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Q&A: Noticing a New Type of Acne (Detox Breakouts Explained)


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detox breakouts explained / acne types / white heads / skin detox / skin reset / green beauty / petrochemicals / skincare routine


Hey Jamie!

Please help- I’m feeling very discouraged!

I’ve been on using your products for 2 months now; Detox Kit for the first month and acne focused routine for the second month. I was seeing results after one month of the Detox Kit. After another month on the acne-prone routine, I feel like my face is getting worse again, but in a different way.

Before the green products, my skin was very dry after washing and oily during the day. I also had red, sore acne, plus cystic acne and blackheads. Today, 2 months later, my skin is more balanced, less oily throughout the day and not tight and dry after washing (yay!), but I have had a SIGNIFICANT increase in bumpy pimples that sit well under the skin around my chin, cheeks, and jawline and even some on my neck! They aren’t really sore or red (some are) and most can be squeezed to get a white pus substance out or black head like stuff out.

Please let me know if you’ve had this happen to anyone else before. Is it normal? Should I expect it to clear up? I am nervous and feeling very discouraged, especially after my face had been getting better after month 1! Is there something I can do more/less of?

Here’s a more detailed look at my routine over the last 2 months:

Internal steps:

  • Watching intake of processed sugars (started using agave nectar in place of sugar in coffee, watched sweets)
  • Cut coffee intake by a few less cups per week
  • Added 30 mg zinc per day
  • Added green smoothies to diet (fruits and kale/spinach)

Weeks 1-2:

  • Detox Kit
  • Progress: Multiple recent red breakouts starting to heal. Dry after washing and oily during the day. Still getting mild breakouts, including a couple of cystic lesions.

Weeks 3-4:

  • Detox Kit
  • Adding Hydra Healing Skin Rescue Gel morning and night before moisturizing. Mask 2-3 times per week.
  • Progress: Less severe breakouts. Skin texture still bumpy/congested (but bumps smaller than months prior on most parts of the face, no new cystic lesions). Healing breakouts and face generally less red. More balanced, for the most part. Less oily throughout the day. Acne scars are visible across my face.

Weeks 5-8:

  • Acne-prone routine
  • Using Hydra Healing Skin Rescue Gel each morning under the facial Daily Detox Facial Moisturizer. Mask 2-3 times per week. Also tried the Acne & Oil Balancing Mask 2 times in week 7 for an hour or so and incognito under my Patchouli Facial Moisturizer at night 2 times.
  • Progress: Feeling discouraged. The face does not have red breakouts anymore, as was the normal, but now around the chin, cheeks, jawline, and neck seeing a major increase in white bumps under the skin; The face is less oily during the day and after washing, is significantly less dry. Struggled more these weeks taking 30 mg zinc per day. Many acne scars were still visible.

Other information:

  • I seem to have breakouts throughout the month, but yes it does get worse, at times, 1 week or so prior to and during my period.
  • Been taking Loestrin24Fe for several years now, the name is now Minastrin but contains the same ingredients. I take Ibuprofen as needed for headaches, not more than once per week. No other meds besides Zinc and a multivitamin every now and then.
  • I don’t spend an abnormal amount of time in the sun, no vacations in the last few months and I work indoors. And I live in a place where we get less sun than most parts of North America. I don’t have any usual activities I do outdoors recently besides some yard work.
  • Allergic to Benzoyl Peroxide, doxycycline, and potentially PCN. I have never had any other allergies or sensitivities besides a little more sensitive to bug bites and the occasional grass or shrubs outside.
  • Being fairly high strung is the norm for me. I worry more than the average person and tend to have higher stress levels.

I hope that for some strange reason, there is something else besides stress causing my pimples because I’ve known this for a long time.

So I just hope there may be other answers for my pimples!

I hope what’s happening is normal and you have good news for me.  I am going to a few weddings in the next 2 weeks or so and I hope it doesn’t get any worse. Patience is something I’m working on, but I think I just need to hear it from you.




