our favorite acne-safe restaurants in san francisco + the surrounding bay area

at skinSALVATION, we love to eat.

we love to grocery shop, cook meals at home and enjoy meals that are prepared for us by loved ones. we love to go to the neighborhood restaurants where they know us by name, and join year-long waitlists to have fine dining experiences. we love eating food that fuels our bodies and teaching our clients how to choose foods that will fuel theirs.

we consider cooking at home to be the most acne-safe option because it means that you have complete control of what goes into your food. often times when you eat out, there is hidden dairy, soy and cloggy cooking oils in dishes that you wouldn’t expect.

however, we recognize that we live in a mecca of some of the world’s most wonderful restaurants, so we’ve begun a list of some of our personal favorite places to eat acne-safe food. this list will be updated as we remember gems that we’ve experienced before and as we explore new restaurants.

note: not everything on these restaurant’s menus is acne-safe. make informed eating decisions by asking your server if dishes contain dairy or soy. they are happy to tell you and may be able to make substitutions to accommodate you.

pro tip: when a friend or a date asks you out to dinner, offer to cook for them or suggest a restaurant from this list where you know you’ll be able to find something to eat that fits your dietary restrictions. you can check out the menus online ahead of time and even call to ask about ingredients so that you already know what you’re going to order before you get there.

 

DINING OUT FOR DINNER IN SAN FRANCISCO

bar agricole has a seasonally based menu chock full of locally grown produce and sustainable meat options. all of their dishes can be made dairy + soy free and the “farm-to-table” restaurant just received another 3-star rating from michael bauer (esteemed food and drink writer for the sf chronicle for over 28 years!). be sure to try a handcrafted cocktail and the $1 pork sausages, served with gut-loving sauerkraut, during their daily happy hour from 5pm to 6pm.

trou normand is the sister restaurant of bar agricole and their made-in-house charcuterie selections are among the best the city has to offer! the protein-heavy menu favors us carnivores, but the citrus salad around this time of year is delicious and vegan, dairy + soy-free.

minas brazilian hosted the skinSALVATION team for our new years dinner and we pretty much ordered one of everything on the menu. they were very accommodating about making dishes dairy, soy and gluten-free for us.

llimon rotisserie has amazing roast chicken, sides + ceviche that are dairy + soy-free. they do have a few dishes on the menu that include soy sauce as indicated on their menu.

tin is a family-run restaurant that serves traditional vietnamese fare. we love to start with the fresh spring rolls, sans peanut dipping sauce, and follow it up with a steaming bowl of phō. perfect for these gloomy san francisco days we’ve been having!

turtle tower speaking of phō, turtle tower is know for this broth based soup, boasting some of the best freshly-made noodles. be sure to ask if they add soy sauce to any of the dishes that you order and if so, ask them to hold it.

*tip: bring your own bottle of coconut aminos in your bag when you dine at asian restaurants. you can add your own instead of soy sauce!

 

DINE IN OR TAKE OUT FOR LUNCH + DINNER IN SAN FRANCISCO

la taza has a huge menu including many great salads, which you can order without cheese. the kale con quinoa with steak is a staff favorite!

mateo’s taqueria is an upscale taqueria located downstairs from skinSALVATION. we love that they use organic ingredients and will make anything without cheese or crema, just ask for, “no dairy.”

staff favorites: guacamole (ask for no cheese!) + horchata made with almond milk. although horchata is a sweet cinnamon rice milk, it’s often mixed with dairy milk to make it creamy.

mau has delicious + nourishing broth as the base of many of their dishes. their staff is very knowledgable and can tell you if any of the dishes contain soy (a hard feat in many asian restaurants).

gracias madre takes a vegan approach to traditional mexican dishes. we LOVE that they use cashew cheese in their dishes, making them dairy AND soy-free.

burma love is a great burmese restaurant in the mission. some of their dishes contain soy so be sure to ask before ordering. staff favorite is their tea leaf salad (ask them to hold the peanuts to keep it acne-safe).

