Bright on brighter days! Getting rid of acne doesn't have to be a difficult process. We've broken down the essential bits of information regarding blemish-prone skin and how to best treat lesions (aka acne). Keep reading to learn how to simplify your routine and dispel commonly-touted myths.
Myth: The more sun you get, the less acne you’ll have.
Fact: Increased exposure to sun (heat) can contribute to acne.
In addition to the sun, other factors such as pollution, stress, diet, and lifestyle all contribute to the state of your skin health. We have a whole article about how your liver and skin are connected, which you can read here. The sun itself is not the problem, instead it is the heat and UV from the sun which causes increased blood flow - which contributes to the acne process via increasing cell turn over. In addition, the sun's UV rays can cause post inflammatory hyperpigmentation, especially in darker Fitzpatrick types. Counteract both the effects of sun damage and blemishes in one step with SkinCeutical's Silymarin CF - designed exclusively for oily skin.
Myth: Acne is a hormonal process that teenagers experience.
Fact: Blemish prone skin is not a teenage condition.
Over 90% of the world's population has experienced adult-onset acne (AOA), and is one of the most commonly treated skin conditions. The reason for this is that our natural desquamation process begins to slow down after the age of 20, resulting an uneven sloughing off process. This leads to the increase of dead skin build up on the surface, and is why people that did not have acne in their youth or teens are still susceptible to AOA.
Hormones are linked to blemish-prone skin, and do play a role in acne - such as with cortisol levels from stress -, but overall are not a sole determining factor contributing to blemishes. Hormones have been associated with the severity of acne you may experience, but is not the cause. The primary differentiation between teenage and adult-onset acne is that AOA has persistent redness and a long-lasting duration on people ages 25 and older.
Adding a rapid exfoliant to your routine will greatly improve this process. Check out Skinceutical's Acne System, which combines their LHA Cleanser, LHA Toner, and Blemish + Age rapid exfoliant serum ( a $173 value) for $135 for a simple routine to address blemishes (this routine is best for oily skin). Another rapid exfoliant we suggest (for more sensitive or normal-to-oily skin) is Yonka's Alpha Peel. This exfoliant is designed to cleanse and hydrate adult skin, and uses a blend of fruit acids and free acids to safely and evenly exfoliate the skin.
Myth: Acne is caused by dirt.
Fact: Acne is a multi step process.
Visually, we often associate the inflammation stage with acne. This is where the physical bump occurs, and either a black or whitehead is formed. Most of the processes occur below the surface of the skin, which is where the majority of contributing factors begin. In order they are:
Image from Eternal Skincare
Dead skin cells build up at the surface of the skin, causing a blockage to begin. Regular exfoliation will help remove excess skin cells, and any exfoliation products with salicylic acid will help work beneath the skin at the source. We recommend trying a chemical exfoliant like SkinCeutical's Blemish + Age or Phytomer's Resurfacing Peel (for sensitive skin). For a manual option, look into Yonka's Guarana Scrub or Gommage Yonka (for sensitive skin) to clear off the surface of your skin. If you haven't been in for a facial in a while (or ever!) definitely get our Polish Makes Perfect Microdermabrasion Add-On to thoroughly slough off all the dead skin. As with all skin, no product will be a one-size-fits-all answer. Keep your eye on our blog for a thorough review of which chemical exfoliants work better for different skin concerns and conditions.
- Oily and blemish-prone skin naturally has thicker and stickier sebum than someone with drier skin has. This makes the sebum more difficult to remove. Sticky sebum and excessive dead skin combine to create a plug at the skin surface. You can help regulate the production of sebum with a specialized toner or cleanser, such as Phytomer's Flawless Skin Tonic (for normal-to-oily skin) to balance and hydrate your skin. We also love both Yonka toners (designed for dry or normal-to-oily skin) because they heal the skin, are hydrating, refreshing, and purifying. In addition, thoroughly cleansing your skin will reduce this build up by assisting with your body's desquamation process. For oily skin, we love recommending Michael Todd's Soniclear cleansing device. The oscillating brush helps exfoliate thicker skin, whereas the Zoe Bliss by QYK Sonic is better for more sensitive skin. You can read more about these cleansing devices on our recent blog post regarding double cleansing.
