Best Vegan Acne Treatments & Products
While most people find giving up meat, dairy, and eggs improves the appearance and complexion of their skin, acne and breakouts do happen - especially when you’re first making the shift from omnivore to vegan.
It’s frustrating to deal with pimples at any age, especially when you’re giving up so many foods, like dairy, that tend to be culprits behind troublesome skin.
Thankfully, most acne can be handled and prevented at home - all you need is a healthy diet, adequate intake of water, and a solid skin care regimen that includes products to cleanse, soften, and protect your skin.
Animal ingredients can slip into products under the guise of misleading names, or companies might test their products on animals in cruel, painful, and sometimes fatal experiments.
When it comes to skin care, finding and purchasing cruelty-free products is paramount.
Lucky for us - and the animals - vegan, cruelty-free skincare products are available for every step of your routine.
By following the steps and using any of the suggested products below, you can reduce your acne and prevent further breakouts while using products that are friendly to the animals, your body, and our planet.
1. Eating & Supplementing for Clear Skin
In 2010, the scientific journal Skin Therapy Letter published a study that showed a relationship between diet and acne based on six clinical trials.
While a vegan diet cuts out many foods that can exacerbate acne, sufferers should be aware of the vegan-friendly foods and supplementation issues that can influence the clarity of your skin.
Behind dairy products, high-glycemic foods like white bread and pasta had a huge effect on the occurrence of acne.
In fact, the study above showed that the acne of boys on a higher-protein, low-glycemic index improved by a dramatic 50% - the same result you would get from a topical acne treatment.
Supplementation can also play a role in skin conditions like acne.
Vitamin B12, one of the most frequently discussed supplements in the vegan diet, is critical for brain and nerve health and must be supplemented, as it cannot be consumed through a plant-based diet.
In some cases, new vegans might consume more than is recommended to ensure that they are meeting this requirement and keep their bodies healthy.
However, in the case of acne, more B12 isn’t necessarily better - in fact, it may be impeding your journey to healthy skin.
In fact, scientists have found that too much vitamin B12 may actually promote acne, as the bacteria responsible for pimples and blemishes begin pumping out inflammatory, acne-causing molecules in the presence of the vitamin.
On the flip side, zinc deficiency, which is more common in vegans than you might think, can also lead to troublesome spots.
Zinc is important for healthy skin because it transports vitamin A and regulates your body’s hormonal balance.
If you’re low in zinc - which you might be if you’re vegan, as the zinc in plants is harder to absorb than animal-based zinc - your cell renewal isn’t as efficient.
This means skin cells stick together and clog pores instead of sloughing off the body, and result in pimples.
Next, you’ll want to make sure you’re consuming enough water.
While not as glamorous as acne products or changes in your diet, remember that 70% of your body is made of water, which carries nutrients and vitamins throughout your body and flush toxins and waste products out of your body.
Your skin is a large organ whose role is to remove waste products from inside and protect against dangerous things on the outside, so the function of this organ is compromised when you don’t take in enough fluids.
When toxins, bodily waste, and bacteria are trapped inside your skin without adequate hydration, this can lead to acne.
The Institute of Health recommends women drink 9 cups of water per day, while adult males should consume 13 cups - this comes out to about 11 glasses of water every day.
If this sounds like a lot, consider filling a jug of water and keeping it with you at your desk or in your backpack, and switch out soda and sugary drinks for water.
Your body - including your skin - will thank you for it!
3. Developing a Skincare Regimen
Good skin starts with proper skin care - it’s essential to a clear, blemish-free face!
Each of the following steps will play a major role in keeping skin healthy.
Because your skin encounters so much sweat, oil, makeup, product, and pollution throughout the day, it’s important to create your skin care regimen and stick to it daily, so you can erase whatever breakouts are already there and keep new ones from popping up.
If you don’t already have a skin care routine, you can follow the basic outline below.
First Things First: Determine Your Skin Type
The type of skin you have will determine a lot about your skin care regimen - how frequently you should cleanse, the power of your products, and the brands you should use to stock your medicine cabinet.
Knowing your skin type can mean the difference between clear, healthy, and hydrated skin, and skin that’s too dry or oily.
Not sure what your skin type is?
Use the guide below to find the description that most closely matches your skin.
Once you know what type of skin you have, you can move forward with purchasing and using your products.
All skin types should follow this basic routine for easy skin care.
Step 1: Wash
Think for a moment about everything your skin comes in contact with each day - sweat from your workouts, layers of makeup, sunblock to protect your face from the sun’s rays, even just pollution in the air.
