Digestion related acne – Shine skin and body Richmond

By Jason Rollard

with Sarah Hackett Senior therapist and acne specialist

at Shine skin and body Richmond

These days being a great facialist takes more than having a friendly personality and a good facial massage.      I sat down with Sarah one of Shine skin and body’s Senior therapists and acne specialists and found you need more than a little knowledge to treat today’s skin concerns. She expanded on the old adage ‘you are what you eat’ in explaining how poor diet and gut health can rear its ugly head in the form of acne and breakouts.


Where is digestion related acne seen on the face?

Indigestion related acne typically shows up between the brow/forehead area that represents our small intestines/digestive system.

What type of breakouts manifest and If more than one type does it mean different things?

Breakouts can range from congestion to inflammation. They are likely to show as inflamed or whiteheads straight away but could develop in to these types of breakouts if left for a long time. It could also indicate the state of the gut or be a telling sign on an allergy. Each client can be different.


Does this mean that someone is dairy or gluten intolerant? 

Not necessarily, it could be down to the amount of what they are eating or certain foods/nutrients they are lacking in their diet. However, it can indicate a food sensitivity especially if they don’t eat excessive amounts of these foods.


Why does digestion effect the skin?

It all comes down to how the digestive system works…..

    • Our upper GI (gastrointestinal) is from our mouth to stomach. Digestion starts in our mouth, saliva breaks down nutrients and starches.


    • The food travels to the stomach, more digestive secretions are produced to break down the proteins. Lack of secretions and enzymes are a common cause for our food not breaking down effectively in upper GI.


  • Undigested food travels to Lower GI (intestines to colon)

This is where our body separates nutrients from waste. If the food has travelled here without digesting properly, the lower GI has to work extra hard to try and get enough nutrients to feed the whole body.

  • In this process, fats aren’t metabolised properly.

Fats store toxic wastes, minerals and vits, hormones. If they aren’t completely broken down when they’re supposed to be, undigested fats get into the intestines, the liver and into the bloodstream. Over time, this slows down the complex systems that feed the body with what it needs.

When the digestive system doesn’t do its job properly, it partners with our organs to try and get rid of the toxins, so it’s no surprise that it will show up on our skin as it is an elimination organ.  

Also, the lymph system gets backed up with toxins, tries to dump them in our kidneys and when that doesn’t work, they go to the skin.


We have some clients at Shine skin and body that have been diagnosed with ‘Leaky gut syndrome’ what is ‘Leaky gut’ syndrome?

Our intestinal lining is our gut. It’s one cell thick and is like a mosquito net at the bottom of our stomach, which is responsible for letting the good stuff in and keeping bad out. Leaky gut is like holes and cracks in the net, which would allow undigested food and toxins through to the tissues below. Changes to our good gut bacteria can trigger inflammation and cause issues for the digestive tract.

What can cause Leaky gut?

A diet which is low in fibre and high in sugar & saturated fat can cause this.

Stress can be a factor. Stress raises hormone levels & the bacteria in the digestive system can read these hormones. This can cause microbes to multiply & throw out the balance of the gut. Stress can also shut down the digestive and Immune system.

70-80% of our immune cells live in our gut, therefore if it’s impaired the immune system gets overloaded with excessive waste to deal with. This suggests people with bad gut health are less likely to be able to fight off infections.

Also, Serotonin, which contributes to good mood and healthy sleep is produced by our intestinal cells, and heavily relies on our gut microbes for its production.


What medications that can effect gut health?

Aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen

Oral contraceptives

Steroid meds

Certain antibiotics – they will kill all bacteria, including good.

Thyroid meds


What can you as their beauty therapist do for them?

Help them identify the problem through skin analysis so that it can be fixed.

Recommend alternative therapies/Chinese medicine

Prevent skin problem from worsening – Help clear up the skin, offer treatments and home care for best skin health.

Lymphatic drainage massage works to clearout blockage.


What else can people do to treat it?

    • They could get acupuncture – the treatment can speed up metabolism, increase muscle contraction and relaxation, reduce gastric acid secretion, regulate small and large intestine function, and normalises stomach acidity


    • Practise ways of stress relief


  • Ensure a healthy diet & avoid inflammatory foods.


Are there other symptoms they might have?

    • Burning,growling or pain in stomach


    • Bloating


    • Gas


    • Nausea and vomiting


    • Heartburn


    • Acidic taste


    • White coating on tongue


  • Brain fog


What questions might you ask your clients in the consultation?

    • If they experience any of above frequently


    • Changes in diet or if they’ve had more of certain foods than usual I.e. like if they’ve been on Holidays.


    • Timing of breakouts to see if they correlated with any foods


    • Are they taking any medications I mentioned above


  • About bowel movement


How is it fixed?

The cells of the intestinal lining replace themselves every 3-6 days so it doesn’t take a very long time for the gut to heal.

    • Cleaning up the diet, eating high fibre foods like vegetables, fruit, oatmeal, nuts. Having omega 3 fats as they are anti-inflammatory.


    • Chew food properly before swallowing.


    • Avoid highly acidic foods.


    • Cut out alcohol and caffeine consumption.


    • Take a probiotic to help balance the good bacteria in the gut.


    • Exercise to get the lymph moving.


    • Apparently sleeping with head elevated can help digestive juices flow into the intestines


  • Take digestive enzyme supplement.