Acne is on the rise, especially among busy, frazzled women in their 20s. And the increased pressure to look our best in professional settings has us heading straight to the dermatologist’s office or the drugstore for lotions and potions to slather on our troubled skin. But these quick-fix attempts often leave our skin dry, irritated, and even fussier than before. What’s a girl to do?

The answer is that it’s more complicated than it seems, and requires us to look inward. Acne can be the result of hormones gone haywire, a gut imbalance, a food allergy, lack of sleep, stress, or some combination of the aforementioned. So while our instinct may be to reach for products, it’s important to address any underlying causes first in order to eradicate acne for good.

You are what you eat

The good news is that there are a few simple lifestyle tweaks you can make to better understand your personal acne triggers. For starters, try an elimination diet to determine if common food allergens, such as soy, sugar, gluten, or dairy are especially aggravating to your skin. After 2 to 3 weeks have passed, add each food back one at a time to determine which of these foods your body can handle.

At the same time, load up on probiotics and healthy fats. Probiotics, in the form of supplements and fermented foods, help to address any gut imbalances and healthy fats, like avocados, coconut oil, and grass-fed butter, are key to healthy hormone production. And perhaps most importantly, don’t put too much stock in a miracle cure. Removing dairy or adding a probiotic supplement may not be the answer entirely. It almost never is. All of these pieces play a part and they all take time to work.

Oil is not the enemy

So what about products? Once you understand the underlying causes of your acne, you can incorporate gentle products to help assist the skin’s natural healing process. I am a firm believer in plant-based oils for cleansing, nourishing, and balancing the skin. Most plant-based oils are skin compatible allowing them to absorb quickly and easily without causing congestion. My favorite oils for acne prone skin include argan oil, prickly pear seed oil, hemp seed oil, mangosteen oil, and sea buckthorn oil.

Stick to a routine

And always remember to exfoliate! Regular exfoliation will slough off dead skin cells, helping to keep pores clear and reduce dreaded post-acne hyperpigmentation.

The most important thing is to stick to your skincare regimen. As much as I know you want results and you want them now, remember that your products are just boosting your skin’s natural desire to look radiant. Constantly switching them out will rob you of the dewy glow you are seeking and ultimately leave you feeling frustrated (of course, if you experience irritation discontinue using that product!)

Bonus tip: last but certainly not least, STOP touching your face.

Megan is the founder of Seed to Serum, an online boutique housing only the most beautiful and effective natural skincare options. Seed to Serum grew out of a desire to understand the connection between the beauty products that we habitually apply every day and the ultimate health of our skin. What started as a seemingly innocent fascination with oils and balms quickly progressed into a passion for poring over labels and ingredient lists.