Acne, and Paleo

by 198 · January 14, 2012 at 12:01 AM

So, I started the Paleo diet 5 days ago, and so far seeing tremendous results. I mostly started because I heard it cleared up acne. i've had cystic acne on my shoulders and upper arms, and a few small pimples on my face. So far all is going well. My cystic acne is drying up on my arms, but I've notice i've had a little bit more smaller breakouts around my jawline and upper neck.

After doing research on Paleo hacks, I have found so many different solutions to acne. i've found some people have more acne as a result, whereas others see a positive result. i've heard solutions such as cut out dairy, supplement with oils, some have recommended getting hormones checked, others have said to wait longer to see results. Quite frankly, I'm a bit confused.

More than anything, I just wanted to find answers on how the Paleo diet effects hormones (positively? negatively?) and what is this talk about supplementing with certain oils and vitamins? I like to think I've followed the diet well with no dairy and such. I know ive only been on for 5 days, and like i said Im clearing up my arms (my main concern) but I just wanna make sure to tackle acne in the most optimal and efficient way.


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125 · December 03, 2011 at 06:40 AM

I've been paleo since August 2008 and only just cleared up most of my acne in the past couple of months. I'm a 28 year old female and should be long done with acne but it's been a problem for me since I was about 15 (not severe but always there). I've never had weight problems (too skinny if anything), but I've experienced digestive problems since I was very young.

Something that recently changed about how I view paleo is that I've stopped thinking of it as a diet based on things I've STOPPED eating. When I thought of it like this, I was eating the typical grass fed hamburger meat with tons of veggies, lots of coconut products, no dairy, little fruit and lots of salmon and for some reason I was still getting acne. Eggs were phased in and out and I removed all nightshades for a while too. I tried adding fish oil and it actually got worse. I was also still getting bloated and having digestive problems on this. I still stuck to it because I'm just a huge Robb Wolf fan (who isn't..), it all made logical sense, and other than my acne and some persistent digestive problems, my body comp significantly improved and I still felt a ton better than before. The problem is the typical definition of paleo diet: DON'T eat grains, dairy, legumes...etc. Cutting these things out is a good start but there is so much more to this, and I don't believe supplements are the answer (I take vit D3 and magnesium - that's it).

What changed a few months back is I started focusing on getting more nutrients in my diet. You could say my diet was pretty nutrient dense before, but I knew it could be better. I started making paleo for me more focused on what I SHOULD eat. As much as it was an ephiphany for me to realize how much sense the paleo diet made, it was almost as much of a breakthrough for me to take this next step and start adding in some more "unusual" foods.

The first thing I did was I taught myself how to make bone broth out of grassfed beef bones (dirt cheap, by the way). It is incredibly soothing to the digestive system. Now I make a batch of that every week and scoop the broth-jello out of a container and drink it hot in a mug whenever I feel like it. I also started adding in sardines. I never liked them before but I started eating a more expensive brand packed in olive oil and they taste great. I read something about vitamin K2 and started added in organic butter (can't find grass fed stuff here in Canada). When I realized I could tolerate butter I took the next step and bought some Kefir. Surprisingly, I handled it just fine. And all the while, despite the fact that dairy is supposed to make acne worse, mine was improving. I've since been able to eat some small amounts of high fat organic cream cheese and aged white cheddar with no problems. I also added in raw saurkraut. A few more recent additions have been mussells, oysters, and beef liver ground up into my hamburger. I eat free run eggs with deep yellow yolks. I am no longer afraid of fruit, I'm not concerned that the sugar in fruit will cause flareups, because that just doesn't happen when that base inflammation isn't there. Don't get me wrong, I still eat the stuff I ate before on paleo, but the difference in adding in these foods has made an incredible difference. One thing I have noticed is that I cannot tolerate nuts at all. Nuts = almost immediate acne for me.

I know we are all n=1 scenarios coming from different experiences and some people seem to believe in a "detox" period for going paleo, some people can't handle dairy at all, some people can't handle carbs...etc. Maybe your diet deficiencies are different than mine, but I really do believe that if you are giving this a fair shot, then MISSING things in your diet can be as harmful as adding in all those harmful grains, sugar, etc. If you really are still struggling with this diet, please consider adding in some of these real foods. They've done wonders for me.