Bacteria thrives in oxygen-less (anaerobic) environments, and is able to support itself via eating sebum. The build up of dead skin from step 1 contributes to an anaerobic condition. There are specific acids that better target bacteria production, such as azelaic, salicylic, and dioic acid. Recently, azelaic acid has been gaining popularity as an acne treatment to combat bacteria production, such as with SkinCeuticals newest release, the Phyto A+ moisturizer. Another great way to address this step of acne production is to look for products that "oxygenate" the skin, such as Phytomer's City Life Flash Peel.
Inflammation is a byproduct from bacteria and is what we often see as acne. For any painful, severe, or cystic acne, you can apply a compress of Yonka's Emulsion Pure to the affected areas twice a day to calm the area. Yonka's products have scientifically proven efficacy, and are designed to sink deep into your skin to work on repairing your natural chemical processes.
On a daily basis, one step you can take to reduce acne is to reduce touching your face. If anything touches for face, follow the rule: wash it or toss it. Wash anything reusable, or dispose of anything single use. The reason for this is simple: your acne-causing bacteria can jump around your face via these contact points. In other words, you can essential re-infect your skin with blemishes.
In addition to the process of acne, the products you use can also have an adverse effect. If you are using too many moisturizing products after your skincare, such as BB or CC creams, you can contribute to clogging. In addition, using too many products can aggravate your skin. Much of the beauty advice surrounding blemishes suggests harsh solutions, such as lemon juice or toothpaste, which are way too harsh to keep your skin balanced. If you're looking for a daily spot treatment, Yonka recently released an SOS roll-on targeted treatment to use up to 5x a day - plus the innovative metal applicator is antibacterial, which means you don't have to worry about cleaning in between applications.
As the newest addition to their clarity range, the SOS spot treatment is great for ingrown hairs, and can even be applied over SPF and makeup. The acne-specific range has purifying, mattifying, and cleansing properties to help regulate excess sebum, effectively fight blemishes, correct imperfections, and instantly mattify to bring back healthy, clear skin.
If you're not a fan of botanical scents, you can achieve the same level of quality and results with Phytomer's Oligopur Blemish Target Gel. This is a lightweight gel-fluide consistency, that protects the skin throughout the day while also cleansing and detoxifying. Like the SOS Spot, Oligopur can be applied over makeup, but would only be applied once, as opposed to multiple times a day with the SOS Spot.
Myth: You can pop pimples at home.
Fact: We know that people are fascinated by Dr. Pimple Popper videos, but that doesn't mean you should try it yourself.
Aestheticians are trained to remove blemishes (like whiteheads, blackheads, and closed comedones) using a variety of tools. One of their most valuable tools is their hands, which are trained for years to carefully remove blemishes from the base. Having the skill to remove a blemish (or even milia) without causing trauma to the skin is a lifelong practice. In addition to knowing the angle approached, our aestheticians also know the level of pressure used to remove each blemish. When your skin experiences trauma, it is more likely to leave a mark (aka post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation). Many of our clients get 30+ extractions done during each facial, but are not left red due to the skill our service providers have. In addition to skill, we also have specialized tools, such as a 5x diopter magnifying lamp, which allows us to see individual pores extremely close up. Plus, we treat every client with a blast of high-frequency after the facial, which targets and destroys acne-loving bacteria.
Without an aesthetician's set of hands and eyes, you are likely to cause infection, scarring, or simply prolong the appearance of acne. Any blemish on your skin is technically an open wound, and needs to be treated accordingly. Our aestheticians at Bellini's have delicate hands to quickly prick your acne out in order to start the healing process. In addition, we use a variety of products and techniques to relax the skin in order to easily remove blemishes.
Book a facial with us if you're in need of getting extractions! All our 90 minute facials include extractions, so you don't have to worry about picking the right treatment. Once you speak with our aestheticians, they will pick the right facial treatment for your skin concerns and goals - our most popular treatment for blemish-prone skin is our Pores No More service.
Myth: You get acne because you have too much oil in your skin.
Fact: Acne is both a genetic and environmental condition.
Recall an old scientific saying that "like attracts like," and in that same vein we can deduce that oil attracts oil. When you dehydrate your skin, you are spurring it to create additional oil, which keeps the skin from being balance.
Balancing your skin is essential to getting and keeping your skincare results. As such, you will need oil to balance your oil production. While exfoliation to remove the excess dead skin cells is important, the key to creating lasting change lies in properly hydrating your skin. Dehydrating skin makes the natural cell turnover more difficult, which contributes to step 1 of the acne evolution. Check out PCA Skin's Facial Wash if you want a chemical exfoliating cleanser that will also hydrate your skin.
Often acne solutions are extremely drying to the skin, and can leave your skin irritated, dehydrated, and sensitive. Topical retinol, acne medication like Accutane or Tretinoin, and antibiotics can all leave your body and skin drained of vital nutrients, because they upset your skins' natural microbiome. This upsetting can cause more problems to address, which can take you further from your goal of clear skin.
Medications are often a short-term solution, and people can find their skin flaring up immediately after stopping prescriptions. You don't want to over treat your condition, either. Blasting too many actives at your skin can cause the pendulum to swing in the opposite extreme, which creates a new problem to address. The extreme lack of moisture can cause your skin to increase oil production, thus repeating the cycle of acne. Remember that healthy skin will balance itself, that is what it is designed to do, as has done, for thousands of years of human evolution.
"Don't use a cannon to kill an ant." - Sonia Bellini
Regardless of what medications you might be taking for acne, you will always need to keep your body balanced. For example, antibiotics destroy all bacteria flora (even the good kind!), so counteract this by adding a probiotic to your diet and getting skincare with probiotics in it, such as with Phytomer's Prebioforce. One of the hallmarks of Tretinoin is that it addresses all 4 stages of acne production, but did you know that Yonka's Juvenil does as well? Use Juvenil twice a day on active blemishes to drastically reduce and improve your skin appearance from the very first use, without the drastic dehydration.
Again, the solution to excessive oil production is to hydrate and nourish your skin. For blemish-prone skin, we recommend picking a lightweight moisturizer designed to both hydrate and target blemishes, such as:
- Yonka Creme 93 (For combination skin, reduces shine)
- Yonka Creme 15 (For oily skin, targets inflammation)
- Yonka Creme PG (For oily skin, targets sebum production and reduces shine)
- Yonka Phyto 58 (Clarifying. PG for oily skin and PS for dry skin).
- Phytomer's Acnipur (for combination to oily skin, targets sebum production, inflammation, and reduces shine).
If you're looking for a moisturizer that focuses solely on hydrating your skin, then check out some of these:
- SkinCeuticals Hydrating B5 Gel for pure moisture (Basic moisturizer, does not target acne)
- SkinCeuticals Daily Moisture is a great option for dry or normal skin that is blemish prone. (Basic moisturizer, does not target acne).
With all of this in mind, it's clear that everyone has a different journey with acne. There are hundreds of combinations you could do to address blemishes, but what is the right one for you? If you ever need someone to guide you, call 503.226.1526 or email us at email@example.com to start your consultation.
Adult Onset Acne - Acne that appears on people over 25 years old. Often shows up on people that did not have acne during their teenage years.
Anaerobic - Without oxygen.
Cortisol - A hormone released during stress.
Desquamation process - the natural process in which skin cells are created, sloughed away, and replaced.
Diopter - A unit of magnifying power of a lens or lens system.
Sebum - An oily secretion from sebaceous glands.