Acne Causes: Is Toxic Tap Water Making You Break Out?

filtered water for acne

A question I’m often asked by my Clear Skin clients is ‘do I need to drink filtered water to clear up my acne?’

As with most things in life, quality counts, and the water we drink is no exception.

Regular tap water can be contaminated with toxins – including pesticides, plastics, and even trace amounts of female hormones and prescription meds, as well as chemicals like chlorine and fluoride. These toxins have been shown to screw with our hormones, which we already know is bad news for acne.

In addition, our liver is our bodies’ filter, so when we drink these tap-water toxins, we are giving our poor overworked livers even more work to do (and trust me, they’re busy enough already).

Is Bottled Better?

Not so fast. In addition to being terrible for the environment, the plastic from water bottles can leach into your water. Compounds found in plastic include things like PET and BPA that are know hormone-disruptors – again, a recipe for disaster for the acne-prone. 

Though the quantities of these hormone-disrupting compounds may be very small, over time, those small doses do add up. These chemicals leach into the water even faster when exposed to heat and sunlight, so this definitely a sign that it’s time to finally throw out that Evian bottle that’s been in your car since last summer.

Do your skin (and the planet!) a solid and ditch the plastic altogether. Glass or stainless steel are much better options for a reusable water container – I love Chilly’s (https://www.chillys.com/uk/categories/bottles).

So plastic bottles are a no-go, and glass bottles are expensive and heavy, what about water filters?

The Low-down on Home Water Filters

When it comes to home water filters, there are two options I recommend, depending on your budget.

Activated Carbon Filters

Most activated carbon filters are made from crushed coconut shells which are then steamed and compressed into filters. They’re especially effective at removing chlorine from tap water, but won’t remove minerals, salts, and dissolved inorganic substances – things like arsenic and asbestos – which tend to find their way into our water systems from nearby rocks and old piping.

You can even buy a stick of carbon to pop straight into your water jug from most health food stores these days, so it’s a cheap and easy option.

Reverse Osmosis Filters

Reverse Osmosis systems are generally the best quality filtration system available. 

They remove nitrates, sulfates, fluoride and arsenic, but unfortunately they also remove all the good stuff, including healthy minerals like magnesium, calcium, potassium and sodium. You can add remineralisation drops to your water to replace the lost minerals. 

RO filters do tend to be expensive, especially with the ongoing cost of replacing the filters. If you’re especially concerned, you can have your water tested for contaminants before investing money into a filter system.

It’s important that we also look at the other sources of hormone-disrupting chemicals in your life before investing in an expensive filter, because there may be things that are having a much bigger impact on your acne – things like: 

  • the pill
  • chemicals in your make-up & hair products 
  • perfume & fragrances
  • cleaning products
  • plastic Tupperware & cling film
  • pesticides on foods

You can read more about foods that will help balance your hormones here.

Whilst drinking filtered water certainly is good for your skin, it’s important to keep things in perspective. What I mean is, I don’t want you to add this to your list of things you need to be perfect at. Drinking from plastic when you forgot your water bottle is not going to make or break your acne recovery, but stressing about it will certainly have an impact.

Investing in some type of water filter can be a great way to support your Clear Skin Journey, but it’s def not the only thing – or even the most important thing – you can be doing to clear up your skin.

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Kim, Founder of Wilder Nature Nutrition
Kim, Founder of Wilder Nature Nutrition

Kim Haslam is the founder of Wilder Nature Nutrition, a nutrition-led clinical healthcare practice that specialises in helping clients with skin issues such as acne, eczema and rosacea. Kim is a BANT-registered Clinical Nutritional Therapist (British Association of Nutrition and Lifestyle Therapists) and associate member of the Royal Society of Medicine, and takes a holistic Functional Medicine approach to health, focusing on identifying the root causes of her clients symptoms to help them heal from the ground up.

Her inside-out approach to skincare is a truly personalised system that gets to the bottom of bad skin for good. By mapping her clients’ individual health factors such as hormonal balance, nutritional status, stress and inflammation levels, liver detoxification, microbiome diversity and genetic predispositions, she creates a map of factors that are contributing to her client’s less-than-optimal health. This generates a clear path forwards on the journey towards clearer skin and better health in ways that that will really work for her clients as individuals.

Clients have praised Kim for her clear and easy-to-digest ways of explaining complex health problems, her supportive attitude and her compassionate, non-judgemental and solution-oriented approach. Her innovative all-round approach to skin often has the side-effects of reducing depression and anxiety, strengthening the immune system, improving overall digestive function, eliminating period pains and improving general sense of well-being and quality of life.

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