Breaking the Break Out Cycle

If you’ve stuck by and have been reading Muslimah Beauty for long enough, not only do I thank you, but I also apologise as I’m sure you’ve become fully adjusted to my incessant complaining about my breakout prone skin by now! Funnily enough I was blessed with the gift of acne shortly before deciding to start this blog, and it was hardly ever something I experienced in my teens so while my friends were experimenting and blasting their faces with Clearasil, Duac and any other acne clearing product my quest for a ‘cure’ has been a fairly recent phenomenon. But after years of trying just about anything from Harley Street dermatologists to blue light lasers I’ve found that it boils down to two very simple things – great skincare and an even greater diet.

Acne is often a symptom of an underlying problem such as an imbalance of the hormones, and if this problem isn’t nipped in the bud your skin will continue to breakout. It took years for me to accept that dairy and gluten are not my friend and that my skin was better off without. I’d recommend investigating out why exactly your skin is breaking out and treating the problem rather than seeing acne as an isolated issue requiring its own treatment. But in the meantime I guess it’d be worth sharing what has worked for me in treating my own acne, however there’s just one caveat to this post – take into account that most of what I note is subjective and is due to personal experience; what works for me may not necessarily work for you however it doesn’t hurt to consider it either.


Years ago I read an article debunking myths concerning acne, and one dermatologist claimed that chocolate and other junk foods did not cause acne. I took that for gospel and continued to eat those foods oblivious to the effect they were having on my skin. While I may not hold a PhD in dermatology or nutrition, junk food has a causal relationship with my acne and no dermatologist can tell me otherwise. In fact I recently posed a few questions about the relationship between diet and the skin to renowned naturopathic doctor Dr Nigma Talib and she confirms my suspicions. “I have seen over and over again in my patients that diets rich in sugar and certain carbohydrate type foods (which eventually convert into sugar during digestion) can be a major problem for skin health. Not all carbohydrates are created equally. Carbohydrates that are processed and contain gluten can cause imbalances in your gut bacteria, which can in turn cause inflammation in your body affecting your hormones, which are your body’s messengers. If you continuously consume high amounts of sugars and harmful types of carbohydrates, your body will not be able to sustain the large amounts of inflammation and it will show up on your skin as various levels of congestion such as redness, acne, large pores, black heads and dry and pigmentation patches, not just increased inches to your waistline”. Key food culprits waging war on our skin include sugar infested foods such as cakes, cookies and ice-cream and also refined carbs like pasta and bread as they convert into sugar and essentially have the same effect on your skin as a chocolate bar. “Your skin is a reflection of your diet” Dr Nigma states.

When my skin was at its worst in 2010-11 with severe cystic acne, my diet was just abysmal and at the time I was adjusting to university life so takeaway pizzas, burgers, crisps and copious amounts of cheesecake were all I consumed. I’ve since made a conscious effort to rid my diet of refined sugars for the past 6 months, and my skin has completely transformed. Apart from the occasional indulgence (I am human after all!) gone is the junk and in are green smoothies chock-full of kale, blueberries, spinach, celery and spirulina, salmon, cottage cheese, lentils and nuts. “Your body has an innate ability to heal itself given the right diet” says Dr Nigma“The foods our bodies require for glowing skin requires a combination of anti inflammatory foods rich in vitamins and omega 3 fatty acids. Anti-inflammatory foods not only helps keep your skin looking flawless, but help support insulin and blood sugar levels in your body”. Apart from the previously mentioned foods, some foods rich in antioxidants, vitamins and omega fatty acids include turmeric, chia seeds, quinoa, mackerel, sardines, flaxseeds, walnuts and cruciferous vegetables such as brocolli, cauliflower and bok choy.


Contrary to how many people approach treating acne, I personally find that nothing is more effective than a gentle approach. That means using nourishing products that’ll help to calm my skin such as Elemental Herbology’s Purify & Smooth Cleanser, the Gunjeoir Neroli Face Elixir*, Avène Thermal Water Spray*, Perricone MD Hypoallergenic Gentle Cleanser* and the Estèe Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum*. These are products I will generally use irrespective of my skin breaking out but when the spots appear there are products I add into my skincare routine specifically for treating the breakouts.

For fear of waffling on for hours I’ll merely list the acne treatments I use, but there’s something these products tend to have in common – their ingredients. Look for products loaded with zinc, aloe vera, glycolic and salicylic acid, witch hazel, sulfur, lavender, willow-bark, tea tree and benzoyl peroxide although I’d wouldn’t haphazardly slap on liberal amounts of BP as it tends to dry the skin out.

20140703-195415-71655338.jpg Origins Spot Remover Blemish Treatment Pads* and Blemish Treatment Gel*

Mario Badescu Drying Cream and Buffering Lotion

Clinique Anti-Blemish Solutions Clinical Clearing Gel*

Simple Rapid Action Spot Zapper*

Aknicare SR Skin Roller*

Other products that haven’t been pictured but deserve equal adulation are the SkinCeuticals Blemish + Age Serum, Jan Marini Bioglycolic Cleanser, Bioderma Sébium AKN, La Roche-Posay Efflaclar Duo [+]* and Mario Badescu Drying Lotion.

