Last week I started a new diet to try and combat my oily skin from the inside out. It's a Paleo-ish diet in which I abstain from dairy, grains (wheat, oats, etc.), processed sugar, and basically any processed food. I have also cut peanut butter out of my diet, which used to be one of my main sources of calories (I'm using sunflower seed butter instead and much less of it). Aside from the peanut butter, I have not cut any other legumes out of my diet, which is one of the ways in which my diet deviates from Paleo. I'm also limiting the amount of fat in my diet, which is also a bit un-Paleo.
In addition to those main diet changes, I have also stopped taking fish oil, olive oil, and zinc, all three of which were previously a regular part of my regimen. I'm trying to consume a lot more vegetables as well.
I haven't noticed any changes in my oily skin, but I'm only a week into the diet. When I started taking low-dose Accutane, it took 2-3 weeks before my sebum production started to subside, so I think it's only fair that I give this new diet at least the same amount of time to start working.
Strangely enough, when I first switched to this diet a week ago, I started getting acne on my nose. I almost never get acne anymore, so this was a bit of a shock. I thought consuming more vegetables and avoiding processed food even more than I already was would cause my skin to look better. It may have just been a coincidence that the breakouts occurred right after I started my new diet, but it's still very strange. The only big additions to my diet besides vegetables is soy sauce and sunflower seed butter, both of which I consume pretty much every day now, but in moderation.
I started taking a lot of vitamin C yesterday and the acne spots actually seem to be going away now. Don't know if it's the vitamin C or something else.
For those who are interested, I have compiled a collection of anecdotal, diet-related success stories pertaining to oily skin. I originally culled these stories together for myself, but I figure it might be helpful to others who are also searching for an oily skin cure:
Diet success stories
mookie1809: "my face used to be EXTEREMLY oily, but i changed my diet to veggies/meats/ healthy oils like olive,coconut/brown rice and i only wash my face at night, in the morning rinse with water and use moisturizer. Skin is ALOT less oily."
misterE said he reduced sebum production by going on " an extremely-low-fat/high-fiber starch based vegan diet rich in fruits, vegetables and phytonutrients." He added that he used to eat " lots of cheeses, lots of fried foods, lots of fatty brisket and red meat, lots of milk and ice cream, lots of eggs, lots of vegetable oils". He rephrased his diet once more saying he "switched from a high-cholesterol/high-fat/low-fiber meat based diet to my extremely-low-fat/high-fiber starch based vegan diet"
And again: " I guess you could say I follow the McDougall Diet but to answer your question: I eat all the fruit and veggies under the sun. But my diet is centered around starches: lots of beans, lots of rice and potatoes. Whole-grain brown rice pasta, whole-wheat-pasta, whole-wheat-spaghetti, quinoa, grits, oats, corn, sweet potatoes, etc are all mainstays of my diet.
I do not use cooking oil of any kind, NO OILS!. I consider nuts and seeds a delicacy and I eat them on very very rare occasions...maybe two or three times a year. But, whenever I make oatmeal, I do add flaxseeds to it."
"The way to stop sebum production is simple; get dairy products, animal protein, fats and oils out of your diet and load up on fiber and complex carbohydrates. This will stop sebum production"
Lima: " I decided to give up and just eat a low-fat high protein moderate-carb diet, and let me tell you my skin is ALMOST COMPLETELY FREE FROM OIL - like i mean that I could go a few days without washing and it would still be completely fine."
"Basically just a Low GI, high protein, low fat diet, with absolutely no caffeine, sugars, alcohol or simple carbs, or gluten either (I am gluten sensitive). Also no fruit.
Carbs: Lowered GI White Rice, Vegetables (mixed green salad)
Protein: Chicken, lean beef/pork/lamb, Tuna (in water, not vegetable oils)
Fats: A very small amount (only enough to cook with) of olive oil/canola butter, and the occasional avocado.
Timing I only eat the carbs (low GI) in the morning for breakfast, and post-workout - and I make sure I have plenty of fibrous vegetables with them to control blood sugar more effectively."
" Just as an update for everybody -
My low-fat, low GI, high fibre, high protein diet has been working wonders.
I have zero active acne on my face, and only 1 red mark which is fading fast.
My back is about 40,000 times better, with no active pimples - and all my red marks are basically invisible in only a short amount of time.
Update on what I'm doing: Exercise: 6 days per week, light cardio and HIIT and occasional weights (high reps, lighter). Vit D3, Zinc, Vit A, Fish Oil (yeah I started on it again)
No glutamine or creatine or whey"
[From another thread but the same poster:] " there are plenty of people on these forums that eat a lot of good fat and are acne-free. i for one can have as much oily fish, fatty meat, coconut oil and avocado as i want and my skin only improves. trans and polysaturated fats are the ones to watch out for, so please don't just say "fatty foods" "
wibble (basically on paleo): "So far I've been on a low GL diet for 2 weeks, and although its early days, its probably the best its been. . . . The "diet" isn't actually too difficult, its basically eating healthy without starchy carbs (wheat, rice, potatos) and sugars, and not eating too much of it (unless you burn off a lot of calories). Making sure as much is "whole" still as possible, and not processed. Theory I think is, that the high GI/GL foods promote an insulin response that eventually promotes more sebum (lots of info on Google out there). For example very little bread (if you must, have something like Burgen low GI bread), cut out rice (I swap in more green veg), not much potatos, and very little sugary foods."
