ask the doctor: clear skin {naturally treat teen/adult acne}

Hi Dr.Corinne,

I have a teenage daughter and she has acne all over her face and some on her back. We would like to know a natural healthy way of getting rid of the acne or at least help it. Maybe there is some kind of healthy diet that my daughter can go on? Thank you so much !
Hello there!

Acne is a very common concern that affects people in varying degrees from teenagehood right into their thirties. And unfortunately, the cause is often not one specific answer: it is usually a multifactorial symptom. It could be a result of hormones, assuming she is going through puberty. It could be a food sensitivity expressing through the skin. It could be poor hygiene, genetics, or any combination of these – and many other – factors!


As we have chatted about before, the skin is the body’s largest organ of elimination. So whatever the cause of the acne, your body is choosing your skin as its method of elimination. So the first thing I would tell you to do is to support and encourage that elimination through the skin! Drink two litres of filtered water per day, and sweat for thirty minutes per day (if you cannot exercise 7days/week, try a sauna or doing a gentle at-home facial steam). This will help whatever is passing through the skin to move through quicker and not become stagnant in a pimple – the pores will be clean.


Now that the pores are clean, help keep them clean with impeccable hygiene. Discuss with your daughter the importance of keeping hair clean and off the face, wearing minimal makeup, and changing the pillowcases often. And of course, the importance of washing her face twice per day. A mild face wash (I use Spectro Gel), followed by a natural toner (I use witch hazel, a herbal astringent), and maybe a tiiiny dab of tea tree oil (do a skin patch test first on sensitive skin!) on problem areas.


Now, we have covered lifestyle changes she can make, now let’s talk about diet. If a teenage girl walked into my office tomorrow with a chief concern of acne, the absolute first thing I would do is take her off dairy. There is a high correlation between acne and dairy consumption, but researchers aren’t positive why. Some say maybe milk has too many sex hormones, others say maybe milk has too much growth hormone – both of which contribute to acne. But either way, the clinical success of cutting dairy in acne cases speaks for itself. I would also cut sugar, as the main bacteria that causes acne, Proprionibacterium acnes, feeds on sugar!


If the acne is more severe, you can do an elimination diet/gentle liver cleanse for a few weeks. This diet would remove wheat, dairy, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and all things deep fried from the diet. If nothing else, there would very likely be a significant change in your daughter’s skin following a super clean dairy free elimination diet for three weeks.


And finally, I would recommend very basic supplementation: probiotics are a great way to help boost your immune system (to fight off the Proprionibacterium!), and fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, which have countless health benefits, one of which is maintaining skin health.

Thank you very much for your question! Good luck!

Dr. Corinne

Psst! In case you missed it, here’s how to heal baby/toddler acne.

Have a question for Dr. Corinne? Send her an email at and your question will be answered here. These suggestions are not intended to provide diagnosis or substitute a private consultation with your healthcare practitioner.

About Dr. Corinne, Health & Wellness Editor

Naturopathic Doctor, Corinne Brown BSc, ND, established her Naturopathic practice, Brownroots Wellness, in May of 2011. Her practice focuses on women’s health, weight loss, chronic stress and adrenal fatigue. Corinne also focuses her practice on pre-and-post natal health, fertility, and offers Naturopathic Perinatal Classes. She is very passionate about pregnancy and birth, and is also a trained Birth & Labor Doula. Dr. Corinne is the Natural Mommie Health & Wellness Editor who posts a Q&A series of natural health and wellness topics as well as healthy living tips for women, moms and moms to be.

67 thoughts on “ask the doctor: clear skin {naturally treat teen/adult acne}

  1. I know it is not the natural way to clear acne but after we had tried everything we didnt know what to do so we went to the doctor. My daughter was told to keep cleansing twice a day with the cheapest cleaner. The doctor also put her on an antibiotic cream and retinol. It has been a little over a month and her face is almost totally clear. I am so happy we did this because everything else we tried for years did nothing but make it worse.

    1. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do! My husband had acne in his late teens/early 20s and the doctor prescribed a cream that was awful and burned and cracked his face! It was terrible. I actually nudged him to try proactiv at the time and it cleared his face in 3 weeks. He only used it for a few months, got everything under control and has since only used a mild cleanser/scrub and no chemicals! It’s been years and years since then and he still hasn’t had to go back to using the harsher acne products!

      Maybe once your daughter’s acne is under control she’ll be able to switch to something a little more mild and and gentler! She must feel great about her skin now!

  2. when i cut dairy from my diet for a couple of weeks due to thrush with my nursling, i noticed a huge change in the condition of my skin. wish someone had told me about dairy/acne when i was a teen!

    1. Me too Stacy! I had to cut out most dairy while I was nursing Ethan because he was sensitive to it. My skin was SO clear and my rosacea even improved a little bit.

  3. I went off dairy and soy for two months to see if my baby was allergic and my skin did not clear up. I had heard about this before so I was surprised to see that it did not work for me. Oh well, I was happy to have some dairy and at least know it wasn’t going to make my skin worse.

  4. This post couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I recently bought a Clarisonic to help with the cleansing. But all moisturizers seem to make me break out! Any advice? Also, is it ever possible to get rid of blackheads? I don’t eat that much dairy, but maybe I should cut it out all together…

  5. I think different things in diet effect different people in different ways, cutting out dairy helped my acne a bit, but the change was far from radical. However, recently I read so many bad things about cow’s milk effect on general health that I might try to cut it out again.

  6. As a teen, i never had acne (and probably took a little too much pride in that) and karma sent me a healthy dose of those under-the-skin, red welty zits that look almost like bugbites now that i’m in my 30s. i tried the Shielo Complexion Scrub at a friend’s house and really liked it. i am amazed at how quickly and thoroughly the regimen works to clear up my skin.

    Literally, within 2 or 3 days of using the Shielo Complexion products, my skin had cleared up. two things to be aware of—1. follow the directions on the website and 2. don’t miss out on an evening/morning–i’ve found if i skip even one night i will have a bit of a breakout the next day. oh and one last thing—the company has great customer service; i emailed about a broken lid and a new one was on my doorstep two days later.

  7. Hi everyone!
    So happy to have found this website. Many moms are frustrated when their daughters struggle with acne because we did not have to deal with these issues at such young ages. Girls are entering puberty much younger and their skin is reacting to the influx of hormones as well as the environmental toxins they are being exposed to. Because chemicals can effect hormone development I recommend trying natural products. Please consider my line Good For You Girls ( which is created specifically for young skin to get rid of dirt, grime and bacteria without over drying or irritating skin.

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