What is your acne telling you?

What is your acne telling you?

I know first hand how frustrating and some times down right depressing acne can be. It was a long road (15 years!) to healing my own skin, but I’ve learned a lot and it was the start of my skin care career.

What I’ve learn in holistically treating my skin, and now my clients’ skin, is that most of the time there are several factors involved, and there are usually a few things that need to be addressed. But, where do you start?

Sometimes the kind of breakouts you have and where they show up can give you clues on where to start treating the root problem. Your acne is trying to tell you something. In this post, I want to go over how to decipher what it’s saying, and give you treatments to consider.

Keep in mind that all of the below information and tips are guidelines and not steadfast rules. Acne can be a complex problem and the triggers can be varied, but these are good places to start.

Mostly white heads and black heads

white heads
If your problem is mostly white heads and black heads, and there isn’t much redness or inflammation, then bacteria and infection are not a problem. This means your problem is mostly just pores not exfoliating properly. The best way to help is proper exfoliation a few times a week. Also consider products with gentle alpha hydroxy acids, retinol or salicylic acid.

For more information about acne products, check out this post right here.

Inflammed Breakouts – Jawline

Young girl with skin problem

If you have inflamed breakouts mostly along the jaw line, this may be a hormonal issue. Technically, all acne is hormonal, but certain receptors in our skin along the jawline seem to be more sensitive to acne aggravating hormones. I see this problem a lot in women who have painful or irregular periods, but it’s also seen in guys, particularly in those awkward teenage years.

To help, consider reducing or cutting dairy and sugar from your diet and pay attention to anything that upsets your digestion. Gut and stomach problems can influence hormone production.

Inflamed Breakouts – Forehead and Temples

forehead acne

Breakouts in this area often arise in times of high stress or anxiety. To help I highly encourage you to take up a stress relieving practice like meditation or regular breathing exercises. It can be as simple as sitting down for 5 minutes, making a conscious effort to relax, and breathing slowly and deeply.

Also, definitely try to get more quality sleep. Aim to go to bed at least a half hour earlier than normal. This is going to help your body restore itself and help bring those stress hormones back down.

Cystic Acne


Cystic acne is the deep, large, often painful acne. In my experience this is often brought on or exacerbated by hormones being highly out of balance. Some kinds of medication can cause this, diets very high in sugar or processed foods, aggressive digestion problems, or hormonal conditions like PCOS.

If possible ask your doctor to check your hormone levels and I highly suggest reducing sugar and junk food. Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables. Consider taking an Omega 3 supplement to help with inflammation.

All over – all the time

If your acne shows up on several areas of your face, and never really goes away, you’ve probably noticed that treating it topically gives you mixed results at best. This is often because you have several things going on internally. I’ve seen both personally and with people I work with how changes in diet, exercise and stress management can improve skin.

Be honest with yourself and reflect on your lifestyle. Work on improving areas of your overall health that you know could use improvement. For example, if you know your diet is not very healthy, start there. Or if you have a high stress job, focus on stress management.

Regardless of where your acne shows up, keep in mind it is a symptom, not the actual problem. Understanding the root cause will help tremendously. To understand the heart of the problem and how to treat it, head over here for a free video explaining what’s actually going on with your skin, and what to do about it.

Much love,

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Add yours
  1. 1

    Dear Brianne,

    I suffer from inflamed breakouts mostly along the jaw line. Also I have irregular periods. Does “fruit sugar” can make it worse? and might hormonal contraception help? Thank you!

    • 2
      Brianne Grebil

      Hello Maria,
      While all acne is hormonal to a degree, breakouts along the jawline are usually due to an imbalance between testosterone, estrogen and/or progesterone. If you have irregular periods, I suspect hormones to be your biggest culprit. I personally do not recommend hormonal birth control, as that can lead to other problems. I suggest a wholesome, satisfying diet, regular exercise, and stress management. If you have a handle on all of those things, I would recommend you see a specialist to have your hormones checked to rule out any sort of medical issue.

      As for the fruit sugar, while I highly encourage all acne sufferers to be conscious of the amount of sugar they have in their diet, eating small amounts of fruit daily won’t cause problems in most cases. I actually recommend getting lots of fresh vegetables and fruits in your diet. Just make sure to eat whole fruit rather then fruit juice, as the fiber slows the absorption of sugar into your system. I also recommend eating a bit of fat and/or protein when eating fruit, as that also slows absorption.

      I hope you find that helpful. If you’d like to talk more in depth about your skin, you can always schedule a consultation with me here: http://www.briannegrebil.com/work-with-me/

      All the best,

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