"Breakfast, I would have something like Porridge or maybe eggs/bacon (instead of my old usual cereals).
Lunch, Something like a tuna+veg wrap (instead of a cheese sandwich).
Dinner, Something like stir fry with chicken with lots of green veg, or another meat with a large salad.
Main thing is trying to make sure you get lots of non-starch veg in, at least half of lunch/dinner should have this. The rest can be protein, plus a little starch veg like potato if needed.
Don't each huge portions of anything except non-starch veg, but do adapt if you lead a very active lifestyle (mine is fairly sedentary, working indoors). Fats you can include in your salads for example with healthy fats, rather than cheese or something, but no need to get too many in."
" [wibble:] I'm currently pretty much oil free on a low GL diet. I eat Muesli or scrambled eggs for breakfast, salad or maybe a chicken sandwich with veg. For dinner I have some meat with veg like broccoli, carrots, sweet potatos. Obviously not the same every day, but similar idea."
sherrinblue: "I changed my diet to a all natural diet of just fruits, vegetables, lean meats and whole grains and saw a huge difference in my skin's oiliness within a week."
mystril: "Tried Low GI for 2-3 Months, Skin became much less Oilier."
lindanm from healthboards: "Zinc, Saw Palmetto, Nettle Leaf, low carb diets, fiber, probiotics, Omega 3s, and exercize. My once grotesquely oily skin is not oily at all anymore due to these things"
chief89: "I've been a sugar and carb junkie with very poor eating habits. Since I went "cold turkey" and have started watching my intake, completely cut out all candy, added sugars, chips, heavy carb items like potato, I have started to notice that the skin on my face has gone dry!"
wingedserpent: "I noticed huge reductions in the oiliness of my skin when I cut out sugar."
deetox:"I used to suffer from very greasy skin and acne myself, once I stopped eating fried foods and other oily greasy foods (especially fast food) and started drinking lots of green smoothies and fresh veggie juices every day (with lots of greens, chlorophyll is the key) all my skin problems disappeared."
sleptember did Paleo, cinnamon, zinc, chromium, and magnesium: "I used to suffer from very oily skin. I believe my caveman routine helped balance this out. However, I still experience moderate to slight post-meal oiliness."
" I don't take any vitamin supplements -I try to eat nutritious foods instead (lots of veggies, fruit, and quality meat)."
Michelene: "This is the first time in years that my skin is clear. I started taking Zinc, Niacinmide, Multi-Vitamin, B-complex and Fish Oils. My skin is clear and oil is down by at least 50%. I also wash in the am and pm, change my pillow case twice a week and started drinking lots of water."
Cartman: "Why not take pantethine (Coenzyme A)? It has been proven to reduce cholestorol levels and is high-bioavailable, pharmaceutical grade metabolite of vitamin B-5 helps maintain a favorable lipid balance to promote healthy cardiovascular function. I've been taking it for about 3 weeks and I've noticed reduced inflamation and sebum production. I take 900 mg a day, spread out over 3 doses."
Ichance23: "the paleo diet decreases my oily skin over a period of 2 months. i suddenly noticed my skin was about 20% less oily. it also decreased my acne. however the oil and acne came back a little when i started lifting. now i gave up on lavender oil and only use tto. the tto is an antiandrogen so it decreases the size of one's pores and decreases the oil production of our skin as well. i have actually noticed it decreasing the size of my large nose pores and as a result decreasing the oiliness of my skin."
Clear At Last did no sugar and only " whole grain bread, vegetables, fruits, patotoes, etc. DO eat some meat/fish at dinner, but in moderation. I dont know about diary products, I never eat them anyway.":
"First, I noticed my skin became less oily, then I noticed less new zits popping up, and finally NO new zits forming"
In response to thread "Has anyone overcome oily skin through diet?", alternativista said: " Yes. And Not by consuming less fat and oil. In fact I add oils and sometimes have a tablespoon of coconut oil as a supplement."
" Avoiding high glycemic impacting meals, drinks and snacks means not stimulating excess insulin, a master hormone that stimulates the production and release of other hormones such as the androgens that stimulate excess sebum production."
" I wouldn't worry about the starch, not when it comes in a nutrient rich food like a sweet potato. The starch in them includes resistant starch that helps keep blood sugar stable."
Tunnelvisionary: " I've overcome my 24/7 oil slick with diet changes.
Initially, I cut out lots of things like dairy, wheat, rice, and sugary foods. From that, it was instant improvement in my oiliness.
I don't know if I let myself heal or something (doubt it considering newer health problems were arising from not eating enough), but I've expanded my diet quite a bit since successfully and my nose only gets very slightly oily when I eat A LOT of rice and sourdough bread. Everything else is pretty good. I refuse to touch whole wheat bread, but I'd imagine it makes my skin oilier."