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So I’ve got some answers for you! You said that you’d hope there’s more behind your breakouts than just stress, and I believe there is. This is going to be quite a lengthy reply, so please try not to get overwhelmed and just take in what you can as you’re ready. Also, just work whichever suggestions into your lifestyle that work for you right now, and then gradually work in the rest as you see fit.

By looking over your current skin care routine, there’s not a lot of changes that need to be made. So I’m going to start with a few suggestions, then move on to the internal aspects of your acne, which I believe will have the most impact.

Ok, now onto the heart of this reply, internal aspects!


Internal aspects & acne

First, I want to say that I think there are 3 main aspects of your breakouts that I’ll talk about and try to point you in the right direction with. These include detox breakouts, hormonal imbalances, and most likely digestive inefficiencies (which are always tied into detox breakouts and hormonal imbalances). But before I get into that, I need to point out that what I’ll talk about below won’t be nearly as effective if you’re not striving for a healthy lifestyle – most importantly with your diet.

You’re already making great strides with your stress levels, so doing some light activity most days of the week (like walking), plus taking steps each week to get as close to a clean “whole foods” diet as possible, will help your body heal and detoxify itself. Again don’t let this stress you out! Just take a little step or two in this direction each week (for example: make one more healthy decision at the grocery store than you did the week before and build on this each week).

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P.S. you may want to check out this skin map. It shows that where you’re getting most of your breakouts are linked internally to hormonal imbalances, digestion, and repressed emotions)

detox breakouts + hormonal + digestion


Detox Breakouts

  • I believe you’re experiencing some detox breakouts. This is totally normal and a good sign! Check out this post where I explain what’s going on when experiencing detox breakouts (as well as provides some tips to increase your toxin clearing power!)
  • The red, inflamed breakouts you were previously having (but aren’t having any more), are a sign that your system is detoxifying! Yay! Red, inflamed breakouts are almost always a sign of poor detoxification (and build up of waste materials in the body), and systemic inflammation (meaning whole-body inflammation). The good news is it looks like you’ve really kick-started the detoxification process in your body! Congrats!


Hormonal Breakouts

There’s so much to know about hormonal breakouts that I couldn’t possibly fit it all in this reply. However, I will go over the key points you’ll need to know!

  • Hormonal birth control = supplement needed. The thing about hormonal birth control and acne is, although it’s been praised as a way to “cure” acne, it can lead to internal (hormonal based) imbalances that contribute to acne (plus any help the birth control provided while you were on it (to clear up acne) will be gone once you stop taking it – that’s why so many people have mega breakouts when getting off of birth control). The most popular supplements in the “natural acne cure” circles to combat this imbalance is DIM (diindolymethane), and the most popular brand of this supplement is Estroblock (Triple Strength Estroblock is said to be the best for hormonal acne). Be sure to do your research before deciding on any supplements. Additionally, if you do decide to take a DIM supplement, a liver support supplement should also be taken. There’s a LOT of liver support supplements out there so when deciding on one for yourself, look for ones that have a high-quality blend of herbs that support the liver (like milk thistle). A naturopath can also help with picking DIM or liver supporting supplements.
  • I should also mention that even ladies that aren’t on hormonal birth control often experience great improvements to their skin after taking a supplement (like Estroblock) that clears out “bad” estrogens and promotes good ones. This is because hormonal birth control isn’t the cause of hormonal acne. It’s just a really good idea to take DIM+liver support supplements if experiencing hormonal acne, and that “good idea” turns into a “great idea” when hormonal birth control is involved. When researching supplements, make sure that the supplements you pick aren’t going to compromise your birth control!
  • Additional quick tips for dealing with hormonal acne can also be found here.


Digestive System + Acne

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Poor detoxification of the digestive system is one of the most common underlying causes of acne. It’s often overlooked because people focus on tackling the “triggers” of acne (like poor diet, skincare products, hormonal imbalances, etc). However, calming and avoiding triggers doesn’t tackle an underlying cause. Now, there are several other underlying causes for acne, but I wanted to address the digestive system in this reply first since it’s one of the most common. It’s also one that can be tackled right away and often improves quickly with a healthy lifestyle and a bit of support.

