Skin Coach Q&A: Supplements for Skin?


I’m taking a Hair, Skin and Nails vitamin supplement, but it doesn’t seem to be helping my skin. My hair is thicker and healthier, but my skin is still quite broken out. Are there other supplements that I should consider adding?

Erin’s Answer:

As a health coach, I don’t prescribe medications or supplements. My recommendations are just that: recommendations. However, I do spend a significant amount of time in continuing education and research, and I’m always happy to share what I’ve learned. While some supplements are practically required for healthy skin, others will wreak havoc. Read on to learn what to eat and what to avoid…

Skin supplements that are bad for skin?

My first suggestion is to stop taking the Hair, Skin and Nails formula right away. I’ve seen a surge of acne lately with the rising popularity of these supplements. Why? They contain Biotin, a B vitamin that, while necessary for skin health, will cause acne flares in higher doses. Biotin deficiencies are rare. The recommended daily allowance is 300 mcg of Biotin per day, which we easily get from food. Also, our bodies can make it from foods we consume. Many supplement formulas contain 5000 mcg! These high dosages can lead to several other unwanted and even dangerous side effects, in addition to painful, inflamed acne of the face and body.

After you ditch the Hair, Skin and Nails…find a pharmaceutical grade multi vitamin. Why is this important? As I (daily) tell my clients, the vitamin market in the United States is a Wild West free for all. There is no regulation of the supplement industry, which sadly means that consumers have no way of trusting the claims on a label, including whether the contents are accurate, pure, or potent. Unless, that is, the supplement is pharmaceutical grade, which means they are voluntarily adhering to drug-manufacturer standards, testing, and quality control.

Compare your vitamins

For a really eye-opening look at how supplements stack up, go to and spend a few bucks on the NutriSearch Comparative Guide. Hint: if you’re taking Centrum, GNC, Kirkland, or Arbonne, prepare for disappointment. And if yours isn’t in the book, it didn’t make the cut. This helpful tool is compiled by an independent group of research scientists, and they consider multi-vitamins from a staggering array of angles in order to reach their conclusions. I wouldn’t be without a copy.

Another critical addition would be Omega 3 fatty acids. Personally, I prefer fish oil as a primary source. Vegetarian options such as Chia seeds, flax, and walnut oils also provide Omega 3s, but are not as readily available to the body. Again, pharmaceutical grade is the only way to go. But there’s a problem. The USA doesn’t have a pharmaceutical grade standard for fish oil. The solution? A company like Nordic Naturals, which adheres to the European pharmaceutical standards. This is important, in order to avoid contaminated or otherwise sub-par fish oil.

Eat this, not that

Probiotics are also very beneficial for skin health. Since it’s difficult to know if a bottle on the shelf contains live organisms, I encourage clients to get as much as possible from raw, fermented foods. Yogurt does contain probiotics, but dairy is a problem for acne. Instead, consider coconut water kefir, raw sauerkraut, kimchee, Bubbie’s pickles, and the like. Fermented foods will provide significantly more beneficial bacteria than the average supplement!

Since you suffer from acne, I would also suggest you avoid excess iodine. Kelp tablets, iodine drops, large amounts of sea vegetables, shellfish, spirulina and iodized salt will all trigger flares in the acne-prone.

Another to watch out for is Creatine. This amino acid supplement is popular with athletes and body builders because it stimulates muscle strength and bulk. It also stimulates crazy acne breakouts.

I hope this helps with your supplement choices. I also recommend eating the best possible local, seasonal, whole foods diet. Ahhh, and water. Drink lots of water. And live happily ever after.

Skin Coach Q&A: Coconut Oil and Acne


Coconut oil seems to be the cure all for everything, even acne. What is the benefit of coconut oil for the skin? Do you believe it helps with acne?

Erin’s Answer:

I’ve noticed the coconut oil trend seems to be gaining more and more momentum. Nearly every client I see has a sister-in-law who just swears by it, and online research turns up lots of support in favor of coconut oil for the skin. I agree it’s great to eat, and I recommend using it in place of other fats during cooking. I also consider it beneficial for some topical uses, but NOT for acne.

Coconut oil is highly pore clogging

If you have ‘that’ sister-in-law, please read on. Coconut oil has long been recognized as pore clogging (comedogenic) by cosmetic chemists. The problem, as with most comedogens, is that it can take weeks or even months for the breakout to become apparent. For this reason, people often unwittingly continue use, not realizing that trouble is brewing deep inside their pores. As true with all acne rules, this does not apply to someone without the genetic predisposition to break out. These people are typically free to use most anything and won’t be bothered by it.

But some people say it HELPED their breakouts

There are other conditions that mimic acne, a common one being fungal folliculitis that causes small raised bumps often mistaken for pimples. Deeper folliculitis can create bigger ‘zit-like’ lesions. I have a theory that, due to its anti-fungal properties, coconut oil is effectively clearing this condition. It would be an easy mistake to make. I see clients who regularly present with this fungal rash-like condition, and they always think it’s acne.

I can see how someone might notice an improvement in their fungal folliculitis rather quickly, and not develop increased acne lesions until a month (or two or three) later. At that point, it would be easy to miss the connection between the coconut oil and the acne. Instead, they’d want to keep using the oil, thinking ‘It cleared me up before, so I’ll stick with it.’ After all, can Google and the sister-in-law both be wrong? (insert evil laugh)

My best advice is to not use coconut oil topically where you tend to break out with acne, and if you choose to use it elsewhere, like your feet, wash your hands with soap afterward to prevent unintentionally transferring to your face, chest or back.

Skin Coach Q&A: Alternatives to Accutane®


I’m considering taking Accutane® for my acne. I feel like it’s my only option at this point, and I’d like to know your thoughts about it. I’ve heard some pretty scary things about the side effects.

Erin’s Answer:

I’m glad you asked, because this is an incredibly serious step to take, and one that I feel is often taken too lightly. Accutane® was actually taken off the US market in 2009. Juries had awarded many millions of dollars in damages to injured drug users suffering from Inflammatory Bowel Disease. However, the generic forms of isotretinoin are still available and frequently prescribed today. These are commonly referred to as ‘Accutane®’.


Skin Coach Q&A: Skin and Sugar (the OTHER white drug)


Does sugar have any effect on skin health?

Skin Coach Erin Answers:

Yes, sugar intake is a major factor in both acne and aging. Thankfully, the World Health Organization has recommended lowering dietary sugar. Thus more people have become aware of just how much they eat. The new recommendation for an adult of typical body mass index is only 25 grams per day.

When I personally began paying close attention to labels, I was blown away by the amounts in even ‘healthy’ foods. Added sugar is an insidious threat to our health at many levels. I can’t go into all of them here, but I will say…


How Clear Skin Can Change the World

Skin Care for YOU

Inner beauty (you know, the kind you can’t see with your eyes) has always been the most important beauty, right? You can’t judge a book by its cover. So why do you feel like your problem skin is holding you back?  How would it feel to not have to deal with that anymore?

The Real Deal on Parabens

be paraben free
Parabens (hydroxybenzoates) are one of most wrongly maligned ingredients in the cosmetic industry. Most “natural” companies embelish a study done by Dr. Darbre and implicate that using any cosmetic with parabens will put you at a higher risk of breast cancer. The fact that only a handful of scientists felt any need to comment on this study goes unmentioned.

They also would like you to believe that parabens are no good for sensitive and eczema prone skins as they will cause allergies.

These are the facts.