By Waiza Rana - We have all experienced, more or less, some form of acne in our lives. For some it's a long term skin problem while for others it's occasional. Do you find that despite your consistent skincare, you still get breakouts? Perhaps you would like to better understand acne and how to manage it? The problem with acne is that our skincare routine isn't the only culprit here. Many also have to do with our lifestyle (not cleaning your face before going to sleep, not cleaning your pillowcase often, etc.). Today, let's take a look at what acne is, what causes it, what a rewarding skincare routine is, and some other tips you might find useful aside from using the right products! t1>
Did you know that there are two categories of acne? The inflammatory type and the non-inflammatory type? The last refers to clogged pores that lead to blackheads and whiteheads. It is considered to be the mildest and most easily spotted type of acne. While blackheads look dark and appear flat on the skin, whiteheads are smaller flesh-colored (or white-headed) bumps
As for the inflammatory type, it is distinguished by any spot that looks more red or robust. This type of acne ranges from papules and pustules to severe nodules and cysts. Papules are small red bumps and pustules are small bumps containing pus. Papules are considered the introduction of pustules. Then, severe nodules and cysts are where acne can be painful. These are inflamed bumps larger than regular pimples. They often also give the sensation of being under the skin.
It's no surprise how common acne is. It occurs in people of all ages, but is more common in adolescents and young adults. This common skin condition occurs when the hair follicles under the skin become clogged. Sebum (our body's natural moisturizing oil) and dead skin cells clog pores, leading to breakouts, also known as pimples.
Normally, when the body sheds skin cells, keratinocytes - a type of skin cell - rise to the surface of the skin. In the case of acne-prone skin, hair, sebum and keratinocytes stick together inside the pores. This prevents keratinocytes from detaching and prevents sebum from reaching the surface of the skin. This mixture of oil and cells causes bacteria living on the surface of the skin to grow in these clogged follicles. This in turn induces swelling, redness, warmth and pain. Once clogged follicles break down, bacteria, skin cells, and sebum spread to nearby skin, creating lesions.
Dr. Brendan Camp - a double-board certified dermatologist in Manhattan - explains that the causes of acne are multifactorial. These causes include, but are not limited to: hormones, family history, excess oil, bacteria, and dead skin cells. The combination of oil, bacteria and dead skin cells works by not letting the oil out of the pores. This in turn results in a clog. Inflammation then follows. Overproduction of oil can be caused by hormonal changes such as puberty, menstrual cycle, pregnancy and menopause. Some believe that diet is another direct cause of acne. Again, the skin is a very unique organ in our body.It is therefore normal that the reality of one is different from the other. Other factors known to trigger acne breakouts are stress, sweating and humidity.
Let's talk about the steps of a good skin care routine for acne. Acne can be commonly linked to oily skin type. Nevertheless, people with dry skin can also experience acne breakouts for a variety of reasons, either environmental factors or a poor skincare routine! In fact, this one can easily irritate the skin and lead to clogged pores. Knowing your skin type then helps you determine which products to choose and what type of routine to adopt. Check out the different skin types article to learn more if you haven't already!
The main steps to minimize excess products on your skin
- Cleanser (morning and evening)
- Exfoliant (prioritize a chemical exfoliant rather than a physical one - with granules - so as not to "damage" or break your pimples)
- Serum targeting acne or sebum production (e.g. Niacinamide)
- Moisturizer (opt for a light lotion)
- Mineral SPF Sunscreen
Some additional tips outside of product selection start with consistency. Consistency is really essential because satisfactory results come from it. Commit to a solid skincare routine for yourself, not just for breakouts, but every day to prevent and maybe avoid situations! Moderation is another tip. Never overwhelm your skin by using too many products at once. Dr. Camp suggests following the “less is more” rule of thumb.
Other effective preventative measures include washing your face twice a day, especially after sweating. Avoid harsh rubbing, be gentle with your skin literally and figuratively because it deserves all the love it can get in tough times.
Don't touch your buttons!
The correct method of "popping" is called extraction and it must be performed by a dermatologist. It is therefore important to know when to consult a professional. Acne can be a nagging concern for some people, and over-the-counter medications may not always provide the relief you're hoping for. To better understand your skin and choose products with even more care due to the severity of acne, a dermatologist is in the best position
to find solutions for you. Finally, be sure to clean items that regularly come into contact with your skin (eg shower towel, makeup brushes etc).
The appearance and texture of our skin can easily affect our mood. But there is a long-awaited victory in being consistent and being patient with your skin. When it comes to gentleness, it's important to be gentle with your skin because it's as much a part of you as any other part of your body. Often our appearance can make us feel very isolated and finding self-confidence in these times isn't super easy. As cliché as it may be, do things you love to do, alone or surrounded by those who make you feel loved (don't forget our animal friends!). Such activities surely increase your self-esteem. More importantly, it's important not to be ashamed of acne. Not just because of how common it is with many, but also because it's such a natural process.
Focus on progress rather than perfection because perfection does not exist in the world of skincare!