 

EAT IN THE EAST BAY

teni east kitchen makes an amazing burmese chickpea tofu for those of you who are missing the traditional soy dish.

burma superstar is the east bay mama restaurant of burma love. same rules apply.

mission heirloom is a beautiful paleo restaurant for meals and treats. their brazilian waffles (with cheddar cheese) and their coffee drinks are the only items on the menu to steer clear of. many of their dishes contain coconut oil, which can be problematic for many of us who are acne-prone but is okay in small amounts.

enssaro ethiopian is gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free and you get to eat it with your hands! the meat sampler and veggies sampler are both amazing.

 

DELIVERY

darn good food

mealmade delivers delicious paleo meals for lunch and dinner in san francisco. a staff favorite is their orange chicken with cauliflower rice.

methodology is a subscription based paleo meal delivery service. their delicious + healthy meals are perfect for people who don’t have time to meal prep acne-safe food for the week. use promo code SKINSALVATION to get 10% off of your first week.

sprig lists all of their ingredients and nutrition information on the website + app so you can check if dishes contain dairy or soy before ordering.

munchery allows you to add filters for things like dairy, gluten and eggs. you have to double check ingredient listings to be sure that there’s no soy added.

good eggs delivers organic groceries, prepared meals and snacks from stores across the bay area.

instacart delivers groceries, prepared meals and snacks from stores in your area like whole foods, bi-rite, and rainbow grocery.

postmates delivers food from a TON of restaurants in the bay area. some of our favs are:

  • roam artisan burgers, which can be ordered without dairy, and even without a bun!
  • pica pica maize kitchen, which makes gluten-free peruvian style arepas. be sure to ask for yours without cheese!
  • project juice, which has a ton of great soy-free and dairy-free prepared meals. their coconut crepes with cashew cheese + blueberries are a staff fav!

 

SWEETS + TREATS 

wholesome bakery makes cookies + cupcakes free from the top allergens including: dairy, soy, gluten, and eggs. their thin mint cookie sandwiches are a staff fav!

dandelion chocolate makes beautiful dairy-free and soy-free chocolate.

sidewalk juice makes great veggie juices + smoothies. some of their smoothies contain dairy, soy milk or sherbet (super high in sugar!) but they will gladly sub almond milk for you! staff favs are the green energy juice (ask for it without apple + add extra lemon if you’re on candida cleanse!) and the blueberry almond smoothie (ask them to leave out the fro-yo).

boba guys will make any of their delicious boba drinks with almond milk instead of dairy!

 

 

 

 

this article was written for you by liesse + chelsee.

holiday travel essentials for clear skin

 

airplane travel and acne

snacks

airport and road trip food is often filled with dairy, soy and lots of salt. this article from BBC says that airplane food is heavily salted because lack of humidity and low pressure in the cabin decreases our ability to taste salt + sweet by 30%. not only can this heightened salt intake increase water retention making your body feel puffy, it can also irritate acne. forego the airport food and bring these snacks with you instead:

  • justin’s single serving almond butter with apple chips (i’ve found these at most metropolitan airports lately)
  • fresh fruit
  • a sandwich

keep leftover snacks from the trip with you in case you’re in a situation where you didn’t get much to eat at a meal that was dairy or soy heavy.

hydration

moskvitch also writes in her article, why does food taste different on planes? that, “at about 30,000 feet, humidity is less than 12% – drier than most deserts.” this can wreck havoc on your body and skin causing intense dehydration. add a cocktail in the mix and you’re guaranteed to wake up from your in-plane snooze with a headache. this article from the atlantic recommends that you drink one liter of water for every 5 hours of air travel.

topically, i like to add an extra layer of hydrating gel under my regular daytime moisturizer and bring a small bottle of rose water with me to regularly spritz my face during the trip.

hydration and acne

if you’re traveling to a warm climate

  • your regimen! you may want to opt for a lighter moisturizer like hydrating gel instead of hydrating cream if you’re traveling to a hot + humid climate. also, lay off of harsh exfoliants like vitamin a on days that you’re spending in the sun to reduce your chance of hyper-pigmentation.

if you’re traveling to a cold climate

linens

it’s essential to bring your own washcloths and pillowcases with you so that you don’t have to use host’s or hotel’s that are washed in cloggy laundry detergent and fabric softener. in addition, it can be embarrassing to bleach a host’s linens with benzoyl peroxide!

