For many people who have dealt or who are dealing with acne, it can feel like a never-ending battle trying to take control of your skin. As with many skin conditions, acne can have a huge emotional impact on the individual.
Adding to the uphill struggle for clearer skin is the amount of misinformation and “acne myths” that multiply across social media. Using toothpaste, sunbeds and homemade scrubs are just a few examples of common acne untruths that do the skin a lot more harm than good.
As it is Acne Awareness month this month, we want to bring to light exactly what acne is, what it isn’t and how you can treat your skin correctly.
What is acne?
Acne is not just designated to the teenage years, and it’s a lot more common than you would think. 95% of people aged 11 to 30 are affected by acne to some extent. Higher numbers are among women than men, likely due to the fluctuation in hormones that women experience throughout their lives. Acne can develop anywhere on the body, but most frequently appears on the face, back and chest.
How does acne occur?
The root cause of acne lies within the sebaceous glands. These glands are the largest and most concentrated on the face. Their role is to synthesise and secrete sebum – an oily, waxy substance that protects the skin from damages caused by external factors and dehydration. A normal level of sebum in the skin is necessary to keep it healthy, but when the skin begins to overproduce this substance, we see an increase in the development of breakouts.
When there is excess sebum on the surface of the skin, it mixes with dry skin cells to form a plug in the top of the pore. This becomes a blockage, causing a subsequent build-up of sebum beneath the surface. This blockage stimulates bacterial growth, which then requires white blood cells to fight the infection. This army of white blood cells gives rise to inflammation and voila, you have the perfect breakout storm.
Hormonal changes are one of the biggest influencers of acne, which is why teenagers, pregnant women and menopausal women are amongst the most commonly affected. Other external factors such as diet, stress, medication and unsuitable skincare can influence the skin and lead to breakouts. In mostly all cases, the best way to manage acne is knowledge and effective skincare.
How can you care for acne-prone skin?
Double cleansing –
Double cleansing is a pretty self-explanatory practice: it’s a two-step process to ensure that the skin is fully free of all makeup, impurities and SPF and is deeply cleansed. It involves two different cleansers to get the job done, typically an oil-based cleanser followed by a water-soluble cream or gel cleanser. An extra step to your evening skincare routine may feel like a push after a hard day, but for acne-prone skins, the benefits of double cleansing are tenfold. Free of dirt and dead skin build-up, the skin regenerates quicker for a brighter, clearer complexion that more readily accepts your subsequent serums and creams for more effective results.
Our top picks:
Acne-causing bacteria thrive on dead skin cells. Exfoliation is an excellent weapon against acne as it removes dead skin cells making it harder for bacteria to populate. Chemical exfoliants are best suited for those prone to acne. This is because chemical exfoliants use enzymes to dissolve the glue that holds dead skin cells together, without the need for scrubbing the skin and causing irritation. Exfoliating regularly will help the skin to remain clear of acne-causing bacteria and improve skin’s overall appearance with a fresh, healthy glow.
Our top pick:
Targeted treatment –
Attack one of the root causes of acne with targeted doses of blemish-busting ingredients. Azelaic acid and derivatives of this ingredient are well known for their ability to not only normalise the production of oil but also for encouraging the skin to renew itself and stopping acne-causing bacteria in its tracks. Targeted serums are great to tackle acne as they are designed to absorb quickly into the skin and deeply penetrate pores to directly treat the affected areas.
Our top pick:
And finally, shield your skin from the dangers of the sun. As with any skin condition or concern, your skin cannot heal if it is also under fire from sun damage at the same time. Keep your skin safe from the sun’s UV rays with a broad spectrum SPF, the higher the rating the better. This will ensure that the skin’s barrier remains strong and healthy so that spots are healed quicker and further damage is prevented.
Our top pick: