Dry up those tears and throw away your Sea Breeze astringent and Proactiv regimen. Skin whisperer and author Marie Veronique Nadeau wants to help you treat your pimple problems the natural (-ish) way. She's not asking you to sing kumbaya to your pimples nor does she think that just because a solution is natural it will work -- she just doesn't want you to wage an all-out attack, throwing everything in your medicine cabinet at your acne. Her new book The Acne Answer: A Step-by-Step Guide to Clear, Healthy Skin gives you natural and organic remedies that yield long-term results. But, she also tells you when it is necessary to call in the big guns like Accutane and retinoids. She's just tired of dermatologists going to the big guns first. So put away your arsenal and hear what this skincare Svengali has to say. Spoiler alert: germs are your friends.
You deal with so many skincare woes - aging, sensitivity, rosacea, etc., why tackle acne for this book?
Adult acne is becoming a minor epidemic. According to the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology, 54 percent of women older than age 25 have some facial acne. The rise of acne in adult women is often attributed to inflammation and stress, but over-treatment with antimicrobials is another cause.
Why are antimicrobials the enemy? I thought they were supposed to help clear up acne?
All these years we thought of microbes as "eeew germs." We just want to wash them away and get rid of them, but no! Our skin needs the right balance of them to be happy and healthy. What you want to do ideally is enlist the aid of the microbes that are there to help you out. Because they want to help - they have a vested interest in keeping your skin healthy. The microbes are your friends.
Your book talks a lot about natural remedies, but you're also not opposed to the popular dermatologist solutions like Accutane and retinoids. How does one know the best way to treat their acne?
I do think finding a great dermatologist is part of the plan. But, it's the idea that... Yes, you can use retinoids to address acne. You can use Accutane. You just don't want to go there first. That's the deal. And a lot of times - unfortunately in mainstream dermatology - they go there first when the acne isn't serious enough to warrant that level of treatment.
But there are situations when the acne is so severe that its ravaging the skin in which case I say, "Go to your dermatologist and get Accutane." Again, that's for extreme cases. I'm not a purist - you want to use what works when appropriate.
What is the biggest misconception about treating adult acne?
I'm not doing enough topically. I'm getting zits so I am going to attack them ferociously with everything I've got. You hit your skin with all kinds of anti-microbrials that just make the picture worse like benzoyl peroxide - that stuff is bad news. Not only does it increase sensitivity but it causes premature aging and photo-sensitivity.
I totally get that people want an instant fix for acne. When I had acne I would have done anything - I didn't care if it was poison. The problem is the quick fixes often have serious side effects and simply aren't necessary. If someone can just be patient and try my way, we're talking long-term solutions without the side effects.
So what is your way? Give us some of your best tips for controlling acne:
1) Vitamin B5 oral supplements help teens struggling with hormonal breakouts. Your body uses B5 to make hormones and break down fats, including sebum. Acne is so common among teenage boys because at puberty the body tends to use up all available Vitamin B5 making hormones, leaving nothing left over for fat-breakdown. 1000 mgs of pantothenic acid (B5) 3x a day is not too much to take if you are struggling with hormonal acne and breakouts.
2) Vitamin B3 (niacinamide) applied topically helps adults deal with acne that looks less like breakouts and more like inflammation. Everyone needs B vitamins and no one ever gets enough. Besides acne other skin conditions, such as sensitivity to sunlight, cracked lips, dryness, wrinkles, rashes, and hyperpigmentation can signal a B-complex deficiency. To see skin improvements in a matter of days take two heaping tablespoons of nutritional yeast every morning, in juice. To hasten your progress towards beautiful skin eat choline-rich egg yolks
3) Probiotics-- eating yogurt and fermented foods maintains gut microfloral balance, thus encouraging the little microbes to manufacture crucial B vitamins. Topical applications of yogurt can help balance your skin microbiome and the lactic acid will gently exfoliate. To cleanse, take ½ tsp yoghurt, spread on face, rinse. For a mask, take ½ tsp yoghurt, spread on face, leave on 15 minutes, then rinse. For a moisturizer, take 1/4 tsp yoghurt, spread on face, leave on overnight.
4) One last tip from the kitchen--cleanse and lubricate with sebum thinning oils such as sunflower or safflower. Adults with inflammatory acne especially do not want to dry the skin with harsh exfoliants, or disrupt microbial balance by using too many anti-microbials.
Marie Veronique is the founder of Marie Veronique Advanced Skin Care in Berkeley, CA. She has a BS in math and chemistry, and taught high school chemistry in a former life. She is author of The Yoga Facelift.