The little bumps you noted that you’re having a lot of lately, are likely linked to your digestive system. If these bumps are mostly along your jaw-line, they are likely linked to lymphatic congestion and systemic toxicity.

The ways to help your body heal itself of these symptoms include:

  • drinking a LOT of purified water each day (at least 2-3L),
  • avoiding foods that contribute to congestion (these include caffeine, saturated fats, and salt),
  • eating a clean whole foods diet as often as possible,
  • daily exercise (this helps pump lymphs around the body). You don’t have to turn into a regular at the gym to get the benefits. Just taking a 30 min walk or some light yoga can help.
  • getting massages and doing at-home dry brushing can also help.

The reason having a healthy digestive system is important for curing acne is because when this system is overworked or underactive, waste products (toxins) in the body need to be cleared out via another body system. The skin just so happens to be one of those backup systems for elimination. Obtaining healthy, clear skin always means making sure your digestive system is working efficiently and isn’t being forced to overwork. This is especially important especially when chronic acne is involved. That’s why a clean diet is so important (clean diet = avoiding highly processed food and opting for fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, and good quality proteins like quinoa).


Other things that will help include…

  • Taking a probiotic.
  • Figuring out if a low-grade dairy intolerance may be present (dairy and gluten are the most common food sensitivities that contribute to acne). To figure out if a dairy intolerance is present, eliminate all dairy products from your diet for a few weeks, and see if your skin improves. If it doesn’t, add it back into your diet and see if your skin gets worse. If it gets better without dairy in your diet OR worse when dairy is present, you will have discovered a food link to your acne. You can also try this with gluten.
  • Reduce (and/or avoid) processed sugar as well as “fake” sugar alternatives. to satisfy your sweet tooth, opt for natural sweeteners like honey; Same goes for food additives (artificial colors, flavors, “numbered” ingredients, etc) – avoid them as much as possible.
  • Get as many greens into your diet as possible, like kale and spinach. I put them in my daily smoothies with a bunch of fruit! I also add some other healthy stuff to my smoothies like psyllium husks and ground flax.
  • If you like pineapple or papaya, including these foods in your diet. It will help break down your food (i.e. serious support your digestive system thanks to natural enzymes)
  • Increase the amount of EFA (essential fatty acids) in your diet. This can be in supplement form or by increasing the amount of “good oils” in your diet. Flax oil is a good example. Tuna and salmon are also good sources of EFA.
  • Start your day with a glass of lemon water. Simply squeeze some lemon juice (from an actual lemon) into a glass of room temperature water. This helps start up your digestive system first thing in the morning.
  • Peppermint or fennel tea mid-day can help if you experience any digestive pain during the day.

There’s a lot of different parts/functions within the digestive system.  Overworking any of these parts/functions can happen. The suggestions I gave above will help tackle a lot of these. If you don’t see improvement in 6 – 8 months, let me know and I can provide further support.

If you haven’t noticed obvious symptoms of digestive upset, it doesn’t mean your digestive system is running optimally. The assumption that no digestive discomfort = perfectly functioning digestive system is another reason we overlook it when trying to clear acne.


Internal: Additional Tips

  • Try to get back on track with taking your zinc
  • Try to take your multi-vitamin daily
  • Re: “occasional grass or shrub allergy”. If you can narrow down you’re allergies, we’ll be able to crossreference ingredients to see if they come from similar botanical families. Plus, many botanical allergies have related foods that increase or cause the same symptoms. The reason why this is important is that any increase in inflammation in your body can aggravate acne.


So… that was pretty long, right? lol. But like I said, don’t get discouraged! The good news is, there are several things you can work into your lifestyle to improve your acne. Please keep me up-to-date with how you’re doing and send me any questions along the way.

With love & radiance,

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Jamie Sabot, Author, Grounded Sage Skincare

Jamie Sabot

Jamie Sabot is the founder of Grounded Sage Skincare. Since she started in 2009, Grounded Sage Skincare has helped thousands of customers with their skin by creating handcrafted skincare products, online workshops, and this blog, which has been a trusted resource for straightforward natural skincare information to over 2 million readers and counting.

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