The Organic Pharmacy Skin Clinic: The inside info on acne


If there’s one skin concern that affects teens and adults alike, it’s acne. While mostly associated with the teenage years, hormonal fluctuations in later life can mean acne can strike any age. In fact, according to The British Skin Foundation, acne will affect almost a third of us at some point in our lives, with 26% of 31 to 40-year-old women and 12% of 40-50-year-old women suffering from the skin condition.

So what’s causing it? Despite being described as a skin condition, the causes of acne actually lie with our hormones, namely around the times of puberty, pregnancy and menopause.  During these life periods, a surge of a group of hormones called androgens stimulates the production of the oil sebum and keratin. The hormone testosterone, which is found in both men and women, forms part of this hormone group.

The sebaceous glands of acne sufferers are particularly sensitive to testosterone, even at normal blood levels, which cause the glands to produce the excess of oil. We all need a certain amount of sebaceous oil to protect our skin from daily rigours but when this excess is produced it can block pores and prevent skin cells from shedding normally. This combination results in the formation of blackheads and whiteheads, which can become further inflamed by the bacteria that naturally live on our skin surface. Blocked pores and a build-up of excess oil are the ideal environment for the bacteria to grow and multiply, which in turn can trigger inflammation and the development of painful, red and pus-filled spots.

These spots can cause scarring for as many as a fifth of sufferers and unsurprisingly have a debilitating effect on their self-esteem. The British Skin Foundation found that 95% of acne sufferers said it impacts their daily lives and 63% have experienced lower self-confidence as a result of the condition.

A poor diet, stress and environmental toxins can also put a burden on our livers and guts and overload our bodies. This can cause a hormonal imbalance and a depressed immune system, which can reduce the body’s ability to fight infection.

There are however some simple ways to help keep symptoms at bay and prevent further outbreaks from appearing. My biggest tip and perhaps the most simple is not to pick or squeeze your spots. It may be tempting but squeezing or picking can lead to permanent pigmentation marks, scarring and in some cases, skin infections. Try to limit the times you touch your face and make sure your hands are clean if you do touch your face.

Keep skin care simple inside and out

As acne sufferers will know, harsh products can make the condition worse so make sure you choose gentle products that will soothe and care for your skin, both on the inside and the outside. Follow a regular cleansing and moisturising routine and try to keep products to a sensible minimum so your skin and system are not overloaded.

The Organic Pharmacy’s Peppermint Face Wash


gently cleanses away dirt and oil with a blemish-fighting blend of lavender, tea tree and eucalyptus, while aloe helps to soothe irritated skin. Avoid over washing your face as cleansing more than twice a day can actually dry out your skin, stimulating it to produce more oil to compensate.

Internal cleansing is just as important to support the liver and cleanse the gut with our award-winning Detox Capsules


Take three capsules every night for a month to help detoxify your system and improve digestion.

Balance oil production with a daily spritz of our Herbal Toner


containing an infusion of 18 herbs to heal and hydrate skin, while 15 drops of our Clear Skin Tincture


taken with water every morning and evening will help boost the immune system, reduce inflammation and balance hormones.

For an on-the-go targeted treatment, try our gentle yet effective Blemish Gel,


formulated with aloe, tea tree, propolis, marigold, manuka and lavender to help heal skin and reduce the appearance of spots without drying or irritating skin. And to help reduce the appearance of scarring, our new Retinol Night Serum


targets pigmentation and marks, reducing their appearance and helping to smooth out skin. The retinoic acid in our new serum is converted to retinol by the skin helping to unblock follicles while stimulating collagen production without irritation.

A common mistake when treating acne is to scrimp on moisturising, as the skin is already quite oily. It’s vital however to feed the skin with moisture and antioxidants to help heal and balance out sebum production. Our Antioxidant Gel


and Manuka Face Cream


are the perfect duo to help with this and contain the added benefit of antibacterial manuka, which helps keep bacterial growth at bay.

For an internal nutritional boost, try our Phytonutrient


and Superantioxidant capsules,


which help correct nutritional deficiencies to help rebalance hormones, boost the immune system and repair the skin. Take two capsules every morning.

See one of our experts

Our stores offer consultations with our highly trained homeopaths that can provide more bespoke advice on your acne and any other symptoms.  We also offer a full Health Assessment where our practitioners will put together a programme especially for you and your body’s needs, following a full holistic check of our nutritional habits, stress levels, vitamin and mineral status and emotional wellbeing.

You can also book in for an Organic Pharmacy treatment to help give your skin an extra boost. Choose from our Vitamin C and Papaya Enzyme Peel Facial to help regenerate and improve skin tone or our Skin Solutions Facial created to specifically balance out acne-prone skin and restore vitality and comfort.

Contact your local Organic Pharmacy store to book your appointment

Stick to a low-glycemic diet

The link between diet and acne is not clear cut with many theories such as chocolate, fried foods and nut acting as triggers for the condition, being found not to have an effect. However, research has shown that excess insulin from foods with a high glycemic index such as pasta and bread, junk food and sugary foods, may increase levels of the hormones that trigger oil production in women, contributing to acne. Sugar, in particular, can also feed bacteria so they can grow more readily. Foods with a low glycemic index such as whole grains are digested at a slower rate so cause less of an insulin spike.

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