8848 · December 03, 2011 at 03:35 AM

I'm no acne expert but it's clear that there are many types of acne. Some stem from food intolerances like dairy. For me, soy causes red bumps, which might be considered a form of acne.

But I'm convinced that linoleic acid from seed oils is the culprit in many, if not most, cases. I have some acne scars on my face where the acne would grow and recede, seemingly in direct response to the consumption (or lack thereof) of seed oils like canola and such. For awhile I tried gluten replacement foods like rice tortillas and tapioca flour pizza crusts. They all have varying amounts of the stuff. Getting rid of every last trace did the trick.

25 · January 14, 2012 at 12:01 AM

My severe acne cleared up like nothing I've ever seen on Paleo. I went really full hardcore though with a focus on anti inflammatory foods. Pretty much just fish and veggies for the first month which is hard, but after that I could have any meat, dairy, moderate nuts, fruit and all veggies with a few "cheat" meals a month.... I always opted for thai food or sushi with my cheats, I think wheat is a definate no no for me.

Anyways, you really do have to be super hard core (in my experience) for the first few months, then you can have a not so restrictive diet. My acne is related to insulin resistance - I've never been diagnosed with PCOS but I probably have it. My cycles also became super regular and my hair turned from straight to curly (lol) so I know that this diet affects your hormones.

My advice is to stay with it and don't cheat. Just don't do it. It is so not worth it. You can then S -L-O-W-L-Y add foods back to see about sensitivities. And you can never go back to eating crap, the acne will just come back in full force.

My skin is awful if I'm not on this diet. Like, painful horrible cysts all over my jawline. On this diet, one or two tiny, oh so tiny pimples/month that don't leave a mark. This is the only thing I would ever recommend to someone with acne - honestly, I've tried it all. Also take some fish oil and vitamin d to kick start the process. Zinc will help too but only take it for the first few months.

549 · December 03, 2011 at 02:50 AM

From what I understand, it will pretty much bring everything into balance. Give it time, and eat as authentically "ancestral" as you can (buying organic food, free-range grass-fed meat, don't eat it if it didn't exist 10,000 years ago, etc). I started eating paleo a year ago. Now my fibromyalgia is gone. The doctor said I would have it for the rest of my life and it would only get worse and wanted to junk my body up with drugs to treat the pain. I went paleo and WHAMO! Unexpected side-effect. The best side-effect ever. I do, however, have more acne. LOL.

I am planning to do a liver and colon cleanse because they are associated with skin health. When people walk into the health food store I work at to get rid of acne or improve skin, they end up walking out with liver or colon detox kits and report good results. I have personally read about this in some of the books I have in my collection as well. I am going to try it out. I was going to do the master cleanser for a while because that is supposed to cleanse them both at the same time (more or less). I personally believe that all disease begins in the gut (after much reading) and am planning to re-build my health from the ground-up, starting with the gut as a good foundation. I'm hoping my face will clear up as a result. Just thought I would share that with you since it was relevant.

230 · December 03, 2011 at 02:35 PM


See this thread. I go into detail about acne. The other answers are also helpful.

8883 · December 03, 2011 at 08:42 AM

My acne was minimized by eating only grass-fed meat, fish, non-starchy vegetables, coconut oil and by supplementing the fat-soluble vitamins (vitamin A, D3, E and k2) + magnesium (eggs, nightshades and fruits don't seem to cause acne, though eggs do seem to make me look worse overall). Nuts cause a lot of acne for me if they're not soaked or roasted!

When I say minimized, I'm saying that I never ever get pustules anymore (I used to have moderate acne), instead I only get acne on my chin occasionally when I stress about something.

Be sure to eat liver once a week :) !

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28 · December 03, 2011 at 03:30 AM

My daughter had a massive break out after going over seas and living a young college student diet of bread and beer. She came home and cut out all grain including rice and dairy. It has been 8 months and her acne is almost gone -- it is better and better each day. Try to be patient. Check your vitamin levels -- D3 is very helpful.

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