Having ACNE is never a fun endeavour, but understanding why you have it and what you can do to improve it is half the battle.
As someone who has dealt with acne since I was a teenager, this is a topic I have endless information to share. First and foremost, it is essential to understand that acne is a skin condition that happens when your hair follicles become plugged with oil and dead skin cells. Not only on your face, but it can occur anywhere on your body as well, forming as whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, and cystic acne, which will typically appear anywhere on your body that you have sebaceous glands that develop the most oil. Your hair follicles are attached to these oil glands.
Various Causes of Acne
- Hormonal acne affects a variety of age groups and occurs when there is over-active hormones (androgens)
- Excessive oil production in those that experience oily skin every day
- Bacteria can aggravate an immune response which causes acne to develop
- Hair follicles become clogged with dead skin cells and oil including beard hair
- Certain medications can affect hormone levels resulting in acne. Examples include drugs containing corticosteroids, testosterone or lithium
- Diet – Studies indicate that certain dietary factors, including skim milk and carbohydrate-rich foods (such as bread products, bagels, cereal bars and pancakes)
- Stress – Stress affects hormones which can increase acne
- Genetics – If it is common in your family to have acne then chances are you will experience it too
Treatments to Consider
One of the first questions to ask yourself if you are experiencing acne is: Am I doing everything I can to prevent acne on my skin? Are you cleansing your face daily and adequately? Also, using a toner? Exfoliating when necessary?
If your answer is yes to all of the above, then you should consider some treatments to assist with controlling your acne. Skincare can play a huge role in skin conditions like acne, and all products you purchase if you experience acne-prone skin is non-comedogenic, which means the product is specially formulated not to cause blocked pores.
Skincare containing glycolic acid and salicylic acid are my over the counter go-to’s. Glycolic acid is a natural exfoliant, effectively removing the outermost layer of dead skin cells from the complexion, which will reveal brighter, fresher skin. Products with this ingredient usually are used to treat scarring, skin discolouration and signs of ageing. Salicylic acid works by increasing the amount of moisture in the skin, which essentially dissolves the substance that causes your skin to stick together, resulting in shedding skin cells easier.
I, myself, who experiences acne, am a double cleanse girl and cleanse twice a day. In the evening, I wash with a face oil or balm (Sahajan Cleansing Oil(ENTER LISAVELLA FOR 15% OFF), or Darphin Aromatic Cleansing Balm), which emulsifies into milk by adding water and I follow up with a foaming cleanser, Tata Harper, Regenerating Exfoliating Cleanser. The purpose, you ask? I want to break down all the makeup and dirt on my face first with an oil/balm but, I never feel completely clean until I go in with a foaming cleanser. I also use a face sponge and gently massage on my face in a circular motion. In the mornings, I solely use a foaming cleanser. An important note is to be careful not to overstimulate your skin. Cleansing too frequently can cause more breakouts, so I suggest twice a day.
Following a good cleanse, I always go in with a toner. A toner provides a quick hit of hydration, closes and tightens pores and removes dirt and dead skin cells. Again using myself as an example, I found when I stopped using a toner suited for my skin type, I experienced acne more frequently. Some toners contain glycolic and salicylic acid, which is also great for anyone experiencing ingrown hairs. Try Neostrata Oily Skin Solution.
As spot treatments consider using benzoyl peroxide, Urban Skin Rx Acne Serum, which you can get over the counter. It is an antimicrobial, which means it will help reduce the amount of acne-causing bacteria on your skin; Less bacteria results in fewer breakouts. It also keeps pores clear from blockages and, in my opinion, is the most effective treatment in all that I have tried thus far.
When I want a more natural solution, I turn to Tea Tree Oil, Desert Essence 100% Australian Tea Tree Oil. I tend to alternate between the two treatments. Tea Tree Oil is antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial. If you are using 100% tea tree oil, it will be potent and could potentially burn your skin, so diluting it with a carrier oil will be best. I dip a q-tip into the mixture and apply directly onto my acne spot, twice a day.
When I desire that deep cleanse, I turn to a clay or charcoal mask, which tends to help my cystic acne. Some of my favourites are Origins Clear Improvement Charcoal Mask, and BareMinerals Dirty Detox Mud Mask.
After a workout, it is always a good idea to wash your face and or wipe your face off to clean the dirt, sweat and hopefully not tears, lol away. I always carry Neutrogena Rapid Clear Maximum Strength Acne Pads with me in this circumstance to give a good clean in preventing acne.
When to see a Doctor/Dermatologist
If you have reached a point where your self-care remedies are providing no relief from your acne, then I suggest visiting a dermatologist, precisely one that specializes in acne. These doctors have access to medications that you cannot purchase over the counter. When I see cases of cystic acne, then I also recommend taking this route. Explore your options and decide on your course of action.
So where do you go from here? Always remember to keep your skin clean and give it the time it deserves. Do not skip any steps on your lazy days, and remember there is help around to guide you. Try these solutions out and share with me if any have worked for you?? I wish you clearer days ahead.