If you do nothing else on this list, make sure you cleanse your face at least once a day - this is the foundation of a successful skin care routine.
Ideally, you’ll wash your face twice per day, always making sure one of those times is right before you go to bed.
When you go to bed without washing your face, you’re getting all that dirt, makeup, and oil on your pillowcase and essentially rubbing your face in it all night.
This will counteract anything else you’re doing to care for your skin, so make sure to go to sleep at night with a fresh face!
While washing your face may seem like a simple, straightforward task, you’ll want to make sure you’re doing it right to get the most out of the time you spend on your skin.
Choosing a Vegan Face Wash
If your breakouts are bumps on the skin that aren’t red or painful, a salicylic acid cleanser can speed up cell turnover and clear blocked pores.
Inflammatory acne, which presents as red, puffy, and painful, responds well to products with benzoyl peroxide, as this reduces the bacteria responsible for acne.
Of course, you don’t want anything too harsh or drying, so antibacterial soaps and bar soaps you’d use on tougher areas like your back or feet aren’t good choices here.
Step 2: Exfoliate
Acne starts deep down in the pore, so regular exfoliation can deeply cleanse and keep pores free of excess skin cells and oil that build up and cause comedones, small bumps on the surface of the skin.
Choosing a Vegan Exfoliant
When you think of exfoliants, you might think of grainy face and body scrubs, but these harsher scrubs may exacerbate acne instead of reducing it, as the texture can cause irritation.
When it comes to exfoliants, you have two options:
- Physical exfoliants - Like scrubs and abrasive pads, physical exfoliants can further inflame and irritate acne prone skin, so it’s suggested that these be avoided altogether, especially while you’re trying to clear up already existing acne.
- Chemical exfoliants - These types of exfoliants use acids and enzymes to keep skin soft and clear with none of the irritating friction of a physical scrub. If at all possible, it's suggested to use these if you have acne prone skin.
Remember: Chemical exfoliants will dry skin to some degree, so be sure not to miss the moisturizing step in your routine to avoid flakes and irritation.
Step 3: Tone
Toners and astringents are products used after cleansing to remove excess oil from the skin and provide more blemish-fighting ingredients, like salicylic acid.
Choosing a Vegan Toner
While toners can provide extra pimple-fighting power, you’ll want to consider your skin to decide if you need to incorporate a toner into your routine.
- Sensitive, dry, or irritated skin or skin that’s already under stress from acne treatments may not be a good candidate for toners.
- Skin that has just a few blemishes here and there may benefit from a toner or astringent, but it will not clear up a persistent case of acne on its own.
- Toners are a good idea for skin that is very oily and can handle the additional product.
Pick a toner that is low in alcohol, to keep drying to a minimum, and try to find a product that uses natural ingredients like elderflower oil, witch hazel, tea tree oil, vitamin C, and aloe vera.
Stop using your toner if you experience burning or stinging upon application - this usually means the toner is too harsh for your skin.
Step 4: Moisturize
It may seem counter-intuitive, but moisture is a fundamental component to clear skin, even for those prone to acne and blemishes.
Choosing a Vegan Moisturizer
The trick is to choose the right moisturizer for acne-prone skin.
The right oil-free moisturizer won’t trigger breakouts, and can help with the dryness that comes with treating acne, as well as equally unpleasant side effects like flakes and peeling.
In addition to providing much-needed hydration to thirsty skin, moisturizers also form a protective barrier on the skin’s surface to keep it soft and block dirt and impurities from coming into pores and causing breakouts.
When searching for a good vegan moisturizer for acne-prone skin, choose products that are non-comedogenic, as these are less likely to feed acne.
By sticking to this routine of easy, simple skin care, you’ll be well on your way to clear, blemish-free skin.
However, while good skin care habits are important to keeping a fresh face, it’s not the only thing that can have an effect on the appearance of acne.
Because acne starts from the inside out, your diet and water consumption also have a big impact on the occurrence of blemishes and pimples.
Treating Acne the Vegan Way
No one wants to deal with acne, but luckily, with the institution of a few reliable, cruelty-free products and dietary changes, you can start to take control and change the condition of your skin.
The combination of eliminating certain foods that contribute to skin irritation, along with a consistent regimen that includes cleansing, exfoliating, toning, and moisturizing, you can attack and prevent acne outbreaks from the inside of your body to the outside.
If for any reason you find that your body isn’t responding to these treatments, it’s best to consult your dermatologist and discuss stronger prescription options.
However, by taking good care of your skin though a daily routine and showing your body care and love through the foods you eat, you can keep your skin clear, healthy, and hydrated so you glow just as much on the outside as you do on the inside.