Most Common Non-Hormonal Acne Triggers

Skin health and new onset adult acne are becoming increasingly more common in our practice. As ND’s who treat a great deal of hormonal concerns, we frequently see women concerned about their hormones when their skin starts breaking out. Although, hormones often play a role, there is a large portion of adult acne we see that is due to a combination of internal and external factors unrelated to hormones.

Most Common Contributors to Non Hormonal Acne


Our diet plays a big role in our skin health. Depending on what we consume we can either promote inflammation or decrease it! Inflammation plays a large role in the development of blemishes and the severity of the blemishes (redness, size and pain)

Most Inflammatory Triggers: fried fatty foods, refined sugar and dairy. It seems pretty straight forward but depending on where on the face you are experiencing your breakouts it can give you a pretty big indication of if your diet is potentially a contributing factor.

Breakouts along the sides of the face, between the brows, the bridge of the nose and chin generally indicate high consumption of fried fatty foods (processed saturated and trans fats).

Breakouts along the forehead often indicate food sensitivities: try eliminating dairy and consider contacting your practitioner for a food sensitivity test.

Breakouts along cheeks and bridge of the nose often indicate too much sugar and alcohol.

Eating plenty of vegetables and healthy fats (salmon, hemp hearts, chia seeds, almonds and avocado) are your best defence for inflammation. Check out our Clear Skin Guide, a comprehensive guide to clearing skin with diet.

Gut Health

Heartburn, gas, bloating, cravings, and constipation are all signs your gut is not functioning optimally. We rely on our gut as a means of excreting toxins. If it is not functioning optimally, we will then start to eliminate more toxins through our skin. This can contribute to breakouts and stubborn acne. If you are experiencing any of the above mentioned symptoms it may be time to meet with an ND to determine how to optimize your gut health. A good place to start is increasing your consumption of probiotic rich foods and fiber. Fiber is necessary to bind toxins in the gut, and ensure the bowels are eliminating daily. Try increasing your consumption of oats, flax seed (ground), apples, and beans to increase healthy fiber. Incorporating probiotic rich foods will also help ensure your gut is functioning optimally. Our favorites are the cultured coconut kefir (available at the clinic) and kimchi.

We get asked often about the probiotic benefit of yogurt. Most of the conventional yogurts that claim to be probiotic rich do not contain enough probiotics and contain a high amount of sugar. Unless the yogurt is locally made using a bacterial culture and pure milk or a milk alternative, it is not likely to contain a therapeutic amount of probiotics.


Dehydration can contribute to breakouts all over the face. We rely on adequate amounts of water to help cleanse and clear toxins through the kidneys. If we are not consuming enough water to cleanse through the kidneys we will default to cleansing through the skin. As mentioned above this can contribute to breakouts. Adequate hydration is foundational to over all health. Most of us are not adequately hydrated.

Aim for 2 L a day.

Toxin Exposure

Unfortunately, we are all exposed to a great deal of toxins we cannot control for. Our air quality and exposures from the environment can contribute to inflammation and dirt in the pores. What we can do to limit our toxin burden is to use clean skin care products on our face and body. Finding the right regime for your skin is important as we always need to be mindful of pH and oil balance in our individual skin types.

Check out our skin care page to learn more about your skin type and the appropriate products for you.

We have had the most success treating acne by using the Province Apothecary skin care line as they are clean, organic, and use anti-oxidant rich ingredients. Their product development is focused around reducing inflammation and building the integrity of the skin cells. All the ingredients have been shown to be nourishing, healing and protective to the skin.


It’s no secret stress plays a role in our skin health. We have all likely been victims of a stress breakout. Stress contributes to breakouts in the following ways:

Disrupts our sex hormone cascades - estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone all contribute to our skin health. They can influence timing of breakouts as well as the nature (cystic vs mild/moderate).

Increases inflammation in the gut - as we mentioned above gut health and inflammation play a big role in overall skin health.

Increase the risk of developing food sensitivities - Stress can damage the gut lining which increases the risk of developing food sensitivities which can cause breakouts.

Increases overall inflammation - as we mentioned above inflammation plays a role in all stages of acne. It can contribute to development of blemishes, the severity of swelling, redness, and pain of the blemishes. It can also slow healing of scars and existing breakouts.

Stress management is tricky. We find most patients struggle the most with finding good habits that work for their lifestyle and schedules. We find the most effective stress management strategies to be : weekly acupuncture sessions, meditation , exercise and engaging with content (reading, podcasts, audiobooks) that encourages spiritual growth.

Book now to start treating your acne from the outside in!

In Health,

The EASTND Naturopathic Team