Common misconceptions and mistruths in the consumer market about acne and acne care.
Let's begin with what we all know. The skincare and beauty consumer market is OVERWHELMINGLY confusing. There is hundreds of thousands of products. How the heck are you supposed to know what is a good fit for you and your skin type?
It can get even trickier for a blemish prone skin type. Most acne sufferers have heard it all, try this, try that all with little to no luck. There are so many products that claim they are the magical fix for all types of acne, when let's be honest, it's just snake oil. We also read that exfoliation is the key for controlling breakouts. Yes exfoliation has it's place for all skin types and conditions but too much of a good thing makes it not so great anymore. Not all acne is the same and treatment is NOT a one size fits all. Your skin therapist should delve into your diet, lifestyle habits and more to find the triggers for your particular skin condition.
In order to truly be able to help we need to understand the basics of the acne prone skin condition.
Acne prone skin tends to have an over production of sebum (oil) which is generally more waxy then a "normal" skin condition. This waxy and sticky oil makes it SUPER easy for your skin to get the microcomedone- the start of all blemishes, blackheads, pustules, cysts etc. We want to work on thinning the viscosity of this oil so it flows out of the pores easier to get where it wants to go, which is the surface of our face to act as a lubricant, protectant and natural moisturizer.
How can I improve the oil my skin is producing? Start by increasing the healthy fats in your diet. Aim for a higher concentration of EPA vs. DHA in your omegas. Nuts, seeds, salmon, olive oil, avocado in moderation, farm fresh eggs, omega supplements are all a great start.
Think paleo, that is generally a great diet for acne sufferers as it is very low in processed foods and high in whole grain, high fiber and healthy fats that we would hunt and gather naturally.
Let's move on. Blemish prone skin is experiencing an overactive cell turnover rate which means that the skin cells are being created too quickly and moving too fast up through the layers of the skin and then they get caught in the waxy sebum we talked about earlier.
Controlled exfoliation with leave on acids like mandelic, lactic, glycolic or salicylic or scrubs help to remove dead skin build up allowing our oils to move up through the skin easily. More is NOT better with exfoliation. 2-3 times per week is plenty unless directed otherwise by your skincare professional. Over exfoliation will lead to dryness, irritation, flaking and sensitivity.
Instead, focus on hydrating the skin both internally (make sure you drink enough water) and using water based gels, like our Alexandria Beauty Soothing Skin Gel to make sure the surface of your skin has enough water to allow it to carry on with healthy cell activities. Good hydration will also help your skin cells detach easier, aiding in the natural exfoliation processes.
In conclusion, controlling acne is a multi faceted approach and is not a one size fits all. Your skincare professional should be taking into consideration your lifestyle, diet and stress levels as part of their treatment approach. Patience and diligent use of home care products is just as important as the in office treatments so don't think that a single facial is going to get you clear. Have realistic expectations and you will get clear skin faster than you think. In my clinic I ask that my new acne clients give me 90 days to get a significant improvement (often clear skin), as that is the "life cycle" of a breakout.
This was a lot of information to take in all at once, and I will continue dropping more bits of info for acne prone skin if you guys liked this blog post. Give a shout in the comments if you want more!