The reason we develop tiny bumps and clogged pores is because of sebum oxidisation which occurs when our body is out of balance due to bad skin care (namely harsh acids and detergents), environmental pollution, diet, hormones, stress, gut issues and insulin resistance. These issues cause the good, protective sebum on our skin to oxidise, ‘go bad’, sticky and cause a build up in our pores. Removing inflammatory foods such as sugar, cows dairy and industrial fats can go a long way to reducing clogged pores but sometimes a healthy diet isn’t always enough and despite all your efforts, some of us are still battling clogged pores and bumpy skin.
you need to fight the most pore clogging substance of them all….squalene peroxide
When our bodies are inflamed and sending our hormones out of whack, the excess sebum that is created oxidises and turns into a substance called squalene peroxide. Squalene peroxide is by far the most comedogenic substance there is – yes, way more pore clogging that any ingredients found in skin care or make-up!
squalene peroxide is so successful at blocking pores that scientists can give a rabbit full on acne by simply applying squalene peroxide to its ear!
You could be using the most non-comedogenic skin care routine in the world, but if your body is creating too much oxidised sebum (aka squalene peroxide) then you will never be able to banish those bumps! A great starting point is restricting you sugar intake by eating a healthy high fat/low carb diet rich in vitamin E. Why vitamin E? Vitamin E is the best antioxidant to prevent sebum oxidisation happening in the first place! Foods rich in vitamin E include almonds, pumpkin seeds, swiss chard, spinach, mustard greens, olives, hazelnuts, avocado and kale.
Those skin coloured bumps under the skin are whiteheads, or clogged pores. They’re hardened plugs of dead skin cells and sebum that occur when sebum oxidises. When sebum oxidises, it creates a highly comedogenic substance called squalene peroxide. Squalene peroxide is so successful at blocking pores that scientists can literally give a rabbit acne by simply applying squalene peroxide to the animal’s ear(!) Find out the best natural treatment for dramatically reducing sebum oxidisation and preventing clogged pores over on the blog, plus ALL the other answers to Friday’s ‘Ask Me Anything’! [link in bio]
vitamin e and clogged pores: 3 reasons you still have bumpy skin
If you’ve been eating lots of vitamin E rich foods or taking a vitamin E supplement and still not seeing results then there are 3 factors that could be preventing you from getting rid of your clogged pores and bumpy skin for good.
you’re not taking full spectrum vitamin e
Firstly, what type of vitamin E are you taking? I recommend full spectrum vitamin E that contains both tocopherols and tocotrienols – there aren’t many brands that do it but it is really is important to get a broad spectrum vitamin E. Most supplements just include 1 part of the vitamin E spectrum; alpha tocopherol when there are actually 8 in total, 4 tocopherols and 4 tocotrienols. Studies are showing that when patients found little or no effect from vitamin E supplementation, the reason behind this failure is because they used only alpha-tocopherol vitamin E supplements, rather than a supplement that also included other tocopherols and tocotrienols. Tocotrienols are also beneficial for balancing blood sugar and they’re a much stronger antioxidant than alpha tocopherol alone, both of which are so important in the fight against acne!
you’re not eating enough healthy fat
Are you getting enough fat in your diet? Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin so needs lots of fat. If you’re not eating enough healthy fat then you will not be able to absorb vitamin E properly, even if you’re taking high doses in supplement form! In fact, studies have shown your body will only absorb about 10% of the vitamin E from a supplement if you don’t have enough dietary fat. In the 2 years that I’ve been coaching clients it’s rare that they’re eating enough dietary fat when they first come to me seeking help. Despite eating a relatively healthy diet, they’re often only eating a small handful of nuts, a couple of teaspoons of coconut oil for cooking and an avocado a day… this is only about 60g of fat which may seem like a fair amount but it is no where near enough for optimal hormone balance and clear skin. Fat has long been considered a demon in the dietary world and it’s only been the last year or so that health official have finally realised that healthy sources of fat are not a health concern – sugar is! So please, stop fearing fat!
It doesn’t matter whether you follow a vegetarian, paleo, vegan or pescatarian diet, we all need to start increasing our intake of healthy fats for clearer skin and happier hormones. These fats can come from avocado, coconut, nuts, seeds, olive oil, fish, meat, goat butter and goat/sheep cheese 🙂 Ideally you should be getting 60% of your calories from fat, for me I aim for a minimum of 150g of healthy fat per day! You can use apps like My Fitness Pal to see how much fat you’re really getting in a day and how much extra you need.
you are dehydrating your skin with harsh products
Are you using acid toners or harsh exfoliators/cleansers every day? These products physically dehydrate your skin, weaken the skin barrier and cause it to produce more oil. More oil = more sebum production = more sebum oxidisation (aka squalene peroxide) = more clogged pores. Instead of attacking your skin, start working with your skin and switch your dehydrating acids and toners to hydrating mists and serums (I know, I know, sometimes it feels like burning the crap out of your skin is the only way you have control…but hear me out!)
It’s so easy to get hooked on harsh products that claim dramatic results against acne, that we often forget about one of the most important factors when it comes to skin health, acne prevention and healing – hydration! Our skin needs to be adequately hydrated for it to look plump and glowy, it’s also really, really important for skin healing and reduced inflammation. Every time you repeatedly apply harsh ingredients or aggressively exfoliate already inflamed skin you’re basically just throwing fuel onto the fire. Your skin will just get more red and more inflamed as your skin barrier weakens and weakens over time. This inflammation and damaged skin barrier function means that spots will be bigger, redder and take a lot longer to heal. By protecting the skin barrier and applying facial mists and serums that will help regulate oil production, therefore sebum oxidisation, you can improve the overall texture of your skin.
Vitamin E is great for helping to banish PMS, sore boobs and pre-menstrual acne! HOWEVER…you can't just go getting any old vitamin E capsule, you must get one that contains Tocotrienols as well as Tocopherols! Most vitamin E supplements will just offer Tocopherols but these are just a waste of money as you need the full spectrum of all 8 vitamin E compounds for maximum benefits. Vitamin E prevents your sebum from oxidising which makes it an EXCELLENT choice for acne as when your sebum oxidises, it causes a hardened plug, clogged pores, bacteria overgrowth and finally inflammation and pimples! Getting plenty of vitamin E from food is easy but if you struggle with super oily skin or persistent acne that doesn't really improve with a healthy diet, then you may benefit from a vitamin E supplement like this one from @lifeextension. You can also check out my lovely friend @frivolousgirl_'s post on how a vitamin E supplement helped heal her skin!
bonus tip! you’re not getting enough vitamin a
Bumpy skin on the backs of your arms and clogged pores on your face are signs you’re not getting enough vitamin A. Vitamin A reduces sebum production and prevents the oxidisation of sebum to prevent clogged pores. Just like vitamin E, vitamin A is also fat soluble, so without enough healthy fat in your system, you’ll never be able to absorb enough vitamin A to make a difference to your skin. You can eat all the sweet potatoes, carrots and red peppers as you like, but if it’s not accompanied by plenty of fat then you’ll never be able to reverse a vitamin A deficiency. In fact, those trying to get all their vitamin A from plants only may struggle to absorb vitamin A at all as the beta-carotene/retinol conversion rate is minuscule in anyone who is struggling with digestive issues. Which, if you’re struggling with acne, then it’s highly likely there’s some gut issues going on there. Eat plenty of true vitamin A and fat sources such as eggs, grass-fed butter, ghee and liver if you can hack it, along with lots of beta-carotene foods such as red peppers and kale for an extra kick. My favourite side dish is a huge helping of kale cooked in lots of butter and garlic!
Have you manage to get rid of bumpy skin and clogged pores through tweaking your diet or changing your supplements? Let me know your story in the comments below!
Peace, Love & Clear Skin