Weekend Reads | Bump Bump Bump!

I get so many questions from you ladies about acne and as a fully fledged member of the acne club all of my recommendations are from personal experience. I’ve tried most things from Clean & Clear to facials and while some attempts have failed miserably some have worked like a charm. After experimenting I’ve learned what works for my skin and what doesn’t so here are what I’ve found to work for my acne and what hasn’t…

Thank God For Glycolic, Lactic & Salicylic

There’s skincare and then there’s skincare and by that I mean there’s the products that get the basic job of exfoliating, cleaning and moisturising done but then there’s the big guys glycolic, lactic and salicylic who blow the other skincare out of the water.

Product of the Month | Glytone KP Kit

Although this kit is designed to treat Keratosis Pilaris, it works on body acne too. I don’t have body acne myself but a lot of people love the Glytone KP Kit for pesky bacne.

Guaranteed Zit Zappers!

Whenever I get one of those humongous zits I pull out the big guns; SkinCeuticals Blemish + Age Defense Serum* and the Mario Badescu Drying Lotion.

The Mixstress Workshop Charcoal & Manuka Honey Face Mask

When your skin’s congested and spotty make this simple face mask, a killer combo of Manuka honey, yoghurt and activated charcoal.

If You’re Prone to Acne Keep Away From This Oil!

The NUDE Replenishing Night Oil* broke my skin out in the worst way. Acne sufferers stay away!

I Bet You’re Using Something You’d Never Know Could Be Causing Your Acne..

Foaming face washes could be causing you to break out!

Product of the Month | Witch Blemish Gel

I’m not a believer in drug store products when it comes to treating acne but the Witch Blemish Gel* is an exception!

Guaranteed Zit Zappers!

My skin has been breaking out pretty badly for the past couple of months, it’s hormonal and affects my chin and jaw with the occasional forehead breakout which is depressing to say the least. The trick to curing a hormonal breakout for me is usually a diet in low GI foods and for some it’s taking the Pill, but I absolutely loathe it. It can leave you feeling either like an emotionless zombie or an anxious mess. Nothing to mess up mental health please!

Although products can only do so much for hormonal breakouts, I’ve found a great duo to combat those pesky spots and whiteheads. After I’ve properly cleansed and toned my skin I’ll dab the SkinCeuticals Blemish + Age Defense Serum* onto spots and once it’s dried I’ll use a cotton stick to carefully apply the Mario Badescu Drying Lotion on top. What happens after is a tingling sensation which I quite like because you feel it’s working away and killing those evil little zits.

After applying the two I go to bed and I wake up to either significantly (and I mean significantly!) reduced spots or everything coming up to the surface. The combination is that potent it works overnight. That’s probably because of the calamine and salicylic acid in the Drying Lotion and  a wonderful list of things in the Blemish + Age Defense Serum:

2% Dioic Acid – Inhibits sebum production also prevents hyper-pigmentation caused by inflammation or UV exposure.
0.3% Capryloyl Salicylic Acid – Aids exfoliation to decongest clogged pores while providing anti-ageing benefits.
1.5% Salicylic Acid – Refines pores and helps reduce spots and blemishes.
3.5% Glycolic Acid & 0.5% Citric Acid - Accelerates exfoliation and hydrated the skin while reducing the appearance of the signs of ageing.

It’s definitely a combo for when you want to quickly get rid of a spot, but one thing I hate is how hard it is to remove the Drying Lotion  in the morning, it’s a bit of a chore!

Are These The Kinda Comments I’d Receive If I Went On TV?

I watch The Only Way is Essex which would probably come as a surprise to many but I love the show, it’s my guilty pleasure! I get myself cosy on the sofa with something to munch on and just get lost in the world of Essex which I never take too seriously until last night. I was watching the show and Little Chris’ girlfriend Taylor was introduced to the show. Now I won’t lie and say that the  first thing I noticed was her eyes or something because that’s not true. My eyes went straight to her acne and that’s fine, because I suffer from acne too and my acne has been exactly like Taylor’s lately. The spots around the chin and cheeks indicate that it’s hormonal so she could be suffering from an imbalance of hormones and it’s an absolute nightmare. I’ve had moments where I haven’t wanted to leave my house let alone go on a TV show being watched by millions. That’s where I take my hat off to Taylor!

After the show finished, I went on to Twitter and noticed some of the vilest tweets I’ve ever come across. I know that Twitter is full of trolls but some of these tweets were just shocking and I think that’s because those are the same things someone would say about me if I go on TV. My skin is covered in acne and going on TV will open me up to a tonne of abuse and that’s probably why I’m so shocked at the comments because they’re personal for me.


I applaud Taylor for going on a show where fake boobs, extensions and lip gloss are arguably the most important thing so you wouldn’t be wrong for assuming that all people would do is comment on her looks. What a shallow world we live in..

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