Types/causes of acne:
If you are an acne sufferer, below you will see what category your skin fits into. Antibiotics just don’t work for some people.
Hormones – just starting periods, just finishing periods, peri-menopause, menopause or all of them
Bacteria – Propionibacterium Acnes is the bacteria that gives our friend its name – all it needs is the perfect environment to spread
Inflammation – illness, foods, stress – a system fighting illness is inflamed on its own, add medication and you are doubling your potential problems, foods can cause inflammation (especially food allergies) and stress always causes inflammation – all breeding grounds for acne
Sensitivities – allergies, reactions to products, reactions to foods/environment
Dispelling some Myths and Old Wives Tales:
Acne is caused by dirty skin. Not true. There is a massive difference between bacteria and dirt. Over-washing your face destroys the acid mantle that protects your skin, makes an alkaline environment, makes your acne worse and your skin a dry, dull, sore breeding ground.
You can ‘dry up’ spots. Not true. A spot is a mixture of oil, inflammation, bacteria and dead skin cells. No water in that list. All you are doing is drying the surrounding area in the hope that it will make the spot look smaller. What it actually does it put the spot on its own ‘look at ME’ platform.
You can use toothpaste or nappy cream to spot-treat acne. Really! A one-off spot may have its redness taken down – temporarily – by applying one of the above. If acne could be fixed by Oral-B or Sudocrem all of our problems would be solved.
Things that may help:
Avoid mineral oils when cleansing. Natural oils are better for the skin.
Avoid too much alcohol in products. A ‘tingle’ is ok. A ‘burning’ is not. Products where the main ingredient listed is alcohol will dry out the surface of your skin, destroy the acid mantle and make the perfect breeding ground. However: alcohol is sometimes a necessary evil for suspending things like glycolic acid in a solution – where they would normally not work as well. Remember the glycolic benefits override the alcohol.
Avoid soaps and foaming washes. These break down the acid mantle of your skin (think: armour) and make your skin a 10 on the 1-10 acid/alkaline scale.
Don’t pick red cysts. A whitehead can be popped in the correct manner. A cyst is going nowhere and will always, always prevail if you battle it. And then it will scar.
Don’t completely strip your skin of oil and moisture. An acne skin that sticks solely to foaming cleansers and oil-free products is nearly always – always – reddened with inflammation and sensitivity. Thus making more work for yourself.
Cleanse with good quality oils and balm cleansers. There is absolutely no reason to avoid oil when you have acne.
Use topical exfoliants. Acids used topically help alleviate blocked pores, dead skin cells, trapped hair follicles and reduce your acid mantle to the lower end of the scale – usually around a 3/4 – which is in layman’s terms, strengthening your first line of defence to the acne. Think glycolic and salicylic.
You can use products like benzoyl peroxide, found in spot treatments, to topically treat bad acne spots. It can penetrate the pore and kill off the bacteria specific to acne, but I prefer the acids in the step above. Sulfur is more commonly used, but a word of warning – in my experience, both can be drying to the skin in high %’s. Go easy.
Hydrate your skin and consider that it might need oil in places. You can have acne in areas and be really dry/dehydrated in others.
Consider supplementation such as fish oils. Fish oils work for acne OR psoriasis and eczema – so if you have any of those – or all – I would definitely recommend. I take anything between 3000 and 10,000mg a day depending on the day, my skin and circumstances. If you are vegetarian you can use flax – but fish is much better. (Sorry!)
Probiotics are a must. Especially if you are on anti-biotics. Your skin is the first place to show anything going on in the gut. Keep your stomach/intestines as strong as possible. Go for the highest dosage you can find – and remember with probiotics – they degrade very quickly so if it says 2 billion on the packet – by the time it gets through processing, packaging, delivery and shelf it could have gone down to 1 billion – literally halved. I always take double the RDA.
Avoid moisturisers with shea butter. Yes its natural but its harder than most oils for the skin to break down and thus tends to clogs pores and give you nice whiteheads. For additional questions contact the Skin Kandy Team!