Clearing Up Acne
If you are struggling with acne, or know someone who is, you are going to want to read this. These are my observations in my years of experience as a skincare professional (with over 25 years experience). These are the patterns I’ve seen and the things that work in helping to clear up acne.
You’ve likely noticed that social media is filled with make-up tutorials, especially tutorials on how to cover up acne. There are also highly lucrative businesses that sell products for acne skin, from foundations promising full coverage to hide blemishes, and topical creams to cleansers that promise to eliminate acne all together.
People will pay lots of money to get rid of acne, because acne can take its toll on a person’s self esteem and even feelings of self-worth are connected to complexion.
But in the case of both, in my experience, makeup makes the problem of acne worse and acne products can cause long-term skin damage.
Let me explain why these two popular courses of action don’t work.
Makeup, particularly makeup brushes and sponges are breeding grounds for bacteria. These brushes are harbingers for the kind of bacteria that promote acne, using them on cystic acne only introduces further infection to the area, not to mention that makeup clogs pores which can cause blackheads and can also further inflammation.
For some people who aren’t prone to acne ( those lucky people!) makeup doesn’t cause them any problems, however it is a good practice for everyone to apply makeup with clean hands and sanitized brushes. ( this can be done by spraying these makeup “tools” with alcohol in between uses).
Even without makeup brushes and sponges bacteria is everywhere. We live a contaminated existence, but before you charge through your home sanitizing and disinfecting every surface imaginable, please note not all bacteria is bad for you, more on that later.
Once again, makeup can exacerbate this issue if you are acne prone.
Moreover, Acne washes cans over dry the skin, immediately resulting in an overproduction of oil, and eventually leading the skin to premature aging.
There's also the matter of excessive oily buildup under the skin that can only make its way out through the pores thus creating pimples or whiteheads, and when a pimple surfaces we try and remove it by squeezing it and we introduce bacteria into the skin through the pore which can cause bacteria to spread under the skin’s surface.
Lastly Hormones can play a role in acne breakouts, and foods may in fact play a role in hormone production. You may have heard that foods don’t affect hormones. You may have even heard some tale of a candybar study from the late 60s that concluded there was no connection to chocolate and acne. But that study is now seen as flawed and entirely new research in dermatology is only now discovering how foods do in fact impact skin. “The field of dermatology is now working to get the word out about the link between diet and acne, and specifically the research linking a high-glycemic-load diet to acne.” -Dr. Rajani Katta
“ But if you had asked your dermatologist 20 years ago about this issue, you would have received a different answer. When I was in training, over 20 years ago, we were trained to respond to this question by saying no. " No, research has not been able to identify a link between diet and acne."
What are foods with a high-glycemic load? These are foods that rapidly raise the body’s blood sugar level. Think, sodas, cookies, white bread, and other highly processed foods.
In his book, Your Body In Balance, Neal Barnard, MD also shows how high fat foods, such as oil and dairy affect hormones in the body and not just the hormones.
To keep the acne breakouts at a minimum and have it clear up quickly we need to consider a few things we can do to help our skin.
If the breakouts are because of hormones, the best solution is to monitor yourself and note on a calendar when the breakouts occur ( they usually occur around the same time every month), and then try hard to stay away from cheese, dairy, fried foods, soft drinks, and sugars in the form of chocolates, starting the week before the breakout are set to arrive.
If it’s diet then breakouts will happen any time one consumes much of the foods I mentioned above. In any case if one is prone to acne breakouts avoiding these foods will help greatly to clearing up the acne and set one the the path to healthy glowing skin.
I realize that some skin experts may suggest that diet is not linked to acne breakout. They may suggest it’s linked to being a teenager, having imbalanced hormones, or having poor hygiene, but over the many years ( over 20 years) of my experience with skincare clients and my own study on the subject, these courses of action have indeed helped.
Lastly keeping the skin clean is key and here are some key steps:
- Cleaning the skin with a natural soap helps keep the skin’s natural pH and this is very important in that the skin will not have to produce extra oil because of being stripped dry from using commercial cleansers and acne washes. When using a natural bar of soap the only thing being washed away will be excess oils and dirt on the skin’s surface.
- Only use acne cleanser during a breakout ( for a few days) because continued use will extremely dry out the skin and dry skin is skin that will prematurely age.
- Using a gentle but effective exfoliant will help unclog pores, and remove dead skin and stimulate the skin to produce radiant skin.
- If a Toner is to be used, it can be an acne toner only to be used during an acne breakout, or a toner that doesn’t contain harsh ingredients such as alcohol or alpha hydroxy acids because these will dry out the skin. Healthy Toners are meant to seal in moisture after the skin has been cleansed.
- Moisturizers should be used to help keep the skin from becoming too dry ( dry skin aides in creating fine lines and wrinkles), and to create a healthy barrier between the skin and makeup.
- Sun Protection is the last and final step in helping diminish acne scars and spots because the sun’s rays can help to darken the acne spot and scar. The best sunscreen to use is one containing the two naturally occurring sunblocks(one or both of titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide) that protect the skin against UVB
( this one causes sunburn)and UVA( this one penetrates more deeply and causes premature aging and wrinkles) rays.
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