bring one washcloth per day of travel. you can use the same one morning and night, but not into the next day. bring 1 pillow case for every 3-5 days of travel. use one side of the pillowcase only to avoid the transfer of cloggy detergent or fabric softener from the sheets to your face or benzoyl peroxide residue from your face to their sheets.

acne-safe pillowcase

to prevent travel induced inflammation

  • ice! bring your ice pop maker if you’ll be at a host’s house or in a hotel with a freezer. if you don’t have access to a freezer, you can ask the hotel bar or concierge to bring you a glass of ice or get a few cubes from the ice machine.
  • take zyflamend each night to help reduce and prevent inflammation.
  • stick to the acne-safe diet by avoiding dairy, soy and coffee completely and limiting your sugar and alcohol intake.
  • keep your sleep consistent. try to go to bed at the same time as you would if you were at home and be sure to get 8-9 hours of quality sleep each night.
  • if you take a birth control pill, take it every 24 hours. that may a different time of day than at home because of a time change.
  • have fun, breathe deeply, relax your mind an body, enjoy time spent with loved ones or for yourself.

acne-safe ranch dressing

here’s a recipe that we found for acne-safe ranch dressing. check out the video below of chelsee whipping it together!

ingredients
1 can full-fat coconut milk or coconut cream, refrigerated overnight (do not use light coconut milk)
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1½ tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1½ tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon sea salt
black pepper, to taste

instructions
1. open the can of coconut milk or coconut cream. scoop the coconut cream off the top of the can and add it to a large bowl, leaving the coconut water within the can.
2. add 4 tablespoons of the coconut water into the coconut cream and whisk until smooth (reserve the leftover coconut water, as you may need to whisk in an extra tablespoon or two after refrigerating your dressing depending on your desired thickness).
3. add in the shallots, garlic, apple cider vinegar, chives, parsley, basil, dill, sea salt, and black pepper. stir to combine and refrigerate dressing for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors meld together.
4. enjoy this dressing over your favorite salads or dip your favorite vegetables into it!

cocktails 101: for the acne-safe diet

when living the acne-safe lifestyle and adhering to the acne-safe diet, limiting your sugar intake is key! sugar, even in its simplest form, can cause inflammation. processed sugars like white bread, pasta and common table sugar can be some of the biggest culprits. here is a good article that breaks down to effects of sugar on the body.

so you’ve already vowed to leave the sugar out of your black tea every morning and cut down your late night pantry raid for dark chocolate to one night a week (or two)! however, there might be one thing you’ve yet to consider: those pitchers of margaritas, glasses of sangria and delicious summer shandy’s!

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while alcohol itself is made through the process of distilling sugar, there is no actual sugar left in the spirits once they have been distilled. FUN FACT: you can make alcohol out of ANYTHING that contains sugar, like this carrot eau de vie which would make for a deliciously vegetal bloody mary! so as long as the producer hasn’t added any sugar after distillation to reach a desired taste or color, drinking spirits straight is the best way to avoid the high sugar intake. however, the cocktail trend is on the rise and there are so many awesome cocktail-driven bars and restaurants, especially here in san francisco. we’re here to tell you that you don’t have to give up a friday night out with friends for healthy skin!

there are plenty of delicious cocktail recipes that call for little to no sugar at all! even the notoriously sweet, and beloved, tiki drinks can be made to fit in with the acne-safe diet. you can still get the toy umbrella without the break out!

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when making cocktails at home:

lots of classical cocktail recipes call for simple syrup, a solution of sugar and water, as the primary sweetening agent. when making cocktails or other non-alcoholic drinks at home, try making your own simple syrup using stevia instead of refined sugar! agave syrup is also a good alternative to sugar due to it’s naturally lower glycemic index.

here are some of our favorite at-home cocktail recipes that call for little to no sugar!

– a piña colada either frozen or served over crushed ice, is sure to transport you straight to the island of puerto rico (even if it’s just in your head!)
the skinny margarita made with un-aged tequila (reposado and añejo tequila may have sugar added in the form of caramel coloring so always be sure to check the labels! FYI this is common in whiskey as well) and this organic apple cider vinegar limeade drink with 0 grams of sugar makes for a deliciously tart margarita that won’t throw off your diet!
– this kombucha “moscow mule” has only 1g of sugar in each drink, PLUS tons of gut-healthy probiotics, so you can afford to have more than just one, or two, or…

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when enjoying cocktails at a bar or restaurant:

sugary ingredients, like juice and flavored syrups, can be over-used in some bars to appeal to the masses. additionally, these ingredients are more than likely masking a cut-rate spirit that may be economic, but not very nice to sip on when served “neat.”

