Dr. Leigha Saunders, ND

No one enjoys sensitive skin that is prone to acne, blemishes and breakouts. As the skin is our largest organ of detoxification, sensitive and breakout-prone skin is usually a sign of a less than optimally functioning digestive system, unidentified food intolerances (most commonly dairy, refined sugar, soy and alcohol) and/or hormonal imbalance.

In any type of inflammatory skin condition, reducing inflammation on the inside and out is key for reducing breakouts and sensitivity while improving tone, texture and clarity.

Here are my go-to’s for preventing and treating sensitive and blemished skin:

  1. Identify food intolerances – do an IgG Food Sensitivity Test or a Hypoallergenic diet for at least 3 weeks. By eliminating dairy, gluten, refined sugar, caffeine and soy, your whole body is given a welcomed break from the most common food intolerances and inflammatory factors.
  1. Optimize digestive function – this may mean increasing stomach acid for those who need it (especially common for those with rosacea), optimizing gut flora with probiotics and improving bowel function to ensure regular elimination of toxins and waste.
  1. Calm the inflammation – ensure healthy fats are out-numbering pro-inflammatory fats by limiting fried foods and red meat, while taking a concentrated EPA rich fish oil.
  1. Let the pros take out the trash – I indulge in and also encourage my patients to get regular facials (from an all natural spa, of course!). This is the best way to properly remove toxins and waste build up from the delicate skin on the face.
  1. Ditch the harsh products. Using products with drying ingredients, like benzoyl peroxide, leave the skin dry and irritated. This creates a vicious cycle – the skin tries to increase oil production once dry, often worsening breakouts and increasing the urge to cleanse more. By switching to natural products, your skin will glow!

Clarifying Skin Serum Recipe

To reduce redness and breakouts and improve skin clarity, a nutritive, anti-inflammatory oil that also balances the skins moisture levels is best. I recommend a blend of argan, jojoba and calendula oils with the addition of chamomile essential oil to further reduce redness and irritation. It’s important to avoid rosehip oil when treating blemished skin, as it can worsen acne.


Argan oil –rich in vitamin E and essential fatty acids, Argan oil is also lightweight and absorbs well to moisturize and rejuvenate the skin without clogging pores.

Jojoba oil –another lightweight oil, jojoba is well tolerated by almost all skin types. It reduces inflammation and acne while balancing the skin’s moisture and oil barrier.

Calendula oil –my favorite herb! Calendula has tremendous healing and ant-inflammatory properties. It is also rich in a number of phytochemicals that help to repair and rejuvenate the skin!


  • Mix equal parts of Argan, Jojoba and Calendula oils into a small, glass bottle (ideally with pump).
  • Add 6-10 drops of an essential oil of your choice (rose, geranium and chamomile are great options). Shake well.
  • Note: Avoid the addition of tea tree oil – this is a harsh oil that tends to dry out and irritate the skin. It is better used as a spot treatment in a carrier oil for acne lesions.
  • Apply a dime-sized amount of oil to face nightly, before going to bed. Avoid contact with eyes.

Saunders_headshotDr. Leigha Saunders, ND is a licensed naturopathic doctor practicing in Uxbridge, Ontario. She maintains a busy and diverse practise with patients who are ready to transform their health to gain energy, balance mood and lose weight. But what she’s really passionate about is helping people just like you discover that food is the most powerful form of medicine you could ever take!

Dr. Saunders received her Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto, Canada.

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