particularly later in life,  can be an overburdened liver. The skin is a really important organ for detoxification so if you’re consuming a lot of toxins from your diet and environment your skin might well react. Examples of toxins are alcohol, excess caffeine, pollution, chemicals and fumes, pesticides, additives. There are certain supplements I often use to support the liver, but drinking plenty of water (see below) and eating plenty of bitters (e.g. watercress, rocket, dandelion, chicory) and cruciferous vegetables (e.g. broccoli, brussels sprouts, mustard greens) can support liver function too.


You’ve probably heard this one before but I can’t write a post about acne and breakouts without mentioning it! Keeping yourself well-hydrated should keep your skin well-hydrated – which means potentially less oil production. It is also essential for detoxification – see above.


Whilst these tips can be a useful starting point, supporting the imbalances that are at the heart of acne or breakouts are really the key to improving your skin. There are also some key nutrients that can be useful to take in supplement form short-term. Please do get in touch with me if you’d like to discuss your skin concerns – not only can I offer you some personalised nutrition support, I can also offer understanding because I have experience of these conditions myself.