– to avoid this, opt for the simpler cocktails on the menu, i.e. the ones without a million ingredients that are certain to have less sugar!
– always ask if the bar carries agave syrup and can substitute it for any use of simple syrup or raw sugar in your preferred cocktail.
– and when all else fails, beer is almost always the safest bet, sure to have less than a few grams of sugar in each serving!

whereEVER and whenEVER you are consuming alcohol:

it is always important to stay hydrated, but even more so when consuming alcoholic beverages! your skin, and tomorrow morning ‘you,’ will thank you for it. a good rule of thumb is one glass of water for every alcoholic drink consumed. try mixing it up with sparkling water instead of regular tap water, or soda water with a dash of bitters and lime juice. the combination is simple, hydrating and delicious!

happy sipping!

is your cold weather clothing making you breakout?

mark twain may have said that the coldest winter he ever spent was a summer in san francisco but locals know that the season is changing by a new crispness in the air. november through july often call for a few extra layers in the bay area (to those of you in the rest of the world, it sounds like i’m bragging about our moderate weather but it really does get cold here). check out this list of winter clothing that can cause breakouts and acne-safe solutions to each of them.

city in the winter


hats: beanies, toques, berets, fedoras – whatever hat suits your style, chances are that you’ve never washed it. think of all of the seasons that you’ve worn it during cold and sweaty activities alike (snowboarding anyone?), now think of all of the times that you’ve washed it. the buildup of sweat, dirt, makeup and bacteria can cause breakouts on the forehead and hairline.

hipster in hat

solution: wash knit and fabric hats in cold water using acne-safe laundry detergent (kim’s fav is soap nuts). be sure not to scrub too hard causing friction that will make wool become felt, and rinse until the water runs clear of soap and dirt. lay flat to dry.

wash the brim of wool hats that same way or spray with 100% pure alcohol and wipe dry until no debris is coming off of the hat and onto the washcloth.

how often: every 2-3 times that you wear a hat and more often if you are prone to breakouts on the forehead. to avoid spending time everyday washing hats, find a few that you like and rotate them in your wardrobe.


ear muffs: can cause breakouts around the ears and hairline from sweat, dirt, makeup and friction.

solution: spray with 100% pure alcohol and wipe clean with a cloth until no more debris is coming off of the muffs. you can also purchase these washable ear muffs which have minimal contact with the skin around your ears. be sure to get your cleanser, toner and serums all the way into your hairline, around and behind your ears to prevent breakouts.

how often: every few times that you wear them and at the beginning of the season.


scarves: can cause irritation and sweat around the chest, neck and jawline. in addition, they often contain cloggy detergents and manufacturing chemicals when you purchase them which can lead to breakouts.

scarf

solution: wash scarves by hand using your acne-safe laundry detergent. rinse with cool water and lay flat to dry.

how often: wash asap when you purchase (before you wear it for the first time) and again every few times that you wear it. be sure to wash all of your scarves together at the beginning of the season so that you have an assortment of options clean in your closet.


 

jacket collars: are cozy and cute but can lead to breakouts on the chest, neck and jawline if left unwashed.

fur collar

solution: wash collars by hand using a spray mix of one part water and one part pure alcohol. apply the solution and dry using a clean washcloth. repeat until no debris is coming off of the washcloth.

how often: once per week and at the beginning of the season.


turtle neck + shawl collared sweaters: are in full fashion right now but can cause irritation and breakouts on the chest, neck and jawline.

knit turtle neck solution: wash by hand using your acne-safe detergent. rinse with cold water and lay flat to dry. wear a silk or cotton tee underneath if you are experiencing irritation on your chest from itchy materials.

how often: after 1-2 wears.


remember to always wash new clothing and accessories before wearing to remove any chemicals that may have been added during manufacturing. check out this blog for acne-safe laundry detergents.